When I had the 39 week appointment, the OB noticed a few signs indicating preeclampsia and she was concerned. Of course, immediately I was concerned and Charlotte and I headed to the hospital for further testing. Tim was able to meet us there and take Charlotte which was huge... I was in there for a while, strapped to the bed because of fetal monitoring. The baby's heartbeat was normal, and my blood pressure was normal as well. After doing blood work, they discovered low blood platelet levels which are a concern for blood clotting in labour. So I was to return Friday (August 20th) for further fetal monitoring and testing. I found a babysitter for Friday morning and went to the hospital by myself. The blood work revealed that my blood platelet levels had dropped further and quite a significant amount. I felt so lucky to have had Dr. Frecker for all of my OB appointments and then to discover she was on duty on Friday at the hospital. She knew my birth plan and she was so understanding and patient with me. She gave me two options: to be induced immediately or to wait until Saturday morning and get blood work done again. The problem with waiting is that if my blood platelet levels dropped further, I could have other serious complication with blood clotting in labour. The problem with being induced was that my body may not be ready and it could present difficulties in labour as well as lots of interventions. I was not mentally prepared to hear this! I called Tim and was teary explaining what our options were. I was a little scared. Dr. Frecker had recommended being induced, and after asking her my questions, I decided to do that. I would be allowed to return home, and they would only administer a half dose of the prostaglandin gel. If I did not go into labour after a few doses of the gel, it did not automatically mean that I would get pitocin. One of my worries was being able to go home and be with Charlotte and it really put my mind at ease to be able to do this. I was able to rest with her that afternoon which was exactly what I needed!
I had a few contractions that afternoon and Tim and I returned to the hospital that evening for further blood work and monitoring. We were there for hours and it was a great time for us to connect before the birth and I had brought along "Hypnobirthing: the Mongan Method" by Marie Mongan. I had read the whole book and it was a chance to practice the relaxation techniques with Tim without any distractions! The amazing thing was, as I was strapped to the fetal monitoring for hours once again, we could observe the affect of the deep breathing on my contractions. (Which were coming pretty regularly by then.) It was pretty amazing how relaxation and deep breathing directly affected the length and strength of each contraction. It was almost as if I had control of the contractions according to my breath. Tim was blown away! He could watch the results as the paper came out of the machine and see how I was controlling the contractions with my breath.
Labour had started on it's own, with just half a dose of the gel. It was best case scenario for me! We were able to return home that night knowing our baby girl was on her way. In the middle of the night labour started getting intense. I had been in contact with Abi, our doula, throughout this whole process and it was finally time to call her and tell her she should probably come into the city. She arrived in the middle of the night, and I was so thankful that Charlotte slept soundly through the whole thing! After a while of labouring at home, in bed and on the ball, we decided it was time to call Nannie and Grampie and head to the hospital. I didn't want our transition of leaving to be really difficult and Charlotte was still sound asleep. Charlotte made out amazingly well all weekend and although we had never left her overnight, she was happy as could be with Nannie and Grampie!
The drive to the hospital was a really hard part of my labour with Charlotte and I decided to pop in the relaxation CD from the "Hypnobirthing" book into the CD player. It helped me relax and the drive was over before I knew it. I had requested in my birth plan not to know my dilation number and the nurses were very respectful of that. It contributed to a lot of anxiety in my first labour which was why I just didn't want to know. Labour progressed very well, and it was completely different than my labour with Charlotte. I practiced relaxation, slept between contractions and was laying down in the bed for most of it. With Charlotte, I walked and bounced and bathed and tried to progress my labour. I made it to 7 cm (found out afterwards) using these relaxation techniques! I couple of times I thought (and worried) about Charlotte, how she was doing, whether she needed to nurse and how this new baby was going to change our lives. At one point I became really emotional and cried over it, grasping Tim's hand and hanging onto every word of encouragement he had for me.
Labour got really intense. Later I learned that she was occiput posterior (OP) position and she didn't turn until I started to push. The nurse encouraged me to labour standing up, or on the toilet. Labouring on the toilet was extremely intense and I stayed there because I thought that it would progress things. This was the moment when the OB on duty decided to come in and introduce himself to me. It was awkward and strange and I had never met him before. The other thing that bothered me about the bathroom was the awful smell of cigarette smoke. (They are shared stalls in labour and delivery.) I was shaking pretty violently and couldn't really handle this form of labouring. After returning to bed, the nurse mentioned the "P" word... and I really freaked out then. I was stuck (I didn't know how far along) and she wanted to progress the labour. Labour was so intense, I couldn't imagine adding pitocin to the mix. Abi and Tim tried to calm me down and discuss other options with the nurse. We decided to go with fentanyl at that point so that my body could relax. It was mid-Saturday the 21st at that point. I needed some rest and I think this was the best option for me at the time.
After having fentanyl for a bit, I felt the intense urge to push. The problem was, I was loopy and felt completely out of control. I had progressed to 10 cm while resting and now it was time! It was scary to feel like my mind was elsewhere and my body was pushing full force. It is a good thing fentanyl leaves your system quickly and soon I was pushing. The first push (or maybe two?) she did a complete turn. The doctor was aiding in this too... talk about intense. Twenty minutes of pushing and she was here.... it was surreal.
I snuggled my baby, brought her to my breast and she nursed like a champion! The nurses were shocked, they had rarely seen a newborn nurse for 40 minutes straight before! I was closely monitored for bleeding and stayed in the labour and delivery ward for a long time after she was born.
I fell asleep afterwards with the cell phone in hand!
Charlotte finally met her when I went to the maternity ward. It was emotional and amazing all at the same time. Charlotte was so uncertain about everything, the hospital, me laying in bed, it was all so strange for her. She received a doctor's kit from Lila and she was so excited about it. The nurse on duty was so nice and let Charlotte help... she was so interested in everything that was going on! Charlotte didn't nurse right away as I thought she would. It wasn't until Sunday that she wanted to nurse again.
One thing that was really surprising was the afterpains. Although I had had some with Charlotte, they were extremely intense with Lila. I was in tears, it felt like I was in labour again. With a bit of time they subsided. I didn't have any stitches and felt pretty good, although exhausted. Lila was feisty, loud and demanding from the very beginning! She cried most of the nights and I had to wrap my brain around having a high needs baby along with my busy and beautiful toddler!
As I reflect back, I know that my labour would not have been the experience it was without my husband and without our amazing doula. She was there for us the entire time, actively suggesting options for labouring positions and relaxation techniques. She was the calm presence when things got hard. She supported me the entire time. She held me and rubbed my back and snuggled my baby when she was born. She switched the CD when we needed some different music! She brought battery operated candles and dimmed the lights to create a relaxing atmosphere in the hospital. And these are just a few things... after having a doula with Charlotte, there was no way we were going without for our second baby. And although Emilie was not available (she gave birth a few days before we did!) Abi was amazing. Thank you Abi, for making our experience an amazing and memorable one. We love you!