As told to me by Courtney Leavins
I had been two centimetres dilated two weeks before my birth, and then five centimetres dilated for five days, and was feeling tons of pressure. The doctor kept saying Bobby shouldn’t go to the farm but we weren’t convinced. Doctors said the same thing with our first born, Vayda, and she was 11 days late.
For at least 10 days before our second baby was born, I’d be up from midnight to 4:30 a.m. labouring, so I wasn’t getting a lot of rest.
I stopped working on a Monday. I went to a prenatal yoga class that evening and was five centimetres dilated but was not yet in labour. It felt so good to move, but was awkward to sit…Probably because I was sitting on her head!
I went into labour on a Thursday. My husband, Bobby, had come in from the farm the day before: I called him Wednesday morning. I was two days overdue and had been checked at a prenatal appointment and was at five centimetres dilated. Not only that, but the doctor said she could feel the baby and that the baby had lots of hair. As such, she recommended Bobby be nearby, because she said when I went into labour, I’d be having the baby. That was hard for us to fathom because my first labour was 14 hours. However, I was also feeling tons of pressure, so I thought for sure I’d go into labour that day.
To prepare for this birth, I did two months of hypnobirthing preparation. I was hesitant but wanted to do something special just for this baby, because I’d spent so much time doing classes and prenatal with my first pregnancy. So, every night after Vayda went to bed, I’d sit in the tub for an hour and listen to the hypnobirthing mp3’s.
Wednesday came and went: I was convinced I’d go into labour, but didn’t. I ended up having a great sleep, but woke up kind of annoyed because I was so sure I was going to go into labour. I resigned myself and prepared for the fact I’d be two weeks late again with this baby.
I decided to keep Vayda home that day. I just really wanted to spend time with her.
That night, Vayda went to sleep like a dream. Bobby and I watched a show together, and then he laughed as I went to bed at nine o’clock.
He came to sleep around 10. I was curled up asleep on my left-hand side, and Bobby came and put his arm around on me, and he says I burst out laughing uncontrollably, which I don’t remember.
But I do remember rolling onto my back and telling him, I either just peed myself or my water broke. He was petting my head, and said, “Babe, are you sure it’s not just a little pee? Because that’s happened before.” (Which it has!)
“No, I’m sure it’s more than that!”
“Do you think we could sleep a bit and then go?” he asked.
I told him we should go because they said as soon as my water broke that I should get to the hospital.
Looking back, it’s kind of funny and surreal that we were just sitting there, calmly having this conversation, probably for a few minutes. I wasn’t in any pain and so wasn’t sure I was really in labour, plus it was different than my first birth: my water didn’t break until I was in active labour at the hospital.
As soon as I stood up, it was dramatic: the fluid just kept coming.
He’s like, well, what are we going to do now?
I tell him I’ll call my mom to come stay the night with Vayda, and I decide to repack my hospital bag because there’s an outfit I want to where that’s in there. Then I had a shower.
As I’m showering, I look down at my belly, and wonder, Is this the last night you’re going to be in there? Is this going to be your birthday? Who are you?
My mom arrives, and she’s all frantic, but we were sitting around the island, calmly eating scrambled eggs, thinking this labour will take two days. Then Bobby’s laying on the couch, and I’m making him sandwiches, as my mom is asking what the heck I’m doing and why aren’t we going to the hospital yet??
As we go to leave, I sneak in one more time to see Vayda in her crib, and I remember thinking, You’re too little to be a big sister. I even remember the jammies she was wearing.
It was around 11:45 pm when we drove to the hospital. I had my big white headphones on and was listening to the prelabour hypnobirthing. I kept getting annoyed at Bobby who was trying to talk to me or turning up the music. I didn’t want to talk – I wanted to focus on what I was doing. I recall we were driving by Costco, and I told him, You need to stop talking.
Now when I look back, I feel kind of bad, because when you prepare for birth, you’re supposed to involve the partner so they feel a part of it. I did the hypnobirthing on my own, and I know he was just trying to make sure I was doing alright.
At 33rd and Idylwyld, he asked me if I was having a contraction, and I said no. He said it looked like it. I took off my headphones and realized I was but was so in my own head that I didn’t feel it.
I don’t remember much about our arrival at the hospital or being admitted, just that it was a really nice evening.
I do remember them wanting me to change into a gown and I didn’t want to sit down because I had so much pressure on my bottom.
I changed into my gown and was standing up next to the bed, and they were coming in to do the assessment, and I looked at the clock, 1:38, and in my mind, that was the first time I had a contraction where I had to stop and focus on it.
The medical team did an assessment and found the baby’s heart was skipping a beat, so a fetal monitor was placed on me. This made me a bit scared and thrown off because I had put in my birth plan I didn’t want constant monitoring because I wanted to be free to move around. I thought this monitor meant I had to sit down on the bed, so I did, which was uncomfortable because I like to walk while labouring.
I didn’t know I was strep B positive so I was also put on an IV.
At that point, two nurses came in what looked like full-fledged hazmat gear, and explained that there was a particular kind of bacteria on the floor and that because of a flag on my chart, they had to take extra precautions to make sure I didn’t come into contact with it.
Bobby asked if someone could check me (internally) because nobody had at that point, and when they did, they said I was at 5 cm, so I was a bit frustrated I hadn’t progressed, though the nurses kept telling me it was going great and that I was doing a great job.
From there, we moved out of assessment into labour and delivery. I put on my headphones and laboured.
A wonderful nurse came in and held the fetal monitors on my tummy while I moved around.
Then the pediatric cardiologist came in and said we’re ok to monitor every 15 minutes, and that if contractions stop or slow down, to then put the monitor back on right away. Never in mind was I ever really worried about my baby’s heart.
After the cardiologist left, I laboured on my hands and knees for majority of it. I would move from child’s pose, to rocking back and forth, back to child’s pose, all while Bobby gave gentle pressure on my back. Then I wanted to stand. He asked me if I wanted an epidural, and I said I feel like I don’t have time. Bobby went for a nurse, who went to get the anaesthesiologist (I had an epidural with my first baby, and he was likely thinking back to that birth). When he came in, I remember being kind of annoyed. I told him, I don’t need one. I think I need to push.
I remember Bobby was really upset because still no one had checked me. I said I needed to go to the bathroom and went to go and then realized I actually needed to push. I rolled onto my back and grabbed my left leg and told Bobby to grab my right leg, and he’s like, don’t push, and the nurse was saying, don’t push!
“You cannot push! The head is right there!”
I was holding onto Bobby’s hand, saying over and over to myself, I can do this, I can do this.
She yelled, for what I assume was a doctor, who rushed in and introduced herself as Sophia, which I think I remember because it’s such a pretty name. She was actually a Jersey (so 3rd year medical student) and it turned out my birth was her first unassisted delivery. She was so calm and in my mind, did an amazing job!
The nurse is trying to gown her behind her because she didn’t have time to get ready before coming into the room. The doctor was so great. She kept saying, Whenever you’re ready, it’s all on you, you tell me what you want to do.
I told her I was going to push, and the doctor was so confident and calm, following my lead.
I pushed and the baby’s head came out. The doc told me to stop, and I could tell she was turning the baby. Then I pushed again, and my baby came out, and they immediately put baby on me: laid baby on me, head on breast, bum on my stomach. I remember the baby was so warm and mine. At that moment, I still didn’t know she was a little girl.
She was just so, I can’t even say the word. It’s just like your heart was right there. She had so much hair and was so dark with olive skin. She squirmed her way up to my left boob and tried to latch.
“Is this allowed?” I asked. “Absolutely,” responded the nurse.
I scooped her up and she tried to latch and stayed there.
The nurses did delayed cord clamping and wrapped blankets around her as she continued to lay on me.
It was Bobby who turned to me and said, Babe, it’s a girl! It’s a girl! He was crying. He was so proud: “I have two little girls!”
At that moment, I turned to him and said, You have to take her. He was holding her on the right side of me and then I passed out because I was hemorrhaging really bad.
The medical team had misunderstood my birth plan because I said I didn’t want Pitocin to induce labour, but they took it to mean I didn’t want the shot of Pitocin before the baby was being born that is meant to prevent cases of hemorrhaging.
At this point, my family doctor, who delivers babies, rushed into the room in a fury. I was so out of it, but I could tell she was so mad, and I remember kind of looking up and she was barking orders and yelling and pushing on my stomach. Nurses were shoving stuff into my IV.
My doctor was so frantic, spitting orders, mad.
I lost a lot of blood, but didn’t need a transfusion. Not all of my placenta came out – I had a D & C booked but it all passed on its own at six weeks.
My family doctor said it was supposed to be on my chart to call her as soon as admitted because there were concerns this might happen.
I felt so light-headed that I just slept and felt confident that she was ok with Bobby. I’d wake up, look at her snuggled up in his arms, both asleep on the chair, and I’d fall back to sleep.
Around 7:30 that morning, I was able to sit up and have some juice and had enough strength to hold her and unwrap her and take a closer look at her.
When God made her, he just made the sweetest little soul. She’s taught me to just be. She’s got this wise soul. You look in her eyes, and she looks older than she is. Right from when she was born, she just looks at you. Even the way she breathes.
We had four or five girls’ names picked out but didn’t feel strongly about any. There were a couple we really liked but when we saw her, we both agreed, she wasn’t a Piper or a Davis.
Bobby joked that if he hadn’t seen her come out of me, he wouldn’t think she was mine, and I joked that he might not think she was his because she looked like a little Inuit baby with her dark, olive skin, and we are both pale, and our first daughter is fair-skinned with light hair.
They didn’t have a room ready in postpartum, but I loved not having to rush to a different room. Nurses kept apologizing for not checking me more often, but I felt it was the best experience because I wasn’t interrupted and got to labour the way I wanted. I laboured for a total of three hours, and started pushing at 4:11 and she was born at 4:14 a.m.
Finally, around 11:30 they came and said they were going to be moving us soon, and wondered what baby’s name was.
Bobby had been asking and praying all week for a little bit of rain for the farm. One of the names on my list was Raina. He said one of the sweetest things in the spring is to have a little bit of rain: “There’s nothing better than a little rain.”
I said, “Maybe her name should be Raina,” and Bobby said, “That’s exactly what her name should be.”