You Can read My Non-Scary Non-Gory Labour and Birth Story – Part I here.
At The Hospital, The First Assessment
There was no traffic on the way to the hospital—the city was still asleep. I didn’t want to be alone so I went with Feng in the parking lot and we walked from there to the obstetric unit, instead of him dropping me off, parking the car and meeting me there. The walk was slow and painful but I was grateful we were together.
The nurse on duty was the same one I had called earlier. She was very welcoming and registered me, then put me in the exam room. At this stage, I still wasn’t sure whether I was in labour.
A quick exam later—blood pressure, baby’s heartbeat, everything was fine—and the nurse asked me to take off my clothes and went to get the doctor.
Unfortunately, he was busy somewhere. I waited in the exam room, cold, tired and in pain. The nurse kept on apologizing and eventually decided to assess me herself.
“Yep, you are four-centimeter dilated and your waters are bursting,” she announced. “You are having that baby today! I’ll get you a room.”
I was the first one shocked. Seriously, already four centimeters? And seriously having the baby today?
Feng and I were brought to one of the nicest hospital room I have ever seen. It was huge and bright (bonus for the sunrise view!), with a big bathroom attached, complete with a Jacuzzi and tub. It didn’t feel medical—I love it. Again, I felt grateful for the Canadian health care system and public hospitals! We had access to a small kitchen and lots of food. I helped myself to half a chicken sandwich, figuring I’d need the energy.
I needed antibiotics because I had tested positive to the GBS test. More nurses were called because apparently my veins were too small for the catheter and IV. Meanwhile, I wasn’t being too helpful—I was tired and the contractions were strong.
Feng went to get the bags from the car and some breakfast was brought. I found very funny that it included maple syrup—only in Canada! Yes, in between contractions I was taking pictures. Go figure.
I was going to hop in the hot tub after my IV went through—40 minutes, I had been told—but I never had the chance. The contractions got stronger and stronger. I was cold and tired—but trust me, you can’t really sleep between contractions!
The nurse and the med students I had allowed to stay were trying to make conversation and I was trying to sound normal. Meanwhile, the ob-gyn on duty and his team of interns came by, as well as a substitute nurse when mine went on her break. “I’ll be your doctor if you have that baby before 4:15,” the ob-gyn announced. I glance at the clock. 9 a.m. It felt unreal.
Eventually, the pain got bad, so bad that I was screaming on top of my lungs on the bed, under layers of blankets. It felt like my insides were melting and pushing out—not a pleasant thought or feeling. “Don’t push” advised the nurse. “That’s the baby’s head you are feeling in your back, it’s okay.”
She had me change position on the bed: on the side, on all four, on my back… I just obeyed.
The nurse kept on checking on me. “You are five centimeters dilated… six… You will have this baby in the afternoon,” she said.
I couldn’t think straight. Could I stand that much pain for a few more hours? But getting an anaesthesia team for the epidural, and then waiting for it to work, seemed too much hassle.
“Come on Juliette, take the drugs,” Feng begged me at one point.
“You are eight centimeters dilated,” announced the nurse. When I heard that, I thought I could do it without painkillers. I told myself it was the hardest stage and that it would be fine.
More pain and more screaming. Like, screaming. No swearing though.
“Get the doctor, the baby is coming!” singsong the experienced nurse.
I felt a warm rush of liquid—my water breaking, finally. “My waters broke,” I said, almost incredulous. “That’s right, and the baby’s head is coming!” added the nurse.
The team came, and encouraged me. “Push!”
I had energy but pushing seemed counterproductive—I was scared to do so because it was painful. It was a strange feeling: I knew I had to push but couldn’t help holding in.
But I still pushed—and screamed. And at 11:04 a.m., much much earlier than I had expected, baby Mark came out. They showed it to me and I heard it was a boy while seeing it for myself.
I heard the team encouraging Feng to cut the cord—he did—the baby was cleaned up very quickly and handed to me. I was crying and laughing—easy, the pain had stopped! “We made that!” I said to Feng. “We made that kid!”
I had a second-degree tear and was stitched up by two med students—again, no pain—while the baby was weighted and taken care of under Feng’s watch. Mark was 6.1 pounds and 45-centimeter tall—no a big baby, like all the doctors had said, but healthy and doing fine.
The placenta came out and I asked to see it. Yeah, I don’t find that kind of things gross and I was curious. Fascinating thing actually. The baby’s umbilical cord was very short, the doctor explained, unusually so. Weird. “You aren’t going to bury it under a tree?” the nurse joked. “Nope,” I confirmed, “no tree in the backyard.”