River’s birth story

River is two months old and I am finally sitting down to finish writing his birth story. I think back to his birth and I am absolutely amazed at how sacred and perfect it was. I’ve made notes along the way while it was still fresh in my mind, and recently watched our birth video. I’m not going to spare details here, because what happens during the birthing process is natural and normal and I want to remember it that way.

I am profoundly grateful for my birth experience, the exceptional care I received and support that was present. This is River’s birth story.

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017: It was a normal day. I had my lash extensions done the day before and I was just puttering around the house doing some laundry and other mundane tasks. I was starting to feel really “done” with being pregnant by the end (longest few weeks of my life)! I decided to wash the floors on my hands and knees in hopes to get things moving. It was brutal but I did it. I continued doing a few things around the house into the evening and went to bed around 1:15 am (typical bedtime for this night owl). Right before I went to sleep, I noticed some cramping in my lower abdomen, similar to PMS cramps. I thought to myself, “I better go to sleep”.

2:30 am: I woke up and felt a “full” sensation down there. I quickly walked to the bathroom and my water broke and I lost my mucus plug all at once (like I said, no details spared).

2:35 am: I woke up Phill, “Babe, my water just broke!”, I whispered. He rolls over and says, “Are you serious?!”.

2:45 am: Contractions start. I thought I should try and go back to sleep. *Didn’t go back to sleep*.

4:30 am: I paged the midwife. Jill was on call. Poor Jill, every time I have paged in the middle of the night she always happens to be on call. She said she could tell by the sound of my voice that I was still in early labour, and we agreed to touch base later on once things progressed more.

I would lie down in between contractions to get a little rest and then stand up and rock back and forth through the contractions. There was no way I could stay lying down as it was way too uncomfortable.

9:30 am: Jill came over to check on me. I was 1-2 cm dilated. She lent me her TENS machine and it helped to distract me for about half an hour. Jill reminded me to drop my shoulders during the contractions. She said she’d be back later and that she was only on call until 6:00 pm. She said the locum midwife named Kerry (who we had never met) was on call next. I had secretly hoped Jenny would be on call, as I love her energy and calm presence. All of the midwives are so amazing, I would have been happy and in excellent hands with any of them. We agreed to touch base later in the day again as things progressed.

I was in and out of the bath. When I was out of the bath, I used the exercise ball up on the bed and I leaned my body over it while standing. Phill would lightly rub my back as I rocked back and forth. Early on in labour I was focusing on my breath while listening to meditation music. Phill would time the contractions and let me know when it was half over, which really helped!

During the baths Phill would squeeze a wet washcloth or fill an empty glass jar and pour water over my lower belly. In between the contractions he’d lay the warm washcloth on my belly.

3:00 pm: Jill came back to our house and checked me. I was 2-3 cm dilated and she said she could stretch me to 5 cm, but didn’t. She then told us that it was actually Jenny on call starting at 6:00 pm, not the locum. I cried tears of happiness, lol!

6:05 pm: Jenny arrived at our house. She rang the buzzer to our condo mid-contraction and I remember it being such a struggle to get to the phone to let her in. I gave her the biggest hug ever when she came in our room and told her how happy I was that she was there. She had just finished working at the clinic all day so was literally running to our birth. She asked me to envision how dilated I might be during my next contraction. I held up my thumb and index finger indicating about 4-5 cm. She checked me and I was 6 cm! Yay! In the last few weeks of my pregnancy we strongly considered having a home birth. I was a little hesitant because I have a cyst on my ovary that I need removed that could basically twist at any moment and would require immediate surgery. Being that the ovary is right next to my uterus I worried it might twist during birth. Jenny asked “Are we staying here, or going to the hospital? I have all my stuff in the car if we’re staying here.” It was 6:00 pm on Friday, I thought about it for a few minutes and decided “What the hell, lets just go to the hospital.”.

Jenny called the hospital to admit me and requested a room with a bath (thank god)!

We left for the hospital, and no joke, Phill got us there in 9 minutes. It was impressive. I had the most intense contraction while going through the tunnel. The car ride is so uncomfortable because sitting while a baby is trying to come out just isn’t ideal. We really ought to have a sign to put in the window next time “wife in labour, sorry for driving like an asshole”. Thankfully we didn’t get pulled over.

We got to the hospital a few minutes before Jenny. I pretty much dove straight into the bath. The bath was my happy place and I stayed there for the next 3.5 hours. During contractions Phill tapped his hand on the side of the bath and the sound of his ring hitting the edge kept me focused. It felt like I was in there for maybe 20 minutes. Two hours after being in the bath, Jenny checked me and I was fully dilated to 10 cm! I decided to stay in the bath longer and push. I pushed in the bath for 1.5 hours before I got out to change positions and go on the bed. When you’re pushing, you’re literally pushing with all you have and directing the pressure into your bum. In the bath in between contractions is when I noticed there were some small bits of shit. I could not have cared any less at that point. Or now, lol.

Jenny saying “start your next push holding where you last left off in your previous contraction” helped a lot. It was sort of a light bulb moment and that’s when things really progressed. It was so cool to hear Phill’s reaction when he could start to see the head. He propped up his phone across the room to record River being born.

I knew things were happening when, after a few more contractions, Jenny put on her gloves and they called in another nurse. I expressed my concern about tearing to Jenny and she was ON IT. She supported my perineum with a warm compress and talked me through every movement. Once his head was almost out, she instructed me on how to hold it so my perineum could stretch instead of tear. Once his head came out, his body came super fast despite efforts to control his descent.

Jenny quickly unwrapped the cord that was loosely wrapped around his neck, and put him on my chest. Since we didn’t know his gender, I wanted Phill to be the one to announce it to me once he was born. I am so happy we did that because it was MAGIC having my husband reveal the greatest surprise of our lives. Phill said “IT’S A LITTLE BOY!”. And all I remember saying was “ARE YOU SERIOUS?! ARE YOU SERIOUS?”. The feeling of River on my chest was indescribable. He started crying super loud and it was the best moment of my life. *Crying while typing this*. I remember Phill leaning over my face and putting his arms around both of us and time literally stood still. I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT.

After having three consecutive miscarriages prior to this, I walked on eggshells all throughout this pregnancy, desperately hoping that this baby would be okay. Unfortunately, that’s what miscarriage does to you. Finally seeing River in the flesh and hearing him cry was a moment I truly didn’t know if I’d be so lucky to experience for myself. I’ll never get over it.

Shortly after, I delivered the placenta (it felt like barely anything after what just happened). Jenny told me I had a second degree tear. I would have believed her if she said I didn’t tear at all. I spent so much time worrying about tearing, and it totally wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. I pictured it being a separate feeling from the baby being born. Yes, there was a ton of pressure, but it didn’t feel like I tore wide open, if that makes sense.

Because of the type of tear that I had, she called in an OB to do my stitches. Dr. Monahan came in and was awesome. I had no concept of time but afterwards I asked Jenny how long it took and she said about 20 minutes. I also asked how many stitches they did, and Jenny replied “Oh, we don’t count”, which I knew could only mean one thing: a lot.

Jenny showed us the placenta while she looked it over, it was SO cool! I saved my placenta for encapsulation which ended up being one of the best things I did for my postpartum recovery.

Phill and Jenny were such an incredible team and I am beyond grateful for their presence and encouragement. I could not have done it without them and their support! I am in awe with how my body knew exactly what to do, and how to recover from not only birth but pregnancy. I’m so happy that I was able to have an intervention-free birth with zero pain medication. I look forward to doing it again some day, and in the meantime, help others bring their angels into the world, too.

After everything was said and done I just held River and stared at him. I felt an overwhelming amount of excited energy and there was no way I was going to sleep. Phill and I stared at him in disbelief that he had finally arrived. After years of dreaming, trying, conceiving, miscarrying, heartbreak and question marks, our rainbow baby finally arrived. Perfect in every way. 

River, it is our honour to be your parents, to care for you, guide you and love you unconditionally. Thank you for choosing us, sweet boy!

River Loren Screeton – born July 5th, 2017 | 7 lbs 12 oz | 53 cm long

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