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Monique’s Birth Story – Baby Cormac, born September 28, 2008
Monique stayed home for much of her labour, and then with a birth plan in hand, delivered baby Cormac at the Royal Victoria Hospital.She writes: “It was the most intense sensation of my life. I’m glad and lucky to have physically felt, blow by blow, the birth of my baby.

Yogaspace - Pregnancy Yoga - Birth Stories     Cormac was born at the Royal Victoria Hospital at 10:20 PM on Sunday, September 28th, one day before my due date. I had been to my doctor the previous Thursday and he’d told me that my baby would probably be late: I was only one centimeter dilated and this was my first baby, so he told me to enjoy the weekend and to expect to give birth some time in early October.

     That Saturday, my boyfriend, Rob, and I drove out to the country and walked around looking at the fall colours and looking at each other, knowing this would be the last weekend before our son arrived. My baby had always been very active in utero (he once kicked a magazine off my belly while I was lying down reading!) and he was continuing kicking and punching with his usual gusto. I was feeling fine and physically strong, until that evening when I was feeling nauseous and had no appetite to eat… Around midnight I started having erratic contractions, but I wasn’t sure if it was even real labour. I remember thinking that the spectrum of pain is so broad that I had no idea where I was on it – was what I was experiencing even going to register compared to how intense it could get? The pain from the contractions was enough to keep me awake all night though, watching bad TV movies and knowing that this could be the BIG DAY.

     Around 7:30 AM, I woke up Rob and told him that I thought my labour had started for real. My contractions were coming every few minutes and I was getting on all fours to deal with them at this point, breathing through and making myself talk to make sure that I still could. I called the triage nurse at the hospital at 9:30 and told her I’d been experiencing contractions for about nine hours, but that I could deal with the pain. Her advice was to stay home as long as possible because of course I’d be more comfortable there. This was in line with my own plan for the birth because I wanted to have a natural delivery and I knew that if I checked into the hospital prematurely I might set myself up for more medical intervention.  I was using ocean breath through each contraction and telling myself that I just had to deal with one contraction at a time.

     Rob and I went out for a walk around 10:30 AM which was hilarious because I was basically walking from tree to tree, bending over from the pain, but I knew that the movement would help things along. We got some pretty alarmed looks from people on the sidewalk. By early afternoon I was having contractions every two to three minutes and they were lasting about one minute each so we knew it was time to go to the hospital.  We arrived at the hospital around 2:30 PM and the nurse set me up with the baby monitor for 30 minutes. The baby’s heart was doing fine and I was having very strong, regular contractions. The resident examined me and I was 4 centimeters dilated – I was so happy to be so far along!

     I had brought along my birth plan which I gave to the nurse. In it, I’d outlined that I wanted a drug-free labour and that I didn’t want to be offered drugs, I would ask for them if I felt it necessary. I also wrote that I planned to do a number of different labour positions using my yoga mat and exercise ball. I’d discussed my birth plan with my ob/gyn at my 36-week visit and he’d signed off on it.  (My doctor’s only caveat for signing was that I agree to have syntocinon administered after delivery to help the uterus contract, and I agreed to this.) The nurse and resident said they would go along with my plan as long as I could stand the pain and there were no complications with the baby.

     I was very lucky to have supportive nurses who were cheerleaders for the drug-free delivery. The next few hours were surprisingly smooth. The baby’s heart was fine so I only needed to be hooked up to the monitor for 15 minutes per hour. Rob and I were walking around the unit, chatting, listening to music... I’d asked Rob to make me discs of mixed music for the labour room so that I’d be surprised by the songs and be taken away a bit. I recommend asking for surprise mixes to any music fans out there!

     At 7 PM, I was seven centimeters dilated and I agreed to the resident breaking my water to speed things along even more. This is when the proverbial hit the fan because the pain intensified right away. I was hooked up to the baby monitor full-time now, but there was no way I could sit still long enough to keep it on. The poor nurse had to keep coming in because my monitor kept flat-lining from my taking it off, but she was understanding and just laughed every time she’d find me on the floor or leaning on my ball. Rob was amazing and rubbed my lower back and let me squeeze his hands and arms so tight he must have had bruises. I was doing a lot of vocalization and low humming to get through the contractions at this point. The humming was an absolute saviour because it always brought me back to my breath and helped me to focus and feel in control. We’d brought along tennis balls to help with massage but I was biting into them like apples! 

     I wasn’t screaming and I wasn’t wishing for drugs, I was more simply amazed at how it felt. I could feel the baby turning and moving down my body and I could literally feel my organs being pushed around and my pelvic bones spreading. I remember looking over at Rob just flabbergasted, like “how is this possible?” It was bloody painful, but I was also so aware of this being my baby moving through me – it was wild. About an hour after they broke my water, I was feeling extreme pressure and I just HAD to push. I kept asking the residents to check me again because I felt it just had to be time. Finally at 9:30 PM I was fully dilated.

     My ob/gyn was out of town so I had the on-call delivering doctor instead and I have to say that this was actually a blessing. I wanted so much just to get to it that I didn’t want to have to acknowledge someone I knew at that point with a “how’s it going?” conversation, so the anonymity of the on-call doctor was welcome.

     I remember feeling the “ring of fire” when the baby’s head was crowning and I remember the frustration that he would come down and then always retreat back inside me. In my birth plan, I’d written that I’d been doing perennial massage and I asked that the delivering doctor please pause when the head crowned to stretch the perineum and reduce the chance of my tearing. The doctor was amazing with this and also used a lubricant to help. There were moments when I was sure this was how the rest of my life would be: me on a hospital bed trying to get the baby out! It seemed like it was taking forever and I was going from the extreme exertion of pushing to feeling like I had to try to sleep between contractions, which was impossible because the contractions were coming more frequently than every two minutes.

     The nurses set me up with pull bars on either side of bed to use for leverage when pushing. I pulled on these so hard that my biceps hurt for days afterwards. I was a total wild woman, more in the moment than I’d ever been before – if someone had told me the world had ended outside, I would have shrugged at the news. I remember the delivering doctor just telling me that the only way out of this was to GET THE BABY OUT. Motivation indeed.

     After more than 40 minutes of pushing, the baby was born – hallelujah! They put him on my belly and I couldn’t believe how appetizing he was right away. He was the softest, warmest, yummiest thing I had ever touched and it was an amazing tactile sensation to feel his skin and the physical weight of him. He still had the cord attached and after it stopped pulsating (about a minute) Rob cut the cord. After a few minutes of skin to skin contact, the nurses took Cormac to clean, weigh and measure him. We couldn’t believe the size of him. My doctor had expected he’d be around 7 pounds, but he was 9 lbs. 8 oz. and 22 in. long – I dubbed him King Cormac then and there.

     Right after the delivery I started shaking strongly and I was freezing cold. The resident administered syntocinon by needle into my thigh and she massaged my stomach to make sure my uterus contracted properly. She checked me and I hadn’t torn which was fantastic news. I can’t recommend the perennial massage enough, it is so definitely worthwhile. A nurse helped me with the breastfeeding while I was still in the delivery room. Cormac latched on right away and showed his seriously healthy appetite from the get-go.

     The prenatal yoga was so helpful during my labour and delivery. In addition to Clearlight’s weekly class, I did Shiva Rea’s Prenatal Yoga workout on DVD daily. The body awareness from yoga and the breathing techniques I learned from Clearlight were a huge part of my being able to have a drug-free delivery. It was the most intense sensation of my life. I’m glad and lucky to have physically felt, blow by blow, the birth of my baby.  

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