Jane's Birth Story

This is a story precious to my heart.
Our Jane, her story of how she came to be.
I am so thankful that our dear friend was able to document the last
hours of her story with photos.
We are a very blessed family.

I would hope that after reading the title you would have figured out
that this story may have some graphic details.
I would also hope that if you are squeamish about these things
you would have stopped reading by now.
However, I will still add a disclaimer saying that there are
descriptive words and photos to help paint
this beautiful story.

This story will begin where it should -
in the beginning.
The story is long
and its sweet.
So grab a cup of tea and get comfy.

The story really began back in June of 2012.
The two of us were excited to start expanding our clan,
and with ignorant bliss began to try for baby #2.
When Claire turned one we were hoping to announce to
our parents and close friends at her party that we were expecting.
It didn't happen,
and there began the heartache.
In our relationship Spencer is the more level-headed one.
He was disappointed,
but I was heart broken.
I was still nursing so that may have been why.

By that fall we were frequently being asked
when Claire would be a big sister.
It was nothing on those who were asking the questions,
they didn't know.
But it just seemed to be rubbing salt on my wounds.

By Christmas it still hadn't happened
and I was concerned.
I know it is normal for couples to try 6 months with no results.
And for us we knew the reason why.
My thyroid was off.
It was doing a pendulum swing that was totally unexplained.
A thyroid and hormones are VERY connected,
so my symptoms of my thyroid being off
were the same symptoms as early pregnancy and as getting a period.
Needless to say it was really messing with my mind.

Fast forward to last year.
We had moved back to Canada and
I was working closely with my family doctor
and an endocrinologist who specializes in pituitary and thyroid.
Both women are amazing, both are incredibly smart, both were very confused by my thyroid.

October came and my very irregular period was missed.
Because of this I didn't think too much of it, as I can often go a month without it.
When November came I spent a small fortune
on pregnancy tests.
I inspected each one so closely before throwing it in the garbage can
but each one was negative.

In January,
I had some symptoms that were usual for me:
extreme fatigue, sore breasts,
bloating... yada yada yada.
I was at my mom's house on Monday the 13th and she asked,
"Are you sure you're not pregnant?"
I laughed it off,
how could that possibly be?!
No, not pregnant.

Two days later on January 15,
I woke up to the same symptoms as normal without thinking about it.
I sat on the couch with Claire watching cartoons and drinking coffee.
Spencer had just left for work,
I kissed him good bye and stood up to go to the bathroom.
I am not sure what it was when I went into the bathroom that made me
grab and unwrap my last pregnancy stick.
I remember thinking,
"Ah, what the heck. Its going to be a waste but at least I can tell mom that its negative."
I did my thing and carried the stick to the coffee table.
I waited a minute and glanced over, and a DARK line caught me eye.
It has to be the one line saying no.
I leaned forward and saw TWO lines.

Honestly, I can't explain that feeling even to myself.
It was honestly a miracle.
After this last year and a half I could not believe it was happening.
Before I knew it I was crying and calling Spencer.
As soon as he answered I sputtered,
"I'm pregnant!"
This part is my favourite,
he started hooting and hollering in his car.
Then I could hear his tears and his voice start to quiver.
He didn't doubt me for a second.
He somehow knew that I wasn't being crazy and convincing myself I saw two lines,
he knew it was true.

Right away I called my mom.
Never in my life had I been more happy to admit to my mother that she was right.

The sickness settled in,
that familiar feeling.
A mix of emotions knowing baby is okay,
but also wanting to hibernate until week 20.
I was so thankful to have Spencer's auntie nearby and she took
Claire for some fun afternoons and evenings so I could... well, hibernate.

After consideration we decided to go with midwife care.
My family doctor is great, but after she told me she was one of nine
doctors who could deliver my baby that solidified my decision.
The midwife clinic is in the heart of the village
and about a three minute walk from our house.
The care they gave me during my pregnancy was outstanding.
Every step was carefully explained, they cut out so many unnecessary tests,
procedures and everything was so carefully considered.
It felt as if my prenatal care was carefully tailored to mine and the baby's needs.
Each of the three midwives were so kind, compassionate,
knowledgeable and each of them had their own advice based on their individual experiences.
There was not one midwife I wouldn't have trusted delivering my baby.

Week 37 came and I began counting down the days to my Guess Date.
I made appointments to get my nails done, my eyelashes extended and had a few
massage therapy appointments scheduled.
I made about 20 freezer meals,
canned applesauce, tomatoes, tomato sauce and salsa.
I was ready. Bring it on Jane.

On Wednesday September 17
I got a manicure and pedicure with my friend Rae,
whose c-section was scheduled September 25 (the day after my due date.)
We shamelessly pampered ourselves and chatted about our babies.
After that I had eyelash extensions done
(honestly best pre-baby pampering decision ever.
I didn't apply makeup for three weeks after they were on!)

That evening must not have been anything special because
I can't even remember what we did.
We crawled into bed and at about 11:30
(I am guessing, I was asleep!) I woke up to my first contraction.
I didn't know if it was a practice contraction and easily fell back to sleep.
Again I awoke to another one and fell back to sleep.
The third one woke me up with a jolt,
okay that hurt!
I decided to wake up Spencer just to let him know.
He timed them for a while, about 8-11 minutes apart
and pretty painful.
By 12:45 I was thinking about calling my mom to say she
would need to take the next day off work.
I was pretty confident this was the real deal.
The memory came flooding back to me,
and I remembered the difference in pain between practice and real.
Around 1 they were 7-10 minutes apart and
nothing was slowing them down considerably enough for me
to think it may have been a false alarm.
My mom left with her bags packed and arrived around 2:30.

We sent Spencer back to bed,
made cups of tea, watched some TV and mostly talked.
My mom would rub my back or push on it with her feet during the contractions
and we timed them together.
They were getting close together quite fast
and the pain was getting very uncomfortable.
Around 5:30 we decided to call the midwife.
Normally, midwives offer an extraordinary service
of coming to your home to see if you are ready to go to the hospital
and see at what point in labour you are in.
Alix was the midwife on call
and she was already at the hospital .
She asked if we
would mind to come in.
At that point I was fairly certain I'd be admitted,
so I was fine with that.

Claire woke up around 6 and was so happy to see her Maga.
We called Diane and asked her to come at 6:30 in the morning.
Claire was being so sweet, asking if I had a tummy ache and rubbing my belly.
I remember wanting to cuddle her and enjoy these last moments as a family of three,
but I also remember really having to focus through each contraction.
We tried to make it a very exciting event -it was! -and get her bag ready and
explain that later she'd get to meet the baby.

When Diane arrived we left for the hospital.
The drive was uncomfortable to say the least.
I wasn't sure how I'd make it through each contraction in the car.
We got to the hospital, checked in and headed to maternity.
In triage we met Alix and answered some questions, got hooked up to monitors
to see how baby was doing.
At this point I was only two centimeters dilated.
In my urine sample it showed my ketones were a bit high,
but I explained that I had finally succumbed to the head cold/flu I had been fighting the week before.
Alix explained that illness could trigger labour,
so I had an IV and was given some fluids.
After the bag was empty I was still having contractions,
and although my cervix was shorter I hadn't dilated anymore.

It was time to head back home.
At that point, I couldn't imagine getting back in the car,
only to get back in again and be admitted.
I stood up to put my yoga pants and ...
My bag of waters released, all over my pants.
It was confirmed that it was amniotic fluid
but it was still time to go home.

At home my mom went downstairs to get some much needed shut eye.
Upstairs Spencer and I laboured through each contraction.
I say both of us because even though it was me
experiencing the pains,
Spencer was right by my side.
Honestly, he left for a minute to go to the washroom
and when that contraction started and he wasn't there I felt like I was
going to give up.
At this point they were about three to four minutes apart and so intense.
With Claire, not once did I yell.
This time, Spence was going through the house shutting all the windows. Haha!
In my head I kept thinking, "Michelle, don't be so loud!"
but when the next wave came it actually helped verbally releasing it all.
Instead of the peak of the contraction being in the middle to end,
it started off high and gradually came down.
It wasn't like a mountain at all!

We tried leaning over the bed,
we tried all fours,
we tried slow dancing which helped for a while.
What seemed to work the best was if I was in a slight incline
holding onto both of Spencer's hands and pulling, with him pulling hard against me.
It had to be this exact way of doing it otherwise I couldn't handle it.
It was at home that I started to think about the relief the epidural brought me with Claire.
I knew I wanted that again, if only I could just make it back to the car and to the hospital.
My mom woke up (if she was even able to sleep I don't know),
we called the midwife and off we were to the hospital again.
I remember being at the top of the steps at our house and heading down.
My mom telling me to wait so that she could support me,
but I had one focus - get.to.the.car.

The contractions in the car were terrible.
 I just remember keeping my eyes closed to focus inwardly.
There was one part that is kind of funny when I look back on it, but it sure wasn't then!
Spencer was starting to go around the clover leaf to merge onto the highway when a contraction started.
I could feel the pull on my uterus and combined with the contraction it was
a crazy intense kind of pain.
I was demanding him to pull the car over right now,
just so I could finish the contraction in a car that was not moving.
He didn't.
The next thing I remember was seeing the sign for the Westminster exit
and knowing we were about five minutes away.

Logic clearly kicks into high gear when in active labour (ha!)
because I remember in the parking lot Spencer was trying to think of where to park.
One side was for ambulance only, the side closest to the door.
I remember thinking an ambulance would just have to go around us!
My mom grabbed a wheelchair for me, admitted us, while Spencer wheeled me to maternity.
I have a foggy memory of being in the elevator or hallway, and someone looking at me -
for a second I thought "I have no bra on, I am in labour, I am a total mess but I don't give a crap."
I remember heading into the birthing centre, into my room and a flurry of activity.
Never in my life had I been so inwardly focused and only somewhat aware of what my surroundings were.
It was like the complete opposite of an outer body experience.
It was so entirely inner body.

Alix explained to me that the anesthesiologist
was preparing someone for a pacemaker surgery and would be about an hour
and a nurse asked if I'd like some laughing gas to tide me over.
Heck yes, give me that gas right now and
doesn't that person know I need that doctor right now more than (s)he does?
(See? Logic, out the window.)
The nurse was so sweetly explaining the gas to me and I felt like I snatched it from her
and just started breathing.
I also remember thinking "I love that the hose is bright pink!"
The gas didn't take the pain away but gave me a lovely heady feeling.
Again, the peak of my contractions was at the beginning instead of the middle,
so by the time I had the relief of the gas the contraction was almost over.
I believe it was somewhere around here that Michelle showed up with her camera.
Our good friend, and very talented photographer
(you've seen her work here before)
did our birth photos.
Seriously, if you are going to have a baby, email her. It is amazing. 
I remember when she showed up and the friend role kicked in and she was so sweet and encouraging.
And when Photographer Michelle was on I didn't even know where she was,
didn't hear her camera, notice her taking photos, it wasn't a distraction in the slightest.

Soon came the fentanyl.
That stuff is pretty good. It feels like its not really working because again, you feel the pain.
You just don't care about it. 
Spencer said I was pretty funny on it, but I don't remember.
I do remember my mom and Michelle laughing at something I said, 
and thinking "That wasn't supposed to be funny."

The next part I hardly remember.
I remember strong contractions.
I remember the mask on my face.
I remember Spencer holding my hand.
I remember Alix asking my weight for the doctor and being mortified.
I remember me having to change into a gown,
and I am pretty sure I did that in front of the anesthesiologist. 
I remember moving to the other side of the bed through contractions,
I remember sitting there arching my back and knowing that relief would come soon.
I remember his direction, friendly smile, and me looking at him and so desperately wanting to tell
him how much I appreciate what he does, but only muttering through dry lips, :"Thank you so much."

Once he sorted everything out,
I was able to relax. 
I had to lay down so that the epidural would settle in my lower abdomen and legs,
and just resting in the peace for a moment.
There is this strange moment in time during these things.
The epidural, the moment between contractions.
The calm before the storm.
The breath you take and you are trying to store energy quickly for the next leg of the journey.
I kept thinking about the baby I'd get to hold.
The baby I prayed for, longed for...
it was all so surreal.
A year ago I never thought I'd be here, in this hospital room having a baby.

 During this time Alix and the nurse
were noticing that the baby's heart rate would drop very low
after each contraction.
I didn't know this before,
but that is the bad kind.
There are times when it is okay I guess within a certain bpm,
but after each contraction is not a good sign.
Alix became very serious and quiet,
although she didn't show it on her face,
the energy in the room shifted.

The next order of events is kind of blurry.
At one point, Alix explained that she would
like to call in the obstetrician to be on board
and help keep an eye on the baby.

The baby had switched from the left side to the right side.
So they asked me to get into different positions to help the baby make
a slight turn back to the left side.
My epidural didn't have the chance to settle properly
because I had to start moving around.
.It worked for the first while and all through transition,
which was great and really what I was needing it for.
They had this funny ice stick and they would place it on certain places
to see where you could feel it and how cold it was.
In the beginning I could feel it from my mid-back up.

The baby's heartrate would kind of recover,
and then not again.
The monitor was being watched very intently.
I tried my best not to look at the numbers on the screen and just focus.
  They were concerned that the baby was in distress.
They checked my fluid and sure enough,
there was meconium.
The baby had pooped, another sign of distress.

At this point I was worried,
and I know my mom was too.
My mom's friend's grandson had this happen as well
and he swallowed it.
This can potentially be serious, and for him it was.
He had seizures and ended up being diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
Kind of hard not to think of him when I heard this news.

Around this time as well Alix and the doctor told me
it was really important to get the baby into position and out.
For her safety she needed to arrive as soon as possible.
They started talking about the possibility of using forceps and the vacuum,
and possibly a c-section if things don't go quickly.
At first I shrugged it off as an idle threat, quite honestly.
Then when the room was quiet I asked Alix if that was really an option on the radar.
Although it would obviously be the last choice, yes it was on the radar.

I was on my knees, my forearms resting on the top of the bed.
I closed my eyes and asked the Lord to keep her safe.
Help me to do this vaginally,
help her come down lower and move into position.
Watch over us, protect us, let Your will be done.

Jane had decided that instead of taking the shorter route, a quick trip across my belly,
she would take the long way 'round.
She moved further to the right, across my back and around.
Spencer joked that she was like her sister, insisting on doing things her own way
with a stubborn streak.
I argued that she is probably like her mom and is terrible at directions.
The joking seemed to break the tension.

Being on all fours seemed to help and her heart rate seemed to pick up again.
Alix did an internal exam, I was close, about 9 centimetres.
I thanked the Lord silently and a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.
We were getting somewhere.

Eventually I was 10 cms but there was a cervical lip.
Alix tried to push it back but it kept slipping forward.
Give it more time.
Eventually she tried again and it stayed.
There were so many mini celebrations and this was one of them.
It was go time.

The OB came back into the room,
a few nurses came in and got things set up.
I mentally prepared myself for pushing.
The nurse did another test with the frozen stick.
My left leg felt like it was asleep, but I could feel cold,
everywhere else felt the same as it did on my shoulder.
I was really okay with it though because I wanted to feel
the pains of labour, I wanted to feel each urge to push each contraction
bringing our baby closer to us.

The doctor explained to me different positions for pushing,
that it was really important that I got in as many per contraction that I could.
Jane needed to arrive very quickly.
They called in a pediatrician to be there as well
in case something was wrong.
I couldn't even let my mind go there,
God would keep her safe, I knew it.
I just had to focus on doing the one thing I could do.

While I was pushing I did not want to on my back. I wanted to be reclined or fully sitting up.
The sweet nurse said to me "but then you're epidural won't work."
not realizing I could feel everything already.

I chose to be on my side first.
My mom, Spencer and Alix were all by my side.

The pushing is the most intense, yet rewarding part.
I remember specifically thinking,
"She's bigger than Claire."
Even when I was pregnant I could feel it

After trying a couple pushes I ended up in a semi-reclined position
and seemed to have the most effective pushes.
I remember just closing my eyes,
hearing the voices encouraging me,
but never in my life had I been so focused.
With each contraction I was able to give five or six really good pushes.

Spencer and my mom were such great birth coaches.
Both of them have this strong silence that I know I needed.
Just their presence gave me such peace.
My mom by my side, where she has been my whole life.
It felt so right to have her there with us.

the father of our baby.
My partner in life and in so many ways.
He was encouraging, he knows me inside and out,
he knows what to say and what not to say.
There is safety in him, in his words, his face.

Near the end my temperature went up,
I had a fever.
There was a probable (and confirmed later) infection in my uterus.
Just another reason Jane needed to arrive quickly and safely.
While I was pushing my temperature spiked quite high.
I had no idea this had happened,
but Spencer, my mom and Michelle told me it was getting intense.

For 45 minutes I pushed.
Closing my eyes, willing every strength
from Whom my strength comes from.
Feeling it rain down on me and pulse through my body.
Feeling her descend, come down and back up again with each push.
Those little pushes, trying so hard to keep them small
and wait for the last few big breaths that will slip her into the world.

Then she arrived.
She came and in that moment I felt so many big feelings.
I won't even begin to describe them here,
I can't formulate the words.
I do remember exclaiming as I collapsed back,
"I'm not pregnant anymore!"

Our plan was to have Spencer catch her and bring her up to my chest.
However, because things were a bit scary and so uncertain
Spencer stepped back.
I remember as soon as I laid eyes on her and saw her rolls on her arms
she was bigger, I guessed at least 8 pounds.
I took her into my arms.

She still had so much vernix on her
and her dark beady eyes contrasted dramatically against the white.
When I took her I could feel her heat.
Poor Jane had a fever too.
I held her for a few moments
while Spencer cut the chord.
Then swooped her away to do a check over
and make sure she was okay.
She was crying, thankfully,
and the doctor gave her a clean bill of health right away.
She did have to wear something on her hand, an o2 saturation monitor
 which measured her blood oxygen ratio.

While Spencer was with Jane,
my mom called my dad
and I rested and was tended to.
Jane was quickly returned to my chest.
We just soaked in those first moments with Jane.
Studying her every feature.
Seeing the differences and similarities with her sister.
Admiring her beauty.
She studied us with her deep eyes too.

Very soon afterwards I could sense that someone was missing,
our Claire Bear.
It felt as though my world was almost complete
but my family wasn't together.
I am not sure if it was that Mother Bear instinct or what it was,
but I had this deep need to have my family with me in this very special time.
We called Howard and Diane and asked them to bring big sister Claire.

When Claire arrived my heart completely overflowed.
She was really hesitant at first and seemed nervous.
I am sure seeing your mom in a hospital bed,
swollen, machines beeping and blinking and my IV was overwhelming for her.

(Jane's temperature dropped, but I needed to be on antibiotics for 24 hours which
required my IV to stay in.)

I picked her up to come sit on the bed with me, but she quickly wanted down.
She looked at the baby and Spencer told her what the name was.
She was taking it all. in.
Soon after she became excited,
showing us her pink balloons she brought
and the gifts she had for Jane.

Now 6 weeks later we are settling into
life as a family of four.
It was an adjustment for us all
but we are doing well.
Tired, but overjoyed.
Jane is smothered with kisses all day,
and Claire is so in love with her and is a great helper.
Spencer and I are always comparing and contrasting
everything from their looks to how they eat and sleep.
Jane is smiling, cooing and growing fast.

A big thank you to Michelle Cervo Photography for the amazing pictures.
Click on her name above to go to her website and see her blog post about the birth.
And seriously, send her an email and book your family, newborn
or birth photography with her!

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely love reading birth stories! So happy for you four!


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