Thursday, October 22, 2009

Transformation Through 4 Births

Chantelle’s Birth Stories

Baby #1

March 8, 2003 (Due date March 10)

My bloody show started in the morning. Contractions started around 8:45pm, 2 min long and 10-12 minute apart. I called Dean at work and told him to come home. I had a false alarm the previous week so he was skeptical, but came home anyway. I kept telling him to have a shower but he did not believe that this was the real deal. Suddenly my water broke at 9:50pm and like a flash Dean was in the shower. Contractions went to 2 minutes apart. We rushed Molly (our dog) down to Dean’s parents and then continued on to the hospital. I called the hospital in our local town to tell them we were coming. I was in so much pain. It was a cold night and I remember running my fingers across the cold window of the truck hoping to ease my pain somehow. Forgot about all the breathing we had practiced in prenatal class as I was unable to get on top of it. The doctor on call checked me in the midst of a contraction (grrrrrrr!) and I was 4cm. They decided to try to send me by ambulance to the Misericordia (hospital in the city nearby). They gave me Demerol to help with the pain in anticipation of an uncomfortable trip. By the time the ambulance was ready, after about 20 minutes, I was already 7cm. The doctor abandoned the idea of Edmonton and admitted me. Dean filled out the hospital papers while I screamed bloody murder. I felt like I had to poop. I asked if it was too late to go in the shower, nurse said yes. I was so lost, with no guidance from the nurse, Dean was clearly overwhelmed and I had no idea how to handle the pain. Meanwhile the Demerol was kicking in. Checked me again and I was 10 cm and ready to go. Dean is still filling out papers while in delivery room. I remember being so out of it and not wanting to cooperate, sleeping between contractions because of the Demerol. I was afraid of the pain if I pushed and of damaging my vagina. Finally I made some effort after the doctor threatened to give me some meds to increase the strength of the contractions. I told him I would try harder although I just wanted to go home. Because I was so reluctant to push she had major swelling and bruising on her face, once her shoulders were through, I couldn’t help but push as the doctor told me not to. One final push and out she came at approx 1am, the nurse exclaimed “a beautiful baby girl!!” Paige Jean was 8lbs 13ounces and I was so shocked that it was a girl as I was certain it was a boy the entire pregnancy!!!

Postpartum: lots of blood (at the time, it seemed extreme, I know better now)

Stitches were painful.

Nurses were bossy.

Baby #2

August 9, 2005 (due date August 4)

Overdue by 6 days, I was scheduled for an appointment in Edmonton to meet with the doctor. I was absolutely desperate to get this baby out, incredibly uncomfortable. Could not walk or sit, and absolutely constipated. BLAAAHHH!!! He stripped my membranes and instructed me to head over to the Grey Nuns for induction. Checked in and nurse set me up with a stress test. I was under the understanding that I was being induced right then and there. Then the head nurse comes in and says they are too busy and do not induce in the middle of the afternoon anyway. They would put me on the list for the following morning. I was devastated! We stayed overnight at Dean’s brother and sister-in-law’s. I did not sleep at all, cried most of the night and had a bath to try to get some sleep. The following morning we waited for the phone to ring, they said they would call around 7:30am. I felt completely out of control and at the mercy of the nurses. Dean came in the bathroom to let me know finally they had called at 8:15am, while I was in the shower bawling my eyes out. PHEW!!! What a huge relief, this baby was coming out today! We called Alana, my coach and friend and she met us there, I had enlisted her hoping for a better, more focused birth.

They started the pitocin around 9:30am. Then the doctor on call (don’t recall his name) breaks my water, contractions come around 2 minutes apart, getting stronger and stronger. Breathing worked well for a while; I remember Alana had spearmint gum and kept breathing hard right in my face, keeping me focused. Contractions become so strong I was screaming, the synthetic pitocin still pumping through the IV. They tried giving me the gas which is a joke BTW, to be effective you have to inhale the gas during the contraction. How are you supposed to inhale when you’re screaming???!!! The nurse suggests that I get up to go to the washroom to move my bladder and dilate the last 2 cm and I thought this was outrageous!! How am I supposed to walk?? But they talked me into it, and it actually was not that bad. I sat for a while on the toilet, and then slowly made it back to the bed, with my cart of wires & IV. Ready to push and when I pushed it felt so much better!! 6 pushes @ 3-4 pushes a piece. The baby had shoulder dystocia and there was some panic for a minute or so. Alana and Dean pulled my legs up by my head and the nurse pushed on my stomach. Out came a huge baby boy, 9 lbs 13 ounces at approx 1pm. The doctor commented all he needed was a lunch box and was ready for school. Reese Douglas was nicknamed “lunch box” for a year or so. As the nurses wheeled me to the maternity ward, they commented how I was welcome back anytime as I was such an excellent patient. I understand that more now, 4 years later.

Postpartum: Lots of blood and a bit of a risk because of bigger baby. All worked out fine. Nurses were excellent. 187 pounds pre-labour, 175 pounds 24 hours later.

Baby #3

November 5, 2007 (due date November 7)

The doctor put me on a waiting list for induction at about 39 weeks due to the bigger baby and shoulder dystocia risk, and I was bumped day after day for about a week. Once again I turned into a psychopath waiting for these nurses to pick me! Of course, they call us shortly after Dean decided to go to work after waiting around at home for days.

Arrive at the hospital and the IV is inserted for the pitocin and Alana, Dean and I hung out for a few hours in the room, laughing and joking around. Quite a bit of time elapsed as compared to Reese. Finally Doc on call broke my water, and then things progressed quickly. Suddenly there is no more joking or laughing. Spent some time in the hot shower, and then moved back to the bed. I began pushing around 4:50pm. As I am pushing I remember being very alert compared to past births. I wondered why there were so many people in the back of the room leaning against the wall. I even asked why, someone said “They are learning.” I was annoyed by this, unfortunately, this was just the start!

Pushing with Hayley was difficult and I really had to work, again on my back. But they were slow and steady. Out came Hayley, 8 lbs 13 ounces. She was born at 5:08pm. The nurses commented how wonderful I did and how surprised they were with my strength. I found this a bit unusual. There must be more women giving birth without painkillers???

Postpartum: I began hemorrhaging and mild Shoulder Dystocia. I also had stitches. I should also note that I was unable to have comfortable sexual intercourse for the following 10 months, cause unknown. I had 2 nurses, one quite bossy the other a bit of a follower. They inserted a catheter to empty my bladder, certain it was in the way of my uterus contracting. The after pains were horrible. The pushing on my stomach was equally or more so horrible!!! Finally after a few hours, I was moved to recovery. New unit, so the room was brand new. I didn’t get out of bed until following morning around 9am, which was hugely detrimental to my recovery.

In one instance a nurse came on shift and said she wanted to check my spine where the epidural was inserted. I told her I had no epidural, “oh” she says “that’s a first.” What???

After the slow start I was convinced I was not going home that day but finally by around 5pm I decided I was ready. So we loaded Megan Isabelle into her car seat. Then Dean said “Let’s go home Megan.” We looked at each other and knew she was not a Megan. We went and found the nurse and our government form and the black pen, scratched out Megan and wrote Hayley. Now we were ready to go home. As we left the parking lot, I felt sad that I would never be back to deliver another baby...or so I thought.

When we discovered I was pregnant for the fourth time, which was completely unplanned and a HUGE oops on our part, I was a mess. Things with our 3 children were just beginning to become easier and a trip to Vegas or somewhere tropical was on the horizon, among that was the idea of working my way out of the infant stage. I cried a lot and it took me months to warm up to the idea as our youngest was only 13 months old when we discovered the news. I was very sick and incredibly tired.

Also, I was terrified of what was ahead of me as far as another evasive labour. In my mind, I was getting too old for this; my body was trying to tell me that I shouldn’t have more children and I interpreted that as, if I did, medical intervention was the only way. In order to avoid a big baby and the complications that come along with it, I began to contemplate an elective c-section. I didn’t necessarily want one; I just didn’t think I had any other choice. I knew that another induction was out of the question as they were getting increasingly more risky.

Then along came Arie. She and her close friend ran an online website that sold cloth diapers, baby carriers and many other products. I had bought cloth diapers from her for Hayley and had spoke with Arie on a few occasions for advice on the products she offered. She had mentioned to me in the past how she had delivered her 3 children at home, which at the time, I thought was crazy!! Then one evening while on facebook I saw she had posted a link regarding c-sections and the risks they pose including the aftermath and potential effects they can have later in life.

I decided to call her the next day and talk to her about my dilemma. Shortly into our discussion she said to me “Did you ever think that the complications you experienced were a result of being induced?” Wow! I had a complete “ah-ha” moment. It all made sense, complete sense. I pushed the doctors to induce me, I wondered over and over why they didn’t seem concerned about my situation, until I was 41 weeks, then they wanted to take control for example with Reese. (Which looking back, I totally believe that it was a “pit to distress” attempt that thankfully did not work out in their favor.) The doctors weren’t concerned because there was nothing to be concerned about. I was making it all into a huge deal, a crisis out of being pregnant. Essentially, I viewed it as a disaster waiting to happen. All of this made me incredibly sad, I had three births under my belt and I knew nothing of my choices and had learned nothing about having a birth that meant something. All this time I bragged of my drug-free births, pushing them out vaginally, when really I had tons of intervention. I had pitocin with 2 births and it doesn’t get more intervening than that, next to a c-section. Just because I didn’t have painkillers (with the exception of course to the Demerol I never consented to), I thought I was doing it naturally. I begged for those inductions, I would have camped out in the labour and delivery ward had they let me. I was not going to wait for the baby to come when it was ready, I didn’t trust my body or my baby. I had basically lost all faith that I was able to go into labour on my own.

So, after this conversation, I set out to find myself a doula and possibly a midwife. I began reading books regarding intervention-free births and books about choosing your own birth. One of the books was “Your Best Birth” by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein, I strongly recommend this book. It took me until about 30 weeks before I found a doula, which I ended up not going with after Arie offered her services to me. She was not a registered doula but she had attended a few births but her knowledge surpassed the 3 doulas I had previously spoken with and I trusted her completely. I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders and I began to have an incredible feeling of entitlement. I was entitled to a birth of my choice, a pregnancy of my choice, and I realized that I do not need doctors. We need them when we are sick, or there is an emergency. But I was not sick and there was no emergency. I was pregnant, and that was all.

I have to mention that most people that I told about my revelation thought I had completely lost my mind. It is increasingly disturbing that many people question the safety of a natural birth more than the safety of an unnecessary elective c-section or induction.

As the weeks passed I became anxious at the thought of even stepping foot in a hospital. I dreaded the thought of the doctors and nurses taking the control away, and crapping all over my birth experience. After much discussion with my own thoughts and my husband and doula, I knew that the hospital was the best answer. I was not prepared to take responsibility for the result should something unforeseen happen during a home birth. We began working on our own issues and preparing ourselves to demand the experience we wanted and stand our ground. Occasionally getting a little carried away as I had even contemplated labouring in the parking lot of the hospital or even delivering in the parking lot as I would be close should I need assistance, and then arrive at the ward full out pushing or even carrying a baby in my arms. Then they couldn’t possibly intervene.

*The following are some journal entries close to the end of my pregnancy.

August 10, 2009. Now at 39 weeks and knowing that my one and only choice is a no intervention birth, I am once again being tested to the max, emotionally and physically. I strongly believe that this is the best for my baby and myself, however, I now need to be prepared to wait it out. I have been in latent labour for what feels like 2 weeks. I have had to reassure myself that I have the ability to go into labour on my own, that I need to trust my baby and my body.

I have been confident that one of the false labour experiences I have had in the past few weeks was the one, and I did it! I went in on my own! Then every morning I wake up, still pregnant. And although, I still have a week to go, I am fighting my own internal battle. Feeling the need to perform for all those that doubt this choice I have made, and with the growing feeling inside that I am utterly and completely tired of being pregnant and this baby could not come soon enough. The more I research and learn how psyche has a lot to do with labour, now I am trying not to stress about being stressed... “Allow myself to introduce myself”. At this stage it is all enough to make me nuts! What happened to my “cool as a cucumber” outlook?? “The baby will come when it is ready” philosophy?? Nobody can understand this late-pregnancy syndrome until you are up to your eyeballs in it; I can tell you right now, it is not pretty.

August 13, 2009 I had some show this morning and then nothing. However, I am refreshed and ready to relax after my appointment with a reflexologist this afternoon. I have been in a labour forum this morning, reading other women’s posts, who are 36-38 weeks, and going bonkers and begging for help on how to naturally induce their labours. I keep thinking, you have no idea what is still ahead of you! So I feel like I have a grip again and ready to push through the rest of today and hopefully get through to Monday with this same attitude. At that time I will maybe think of experimenting with some castor oil or other herb at the advice of my doula. I have doctors breathing down my neck telling me to be prepared to be induced at 41 weeks. I don’t dare book another appointment as I’m afraid this will seal my fate. I guess it is time to step up and become uncooperative.

Aug 17, 2009 Due date has arrived and is almost over. I have put my children to bed early in hopes of having some quiet time before Dean gets home. I need to have a chat with this baby and remember why I chose this route to begin with. I have been in tears twice today with fear that I will not go into labour on my own and the baby will have to be removed via C-section or medical induction. I am afraid the baby will go into distress. I am afraid I will be denied care after 41 weeks. I am most afraid that my willpower will not persevere and I will give in and have my membranes stripped, etc. I wish I could be as surprised as I was when my water popped with Paige. I was relaxed and doing a puzzle that afternoon. Not analyzing every little pain in my belly. Being 2 days early certainly helped as well.

Within minutes of writing the above entry, shortly after 8pm, I felt a funny pop in my abdomen. It wasn’t my water but it got my attention. I got up and went to the washroom, I noticed some pink on the tissue after, and so I wiped again some more…nothing. As I sat there analyzing this small pink blot on the tissue, I stood up and accepted it was likely another false sign. I am about to flush and notice pink and red drips in the toilet. I wipe again and more pink, more red. YES!!! I smile and phone Alana. I hang out on the toilet and chat with her, telling her labour is likely only 24 hours away. I get off the phone with her and start to notice that I am out of breath, I am having a contraction. It is weak, but nevertheless, a good contraction. I check my underwear and there is more show on my panty liner. Holy crap! I call Dean and there is no answer, so I try again, no answer. I call the company he was working with and tell them to send him home, I am in labour. Next, I call Arie and tell her what is going on, she is going to get child care and meet us at Dean’s brother and sister’s house in Edmonton. At that time it is around 8:30 pm and the contractions are becoming stronger and closer together, between 4-7 minutes apart. I check my panties again, I feel a spark of panic, the show is so plentiful that I need to change my panty liner. I call Dean and ask him if he is coming, he says he is crossing the bridge, about 20 minutes away. I call Alana again; her husband, Jim answers and I tell him that she needs to come now. As I am walking around the house trying to put the last minute things in my suitcase, I keep forgetting to put on some pants. Jim calls a couple times to check on me as I am waiting for Alana, Dean, Dean’s mom and grandmother to arrive, I get through a couple contractions while talking to him. At 9:10pm they all arrive within seconds of each other. Dean quickly showers and Alana jumps in her vehicle while Dean and I jump in our truck and head to Edmonton, about an hour drive, leaving Marj and Great Grandma with the kids. The contractions are difficult and about 4 minutes apart and all of us are questioning if we are going to make it.

I try to sit hard on my bum in attempt to close my pelvis and I felt like I have a full bladder, which slows down my labour. Stretching it out 7-8 minutes apart and weakening the contractions. As we pass through Nisku, I start to panic, I don’t know the route Dean is taking and I am unable to talk through the contractions. We go through Beaumont and I freak out again that we are lost, we also run out of windshield washer and the windshield is a disgusting bug-gut mess so Dean has to pull over and re-fill. Finally we make it to the hospital. The thought of having to walk anywhere was so overwhelming. It proves to be impossible; I have to sit on my knees on the ground during a contraction. A nurse spots us and brings us a wheelchair. We have to go through emerg because the main doors are locked at night. ER is packed and we have to stop to be admitted, also wait for someone to come down from L & D and come get us. Suddenly I feel someone’s hand on my shoulder; it is Alana clearly out of breath and relieved to be there. I was so happy to see her; we had lost her on the way as Dean was driving 180km/h at times. As we get up to L & D, the nurses see us and we are guided into a room. I tell them I need to go pee. I go into the bathroom and hang out there for a while as I am afraid that they are going to take away the control. I get back to the bed and the one nurse explains that she looked over my birth plan and wants to give me an IV because of the hemorrhage and shoulder dystocia. No, I don’t want an IV. She responds well and then checks me to see my progress, kindly waiting until the contraction stopped. She tells me I am fully dilated with bulging membranes. She calls for more help and they all start setting up.

Everyone was very cooperative with us and after the mention of the IV, no one tries to intervene again. Alana is at my side as I work through a few really difficult contractions, trying to breathe and keep me focused, I kept thinking “I need to get out of this bed!” As the nurse is trying to fill out paperwork and ask me questions, my water busts and shoots all over the floor and bed. That would have been messy had it happened in the truck. I find it difficult to explain how I felt after that, I rolled over to my stomach and got up on my knees. Someone gave me my birth ball and I flop on top of it. I knew that this was it, time to push. I didn’t say anything, or talk to anyone. My body was already pushing and I worked with it, sometimes pushing hard, sometimes just little grunts. I felt everything as the baby descended and the voices in the room that the doctor needed to come, that the head was “right there”. I was in total control and I knew that my baby and I were working together, just as I dreamed it would go and just as it should have gone with Hayley and Reese. Maybe a few more pushes, my guess would be 5 pushes total and our 9 pound 2 ounce baby boy, Brandt Holden, slid rapidly out at 10:46pm. I maneuvered back onto my bum and with the cord still attached I held our baby to my skin and rubbed him with a towel. The doctor cooperated and did not clamp the cord right away. They gave us 3 minutes and then clamped and cut the cord. The nurse then asked if I was okay with a shot of oxytocin in the leg to help my uterus contract, I agreed. Anytime in the past, I was never asked, I was given the shot without consent and possibly without knowledge until after the fact.

No shoulder dystocia, no hemorrhage. In fact, I had less blood loss than the past two births. At one point the nurse turned the lights down and it was dark and quiet. The nurses worked with my uterus and massaged gently. I was able to get up after half an hour and have a shower before we moved to recovery. Arie made it just before 11:30. We had a joke going that day that I was hoping for the baby to arrive on the due date. She gently reminded me that less than 5% of babies arrive on the due date. I told her I was hoping to wiggle in to that 5%, and 10:46 pm is about as tight as you can get! Arie helped with the breastfeeding and he was able to self attach within that first hour of life!! We moved to recovery and had some more opportunity to work on the breastfeeding. I felt great; I didn’t feel tired or wiped out. I felt elated and empowered, I felt that I had made great decisions and it had all paid off!

After being moved to recovery, the nurse told me she wanted to poke baby to check his blood sugar levels. I had this same experience with Hayley and Reese, as big babies sometimes have blood sugar issues. It was a horrible experience as they poke them repeatedly but I also remember them never having a problem. Arie suggested that I decline the test as I have big babies and they have never had problems in the past. One more intervention that nobody gives you an opportunity to turn down, they tell you that this is what they need to do and you feel you are protecting your child by agreeing, when that is not always necessarily the case. It is invasive; it interferes with your breastfeeding and rest, not to mention it being traumatic. My doula taught me, every instance that an intervention is recommended, I must ask myself what are the risks, will the complications of the procedure outweigh the benefits and what will I do with the knowledge I gain from the intervention. I was up walking around within the hour and had a shower in the delivery room. Then I was up to go pee without assistance about 2 hours after birth. This in itself shows me how the natural labour versus the induction has way less complications and an incredible recovery. As I worked through those contractions, though intense were completely natural. Labour is supposed to hurt, and any doctor that offers to take that pain away through medications is essentially taking away your experience and bond with your body and baby.

September 2, 2009

As I read my final birth story, I smile. This is something that I worked so hard for and it all paid off. Every day that I felt I was going to lose it was all worth it in the end. My doula had commented a few times that all of this is a process. The shifts and changes in our behavior, is all part of the early labour and in hindsight I would never do it any other way. I strongly believe that the moments prior to my labour starting were spent facing my fears and journaling them, and that was my final step in my own personal process. I was ready, mind, body and soul.

A drug free, intervention free birth!


  1. Beautiful stories. I enjoyed reading your evolution as a pregnant woman. Thank you for sharing them.

  2. Wow, thanks for sharing!! Glad that you got to finally have in intervention free birth!

  3. Those are nice, informative stories for new moms :) . Gotta mention though, mine were in reverse. My first two were natural, but I had a bad hemohorrage after the first one. My last two were induced, one vaginal the other C-section were a breeze. It was such a pleasure to watch the birth with no pain the third time around. The fourth time the baby was out of position. Had I waited and not been induced, it probably would have been vaginal, but my body is simply not built to have a 9+ lb. baby which it would have been.

    I'm just glad we all have choices. I do think a forceps birth without an epidural (as in my first after suction and vacuum methods were employed) is cruel and torturous, the second natural went perfectly but painful, but the third with the epidural was most enjoyable. Watching the birth with little pain was a beautiful moment. And although some women hate the idea of a C-section, I thought the recovery was just as fast as a vaginal delivery. Go figure. I just have a weird body LOL.