Meeting Elliott - My Birth Story

Seeing as my little Elliott has now turned 3 months old (where has the time gone?!), I figured it was about time I shared his story. So lets go back in time to October 20th, 2018 - The day my life changed forever.


Note: This post has some frank discussion about things that happen during labour and delivery (I'm talkin' bodily fluids and whatnot). 

If that makes you any bit uncomfortable, this may not be the post for you.




I was 5 days overdue and officially done with being pregnant. Baby's head had been 'fully engaged in my pelvis' for quite some time and I was feeling uncomfortable pressure at all hours of the day. My midwife charmingly referred to this sensation as 'fanny daggers', which honestly couldn't be more accurate.
I also couldn't walk to the end of my street without feeling an extreme urge to pee (and this is after hitting the bathroom right before leaving the house). I was more than ready to meet my baby.

At 5:30 am, I started feeling a cramping sensation. Everyone always says that contractions are hard to describe, but there's no mistaking them when they start. I'm one of those fortunate people who doesn't get period cramps (I know, hate me all you want), so it was unmistakable when this pain struck and encompassed my entire abdomen & low back, all the way down to my thighs. I feel like I was groggily in denial at first, but as these waves of clenching pains hit me every 15 minutes, I knew it was the real deal.

Me and my big ol' belly in all its glory on my due date; October 15th, 2018. You can see I was clearly over it, at this point.
Because the contractions were pretty far apart, I could talk through them without any issue, but found that walking around, bouncing on a yoga ball, even slow dancing with my husband all seemed to help lessen the intensity. I knew we were in for a long haul, so I decided I should eat something to keep my energy up. Wil cooked up a batch of scrambled eggs and a few slices of toast for me, but I got about halfway through my plate before things started to take a turn.
Shortly after noon, the contractions started to hit me like a tidal wave. They'd knock the breath out of my lungs and force me to stop and focus in order to get through them. I had Wil run me a bath to make things more comfortable. I knew when we bought our house that we needed a bathtub, because I knew it would come in handy while I was in labour. Soaking in the warm water really helped to relax me and refocus my breath. At this point, contractions were much closer together, but would fluctuate (they'd be 5 minutes apart consistently, but then 8 minutes, or 10 minutes). We decided now would be a good time to page the midwife to get a second opinion.

For the past 9 months, I had been regularly seeing two midwives (a primary, and secondary in case she wasn't available). Apparently, the business of catching babies was booming in October, and both midwives were attending other births at the time. I got a phone call from another midwife, Whitney, whom I had not met before. I wanted to panic because I now had to go through this pivotal moment with a complete stranger, after building a beautiful rapport with both midwives. But the contractions quickly reminded me this was the least of my problems. I told myself this new midwife was just as qualified as the others, and her calm voice reassured me that she would be just as supportive and kind. She stayed on the phone with me as I panted through two contractions. At this point, they were about 5 minutes apart and she advised we call back once they got a little bit closer together (3 minutes apart being the ideal).

It only took another hour of contractions creeping closer and closer together for us to get the official confirmation of 'go-time' from Whitney to meet her at the hospital.
Lucky for us, Montfort Hospital is just a hop & skip away from where we live. However, we don't have a car and I was not about to take a bus whilst enduring contractions. Our good friend Adam lived only a few blocks away, and had been adamant that he'd be the chauffeur when the time came (truthfully I thought he was joking at first, because the first time he made this promise was after a few beers at a friend's wedding). We only pranked him a few times in the weeks before, just to ensure he was as ready as he claimed to be (I'm a good friend, I swear).

He was at our house in no time, and made no judgment or ill-timed jokes as I groaned in the backseat. Wil later told me he had never seen more perfect driving in his life.
Once we got to the hospital, Adam was quick to fetch me a wheelchair and whisk me off to the labour and delivery ward. He even waited with Wil & I until Whitney arrived.

Feeling those last few kicks before he met us on the other side.
It was 3:45pm and Whitney greeted us and welcomed us into a hospital room to check how far along I was. She confirmed I was only about 4cm dilated, but that my cervix had completely effaced (her exact words were, "it is buttery soft"). In lieu of this, it was still a bit too early to admit me, but assured me I was welcome to continue labouring in the bathtub available. Let me tell you folks, I was quick to hop in and utilize the jets and detachable showerhead to target the intense pains I continuously felt in my lower back. Whitney checked again at 5pm and determined I had only dilated another centimeter at most. She recommended two options: head back home and labour a bit longer, or break my water and get me admitted.
I said, "Let's get this show on the road."

Since baby's head was resting oh so comfortably on my cervix, she cautioned me that the amniotic sac was basically acting as a cushion. Once it was broken, the pains would become much more intense. I foolishly thought, "how much worse can it be?'
A lot worse. The worst pain I'd ever felt.

I had been preparing myself for this momentous occasion by obsessing over the posts on the Empowered Birth Project Instagram page. My birth plan explained that while I was open to pain relief, I would prefer to vocalize this myself rather than be asked. Reason being that I wanted to allow my body to experience the pain and work through it instead of immediately medicating myself. I'm notorious for popping ibuprofen at the first sign of the slightest headache, so I was nervous as hell to experience labour. But being reassured by the inspiring images of women bearing their children unassisted was the biggest motivation for me. I told Wil that I was likely to cry for an epidural if things got intense, so we agreed on a codeword so that he would know I was damn sure I wanted one ("banana", for the curious).

By 5:45 the contractions were so strong I was having difficulty focusing on my breath to get through them. I didn't want to jump right to an epidural, so I opted to try nitrous (laughing gas) to help me through. After two puffs I just felt nauseous, so I put the cork in that pretty fast. We determined I was in back labour because of how intense the contractions felt in my lower back. I tried kneeling on all fours in the bathtub again, with the showerhead targeted on my sacrum, but still found little relief. The only other option I knew of was sterile water injections, and though I was hesitant to try them, I decided to just go for it given how brutal the pressure was on my tailbone.

Let me tell you all right now, that was my only regret. For the unfamiliar, they inject four needles of sterile water into your low back, two at a time. It felt like being stung by a swarm of bees. I personally don't recommend it, only because I didn't feel much relief afterwards. Maybe two contractions felt less intense? It at least help me center myself and try new breathing techniques. I learned rather than cry out in pain, to instead vocalize from my diaphragm in a low, gutteral moan. The pressure was starting to build more and more and Whitney assured me that there will come a point where pushing will feel good. I doubted this at first, but man was she right.

I greatly appreciated the fact that at no point was I told when to push; my midwife gave me permission when I felt like it was time to. She was a total cheerleader throughout, and reassured how strong I was anytime I started to doubt myself. Part of my birth plan stated I wanted to be as involved as possible in the birth itself, so I was encouraged to reach down and feel the baby's progress. It gave me a great confidence boost, knowing how far I've come and how little there was left to go. I'll never forget the relief and joy I felt surge through my body when I touched his head.  Very soon I would get to meet my baby. That alone gave me the strength to keep going, to trust in my body and continue on without the need for any more pain relief.

 The rest is a bit of a blur, but the progress notes I was given afterward confirm I was only actively pushing for about half an hour. At one point I was laying on my side with my knees pulled to my chest, and this helped to turn the baby out of the 'sunny side up' position that was causing my back labour pains. Ultimately, I found that being on my knees on the hospital bed was the most effective. The midwives tied a bedsheet to a pole in the wall behind the bed and let me grip that to focus my energy on pushing during the contractions. I remember calling out, "come on baby," at each peak because I was so eager to see him for the first time.

I remember feeling the dreaded 'ring of fire' burn, but pushed on through. I heard Whitney say, "Baby is crowning...there's the eyes...head is out...catch your baby!"

At 8:05 pm, I caught him in my arms.

I looked down and there he was, crying loudly to announce his arrival. Now, the original plan was for Wil to announce the sex. However, his legs were crossed at the time, so when I looked up at my husband for him to reveal the big news to me he simply said, "I don't know, I can't see."
I uncrossed those little legs and yelled out, "IT'S A BOY....oops, sorry honey."
We all had a little giggle. And then it clicked in that we now had a son.



Elliott Istvan; 7lbs 5.5oz, 52 cm long, and a head full of blonde hair.
I held him on my abdomen for skin-to-skin, and he was able to accomplish something called 'The Breast Crawl'. I highly encourage you to do a little YouTube search on this phenomenon, because it is absolutely magical. He latched on successfully and I nursed him for the first time. We spent about an hour or so doing skin-to-skin cuddling, all while I birthed the placenta. I asked to see it after, because the fact that I grew a temporary organ is absolutely fascinating to me, and we were all delighted to see it was heart-shaped! The human body is incredible, folks.

The three of us had to stay overnight because I had a very minor hemorrhage after birthing the placenta, and they wanted to monitor me just to be safe. We were both granted a clean bill of health after 24 hours and we went home together as a family.

Our first selfie. I can't believe he was ever this tiny!
I can positively say I had the best birth experience I could have ever hoped for. It was both the hardest, and most empowering thing I've ever done in my life. And I can't wait to do it again.

I owe a big huge thank you to the amazing team of midwives at The Midwifery Group of Ottawa. It was with their support and guidance that I was able to have the birth of my dreams. If you're pregnant and seeking care in the Ottawa area, I cannot recommend them enough!

And of course, my darling husband Wil. Thank you for never leaving my side and reminding me of my ability, and most importantly, for giving me this beautiful son of ours.

2 comments:

  1. I love it! I didn't know sterile water injections were even a thing, but that definitely doesn't sound pleasant. I love when people share their birth stories in blog posts because I swear so many "birth vlogs" make it look SO easy because they edit the hard parts out. I'm still at least a year and a bit away before we even start trying to get pregnant, but I'm already so excited. Thank you for sharing! (And weird side note, but Elliott's nails look so good for being just born in that pic lol)

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    Replies
    1. Yeah I can't say I'd personally recommend the sterile water injections; I don't think they're very common (I had never heard of them before my midwife brought it up at one of our appointments).

      Thank you for taking the time to read this! All the best to you if you do decide to start trying; it's a wonderful, exciting journey!

      (also LOL at the nail comment! Guess those prenatal vitamins were workin' afterall!)

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