She’s here! Well…she was here two months ago but new mom life can be rather hectic. After 41 weeks and five days Everleigh Grace Carolyn Alexander joined us at 1:14 am on Saturday, February 16th, 2019 weighing 7lbs 7oz and measuring in at 20.3 inches. We are SO thrilled to have our little girl here and have been soaking in every moment with her and adjusting to our new normal.
As I approached my third trimester I made the decision to leave work six weeks ahead of my due date. I had a months worth of vacation and overtime owed to me and I was becoming so uncomfortable with each passing day – not to mention the Braxton Hicks I had been experiencing for weeks. I was so sure that because of how I felt and because I had the extra time off to prepare that she would end up coming early. By week 37 I had the hospital bag packed, Hypnobirthing book read and re-read, house cleaned and organized, baby clothes washed, postpartum recovery kits prepped and meals and breast feeding friendly snacks in the freezer. Then we waited.
I had already had a couple instances of false labour that came very close to meeting the 4-1-1 rule (contractions every four minutes, lasting one minute, for one full hour). One night when coming home from my in-laws I couldn’t speak due to the pain, we were so sure it was the real thing but after 45 minutes it fizzled out and our excitement turned to disappointment once again. When I hit 38 weeks we had started to speak to our Midwives about natural labour induction options and began trying them, along with adding in more exercise and trying the Miles Circuit every few days. Early on in my pregnancy I found Hypnobirthing and was instantly intrigued, I did my research and decided that was what felt best to me so I was trying to avoid being medically induced. I had also done a fair amount of research on things to help shorten labour and was eating dates every day – this was my favourite recipe. I’m not sure if it helped or not but at least they’re delicious.
Once I hit 40 weeks we began to get a bit more anxious. The daily, well intentioned, messages and calls began to wear on us, along with the many rounds of false labour that kept us on a constant roller coaster ride of emotions. We decided to start trying more options to get her to come naturally. On my due date I went to my final prenatal yoga class where reflexology was recommended as another method to bring on (real) contractions naturally. Five days past my due date I decided to give it a try along with booking an acupuncture appointment at The WOMB. The reflexology got her moving like crazy and the first round of acupuncture left me feeling great, but still no baby.
At 41 weeks we met with our Midwives to discuss what our plan would be since I was going to hit 42 weeks over the weekend and they would make us wait until the next Monday if we didn’t book by the end of the week. We met on the Monday and decided to set an induction date for Friday, just in case she hadn’t arrived yet. I called up The WOMB and made another acupuncture appointment for Thursday, hoping that we would be able to get the process going without having to be medically induced. On Thursday, Valentines Day, we decided to go pick up some cupcakes from Kelly’s (my favourite place & the bake shoppe that did our gender reveal) before heading to one last acupuncture appointment – my last hope of a non medically induced birth.
Sitting in the waiting room of The WOMB, anxiously awaiting my appointment, I bumped into a mom friend from church who told me she had her water break minutes after having an acupuncture treatment with the Doctor I was about to see. Having tried everything to no avail, I had very little hope that it would work as well for me.
After my appointment we stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner before going home. I walked in the door, dropped my bags and went to the washroom – as you do 100 times a day when you’re that pregnant – where I noticed a lot more water than usual left my body. Having had a false alarm of my water breaking about a week before, and the knowledge that only 10% of women have their water break before labour starts, I was a little sceptical. I put on a pad thinking that if it did happen to be my water breaking that would be enough. It was not. Minutes later there was a GUSH. Having completely soaked my pants I was feeling a lot more certain that this was the real deal. I phoned up the Midwife on call, put on some oh so glamorous Depends, and anxiously waited for the next step.
About an hour later the Midwife arrived, checked me, and told me she would see me in the morning for my induction. Not quite the Hollywood portrayal of rushing to the hospital I was hoping for. We were to be ready to go at 7:00 am but wait for the call since the hospital was jam packed with other babies arriving that day. That morning felt like the longest of my life. I had to take Gravol and Tylenol to get to sleep and only managed to stay asleep until around 4:00 am when the excitement and anxiety got the best of me.
We got a call from our Midwife just before 7:00 am letting us know the hospital wasn’t ready for us yet. We were to wait at home until 11:00 am when we would get an update on where to go. Just before 11:00 am we got the call that they were ready for us to come in. We went to the hospital, checked into the Maternal Child Unit around 11:30 am and got ready for the induction. The relief and excitement of knowing we were finally going to meet her outweighed all of my fears.
Once I was all checked in and hooked up came more waiting – this time for the OB to be free to come and start the induction. Around 1:00 pm she came in, checked me and gave the okay for the Oxytocin to start. Throughout my pregnancy I knew that having a natural delivery, free from intervention, was my best case scenario, but there was always a chance that wasn’t going to work out and since it had been 22 hours since my water broke and nothing had progressed plan A was out the window.
As the Oxytocin drip started we walked laps around our block of the unit. Josh and I tried to make a game of it by doing figure eights, then circles, and back to figure eights to keep ourselves entertained while we waited for the contractions to start – when you’re induced they start with a dose of 2ml (or mg, I’m not sure) and go up by two every half hour until you’re in active labour. Around 4:00 pm the contractions really started and I was in the zone, going through my calm breathing and listening to my carefully curated delivery playlist. Around 5:00 pm the dose was getting a bit too high and my contractions started coming on top of each other so our Midwife decided to take the dose back down. So many people talk about how contractions feel like menstrual cramps x100 and I would agree that they are more intense than cramps but honestly they weren’t that bad at this point. I would definitely recommend working on calm breathing and relaxation techniques during your pregnancy because they got me through this part of labour with ease.
At 6:00 pm our Midwife decided to check me since I had been in active labour for a couple hours. She checked and I was 4cm dilated. I had been 2cm dilated for the past three weeks so I was disappointed that I had made such little progress so far. After she checked me I told Josh he should go get some dinner because we would probably be in for the long haul and I didn’t want him to miss the opportunity to eat. Minutes after he left I started to feel really nauseous and ended up throwing up so hard I threw my shoulder out. That ended my cool, calm and collected labour.
I tried for the next hour to get back into the zone with my calm breathing, trying different positions, and listening to my playlist but I was totally thrown off. I had been so sure going into my delivery that I was going to be able to get through it without any pain medication – I kept telling myself that I was the kid who broke her collar bone clean through and no one believed me, and I had appendicitis sitting on top of an ovarian cyst and I got through the 36 hours it took for the hospital to address that very painful issue (again I was so calm that no one believed me) so I would be able to get through delivery, it was pain with purpose after all.
The mind game that went on for the next half hour was such a struggle. If I had known what would come next I probably would have just pushed through it but I just kept thinking that since I was progressing so slowly I was probably going to be in labour for another 12+ hours so I decided to try the gas to take the edge off. The gas did very little, aside from make me feel loopy, so at 7:30 pm I decided to get an epidural – figuring I would be able to get a little rest and end up delivering sometime around 6:00 am the next day. At 8:00 pm the anesthesiologist came in and put in the epidural, the relief I felt was amazing.
Once the pain subsided I laid back and tried to get some rest but the excitement took over and within a few minutes I could feel the contractions again, except this time I just felt the pressure. By 9:00 pm I kept telling our Midwife that I felt really heavy, I could still feel every contraction but the pressure and weight I felt was so much more significant. When I mentioned this she started to get everything ready for delivery and said she would check me again at 10:00 pm. At this point I was feeling great and getting more and more excited with each contraction – we were going to meet our little lady so soon!
At 10:00 pm our Midwife checked me and I was fully dilated! I couldn’t believe that I had made such progress in just four hours after such slow progression earlier in the day. We did a few practise pushes between 10:00 – 11:00 pm while we waited for the other Midwives to finish up with another delivery – like I said earlier, it was a VERY busy day for deliveries. Once the other two Midwives arrived it was time to meet our little lady!
Earlier on in the day our Midwife asked Josh if he wanted to assist with the delivery to which he said no. I had told him before that I wanted him to stay up by my head and just help keep me calm so he wasn’t planning on doing anything else. I am SO thankful that didn’t end up happening because he was so amazing during delivery; I swear he grew a couple extra arms because he was holding my leg, getting me cold compresses, checking on her progression, and bringing me drinks and freezies while I pushed.
When I started pushing I was laying on my back and was having trouble figuring out how to push properly. Nothing really felt right to me until I ended up laying on my right side. Pushing was the one of the weirdest yet most instinctual things I have ever done. When I was studying my Hypnobirthing book I kept reading about breathing my baby out; I was totally under the impression that I was just going to calmly breath her out of my body. This was not the case. Pushing took everything I had, to the point that I broke so many blood vessels in my face that I looked like I was covered in freckles. The hardest part of pushing was between each contraction when I would try to relax my body would have so much trouble coming back down from the intensity of it all that I would start shaking uncontrollably.
Throughout pushing the Midwives kept telling me I was getting so close, but between contractions she would start to slip back. After a couple hours I felt like I had made minuscule progress and was getting worried that I wasn’t going to be able to push her out any time soon so I just kept pushing harder and harder each contraction. I have to credit weight lifting with getting me through it because I kept thinking back to when I thought I couldn’t lift any more weight yet was able to push myself just that little bit further. The Midwives said again how close I was so I pushed with everything I had and seconds later Everleigh was on my stomach! I, in shock, exclaimed “Woah, it’s a baby” and started laughing. I was under the impression that it was going to take a few more pushes to get past her shoulders and couldn’t believe how quickly she came out with that last push.
Josh cut the cord and they laid her on my chest. It was the most amazing feeling to finally be able to hold her and see her face – it’s a moment I will never forget.