One of the reasons I decided to start up my blog again, after a two-year hiatus, was because I love documenting and re-reading the details of my children’s birth stories. I wrote about Ben’s arrival right after he was born in July of 2013; earlier this summer, as I scrolled through some of my old blog posts, I realized that I had written out details from that experience that are already beginning to fade from my memory.
This got me thinking about Molly’s arrival – which was already SEVEN MONTHS AGO! What?! And the fact that I haven’t taken the time to “formally” document that story made me border-line panicky that I am going to forget important details. So – long story a little bit longer – I decided that one of my first blog posts would be Molly’s birth story.
It needs to be said that as odd as it sounds, I LOVE giving birth! Pregnancy… not so much – but there’s something about giving birth that I love – knowing my body was made to accommodate this miracle. I love it! So, if you’re sticking around, this is going to be a long read, my friends!
My pregnancy with Molly was unplanned and unexpected. Our journey to building a family hasn’t always been smooth, and prior to Molly we had our second miscarriage, in the fall of 2015 (our first miscarriage was in the summer of 2010). After the second miscarriage, although in my heart I still hoped to have another baby one day, I just wasn’t in a place emotionally to get pregnant again right away.
One of the ways that I deal with grief is to get really busy with activities and to take on big projects. So – when I saw that the Barn Playhouse (a theatre company here in SK) was going to do “The Wizard of Oz” as their summer production, I decided to audition. I had been in a couple of productions when I was a child – including their first production of The Wizard of Oz, 23 years earlier (I played a munchkin). Anyway – I love theatre, and the chance to perform again was exciting! So, I auditioned for the role of “Glinda”, the Good Witch. However, I received a call-back to read lines for the role of Dorothy, and low and behold, I was asked to play the part.
Rehearsals began on April 25th, and occupied almost every evening and weekend. I was loving the experience, but was so busy, that I obviously lost track of other “important details”, because at the end of June when I found out that I was already two months pregnant, I was shocked! I’m not going to lie, prior to this I was always really confused by women who went months without realizing they were expecting a baby… I mean, come on, there are some pretty obvious signs, right?! But, there I was, nearing the end of my first trimester.
In retrospect this was a real blessing for me. Because I’ve had two miscarriages in the past, I don’t particularly enjoy pregnancy. I find myself worrying a lot, and knowing that it’s beyond my control isn’t comforting to me, so I don’t experience a lot of joy in the process. Never-mind all of the other, normal discomforts of pregnancy. Anyway – despite the surprise of it all, I was very excited about having another baby.
The beginning of my pregnancy with Molly was almost too good to be true – I felt great, gained less weight than in my other pregnancies, and was able to manage everything else I was busy with without too much trouble. We even took a two week road-trip to Pennsylvania!
However, in October, I started to have some issues that the doctors couldn’t quite figure out. The baby was fine, but I was struggling physically. I had a lot of respiratory issues, and by November, I had to take nearly three weeks of sick-leave from work. Originally, it was thought that I had adult-onset asthma, but by Christmas, my doctors were beginning to wonder if my issues were actually cardiac issues due to strain on my heart (as a side-note, I have a congenital heart defect, but that’s another story for another day). Anyway – when Molly was 38 weeks, my cardiologist decided that the stress of the pregnancy was unnecessary, and I was scheduled to be induced on Sunday, January 15th.
On one hand, I was extremely relieved to be done with such a difficult pregnancy – and obviously very excited to meet the little person inside. One the other hand, I had never been induced before, and have had several friends who didn’t have very good experiences. So, I was a bit apprehensive about the process. My biggest fear was that I would be induced, spend time and energy labouring, just to end up needing a C-Section (Molly had flipped into the breach position just before Christmas, and so I had already been dreading the possibility of a c-section; however, when I went back to work after Christmas, I slipped in the hallway and she flipped back!) So – needless to say – I was feeling a bit conflicted about it all.
I had found out on Thursday, January 12th that I would be scheduled for an induction; on Friday morning I received a phone call at work that the induction would be the following Sunday morning, and so by Saturday evening, we had the kids packed up, and plans made for their care after the baby was born. We went to Saskatoon on Saturday with plans to stay at my parents house for night and head to the hospital bright and early.
Now – for those of you reading this, who have gone through the induction process – I know you’re probably laughing at my cluelessness. I was completely convinced that I would receive that phone call between 7:00-9:00 am, as suggested. It was a pretty big letdown when we still hadn’t received any word from the hospital by noon, so, after chatting with a nurse friend who encouraged me to call the hospital myself for information, I decided to do just that.
Unfortunately, there seemed to be a lot of confusion around my “case”. Because of my heart condition, I’m considered high-risk. I’m allowed to labour and have vaginal deliveries, but in order to keep the strain off my heart, I have to have epidurals very early on in the process. Additionally, I’m only allowed to physically push for about 20 minutes. So – there are always a lot of specialists involved – my OB, my cardiologist, and a consult with anesthesia, to make a birth plan. In the case with Molly, there was also the added factor of the respiratory issues – so, needless to say, the Sunday staff crew in the Labour & Delivery ward wasn’t too keen to have me induced on a day when a lot of the specialists weren’t in the hospital. Don’t get me wrong – they were awesome, and answered all my questions and concerns – but it was a huge let down to be told that the induction wouldn’t be done that day after all. It was also disappointing because could only take two days off work, and we just weren’t sure how it was all going to play out. I completely understood that Labour & Delivery wards are unpredictable, but I had been so sure it was going to happen that day.
Luckily for us, we had some AMAZING friends who stepped up and agreed to take Isla and Ben for as many days as we needed; they even came to pick our kids up bright and early on Monday morning so we could head to the hospital as soon as the call came in.
On Monday, we were pretty excited, and absolutely sure it was going to happen. However… by 10:00 am, we still hadn’t received a call, and I became convinced we were going to be bumped again. I resolved to call the hospital if we hadn’t heard anything by 11:00 am, and ended up doing so. I called and asked to speak to the charge nurse; when she came on the phone I immediately launched into an explanation of my case, and about halfway through my diatribe, she interrupted me and I realized I knew her! I legit couldn’t believe my luck… the charge nurse that day was a family friend who works on Labour & Delivery; we used to go to the same church, and she was actually one of my nurses when Ben was born. She assured me that she would get me in ASAP, and by noon we were headed to the hospital.
It was a strange drive for us. When I had Isla and Ben, I was already in labour by the time we were driving to the hospital. With Isla, I was in the early stages of labour – and of course, freaking out at the newness and unexpectedness of it all; with Ben was I already well into labour by the time we went to the hospital, so that ride was pretty painful (and also in the middle of the night). Driving to the hospital, knowing I was going to leave with a baby, but not being in labour, was a little surreal. But, I remember thinking it was also kind of nice. January 16th, 2017 was a beautiful, sunny day, and I was able to just soak it in, anticipating what the day would bring.
We arrived at the hospital and I was admitted immediately into the L&D ward. There are a couple of different ways that women can be induced, but my doctors had determined I would be induced using an oxytocin drip through an IV, which is a more manageable way to be induced and would mean less strain on my heart if things escalated quickly. The baby and I were monitored for about an hour, and by 1:30 pm they started the drip. I was told I would probably start to feel contractions within two hours, and that they would be checking in frequently.
I’m not going to lie, it was strange! So different from my other birth experiences! Jeff had a quick nap in preparation for a sleepless night, and I played around on Instagram, and texted a few close friends. Within an hour I began to feel my first contractions, and by 3:30 pm I was having regular contractions. Finally, familiar territory!
It was definitely painful, but still completely manageable, and I was only about 1 cm dilated, so I was surprised when the anesthesiologist came and insisted it was time for me to be induced. I should mention that when I had first arrived, the head of anesthesiology (whom I have had consults with for the birth of all three kiddos) came to say hi, and introduced me to his team of interns and residents. That was actually a hilarious experience – these three, very young men, came into the room and basically outlined every possible epidural scenario – including possible death. When they left, my nurse, who had been in the room monitoring the baby at the time, turned and said, “Wow – that was INTENSE! Are you ok?!” We both had a good laugh about it. I had to applaud their thoroughness, lol. Good thing it wasn’t my first delivery!
Anyway – at 4:00 pm, Dr. Campbell came and insisted I have the epidural. I actually didn’t want it quite yet, because it causes me to have EXTREMELY itchy skin – like, almost unbearably itchy. So, because the pain was still really manageable, I wanted to wait. However, Dr. Campbell offered to do the epidural himself – before he went off duty – if I agreed to have it done ASAP… and I have to admit, that prospect was more appealing than the squad of interns ;). (Don’t get me wrong – I love interns and residents! I know they need to learn! I support learning! But… perhaps they had been a little TOO thorough in their explanation of the risks, lol.)
The epidural went well, and by 4:30 pm, I was hanging out comfortably, just hoping that things would progress quickly. Around 6:00 pm, my mom came and Jeff went to get himself some food. My mom also ran down to the cafeteria around 6:30 pm, and came back with Jello (I was starving). However, my nurse advised at that point that I not eat the jello until I was assessed by the resident OB. For me, this was a red flag, and I began to worry that they were thinking I might need a c-section, because up until that point, I still wasn’t very dilated – despite regular contractions that were progressing steadily.
The OB showed up (Dr. Bachelor), and determined that I was still only about 3 cm dilated. The other issue was that Molly still hadn’t really descended station-wise. This was a huge disappointment. For some reason, I had it in my head that if I was induced, it would happen quickly, and it just wasn’t going that way. I was also still really concerned that I would end up needing a c-section. (Please note – I have no problem with people having c-sections; they are just as real a birth experience as any other – I just didn’t want to have one, personally, unless I needed to).
At this point, it needs to be said, that I had an amazing nursing crew. They were so encouraging and helpful! They decided to try putting me in some different positions to help the baby descend further into the birth canal naturally, through gravity. This was a definitely different for me; they had me in every position you can imagine! Unfortunately, around the same time, Molly’s heart rate began to get a bit erratic, rising and falling at odd times, and frequently. So – the challenge was to find a position that would help her descend, which also wouldn’t cause her any stress.
We finally found the position, but it was basically me, on my knees, with my arms draped over the top part of bed. It wasn’t so bad, except that my legs kept falling asleep from the pressure of kneeling on them. Cue the amazing nursing staff again! My nurse offered to massage my legs to keep the circulation moving (Jeff helped too), and finally, after about an hour and a half of this position (putting us around 8:30 -9:00 pm) I began to feel the pressure of Molly descending and getting into position. A lot of the pressure I was feeling was in my back, so they let me know that she was likely going to be sunny-side up, which can be a harder delivery physically. Ben had also been sunny-side up, but they hadn’t realized it until he was actually born, so at least I was prepared for it this time.
I was super excited for the OB to come and check my progress again, as I was convinced I must be much further along – plus I still really wanted to eat the jello my mom had brought me hours before! So, it completely discouraging when the OB came and told me I was only 4 cm dilated. At that point, I straight up asked her if she thought I was going to need a c-section. Her response was exactly what I needed to hear, she said: “A c-section?! No! You have done this before, and I know you can do it again. I will personally be so offended with this baby if you end up needing a c-section, I will refuse to even be in the operating room! You’ve got this.”
Despite being extremely relieved (and finally eating that jello), I was still pretty convinced I had a long road ahead of me, being only 4 cm. The OB had said that 4 cm was sort of a “magic number” to reach when being induced, and that things would probably move quicker now, but I was still pretty sure at that we weren’t going to have a baby with a January 16th birthday.
My mom was a bit more optimistic, and I remember her saying that she thought the baby would by born by 10:00 pm. She had actually stated this much earlier in the evening – when she had arrived actually – and she was sticking to her prediction! I remember at that point, she called my dad, who was on the road traveling back to Saskatoon from Regina, and hoped to make it to the hospital that evening yet (he doesn’t witness the actual births, but has come in shortly after each of my babies have been born). He predicted baby would be born at 10:30 pm, and I thought they were both out to lunch.
However, by 10:00 pm – only an hour or so after chatting with the OB – I was feeling ALL THE PRESSURE. For anyone who has ever had a baby vaginally, you know exactly what I mean. So, the OB was called back, and YES – I was 10 cm dilated! They decided to start weaning me off the epidural so I’d feel what I needed to feel to push quickly and effectively when the time came. I couldn’t believe things had advanced so quickly! The only issue was that Molly was still not descended as far as she needed to be.
So – they put me back in the position I had been in (the kneeling position), and I basically hung out like that for about 20 minutes. The pressure and the pain were CRAZY. All I wanted to do was push – but because I can only push for about 20 minutes, they wanted to make sure baby had descended far enough before I tried.
By 10:30 pm, the OB came back and decided I was finally ready to start pushing. I remember the bright lights going on overhead, and them putting my feet up in the stirrups. I remember feeling really self-conscious all the sudden and asking them to make sure the curtains were closed, lol. I remember pushing, and feeling more than I had with any previous birth, and yelling, “JUST GET IT OUT!” Lol. The OB decided to use the vacuum, knowing the baby was sunny-side up, and by 10:41 pm, Molly Blythe was born!
I actually don’t cry very often – at least not willingly. I’ve gotten very good at holding my emotions at bay. I’m not a “loud labourer”; I don’t yell and scream – I grit my teeth and bear it. But, if there’s one thing in the world that can toss every emotional check aside, it’s having a brand new baby placed on your chest. Molly was ready to eat right away, and knew exactly what to do. In fact, when the nurse checked her sucking reflex, she laughed and exclaimed that Molly had one of the strongest reflexes she’d ever felt!
Those first moments with a brand new baby – a fresh new life – can’t be properly described, so I won’t even try – but I know they will stay forever in my heart.
Miss Molly Blythe was born on January 16th, at 10:41 pm, weighing 8 lbs and measuring 19 inches long. She was chubby, with a double chin, and lots of dark hair.
Welcome to the world, Miss Molly Blythe!