At 3:45 a.m., May 19, 2004, my son Jackson (2 ½ years old) woke me up by coming to our bed. He said, “Mummy, I’m sore.” When I felt him, I realized that he was burning up. We went back to his bed and I lay down with him for a few minutes. I realized that he really did have a high fever so I got up to get the thermometer. When I checked his temperature, it was 102.3oF. I gave him some Advil and lay down with him to help him fall asleep.
While I was lying there I noticed I had mild cramping and began to wonder if I was in labour. I fell asleep and woke up about 2 hours later. It was about 5:45 when I went back to my bed and woke my husband up. I told him that Jackson was really sick and that I might be in labour. We decided that I had better call the midwife to see if this changed our plans for a homebirth. We paged K (the midwife) at 6:05 a.m. to get her opinion. She suggested we make alternate arrangements for Jackson, but that we could continue with the homebirth as we would be home within 3 hours of the birth anyway if we went to the hospital.
As the next hour went by, the contractions became stronger, and I began to realize this was for real. My husband went to work from 7 to 9 a.m. to tie up some loose ends. At 6 a.m. I went downstairs and woke up my mother-in-law (J) to tell her about Jackson and that I was in labour, and suggested that C come down from Orangeville and take the two of them back to her house. I said I would call our family doctor at 9 a.m. to get Jackson in for an appointment to make sure his fever wasn’t anything serious. We called C to give her a heads-up.
K (the midwife) came by at 8:20 a.m. to check me out and get a baseline of how far along I was. At that point I was having contractions every 2 to 5 minutes, but they were only lasting 10 – 15 seconds long and were very mild. I was measuring 2 – 3 cm dilated and about 70% effaced. After K left, J and I set up my bedroom for the homebirth.
The previous Sunday we had taken a turkey out of the freezer and it happened to be thawed that morning (Wednesday), so J was stuffing a turkey at 8:30 that morning!
My husband got back from work at around 9:30 am and we filled him in as to what was going on. By this time, Jackson was up and seemed OK. He wasn’t interested in eating, but otherwise seemed fine. My husband and I decided to take Jackson to the park so that I could get a walk and Jackson could get out and play. It was a beautiful day. We were gone for a couple of hours while J finished cleaning the house. Tyler was playing with Jackson while I was pacing and timing my contractions. We went home and had a turkey dinner with all the trimmings for lunch. I knew that this might be my last real meal for a while, so I wanted to make the most of it.
I tried to nap during the day, but couldn’t relax enough. Jackson seemed better so we didn’t take him to the doctor. In the afternoon he lay down on the couch to watch a movie. We were all so busy running around getting things ready we didn’t notice that Jackson was getting sicker again.
C arrived at about 2:00 in the afternoon. When I went to check on Jackson I realized that he was burning up again. I took his temperature and it was back up to 103oF. I gave him some more Advil. In about half an hour he was well enough that we got him to eat some toast and honey, an apple, and a pear. By this time it was 3:00 in the afternoon and this was the first thing he had eaten or drunk all day.
I went upstairs for another nap. My husband called our family doctor and got an appointment for 5:00 in the afternoon. My husband and J then went out to buy some groceries while C, Jackson, and I stayed home. After Jackson finished eating, C and I took him out to the playground out back. I paced around while C and Jackson played. When my husband got back with J, he and C took Jackson to the doctor.
J and I stayed behind and made dinner. All this while my contractions were still 3 – 5 minutes apart and lasting 20 – 30 seconds. They were feeling like strong menstrual cramps. I would have to pause and concentrate while they were happening. While we were waiting for the others to come back, J and I went for a walk around to the recreation centre and back. When I was walking the contractions were 2 – 4 minutes apart and lasting 40 seconds. They were strong enough that I had to stop walking when they would hit.
When my husband, C and Jackson came back they said Jackson was OK, he just had a virus. I paged the midwives to come and check me out. K checked me out and I was 3 – 4 cm and 90 – 100% effaced. She said to call again when they were either 2 minutes apart, or very strong. She also gave me instructions as to what to do if the baby was going to be born before she got there. K went home and I went downstairs for dinner.
After dinner, my husband and C took Jackson upstairs for bed. I went up to tuck him in. We gave him some more Advil to make sure he didn’t spike a fever in the middle of the night.
We all went downstairs to watch some TV. I was having difficulty getting comfortable. This labour was so different from Jackson’s. I was finding it much more painful. At 9:00 p.m., my husband convinced me to page the midwife again. My contractions were 3 – 5 minutes apart, but lasting 50 – 60 seconds long. F (the other midwife) came and checked me out. She talked to me about ways to speed up my labour. She was concerned that I was becoming exhausted. I had been awake since 3:45 am. She mentioned labour tincture and breaking my waters. I said I would think about it and talk things over with my husband. F decided she should stay with us for the rest of the labour. We were all in the living room watching TV and F was doing paperwork. My husband and I decided to go out for a walk while F set up all her equipment.
My husband and I walked up and down the sidewalk outside of the house. Every time a contraction hit I had to stop walking and put my arms around my husband’s neck. I would rest my head on his shoulder while he encouraged me to rock and sway my hips so that the baby would go down into my pelvis. He kept reminding me that things were going well and that I was strong enough to have this baby. After half an hour or so, the contractions were strong enough to bring tears to my eyes. When I was getting cold we went back into the house. It was 10:10 pm.
We went back into the living room. I had to stand because it was painful to sit in any chair. I even tried the birth ball, but it, too, brought on the contractions too strongly. At this point when the contractions hit, the pain went around my belly, back, and cervix. I discovered that if my husband pushed hard on the small of my back it made the pain more bearable. At first I leaned against the wall and then my husband pushed on my back. Later, we found that if I put my arms around my husband’s neck and hugged him while he hugged me by pressing on the small of my back the contractions were more bearable. By 10:30 the contractions were so strong that I was finding it difficult to cope. Any change in movement (walking, sitting, etc.) would bring on really intense contractions. I decided to go upstairs to have a bath and agreed to try the labour tincture. It contained blue cohosh. My contractions were still 3-4 minutes apart and lasted 40 seconds. I was officially labeled as starting the first stage of active labour at 10:40 pm.
In the bathroom my husband lit a candle for me and turned out the lights. I sat in the tub for about 10 minutes. I had 3 intense contractions and started to feel too hot, so I got out. At 10:50 I ate a Vector bar and drank some Gatorade. I laboured upstairs on the bed in the side lying position. At 11:15 pm I took a second dose of labour tincture and we started talking about rupturing my membranes again. I was feeling really sleepy and was having trouble coping with the pain. My contractions were slowing down when I was lying down. I got up again and they started to intensify. With every contraction my husband and I would hug each other and he would press on the small of my back.
At midnight, F checked me again and I was 6 – 7 cm with a bulging bag of waters. We decided to call the back up midwife and I agreed to break my bag of waters. I was really starting to feel exhausted. At 12:30 a.m., May 20, 2004, F tried to break my waters, but I found it so painful she had to stop. She thought I felt about 8 – 9 cm dilated and I was encouraged to lie on my side. Any movement at all triggered huge contractions. I was so tired I just wanted to sleep. During a contraction I was unable to open my legs, so F had to hold them open to encourage my pelvis to widen. After a few contractions I was helped onto my right side to help me finish dilating.
At 12:35, the backup midwife and her student arrived. At 12:45, I was starting to feel some pressure but the contractions were still very painful. I kept expecting the pain to stop because with Jackson’s birth when I was fully dilated the pain stopped and I found pushing enjoyable. With this birth, the pain just kept becoming more intense.
At 1:15 a.m., I moved to the toilet and had some contractions there. I also vomited. I then moved back to the bedroom and sat on the birthing stool. I started to push and my water broke at 1:22 a.m. There was a small feeling of relief when my water broke. Unfortunately, my husband was in front of me and I soaked his jeans.
At this point I was moved back up to the bed so my husband could catch the baby. At 1:30, I felt like my pelvis was being pushed wide open. This baby was descending much faster than Jackson ever did. The head popped out rather quickly and I felt a little relief. I was told to stop pushing, as the cord was wrapped twice around baby’s neck. They had to clamp and cut the cord before I could push the rest of the baby out.
At 1:37 a.m., I finally pushed the rest of the baby out. He was laid upon my belly. He was crying and moving but very pale. He was covered with towels and a hat, and rubbed dry. I was given a shot of oxytocin and delivered the placenta at 1:43 a.m.
J was the one to announce we had a boy. My husband came and lay down beside me. We looked at our son and tried to figure out what to call him. We finally agreed on Thomas. At 1:46 a.m., they put an oxygen mask on Thomas to try and get him to pink up more.
At 1:47 a.m., they took Thomas to the dresser to suction him. His lungs sounded clear and his heart rate was great. They just had to clear out his mouth. F gave me one stitch on my perineum for a 1o cut. Thomas pinked up well and I nursed him for a while. Then the two of us went into the bath to get cleaned up. They then took Thomas back to the bedroom to weigh and measure him. I stayed in the bathroom until I finally went pee.
When I went back to the bedroom, everything had been cleaned up and Thomas was all bundled up in a nightgown with a hat and wrapped in two receiving blankets. I lay down next to him and started to drift off to sleep. F stayed until 4:30 am. While the new family was drifting off to sleep upstairs, the midwives helped themselves to turkey sandwiches with potato and macaroni salad.
My husband and I fell asleep at 4:30 a.m., and our son Jackson came to greet us at 6:30 a.m. As Jackson approached our bed, I said “Come and say Hi to your brother Thomas.” He took one look at him and said “That’s not Thomas, that’s a baby!”. He warmed up to Thomas great over that first day and has become a great big brother.
Thomas was born on May 20, 2004, and weighed 7 lbs 4 oz, and was 21 inches long.
– Shared by Tania from Ontario, Canada. Click here to read about Jackson’s birth.