Welcoming Harlow: Our birth story

I appreciate birth stories aren’t for everyone, and I didn’t originally plan on sharing mine with you here, but as I started writing one for my scrapbook, I thought it would be fun to post and share for those interested. It’s a long story, but a good one since it ends with the birth of our beautiful little girl.

Let me start this off by saying that being overdue is not fun. at. all. It is challenging to keep spirits up while not becoming extremely impatient with every day that passes without going into labour.

While we were (impatiently) waiting for Harlow to make her appearance, we had a few friends and family members have their babies before us. And while we were very happy to meet all the new babies, it made us extremely aware of the fact that our own baby had yet to come.

So on Wednesday Sept 14th, after going for an ultrasound, completing our stress test, and meeting my nephew Henry only 5 hours after he was born, Will and I decided we were in serious need of a date night. It was one thing we knew we wouldn’t be able to do once baby was here, so off we went. We had a great dinner at The Keg, enjoyed a walk around the mall, and had a nice night with just the two of us one last time. Once back home, we set up Netflix, kicked our feet up and enjoyed some Cinnabon in bed.

Two bites in at 10:30 PM, I had my first contraction. It was almost too good to be true and I didn’t believe it was actually happening until about 7 contractions in despite Will trying to convince me otherwise the entire time. So naturally, as all people do when in labour (I am assuming), we finished our show, got to work scrubbing the house clean, and timed the contractions as we went.

It was a long night, but I was just so thrilled that I was having contractions! I really didn’t want to be induced and this meant that I didn’t have to be. I was in and out of the shower, bouncing on a ball, and generally trying to relax in between each one. Everyone told me that Oliver (our great dane) would act weird when I was in labour, but that lazy dog just stayed in bed with Will and didn’t even realize anything was happening with me.

And so at 9:00 AM, after 10.5 hours of early labour, we packed the car and drove to the hospital. Upon getting there, we were informed I was 4 cm dilated, which was a good sign, as it meant we got to stay.

I. was. so. relieved.

I already felt better labouring in the hospital than I did at home. Since it’s a small rural hospital with only 5 delivering rooms, we had the full attention of the nurses and a huge room all to ourselves. We had originally decided we didn’t want to do any narcotics, but when the nurses offered some morphine shortly after we were admitted so I could get some sleep in between contractions, I jumped at the chance.

Once the afternoon rolled around and the morphine wore off, I was greeted with true labour. Will ran back home to let the dog out and I stayed with the nurses, who were the absolute best at empowering me and making me feel like superwoman with each contraction. We then started on the gas and air, which would have even been helpful without the gas, because it made me focus on breathing through each contraction.

A few more hours of that, and we were ready to move onto the epidural, which we got just before 5 PM. I was so happy I could still feel some of the contractions, because it made pushing easier, which we started around 10 PM. I was hoping to still be able to move around, but every time we rotated me from my right side, Harlow’s heart rate would plummet and so we needed to stay just on the one side to keep her happy. I was so excited to get this baby out, and after pushing just once, my doctor predicted it would only take another couple pushes until she came.

But as luck would have it, her umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck and was pulling her back inside after every push. This was also the reason why I wasn’t able to change positions. We laboured like this for a while before an emergency c-section was called. I was so grateful for Will being there with me and talking me through it so that I didn’t hear the discussions between doctors of what to do next. Apparently we were running out of time to get her out and we needed to move fast.

We had been pushing for about an hour when all of a sudden, the room seemed empty as everyone left to get the OR set up. It was just myself, Will, a couple nurses (one of which was just there to mop up my pukey face), and our doctor. We decided to get to work and really try hard to get this baby out without surgery. With the help of the vacuum and a lot of encouragement, we got her out enough to cut the cord, which stopped her from being pulled back in. She was fully delivered shortly afterwards at 11:17 PM, and to the relief of everyone in the room, started crying and pinking up. Will cut what was left of the cord and I finally got to meet my beautiful little girl.

It was a whirlwind of a day and extremely tiring, so we were so grateful that after 2 hours of skin-to-skin with me (most of which I was still puking for) and 1.5 hours with Will, the nurses offered to take her so we could get some sleep for the first time in two days. Those nurses were absolutely amazing and set our family up for success when we went home two nights later. We feel so very lucky to have had a great experience, and by waiting the extra 8 days to meet our little Bug, we were definitely more than ready to finally take her home.

So after what was a challenging pregnancy, a long wait at the end, and an intense labour, September 15th became my new favourite day. And surprisingly, I can’t wait to do it all over again!