I was planning to share a bunch of other pregnancy-related posts with you before this one – my 9-month pregnancy update, my third trimester favourites, my Ottawa baby shower (which I last posted), the freezer meals I made…
But then I had a baby!
Never in a million years did I expect the baby to come early, let alone two weeks early. I thought for sure it would be late, mostly because I still felt so great, but also because I know most women are late with their first child. I also felt like the baby was comfy in there, just hangin’ out. So no one was more surprised than me!
Honestly, until our midwives showed up, I didn’t believe I was actually in labour. Don’t get me wrong, the pain was as bad as they say and the worst of my life, but I was in total denial. I mean, I still had plans… things to do… I’d only used two of my maternity leave days, and I’d deliberately taken two weeks off work before the baby’s due date. It was just a regular Tuesday night at home with My Other Half, so I couldn’t believe that this baby was coming for real.
And a regular Tuesday it was. I ran errands, I did laundry, I gathered info for our taxes, my sister sent me our maternity photos, we took our 38-week belly photo, we went to the midwife for a check-up, I wrote in the baby journal and ordered photos for it, I made this awesome soup, I booked my last pre-natal massage, I sorted through some baby things… and then we went to bed.
Only I couldn’t sleep.
I was having some Braxton Hicks contractions (or at least I thought that’s what they were) that were pretty uncomfortable. I didn’t think much of it, because it had happened twice before in mid to late March. Both times I was able to stop them with Tylenol, Gravol or a hot bath. So that’s what I tried – at 11 p.m., I took a Tylenol. By midnight, I was still wide awake, so I took a Gravol. By 1 a.m., I was still in pain (like really bad period cramps), so as quietly as I could (My Other Half was fast asleep), I drew a hot bath and lit some candles and tried to be “zen” or whatever.
It didn’t help.
My midwife told me not to time contractions until they were toe-curlingly painful – as in, impossible to ignore. Another doula told me that when contractions began to go bake a cake. In the tub, I decided there was no way I could handle baking a cake, so I’d definitely reached the stage where the contractions were un-ignorable. I started to time them (using Full Term), and they were roughly 5-6 minutes apart, lasting about 30 seconds each. Some longer, some shorter – not consistent. Some more painful than others.
Still, I didn’t think much of it. I was nowhere near the “call the midwife” 4-1-1 formula (contractions four minutes apart, one minute long, for at least one hour). In fact, I thought “for a false alarm, this is pretty damn painful”, and I was pissed about it. I decided then and there that when the real thing did come along, I’d want ALL the drugs the hospital would give me.
At 2:30 a.m., I got out of the bath and woke My Other Half. I told him the contractions were worse than the first two times. I still didn’t believe it was the real thing, but I was bracing myself for a sleepless night until they stopped. He decided it was probably a good idea to finally throw together a hospital bag for himself (mine was 90% done, and the baby’s was done). I chucked the last few items into mine, and went back to bed to suffer through my contractions. My Other Half made popcorn with extra butter, and turned on my favourite show of all time (The Office), hoping it would take my mind off the contractions.
But they got worse, so he started timing them. They were getting longer and with shorter breaks in between, but still a bit sporadic. At around 4 a.m., I decided to get back into the tub to see if it would help. Meanwhile, My Other Half decided it might be a good idea to install the carseat by flashlight and read the manual. You know, in case I actually was in labour.
At this point, I still don’t think either of us believed that the baby was on its way. But my contractions in the tub were bad enough that I became unable to time them using the iPhone app – it took too much for me to lift my hand to press the button when they started, and again when they ended. (The last recorded contractions were 50 seconds long and 3 minutes apart).
Three hours old!
At 4:45, I told My Other Half we should probably call the midwife and see what she thinks. Had this all been happening during normal waking hours, I probably would have phoned her earlier, but I was very concerned about bothering her in the middle of the night for a false alarm. After all, just that morning I’d seen her and told her how great I felt and how I didn’t believe the baby was coming any time soon.
She called immediately and talked to me on the phone for nine minutes. I tried my best to be polite, not dramatic, and to talk through my contractions. For me, breathing was everything to get through each one. After nine minutes, she said while they weren’t that long, I’d had four contractions during our call, so she was going to come out and check me. Worst case scenario, she said, she’d give me some Gravol and put me back to bed, and return when I was further along. I thought for sure that would be the case.
About 45 minutes later, the midwife and her midwifery student (who had been at all our appointments and was awesome) showed up. They got me out of the tub so they could check how far along I was. The student went first. After, she said she would refrain from giving her assessment until after the midwife had given hers. Then the midwife checked me.
They immediately agreed – I was 8 cm dilated, and this baby was coming soon. Very soon.
My jaw hit the floor. I swear, I have never been more shocked. I thought maybe I’d be 3 cm, maybe 4. To hear that I was 80% of the way there was mind-boggling. Mind-bogglingly awesome, but still. I still didn’t really believe it.
I grabbed my phone. It was 6 a.m., so 7 a.m. Halifax time. I phoned my parents anyway, realizing as it rang that the baby would be born on April 6, their 37th wedding anniversary. Not just that – it was also their dating anniversary, so six was their favourite number, and April their favourite month. My dad’s soccer jersey number was six, and my mom had always wanted an April baby. If you recall our pregnancy announcement video, her first words when we told her were “in April too – that’s the best part!”
My mom picked up and knew, since I was calling so early, that something serious was up. I told her I needed her to come soon, because the baby was going to be born on their anniversary. She said they’d be on the first flight out.
At this point, we had a decision to make – to go to the hospital or not. The midwives said while I could still make it to the hospital (where we’d planned to give birth – a 25-minute drive, approximately), we had to decide now if we wanted to go.
We had briefly discussed giving birth at home as a back-up plan, because I wanted to labour at home as long as possible and might not want to get in the car, but not in our wildest dreams did we think it would ever actually happen. The midwives left the room to let us discuss privately, and I felt totally overwhelmed by the decision. There were pros and cons running through my head. If we went to the hospital, I’d have to endure the drive, which I thought I could do but didn’t really want to. If we went to the hospital, I could get drugs, but then again, I was so far along it was probably too late. I didn’t know what to do, so I told My Other half it was up to him.
He said “I think it’d be cool to have the baby at home”. So that’s what we decided.
We told the midwives and they immediately got me back into the tub to start preparing our bedroom for the birth. They had a home birth kit, equipped with all sorts of things to protect the bed (spoiler alert – everything is in perfect condition and you’d never know we had a baby at home!). My Other Half helped them as I suffered through contractions in the bath (for the third time). A third midwife arrived to help out, which ended up being so key (she actually captured some photos and videos for us and was super helpful).
Around 7 a.m. or so, still in the tub, I started to feel the urge to push, and wanted to get out of the tub right away. I got onto the prepped bed, and this is where I start leaving out some details…
Long story short, I started pushing soon after getting out of the tub in a few different positions, eventually delivering on my back an hour later. I broke my own water while pushing (in case you didn’t know, it’s rare for labour to begin with the water breaking) and I felt everything. I mean it – EVERYTHING. Remember, I was 100% drug-free. I still can’t believe I did it without any pain relief whatsoever.
It’s a BOY! Jordan Paul Hanrahan surprised us all and arrived two weeks early in our bed at home this morning. He’s 7 lbs, 13 oz and 21 inches of handsome. A special anniversary gift for his new grandparents who are celebrating 37 years of marriage today! #BabyHanrahan
A photo posted by The Domestic Blonde (@kentjulia) on
Sparing all the gory details, here is what I will say about the pushing part – the contractions leading up to the pushing are 50 billion times more painful. Seriously, the pushing doesn’t hurt, but it’s the most exhausting thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. I was literally passing out from exhaustion in between contractions/pushes, and begging My Other Half and the midwives for a nap. Yes, I wanted a nap in the middle of delivering my baby.
It’s also incredible what a woman’s body can do. I was so so tired – I just needed it to be over. This made me extra motivated to get the baby out, despite the extreme fatigue. My pushes began to switch into another gear altogether, and that’s when I made a lot of progress. My Other Half’s reaction after each contraction motivated me the most, because I could gauge how well I was doing by his face (he saw everything!).
At 8:20 a.m. on April 6, our little Jordan Paul Hanrahan was born. I don’t think I’ve ever been more relieved and elated than when he came out, and miraculously, I forgot all about that nap I so desperately wanted. He was placed immediately on my chest and I kept saying “I can’t believe this happened!”, because I really couldn’t. It was the craziest, most amazing nine hours. My Other Half was right beside me, holding my hand the entire time – the best birth partner I could have asked for. I’m pretty happy to say I didn’t verbally abuse him, not even once!
Shortly after he was born, My Other Half got to tell me it was a little baby boy. He was so proud, and it was the best moment. Even though he was sure it was a girl, I think deep down he really wanted his first born to be a son. As for myself, I wasn’t surprised at all – I thought it was a boy since the moment we found out we were expecting. It was just so surreal for it to all come true.
It was so awesome to have the baby at home. We didn’t have to go anywhere! A couple hours after the birth, the midwives cleaned up and left. We were a healthy, happy family of three – just us, in our home. It was perfect.
And as for the name, we actually made a deal some time ago – if it was a girl, I would choose the name, and if it was a boy, My Other Half would name it. This was largely because we couldn’t agree on names, so it seemed fair. Right up until he was born, we still had 5 boy names on the table (I did have some veto rights), but I wasn’t surprised by what My Other Half immediately chose – Jordan has always been his favourite name. Paul is after both my dad and his mom, Paula (remember the wedding dress story?). And that’s how our little JP was named.
And now, I can’t rave about midwives and home births enough. If your pregnancy is healthy and complication-free, I really think it’s the way to go. Don’t get me wrong, it was so difficult and so painful, but hands-down the best experience of our lives. I didn’t believe I could do it without drugs, but we all need to remember women’s bodies are made to deliver babies. We are capable of so much more than we realize. Our birth and labour was perfect in every way. And yes, to answer everyone’s question, I would do it again in a heartbeat.
My parents arrived from Halifax when Jordan was just four hours old! Their first grandchild was the best anniversary gift.
I have so much more to write about (including Jordan’s first month of life!) and will get to that soon, I hope. For now, I want to say a massive thank-you for the outpouring of support on Facebook, Instagram, email, text, snail mail… all the places. You guys sure know how to make a new mom feel awesome. Love!