July 21st was a magic date. It was the target in front of us 3 years ago and we were aiming to get as close as possible to it. When we passed the 38 week hurdle we collectively let out a sigh of relief. We had passed into the window of opportunity for having a home birth and we were excited! We hadn't always wanted to have B at home, in fact it didn't even enter into our minds until we heard friends talking about it and we attended an information session at our midwife clinic. From that point on we were sold and knew that the home birth option was the right one for us and that our midwives would make it a wonderful and safe experience.
We began preparations for a home birth including briefing our family and friends and fielding the 'WTF? Are you crazy?' and 'Who is going to clean up the mess?' and 'DO NOT tell me why you need a little fish net for' questions and comments. But as we passed from 38 weeks to 40 weeks we both grew anxious. We were in the middle of the 4 week sweet spot for a home birth and knew that if we hit 42 weeks we would not be able to proceed as planned. It is a huge range of emotions when you go over 40 weeks. Every kick and fart is an instant 'THIS IS IT' moment. Hours are spent walking, eating spicy food and rocking on the yoga ball. Our visits with our midwives became very frequent and frankly very clinical. We had ultrasounds every week, consults with an OB to ensure we could continue and I had more hands/arms up me than I can count.
On August 4th I woke up to a voicemail from our midwife. She asked me to come to the hospital for a checkup. Like a defiant teenager I went but I brought nothing with me. I had no bags packed and no plans to pack them. When I arrived at the hospital I realized I was being checked in. I pleaded for this not to happen. This wasn't how it was supposed to go. It was just before noon when I was hooked up to the induction drugs. Joe had gone to get my things so it was just me and my midwife. She knew looking into my eyes that a little part of me was dying. I had fully planned for a home birth but on my midwives guidance I had also mentally planned for a hospital birth. What I was not prepared for was an induction that would leave me unable to use the vast majority of tools we had mastered to help cope with labour. Our hospital was not equipped to allow me to use the labour tub that sat beside my bed. It taunted me with every contraction. Our hospital wasn't even equipped to allow me to walk the halls as I laboured. An induction meant I laboured in my bed.
As I spent the next 10 hours labouring in the kind of intense pain induction drugs bring I thought about what could have been....what I thought should have been. My midwife was so amazing during this whole time. When she saw me slipping into points of dismay should would bring me out of it with advice, a joke or by rubbing my legs. Her tender touch was more needed than she probably realized as I begged for something to help me. I felt like such a failure asking a midwife for drugs. But she understood and I later learned she didn't offer alternatives because she (and Joe) were already aware of what path I was on. I had been slipping in and out of reality and was completely unaware.
My midwife stayed by my side as my care was transitioned to an OB. My once peaceful room became grand central station with doctors and nurses and the dreadful man with the biggest needle in the entire world. At 10:30 I laid alone in my room with a nurse. My body was numb, the induction drugs were turned off and I was no longer in labour. My baby's heartbeat could only be found if I was on oxygen and mine was only stable when I was off the oxygen. I remember being too out of it to really realize what was happening as people softly spoke to me. I remember being wheeled into the hallway and my midwife running up to us. She was coming with me and would assume responsibility for our baby when it was born. I cried as our experience turned into the opposite of what we had wished. I cried as I realized that the pain of the last 11 hours was almost over and the rest of our lives was about to start.
Bright lights, blue sheets, trays of tools. This moment that was not what we had hoped for turned into something so much more in a few short sentences between Joey and I. A moment in time that made the hospital, the induction, the epidural and the c-section worth it. If we had had a home birth I can not say for certain that that moment would have happened and for that reason I have no regrets about how things turned out. Joe stood to see his baby being born. He was the one who got to tell me that it was a boy.
My midwife came back every day to visit us in the hospital even though neither B nor I were under her care. She was there to drop the hammer when a nurse tried to force formula onto us. We saw her for 6 more weeks after B was born, first in our home and then in her office and that last visit was a sad one for us. How do you say goodbye and thank you to someone who has been part of such a profound event in your life? I still do not have an answer to this and anything I come up with seems insignificant. Yesterday was International Day of the Midwife and I am so very thankful for our midwife team and all they did for us during our 42 weeks of pregnancy and 6 weeks of aftercare. Home birth dreams turned c-section, natural turned medical, tears into smiles, fear into love.