Emma Claire’s Birth (story)
This is a the story of Emma’s Birth as I experienced it.
I include it here to satisfy the curious and to help us remember what happened.
The Birth of Emma Claire
It’s saturday (March 6), Kerri-Jo has been feeling poorly all day, crampy uncomfortable, can’t get settled. Just generally unhappy.
We go to bed around midnight. At about 12:30, Kerri-Jo gives up trying to sleep as she’s having cramps, which are about 2 min apart and fairly painful. 2 min apart?? All the books and the note posted on the fridge say to call the caregiver at 5 min apart, so what are we supposed to do if they’re 2 min instead? Well maybe they aren’t real labour, maybe it’s braxton hicks. We’ve read that they can be random times apart, can be quite painful and can be got rid of by drinking water. Two large glasses of water later, we’re still suspicious but starting to think that maybe we should be paying closer attention. The pain is lasting about 20-30 seconds, well the books say 40-60+ seconds and 5 min apart…well ok, let’s keep reading.
By 2 am we have woken Jan (Kerri-Jo’s mom). Kerri-Jo wants to sit in the comfy chair, it’s in Jan’s room (the living room). We have to tell Jan what’s going on. She’s helpful, supportive, no, she doesn’t think she can go back to sleep in our bed. She’ll let Kerri-Jo decide if it’s really labour, although it’s looking like it might be. Kerri-Jo goes to the bathroom several times over the next couple of hours. There’s blood in her pee. She has a painful stool, and then loose ones after that. She vomits, 3 or more times. It’s hard to watch her in this much pain. At 3 am we want to call the midwife, but Kerri-Jo says “NO, don’t wake her up, we have hours” (don’t we?). She will let us call at 4 am if it’s getting worse. We call the midwife, Iwona, an hour later, she asks “how far apart and is there bloody show?”; “2 min and yes”. “I’ll be right over,” Iwona says “just give me a few minutes to wake up and get there”.
The midwife arrives at 4:30 and feels Kerri-Jo’s cervix, it’s fully effaced and 2cm dilated. The midwife says “you’re not ready yet, I’ll be back in about an hour, you should be 4cm by then”. Off she goes. During one of her visits to the bathroom Kerri-Jo suddenly looks startled and says “I just felt the babies head”. Things are starting to get pretty weird. Jan recognizes that we’re stressed out. She decides to give us some space, by BAKING SCONES (really good cranberry orange scones). She’ll need buttermilk to bake them though, I show her where the buttermilk powder is. A few minutes later she asks me how to make the powder into liquid milk, I have no idea, I use the dry ingredient in bread, I show her the bag of normal powdered milk and suggest she uses those instructions. Apparently it works.
Kerri-Jo is now saying things like “I can’t do this”, “I want drugs, NOW”, “this is really painful, way more painful than I thought it would be” and finally, “where is Iwona, she should be here by now”. It’s 6:10 am and I call the midwife, while I’m on the phone with the answering service Iwona pulls into the driveway. Upon inspection Kerri’s cervix is 7cm dilated!! OMG. If I recall correctly she’s in Transition, it’s too late for drugs and we need to be in the hospital RFN. The midwife calls the hospital and arranges a room. We’re to meet her in room 617 as soon as we can. She goes, the scones are done and taken up. I finish packing the bag.
It’s clear to me now that I had no clue how quickly this event was going. I packed days of food, cards, books, something to write on, plus clothing. We finally have everything, including the scones. We tie Kerri’s shoes and start off down the stairs between contractions. This is a big challenge. While going down the stairs she says “the baby’s coming”. Jan calmly says “don’t push”. Down we go, into the car. Kerri gets in gingerly, clutching the overhead handle. I get the car started and then in haste bounce us out of the driveway. Kerri-Jo says “the baby is coming, don’t hit any more bumps”. Jan says “remember Jane (Kerri-Jo’s sister who nearly gave birth in Jan’s sports car a few years ago), don’t push”. And to me, “Put on the flashers and just drive straight to the hospital, don’t worry about the lights”. Driving as carefully as possible to avoid bumps and plowing through the traffic lights we go.
We arrive at the Hospital emergency entrance. I stop the car. I help Jan find a wheelchair and get Kerri-Jo into it. They are given instructions to go straight down the hall to the elevator then take that up to the 6th floor. I go park the car. I call my mom and then move as quickly as I can to get to room 617. Jan in the meantime is motoring down the hall and turns right, Kerri-Jo corrects her, she stops, backs up and up they go to 617.
I arrive in the room, my wife is on the bed, the midwives are bustling about. Iwona (who didn’t even have time to change her clothes) has just examined Kerri-Jo, who is now fully dilated. It’s about 6:40 am at this point. Iwona says “ok Kerri-Jo you can start pushing. Now I’m just going to break your waters to make things go quicker”. At which point Kerri-Jo gives a huge push and the waters explode across the room. Amniotic fluid and meconium splash across everything including Iwona, the hospital bed, some of the machines near by. It’s a bit of a mess. After that things really start rolling. Kerri-Jo’s contractions are huge and painful, “I can’t do this”. Iwona replies, “But you already have done it my dear, only a few more pushes and you’ll have the baby out”.
Watching that tented head coming through that opening is one of those things I don’t think I will ever forget. Three contractions, 3 pushes per contraction and Emma Claire was born. Kerri-Jo’s blood pressure dropped pretty dramatically when she tore. Jan noticed and tipped Iwona, who didn’t give Kerri-Jo a break, just “push, one more and you’ll have the baby”. The head came through and then the body just squirted right out.
A surreal moment came when Iwona asked me to cut the cord. I was handed a pair of scissors and shown where to cut, I will never forget that moment cutting through the cord with those scissors. And then the baby was independent, wrapped in bloody linen, lying on Kerri-Jo’s stomach.
“Do you know what it is?” huh? “what sex the baby is” I’m thinking …no…who cares…it’s just amazing there’s a baby there at all, sex is irrelevant. They help us pick up the baby and have a look, it’s a girl, huge swollen and red labia, the baby is loaded with the hormones from mom for giving birth, her parts are enormous. Time to deliver the placenta, the midwife grabs hold of the umbilicus and asks Kerri-Jo to push, not too hard “there are no bones or skulls to push out, it should just come out easily”. Out it comes and into a pan. It’s examined, shown to us, it’s all there. “Do we want to take it home?” is the question posed. Jan says, what would we do with it? And the response, “Put it in the freezer, some people consume it”. EEEEEwwww, that is to say, no thank you, you can dispose of it as you need to thank you.
The baby is weighed and measured; 8lb 6oz, 21″ long. Healthy pink baby (started out pretty blue to my eye but I’m not an expert), and with all her toes and limbs in the right places.
Kerri-Jo is stitched up. Local anesthetic is used, she’s very stoic again, and puts up with the needles admirably. The job is done, the circus is over, we have our baby. Emma is dressed and given to us swaddled already by someone who knows how to do that.
Kerri-Jo goes to sleep, I stand guard…we’re stunned, happy but mostly stunned. What the hell have we gotten ourselves into?
Welcome Emma Claire, it is so nice to have you with us.