Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The story of Adeline

Tara McMullen Photography

My water broke in a lavender field. The PEC lavender festival of all places, a two day event where thousands flock to experience the magic. You might not know but coriander is my second favourite herb. I was surrounded by beauty, Tyler beside me, Hattie between us squealing with delight as we came over the hill. It was nothing short of a dreamy carnival. 
Many familiar faces were there and friends came over to say hello. I joked, "this could happen any minute now, I'm feeling the feelings today and I'm one day past due." Just as the words escaped my mouth, a warm release of fluid came trickling down my leg. "Guys my water is breaking!" It was one of the most exhilarating feelings I've ever experienced,  something I missed out on with Hattie because they had to induce me due to low amniotic fluid. It's because of my traumatic birth with Hattie that the anticipation of our second daughter for 9 months had been wrought with anxiety, fear and doubt. 
I was dreading the possibility of another emergency c-section. Every week with my midwives I'd oscillate between trying for a natural birth experience or just booking a "nice" c-section where I could at least be awake and Tyler could be in the room, I couldn't decide. I was hoping nature would decide for me and I'd go into labour the day I was due. I remember telling my midwives early on that I longed for a birth experience in the woods with a harpsichord and a roaring bonfire but it could never be, previous c-sections have to have an OB present during the delivery. Midwives can be there but they have to transfer care once we reach the hospital. My previous OB with Hattie, wrote in my file that even without an umbilical chord issue, my body might not be able to deliver a baby naturally. Try getting that out of your head. My midwife Christy said, "let your body prove her wrong," but was that the piece of information that was going to trip me up while trying to give birth naturally and send me back to the emergency room? After months of doubt and uncertainty, something happened, a switch was flipped. I had booked a c section for July 6th in the event that if I didn't go into labour on my own before then, we were just going to make it happen, the "nice" c-section. On July 5th I experienced total clarity, I knew what I wanted to do, I wanted to give birth to our baby. I cancelled my c-section for the next day.  You know the moment in Wonder Woman when they're in the trenches and she gets up, climbs the ladder and heads into battle? That's how I felt, unwavering, resolved and empowered. 
Tara McMullen Photography
So there we were, water breaking in the lavender field, the movie moment, hugging friends goodbye and hurriedly shuffling up the hill towards the car, complete strangers clapping for us and wishing us well.  And where was my fear? This negative weight holding me down throughout the entire pregnancy, my fear was nowhere to be found. I felt light and calm and ready. Our midwives instructed us to go home, take a nap, eat a bit. This tiny being was preparing to come but might still take many hours. 
Tara McMullen Photography

Unlike the first pregnancy, I was now on the clock given my previous c section there was a risk with how long I could labour before intervention and timelines don't exactly encourage oxytocin but I didn't have to dig very deep to keep my spirits light hearted, I was honestly in a state of euphoria. Just getting to experience my water break was a huge triumph. 
Back at the farm, we put on a few favourite songs, Hattie and I dancing naked in the living room to U2's With or Without you, Montell Jordan's This is How We Do It. The three of us laughing and dancing in the golden light of the setting sun streaming in through the front windows will be burned in my brain for all time. Hattie does this bum shake dance that never gets old.

Tara McMullen Photography

Tara McMullen Photography

Tara McMullen Photography

I checked in with my midwives, cuz remember that timeline thing. They wanted us to come for 8pm to the clinic and see if there might be any progress. Off we went with a plan to stay at Tyler's parents that night, closer to Belleville General if we needed to move fast. 
Christy and Freya met us there and together we decided to do a small procedure to see if we could get things moving as I had only dialated 1cm. Back at Penny and Bill's we visited a bit and then all went to bed. I slept alone so Tyler and Hattie could get a good sleep, I was going to need him rested. Around 2 am I started to feel some cramping, it was coming on every six or seven minutes but sometimes skipping to ten or 15 minutes. I called Christy and she suggested waiting until things picked up a bit. Around 430 I called again, this time the pain was coming on with a sharpness to it and a little more steady at 5 minutes apart. Christy thought best to come do a check at the house before making our way to the hospital. By the time she arrived, each contraction was bringing me to my knees. All I wanted to do was get low, close my eyes, and release sounds in the most primal way. 
I was dreading a contraction coming on in the van, they were almost too much to bare. With each one, you just move through it and hold on breathing trying to remind yourself the pain is necessary to move your baby, not there to hurt you. 
When we arrived to the hospital I tried to beat the contraction to the front desk but it brought me to my knees in the hall. Within moments I was in a wheel chair and then on a bed, turned around leaning over the head of the bed backwards while kind nurses poked me with IV lines in between contractions. The pain was feeling too much to get up and over, then someone handed me this gas thing that I could administer myself and I sucked on that stick like, well, think Kate Winslet in Titanic when she's on the life raft blowing the whistle. My midwives arrived and all I remember saying in between contractions "can you follow my lead, I know what I need to do." They checked me again and told me I was moments away from being ready to push. I felt it too, the sensation was strong, almost uncontrollable. I remember saying quietly to my unborn baby, "we've got this, it's you and me." So many serendipitous things about this birth, full moon, Tyler's birthday, lavender fields and then my OB, she just happened to be on call the day I go into spontaneous labour. It could have been anyone of the 10 to 12 doctors and I get mine! OB's have to be present for a vbac, (vaginal birth after cesarean) and I was amazed to find such a beautiful working relationship between Dr. Alavi and the midwifery team. There was an unspoken collective team spirit happening and knowing there wasn't an underlying tension between the two departments was such a comfort. The room felt united. 
There we all were, I can't recount much because at a certain point you go so deep and the room disappears. You lock onto a voice here and there giving you a direction, where to push from and how long and when to stop pushing so you don't tear. You go so deep and then you come to the realization you're the only one who can move this baby out of your body. I remember someone placing my hand on the top of her head, I could feel her hair but even then it felt an impossible task. I remember begging for ice chips from Tyler and then he got good, anticipating my next spoonful. Then I remember yelling, 'no more ice!' I remember the mental shift and the moment I knew it was happening and I COULD do it, I would do it. Christy whispering in my ear, "just go to the woods." I don't know how but I also remember the presence of a really kind and funny nurse, later I would know her as Jill and she was snapping photos of the entire thing on Tyler's iPhone! Okay, I'll show you one of those at the end of the story.
Everyone was breathing and working with me in the most profound way. And then I arrived, the top of the mountain, the precipice and I felt her head pass through and then her shoulders quickly after and the sweetest most unbelievable instantaneous relief as they sprang her up onto my chest, we were crying and joyful and vibrating, the room collectively cheering. I could hear Tyler's voice fill with tears, he was overcome with emotion and joy as we kissed. I came back to the room the second she arrived and there I was looking into the eyes of these incredible women who helped me. Christy, Freya, Emily, Dr. Alavi, Jill and my love Tyler. We did it. 
Nurse Jill Photography LOL 

There is nothing in the world I can compare it to. Nothing sweeter, nothing more impossible yet sooo possible. Adeline Ruth (Ruth was my Nana who passed away a couple years ago, my soulmate) Hogan born July 9th, 845am, the very day and exact minute her Father was born! Weighing 6 pounds, 12 ounces. A full head of blonde hair and a surprisingly round shaped head. Seeing as I arrived at the hospital at 6am and delivered by 845am didn't allow for much time in the birth canal. 
The aftercare was incredible at BGH, and although I was told it was safe for me to leave only a few hours after giving birth, I elected to stay the evening. Stacey was my nurse and she was an absolute rock. I'm certain I pushed the call button one too many times but she always made me feel like I could push it again if I needed to. She also stole me an extra pair of those amazing hospital undies. Kathy was my night nurse and she was also incredibly kind. I think by morning some sleep deprivation had kicked in and when Stacey was back on the floor I was calling her Kathy. I was mortified. 
When Hattie came to the hospital the next morning we were overcome with joy to watch her embrace her new sister with such kindness, she was genuinely excited to meet her. I have so many emotions around this area, I'm brought to tears when I think about how madly in love I am with Hattie and how much it hurts that I have to share the love she's used to having all to herself. Luckily, Tyler is her main squeeze and if anything she's getting extra attention right now which is such a comfort. 

Tara McMullen Photography
Tara McMullen Photography
Tara McMullen

As I lay here now in bed at home, cocooning with Adeline, I'm reminded of the early days with Hattie. Moments that feel impossibly hard, tempered by euphoria make it all manageable. 
I am blessed with a quick and ample milk supply and Adeline was latching moments after being born. I breastfed Hattie until she was two and a half and fortunately Adeline is much like her sister, super efficient at the breast. The midwives had hoped to see her gain a few ounces in between visits and she gained 11 ounces! The things that rock your world as a Mom. 
For me, the two experiences are so similar yet worlds different. The recovery time after my c-section was weeks and weeks if not months of emotional trauma too. Tyler had to do everything for me and Hattie in those first weeks because my mobility was so limited. This time I was moving with ease after a few days, taking it easy from a few stitches but the discomfort was manageable. I'm doing all of the things a new mom should be able to, completely unrestricted. 
At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how you get there as long as the baby is healthy. For me, this was about healing and avoiding major surgery, learning that my body IS capable of giving birth, if it had ended in a c-section at least I could say I tried. 
I wish I could say I enjoyed being pregnant but I'm too impatient. It's the one caveat, waiting 9 months, that's going to be the thing that saves us from having ten more. Honestly I would have all the babies if the baking time was shorter. 

Tara McMullen
Tara McMullen

Tara McMullen Photography

I love being a mom and now a mother to two beautiful girls, it is the greatest joy I have ever known. 
Love to you all and can't wait for you to meet her. 

(Tara captured us perfectly, Tyler and I kissing while Hattie downs the last few licks from her bowl of ice cream.) 

Alison xo