I hope you had a chance to read my last blog post about the birth of my first baby. Today, we will fast forward 7 years to 2008 when I had my second.
As you can tell, conceiving my second was not an easy task.
The disappointment started to sink in around my 30th birthday (four years after my first), but we still didn’t take action for a couple more years. We spent 2007 at the Fertility Clinic getting blood tests, follicle counts, sperm counts and a hysterosalpingogram (an invasive test where dye is injected through the vagina and cervix to investigate the reproductive system via x-ray). We hoped to have an answer and make a plan for circumventing whatever problem cropped up. Except there were no problems found.
We had unexplained infertility.
It was frustrating to not really have a solution. The options offered to us included taking fertility drugs (with a risk of multiples), having intrauterine insemination (where sperm is injected right into the uterus) or in vitro fertilization (a hefty price tag we could not afford). We went home to contemplate things and found we weren’t on the same page at all. My husband was perfectly fine to accept only having one child, whereas I really, really wanted another. I sort of jokingly demanded he had until September to get me pregnant before I paid the $1000 for the IUI.
By mid October, we were pregnant all on our own!
We found out at our 19 week ultrasound that we were having a girl! Yes I also peeked at Christmas presents in advance (sorry mom!) I’m the type who NEEDS to prepare. So we painted, decorated and shopped all things frilly and girly. Including a trip to Spokane, WA to buy the nursery décor I really wanted.
I worked as a grocery store cashier throughout the pregnancy and found that 40 hours a week on my feet was a lot harder at 32 years old than pregnancy at 25 with a desk job. I had another uneventful, healthy pregnancy with the exception of some crippling pubic symphysis pain (where the pubic bone shifts around). I worked until 38 weeks and couldn’t have been happier to stay off my feet for the final weeks.
I became an even bigger “birth expert” by reading more books, watching more episodes of “A Baby Story” and watching “The Business of Being Born” – a documentary about the maternity care system in the USA.
I was sure this birth was going to go “right”.
My family doctor was more than happy to support me through a trial of labour – the term used when you attempt a vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC). However, protocol dictated that I had to see an OB/GYN to chat about it first. My visit there was less than supportive… She suggested that because my first baby was so big and this second was looking pretty big too, that I should have a planned caesarean. I politely declined that plan and stuck with my family doctor.
My due date was July 1, 2008
For any non-Canadians reading, that is Canada Day, the birthday of our nation. I had heard rumours of government savings bonds being handed out for Canada Day babies and thought that would be pretty cool. Plus it was also the birthday of my brother in law and one of my favourite hockey players – Jarome Iginla. The evening of June 30th, I begged and pleaded that baby to start making her way. Lo and behold, I woke up the next morning with that familiar cramping feeling. I carried on with my day until late morning when I was quite surprised with the amount of blood in the toilet. Very begrudgingly I had my mom drive me to the Rockyview Hospital where my husband met us from work at about noon. In triage, the nurse examined me and said I was 4 c.m. dilated and the bleeding was nothing abnormal. I was so disappointed to have gone in far too early again. My mom, sister and son waited downstairs while the doctor was called and a room was prepared.
The contractions were surprisingly super intense!!
The SPD (symphysis pubic dysfunction) was rearing its ugly head. Every contraction I said, “Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow!!” My husband seemed to repeat the same response, “Where does it hurt? What can I do?” I recall after about the third time, yelling at him, “Right F***ing here!!” as I pointed to my pubic bone which felt like it was splitting in two. I remember seeing the nurse’s head whip around to glare at me! At about 1:30 p.m., another physician from my doctor’s group arrived in her street clothes and wanted to take a look. I tried to move towards the bed, but I was having a hard time and then all of a sudden my water burst! The doctor and nurse both commented on the incredible amount of fluid I just dropped. Finally I made it on the bed and the doctor examined me, looking a bit surprised.
She said I was transitioning and needed a room NOW!
Almost immediately, I was wheeled down the hall with the nurse yelling out my stats: “40 weeks, trial of labour, GBS negative, spontaneous rupture of membranes, 10 c.m.” My biggest concern of the moment was where my sister was - someone had to get my sister. She missed Justin’s birth and couldn’t miss this one. I recall the nurse looking down at me and callously saying, “What do you want us to do about it? We’ve got more important problems here.”
We were wheeled into the smallest room in Rockyview’s labour and delivery and almost immediately I said I needed to go poop and sat up to go to the bathroom. The nurses said I was not getting out of that bed! All of this was unfamiliar territory as I had never gotten to the pushing stage with my first. So I pooped in the bed! Gross, I know. But now I realize that it happens to nearly everyone. I have a post about that too! My mind was so many steps behind because I hadn’t been in labour very long.
I thought I had hours and hours to go.
I was in the throes of transition and their biggest concern was starting an I.V. which is protocol during a trial of labour after caesarean. I’m sure the nurse loved trying to put that in while I was less than cooperative! Miraculously she succeeded and then nervously called the nursing station inquiring to the doctor’s whereabouts all while trying to keep me from pushing. And I still implored my husband to get my sister to which he helplessly really couldn’t do a damn thing.
Finally the doctor arrived after changing into scrubs and I was encouraged to push. I didn’t realize it at the time, but in retrospect I laugh at how they tried so hard to keep me from pushing, but then switched to making me push like a maniac when the doctor arrived. All when my baby was practically falling out anyway. So yeah, basically one contraction of pushing and out she came at 1:48 p.m. I was in such disbelief! I couldn’t believe I did it so quickly and easily! All the talk of trial of labour and having an "untried pelvis" as they call it, really got into my head. Having never pushed a baby out, we all expected a much longer second stage.
So less than 2 hours of active labour... WOW!
She wasn’t nearly as big as the ultrasounds had predicted, but was still a good size at 8 lbs 11 oz. and 22” long. With such a rapid descent, I had some minor tearing that the doctor repaired. Shortly after I was all cleaned up, my mom, sister and son came in to meet her. I’m not sure exactly how we got away with this as usually no one would be allowed to visit on the labour and delivery ward (especially a 7 year old!) My sister was crying that she had missed it again. My son was a bit timid at first, but then was pretty enamoured of his little sister (miraculously that feeling lingered until she was about 2 years old and it’s been war of the siblings ever since!)
I had my Canada Day baby after all!
While I was disappointed that the savings bond story was a myth, the Calgary Canada Day committee did visit me in postpartum and gave us a lovely bunch of gifts. Blankets, teddies, books, onesies, a flag and a certificate all to commemorate the day!
With a much faster, easier recovery I went home within 24 hours. Breastfeeding was a breeze thankfully and I really enjoyed a wonderful summer with my big boy helping me every chance he could. I was so sad when he went back to school in September, but on the other hand, I enjoyed lots of one on one time with my baby girl. Having two was really quite easy with a 7 year gap. All that went out the window 25 months later when number three came along, but that’s a story for next time! Stay tuned.
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Tracy is a mother, birth doula and childbirth educator. She lives in the Calgary, AB area with her husband, three kids and her lazy cat.