I found out that my first-born was breech a few weeks before my due date. They were sure she would turn on her own, but scheduled a C-section any way. I tried everything- chiropractor, exercises, moxabustion acupuncture, external cephalic version but nothing worked. She was born healthy and happy via C-section with a short umbilical cord, which the doctors thought might have had something to do with the not turning.
One of the first things that I thought of when I found out that I was pregnant the second time around was that I was determined to have a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After C Section). I immediately applied to a midwifery clinic as I felt like I had a better chance at VBAC success, and got in. I had tried to get into a midwifery clinic with my first, but was never able to as they are in short supply and high demand in Ontario.
I really felt like Juniper was going to come early, and quite frankly I was hoping for it as she was due on December 24th. On the morning of December 16th I went to my labour prep acupuncture session. I had been planning to get my nails done afterwards, but wasn’t feeling very well so I went home for a quick nap instead. When I woke up from my nap and walked to the bathroom around 4:00 PM I felt water trickling down my leg. At first I thought that I had just peed myself, but I realized that I couldn’t control the flow of the water, and that it was clear and didn’t really seem like urine.
I called my husband and told him that I thought my water broke. I then called my mom and midwife to let them know what was going on. I didn’t feel any contractions yet so I just headed to the kitchen to keep myself busy making post birth healing pads that were recommended to me by a friend.
Everyone was excited and anxious, and was expecting the baby to come that night. I felt a few contractions start around 7:00 during dinner, and they lightly continued all night long. I knew we needed to sleep, but the contractions and anticipation made it difficult.
The next morning I spoke to my midwife again, who told me to rest, try to walk a bit, and to come into the clinic at 4:00 so that they could run some tests to make sure that my water had indeed broken. At that point I called my amazing birth doula Jessica, who came over to see how we were doing. She was convinced that my water had indeed broken, so made me walk, and walk, and walk all day long. At this point my labour was frustrating, it would start to get going and contractions would get stronger and closer apart, and then stop for an hour or so.
We went to the midwifery clinic that evening for tests, which we all very confusing. My midwife said that there was fluid that looked like my water had broken, but the swab came back negative. None of this really mattered; it just bought me more time. (Later we found out that my water had indeed broken!)
By 10:00 that night they were getting much stronger, but not strong enough or close enough together to warrant a move to the hospital. At this point I started to panic a bit, as I was looking at night number two of no sleep and lots of pain. I had spoken to my midwife who said I still needed to wait it out a bit and to do my best to get some rest.
Looking back I think that I was transitioning into active labour at this point as I was throwing up and feeling quite nauseous. I knew my husband really needed to sleep, so I let him sleep in the bedroom as I laboured away in the den. My contractions were strong but not close enough together, so I moved from the couch to the bath and back again for a few hours. Around 2:00 I woke him up and told him that we needed to call the midwife because the contractions were so intense. At that point she said she thought that it was finally time to go.
We picked up our birth doula Jessica on out way, and met my midwife in the hospital around 3:30. At this point my midwife checked me and I was 3 cm dilated. After this point things really started to progress. I had planned to have an epidural so that if anything went wrong with my VBAC it would already be inserted in time for surgery. But of course the birthing unit was quite busy that night, so we were told we had to wait until the anesthetist was done with his patients before us.
Soon enough things felt like they were changing, and when my midwife checked me she said I was 8-9 cm dilated. The anesthetist still hadn’t shown up, and my midwife said that we might run out of time for an epidural. This of course sent me into a panic because it just wasn’t something I hadn’t planned for. But I just took deep breaths and dealt with it as best I could. The baby was really low at this point and my midwife said that it might not be much longer.
The anesthetist finally showed up at the same time as the backup midwife. I was rocked by contraction after contraction while sitting on the table while the anesthetist tried to get the epidural in, which took two tries. He finally got it in and I felt immediate relief. My midwife said we could then relax for an hour while they got the room set up before pushing. I was so thankful for this time as I was so exhausted and everything had been such a whirlwind. We were able to catch our breath and regroup before the pushing and delivery.
At 7:00 am on the dot we were ready to start pushing. I was so nervous for this part and felt very emotional that our baby girl was about to be born. My midwife said this part could take hours, so I was mentally prepared for the worst. Only 11 minutes later our little Juniper May was born. She was immediately passed to me for skin to skin, which was something I was so thankful for as it was not possible when Olive was born. My birth doula immediately helped me put the baby on the breast and she started nursing as we waited to pass the placenta.
Once my midwives got me all cleaned up and did everything they needed to with the baby, we were able to go home. We were home by 10:30 am, just over 3 hours after she was born. I was so thankful for this as with Olive we were in the hospital for two days, which felt like an eternity. I was so happy to get home to Olive and for her to meet her new little sister for the first time.
We actually had a birth photographer at our birth, which is something that I didn’t do with my first, and wasn’t even something that I thought that I wanted or needed. I am telling you now though, that I am SO happy that I made this decision. Calla is the sweetest, kindest person, and it was a pleasure to have her there. She was even super helpful fetching drinks when needed. She really went way beyond her call of duty. She even met us at home to take some photos of Olive meeting her new baby sister for the first time. I will cherish these photos forever, and am thankful to have these images to look back on to remember one of the most important moments of my life.
Be sure to check out Calla’s website for more examples of her work!