It was March 20th, I had officially made it to 38 weeks, and it was just another normal day at home with my son Kana. My husband Ara was at work, and my Grandma was staying over to help me care for Kana because I was on strict pelvic rest (my midwife put me on progesterone shots because Kana was born at 34 weeks, and also because of my shortening cervix.) Later on in the afternoon, I had some appointments, one with my chiropractor and the other with my midwife. All went well with my checkup with my midwife Diana Lee. She said I was 4cm dilated…which meant nothing. She said baby could come tonight or I could go past my due date in a few weeks. We weren’t sure we were going to even make it to 36wks so this was all unknown territory for us!
After I got home, Ara gave changing our front brakes a try until we all ate dinner and rushed out of the door to make it to Ara’s rugby clinic for kids a bit after 6pm. On the way, I noticed some super super light cramping, or maybe they were just Braxton Hicks, I kept giving Ara a look of “this could be it,” but I was really unsure and mostly joking around. At the rugby clinic, the light cramping continued randomly and I kept letting Ara know that I wasn’t sure if it was anything to worry about. When we got home, we put Kana to bed and headed to bed ourselves. At this point, the cramping was getting a bit more painful but it was still inconsistent. We both agreed that it was 11:30pm and late, and that Ara would try and get some sleep in case it was nothing and had to go to work in the morning at 6. But, after a few more intense contractions that had me bent over and feeling the need to pee literally every other minute, I called it and we decided we’d better get ready for the hospital! We repacked our hospital bags, including baby’s, and then had grandma come stay in our room next to Kana’s room. We both said a sweet & emotional goodbye to Kana while he was sleeping, knowing it would all be so different the next time that we saw him. Ara then called my midwife, Diana Lee and let her know that we were headed to the hospital around midnight.
Two minutes later (I’m not kidding) we arrived at Mountain Point Medical Center and headed on in. At this point, every time a contraction would hit, I’d have to pause and let it pass. When we got to the L&D counter I immediately asked for a room with a tub and handed over my birth “wishlist.” They brought me into a starter room to monitor me and baby for about 20min. I had to strip down to my bra and put on the hospital gown, and after getting checked, I was 5cm dilated and still experiencing some good contractions that I couldn’t talk through. (I was pretty surprised to find out I was only at 5cm, because these contractions were intense!) The nurse told me she was going to put in an IV to help keep me hydrated and in case of an emergency. I quickly told her that I preferred not to have the IV and signed a paper declining it. I’m so glad that I didn’t get one!! Eventually they moved me into my new room 2-232 with a tub!
By then, Diana was with me accompanied by her student and they were both encouraging and reassuring me that this would be a wonderful birth. While they filled up the tub, I labored kneeling over the raised bed and with Ara rubbing my lower back to try to help with the pain. I was using my deep breathing to stay calm through each contraction and staying focused. Diana finally said that the tub was ready, so I undressed and got in. The hot water felt so amazing! I didn’t feel so heavy and the warm water seemed to help with the pain, although it was still pretty intense (way more intense than it was with Kana! I had back labor this time!) Diana showed Ara a good counter pressure point to push on when a contraction would come. While in there, he took a few photos of me laboring in the tub and then we had a nurse take some of us together to keep for memories. After a while of swaying side to side and drinking lots of water AND realizing that this pain was getting far too intense for me, I told Ara I didn’t think that I could handle it anymore and he knew I was serious when I said our safe word “pineapple.”
I think I surprised him when I said it, but he encouraged me to see what my midwife would say about my progress and what we should do. When Diana came in, I told her that it was just too much. I was disappointed, but okay with my choice to opt out. She told me that we should check and see where I was at with dilation. But, this also meant that I had to get out of the tub, which I wasn’t crazy about because it seemed like a lot of work! So, I got out with everyone’s help and dried off with some warm blankets. I threw on a dry gown, and meanwhile, I was still pausing every little bit to make it through each tough contraction. Finally I got on the bed so that they could check my cervix, and to my relief, I was at an 8!
At that point, Diana was sure that I could do it and gave me a pep talk. I remember her looking straight into my exhausted eyes, and telling me that I was strong, and that baby would be here soon. She knew that I didn’t want to have my water broken, but she could tell that I was so exhausted. It was after 3 am! She explained that breaking my water would help speed things up and baby would be out sooner. After doing some quick thinking, I agreed to it, so she broke my water and I could feel it leaking out. By now, my contractions were already full on, so they didn’t get anymore intense, just closer together. Diana got a peanut ball and put it between my legs as I laid on my side. It was to help baby make her way down into the canal so that I could begin the pushing phase. At one point she had to reach in and turn baby so that baby was positioned correctly. She was sunny side up, which is why I was having back labor. Soon after that though, it was time to finally start pushing!
I was trying my best to breathe her down like I initially wanted, to make it a more gentle birth. After a solid try and no progress, Diana encouraged me to engage in the pushing to help get things moving. It was past 3:30am and she could tell that I was getting more and more exhausted, and that it needed to be over soon. I tried pushing on my side for a bit, but then I felt like it would help to push on my knees while holding onto the top of the bed. Every time that I felt a contraction, I tried so hard to push, but I was pushing from the wrong place because the pain was so distracting. Eventually Diana and her student agreed that I was doing better and progressing more laying on my side, which I was totally fine with, I was so tired and just about out of energy!
After a while of pushing and with them helping me to push from the right place, I could start to feel baby coming through the canal. I had moments when I didn’t think that I could go on anymore. I thought, “just cut me open and take her out!” because the pain was so much more intense than my first birth. Ara continued to encourage me, telling me that I could do it and that it wouldn’t be much longer. Finally, Diana told me to give it my all and that baby girl would be born in the next 10 minutes (that sounded like forever!) I was in so much pain every time that I contracted and pushed. I started to shy away from pushing because It just hurt too much. But, Ara and Diana kept cheering me on.
I finally gave it my all and Ara said he could see baby’s head! I knew that it wouldn’t be much longer and that gave me a huge burst of energy. At that point, they helped me to feel her head, which was so crazy and weird and awesome all at the same time. As I continued to push, I could feel myself stretching and the ring of Fire, which was an intense burning sensation! Baby was making her way through the last threshold! Diana instructed me to do short pushes, like grunts, and as I did, baby’s head was born without any tearing! She immediately started crying before she was even fully born, which was so reassuring.
I’m not sure what Ara was doing at that point, because I was in a trance of pushing. In fact, I gave another big push and her shoulders were finally through, after that, the rest of her body easily passed. I was SO relieved that it was over and that she was here. They immediately brought her to my chest and I was overwhelmed with all sorts of emotions. Having Ara there for the first time to support me, to see our daughter’s birth, and to watch me give birth meant everything!! I just kept on kissing and cuddling her, not believing that she was finally here. It was so surreal and I was so proud of my body for what it had just done.
Not long after, my placenta was born painlessly and stored for encapsulation, and once the umbilical chord had stopped pulsing, Ara got to cut it! Such a proud Daddy moment I reckon! Ara and I just looked at each other, so grateful for this beautiful little baby girl, both beaming with big smiles and happy tears. I remember that they let me hold her skin to skin for such a long time, and I loved every single second of it. Eventually the nurses along with Ara checked her stats, she was a healthy 7lbs 1oz and 19.5in long. Our beautiful girl had heaps of dark brown hair, and the cutest most perfect clubfeet ever.
Kōhia Ivy Elkington was born on March 21, 2019, the day that we became a family of four!