After a long, sweaty summer pregnancy and 12 hours of hard, active labour, the big moment had finally arrived. On September 18th at 7:23pm, we welcomed Ava Christina Gordon to our family. 8lbs7oz, 21 inches long and the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
Seriously, this child was gorgeous right from the get-go. So gorgeous in fact, that I ALMOST immediately forgot how just hours before, I was undoubtedly traumatizing every other soon-to-be mom on the birthing floor.
When it came to pregnancy, I was incredibly lucky. Not a single day of morning sickness, zero migraines, no weird cravings or aversions. Yes I did gain like 70lbs, and yes I did struggle with the occasional back ache, and yes that last week of pregnancy left my feet resembling a couple of honey baked hams. (Note to self: shoot for a winter baby next time.)
But in contrast to some of my friends’ experiences.. I relished in the notion that my body was seriously kick-ass. I was growing a human and enjoying every second of it.
In the back of my mind, I knew that I would pay the price during labour. But call me optimistic (or maybe just naive), I didn’t really think it could be that bad.
My inner dialogue those last few weeks went something like:
You’re a tough cookie. You’re a strong, resilient woman. You’re a warrior. You don’t even need the epidural. Your body was made to do this. Your pain threshold is for sure high enough to withstand a child being ejected from your lady bits. If anything, just meditate your way through it. Just like Beyoncé. When in doubt, be Beyoncé.
In reality I was a lot less:
And a lot more:
The story begins on a Thursday morning. I was 4 days past my due date and scheduled to see my OB for my 3rd sweep. The last 2 had proven unsuccessful, and my parents (who in anticipation of their first grand baby’s arrival, subleased a condo in the city for the month) had already been around for 2 weeks. We were all growing impatient. I had already eaten like 6 whole pineapples. It was hot. I was swollen, and quite frankly, sick of playing tour guide. So I figured “What the hell, let’s take a drive to Niagara. We can visit the in-laws, maybe do a little shopping. It’s only an hour away.“
When I asked my doctor that morning for her medical opinion, I believe her exact words were “Go for it. Even if you do go into labour today, you could drive to Montreal and back before anything actually happened.”
Mind you, the drive from Toronto to Montreal is a solid 10 hour round trip so I felt pretty confident in my choice.
Our first pit stop upon arrival was the outlet mall (which is seriously awesome and I highly suggest going should you be in the Niagara area.) then to Adam’s grandparents’ who lived down the road.
We must have been there for 30 minutes or so before I started to feel what I now know to be the beginning of the end. I just kind of sat there internally freaking out while Adam’s sister and I began to time my contractions. Even though they were about 4 minutes apart, we stopped and had a quick visit with the in-laws, then went to dinner.. Deep down I knew this was probably a bad call, but I was hungry, and nothing stands in the way of my hunger.
Fast forward to our main course; all I’m trying to do at this point is enjoy a delicious bowl of pasta and as luck would have it, my contractions start getting stronger. Like concernedly stronger. I’m thinking “so much for dessert.” stronger. The panic is setting in. Things were happening.
In hindsight, how funny is it to think that everyone around me was oblivious to the fact that a child was literally prison breaking out of my body, and I’m just sitting there, pretending my heavy breathing is attributed to the food I’m shoveling into my face hole.
Fast forward again to 4am, Friday. At home in my cozy bed and writhing in pain, I decided to call the hospital.
Nurse: Well I hate to tell you this but you picked a horrible day to have a baby. We’re at capacity and there just aren’t any beds available now.
(Somehow this story seems familiar..)
Nurse cont’d: If you can maybe just hold off for another couple hours and call us back.. Hopefully we can get some babies born and free up some space by then..
I’m thinking, uhh yeah.. Sure. I’ll just cork ‘er up until it’s more convenient for you guys.. No worries.
After waiting the suggested 2 hours, I made my way down to the hospital. Ready or not, I was coming. I was even considerate enough to walk there to buy them some time. A walk, mind you, that was only 2 city blocks from my apartment but took over an hour to complete.
Upon my arrival I was ushered into the waiting room where I laboured actively, surrounded by complete strangers (none of whom I’m assuming had any sort of medical training) for over 3 hours before finally being admitted.
Just as I had resigned to the fact that I may be delivering this baby next to a vending machine and stack of magazines, the nurse called my name and a light shone down from the heavens.
I quickly realized that I was no hero, and knew the pain I was feeling would only get worse, however impossible that may have seemed.. So I opted for an epidural. Now for those of you who have never given birth, an epidural is only administered once you’ve been settled into your own delivery room. And prior to receiving one, your blood must be tested which takes up to an hour.
Only about 45 minutes had come and gone and by now I was just screaming for the sweet release of death, threatening to deliver this baby right then and there. I could tell my triage nurse was annoyed. The poor lady was quite literally drowning on her own in a room full of labouring women and here I am completely losing it. It wasn’t until
gently suggesting forcing her to come check on me one last time that we realized I had already dilated an extra 3.5cm.
By the time I was rushed into my delivery room and given my epidural, I had reached 9cm. By the time the drugs kicked in I was ready to push. As quickly as things were happening, I was all kinds of relieved to have received some pain management. I just wanted to try and enjoy this experience and now I finally could. From there on out, I’d like to say it was all “1-2-3 here’s your baby!” like you see in the movies; But the reality was, I had almost 3.5 solid hours of pushing to do before I saw that light at the end of the tunnel. It’s true what they say, it’s not called “labour” for nothing.
Luckily I had an amazing delivery nurse who was attentive, kind and refreshingly hilarious. Even better, Adam and his sister Alicia by my side giving me endless encouragement and keeping my spirits high. We laughed. We joked. At one point we even had a sing-a-long. (I told you, epidurals are truly magical.)
Then after that one final push, all my pain turned to peace. I was suddenly overcome with joy and awe and excitement. There were just so many emotions, I simply can not explain what it felt like to see my daughter for the first time. All the sacrifice was nothing compared to the reward. And although just hours before, I was cursing my uterus, saying there is no way I would ever do this again.. In that moment I realized that in a heartbeat I would go through the pain a thousand more times.
Just for her.