Daphne’s birth story

2 Jul

Meeting our daughter Daphne for the first time

Our daughter Daphne was born at 12:08 on June 25th, making all of our dreams come true. For those interested in the nitty gritty of childbirth, here’s a short account of her birth story.

I started having mild contractions last Saturday night. By 10:00 pm, they were painful enough that I knew the real deal was about to begin. I took my midwife’s advice to take a combination of Gr.avol and Ty.lenol to try and take the edge off and sleep. No such luck. Every time I laid down to rest, another contraction began. They were sporadically spaced out, but painful enough that I needed to change position and get Caitlyn to press on pressure points and push on my lower back. I was up all night. We called the midwife at 4 am and she suggested more Gr.avol in another attempt to rest. Cait ran out to a 24 hour pharmacy, because it turns out that the stuff I had taken earlier had expired in 2009.

Once again, the drugs had no effect. By 7 am, we called the midwife to come to our house, as well as Caro, our amazing doula/student midwife (more on her heroism in my next post). She sent Caitlyn to sleep for a couple of hours and quickly took over administering comfort measures. She encouraged me to moan, bounce on a yoga ball, and shift position periodically. When our midwife Sarah arrived, contractions were roughly five minutes apart, but I I still had a sense of humour and could maintain a conversation in between. After listening to the baby’s heartbeat a couple of times and observing me for a couple of hours, she told me that I was on the cusp of active labour and had quite a while to go. She left to do a post-natal visit with another client and told Caro to call her when things picked up.

And boy did things pick up. By the time the midwife returned at 11am, I was in the bathtub, moaning incomprehensibly. My contractions were closer together and I started to feel pressure on my bottom. The midwife measured me in the bath and she told me I was at eight centimetres — when she had checked me three hours before, I had only been at three. It was time to make a critical decision — to go to the hospital as planned, or stay put and give birth at home. At that point, I couldn’t imagine moving, so we decided to stay at home. Caro and Sarah snapped into gear, setting up our bedroom with various delivery items, towels, and bed pads. It all swirled around me as I moaned through contractions.

But after a while, I got out of the bath and something changed. The contractions were suddenly sharp and much more painful, mainly focused in my back. Our theory now is that the baby flipped posterior at that point, so the excruciating pain I experienced was due to back labour. We made the decision to have the midwife break my waters (which was agonizing). She also did another examination … and announced that I was only at seven centimetres — her bath-time examination was somewhat inaccurate. At that point (about 3:00 pm), I decided to invoke the safe word and request an epidural. I had reached the limit of my pain threshold, and the knowledge that transition was far away was enough to convince me that I needed a break.

So in a split second, Caitlyn threw last-minute items in the hospital bag, I waddled out the door (mid contraction) and we made it to the hospital in eight minutes flat (with the doula driving, thank goodness). And then we waited over an hour for the anesthesiologist to administer the epidural. I kept praying, “please let this be the last contraction that I have to feel.” I was not so lucky. But once the needle was in my back, I finally relaxed and slept for a couple of hours. The midwife administered a drug to augment my labour and open my cervix. Caitlyn went out to pick up Chinese food for our birth team. I sipped ginger ale and rested.

By 9:00 pm, the midwife declared that I was fully dilated and I started pushing around 9:45 pm. After a much-needed break, I suddenly got so excited. I was going to meet our baby! But the pushing was physically taxing and started to take a long time. Our midwife became concerned that the baby’s heart rate was fluctuating, so she brought in two OBs for a consult. They told me that we needed to get her out soon, but that they much preferred that she be delivered vaginally. I was so relieved. We agreed to a brief transfer of care to the OBs, so they could administer forceps or suction if necessary. But everyone agreed to allow me to push for as long as possible, as I was making good progress getting her to descend into my pelvis.

The next hour was a blur of breathing, pushing and taking sips of apple juice. The midwives and a labour and delivery nurse got me to change positions and talked me through each contraction. As the clock struck midnight , I was starting to lose stamina. The OBs came in and told me that it was time to meet my baby. One Herculean push and a little help from a vacuum brought our daughter into the world.

Our sweet baby Daphne was born at 12:08 am on Monday morning. I started sobbing hysterically, asking “is she okay?” Caitlyn got to cut the cord, but the doctors whisked the baby away to be suctioned. I was disappointed that they didn’t put her on my chest right away. But Caitlyn and our doula followed her and kept calling out to tell me how beautiful she was. “A full head of red hair … she’s cute, we swear …” A few minutes later, they brought her over to me. She was wide-eyed and alert, staring right into my eyes. And our whole world changed in an instant.

The first week has been a challenging one. I’ll write more about it soon, but we have been having some significant problems establishing nursing. Still, Daphne is thriving on my pumped milk and is almost back to her birth weight, a week later. We are learning to function on little sleep as we pinch ourselves and stare at the beautiful creature we created — from scratch! Life is pretty sweet right now.

Hello bright eyes! We’ve been waiting for you.

7 Responses to “Daphne’s birth story”

  1. thisleerose July 2, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    Congrats to you and Caitlyn. Can’t wait to meet little Daphne. Sleep when you can. Enjoy every minute. 🙂

  2. Sara July 2, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    Thank you for sharing Ariel I think this is a great story to get out at is shows midwives and doctors working together – with you (the one giving birth) at the centre.

    My mom read with me and wanted you to know I (her first born) was born upside down and mom had an awful and painful labour – she was in hospital and forceps were used to get me out on the c-section table! mom still goes to an osteopath to help with back problems that developed during my birth. She said she would have taken an epidural but that her other two births were a cinch and relatively pain free! Much love to you and the girls, xxx

    • Queer Femme Mama July 2, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

      Yes, I was really impressed with how the OBs consulted with the midwives and how it was a joint decision amongst all of us to transfer care for the vacuum extraction. All things considered, it was the most gentle of three options to help get her out. That being said, it may have had an impact on her current struggle with nursing. But that’s purely speculation. Overall, I was happy with the excellent care I received.

  3. Michael July 2, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    The picture at the top of the story says everything . . . congratulations once again you two!

  4. Chris July 3, 2012 at 6:59 pm #

    What a story. Congratulations to you Ariel and Caitlyn. Wow wow wow. I can’t wait to read more and meet DJ.

  5. kristin July 3, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    Congratulations to both of you! Enjoy it!

  6. twocatscene September 4, 2012 at 8:16 pm #

    She’s so gorgeous… our babies were born 1 year and 53 minutes apart 🙂

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