Friday, March 14, 2014

Madeline's Birth Story

It's almost 6 months after the fact, yet here I am finally, sharing with you my experience in the labour and delivery of my baby girl, Madeline. 

Within the first few weeks of Maddie being born, I had a lot of people interested in what kind of birth I had experienced.  I always just assumed I would openly share this story, given that it's one I anticipated so much in my life, but as time went on, I became more and more hesitant to share such a personal and sacred experience with the rest of the world.

Nearly 6 months later I had to remember that one of my favourite things to do prior to giving birth, was read all about others' labour and delivery stories!  I truly feel that knowledge is power, and if my story gives someone else a little bit more information or comfort, then why not share it??

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It all began at 7pm on Sept. 25th 2013.  Scott and I were watching TV, me eating, and Scott enjoying a few beers, nothing too far from the norm, when I suddenly felt a tiny quiet twinge in my lower abdomen. 

It didn't hurt, it just felt like a slight muscle spasm or a mild and quick period cramp. I ignored it, until it happened again about 10 minutes later.  I told Scott "I think my labour is starting, I think I just had a contraction!  It doesn't even hurt!"  (Little to my knowledge at the time, I would be feeling what a REAL contraction felt like within 5-6 hours).

Scott was in complete denial that this was labour.  I imagine it was a combination of anxiety and fear, but he didn't want to accept that I may be going into labour that night.  He kept saying "No, you're not in labour...  just wait it out and see." LoL, as if he knew!!  Being that I had informed him of what Braxton Hicks were (false labour) I think he was convinced that's what this was.

For some reason or other we went over to his parents house for a couple hours.  We sat in their family room having conversations while I quietly timed my contractions despite everyone else's knowledge.  I felt these waves becoming a little more consistent but still not that painful. They were about 5-10 minutes apart and very brief.  I knew deep down that this was going to happen tonight, but because I hadn't informed Scott that the contractions were now escalating, he assumed it had been a false alarm, and he assumed that having a few more beers wouldn't hurt (man logic is pretty stupid) but in all reality I think he was quite anxious over the whole idea, and was trying to avoid thinking about it entirely.

After I realized that this was most likely going to happen tonight, I followed Scott to the fridge where he went to grab his next beer, and I told him he had to stop, because I was in labour and I had been timing my contractions.  Before we left his parents' house I let them know what had been happening the whole time, and to be prepared because this was most likely going to happen soon.

We went back home (I'd say it was about 10:30pm or 11pm at this point? I can't remember) but I was very sure that I wanted to try and labour at home for as long as I could, being that I've heard stories of women going to the hospital too early, and being sent home or induced which I wanted NIETHER of.

We ate a dinner of burgers and fries (hey, don't judge!) and I decided I would try to nap to preserve energy and I advised Scott to do the same since we would most likely be up most of the night later. Napping was impossible.  I think I slept for a total of 20 minutes as the contractions gradually got stronger and took a little more focus to get through.  I got out of bed and told Scott (who was napping in the living room) that things were progressing and that I'd be ready to go to the hospital within the next half hour.  He jumped in the shower and I sat on the living room floor just letting the waves of contractions flow over me.  They were manageable at this point and I was in more discomfort than I was serious pain, however they were strong.

After Scott was done in the shower I was a tad stressed at how messy our apartment was and had a mini freak out about that before finally packing up the car and heading to the hospital.  As Scott was bringing the bags to the car I called my mom and let her know that we were headed there and then had to quickly let her go as another contraction came on.

At about 1:00am we were on our way to the hospital.  The drive is only around 10 minutes for us, and it wasn't a bad car ride (some women are in active labour on their way to the hospital! Scary!) I had one heavy contraction nearing the hospital but for the most part, driving on the deserted roads at night was peaceful and quite beautiful actually.  It was a mental transition for me, a moment to rationally realize; "this is it, our life is about to change."

We entered through the ER and the triage nurse was funny, insisting that I get into a wheelchair to be wheeled up to Labour and Delivery.  Scott went to park the car (I was feeling pretty good at this point and was actually worried that my labour might have stopped) and while he was off doing that, the triage nurse parked me beside the security officer at his little desk.  She insisted he wheel me upstairs but I said I was fine.  I actually felt quite silly being in a wheelchair, and he even said "You don't have to sit in that if you don't want", as the triage nurse became more bossy and barked orders at this poor security guard.  He finally gave in and wheeled me upstairs joking about the crazy nurse along the way and telling me about his wife's labour.  I knew the triage nurse would direct Scott to where he had to go, so I wasn't worried.  I was feeling very confident at this point that I needed minimal help.

I got to the desk in Labour and Delivery and they brought me to a little curtained off bed to check my dilation.  Scott was there with me, and I had a couple of strong contractions and her checking me definitely didn't feel good. It hurt. My mom had arrived, and because I was only 2 cm dilated I was told to go walk around the hospital for 2 hours, come back and then they would check me.  Scott, my mom, and I headed into the waiting room and I paced and paced.  I drank some water and ginger ale, and went to the bathroom to pee a few times.

The contractions were getting a lot stronger and some of them had me kneeling on a chair, rocking back and forth.  It took some focus to let those pass and I couldn't really talk through the bad ones.  I had to breath through them.

*Let me slip in here that I also wanted to go for a natural delivery with no drugs and the least amount of intervention possible. The nurse was pushing MORPHINE on me constantly to "take off the edge" but I knew that 1. it may slow down my labour, and 2. morphine makes you nauseous and I can. Not. Handle. Nausea.  In fact, one of my biggest fears wasn't pushing out a baby through my vagina, but was in fact throwing up at some point in the process.  Even after 2 full months of doing it non-stop from morning sickness, I never got used to it. Anyway.....

After about an hour I felt like I had to poo constantly and made a couple of unsuccessful trips to the bathroom.  I went back to the desk and told them the contractions were getting worse, and they simply urged me to keep walking for another hour.  Scott's parents had now arrived and I was pacing down the halls.  Staying still was impossible, the pain was increasing and I was having a harder time focusing.  I just wanted to go to sleep and be done with the whole process.

Finally after another half hour I went back to the nurses at the desk and said "This is getting harder, my contractions are really close, I don't know what to do."  My nurse just stared at me.  I remember this was my first feeling of frustration and I held back the urge of telling her how to do her job. She asked me what I wanted her to do, and she finally agreed to check me again.  It's a good thing she did because I was now 8 cm dilated (10 cm is the go ahead to start pushing) so I was now in active labour and was given an IV (OUCH! She botched the IV!). 

After being thoroughly irritated and declining another offer of morphine, I was wheeled off to the delivery room. Once I got to the delivery room all I could think about was the hot shower the nurse had promised me.  She turned it on, and in I went. 

The heat felt good on my lower back, and I was able to focus a little more through the contractions.  Let me state here, that a contraction is NOT like a period cramp.  People use that comparison a lot, and it does resemble that feeling in very early labour, but definitely NOT in active labour.  It's your entire abdomen contracting involuntarily and it feels a lot like when you throw up, your body automatically heaves without your control and it's a strong and intense pain.  They come in waves and often you get breaks in between but not always.

As I'm in the shower, I get THE MOTHER of all contractions and it brings me to my knees.  This was pain unlike anything I've ever experienced.  (I'm not wanting to scare any women off labour here, but I have to be honest in this whole experience.)  I thought I had a pretty good tolerance to pain, but this definitely tested my ability to endure. 

As I'm on my hands and knees in the shower, I have a very brief thought of "oh god, how clean is this floor and how many people have laboured in here?!" that passed quickly as I suddenly became overcome with another heavy contraction and the urge to push.  When I say urge, it's more like my body actually began pushing without my consent. 

After I realized I was pushing, the nurse timely asks how I'm doing from the other room and I muster out a grunt as I pushed and then said "I'm pushing".  The nurse says "oh, I hear a grunt, yep lets get you onto the bed" so I am somehow guided, buck-naked onto the bed to begin pushing.  I don't remember how long I tried for but it wasn't long and the nurses decided I wasn't ready yet.

I personally think I was ready in the shower, but that the transfer from the heat of the shower into the bed somehow stalled everything. I don't remember much of the in-betweens, but after being told baby wasn't making it's way down just yet, I had to endure some more wicked contractions.  Scott was shown by the nurse how to relieve some of the pressure by pressing my hips together from behind, and that helped.

At some point the fetal heartbeat dropped and there was a slight change of mood in the room.  The nurses were acting faster and calling in other nurses and specialists and even though this was all going on, I wasn't worried.  I somehow knew deep down that we were going to deliver a healthy baby, so I ignored their fuss as they set up a fetal monitor that attaches to the baby's head inside of me, to keep it's heartbeat.  (She later had a bruise on her head from it, poor thing.)

Through all of this I am panicking more and more over the pain and questioning what was normal.  Suddenly my legs (that are in stirrups) and hands began to go numb and inside my head I start freaking out.  I let everyone know that this was happening and asked if it's normal.  The male nurse (which I have no idea of when he got there, but there were about 3 or 4 nurses in the room now) says that it's okay I'm just hyperventilating.  What?!  I'm sorry but I'm pretty sure it's NOT okay to hyperventilate! 

Anyway, After he instructed me to breath differently, it stopped and I panicked less. I'm not sure of the time line of everything that transpired, but I asked how much longer I would be labouring and after they said they didn't know, I felt completely defeated.  I knew that I was ready to push in the shower and I was getting depressed thinking about the possible hours of this horrible feeling; the constant pain.  So I asked for the epidural.  Yes, I do regret it.  I think the nurse was surprised and kind of brushed it off, but I asked again. Now looking back, I'm shocked that they even agreed to start the epidural because I was 10 cm dilated and they usually don't administer one that far into labour, but here's where I think they were just trying to pacify me a little, because I never actually got the full epidural.

The nurse that came in with all the epidural stuff informed me of all the medical garb, and I really didn't listen as I went through a contraction, I just insisted they get-r-done.  I was told to roll to my side and to stay very still.  Well at this point I'm having contraction after contraction with no breaks in between and the idea of staying still was seemingly impossible, and I somehow didn't care if they stabbed me in the wrong place and paralysed me, I just wanted this pain to stop.

As I'm laying on my side enduring all of this, feeling defeated, my urge to push kicks in, and I go for it without having time to tell anyone.  I've got one leg in the stirrup and I'm pushing.  (My bottom half was covered up and I had to exclaim to the nurses "IT'S COMING OUT!"  The nurse checked me and said "yep, you're crowning"(meaning the baby's head is coming down the birth canal) and onto my back I go to push out my baby.

I was told by the nurse to stop pushing because she couldn't catch the baby. (Legally a doctor has to, and there was no doctor in the room).  They called and called the front desk and they insisted Doc was on her way, but I just pushed anyway.  (It's a joke to think you have control over that.  When baby is coming, she's coming!

As I started pushing, I felt a relief from the pain.  After a short period of pushes, out came my baby.  The reason I believe the nurses were "pacifying me" was because after I said "thank god for the epidural" they actually informed me that I hadn't gotten a full dose and in fact wouldn't have felt any of the effects at all.  They didn't have time to give me one and I truly think they were just going through the motions to appease me and never even intended to give me one in the first place, but remember, they have to cover their asses in the process too.

I think the relief from the pain came from 2 things; a placebo effect from thinking I had a full epidural, and from the actual pushing which relieved A LOT of pressure.

At 6:59 AM, my baby was placed on my chest.  Everyone asked what it was, (we didn't find out the gender and up to this point I thought she was a boy).  After being in a daze and mistaking the umbilical chord for boy parts, I announced she was a boy.  Good one Mel!  Ha ha. The nurses took a second look and informed everyone that she was, in fact, a girl and I cried and cried like a lunatic out of sheer happiness that I was holding my baby, regardless of it's gender. Scott must have thought I was nuts, and the nurses probably thought I really wanted that boy! Hahaha.  It was beautiful.

After the birth, I was given a catheter because I had torn naturally and needed stitches.  I tore upward toward my front which isn't as typical as tearing toward your butt.  The catheter was a horrible feeling (I had never had one before) and the stitches, despite having needles to freeze things, felt very uncomfortable being in such a sensitive area.  Everything healed up great afterward though, and it wasn't as uncomfortable as I thought it would be.  I was just tender for a couple weeks.

We had a private room thanks to Scott's work benefits, and we stayed for one and a half days. My overall experience with a hospital birth was pretty good because I had little to no complications and my labour was quick despite what it felt like.  I was surprised a little though, I truly thought nurses were supposed to be a lot more informed about the birthing process and was shocked when I was the one who had to tell them my baby was coming out!

The entire experience makes me an advocate of new mothers being WELL informed on all the aspects of labour and to take classes (which I didn't do and would have helped my hyperventilating.)  I couldn't imagine going into that experience without being informed.  I would have been terrified at the lack of knowledge in the room given that the doctor wasn't around until the last 5 minutes of the whole process! 

Regardless, my best advice is to research, trust in your body's ability, and communicate. If you're pregnant or just plain curious about any of this process feel free to ask me questions.  I will try my best to answer!

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Friday, February 21, 2014

I Love My Life

I know it may seem that I've abandoned this blog, but I haven't completely.  In fact, I really miss writing!  I have a lot going on (aside from having a 5 month old baby to care for) so blogging really takes a back seat to the rest of my priorities.

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In caring for my wee one, I've been exclusively breastfeeding, so I've often got a baby attached to me most of the day.  When I'm not devoting my attention to her, I'm working on my business. 

You read right; business.  I took my photography to the next level;

This wasn't something that just came on a whim or out of the blue.  It's been somewhat in the works for the past year, but it hasn't been until the last two months that I decided to jump all in.

After 5 years of perfecting the craft, I felt that it was time to take it more seriously, and I couldn't be more glad that I did.  I'm booking weddings, portrait sessions, and I'm currently blueprinting plans for my soon-to-be studio that will be built once we buy a home this year (hoping that the house search is successful.)

 In my spare time I'm still studying photography and somehow managing to keep my home relatively clean and organized.  Maybe that's why time feels like it's shooting by?

I'll tell you, nothing is more magical than seeing your dreams manifest in front of your eyes.  A couple years ago, being a mother and a photographer were just gleaming dreams in my eyes.  Now it's here, it's all happening and to be honest, I'm very proud of it all. 

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Doesn't that smile of hers just kill you?!  She's really been my motivation to pursue everything.  The desire has been there all along, but I really didn't find the grit to tackle it until she came into my world.  I feel like no matter what happens now, I'll never quit going after my vision.

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My heart is full.  It's full of the love I have for my family, and the excitement of all the adventures I have coming my way in the next few years. 

And to those who ever implied that having children would be the end of your own life and your own dreams; here's what I have to say to you....

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It's only just begun.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

You know why Christmas gets so stressful? Because of people's expectations of what they THINK it should be about.

 Too often I hear complaints and worries like "this" isn't done, or "that" isn't perfect, yet I wonder how stressed the homeless people living in cardboard boxes are, or the ones who have no family to buy gifts for or decorate with.  They must be so stressed about how must all fall perfectly together into a pretty synchronized timeline with a bow on top.  People put more effort and stress into buying gifts for people, while there are others who don't even have PEOPLE.

So this Christmas, I only want one thing and it's to ask this of people;

Next time you're about to cry because the turkey is over cooked, have a pity party over the gift you didn't get, or get angry at someone in traffic (because you were the fool to leave shopping to the last minute), take a moment to close your eyes, breathe in what you have to be grateful for, and think of those who truly have something to cry about this time of year  Send a thought of love to them and be on your way with better priorities. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Two Months of Motherhood

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Madeline Rose is two months old.

The past two months have been sleepless nights, poo-explosions, engorged boobs (yes it's as painful as it sounds) and many ridiculous mommy-brain moments.  However, in the same boat, it's been the best two months of my life. Not only has my daughter grown, but I have as well;  I'm a two month old mother. 

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Since I can remember, my life has been a complex maze of finding myself through artistic expression, travelling new places, and over analysing every aspect of my journey, where now it's become slightly simpler.  If someone would have told me years ago that I would find the essence of who I was through motherhood, I would have placed a lot less pressure on identifying myself with unnecessary hollow things.

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Being the one who this little helpless human solely depends on for their every need is a huge responsibility.  I'm her food, her comfort, her shelter, and her confidence.  I am her foundation where she will build the rest of who she is freely, whether it be by artistic expression, travelling new places or over analysing every aspect of her journey. 

Two months ago on the morning they placed this slippery little body onto my chest, I cried and cried with happiness. I knew it was going to be a bumpy road, but like every real testing challenge in life, comes the most reward. 

Along with the sleepless nights and poo-explosions come the moments of pure and intense unconditional love; moments that make your heart swell to the point of tears.  These are the moments where she clearly recognizes my face, my voice and my embrace.  The moments where she falls soundly asleep with her body melted into mine, and moments when it seems that only I can cure her restless cries. 
Motherhood is most tricky, but certainly most rewarding; just knowing how much you are needed and depended on is somehow daunting yet self full-filling at the same time.

Two months down, and many many more moments to come!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Welcome November

I know I have a lot of things that I want to document here on this blog, but for the time being, I'm more interested in using this place as a release.

This blog used to serve a purpose of documenting my move out to Alberta 5 years ago, and became an outlet that at times held great emotional release for me.  I look back at old entries and become nostalgic and proud of how far we've come and how much I've grown. 

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Scott is still working in the oil field back in Alberta.  This morning he made the 3 day drive back out there for a 2 week hitch, and the feelings that sit in your gut at times like these are gross. 
You'd think after 4 years of this kind of living, that it would get easier, but it never does.  Now throw a child into the mix and it suddenly turns even more heart-wrenching to watch your man leave for weeks at a time.  We grip onto whatever strength we have deep down, and look at each other with a mutual understanding that no words are necessary, just a hug and some tears that can't be choked down no matter how hard you try.
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As I get older, difficult times tend to be endured in an "auto-pilot" kind of state, where you just find a different gear and shift into it with reluctant force.  This has never been more true since becoming a mother.  Pity parties become replaced by a need to be strong for everyone, no matter how weak you may feel. 

I can't believe it's November already.  How can so much change in your life within the blink of an eye?!

Regardless, the weather is taking that inevitable turn into late fall/winter.  Get out your boots and sweaters!
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Thursday, October 24, 2013

An Unexplored Universe

I woke up from my nap a little dazed and briefly forgetting what day and time it was.  I look over to my left, and there she is; my daughter.  I somehow managed slipped into a dream-state that brought me away from my current reality and briefly made me forget that I now have a daughter.
The word alone seems so foreign despite the fact that I am a daughter myself and I catch myself repeating the words "my daughter, my daughter, my daughter" as if it will make more sense the more I say it.  Indeed, the tiny little sleepy human face that peacefully lays next to me is my daughter, and I have somehow entered into an alternative universe that now begs to be fully understood and explored.

Being the impossibly nostalgic and emotional person that I am, the past month that Madeline has been in my life has made me both question my purpose and the role I am going to play in hers.

When I hold her warm little body in my arms and watch her tiny chest rise and fall with each new promising breath that she takes, I marvel in her magnificence.
Almost unknowingly, I am brought back to my own childhood when I look at her.  The feeling of the entire world being so new and the wonder and fascination that accompanies even the most mundane things; it's all new.. and now it's all new for me again. 
It's as though I've been sent back to relive it all over; everything with brand new eyes, except this time I play much different role in the outcome of this innocence. 

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Although I still have much to learn and explore in my own life, I somehow feel like everything I've done and accomplished in the 27 years leading up to this moment have all been pieces of a beautiful puzzle that united to create somewhat of a conclusion in my own existence; a mirror to reflect a purpose that I may not have otherwise seen.

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Before I had Madeline, I was always good at dreaming up what motherhood ought to be like, and even at times taking the risk in trying to understand it without ever experiencing it.  However, now here I am; a mother, a nurturer of my own kin, and when I try to fully understand and fathom that my life will forever be defined by "before and after kids", I still can't properly comprehend motherhood.

  Regardless, it's a dauntingly beautiful transformation of life.  I suppose that's the best I can explain it.
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Now don't get me wrong, I understand there are probably a few readers questioning my ability to report on whole truths of an experience that comes packed with exhaustion, hormonal bouts of emotion, and at times even a state of melancholy, but don't lose faith in me friends. I plan on sharing the bad and the ugly along with the good.  And if you don't think the "bad and the ugly" of any experience can't equally hold as much beauty as the "good", then you're sadly mistaken.
Parenthood is probably the best example of how most come to learn this.
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I'm not entirely sure where I was wanting to take this entry. 
 I think I just needed a bit of a release since the busyness of my new life has somewhat pushed aside my inner analytical poet in place of a machine that wipes butt and produces milk, even though I do it gladly.
 I'm also finding it necessary to still find time for my own creative outlets.  I may be a mother now, but I'm still Melanie; and I'll always be finding ways to share bits of my story.
Stick around these parts; because I have a feeling I may be making a more consistent comeback to this blog. 
Much love.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Forever Changed

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Sorry I've been away from the blog world for a while, it's been crazy busy since we departed Alberta and began a new chapter here in South Eastern Ontario. Thank you for the comments and well wishes. :)
Madeline Rose Roberta was born on Sept 26th at 6:59 am. I plan on sharing a bit of her birth story on here once I find the time between feeding, diaper changing, family visits and the never ending to-do lists. The past few weeks have been, at the same time, beautiful, chaotic, and life changing. I hope to share a little of my world soon enough and try to find the words that wrap around this entire journey. Somehow I think it will be a hard thing to do, but I will try my best.
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I hope all my fellow Canadians enjoyed their thanksgiving this past weekend. The leaves have changed and they're already making their decent from their high tree top perches. It's a little sad but exciting at the same time, bittersweet even. Fall in Ontario looks a lot different than the Rockies. Instead of the bright yellow aspens, I'm seeing the bright red maples again. It's nice but I do strongly miss my mountains. However, that's a whole 'nother post on it's own but I will eventually dip into that aspect of my life as well.
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Until next entry, (which will hopefully be sooner rather than later), I'll continue to be busy being Madeline's Mommy. Much love to everyone in the parts.
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