Eden Jacquelyn: A birth story

**** This was supposed to be posted on Eden’s birthday, July 13, but our hard drive crashed that day so I didn’t get to post it until now ****

One year ago this little angel made me a mother.

Only a few hours old

In some ways it’s hard to believe that it’s already been a year, but in other ways it seems like she’s been with us forever. Seeing how much she’s changed over the past year has been amazing and the love that she displays to both Tim and I just fills our hearts until we think they might burst.

I thought that I might share Eden’s birth story since I haven’t yet, it seems timely since it’s her birthday and all. Tim wrote an excellent log of the labour and delivery during and after it happened so I have a great resource since my memory of the whole thing isn’t that great.

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July 12, 2010 around 11pm

My contractions started, well, I wasn’t really sure whether it was contractions. It felt more like menstrual cramps and I wasn’t too concerned since my due date wasn’t for another week and it’s more common to have a late first baby than early. Tim was out playing softball and I was home, probably watching a show or something like that. When Tim got home I told him that I was having some cramping but nothing too serious I didn’t think. We tried to go to sleep but it was pretty futile because I couldn’t get comfortable and the cramping was increasingly bothersome.  Around 2am I asked Tim to start recording my contractions and we realised that they were only about 4 minutes apart lasting for about 1 minute. They were pretty consistently 4 minutes apart which is actually pretty close together. We decided to stay home for as long as we could, to try and get some rest (turned out impossible) and just start this process together in the quietness of the night.

It was a bit of a strange situation because we couldn’t really call anyone to tell them labour had started because it was the middle of the night, but it was also nice because it was just the two of us. What an amazing support Tim was!

At 3:20am Tim journaled, “Sleep’s not going to be possible, too many contractions, plus things to do to get ready; bags to pack, sandwiches to make…here we go, early labour!”

We left for the hospital around 9am, 7 hours after the contractions began, and after we called a few family members to let them know what was happening.

Around 11am we met the OB, Resident, and a Med Student…(we also had our regular nurse and a student nurse) and they did the first examination. It was a pretty full room, but we were told that I was already 4 cm dilated and 80% effaced! This was such an encouragement to us.

I laboured on the exercise ball quite a bit and spent some time in the tub. Tim and I walked around the ward and it seemed to be going really well. Around 2pm, 12 hours after labour began, the myriad of doctors arrived for another examination. The news wasn’t great this time, I was only 1 more cm dilated and that was after 4 more hours of contractions. It was strange though because up until that point I was really in control of the whole situation. I was breathing through contractions and I was feeling really optimistic about the whole thing. I honestly felt like I lost a lot of control over the whole process at this point.

A healthy girl!

The doctors recommended that they rupture my membrane (break the water) manually to get things going. I honestly didn’t want to have any interventions but I didn’t really feel like I had a choice in the  matter. My nurse was really pushy too, so we decided to go ahead with it. In the end it did nothing other than make the contractions much more painful.

Things really went down hill from here. Because of the increased pain they recommended fentanyl to “take the edge off”, and needing this medicine made me feel like I had failed somehow because I so desperately wanted to have a natural birth without intervention. The fentanyl really negatively affected me and I basically lost my mind.  After a few more hours of steady contractions and being examined by the doctor we found out I was still only at 5cm. This is what Tim wrote about it: “This knowledge caused her to plunge into despair…she basically became hysterical, weeping and hyperventilating between and during each contraction, with no way of consoling her. She claimed that she ‘wasn’t even here’ and ‘didn’t know what was going on’ and that she ‘wasn’t herself’. She would hardly open her eyes, even to look at me, partly because she was dizzy from the fentanyl and hyperventilation, but also – I suspect – because of her panicked state of mind.”

Charlotte holding her cousin with mommy's help

On a side note, I think I had the worst nurse in the labour and delivery department. She didn’t really listen to any of my wishes and would say things like, “You can’t say we never offered you an epidural” when I was in the middle of a contraction. If I had been in my right mind I probably would have asked for a new nurse, but since I was out of it I didn’t really realise until afterwards. She also had me strapped to the fetal monitor for a long time, so I laboured a lot on my back (which is the worst position). Tim was getting pretty frustrated with her though, and when it got to be too much and he was going to ask for someone else it was the end of her shift and I got a new one anyway.

At 5pm, after 14 hours of labour, Dr. Adam arrived! I had never met him but I had heard many good things about him from other moms. He recommended that they give me Pitocin to help speed up the process. I was eventually able to consent to it (I was still very hysterical) and it really helped things progress. I dilated 2cm more in only an hour and during that time I also started breathing Nitrous Oxide. I don’t really know if the gas did much but it really became part of my routine of getting through a contraction. I felt the urge to push sometime around 7:00pm, but the nurses told me to stop, which is impossible (if you’ve ever had a baby you will know this). They checked my progress and of course I had dilated completely (the body knows when it’s ready) and it was time. I think I did really well at this point, I was concentrating really hard and listening to the nurses instructions on how long to push and such. The contractions slowed a bit so I did have time to breath in between each one. It hurt like no pain I’ve ever experienced before, at one point I remember saying to Tim that I couldn’t do it and I didn’t even care about the baby, I just wanted it to stop. Thankfully I only had to push for about half an hour and then everything changed when she was born.

Mom and her granddaughters shortly after Lila was born

They immediately brought her up to my chest for some skin-to-skin contact. The room became quiet and I was just amazed at the perfect little baby that laid there, looking up at me with her big blue eyes. The resident began to stitch me up (which took forever and was very painful, he did do an excellent job though) and they cleaned Eden up. She latched on really well and we had a successful first nursing session.

Sisters and Cousins

What an amazing experience it was to bring a life into the world. I will probably never forget it and I have definitely learned some things for next time that I’ll do differently, but in the end it was worth it. I honestly can’t imagine life without this little angel now. She has taught me so much over this past year and I’m sure there is much more for me to learn.

July 14, 6:40pm: “We named Eden after the place God made for his creation; a perfect place of peace, where all of their needs would be fulfilled. It’s our hope and prayer that Eden will grow up strong and healthy to fulfill the meaning of that name; to live in peace with others, to have all her needs met, and to enjoy God’s creation and a relationship with him.”

I love you Eden, for making me a mother and teaching me what that really means. I pray that as you grow physically I will grow spiritually and with confidence in the decisions I have to make for you. You are an amazing daughter and fill me with a love that I didn’t even know existed prior to your birth. I thank God for entrusting you, his precious daughter,  into my care as your mother and primary role model (at least for the early years). You are a treasure that I cherish and I love the kisses that you so generously give me.

Learning to kiss, she's a pro now!

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3 thoughts on “Eden Jacquelyn: A birth story

  1. Kathryn, thank you so much for sharing this, and Tim, I’m so glad you journaled! I confess I laughed when reading about your “plunging into despair” – I’m sure I’ll apologize once I have a baby! Haha… oh man. Reading your entries about Eden makes me really happy, really hopeful… thank you guys!!

    • Oh, it was real despair… no kidding, being there during Kathryn’s labour was the worst/hardest experience of my life up to that point (and still is!). For a while I truly, honestly thought Kathryn had lost her mind and was never coming back – it was terrifying. But the turnaround after she held Eden for the first time was instantaneous. She was suddenly speaking softly, thinking clearly, loving Eden so deeply… it was just so intense. Worth it though, of course!

  2. Pingback: A Salute (More than a Farewell) to Fredericton, New Brunswick « K & T

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