Belatedly, here is Rhys’ birth story (hey, he’s only 6.5 months old now…)
I left work on maternity leave March 29th, the day before my 29th birthday, even though Rhys’ due date was April 14th. I felt like delivering a baby was imminent and couldn’t imagine getting much bigger. I had terrible sciatic pain for the latter half of pregnancy and sitting at a desk all day was very uncomfortable.
I knew I could be waiting a whole month longer for Rhys to arrive but I didn’t think I’d have to wait that long. But I did wait! So I filled my days with visits to see a friend and her new baby, baking snacks and cooking meals for the freezer, walking Penny, and going for massage and chiro appointments. I was taking evening primrose oil, eating 6 dates every day, drinking cups and cups of raspberry leaf tea, still crossfitting (up to 39 weeks!), eating spicy food and pineapple, and any other tricks I could think of.
On April 9th, I went for induction acupuncture but no baby. I saw the midwife that day and she recommended I go for an ultrasound since Rhys was still measuring big. They wanted to see if I was big because of baby or fluid.
On April 10th, Dana and I went for the ultrasound. It was hard to see Rhys since he was so big now! The doc estimated the baby would weigh 8 lbs 7 oz and that made me feel scared!
On April 12th, I went for a second round of acupuncture at 11:00. I waited downtown for Dana to get off work and had a snack. I felt maybe some mild contractions but I still wasn’t sure. At 3:45 that afternoon, I went pee, and my water broke while I was on the toilet! I texted Dana (who was downstairs) and he rushed up. We were so excited we forgot about the #1 rule which is “ignore, ignore, ignore”. Instead we called the midwife pager, but of course they told us to hang tight and wait for some contractions to start.
The contractions did start pretty much immediately and by 8 pm that night, when our lovely midwife came to check me, I felt certain I was 6 cm dilated and we would go to Rockyview Hospital and deliver our baby. Unfortunately I was only 2-3 cm dilated so she recommended Gravol and Tylenol to help me rest, and sent me to bed. I didn’t sleep a wink as I worked through contraction after contraction. I used my TENs machine but I’m not sure if it was very helpful. The midwife coached me to say “low baby low” and breathe through my nose, and the rhythm of me labouring put Dana to sleep in the night. I laboured on all fours a lot which was hard on my wrists but all other positions were unbearable. Dana made me do a few poses from the miles circuit, like a 30 minute frog pose, and I thought I’d die. I didn’t eat much, just some sugar electrolyte chews and fruit bars. A bit of water. It was a tough night.
Our midwife came back in the early morning and checked me again but I still had work to do. I kept labouring and eventually she suggested I get in the tub. Ridiculously I put on a shower cap to protect my hair but after an hour in the tub I didn’t look too hot! The tub helped though. Eventually the midwife made the call we were going to Rockyview and she headed there to secure us a room (the tub room! But I never got to use it). Dana coaxed me out of the tub, dressed me, and got me down the stairs to the basement. I rode to the hospital on all 4’s in the backseat and the bad construction traffic on 14th St meant the drive took four times as long as usual, which was terrible as the contractions went on.
Dana parked in the hospital parkade and the midwife came out to meet us, and we started the slow walk up to the sixth floor. So many kind people offered a wheelchair but the midwife turned them down so the process of walking could help me labour. I held onto Dana’s neck and worked through contractions. Finally on the labour and delivery floor, the midwife got me in a wheelchair, kneeling, and we made our way to the room (this image now cracks me up immensely… it wasn’t so funny at the time).
When she checked me, I was fully dilated much to everyone’s surprise. I could have started pushing but there was concern about Rhys’ heart rate. Our second midwife showed up eventually and everyone made me change positions trying to stabilize the baby’s heart rate. I distinctly recall getting a catheter which was probably the worst part of the whole day.
At some point I had laughing gas to help with the pain, but I can’t say that it made me laugh. It was something to focus on which helped though.
Eventually the OB was paged to get an opinion. They decided that Rhys needed to come sooner rather than later. Suddenly a team of 12+ filled the room: the OB, a resident, nurses, anesthesiologist, etc. The whole room was female except Dana and the anesthesiologist!
I opted for a perineal block (freezing) and it was crazy how I suddenly couldn’t feel any contractions. I could feel every sensation, but I couldn’t feel the contractions themselves. I had to have an episiotomy so they could use a vacuum to move the baby down a little and turn him. Then they tried forceps to make a little more progress. The OB mentioned a c-section a few times which was all the incentive I needed to do the pushing to deliver Rhys! It was such a strange experience though to push as I couldn’t feel the contractions so a nurse would have her hand on my belly and tell me when one was starting.
I felt so empowered by my birth team. I had a midwife holding each leg and the nurse feeling my belly, the OB and resident were of course delivering the baby, and Dana was holding my hand and giving me something to focus on. Everyone would yell “push” and I wasn’t allowed to use my legs. I was so glad I had been for pelvic floor therapy beforehand so I had the awareness of where to push. Just when I thought I couldn’t push another second, suddenly it was over and Rhys was on my chest for a brief moment. He was a little blue. They told me he was a boy! I pushed for about 25 minutes but in hindsight, it feels like forever and also no time at all. Rhys Lawrance Kinnaird was born at 3:45 p.m. on April 13th, weighing 8 lbs 8 oz and 21″ long.
Although I wanted to do delayed cord clamping, because Rhys was looking a little blue, they had Dana cut the cord quickly so they could take Rhys over to a table and check on him. Then he started screaming! When Rhys were placed on my chest again, he was quick to latch and start feeding, and check me out with his big blue eyes.
It was a pretty uncomfortable introduction as I was getting stitched up at the time. The anesthesiologist gave me some pain relief but I was annoyed to be going through more discomfort when all I wanted to do was focus on my new baby.
Finally the stitches were done and everything calmed down in the room. The nurse helped me to the bathroom to go pee, and we got walked/wheeled down to our private hospital room.
They were worried about Rhys’ blood sugar so they kept us overnight (typically, if all goes well with the delivery, midwives send their patients home within a few hours of the birth). They wanted to feed Rhys formula and sugar water to get his blood sugar up, but I had hand expressed a large quantity of colostrum antenatally, so Dana raced home to grab some out of the freezer. Apparently I became somewhat of a legend on the floor as not many women have colostrum (and in such large volumes…) on hand before the baby even arrives. Would highly recommend doing that again though, should there be a second baby in our family…
The rest of the evening was a blur. Dana ordered us pizza at some point and we ate it like ravenous animals. We called our parents. Laughably, neither of my parents answered their phones when we called, so we had to call their family friend’s house and the call was broadcast to the party they were at.
Dana spent the night at our house since there wasn’t a place for him to sleep at Rockyview and he was exhausted from little sleep the night before, plus Penny was glad to see him. I sure was happy to see Dana the next day as my night in the hospital certainly wasn’t very restful with the nurses in every hour alternating checking on Rhys and I.
We didn’t get discharged until late in the day, but we did have our first visitors – Auntie Haley and Uncle Liam! It was a pretty special visit. As we got Rhys dressed to take home, he peed on his cute little outfit, so we ended up taking him home in a too-big, hand-me-down outfit that I’d shoved in the bag last-minute when I thought he might be a giant baby.
Grandma Donna and Grandpa Barry came to meet Rhys when we got home from the hospital, and Grandma Joyce and Grandpa Derek drove from Grande Prairie and got in a little later that night.
Those first few days/weeks were a total blur of learning how to breastfeed, squeezing in naps at any possible time of day, and getting to know baby Rhys. I had insane anxiety the first week he was born, but fortunately the midwives took it very seriously and worked with Dana to make a plan to get me longer stretches of sleep. Dana syringe-fed Rhys and took him on walks to buy me some sleep, and I’ll never forget that! I felt much better after I started getting a bit more sleep. Our doula Jennie helped me catch up on sleep too.
Our lives have changed forever with Rhys’ arrival but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I honestly can’t remember what our old lives were like. We constantly marvel at all the new things Rhys is learning to do and I could go on and on about him (too late, I’m already 1781 words into this post…). On that note, I’ll sign off. If you’re still reading, thank you for sticking with me. Hopefully I’ll be back with more posts before another 6 months have past, but who knows with this mom life!