My Beautiful Belly Birth
It's not what I had planned. To be honest, it was the last thing I wanted was to have a c-section. I had read so many powerful stories of women having natural births, and within their own homes. I felt so much empowerment to be able to make such a personal decision to have my baby at home.
A couple of weeks before my baby's due date I was sent home with a home birth kit and birthing pool, and I pictured myself and the day giving birth in my own home. Dim lights, I would be surrounded by my lively plants and the comfort of my own bed to labour in.
Week 37 of my pregnancy an ultrasound showed that my baby was in a breech position. My midwife and I had to talk about options. I could try to get baby to move using natural methods and also set up an appointment to have an External Cephalic Version (ECV) in which an OB would manually try to move my baby in the head-down position. So, I tried bouncing on an exercise ball, walking, putting frozen peas on babe's head and I even shone a flashlight across my skin and into my uterus to try and get baby to move. I didn't go through with the ECV.
Another ultrasound week 39 also showed that baby hadn't moved despite my efforts. I had to book an appointment with a general surgeon to discuss my options for a c-section. I really wanted to go into spontaneous labour before the birth of my baby to make sure she/he was good and ready to enter into this world. After much discussion, it was advised that I schedule a c-section for the date before my baby's due date which was pushing it really close.
I struggled with the thought that my baby was scheduled in someone's calendar to enter into this world and I cried and I cried. The appointment was less than a week away and I felt so unprepared.
I had to get blood work done the Friday before baby's birth. I felt really good that day. I felt like maybe I was ready for this to happen. After my blood work and a nice afternoon at home, I received a call from my midwife saying that my platelets came in at 57 and that my pregnancy was considered high risk. I didn't know what to say or do but cry. All along my platelets have been in the high 200's. I had to drive down to the Orillia hospital within the hour to get more blood work done so that they could order an exact blood match from the blood bank in Toronto if I needed a blood transfusion. I also had to speak with the surgeon who would perform an emergency c-section the next morning. I didn't really understand the gravity of the situation.
When we arrived, I was met by my midwife and the surgeon who went through all of the risk factors to my delivery. Because my platelets were so low, I was unable to get an epidural or spinal in my back because of the risk of bleeding out and becoming paralyzed. That meant that I had to be put under and there were risks involved in not having enough oxygen because of pregnancy and that could affect me and baby. Because of my low platelets my blood might not clot. So if the first 4 medications they would give me don't work, they would have to tie off veins and arteries and worst-case scenario, give me a hysterectomy and remove my uterus if I hemorrhaged. I could also need a blood transfusion and there are risks involved in that with picking up diseases.
I just sat there in disbelief. I had a pretty uneventful pregnancy, why all of a sudden am I having all of these issues. I was terrified. There were so many risks stacked upon risks. What was I supposed to do? I couldn't put the brakes on, but go through with everything and hope that the "likelihood would be that everything will be fine."
The surgeon and my midwife left to go check my blood work platelet count again from my draw that evening. They left my husband and I together to talk about what this all meant and how we were feeling. Some time later I heard my midwife down the hall say, "I wonder what her reaction's going to be. Who's going to tell her?" When they walked back in the room, my midwife told me that my platelet count came in at 276 and there was an error at the Huntsville hospital where they drew my official blood. My reaction?
"You're f*cking kidding me."
A full investigation was going to happen into why my work came back with an error. Thousands of dollars worth of blood from the blood bank had been ordered and sent to Orillia in case I needed a blood transfusion, not to mention the toll all of this had on my mental health while being pregnant. I burst into tears and cried my heart out in disbelief.
I was advised to draw blood one more time on Sunday the day before my baby's scheduled c-section just to triple check that the right data on my blood platelets were correct before proceeding. I spent Saturday having high hopes that everything was going to be okay. Sunday, after going out for breakfast with just my husband and I, we met with my midwife to draw blood again. We waited an hour and my results came back at 299! My blood is clot-able and really good at it! So now I was back having a low-risk pregnancy.
We spent the rest of the day enjoying each other's company and getting our life ready for a new addition to our family.
I went to bed on Sunday night feeling pretty tired, but woke up at 3am unable to sleep while fighting thoughts of fear and excitement before the surgery to have my baby. We had to be at the hospital for 7am to prep me for the biggest moment of my life.
I tried to remain calm as the IV went into my arm, I undressed into nothing but a hospital gown and was wheeled away from my husband into the OR room. I kept repeating "I am strong, I am calm, I am able." Getting a spinal was my first fear. I was in an operating room full of technical equipment for operating on patients. It wasn't the calm space I dreamed about to labour and birth my baby in. Everyone was in scrubs and masks and I could only recognize my midwife by her eyes who helped me through getting a needle in my back.
First my toes went numb and then my legs. I hated the sensation but was so thankful for it. Everyone in the OR room were very friendly and nice and explained things to me as they were happening. Before long, my husband was rushed into the room after a curtain was draped across me. He caught my focus and attention by verbally replaying our canoe trip in Quetico to take my mind off of being poked, prodded and cut open. I heard the surgeon say that the baby's bum was out and they were just working on bringing the head out, and then I heard the most incredible sound of my life. The first cry of my baby.
My husband and I didn't know the sex of the baby so my midwife had to keep telling the surgeons to not say what the sex was when they delivered my baby. After much anticipation of waiting for the delay of cord clamping, my baby was brought around so that we could find out whether babe was a boy or a girl.
Then baby was rushed away to have vitals checked and quickly wiped off a little.
My husband was called over to cut baby’s umbilical cord.
And then finally my baby was brought over to me to have skin-to-skin contact.
At 9:01am on July 9th, 2018 (a day before baby's due date), I had the most beautiful belly birth to a girl named Severn Fawn Sharpe (named after a river in northern Ontario that flows into Hudson Bay). She was 20 1/4 inches long and perfect.
We spent 48 hours in the hospital getting to know our baby, breastfeeding and becoming a family.
I'm so thankful that my mother was there to share in the experience with us. She waited so patiently until we came out of the OR and recovery room to meet her grand daughter. We spent some amazing time together bonding and receiving her love and support. Thanks, Mama Bear! xo
My husband was so wonderful and amazing and supportive during all of this. He was so strong even though I know he was probably scared too. I'm so thankful for him. Our daughter is so lucky to have him as a father.
I am so thankful that the birth of our baby went so well despite the emotional rollercoaster of emotions from the days leading up to her perfect birth. I wouldn't change anything. She's so wonderful and I'm in love with being a mama and watching my husband be the father of our daughter.