Wednesday, 17 March 2010

A birth story for Deaglan and a very long post

As you would expect, most of my thinking these days is consumed with being pregnant, my weight, baby movement, food, what I can still fit into and the upcoming and inevitable labour.

I'm remembering a lot of the details of Deaglan's arrival too and wanted to record that story here for him in case someday he should be interested.

I don't know much about my birth. I was born in a third world country to very poor people in a small mud hut. There was no midwife or doctor, no epidural or crib, and certainly no pictures or documentation. I have come to accept this. Sometimes I wish I had a picture to compare, to see if and how closely Deaglan resembles me. But mostly, I feel terribly lucky to have escaped the dim fate that would have surely been mine had I stayed in that place.

So please forgive me for the length and winding nature of this post and even if you have warm feelings toward me that might oblige you to read the entire thing, I won't know if you don't and even if I did know, I would understand and still think fondly of you.

Let me start by saying that I have always wanted to be a mother. But I had a lot of work to do with myself before taking on that role so I took my twenties and a good part of my thirties to do that work. I still have so much to do in that area but there came a time in my mid thirties, where I could no longer ignore the yearning to have a child.

I was pregnant almost immediately and with the exception of three months of nausea, had an uneventful pregnancy until near the end of my third trimester. My midwife Mariam, a Lebanese mother of five, who strengthened her midwifery muscles in some of the most destitute places in the third world, noticed that although I was enormous, she had to really press down on my belly to feel the baby. She suggested that I may have too much amniotic fluid (a condition called polyhydramnios) and booked me an ultrasound. She was right.

This concerned my medical caregivers because it meant that if I went into labour, there was a possibility of the baby being strangled by the umbilical cord due to the rush of fluid that could be released. I was booked for hospital appointments several times a week. I had to have a second glucose test to determine whether I had developed gestational diabetes - I was measuring several centimeters over.

By this time, my due date had come and gone. I could barely stand longer than a few minutes. On top of being tired and uncomfortable, I was now anxious and fearful. I was told that if I went into labour, I should get on all fours and call an ambulance. I asked Mariam if she thought I should be induced. My care had to be transfered to the hospital staff since mine had become a high risk pregnancy. Mariam made the arrangements, however, the next available time slot was 10 days after my due date. So we waited.

The night before the induction, I had to go in and get fitted with a foley catheter to help my cervix dilate. I don't know about the hospitals in your areas but ours are teaching hospitals so more often than not, you are treated by a resident first. Well this young woman could not get the catheter in. She whispered to the nurse her concerns. I lay there with my feet up in stirrups on a tiny cot, squirming in pain and discomfort, while Shaune, worried and distrusting sat by my side. He looked to the resident and then the nurse and asked: Is something wrong? Should you call a doctor? Thankfully, this is what they did.

After what felt like FOREVER, a short balding doctor came in, greeted me, and within five minutes had the foley fitted. I was instructed to sleep in a careful position so as to not let the catheter slip out of place and come back the next day for noon to be induced. I slept very little that night from discomfort and also the knowledge that this time the next night I could be holding my baby.

For several weeks leading up to this day, Shaune became almost fanatical about videotaping our day-to-day lives. Nothing we would ever torture our friends and family with watching but in case anyone is interested in seeing hours and hours of me sitting on the couch or the recliner, petting the cat and grumpily telling him to turn the f@#*ing camera off, we have it.

Induction day was no different, bless him.

I showered careful not to lose the catheter sticking what seemed almost a foot outside of my body and double checked that my bags were packed with all that I needed, kissed the cat goodbye and headed to the hospital.

Here we were checked in and uncharacteristically shown to the delivery room almost immediately. The room was surprising and quite lovely. It was unexpected. In the weeks prior on my almost daily visits to the hospital, I had complained to Shaune how disgusted I was with some of the conditions of the waiting rooms and bathrooms in the same hospital.

Unexpected and lovely also describe the nursing staff and ObGyn who cared for me that day. At some point in the first few hours I was told that Mariam had been up delivering babies the night before and was going into her bazillionth hour of over time. Another midwife met us at the hospital and after helping to settle me in, asked me if I felt I needed her to be there while the nurses and doctor did their thing. I told her I thought I was in good hands.

My waters were ruptured and I laboured for a few hours. I had let the team know that I was interested in having an epidural and so when I began to feel breathless from the contractions that were induced from the pitocin, they called the anesthesiologist in. He too was a resident, a young Chinese doctor no older than 23. I sat with my back to him while Shaune faced me holding my arms to keep me perfectly still while the medicine was injected into my back.

It began to work almost immediately and I could go back to the pleasant conversation I was having before the contractions had become too painful. However, in the hours since I had arrived at the hospital, I had not dilated any further than the initial three centimeters brought on by the foley the night before.

The doctor, a delightful six foot blonde Norwegian woman, had been coming in every few hours or so to check my progress. Several times she told me that we might need to go through the front door to get this kid out.

At midnite, she came in, checked my cervix again, and looked at me with a gentle smile. Let's take your baby out now. I was prepped for surgery and wheeled into the OR. Shaune was also suited up and told to wait until he was called. Sadly cameras weren't allowed in the operating room.

While they did their work behind the sheet that separated my head and neck from the rest of my body, Shaune and I talked nervously. I felt as scared as Shaune looked. The team worked quickly and within minutes I heard everyone laugh and someone comment Kim you have yourself a toddler - this is one big baby. Someone else exclaimed it's Magnus!

My big boy (10lbs 3 oz) was brought over to me wet with the remnants of the womb, still squat from the fetal position. And although I didn't get to touch him, tears streamed down my face and I looked from him to Shaune and back and cried This is our baby? This is you??

I held my baby about half an hour later. It was the sweetest union of my life.


  1. I never get tired of birth stories, and I'm glad you shared yours. 16 years later, I can still remember holding my oldest son for the first time as if it was yesterday. Pure magic.

  2. That is a beautiful story, Kim. Deaglan will be so proud of his mommy to have had this for him to read years from now. I, too, remember my son's birth like it was yesterday. Those first few moments are so precious!

  3. Beautiful story Kim! I also remember seeing/holding Aiden like it was yesterday!

  4. What a beautiful story for Deaglan to treasure forever. That picture of you holding Deaglan is truly precious.

    Thank you for being an AMAZING friend to me :) I WISH you lived next door. We would have such good times together laughing and sharing. Thanks for your prayers and support. Hope you feel well. I can't believe how far your pregnancy has progressed.

    I'll send you a note soon. I'd love to catch up. Hugs my friend!!

  5. loved reading your birth story. sounds like deaglan was too big to come out the other way and had to take a detour. sounds like you make big healthy babies! and there is nothing wrong with that! i love me a good 10 pounder! thanks for sharing. That pic of you holding deaglan is one of the reasons why i love my job!

  6. Simply a beautiful birth story and so nice that Deaglan can read it when he is older and also see photos of his live to compare when he has little ones of his own.

    Wishing you a safe and uneventful delivery with #2.

  7. Wonderful story, and wonderful for your family that it is recorded here. Congratulations.

  8. Amazing! As we say in my family, "ooh wee, he was a bigun". :) My hat goes off to you. Thank you for sharing that awesome story my friend. :) Continue to be well...

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