Already our third little girl is showing us once again that every child is different. I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as labour and birth went, but figured it would be like one of the previous ones, or somewhere in between. But it was it’s own thing entirely.
I didn’t have much prodromal labour at all. Saturday night, the day before Father’s Day, I started having contractions. Not super regular or intense, but definitely there. I managed to get lots of sleep though, and they had mostly petered off by morning. They did continue most of the day, but sometimes every 5 minutes, sometimes there was a half hour or more in between them, and they really varied in intensity but for the most part they were not at all painful or even uncomfortable.
We had rented a TENS machine this time, partly just out of curiosity what they are like, and I did use it a little bit and it seemed to help. It at least distracted from the contractions and I was able to sleep and nap.
That evening my family in Calgary Facetimed us on the iPad and we chatted with them. I was having contractions the whole time but never mentioned that to them. I went to bed early, wanting to make sure I got lots of sleep, just in case. I’d had lots of prodromal labour with Fiona so I wasn’t assuming I was in labour yet, but I didn’t want to make the mistake I’d made with Meredith’s and not sleep enough and end up exhausted and drained.
At 1am, the contractions were starting to get more intense, and I put the TENS on again and slept between the contractions and used the TENS during contractions. At 4am I woke Kris up and told him it might be a good idea to get the pool set up and go through the prebirth checklist we had made, just in case.
By 5am the contractions were becoming more intense and much closer together. We were debating whether to call the midwife yet or not. I really like both midwives but the one I clicked with best was only on call for a couple more hours, so we decided to give her a call and at least give her a heads up. I had a contraction while she was on the phone and she decided to head over. I was feeling really antsy for the pool to finish filling up and the relief I hoped it would provide. The contractions were still definitely bearable, but coming close enough together that I was looking forward to being in the water.
Fiona got up around this point, and Kris set her up in the TV room with a movie.
Finally the pool was full enough I could get in, and just like the last two times it brought instant relief. It wasn’t very full yet, and Kris started some pots of water boiling on the stove. The contractions immediately slowed down when I got in, though they didn’t change in length or intensity. When K, our midwive, arrived, I apologized to her and said I may have called her too early. She said better early than late, especially given how fast Fiona’s went, and quietly set up her supplies while Kris and I did our thing.
The contractions continued to get more and more intense, but not closer together. While I wasn’t going to complain about the breaks, I did wonder if anything was actually happening and how long it would keep on like this. I at one point asked K if I should get out and try and get them to pick up again, but she told me she called it the “rest and be thankful” phase and that things were definitely happening. So we just continued on like that. K was great, very hands off and leaving Kris and I just to do our own thing. Sometimes we chatted, other times we just waited in between contractions in silence. Fiona drifted in and out of the room on occasion. We had bought the girls some play dough and other activities to do and I pointed it out to her on the table, and she was thrilled to go and sit and start that. Around 7 Meredith heard me during one of the contractions and came downstairs. She asked if she could come in the pool. K suggested she could pour water on my back during contractions, which felt really good. Fiona joined her shortly after that and we went through a few contractions like that. Then the girls got out and over the next little while drifted between the TV, the play dough, and the room we were in, stopping to offer me water or juice, or frozen blueberries to eat. Meredith had told me beforehand that she wanted to be my doula, and she took the role quite seriously.
K at one point asked if I wanted to catch the baby myself. I told her Kris had caught Fiona, but that I wasn’t sure if I would be able to catch him or her myself. I remember with Fiona that the last thing on my mind was where my hands should be to catch her, I was so focused on the sensation of birthing her.
The contractions continued to get more intense. The baby moved with each one, which did not feel very good, and I joked in between contractions that I just needed the baby to go to sleep for a while. I started to feel a bit of pressure at one point, but got out to use the bathroom and the pressure mostly went away. While out of the water the contractions started coming much closer together again, so I was glad to get back in the water. Shortly after 8, the contractions changed. The pressure was still there, and the contractions felt lower, and more painful. I felt a shift in the baby and my body and where I was feeling the contractions. And though I was getting the breaks, there was very little build up with each contraction, with them instead coming on quickly and with very little warning.
I needed to pee again around 8:20 or so, but really didn’t want to get out of the pool at this point. Every time I moved it seemed I would have a contraction, whereas sitting in the water there was still a break between each one. K and Kris encouraged me to get out, and helped me into the bathroom. I had several contractions right on top of the other while on the toilet, then managed to get back into the pool, where they slowed down. However, though I was still getting breaks in between, they got super intense. Kris says it was at this point he and K both noticed a change in my demeanor. Rather than the quiet chatting or joking we had been doing off and on between contractions, I was focused inwards. The contractions were intense and I had started to tell Kris I couldn’t do it anymore. I was dozing and concentrating on the baby in between contractions.
Then around 8:36, a particularly tough contraction came on. I was vocalizing pretty hard and suddenly I felt a huge shift inside and I felt that unmistakable pushing urge. I said that out loud, and out of the corner of my eye saw the midwife jump up from where she was. As I said it, my water broke, and suddenly it felt like the baby was right there, already just about out. The whole speed and suddenness of all these sensations was overwhelming to me, and I felt a bit frozen, sitting with my hand down like I was holding her in. The midwife was trying to get me to shift positions so I could actually birth her (Kris said the position I was in at the time there is no way she would have been physically able to come out) and her and Kris helped ease me back. As soon as I was, I felt like she was coming out my bum (and yelled that out quite loudly) and then suddenly I felt the “ring of fire” and then her head was out. K told me to put my other hand on her, and I felt her turning under me. The older girls had run into the room and I could vaguely hear them commenting excitedly on everything they could see. The whole thing was quite surreal. And then she was out, and I had caught her myself, and at 8:38, one contraction and less than two minutes after my water had broke (including having to shift positions), I was holding her on my chest.
The girls jumped in the water and were exclaiming excitedly, telling me they had seen everything and how neat it was to see her head come out and all her hair. They came in close to see her and Meredith said “Mama, she is so cute!” She seemed surprised. We had watched a few birth videos and in one the baby had come out covered in vernix, and I think that was the one that had stuck in Meredith’s mind when she thought of a just birthed baby. We checked and saw she was a girl. The older two couldn’t stop grinning, and we all sat in the pool and admired the new baby for a bit. We noticed I was bleeding into the pool quite a bit, and then I felt the gush of the placenta detaching itself and Kris and K helped me out of the pool (the second midwife hadn’t made it for the birth).
I had a contraction that felt almost as bad as labour contractions and had to put my hand on my belly and make sure there was no extra baby in there! The placenta itself came out pretty easily, but there were trailing membranes that had torn a bit and quite a bit of blood. K thought it might be because of how fast everything happened at the end. The second midwife showed up right around this point and we chatted and admired the baby. We joked about the second midwife not making it for the birth, and K pointed out it was probably good we called her when we did, because if we had waited to call until things had changed, she likely wouldn’t have made it at all either. K teased the membranes out and then Meredith and Fiona cut the cord and the midwives set to checking the placenta over and showing Meredith and Fiona how it worked. I wish I’d gotten some pictures of the placenta and the membranes. K gave me some shepherd’s purse tincture to help with the bleeding. During all this, I put the baby on my chest to see if she was interested in nursing. She latched on pretty quickly, and had a beautiful latch right away. She pretty much nursed the entire morning except the brief break while I showered and she was weighed.
Meredith came over and asked if she could help name her. The girls had wanted to call her May/Mae if she was a girl pretty much right from when they learned I was pregnant. Because of that, we had considered Maeve as a first name, along with a few others, and Guinevere seemed to be sticking as a middle name. A couple of weeks prior to having her though, we had thought maybe we should consider Guinevere as a first name. We all really liked it, Kris and I are fans of the King Arthur legends, and we each have a sister named Jennifer (and Guinevere is the Gaelic form of Jennifer). We all agreed, and Meredith asked if she could call her Mae sometimes still.
At this point I had already filled a pad, but the bleeding seemed to have slowed way down and K helped me upstairs for a quick shower while Kris snuggled the baby and they weighed and measured her. She was 7 pounds 14 ounces and 52 cm long, my biggest baby (and yet, even still preemie outfits fit her better than newborn ones!). The midwives helped Kris clean up, and meanwhile Guinevere had latched back on and continued to nurse. The bleeding had finally slowed way down, and the midwives asked me to try and take it really easy for a while, and then they left, and our little family of five was left to admire our baby.
The girls love her. They are constantly kissing her, wanting to hold her, and just admiring her. Even still, a week later, every time Fiona comes to look at her she exclaims about how cute she is. Physically, recovery has been really easy. No tears, and though the after pains were pretty intense the first day and night, they had pretty much disappeared by the next morning and I felt pretty good. This was almost a bad thing though as it’s hard to remember to take it easy when you’re feeling really well! I did find if I did too much I got tired easier than normal and was reminded of the importance of resting and eating enough on day three when my blood pressure spiked a bit and I was seeing some spots. Rest and food had me back feeling pretty good again, and Guinevere and I have had a pretty low-key week otherwise. I am lucky that Kris is able to take parental leave this time around, and he has taken on the task of entertaining the older girls, feeding everyone, and basically assuring that I’m able to rest as much as possible.
One week later and I’m feeling good, and we are very much in love with this new little person in our lives.