Round Two- A Birthing Center Birth Story
I had an appointment with my midwife the day I gave birth to my second baby. I spent the morning doing odds and ends around the house and trying to keep my nearly two-year-old son, Aiden, out of mischief. I had a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions from all the moving about but that was to be expected- I was 40 weeks and 4 days pregnant after all! I packed up our lunch and we headed over to the mall near the Birthing Center to eat. I had a bad craving for an iced caramel macchiato and a cookie. Of course Aiden insisted that we ride the escalators over and over and over again as well. It seemed fair. I got my treat; he got his. I noticed that I was having a few real contractions while sitting as well as walking so I took that as a positive sign that things were progressing (not in a I’m-going-into-labour sort of way, but a new-stage-in-the-pregnancy sort of way).
My midwife was running late when we arrived at the Birthing Center but it was a good appointment. I had had a failed sweep at 39+6 so I was really happy to hear that baby was lower and that she could actually find my cervix for a real sweep. I had also dilated a bit and was approximatley 2.5 cm. We discussed an NST (non-stress test) for the following week if I hadn’t given birth and I left. Aiden fell asleep in the car so I took a long way home and, rather than risk waking him up by taking him out of the car I pulled into a parking lot near our house and relaxed for half and hour before continuing home. I noticed I was having more semi-painful contractions instead of Braxton Hicks even while sitting but since I had just had a sweep I figured things would calm down once I got home. It was about 2:30 pm at the time. When my husband Nathan arrived home I had a bath to see if things would slow down, speed up or change in any way. The contractions stayed irregular, semi-painful and were all over in terms of length and spacing. I decided that I would call my midwife just to talk to her about them and left her a message on her pager. I also started writing things down. When she called back around 4:00 pm my contactions were anywhere between 9 and 5 minutes apart and were lasting 25-60 seconds in length. I could talk through them. She told me to call her back in an hour to let her know if they were the same or if they had changed at all. In the same breath she told me to get things in place regarding someone to watch Aiden, just in case.
By 5:00 pm the contractions were more painful and anywhere from 5-8 minutes apart. I was also starting to feel a bit nauseous but was still pretty much in denial that it could possibly be "real" labour. I called my midwife back and she told me it sounded like I was indeed in labour and we agreed to meet at the Birthing Center at 7:30. I sat with Aiden while he had his bath and tried to ignore the contractions that were getting more intense. Nathan did the dishes and then started to put Aiden to bed while I called a friend to tell her to head on over to our place.
By the time our friend arrived, Aiden was asleep and I was finally convinced the baby was going to arrive that night or the next morning. I wasn’t timing anything but it was very clear that the contractions had increased in both frequency and intensity. I walked around in between them and stood leaning against the wall when they happened. It felt like it took forever to make it from our apartment to the car. In the car I started watching the clock and saw that my contactions were 3 minutes apart. Nathan was pretty calm despite my crazy driving instructions (I clearly remember telling him to be in a certain lane because there were fewer potholes) and we arrived at the Birthing Center at 7:40 pm.
We got into our room and Nathan went to go put a parking sticker on the car. I began to change and my midwife told me that she would come back in a few minutes to check the heartbeat. Things were very painful by that time and I don’t remember much other than kneeling next to my bag, moving onto the bed and then getting mad at Nathan for handing me a blanket rather than my t-shirt to drape over the birthing ball. Very shortly after that I felt like throwing up and yelled for my midwife. She came back and just as quickly went out again to call the second midwife, who was teaching a pre-natal class in the main area of the center.
Both of them came back and my midwife asked me if I felt like I needed to push and in my mind I went, "Oh my gosh I can’t believe we’re there already!" But the contractions weren’t letting up at my water broke right then and there. I hadn’t even had time to take off my underpants! My midwife helped me get them off while the second midwife tried to do a quick check of my baby's heartbeat. I heard her say she had found it for a few seconds and then I was was pushing and baby's head was visible already. They told me to push gently and a couple of pushes later Neve arrived at 8:07 pm - a mere 27 minutes after arriving at the Birthing Center.
Compared to my first birth it felt amazing and exhilarating and was everything I had hoped for (though not what I had imaged) when I decided to become a client at the Birthing Center.
Stefanie is a birth and postpartum doula and the founder of Karis Doula. She has 3 children. The second of these little ones was born at the Pointe Claire Birthing Center.