I hadn't planned to get pregnant again. It was barely a thought that had crossed my mind. Our first child was only 8 months old and breastfeeding around the clock. My husband and I had been going through a rough patch. Let's be honest...a really rough patch!
I began to notice those familiar signs again. I bought a test at a downtown drugstore and took it in a local cafe bathroom. Just as I thought. Two lines. Staring me in the face. Now what?
I felt so many emotions. I was sad that my first-born was still so young, sad that my husband and I were on bad terms, and afraid to tell him about another pregnancy.
I slept on it for a few days and let it sink in before approaching him. It was August 2003, and I had figured that I would be due in late March or early April 2004. My husband and I had been working opposite shifts and he was asleep before I came home most nights.
On his next day off, we took our son to the park and I decided to tell him. He was shocked, afraid and happy. We vowed to make things work.
Just after our son turned a year, we moved into a bigger apartment and began to plan for our new baby's arrival.
Even though I had the same doctor, I knew I wanted a different birth. I wasn't going to be in that hospital any longer than I needed to be.
I joined an online pregnancy/birth forum and began speaking with other mothers about their birth experiences. So many women were having such traumatic births. The women all accepted all these procedures without questioning. My first birth had very few interventions, but it left me feeling very low afterward. I felt the desire for a better birth.
I joined an Aqua-Fit class during the winter months of my pregnancy. It felt great to stay active.
I enlisted my husband into helping me create a birth plan that included mobility during labour.
We found out we were having another boy and I could tell he was going to be bigger than our first.
Our sweet toddler Dimitrius would come over to my enormous belly, lift up my shirt, and kiss my belly button. "Na na", he would say, which meant "tiny".
Around 38 weeks, we had our hospital tour. The nurse, who was our guide was very personable. She told us she had 5 kids and that the obstetrical unit had been updated over the past year. They had added a birthing tub and birth balls to use during labour. I gave her my birth plan with confidence, trusting things would be different.
My due date (April 3rd), came and went, but I had been having many braxton hicks' contractions and was starting to have some light bleeding and mucous. I had even made it to Aqua-Fit that week to try and get things moving. I was really hoping to go into labour on 04/04/04, but since when do babies cooperate with due dates?
I had been feeling exceptionally tired on April 4th, and asked my husband if he wouldn't mind letting me rest. He made breakfast for Dimitrius and I, and then took him out to the library and out for lunch.
I slept until 1 pm, woke up briefly, then slept again until 5.
I felt great! I got up, had a shower, and made dinner. We ate stir-fry and baked potatoes with garlic bread. We put Dimitrius to bed and cuddled up on the couch. We watched a bit of T.V., made love, and then retired to the bedroom to read. I was reading a great V.C. Andrews book and I noticed that my husband had drifted off around 10 pm. I was wide awake!
At 11 pm, I noticed a stronger tightening. I kept reading, but payed more attention to the clock.
11:20pm. It came again. I rolled over and continued to read. 11:30. They began to come every 10 minutes, then 7. Around 2 am, I got up and walked around for a while. Things slowed down, but I still felt crampy. At 3 am, I poured a hot bath. It was so soothing. I washed myself with olive oil soap, shaved my legs and lay in the warm water for a long time. I only felt two mild contractions during my bath.
I emerged at 4:30, dried myself off...and then it started. The sensations came in waves. They were stronger than before and much closer.
I dried my hair, put on my make-up and got on the computer. I sat on my purple exercise ball while telling the world I was in labour. I rocked back and forth, and then decided to call my mother. She was going to take Dimitrius to hang out with his Aunt and Uncle for the day.
I finally woke up my husband after getting fully dressed and putting my hospital bag at the door.
Dimitrius sensed the excitement and woke up too. My husband got him dressed while I waited at the door on my ball, rocking back and forth...
My mother arrived at 5:45 am, and we all headed to the hospital together. We checked in and I was in my room by 6. My mom and Dimitrius stayed for a few minutes before she took him to my brother's house. She wanted to be back for the birth.
The sun was coming up and it was a beautiful spring day. I was well rested and ready for the challenge. My contractions were strong, but I was mobile. I sat on the ball until I felt the need to lay back down. Things were picking up fast. Any time I would start to panic, my husband would take my hand and say, "Don't look anywhere else. Look into my eyes. Breathe with me...slowly."
The nurse who had lead us through our tour came on shift at 7 am and I was glad to see her.
Before I knew it, my mom was back, sitting on the birthing ball beside the bed. She watched intently and tried to comfort me. My teeth started chattering again, just like my first labour. I was approaching transition.
At 7:30, I was 6-7 cm dilated. I noted seeing a Michael Jackson video on the music station in the corner.
Around 8:05, my doctor poked his head in. "How are we doing?" he said.
"Ugh", I said.
"I'm just going to check you, and see how things are going. OK. It looks like you're about 8 cm. How about we break your water and speed things up a bit?"
"No. I'm comfortable with things right now and I can't handle anything stronger", I said.
Before I finished the sentence, he had broken my water. Against my permission!
The next contraction was violent.
As my doctor left, he said, "You'll probably be a little while longer. I'm going to slip out and see a patient on another floor".
Next contraction... overwhelming urge to PUSH!
The nurses came in and said, "You're not ready to push yet. Just breathe".
The baby's head started to crown.
"Page the doctor!" one said to the other. I heard it over the loud speaker.
"It feels like fire!" I said.
Out came a head, and with it, an arm, like Superman flying through the air.
The fire sensation was gone as soon as the head emerged, and I pushed out a big, wet body. The doctor had come at the last moment.
I had him on my chest, kissing him. He had black hair and a squishy, red face. I put him to my breast right away and he stayed there for 45 minutes! He was a natural pro. My mother joked that he ate like a lumberjack.
I looked at my husband a few minutes after birth and said, "Let's do it again! I feel like Super-Woman!"
I felt so invigorated and alive, like I could do anything I imagined. I called my whole family from the delivery room.
The nurses eventually took my baby to get weighed. He was 7lbs, 8oz., and 22 inches long. He was born at 8:17 am on Monday, April 5, 2004.
When my mom brought Dimitrius to the hospital, he kissed his new brother right away and said, "Na na (tiny)". It was such a beautiful moment we shared. We named our baby Gabriel Simon, our little angel.
More family visited us in the hospital and we were discharged the next day. I was eager to get home and settle in with my boys. I had no tearing whatsoever and recovery was a breeze.
My birth was an empowering experience for me. I was proud of myself for trusting my body to do the work it was made to do. I was proud to have an un-medicated, hospital birth. I believe staying active during my pregnancy and labour were the biggest factors in having the birth I planned, but also having a goal in my mind and accepting nothing less. I also had a great partner and mother by my side, keeping me focused and offering so much support during the postpartum period also.
The nickname 'Tiny', gradually evolved into 'Tin-Tin'. Even though he's 7 now, he still hasn't outgrown it, and he and his brother are still the best of friends.