Now that I’ve had time to process our pregnancy and birth with Elsie, it’s easier for me to put into words.
It was an emotional and physical roller coaster. We started with severe pregnancy sickness – I refuse to say morning sickness, as that’s not even close to an accurate description – unless morning means all day. We were prescribed some medicine and we were on a roll back to health!
I lived 40 mins from my work and had long days, which means I was up at 5am and returned home between 7:30-8pm most evenings. At about 4.5 months long, we lost my Oma and Aunt within hours of each other. You can likely imagine what that experience as a hormonal, pregnant woman looked like.
The week of the funerals, my left arm became very sensitive and tingly. After a couple of days, a strange bubbled rash appeared and I was feeling really under the weather. Something wasn’t right. We called the Dr. on the way home and booked an appointment for the next morning.
Friday morning he took one look at the rash and said Shingles. Shingles is a version of the chicken pox that lays dormant in your nervous system – it strikes when your immune system has been comprised. Having not been well during pregnancy so far and the events of the previous weeks had made me a perfect candidate. By Saturday morning, I’d lost any practical use of my left arm. My dear Patrick wrapped and rewrapped my arm countless times over the next 3 weeks.
This pregnancy was giving me a run for my money.
After the shingles, we realized the danger of the stress that I was under and that if I was going to continue with a healthy pregnancy, I needed to take a step back. We decided to take an early Maternity leave, starting 2 months before my due date.
Once I had a chance to sleep/nap when my body needed it and had the opportunity to eat proper meals, I quickly gained back my health and some extra energy! It was such a blessing not only for me, but for everyone around us. Patrick and I were able to enjoy the last 2 months of pregnancy together in such a positive and excited environment.
Shortly into my maternity leave, another Aunt of mine had passed away. Our beautiful pregnancy was an abundant amount of joy, surrounded by a large amount of sorrow. Throughout it we learned what it meant to truly praise God in every circumstance. Shortly after that, on a not so positive day, I was suffering from constant Braxton hicks and what they call “lightening pain” – which I will describe as a knife ripping through your cervix – I could barely make it through my grocery trip to Wal-Mart. I quickly left my cart and shuffled out to the car with tears streaming down my face. I came home, warmed up some left over fried chicken and got in the tub. That’s when I realized I was experiencing the epitome of pregnancy – you are bound to have at least one day, where all you need to do is to sit in a warm bath, eating your fried chicken while crying out of control.
Our hospital due date was April 22nd, but by my own personal calculations, my due date was April 26th. My sister’s birthday is April 25th and it was the running joke that she would have to share her birthday with this new addition! I even had it marked in my calendar as “the day Tiny Turvey would most likely arrive”.
Labour started on April 23rd. While we were puttering around the house, I noticed a huge change in the appearance of my belly in the mirror on our stairs. It all the sudden looked as if it was about of drop to the ground! It was so different then when I had taken a photo just two days before.
I had been having Braxton hicks since 6 1/2 months, so I didn’t think anything different about the cramping going on. We went to my in laws house and while speaking to my mother in law, I was describing these Braxton hicks and she gave me a funny look and said “you know those are early labour contractions right?” And I thought, well ya, isn’t that similar to what Braxton hicks are?
We went and picked up some Hot and Spicy sausages – an old wives tale. I didn’t have high hopes. I knew that this baby would come when it was ready.
That evening, I begged Patrick to rub my lower back for what felt like hours – it was just aching so bad. I was sitting on the birthing ball while he massaged out the ache, I saw a book given to me by my doula sitting on our coffee table. I started perusing through it and got to the section about “signs of early labour”. As I read through the chapter I started checking each sign off in my head, thinking, “hmm, I have that, oh and that, annddd thaaatttt, but I haven’t had any blood yet, so it must not be it.” Alas, 10 mins later I went to the bathroom and there was blood. I went back downstairs and looked at Patrick and said, “I think it may be happening soon. I’m going to go and have a bath and then head to bed – maybe you should think about coming to bed early tonight too.” He said “yep, okay, sounds great.” I don’t think that he even processed what I was saying.
After I had climbed into bed, the contractions started to get progressively worse. After about an hour I texted Patrick who was down in his office asking if he was coming to bed soon. He replied with “yep, I’ll likely be up in the next half hour.” It was another 2 hours before he finally came to bed. He walked in to find me sitting on my birthing ball breathing through a contraction. He said “what are you doing on your ball?” And I said “I’m in labour, I said you should come to bed!” And he said “BUT YOU DIDN’T SAY YOU WERE ACTUALLY IN LABOUR!” as he quickly shuffled into bed realizing that he might not get any sleep tonight. By 3 am we were on route to my parents house (where we had planned on labouring because of our house’s distance to the hospital). When we got there we made a comment about the baby not coming on my sister’s birthday after all. I followed it by saying, “Well, with my luck this baby still won’t be born until tomorrow.” Sometimes your gut knows more than you do.
(Carlie Pitka from Well Rounded Doula’s was an amazing support for both myself as well as for Patrick – if you’re expecting, I highly recommend that you contact her here: https://www.wellroundeddoulas.com)
It was a long day of early labour with slow progression. Tiny Turvey was half “sunny side up” so we did a very painful routine to help her turn around. At about 7:30pm the contractions were every 2 mins apart and were very intense. The midwife came to check my dilation but couldn’t tell if my water had broken or not – so we packed up and headed to the hospital. When we got there, I was still only 3-4 centimetres dilated. The contractions stayed just as intense and grew as the night went on. They broke my water around 10pm to try to help Tiny Turvey along. The baby seemed to be stuck on my right hip and wasn’t entering the birth cannel correctly. Only half of my cervix was dilating. By 1am I was still only 4-5cm. I was in the shower for what felt like hours to help with pain and use gravity to the best of my ability. Finally, at 3am still sitting at 5cm, 28 hours into labour and after much deliberation, we decided to get the epidural. Thank goodness for Patrick, as he had the weight of the world on his shoulders as he weeded through these decisions alongside me and for me. I remember looking at my doula saying “I need the medicine, I cannot do this on my own anymore.” She and midwives agreed that in the middle of my second night with no sleep, I needed assistance to continue. I remember the midwives saying, “The Dr will be on the floor in 15 mins, we’ll have him come and assess you.” And I remember responding with, “I understand that the Dr. will be on the floor to assess me, but he’d better be coming to assess me with some pain medication in his hand, not going to get it after he is done and then have me wait an additional 15 minutes.” At that point, they decided to page the Doctor instead. I was so done.
After receiving the epidural and pitocin around 4am, I finally fell asleep for a couple of hours. When I woke up, this wonderful nurse was siting beside me. She talked to me about everything under the sun. It was so good to feel like a human being, even just for a moment. Once 7am hit, I was fully dilated. Patrick woke up to me spread eagle, being assessed by the nurse. We were ready to push.
It was 45 mins of pushing when the Dr. came in to see how things were going. After one look into the birth canal, he, in the most kind way, let Patrick and I know that our Tiny Turvey was stuck, that the baby will not come out naturally without assistance. He told us that he would be prepping the room for a double set up in the OR – which means that he’d try to use forceps first, but would be prepared to do a c-section if that wasn’t possible. Once he left, the midwives jumped into action! They were determined to allow Tiny Turvey to move down just a little more to help me have the vaginal delivery like I wanted. About an hour and a half after we started pushing, we were moved into the Operating Room. There must have been 15 people in there, between the team for me, team for baby, team for the Dr, plus my midwives. I was quickly given some more epidural and strapped down to the table. The Dr. decided that he would be able to reach her with forceps and told us to be prepared as she would likely have a bad cone head from being stuck for so long. It felt like forever but it was only a few minutes, the room fell silent at the request of the Doctor. As Tiny Turvey was born, he held her up and Patrick exclaimed loudly, “IT’S A GIRL!” He looked at me, with tears streaming down his face as they placed her on my chest, “We have a daughter” he said, in the most sincere and joyful tone of voice. I struggled as I was strapped down on the table and couldn’t reach for her, it felt so amazing once the midwives freed me and I could wrap my shaking hands around our perfect little girl, with a perfectly shaped head full of hair. 36 hours after labour had begun, our little Elsie Jayne was born at 9:13am on April 25th, sharing a birthday with her lovely Aunt after all.
I had quite a bit of damage down below, with an episiotomy accompanied by a 3rd degree tear – we knew that it would be a long road of recovery ahead. I am so thankful that God blessed me with such a serving Husband, who cared for me and Elsie, day in and day out post birth. I had yet to understand the depth of his love for me before this, not because of a lack of him showing it, but just in the sudden new love for Elsie that we both shared and in turn, shared more love with each other. I fully believe that the birth of a child is one of the few times in life where the earthly realm and the Heavenly realm come so close that you can almost reach out and touch through them. The name Elsie means “God is bountiful” and the name Jayne means “God has been gracious”, throughout this whole process we have felt God’s love ever so plenty and his grace ever so near. We thank for Lord everyday for our sweet little Elsie and for our team that supported us through it all. To our midwives, doula, nurses, doctors and our families, some of who were in the waiting room, praying and showing their support in the ways that we needed it most.