Torfinn's Birth Story

I told everyone that I wasn’t attached to my birth plan, that I was open and flexible to whatever happened. At the end of the day, all the mattered was a healthy baby. I think I truly believed that until the moment that plan slipped away…

I was excited for labour. I knew it would be the most painful and transformative thing I would experience, and I welcomed it. I remember my friend Erin telling me that in the throws of active labour, she felt like a wild women. When she thought she couldn’t go any further or take any more pain, she dug down deep and continued, eventually bringing her beautiful daughter earth side. I couldn’t wait to see my body pushed to it’s limits. I read as many positive home birth stories as I could, spoke to friends and friends of friends who had birthed their babies at home. I wanted every detail. I borrowed a birthing pool, filled my fridge with snacks and drinks for the celebration we would have when Finn was in my arms. My doula was also a photographer and would take pictures to capture the whole experience. We were as ready as we could be.

On November 20th, at 41 weeks pregnant, I woke up feeling some very mild and inconsistent cramps, but knew that Finn would be born in the next 48 hours. We had an appointment for a non-stress test at the hospital at noon, which had been booked the week before. My midwife wanted to make sure that Finn wasn’t getting too big and wasn’t in any distress. I almost called off the appointment because I figured I was already in early labour. Mo convinced me to go, at the very least they could measure my contractions and confirm I was in labour. I think he was a little nervous. I went for a walk to go pick up some herbs for a friend and Mo picked me up from the Apothecary to take me to the hospital. I didn’t even bother putting the hospital bag in the car (to be honest I hadn’t even really packed it).

I climbed up onto the bed to have my ultrasound at noon. My contractions had become stronger and more regular, and I wanted the appointment to be over so I could go labour in the comfort of my home. The technician put the wand on my belly, up towards my ribs, looked confused and said to me “you realize that this is your baby’s head right?”. “No” I told her, “that’s his bum”. “I’m sorry” she said, “your baby is breech, your midwife must have had his position wrong”. She rushed out of the room to call my midwife. When she came back I told her that I was in labour. She hooked up the belly monitor and confirmed this. Then she sent me to the waiting room to wait for the OBGYN to come get me and take me up to Labour and Delivery. Finn would be coming sooner than we thought and I wouldn’t be leaving the hospital.

I continued to labour in the ultrasound waiting room, my contractions getting stronger. It took a little while for it to sink in that I would be having a c-section, that the plan to have Finn at home would not be happening. Once the realization came, so did a lot of tears. In that moment I realized just how much I had wanted and had become attached to my home birth experience. I called my friend Melissa, told her I needed her to go to my house and gather everything I would need and come to the hospital. Previously we had decided that she wouldn’t be at the birth (she’s a little squeamish), but I needed her for emotional support. An hour later she was there with my hospital bag.

Through some breakdown in communication, I had been forgotten about in the waiting room. After crying and labouring there for almost 2 hours, I approached an admin staff member (who had just started her shift) and asked when someone would be coming to get me. She apologized and said no one had told her I was in labour. Someone then came down and got me immediately.

Once in Labour and Delivery, I met my OBGYN. She was kind and sympathetic. She even offered to try for a breech vaginal birth if I really wanted it, but given her lack of information about Finn’s size and position, she recommended a c-section. I agreed and the next half hour was a blur of IV’s, monitors and hospital staff. My midwife arrived and commented on how calm I was. If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s going numb and staying calm in a stressful situation. As they gave me the epidural, I remember someone saying “Aren’t you excited? This is the last contraction you will have to feel”. I know she was trying to be kind, but hearing that broke my heart; I wanted my contractions.

The c-section went smoothly and was a surreal experience; being awake and feeling the pressure of people working on my body, but feeling no pain. It was quick. Within only a few minutes and some pushing and pulling, I heard Finn wail. He did not seem happy to be out. He was quickly wrapped up and placed in my arms. I remember the feeling of his skin, oily and soft. I kissed his face and his little mouth over and over, all of us crying. He was then passed to Mo for some skin to skin while they finished my surgery.

I was rolled into recovery 20 minutes later and Finn was placed on my chest. He bobbed his head with a surprising amount of strength, looking for my breasts. He latched instantly (and basically stayed on for the next 2 years).

I didn’t sleep at all the first night. High on adrenalin and completely in awe of this tiny human, I just stayed awake and watched him. Looked over his tiny fingers and toes, I kissed him a million times. From ultrasound to being rolled into my hospital room with Finn in my arms, only 5 hours had passed. It was a wild day and one that took me a long time to process.

When people heard my birth story, the most common response was “as long as the baby is healthy, that’s all that matters”. I would love to say that that was true for me, but to be honest I felt a lot of grief around the loss of the experience I had wanted to have. Of course I was so grateful that Finn and I were both healthy, but there was sadness there too.

Two years later, I’ve watched my baby grow into a wild and energetic toddler. The grief I felt has faded and has been replaced by the love I have for this tiny human. I still sometimes feel a pang when I see a beautiful birth photo or read a home birth story. I hate to admit it, but in planning a second child, I feel cautious hope that my next birth will be different. No matter how it goes though, I know that my body can do incredible things (healing from a c-section is no joke) and that years from now the birth will matter less then the joy of my children growing and developing. Understanding that my grief is valid but this incredible amount of love will move me through it.

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