At 7am on July 25, 2017, Sam and I received our daughter and welcomed her into this world. She came into our lives earlier than expected (in many ways) but has already filled it with a kind of joy that we’ve never felt before.
As I write this, she’s just 4 weeks old, but it feels like she’s already grown so much. I want to document how she came into this world before it becomes a distant memory.
An Early Surprise
On July 24, Sam and I went into Mount Sinai for a routine doctor’s visit and found out I was 4cm dilated and in labour. I was going to give birth in the next 24 hours. =|
My OB sent us off on our merry way with a hearty congratulations, and we took the subway home in disbelief. I was a week early, and we had both expected that I would be late, having heard that most first births tend to be late. I had also been feeling in tip top shape for the past few weeks — physically active until the very end — and nothing led me to think that I would go into labour soon.
Still feeling no different in the hours that followed, I busied myself taking care of odds and ends, visiting the library to check out the baby books I never got around to reading, doing some laundry, and wrapping up some work emails. I took the longest shower of my life, having been told that it would be months before I got to take a shower like that again (turned out to be largely untrue, I still take perfectly normal showers every day). I stuffed as much food as physically possible, having been told that I may not eat again for a long time (this one turned out to be true).
By mid-afternoon, my contractions had come in and I started timing them, waiting to hit the “5-1-1” mark (5 minutes in between contractions, each lasting 1 minute long, consistently for 1 hour). I was hell-bent on not going to the hospital until I hit that target, because I had heard about how many women go too early and got turned away. I meticulously timed my contractions for hours, but they hovered just outside range for the rest of the afternoon (booooo!).
That evening, Shiv drop by to help us kill time. As Sam took a preparatory nap, we watched F.R.I.E.N.D.S (season 8 when Rachel was pregnant) until the munchies hit. We headed out to Mickie D’s to grab hash browns, and as soon as we got home – before I could get a second bite into my hash brown – my water broke!
The Labourious Marathon
It wasn’t until my water broke that my labour felt real. I immediately rushed into the washroom to try to catch as much of it as I could. I hollered, and Sam awoke from his nap, leapt into action and got the car ready with our hospital bag and the remains of my hash browns. On the car ride over to the hospital, my contractions started getting pretty intense and as we closed in on the hospital, it finally sunk in for us… we’re about to have a baby!!!
Fun fact: did you know that when your water breaks, the spillage isn’t just a one-time event? During the entire car ride to Mount Sinai, my water was spilling onto the seat. As I hobbled from the parking lot to the front lobby, I left a trail of my water across the street. As I made my way to the labour triage room, my water continued to give no fucks.
By the time they strapped me into the hospital bed to monitor me, my contractions were so painful that I didn’t even notice my water gushing. It was then that I found out I was still 4cm dilated.
Wow. What a ball buster. I guess my body had just been dicking around for the past 8 hours. My hopes for a quick labour and delivery dissolved.
As I was wheeled from triage into my delivery room, I happened to have passed a room where a woman was actively pushing without pain medication (at least that’s what my nurse told me). The sounds that that woman made chilled me to my bones. As I got settled into my delivery room, I heard a woman from the other adjacent delivery room also giving birth without epidural. Bone-chilling. I was sandwiched between the two, twiddling my thumbs and anxiously awaiting my epidural.
Before long, my anesthesiologist came in and started preparing me for the procedure. She jokingly reassured me that whatever was happening in the adjacent rooms wasn’t going to be my experience. True to her word, within the next half hour, I had my epidural administered (which is harder than I expected, due to how difficult it was to stay perfectly still while I was having contractions) and sweet, sweet relief soon poured over me.
Let me tell you… getting an epidural is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. I went from clutching my bed sheets in pain every two minutes, to laying back in bed, peacefully waiting and dilating… anticipating the big moment.
7 HOURS PASSED.
I was starting to feel bad for Sam, who didn’t even have a bed to lay on. He just sat in that chair from midnight to 7am, waiting and waiting and waiting, while I slowly inched my way (er, centimeter-ed?) from 5cm to 10cm — bored to bits. I couldn’t get up because I was hooked up to all the machines that were monitoring me and dripping IV into my body. I couldn’t eat because a lot of women throw up during delivery, so it’d be a risk. I also couldn’t pee, since I couldn’t feel anything from the waist down, so they had to hook up a catheter to my bladder (fun times). But hey, I wasn’t complaining… these are legit first world problems compared to the pain some women go through for childbirth.
At 7am on July 24, I started feeling pressure in my nether-region. I alerted the nurse, and she confirmed that I was ready for the “push stage”.
1, 2, 3… Push!
This was it… the moment I had been waiting for! As I braced myself, nurses flooded into the room to prepare the equipment, and my doctor made his appearance shortly. They propped my legs up 90 degrees onto two holsters (just like in the movies), and the doctor told me that he would instructed me on when to take a big breath and when to push.
As I pushed, he helped me along by using a tiny plunger suctioned onto the top of the baby’s head, and with just three hearty pushes and a tiny snip down there, Jasper popped into this world!
Birth & Beyond
Within five minutes, the whole thing was over. I couldn’t believe that was it! With my last push, I felt relief from an immense pressure and something pass through my body, and I looked downward to catch sight of something grey-ish purple plop out of me. As Sam went to cut the umbilical cord, I wriggled around trying to catch a better glimpse of her, but the nurses quickly transferred her to the cleaning station in my delivery room to make preparations. Within seconds, they had her cleaned up, wrapped in a blanket, and handed over to me and Sam.
Her head was snuggled so tightly under my chin on my chest that I couldn’t see her face. I couldn’t bear to move her while she was sleeping so peacefully, so I asked Sam if she was beautiful or gross. He told me that she was pretty cute.
In the hours that followed, the nurses helped me navigate skin-to-skin time with Jasper and breastfeeding for the first time. I struggled with breastfeeding, but Jasper was a natural. With her eyes closed, she blindly crawled up my chest and instinctively found the nipple with her mouth. I gotta say, witnessing her baby instincts within mere minutes of her existence in the outside world was incredible.
Outside of feeds, Jasper mostly slept peacefully and adorably. In the post-partum room, Sam and I alternated resting and watching her sleep. The nurses kept telling us that we didn’t need to keep a watchful eye on her, but of course, we were too excited and enamoured to do otherwise. Eventually, exhaustion set in, and we reluctantly caught some shut-eye.
We were regularly visited by nurses, who drop by to teach us the basics of baby care, like swaddling and bathing a baby. We attended the Mount Sinai breastfeeding clinic, during which the lactation consultant said Jasper had an A+ latch!
We were also super excited to have our first visitors! My parents were the first to visit us, and it was something special to see how much joy their first grandchild brought them. Next, friends dropped by with care packages, and we eagerly shared with them how unreal the experience was!
With all the check-ups showing that mom and baby were in great health, we were discharged from the hospital the following day. Big thanks to the amazing staff at Mount Sinai, from the nurses who kept me company through the many hours of labour, to the ones who visited in the post-partum ward to teach us everything we needed to know in the first days at home with Jasper, to the doctor who gave me a quick and painless delivery… collectively, they all made the experience so much better than I had expected.
Sam and I left the hospital feeling overwhelmed and very emotional, and once again, in disbelief that we were parents and had brought life into this world. We felt like we had just gone through a marathon, but knew that there was another one waiting for us ahead. As exhausted as we were, we were equally excited to embark on that journey together, and went home with our new baby girl.