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Monday, December 5, 2011

katia's birth

It was Sunday morning at about 1am. Winslow was working the night shift and I had Noah in bed sleeping next to me. I had had a busy Saturday trying to keep active so that maybe labour would come on it's own. I had been out for a walk with Noah and had been pulling him in his sled. I had taken a nice long hot bath with "come on baby" essential oils in it given to me by my friend Tammi. I was feeling good as I went to sleep and then woke up at 1am with some mild discomfort. I decided to try and sleep it off.
Up at 3am...back to sleep. At 4 am I decided to call Winslow at work. I wasn't quite sure if this was "it", but regardless, I needed him to start packing it in for the night and come home.
At about 5:30 Winslow came in the door. A bit panicked Winslow asked how far my contractions were apart, I told him to go and rest because it was just the beginning and things could take a long time still.
In the morning I gave my friend Vanessa a call as she had earlier offered to take Noah for me so I could have some alone time. I told her what was going on and she was over so quickly to pick up Noah. It was so kind of her. As she was making her way over (she lives quite close), I got Noah dressed and packed up. It was a bit sad for me to say goodbye to him and I think he knew that something was going on because he really wanted to stay with me. But Vanessa so kindly swept him up and cuddled him and walked out the door with him. As she did I was looking at him being carried away and he looked liked my little baby.
The rest of the morning was spent just fiddling around. I was in pain with my contractions but they weren't close enough. I tried to drink lots of water and sort of ignore the pain. I spent a lot of time sitting on the edge of my couch with my upper body leaning over the coffee table. By 1:30pm I had to wake up Winslow as the contractions were getting stronger and closer and I needed some company and support. I was feeling resentful and tired and lonely as Winslow slept away. In all reality he had just worked 12 hrs over night and had been up all day before, so it wasn't his fault and I needed him to be rested.
Once Winslow was awake we spent the next few hours timing my contractions and tidying up the house. I knew that we would have some friends spend the night at our house to take care of Noah, so it was important (of course) that all the beds have fresh sheets on them. We folded laundry between contractions and just hung out. It was kind of nice to be able to work through the early part of labour just the two of us in the comfort of our home.
At about 4pm the contractions were getting to be pretty strong and close. We decided to get ourselves ready for the hospital because we knew the car ride over wouldn’t be fun if I were any further along. Where we live is pretty close to the hospital, about a 10 minute drive, so we started the car and Winslow got my bag and the camera packed into the car. Off we went.
We were admitted in and got to our room. Here in Whitehorse we are very lucky to have a wonderful birthing unit at the hospital. Everyone gets their own private room to labour, deliver and stay in after the birth. Each room has a bathroom with shower, so you can stay in the room and not have to leave. The lighting is also very nice in there, dimmed lights and large windows that let in lots of natural light. This is so important as any woman who has given birth before would know, because strong artificial lights can really affect a labouring woman's mood and concentration.
Shortly after getting into our room, a nurse came to check me to see how far I was along. She said I was about 3-4 cms, so I felt pretty good about that, as I knew things were starting to move along. At this point also, Leanne, my dear friend and amazing doula showed up. She walked in the room with such a big smile on her face and such a positive attitude, it made it feel more "real" once she arrived.
The next few hours were spent labouring in our room. I spent much of the time standing with the assistance of Leanne and Winslow. I really didn't want to sit or lay down at all because I wanted gravity to pull the baby down and every time I would lay down I would have worse back pain than when standing. With each contraction Leanne and Winslow helped me stand up. They said that I had them each in a headlock and was hanging off of them with all my weight. Poor things! Leanne reminded me sway my hips and to breathe deep breaths. She also reminded me to make deep moaning noises when I would exhale to help with the pain and pressure. All of these techniques really helped me manage the pain and more importantly helped me focus and stay present.
I had done quite a bit of reading on natural labour leading up to my due date and I had a few things in mind as I went into it. The most important thing to me was that I wanted to stay focussed and to not panic. With Noah's birth, things had spiraled out of control and I didn't have the techniques or support to help me stay mentally present. For Katia's birth, I'm happy to say that panic did not set in and I stayed present the whole time. The biggest thing I did to achieve this was by working through each contraction individually. I never started to think about the next one, I just stayed focussed on what was happening at that very moment. This really helped me a great deal, I found.
The rest of the labour was spent standing up with Winslow's and Leanne's help, and by standing in the shower. The hot water from the shower was a great relief. At one point some laughing gas (the same type used in a dentist office) was offered to me and I decided to use it. It was just the thing to help take the edge off. I was moving along pretty quickly and I remember at one point thinking, "I'm actually doing this without an epidural. I'm gonna make it without one!" I was very surprised by this.
By 10pm I was fully dilated and effaced, so I was able to start pushing. We had arrived at the hospital around 4:30 pm and by 10pm I was ready to push. At this time my doctor, Dr. Avery, came in. He may have popped in before a few times, but this time he came in with his scrubs on and said it was time to start pushing. I would say for me, the pushing part was the hardest part of my whole labour experience. I had to get up on the bed and lay back, which I didn't like too much but Dr. Avery brought out the squatting bar and had me alternating between laying back and using the squatting bar. For those that don't know what a squatting bar is, see here.
The pushing took from beginning to end 3 hrs and it was long and exhausting. For me it seemed to take forever to end and to be honest, it hurt quite a bit. At one point my doctor brought out the mirror so I could see how things were progressing. Some people might think that's a bit too much, but it kind of gave me the incentive to keep going. And as soon as baby started to crown, I gave one more push and there she was. Her whole little body right there placed on my tummy, loud cries (from Katia) and all. It was surreal. All that hard work and there she was, finally. Katia was born at 1am.
After she was born she stayed on my tummy, skin to skin for a good 2 hrs. During the first hour, my doctor and the nurses stayed there to make sure that the placenta was delivered. Dr. Avery allowed for the cord to stop pulsing before Winslow got to cut it. Katia's heartbeat was checked while she remained on my tummy. Almost instantly she began to root around for my breast, and began to feed right away. She was born with an appetite!
A few more things had to happen before we were left to ourselves. Dr. Avery had to give me some stitches, which seemed to take for ever and was quite uncomfortable. He also showed us the placenta and explained a bit about it. After that we were given a few hours to ourselves and at about 3am the nurse came in to weigh Katia and give her a vitamin K shot. At this time I had my shower (oh I was sore) and got my bed cleaned.
I spent the next day and night in the hospital and it was nice to rest up and recuperate there. Winslow came by with Noah to meet his baby sister the morning after she was born, which was very special. The very first thing he said to her when he saw her was "tickle tickle", because leading up to her birth we had read many books about babies and what types of "games" can be played with them. It was so sweet to see his reaction to her. We had picked up a new Thomas the Train for him to open at the hospital which made him very happy.
We also had a few visitors come to see us that day. Sarah our good friend came by with a book for Noah, my friend Vanessa came by to see how we were, as did the Minister from my church Beverly. Leanne also came back to visit and she stayed with me the second night in the hospital. I felt so bad having her stay as I knew she was exhausted and hadn't had much sleep. Still, she stayed and helped me out through our second night and her company and help was very much appreciated.
And that is it, the story of Katia's birth. If you are still reading this, thank you for bearing with me. It's taken me almost a week to write this out and it was important for me to do this, as I know that it is something I will want to look back on someday. It so hard to believe how fast time goes by. Katia is already one week old now, when I will be posting this. I wish I could just put the "pause" button on and soak it all in. I'm trying hard to be present and live in the now.


  1. Wonderful, Johanna! I am so proud of you. And I'm glad you took the time to write it all down, so you will never forget the fine details.
    This was great to read, I just love hearing women's birth stories!
    Lots of love to you and your beautiful family.
    Hope to see more Katia pics soon!! :)
    xoxo Dawn

  2. Johanna, this was absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing Katia's birth story, it is so special. And the pictures are so warm and touching and intimately beautiful. xx

  3. Nothing beats a good birth story! 3 hours of pushing- whew! She's beautiful. Thinking of you.

  4. Yes, good for you for writing out the details you'll eventually need reminders about. This is beautiful! Im crying again!

  5. Beautiful!

    I am so happy that you had such a wonderful labour and delivery with her.


  7. Wow. Well done, Jo!

    How wonderful that you got to have a VBAC. I tried so hard for one with Sawyer, but in the end, ended up with a second c-section. I'll always regret that a little bit...

  8. Wow, such an amazing story. I still can't believe you did it without drugs. You are so brave! She is beautiful, and Noah seems to love her so much already.

  9. Good work, mama! Absolutely beautiful <3 I adore you!

    (And might I say... your hubby's 'stache is pretty impressive too, hah!)

  10. Sounds like an amazing experience. Love her name.


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