Alex’s Birth Story

Finding out I was pregnant

I have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and irregular cycles and I was told I might have difficulty conceiving so I tried to prepare myself for the possibility of never having a baby (I never really came to terms with it). After a tonne of research, I found out about a drug called Metformin. Women with varying degrees of PCOS have had success getting pregnant while taking it so I talked to my doctor and without hesitation she prescribed it to me. Around that time, my boyfriend proposed! I started taking the Metformin about two months before our wedding date because we didn’t want to wait long after the wedding to start trying. Secretly, I hoped for a honeymoon baby!

I forgot to refill my prescription before we went away for our destination wedding. I got by with half-doses so that I had enough to take the medicine daily but by the end of two weeks, my body seemed to adjust to the lower dose and I missed my period. When we came home I went right back up to my regular dose but I missed my period again. I could swear it was coming because of the tell-tale signs (sore boobs, tender tummy, spotting) but two weeks went by and still no period. I went to my doctor and she suggested I wait one more week then take a pregnancy test. I thought she was crazy. I’d already taken a test at that point (it was negative) and I ended up waiting a full two weeks before taking another. Meanwhile, my boobs were becoming more sore and starting to feeling quite full and heavy but I didn’t think much of it.

The day I took the test I joked about it with my husband, saying “Gotta go take another test, we both know it’ll be negative!” Looking back, I think this was more of a defense mechanism. Well…I peed on the stick and within seconds there was the faintest second pink line. I rubbed my eyes, squinted and stared for what felt like hours. I waited to see if the line would appear darker and said out loud, “This is inconclusive. Maybe I didn’t have enough pee?”

I had some water and waited to pee again. Second test: another faint second pink line! I still wasn’t convinced so I went to the dollar store and bought six more tests. There was no doubt – I saw a prominent second pink line. OMG I’m pregnant!

I screamed, I cried, I skipped and danced around my apartment. I texted my hubby, “I think I’m pregnant!” He called right away and I told him about the eight positive tests. My hubby didn’t want to believe the news until the doctor confirmed it so we made an appointment but when she found out I took eight tests she just looked at him and said, “She’s pregnant! Don’t take anymore tests” and that was that.

My pregnancy

I spent months researching everything about pregnancy, labour and birth – all the Dos and Don’ts – but with that came a lot of anxiety. Fear of the unknown is a very real thing. I heard about tearing, the ring of fire, the pain of contractions. There was no shortage of women who’d already gone through it telling me it was the most painful thing they had ever endured. This was really freaking me out!

(Side note: now when I meet a woman expecting her first child and she asks me about labour, my response is so much more encouraging. I tell her when it’s go time to trust her body and that she will feel a natural calm come over her, as if she already knows what to do.)

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My dream was a natural water birth at the beautiful Toronto Birth Centre, under the care of midwives. Unfortunately, when I found out I was pregnant I was about six weeks along and even though that very day I started applying at every midwife clinic in my area, none were accepting July patients. It wasn’t until I was 24 weeks along that I got the call that brought tears to my eyes: I got accepted!

After months of watching birthing videos on YouTube – water births, bed births, floor births, hospital births, c-sections, medicated, unmedicated – I knew what I wanted: a pool of warm water, with my husband and midwives and mother by my side, coaching and encouraging me. I even bought my hubby the book “The Birth Partner” (highly recommend!) to help him prepare.

As it turned out, I didn’t get the birth I dreamed of. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and told that I needed to have the baby in hospital. This was very upsetting to me but in time I accepted it and tried to see the silver lining. I needed to do what was best for my child, and I found solace in that.

Our birth experience

As my due date approached, there were several times I thought I was in labour. Those Braxton Hicks can play some serious mind games. I never saw a mucous plug and my water didn’t break. As I approached 41 weeks I was beginning to think the baby would never come but on a beautiful Sunday morning, I woke up to what I just knew was the real thing. I turned to my sleeping husband and said something he’d heard many times before: “I think I’m in labour.”

I pulled out my phone and started my contraction counter app, got in the shower and things were definitely progressing. When I got out of the shower I told my husband that these were real contractions as they were already 4 minutes apart and 2 minutes long. The fear and anxiety I was expecting to feel were nowhere to be found! Instead, my husband got out of bed, put on some Bob Marley, and we hugged and began to get ourselves ready to go to the hospital. I was unbelievably calm and had this feeling like I was about to do something amazing. This is consistent with many times throughout my pregnancy as my baby developed; I knew something truly amazing was happening inside of me.

By the time our midwives arrived at my house my contractions were getting stronger and closer together. When we got to the hospital I was in full on labour. We went directly to the labouring tub and I got in and started breathing through contractions. I laboured as long as I could before I finally broke down and begged for an epidural. To my surprise, it didn’t work! I was lying flat on the hospital bed, writhing in pain for an hour hoping that the damn drugs would kick in and they never did. I tried nitrous (laughing gas), which was a disaster because I was already vomiting throughout my labour and the gas made it worse. The anesthesiologist finally returned to try a different medication and after another 30 minutes I finally started to feel better. I wasn’t completely numb and could still feel quite a bit of pain, but it was far more manageable.

Less than an hour later, my cervix was at 10 cm and my water finally broke. There was meconium (baby’s first poop) in the water, which instantly worried me. My midwives were very calm about it as I was ready to push. They asked if I wanted to watch and I asked “How?” They positioned a mirror in front of my bed and I got to watch myself give birth. After 30 minutes of pushing surrounded by my husband, my mother, my sister, my sister-in-law, the OB and my midwives, my gorgeous child came into the world at 6:15 pm with the most amazing cry. That was the cry we all needed and wanted to hear. My baby was okay!

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I had no idea if I had a boy or a girl; I didn’t even occur to me to check. All I wanted was to hold my baby and feel the warmth and softness of that fresh new skin against mine. It wasn’t until my midwife asked, “Is it a boy or a girl?” that I realized I didn’t even know. Esmé, my beautiful baby girl, has changed my life. She came into this world in a room so full of love and excitement just for her! Life hasn’t been the same and it never will be, for it has been enriched in ways I never thought possible. And as it turns out, she is indeed our honeymoon baby.

 

Thank you Alex for submitting your beautiful story! If you’re reading this and you’re interested in sharing your experience with others, check out our #REALTALK Birth Stories main page.

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