December 23rd, 2011


Our birth story begins on December 22nd. I’d been having Braxton-Hicks contractions for a couple hours at a time the past couple of nights. That night I was surprised when they set in a little earlier, around 7pm. Dave and I had plans to go to the movies that evening and I was again surprised that the cramping continued throughout the movie. I began to consider the possibility that I could be in labour but I wasn’t convinced. Around 11:30pm I decided to try timing contractions. They were extremely variable, anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes apart. I found them really hard to time because the cramping never really let up in between making it really hard to tell when a contraction started or ended. Only the peaks were clearly discernable. By 1:30am the contractions were getting hard to tolerate lying down. It felt much better to be standing and swaying. Dave woke and asked how I was doing and I told him to rest up because I was starting to think this was it. By 4am I had to get up and do something to distract myself so I did some yoga. This helped me discover that deep squats were the most comfortable position to work through each contraction.

At 9:30am, I had a chiropractor’s appointment that I was still determined to keep. Getting out of the house was hard but a good distraction. When we returned home I kept busy by cleaning while Dave headed out to pick up last minute items for the birth. Despite constant cramping punctuated by short but intense contractions I didn’t feel like labour was progressing. I continued to kill time by climbing the stairs and taking a shower but it was starting to feel like this could go on indefinitely. My contractions were still variable and hard to time: between 15 seconds and a minute long, and anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes apart. I was really afraid of calling the midwives and having them tell me that I still had a long way to go, so we held off. I thought I would know exactly when to call them based on the 4:1:1 rule, but my contractions fluctuated so much I didn’t think I would ever meet the “for 1 hour” part of that formula. By 7:30pm I still wasn’t sure it was time to call the midwives but I had reached a point where I needed to know where I was at. Nicola arrived at 8:15pm and put Dave to work. She checked me and to my relief told me that I was 7 cm dilated and fully effaced. That was music to my ears and gave me a huge boost of encouragement. I continued to labour with Dave’s help controlling my breathing. I got into the bath tub, which I had been saving for hard labour. The hot water was soothing and I instantly relaxed.

Nicola then told me I should try lunge-type positions to help position the baby who was face first rather than crown first. As I tried to maneuver in the tub I felt a ‘pop’ and knew that my water had broken. I proceeded to vomit and from here things become a blur as I entered transition. Until this point, labour had been painful but manageable. Now I needed it to be over. With each contraction I squatted onto a birthing ball with Dave supporting me as I pressed my forehead against the bedpost. The next day my forehead was bruised and I realized just how hard I had been pressing. (As if the pain of labour weren’t enough!) In the meantime, our second midwife, Anne, had arrived. Just when I thought that I couldn’t take one more contraction the midwives wanted to check my progress on the bed. At 10:15pm I was fully dilated. The midwives suggested I try a couple of pushes on the bed and I agreed – I would have jumped of a bridge at this point if they had asked me to. While I never experienced an uncontrollable urge to push, I definitely found it more comfortable to push through a contraction. It was painful, but a different kind of pain and it meant I was that much closer to getting him out so I was grateful for the change. Dave and the midwives were incredibly supportive and I felt that I was making good progress using the techniques we learned in class.

Occasionally the midwives had to remind me to hold my breath while pushing. After a few rounds of contractions the midwives asked if I wanted to move to the floor where I had originally wanted to birth but I decided to stay put because I felt like moving now would risk losing any ground I had already gained. Also, the thought of any action that would delay his exit by a split second was inconceivable to me. I wanted him out and I wanted him out fast! I was basically flat on my back in bed which is not how I had imagined myself pushing but it was working.

After about 50 minutes of pushing our beautiful son Tasman Andrew Gregory emerged into the world at 11:08pm. It is hard to describe the emotions at this point but it was a combination of relief, awe and love. The placenta followed minutes later. Fortunately there was no tearing. Mom, Dad and Baby cuddled in bed while the midwives finished up. Tasman weighed 6lbs 6oz and was 20 cm long. With a little encouragement to open his mouth he took to nursing soon after birth. We are so happy and grateful that we were able to give birth to our son at home and that we have a healthy little bundle of joy!

Kristine & Dave