As I sit down to write this, our baby girl Vienna is sitting on my lap sucking her fingers, wrapped up in the most comfy looking swaddle. On a side note, I think they need to make these for adults - I wouldn’t mind being swaddled hehehe.
Many people have been asking me to share my birthing experience so I thought I would take this opportunity to do just that!
The evening I went into labour was our two-year wedding anniversary (Sept 7).
To celebrate this joyous occasion, we had a fun evening planned of drinks at the Ritz Hotel Bar (virgin mojito for me!) and then dinner at one of our favourite restaurants, Buca. We arrived at the Ritz, ordered our drinks and I looked to my left and at the table next to us were two members of the band ACDC – kinda cool!
As I’m sipping away on the most delicious mojito, I feel a strong gush coming out of my lady parts. I’m wearing a fitted/stretchy, light blue dress so I get up slowly to go the washroom to check to make sure I’m not completely soaked. Then I realize I need to full-on sprint because this wasn’t just a gush, this was full on Niagara Falls coming out of me. I ran into the washroom, whipped my dress up and BAM it’s everywhere. My water broke as I was entering the washroom. I read enough blogs and articles to know this was exactly what was happening.
People always say “you’ll know when your water breaks”. Oh I knew!
I thought to myself: "How the heck am I going to tell Walker what has just happened without having to walk through the bar with a soaking wet dress and ACDC sitting right there!?!" So I simply yelled from afar once I got out of the washroom “Walker, my water broke we gotta leave now!”. I felt such rush of excitement and uncertainty about what was to happen next...
We only live about a 5-10 minute walk from the Ritz but we cabbed home given the situation. Our cab driver was nice enough to offer the ride on the house (I should tell cabbies my water broke every time). We got home and I immediately called my midwife. Fast forward a few hours and my contractions were getting closer and closer together. It was really comforting to labour at home at first and found that sitting on the stability ball (same as a birthing ball) really helped. My mid-wife arrived around 1am which is when we decided it was time to go. We chose Toronto Birthing Centre for the birth of Vienna, but Mount Sinai Hospital was our back up.
Walker drove at a snail’s pace to the birthing centre because I was having lots contractions in the car. Thank goodness it was the middle of the night, otherwise we would have been sitting in traffic on Adelaide St in downtown Toronto forever. Arriving at the Toronto Birthing Centre felt like home away from home - the energy was perfect and it felt like a safe place. Walker and I had a tour several weeks earlier so we knew what to expect – a huge private birthing room with a large tub, double bed, stand up shower, bathroom and birthing ball.
If you are a regular reader of Joyous Health, you may have guessed that it was my intention for our baby’s birth to be as drug-free and natural as possible. That being said, if I needed drugs to get through it, I was open to changing the plan.
Luckily, I had an awesome birthing team that supported me the entire way. Team joyous included two midwives from Midwives Collective in Toronto, a doula from Toronto Yoga Mamas and of course, my hubs Walker. My midwives, Amanda and Hedry were incredibly knowledgeable (aka birthing goddesses), confident and supportive in their roles. My doula April was also an incredible support, offering lots of natural methods of pain relief, including a tens machine, acupressure and hip squeezes, all of which came in handy throughout my labour. And finally, Walker was my rock through the whole thing – he was a pro with the aforementioned hip squeezes (more on that in a bit…).
During the hours of my labour (pre-pushing) not once did I think to myself that the pain was unmanageable. I knew my body was well equipped to deal with the contractions. It was pain with a purpose.
My eyes were closed 99% of the entire process and I kept repeating in my mind over and over again “I CAN DO THIS”. Yes I barfed multiple times, yes I was shaking a LOT and there was lots of stuff gushing out especially when I had super intense contractions... but I knew ahead of time that these were all completely normal reactions from my body. I didn't resist this from happening and went with the flow.
Then the time came to actually push. I had about 2.5 hours of pushing which is a little longer than the midwives like but because Vienna’s heart rate was continually strong and healthy, my midwives let me progress as my body wanted to. During this time all I could think was “let’s get her out so I can meet her”.
This was the hardest work I’ve ever had to do in my entire life, but was comforted knowing I was 100% in control of how hard I pushed (with guidance from my midwives of course). It felt like I was pushing a freight train through a garden hose, so I had to dig really deep within myself and connect with the power of all the mamas before me (just like my affirmations) to bring Vienna to us.
When I finally pushed her out it was the most incredible rush of emotions I’ve ever experienced: total and absolute relief, PURE JOY and so much happiness.
When my midwives placed Vienna on my chest the tears were flowing. Walker and I were both bawling like a babies (more so than our baby Vienna) and it was music to my ears to finally hear her cry.
There’s no other feeling that compares to the feeling of holding Vienna for the first time. I felt so present in this moment and the whole experience was both totally insane and incredibly magical.
I read a great quote in a book my cousins gave me called Birthing from Within that summed things up pretty accurately: It’s going to hurt. It’s work. It will be worth it. And I would add to that: You can do it.
The stats: Vienna came into this world on her actual due date September 8, 2015 at 8:44am weighing exactly 7lbs. She’s so punctual, just like her daddy!
Lastly, during my pregnancy I did a few things to help prepare my body for birthing:
So that pretty much sums things up. The first 10 days have been both unbelievably rewarding and challenging at times (the recovery of the lady parts is a whole entire blog post), but I wouldn’t change a thing.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. When I was pregnant, I wish there were more articles out there with a positive view of birthing, so I hope this helps you if you are also pregnant to know that birthing does not have to be a scary process that needs to be totally medicalized (although it's sometimes necessary). It's a beautiful experience that your body is MEANT TO DO. You can do this!!
I'm off to feed Vienna. :)
Have a joyous day!
P.S: I developed The Complete Self-Care Guide For Mamas as this was the exact recommendations I followed post-pregnancy and that I would recommend to clients who experienced great success with it!