I was 37 weeks pregnant when I had my last OBGYN appointment–the appointment I knew we would determine plans for induction the following week. At this point, I had already tried a few self-induction techniques, to no avail. I felt like I had spent the last 7 weeks being tricked by my body into thinking I was going into labour, praying I was at least. Because, besides a healthy baby, my next wish was a chance to go into labour naturally, after following two prior inductions with Rossi and Madeline.
Even though my pregnancy was going more than well, despite being high-risk, we decided on induction around 38 weeks due to my previous history of preeclampsia & stillbirth, along with my lupus diagnosis. We wanted to keep the pregnancy going well, not push our luck, or be put in a situation where we would have to induce on an emergency basis.
By my appointment, I was already holding on by a thread.
The weight of everything that happened during my pregnancy seemed to all tumble on me all over again in the last few weeks, which left me struggling to even fathom a light at the end of the tunnel. However, I knew at this appointment my doctor would schedule an induction date, perform a cervix check and do a membrane sweep which might put me into labour without needing to induce.
That’s not what happened though. It turned out that all my supposed “labour symptoms” did nothing to help me progress. I was barely 1cm dilated and my doctor could not do a membrane sweep because the hospital was understaffed and could not risk me going into labour. Despite being so mad at my body for going through all those contractions and pain just to not yield any results, I at least had my induction date. I was to call L&D at 6PM on August 8th to make sure they could take me to have a foley bulb insertion to get things going and return the next morning to finish the process. Still, between my appointment on Wednesday and my induction date, I prayed for my body to do what it was meant to do at some point in between then.
There was comfort in having a plan, though I remained uneasy having to be on the hospital’s schedule, because of the chance of having my labour postponed.
Fast forward to Saturday. I went on a day trip to the next-door province with my dad and Madeline to keep my mind off that phone call I would be making that day. Finally, the evening rolled around, and I called right on the dot at six. I was told instantly that they were too full and I would have to call back at 6AM to see if they could do it again. I was absolutely devastated. Although rationally I knew that I would be induced in the very near future, at that point in the pregnancy, I felt I couldn’t handle another hour, let alone another day, feeling the way I was. I spent the night crying and got maybe an hour of sleep that night waiting for the morning to roll around to call again. When I did, I was told yet again that they were too busy for me.
I called another hospital five minutes away from the other one to see if they would take me out of desperation. I was met with another no. At that point I was angry. I was seeing red. I left my home at 6:30AM, eyes bloodshot in tears, and walked my neighbourhood for nearly three and a half hours. It was quite cathartic, and in all honesty, it was probably the kind of soothing I needed during my whole pregnancy.
At 1PM on August 9th, I called L&D again, even though I was instructed to wait for them to call me.
It turned out to be a good thing because the morning nurse failed to tell me that I actually had an appointment booked to start my induction at 8PM that day (which was still tentative if they had enough room). I hung up, still feeling hopeless and frustrated. Less than five minutes later, I got a call back that the doctor wanted to see me right away to get things started. I instantly started bawling of joy, a kind of happiness my husband said he had not seen since the night we decided we were going to have another baby in the first place.
By 4PM, I had the foley bulb in and was sent home to return the next morning to get started on the next phase of the induction. It didn’t take long for me to start feeling cramps and soreness, to a point I was worried I wouldn’t be able to make it home by myself because my husband had to be home with Madeline. When I arrived, it seemed like there was no time before I started having contractions anywhere between 3-6 minutes apart that I could barely talk through. After some conflicting advice from the hospital over several phone calls, we went back in around 8PM for monitoring. I had still not progressed enough, so I was given morphine to settle the contractions enough to sleep to be ready to go forward with our plan the following day.
Right away the next morning, upon arriving at the hospital I was brought into the delivery room and was welcomed by the nurse who would take care of us that day. She was super kind and definitely made me feel very settled after such an emotionally charged weekend. The foley bulb ended up getting me to 3.5cm and fell out at 7AM. Half an hour after being admitted, they broke my water and we were told that we would hold off for another few hours before starting Pitocin to get things going even more.
And then we waited.
Sunlight gleamed through the windows, we heard the rumbling from the construction taking place outside. It was charmingly quiet and calm, something that felt unfamiliar to me compared to my last two births. There wasn’t incessant monitoring or questions, there wasn’t the possibility of every bad outcome lingering over my head. There wasn’t the pain in knowing that the silence that filled the room was all I would hear. There was only a humble stillness. Chris and I made mindless conversation as if we weren’t waiting for another life-altering event. He left to go get us coffee and snacks before I would no longer be able to eat. I sauntered around my room, taking in the gravity of my situation, reflecting on everything that led up to this moment. I hugged my belly dear, and for the first time, I felt like I was really going to miss being pregnant.
Around 11AM, I was met by OB who had been following me my entire pregnancy. To my surprise, she let me know that she would be delivering my baby, which anyone who has given birth knows that rarely happens. They went ahead and started my Pitocin drip. I’m not going to lie, I was terrified, in an exhilarated kind of way. Pitocin contractions are no joke. For the first leg of the drip, they took Joey off the monitors and we were encouraged to walk around to try to get things kick-started. What was really tripping me up though was barely being able to feel Joey move. It’s something I didn’t remember from my labour with Madeline. Regardless, with her, I was on the monitors the whole time. Feeling subtle to no movement, on top of missing the sound of her heartbeat humming in my ears, my anxiety was starting to gain traction. Chris and my nurse kept reminding me that I had no reason to worry. Trust me, I certainly always wanted a more “laid back” labour, but I grew all too comfortable with constant and tangible reassurance.
Chris had to step out, so I was alone in my room again. At this point, I was starting to feel “period level” discomfort, which triggered the “Shit, this is really happening” train of thought in my brain. I sat down in my bed and flipped through my phone, trying to distract from the pain. All of a sudden, contractions came in that much more forcefully. I couldn’t be bothered to time them, as I could barely focus on anything, except I needed to focus on my breathing. I forced myself to walk as much as I could, though most of the time I was lunged over whatever I could put my weight on as I waited for the contraction to be over. Chris returned and took the next few contractions with my face buried in his chest.
Prior to this, I decided that if I ended up being induced instead of going into labour on my own, I would get an epidural.
With Madeline, not having it put her and me into so much distress for absolutely no reason at all. Plus, getting induced is a whole different ball game than your body doing its thing on its own, and there was no way I would put myself or my baby through that again. I also knew that I didn’t want an epidural right away. I did want to feel contractions and move with them as much as I could tolerate, which I did. Eventually, I was too exhausted to walk and stand through the pain. So Chris helped me into the bed.
I went on my side and continued to try to work with the contractions, not against them. I let single tears stream down my face as I clenched the bed’s sidebars for support. But my body didn’t clench, it didn’t tense up. I was surprisingly in tune with it. I trusted it, which is something I never thought I could do. I was around 6cm when I asked for the epidural as I started feeling too out of my skin. At this point, contractions were maybe 2 minutes apart, so the anesthesiologist worked fast, and I had to do my part and try to stay completely still while it was being done.
After that, I was completely bed-bound. Our nurse stayed in our room at this point, typing away at the computer while engaging Chris and me in talk over our lives in Toronto and other current events. Something I always feared of epidurals is not being able to feel anything, labour effectively, or feel the urge to push when I needed to. That was not the case this time. I had never been more connected with my body. I experienced every contraction and breathed my way through it, the only difference was that it didn’t overwhelm me.
Each time one came on, I visualized Joey’s head coming down further and further, which ultimately helped each one pass that much faster. It hurt, yes, but each one flowed through me very fluidity. I was progressing quickly and I definitely could tell. We knew the time would be soon. Not too soon, we hoped as we were waiting on my OB to return from a tubal she was performing. All was good until I started to feel an unmounding amount of pressure.
The nurse took a quick peek in between my legs, and without hesitation, she said, “I’m going to call the doctor.”
She quickly returned, and hastily threw up the stirrups and adjusted the rest of the bed. I was shaking at this point, my face flooded with sweat and tears, and a twinge of fear. For some reason, I was terrified to stretch out, like the moment I did she would just fall out, so the nurse had to do it for me. Before I could get a grip on what was happening, I was in position with Chris by side, along with my nurse, my OB, another doctor, and a resident all at the end of bed ready for Joey’s arrival.
I knew I had to channel the same energy I had through my labour so far. I pushed, I breathed, I pushed even harder, I stopped to rest. Every time I looked up, everyone was smiling and encouraging, which helped me keep going. My OB guided my hand so I could feel her head, which made me uncontrollably sob and push with that much more conviction. I could feel her slide out more and more. I felt her head one more time, and after that, it only took one more contraction and she was out.
Startled and gentle cries filled the room, along with an immeasurable amount of joy that enveloped my entire body.
Joey went out of my insides and directly on my chest. I screamed and hollered in absolute euphoria as I cradled her little head. She was calmed instantly the moment she was placed on me. There was so much going on around us, though I was too enthralled with my sweet girl to notice. Birth is gnarly and hard. On the other hand, it’s also the most beautiful chaos I have ever experienced, and this was no different. Again, I didn’t notice much around me. I vaguely remember seeing Chris cut the cord, and overhearing my OB talking with the other ladies saying, “Yeah, she went through a lot during this pregnancy, she really needed this.” And boy, did I ever.
The pain, the uncertainty, the longing, the fear that I carried with me for nine months suddenly all lifted out of me and I had never felt lighter in my life. It really is hard to describe what it feels like when you’re on the right side of destiny working out exactly the way it should. Even if it still wasn’t the labour I initially wanted, it ultimately ended up being the most comfortable one I could have asked for.
Eventually, the staff left to give us some privacy.
Chris stepped out to contact anyone we needed to, while I still held Joey close. Her eyes locked on mine and did not turn away as long as she was in my arms. I saw her begin to root, at least I thought she was, so I put her to the breast and she latched instantly. Money could not buy that kind of serenity. I was pleasantly surprised as to how naturally everything was coming to me, especially since I never got to do things that way with Rossi or Madeline. This time around I was in absolute bliss.
We were skin-to-skin for a full hour before Joey was whisked away to be examined. She was born at 38-weeks exactly on August 10, 2020 at 4:16pm, weighing 6lbs, 1oz & 19inches long. Joey and I got the all-clear and we were moved to the postpartum side. As I held Joey while being wheeled there, I couldn’t help but smile to myself. I had done this ride twice before. Once, with Rossi’s still body swaddled tightly in blankets, wondering if anyone noticed that he was gone or the pain etched in my face. The next time, I was empty-handed as Madeline was already in the NICU. This time, I held my perfectly healthy baby girl. I felt victorious, and all I wanted to do was yell on the rooftops. I did it. I really freaking did it.
After a tumultuous & gratifying pregnancy, Josephine “Joey” Marie came into this world quickly, safely and healthily, even in the middle of a global pandemic.
We got discharged the next day, which we were so excited about not only because we never got to do this before, also because we could not wait for Madeline to finally meet her baby sister. Needless to say, we have no doubt they’ll be the best of friends.
Mommy, Daddy, Big Sis’ and Joey are all doing so well, which comes to no shock when we know we have the best little guy looking over all of us every step of the way. Joey fits perfectly into our little family and we cannot be any more blessed.
Since her birth, our home has been filled with a whole lot of smiles, and a whole lot of love. Life is so good, and we can’t wait to show our girls just how good it can be.