The memories I have of Lyric’s birth will never escape my mind but the whole experience is such a blur all at the same time. I remember every detail, yet when we talk about it there’s always little things I seem to have forgot. Regardless, it was as predictable as ever, hands down the best day of my life.
Truth be told, I am as open minded and drawn to the idea of home, water and medicine-free births as they come. Like many women, deep down I yearned to experience one or all of those things. I’m not sure what it is, but women have an unrelenting desire to bring their children into this world just as naturally and unassisted as our ancestors did. Likely because it is the natural thing to do. In all honestly though I couldn’t bring myself to attempt any of those things with this being my first pregnancy and just not knowing what to expect. It’s weird because I spent most of my time pregnant researching hospital-free births and when I pictured that for myself I got really excited, but but couldn’t muster up the courage to reach for it. Living in a small town and being far from a hospital equipped to handle an emergency with a newborn wasn’t something I was willing to chance; and only birthing centers offer water births but epidurals are not available. Even though I wasn’t sure if I would or wouldn’t want one, I didn’t want to be in a situation where I couldn’t. Weeks before Lyric was born I talked in depth about the ongoing trend with hospital births and how common Pitocin, forceps, and cesareans were becoming and why, and even my doctor’s decision to induce me and if I felt that was the right thing to do. After all, our ancestors didn’t induce labor, they waited until their babies came on their own.
Induction for me though wasn’t as far on the “medically assisted” spectrum enough to make me decide to opt out of it. Although I did fear that it wouldn’t work and they would push to have me on a Pitocin drip to speed things along, I knew I would deal with that as it came, and I educated myself on the volume and rate of Pitocin that was appropriate vs what doctors and nurses usually administer, so I at least felt prepared. Going into the induction I suppose I had high hopes that the Cervidil hormone would do it’s job. (The other reason I didn’t object to the induction was because I was positive of my dates and knew I was, without a doubt, full term.)
Having said all of that, I couldn’t be more at peace with my birth experience. From start to finish it was the perfect blend of a ‘modern’ and ‘natural’ labor in my mind and I’m so pleased with how the events unfolded. The Cervidil did it’s job and from there my body progressed on its own meaning I didn’t require Pitocin, I got to labor on my own for hours before heading to the hospital, where we spent barely any time overall, and our doctor and nurses respected our wishes for delayed cord clamping.
We left home bright and early on September 23rd for the Grey Nuns hospital where our induction was set to take place at 7:45. I was 41 weeks and one day pregnant and still only 1 centimeter dilated. After dropping the dog off at Davin’s parents, we headed to the city knowing this would be our last day as a twosome. I remember thinking how we were both so visibly excited yet calm while we talked about how we thought the next few days would go. We were so ready to finally become parents.
After monitoring the baby for an hour, they gave me Cervidil at 8:45 to ripen my cervix and hopefully kickstart labor and sent us on our way. Our friend, Jordan, joined us for a late brunch before we all headed to West Edmonton Mall so I could walk lots to help things along. I knew it could take the Cervidil hours (and hours) to take effect, if was going to at all. But that didn’t stop me from feeling discouraged after three hours of walking and not feeling the slightest cramp or twinge of discomfort. I was texting friends and family saying how disappointed I was and how we would probably have to go back in the morning for another round of the hormone. It wasn’t until we left the mall at 4:30, we were walking to the vehicle in the parking lot, and I realized I was having slight period-like cramps and that I had actually been feeling a lot of pressure down low for quite some time, but somehow didn’t notice. Now that I was paying attention, it almost felt like my nether regions were bruised.
We went to Jordan and Kara’s condo and played card games for a few hours while I bounced on my yoga ball. Within two hours that slight crampy feeling had become stronger and started caming in waves. My hips were starting to ache and I felt pressure all over. At 7pm we walked a few blocks to a little bistro for supper. I was having a hard time focusing on anything more than eating my panini at this point. The contractions still weren’t timeable but they were uncomfortable enough to pre-occupy my mind and ability to focus on anything. Walking to the restaurant helped to ease my discomfort and I felt like it was helping things along so after dinner we walked another 10 city blocks or so. It was an absolutely gorgeous night, something like 20 degrees. On the walk back to their condo I felt what I thought could be my water leaking but when we got back home I couldn’t tell so I called the hospital and they said to come in if it continued. By now it was 9pm and I could finally start timing the contractions. They were every two minutes and lasting one minute long. On the pain scale I’d say they were a 3.5 out of 10. They weren’t taking my breath away but because they were so frequent it made it difficult to do anything.
By 11pm I was ready to leave Jordan and Kara’s and either head to the hospital to stay depending on my progress or get a hotel room. We decided to go in to get checked and confirm if that was my water leaking a few hours earlier or not. Lying down while they hooked me up to monitor the baby was the absolute worst. My contractions got a thousand times more intense lying on my back. Turns out I was STILL one centimeter, -2 station and my water was not leaking but I had had the start of my bloody show. So with that lovely news, I asked for some pain relief so I could get some sleep. They gave me a morphine and gravol shot and asked us to stay for an hour and walk the halls so they could check me again. We did so for half an hour, before I told them we were leaving and that I wasn’t going to let them check me again. My pain relief would only last a few hours and there’s no way I would have dilated any more that was worth noting in one hour, so at 1:30 we headed to find a hotel room.
I was able to sleep through the contractions from 1:30 to 3am before they woke me up and started coming on really strong. I let Davin stay sleeping, drew a bath and filled a cup of ice to eat and stay hydrated. Pardon my French but this is where shit got real! At first the water was really comforting and I was able to labor and actually sleep between contractions. But half an hour later I felt instantly nauseous and threw up multiple times. Every 20 minutes I’d move from the bathtub to leaning over the counter and focused solely on timing them with my phone. For three hours I labored in our hotel bathroom and groaned as deep and as loud as I could with every single contraction. They were intense, mainly in my belly and felt nothing like a period cramp, but somehow I remember feeling in control. Being alone and having no other distractions was exactly what I needed if I wanted to last as long as I could away from the hospital. I’d take a deep breath in right as one was coming on and exhale extremely slowly through my nose while ‘hmmm-ing’ and try to make it last as long as the contraction. That required a lot of focus which I think is what helped me labor that long because now they were nearing an 8 out of 10.
I thought Davin slept the entire time but apparently he was awake and listening to me. He burst into the bathroom once when I was in between contractions thinking I drowned because I wasn’t groaning anymore. When we checked in the clerk said we got the last room, so we were both amazed that our neighbors didn’t complain that someone was dying or having loud sex next door for three hours in the early morning. I sent Davin once to get more ice and he said he could hear me from the opposite end of the hallway, so we honestly don’t understand how we didn’t get kicked out. Anyways, by 6am like the flick of a switch I was in more pain than I could handle. We packed up our room as fast as we could and headed downstairs to check out. It was Wednesday morning and the lobby was filled with businessmen in suits that went from chatting amongst themselves to staring at me, sobbing and very visibly in active labor, in no time at all.
The sun was just starting to rise as we raced to the hospital and I remember being so excited for what we were about to experience, and being in so much pain at the same time. I also remember feeling really thankful that I had someone to drive me so quickly towards pain relief, as if Davin didn’t have to be there which of course he did. The pain was clearly getting to my head. I only had a 15-20 second break between contractions and could only make it as far as the lobby before having to stop so Davin ran for a wheel chair. Later, he said he was terrified of having to deliver our baby in the elevator at the hotel, and now I’m quite certain he was terrified again that it’d be in the hospital lobby. We got upstairs and they hooked me up to the monitors in the labor & delivery triage room where there are a bunch of other women there to get checked. I insisted on standing while the nurse checked me because of how horrible the contractions got last time they had me lie down…I was now 4 centimeters and 80% effaced! Not as far along as I’d like but I knew it wouldn’t be much longer. I was sick a few more times and now started shaking. Almost as soon as they had us in the triage area, she had us walk down the hall to our labor and delivery room to get ready. I will never forget this walk. EVER. It felt like it took me a year to walk down two wings of the hospital to get to our room. Contractions were rolling one on top of the other and were the most intense they had been so far. I was hanging on to Davin and the railings in the hallway the entire time, and would only get two steps before having to break again. I honestly wasn’t sure if my feet would carry me the rest of the way.
As soon as we got to the room I draped myself over the bed and had Davin hold me up so I could relax my legs. I couldn’t talk or breath, but when I suddenly felt the urge to go to the bathroom I b-lined it for the door yelling “I have to go to the bathroom!” Now, I knew very well that the baby descending can feel just like a bowel movement, but when you have the sensation to poo, whether you’re in labor or not, you don’t just assume that’s what it is. So I headed to the bathroom obviously! (It’s nice to know a woman doesn’t lose all of her poise while in labor!) Luckily, our nurse was quick to stop me and suggest that I get checked just in case. In the 20 minutes it took me to walk the hallway to our room, I went from 4 to 7 centimeters and it was in fact the baby’s head pushing down! No wonder I felt like giving up and just setting up camp in the hallway.
I obviously asked for the epidural as soon as we got to our room, so our nurse was trying to keep me still so she could set up an IV. I was shaking and kept telling her to wait because I couldn’t not move long enough for her to stick me. She said we were running out of time and if I wanted the epidural I need the IV like, now. Next thing I remember is the anesthesiologist entering the room behind me and hearing her say “I only have two women to do…but I think we’ll do Lisa first.” That blessed woman was set up and ready to give me the miracle drug less than 10 minutes later. As I’m leaning over and resting my head on Davin’s shoulder while she’s inserting the epidural, I realized that I was 7 centimeters, probably almost 8 now, and we hadn’t called our friend Desiree who was going to photograph the birth. The plan was to call her when I was 5 but because I progressed so fast we didn’t have time. She texted us that she was on her way at 8am, almost right after we let her know we were near ready.
The epidural was bliss! It took effect almost immediately and it was such a relief. I went from a 10 out of 10 on the pain scale to feeling no pain at all. You can tell I was comfortable because when Desiree arrived all of our photos are of Davin and I smiling and talking about how crazy the last few hours had been and how the person who invented the epidural was a pure genius. Our nurses, who were absolutely amazing, would come to check on me often and mentioned more than once that since I was content they were going to deliver a few other babies first because L&D was extremely busy that morning. We were fine with that because as the epidural wore off that meant I would be able to feel pressure, but not pain, from the contractions so I would know when to push. We started to lose patience when a few hours went by and even though I let them know I was feeling pressure, they still hadn’t come back to tell us it was finally our turn, especially since I was fully dialated since 9:00! It wasn’t until 11:30 that they finally came in and said it was time. I started pushing but things were progressing pretty slowly. Dr. McCubbin came in after an hour and had to turn the baby because she was sunny side up. After she turned her, pushing was much more effective and they said they could see our baby’s dark hair after only a few more pushes! That got me so excited and even more motivated to get her out so we could meet her.
It still took some time, but after two a half hours of pushing at 1:06pm they laid the most beautiful and perfect 6lb 9oz little girl we’d ever seen on my chest. We delayed cord clamping before Davin cut it and had skin to skin immediately. Davin could hardly believe we had a daughter because he was so sure that we were having a boy that he kept staring at her and saying “Really!? We have a girl!?” That moment was incredible. I burst into tears and kept petting her full head of dark hair while she rooted for her hand and lifted her head over and over. We stayed like that for an hour and Lyric’s eyes stayed locked on her daddy the entire time. We were in awe at how strong and alert she was. We admired her long fingers, dark beetie eyes and squishy little nose. Her skin was flawless and she didn’t have a mark on her. I couldn’t believe she was all ours! I kept looking to Davin and saying “I did it!” and by ‘it’ I meant nothing more than I listened to my body and followed my heart until our precious girl made her arrival. That’s all any woman can strive for, no matter how their baby ultimately enters the world.
Shortly after I delivered my placenta, and of course, I asked to see it. Yes, I’m that girl, I take pleasure in knowing everything I can about my body, gross stuff included. Shocked by my request, the nurse happily brought it over to us and explained how they knew it was healthy and even pointed out the side that Lyric was snuggled up against all those nine months. Normally Davin would pass out if he was within a hundred feet of a placenta, but I guess if it didn’t pass out already, he wasn’t about to now. He was amazing throughout the entire process; he gave me the space I needed but was still there to hold me up, keep a cold cloth on my head and speak for me when I wasn’t able to. And most of all, he didn’t let his squeamish tendencies cause himself to hit the floor, even if he did let it show once in a while, haha.
It’s been just over six weeks since Lyric’s birthday and our love for her is immeasurable. We are in our glory raising her and it’s safe to say Davin and I love each other the most as parents. When I was pregnant I felt like my body was the best it’s ever been and was doing what it was supposed to. Now, I’m this little girl’s mom and I feel like my soul is what it was ultimately meant to be, which is so, so much better.
Photography By: DV Photography