Tuesday October 11 started like any other day. After a relaxing long weekend, I woke up at 5:30 AM to get ready for work. I was still half asleep when I shuffled along to the my ensuite bathroom. Just as I made it to the toilet, I felt a gush of warm water soaking my pants, underwear and feet. No way my water just broke, I wasn’t due for THREE MORE WEEKS! My mind started racing. I had so much I still needed to do.
I shoved a towel between my legs and waddled down to our guest room where my husband Mark had been sleeping for the past few months (to deal with my new habit of snoring and waking up every hour to pee). I told him my water just broke and said he should go back to sleep since I was certain we were in for a long ride. In fact, my best friend had just given birth the day before after a thirty hour labour, so I pretty certain I wouldn’t be going anywhere for a while.
I called my midwife and since I had no contractions or any other symptoms, she suggested I rest up for a few hours and that she would call me back. If you know me, you know I can’t rest when there’s things to be done. Plus, I had just slept the whole night. I decided to tidy myself up, I wanted to look good for labour (oh how naive!). I showered, shaved, took my nail polish off.
As I finishing up my shower, I noticed blood running down my legs. I assumed this was the “bloody show” I had read about, even though it seemed like a lot of blood. At this point, it’s around 6:30 AM and the contractions are starting and they hurt. My birth plan was to have an unmedicated birth with as little medical interventions as possible, and quite frankly as I was feeling these contractions I had no clue how I was going to do this without drugs.
I decided to lay in bed and make a birthing playlist, something I was going to do closer to my due date. Music is such a big part of my life and I thought having music that I love to listen to would be a great way to take my mind off the pain. In retrospect, this was a complete waste of time and I have yet to listen to my Spotify birthing playlist (which is 90% City and Colour and Bon Iver…).
The contractions keep getting worse and I decide that I should dry my hair so I’ll have time to straighten it and put on some makeup (getting more naive by the minute). I start drying my hair and realize I’m stopping every few minutes for contractions. I download a contractions app and start timing them. I realize my contractions are coming every two minutes. This can’t be right. It’s my first child and I’ve been “labouring” for an hour at this point. I call my midwife back and tell her about the blood and the contractions. They’re starting to hurt so much that I can’t talk through them. She tells me my midwife team is across town (about 45 minutes away) at another birth and that I should come to that hospital to get checked and possibly admitted there.
I wake up Mark and tell him to help me pack up my bags. I try to dry the rest of my hair but give up on doing anything else. I can barely think at this point from the pain and I’m feeling a lot of pressure down below that feels like it shouldn’t be happening yet. All of a sudden, every muscle in my stomach get tight and when they release, blood and fluid go all over the bathroom floor. I scream to Mark to call 911 because something is wrong. He looks at me and I can tell he is thinking: a) My wife is a drama queen, and b) There is no way she is doing this drug free. He walks towards the bathroom just in time to witness another gush of blood and fluid. I grab onto his hoodie and look him dead in the eyes and tell him to call 911 right away.
I can hear him in the hallway talking to the 911 operator. He is trying to convince her to send someone. “Yes, it’s her first pregnancy…she thinks the baby is coming now. She isn’t due for three weeks.” I can tell from his responses the operator is not 100% convinced. Mark comes in the ensuite and puts her on speakerphone. She tells Mark to get a towel for me to lay on and extras in case he has to deliver the baby and tells me to lay on the ground. I am on my side, screaming and closing my legs as tight as possible. The operator asks Mark to look and see if he can see the baby’s head. I refuse to open my legs because I think squeezing them closed will delay the inevitable.
It feels like eternity and I have the urge to push. I am pleading with the operator to get the ambulance here and she says its five minutes away. After what seems like another ten minutes, she says it is still five minutes away. Eventually, Mark says he hears it, but returns saying it was only the garbage truck. My heart sinks and I’m starting to get frantic. Finally, we hear a knock at the door and the next thing I know there are four paramedics squished in my washroom. The youngest one, Kyle, kneels beside my face, grabs my hand and tells me that I will be okay. Another paramedic, Sabrina, tells me she is also a birth doula, so I couldn’t be in better hands.
They put a tarp down under me and start asking me questions and taking my blood pressure. All of a sudden, I start to feel like it was all a false alarm. I start apologizing to the paramedics, saying they probably have real problems to deal with and it may be a false alarm. They all start laughing and tell me that no, I am giving birth and it is most definitely not a false alarm.
Now for the most embarrassing part of the story, and in true Just a Trace fashion, it wouldn’t be a great story if I didn’t embarrass myself a little. I told the paramedics I had the urge to push. Well, I pushed…..out a giant bowel movement (thank god for the tarp!). As it was happening, I blurted out “I’m pooping all over the floor, aren’t I?” They were super polite and I told them they didn’t have to be polite about it because I totally just took a giant dump on my floor in front of a group of strangers.
So now I’m literally laying in my own crap, and they say we have a decision to make. Do I want to birth the baby here or at a hospital? We know we won’t make it to the hospital where my midwives are, but there is a small rural hospital about ten minutes away. I definitely don’t want to birth my baby in a pile of my own crap, so I opt for the hospital. Once there is a break in the contractions, I get up, grab a towel and start to walk downstairs. At this point, it’s around 7:30 AM and everyone is on their way to work so my whole street is outside just in time to see my leave the house in a t-shirt, no underwear, no pants, no shoes and a towel that it flapping open. I walk to the end my driveway to find two ambulances and a police car. I get on the stretcher and then reality sets in. I start yelling from the stretcher, “Mark, don’t forget my phone charger! Bring the car seat!”
As I get into the ambulance, I say goodbye to Sabrina as she was in the other ambulance and thank her for her help. The ambulance door closes, and then almost instantly opens again and Sabrina is there telling me she is coming to the hospital with me. On the ride over, I tell them I really do need to push this time. They tell me I can, but that Mark may miss the birth if I do. I resist pushing and we are at the hospital before I know it.
I am wheeled in on the stretcher and when I get to the delivery room the doctor and nurses are all there ready to go. I am put on the bed, and the doctor tells me I am 10 cm dilated and they can see her head. I am given free reign to push when I feel like it. I have to say that at this point, I am in complete shock. I was not supposed to be giving birth yet. I was not supposed to be at this hospital, or in an ambulance. I feel almost numb or like I am having an out of body experience. I can’t say I 100% remember everything that happened after this point, but it was fast.
I felt really lucky to have met Sabrina because she was a big source of help in getting through the rest of the labour. She stayed at my head and held my hand and coached me through pushing. The nurses and doctor were phenomenal, and let me go at my own pace. I was able to tell them when I was ready to push. Pushing felt good and I was grateful that I could feel the pushing because I could tell when I was doing it right. Everything was great until her head started coming out, and I finally understood what the “ring of fire” was that I had heard about from other moms who had drug free births. Once the ring of fire hit, it took two contractions to get her fully out and that was the most excruciatingly painful few minutes of my entire life. I had been relatively quiet otherwise, but during those final moments I screamed so loud that my throat actually hurt for two days afterwards.
Once Bria was out, it was the greatest feeling of relief. They put her on my chest and I felt like I could finally breathe again. To be honest, I was still in complete shock at this point, since just four hours earlier I had woke up to go to work. I couldn’t believe she was here. I was also completely lucky that I didn’t need any stitches and was able to get out of bed right after. I was able to do skin to skin with her for an hour, and then the nurse uttered those horrible words…. “It’s time for you to go pee.” As I got up to walk to the bathroom, I whispered to the nurse, “I don’t have shoes. I left so fast and I don’t have shoes.” She laughs and tells me that I can have a relative bring me shoes later. For some reason, I was more scared to pee than I was to give birth, but that squirt bottle was a dream and those free mesh underwear were also a nice postpartum perk.
I have to say that it did take me a while to come to terms with what had happened. I remember a few hours later, finally being alone in the hospital room and breaking down crying realizing how scared I was when I was waiting for the paramedics. I wouldn’t have changed a thing though. For one, I have this awesome story to share. I was incredibly lucky to have a short labour and easy birth. I was able to have an unmedicated birth with no interventions and was up walking around with no healing to do right after. I met Sabrina, and the other amazing paramedics, and have a newfound respect for emergency service workers like paramedics and police officers who are able to make you feel safe and calm even though you are perfect strangers to each other.
By the following afternoon, Mark, Bria and I were discharged from the hospital and began what I didn’t realize would be the most terrifying part of all – being first time parents, alone at home with a newborn.