The Birth of Isla

11:51 PM


When I was little I wanted to be a writer more than anything. I wanted to create characters. I wanted to control the plot. I wanted to write the story. As time went on, I grew into a woman of determination - pushed in my abilities and told I could do anything. I only did things because I wanted to. The thought of writing the story of my own life thrilled me. I could take what I wanted of all I had learned and sculpt a masterpiece to behold. I could speak out and believe in what I wanted and get it. Ultimately, I suffered in the way many do - thinking I was in control... believing that I was writing my story.

The truth is that while we may steer our boat and adjust our sails, we cannot control what waters we will sail. We do not control what storms we face or what waves we must overcome. Life can change in an instant. What defines us is our strength of character and our ability to adjust as we face the story we are given.

I used to cling desperately to control but in the latter part of my 20's I came to see that no matter how hard I tried to beg for a rewrite, one wasn't coming. I needed to learn to embrace the unexpected, and yes even the unwanted. Our journey to parenthood above all else taught me that my story is going to unfold as it will and I need to learn to be content and peaceful no matter what lay ahead. I never thought after always wanting to be a mom that the road to arrive there would often be so painful to walk. I never thought that I would lose a pregnancy. I never thought I would face the pressure of my dreams crashing around me while somehow having to hold it all together on the outside. You never go into a situation expecting these things because you have hope and assume all will go to plan. But the hope that counts is the hope that sees you through the storms of life when nothing is going the way you anticipated. That's the hope that will never leave you. That's the hope my God gives me. I remember saying while processing the disappointment and fear that was very real during our fertility struggle "even if you don't give me a child, I know you are still good. I know my story is still good. You will make something beautiful of this life." Did I always believe that with my whole heart? Of course not...but again, all I could control was how I viewed my situation and how I responded to it. I chose with a broken heart to believe that one day it would be healed.

As most know if you've been following my story, we conceived via our third IUI cycle in August 2016 after one loss in June and were given a due date of May 13, 2017.

The following is a detailed story of our little girl's birth. Although I don't intend to be graphic, I am pretty non-chalant when talking about birth and natural bodily things in general so just a fair warning if birth upsets you or grosses you out, this probably isn't the post for you.

Our birth starts with a very loose plan. I wanted to ensure that I didn't go into an uncontrollable situation thinking I had control but I also certainly held my ideals: I loved the idea of a home birth, lots of comfortable and relaxing vibes, lights and birth affirmation were strung up in our living room, we had our rental tub for a water birth and it was ready. We also had a plan for any other plot twist. I asked my midwives what happens if this or this happens, etc. I prepared myself and took the time in the last week of pregnancy to walk myself mentally through what would happen if birth took an unexpected turn - and most importantly, how would I feel and react? Knowing myself, I knew this was my best course of action - having a plan but recognizing that plans often don't go to my plan and therefore having a gameplan for how things may go differently. All that being said, the last week of pregnancy I was filled with incredible peace about it all and really felt super safe and secure.

Early Labour

My due date came and went and on the morning of Wednesday the 17th at 3:30am I got up to use the washroom and noticed I had lost some mucous plug. I was so excited as this was the first serious onset of labour sign I had seen. Knowing it doesn't really mean much yet, I got back into bed but by this time was feeling crampy. I tried to sleep but when I realized the cramps were timeable, I got way too excited and opened up my contraction app and started timing. The cramps were 5 minutes apart and lasting a minute but were very light. I was amazed they had come on so quickly but also knew labour was gonna feel way more intense than what I was feeling so knew I was in for a wait. I was still too excited to sleep so when Scott's 5:30am alarm went off, I was wide awake and ready to tell him labour was starting. He was so excited too and we began our day. At some point pretty early I was on the couch and felt a pop during a contraction. The feeling was very similar to when my ovarian cysts burst so I mentioned to Scott I think the pressure made a cyst burst until I felt a gush and realized my water had broke. I texted our doula Toni and told her I had been leaking fluid and wasn't sure if it was mucous plug or if my water was leaking because it was still looking like a mucous plug even though it was more fluid. She asked me to send her a pic to help her distinguish between the two - that was a weird text to send someone lol. I remember triple checking I was sending the photo to the right contact. Toni saw the photo and wrote back "can I call you?" Those words really stand out in my mind now because they indicate the moment our story began to change course.

Toni called and said "so that looks like meconium." I remember the sinking feeling. Toni was wonderful and explained that because I was overdue it was very common and not a huge cause for concern but she did tell me I needed to page my midwife and consult with them. I paged my on call midwife Angela and told her what was going on. She explained to me that all three on call midwife's were at births at the hospital and that because there was meconium and because no one was available to come to me, she expected we needed to come to them to be assessed. This totally interrupted my labouring at home plan. I was less attached to the actual birthing at home as I was to the idea of not driving around all over in labour. I told her I really wanted to spend early labour at home and asked if we could put off being assessed until someone came to me. She agreed but explained she couldn't promise someone would free up and be able to get to me if the current 3 labours were slow progressing. So we chose to stay home and wait it out but agreed to set a time for safe measure to get in touch with the midwife and make a new plan once we knew what was going on with their schedules. Toni decided to come be with us at home and arrived after lunch with a tens machine - which if you don't know is a handy little machine to help cope with pain. It was my best friend for many hours after. It just sends a signal to another part of the body to confuse your brain when it is processing and sending pain signals, thus reducing the pain you feel in contractions. We laboured at home for quite some time, ordered pizza, and basically hung out until we got in touch with Angela around 6:30pm and she explained there was no way the midwives could get to me to be assessed. It was then that we realized our home birth plan was dissipating. Even if they didn't need to assess me, the midwives were too busy and needed me to essentially be in the next room to their other patients and not an hour away at home. So, feeling disappointed, at 7pm we gathered up all our stuff for the hospital, said goodbye to our dogs, and headed off to Owen Sound hospital an hour away. I had one moment of allowing myself to feel what I needed to feel and cried as we drove out of our driveway saying to Scott "I don't want to go." The drive was pretty uneventful since I wasn't yet in active labour so I was just experiencing light contractions. At this point I had been experiencing contractions and losing waters for 15.5 hours but things had stayed very managable for pain so I was feeling pretty good and moreso just uncomfortable. 

Active Labour 

We arrived at the hospital, checked in, and were brought to our room for labouring and delivery. It was an amazing room. I was actually so impressed with it. We had a huge room to ourselves and the shared bathroom wasn't shared as the other adjoining room was empty. We got settled in and assessed - I was 2-3cms and 80% effaced so definitely in labour but also bunking down for a long night ahead. Angela tested to ensure my water had broke and determined that only 1 of my 2 water sacks had broke but that my one had definitely broke and been leaking, which also then confirmed that what I had leaked was in fact meconium. Meconium if you don't know is basically your baby's first bowel movement but it contaminates the amniotic fluid that the baby breathes in and can be toxic to baby, so it's not really something to mess with though it is common for this to happen. Because of the meconium, I was hooked up to continuous fetal monitors to ensure that baby was okay. It was great to hear baby's heartbeat and was a comfort to me while I contracted. I also loved seeing the screen with the graph that charts contractions because I could see my progress and also anticipate the contraction coming down because I could see it doing so on the screen before I actually felt the relief of pain. I was laying on my side when a nurse came running in the room and asked me to switch positions. I was very confused and moved over and she kept looking at the monitor and then said okay good and left the room. Our midwife Angela was also assisting another birth close by so was in and out of our room during this time. After a few more contractions, Angela came in and started fidgeting with the monitors on my stomach and told us she wasn't loving what she was seeing on the monitor. I asked what was wrong and what I could do and she explained the baby's heart rate kept plummeting really low at the end of each contraction and she suggested we move positions. So I sat and swayed on the labour ball for awhile and for some time baby's heart rate patterns were normal. I felt a lot of pressure dropping while on the ball as well as cervix pain and was anticipating Angela doing another check to update us on my progress. Scott and Toni were both taking turns sleeping throughout this time. Finally at about 2am, Angela did another check which was about 6 hours after the first, and I was only 4-5cms dilated which was a little discouraging but at least things were moving. I always had it in my mind that labour would take 24-40 hours for some reason so I really wasn't bothered by the slow progress - progress was progress. Toni had left to sleep in her car and I was back to labouring in bed when things started becoming concerning. At that point, I was starting to become afraid. A few people came in to check the monitors and make sure they were on correctly because they kept dropping the baby's heart rate. However, it would keep coming back and then returning to normal before disappearing again at the next contraction. The fear started affecting me and what had felt like really conquering the contractions and staying on top of them suddenly felt like drowning. It wasn't that the pain was overwhelming because it wasn't (yet) it was that instead of welcoming contractions, I began resisting them because it meant my baby was in danger and distress every time I was contracting. It was so hard to stay mentally in the game and to breathe well but I pressed on, very afraid. My midwife Angela at this point was frantically paging the on call OB who was not on site, requesting he come in and wanting to consult with him as this was quickly becoming a high risk birth which is outside of the midwifery scope. He finally responded at 5am that he was coming and to stop paging him which was around the same time the midwives switched shifts and our next midwife Whitney came on call, who we had never met before. She was really sweet and relaxed and I immediately liked her which was a huge relief. My whole pregnancy I was seen by a team of three midwives and Whitney wasn't one of them, so I was a little apprehensive about having a midwife I had absolutely no relationship with prior, but she was so sweet and her presence was a really calming and gentle one.

Transition 

At around 8am we had another check and I was 6-7cms and about to enter what is known as "transition" (the journey from 7-10cms when you are finally ready to push). At this point the OB's nurse came in to check me and broke my second bag of waters. Then finally the OB came in, introduced himself, and explained to me that my care was being transferred to him now and he would be delivering our baby. He was a tall African man with an awesome accent and a really positive attitude and I immediately liked him too. He walked us through the next steps. They were going to induce me because the baby was showing signs of distress and I just wasn't progressing fast enough. My first water had now broken around 29 hours earlier and things were starting to really need to move along faster for baby's safety. I was really bummed as I wanted so much to avoid being induced but at the same time I nodded and agreed that this was the right course of action...I couldn't keep going through each contraction not knowing whether baby's heart rate would come back on the monitor or not. It was horrifying - I felt my labour kept stalling and contractions kept spacing apart simply because I kept resisting progress when I felt it was hurting my baby. In the end it wasn't progressing because of that...but I felt at the time my resistance was contributing to the problem and maybe there was some truth to that. I was induced with Pitocin on a low dose and they explained it would increase periodically and hopefully I would progress fast and they wouldn't need to use much. The Pitocin helped move things fast. I handled the pain for about 2 hours and then the name "transition" finally lived up to itself and I was no longer coping well with the pain. Around 10am I told Scott I needed help and that I had hit my wall - I felt like I was being tortured. Knowing all the options available to me and really wanting to avoid an epidural, I opted to try the laughing gas. The laughing gas was always something I felt open to because it's the only pain relief that stays above the shoulders and is not transferable to baby. It is also a pain relief option that would have been available to me even in my home birth, so I felt comfortable with that choice. I truly do terrible on most drugs -  typically with me if a side effect can develop it does so I avoid interventions as much as I can. I wasn't sure how the gas would go but it was awesome - lol! I enjoyed it, it was just what I needed to keep hanging on, and rode so I rode out the progression from 7-10cms dilated on the gas.

The Delivery

Once I hit 10cms around noon, it was time to push and I was told I could not use the gas as they wanted me fully in the game. The OB explained to us that because of the meconium risks, we were going to have quite a few people present in the room when she was born including a respiratory specialist and a pediatrician. There ended up being many more than that but I didn't notice anyone as I spent the pushing stage with my eyes completely closed. Pushing was incredibly intense - it all came down to my ability to breathe deeply and strongly and every time I was able to take a good breath, I was able to surrender to the contraction and push. It was a really strange and powerful experience. However, it quickly became frustrating. I pushed and pushed and baby would progress and then go back. By this point her heart was dropping often off the monitor and it became quickly necessary for the OB to do an episiotomy and vacuum suction to try and get her out quicker. Both of these were interventions I certainly didn't want for my birth but also knew if they became necessary, they would be the best options over a c-section so it would be a no brainer choice. The OB was wonderful at walking me through what would happen and explained that he wasn't going to pull the baby out, just stop her from being able to retract too far back again once she came down. When I finally pushed and the baby's head appeared, everyone was yelling to me to push again and the OB stopped them and said no. He firmly suctioned her and began to pull because he saw something no one else was seeing - her cord was wrapped tightly around her neck multiple times and was white. He pulled and I pushed and out she came - Isla Rain Parent born at 12:44pm on Thursday May 18th weighing 7lbs 8oz and 21 inches long. He held her upside down and her eyes were closed. She opened one eye, then the other, looked around, and finally the much anticipated moment: began to cry. I have never felt such relief in my life. 

The Afterbirth

They took her over to a station they had set up to check her and Scott was able to go over there with them and cut the cord shorter (as it had already been cut by the OB) while I delivered the placenta. Another "birth want" out the window for delayed cord clamping but with the cord being white, it wasn't giving her anything anyways and honestly in those moments all that mattered was she was safe - birth ideals were so far out of my mind. After all that, I was able to do skin to skin with her for quite some time while my stitches were done. I kissed her and we began to breastfeed right away which was so special to me. Finally the nurse explained to us that because of the meconium, Isla would have to go to the nursery for 24-48 hours for monitoring. I was pretty crushed. I was assured though that we had 24/7 access in the nursery and could spend time with her as much as we wanted to. Another thing to just roll with! She was taken to the nursery and Scott went with her. In the nursery, there were many babies crying and one of them was already being treated for meconium and was foaming at the mouth as her lungs were cleared with the help of the machines. Our midwife Barb was with Scott and explaining to him the process of tests she would need to go through. Scott listened intently and then asked her "what are the chances they run a few tests and everything is just fine and they don't need to do all this other stuff to treat her?" Barb responded diplomatically and said "welllllllll, it's not likely. They will run some tests and then some more tests to be sure...and then they will likely put her on the machine to empty her lungs since she had meconium in her fluid." So he said okay and headed to our new room where we would remain the rest of our hospital stay. I was just getting settled out of the wheelchair and into my bed and was feeling really lightheaded. Scott came in and told me Isla was doing great in the nursery and was so peaceful and sleeping in her little bed while babies all around her were crying. I loved picturing her like that all peaceful after what we had just gone through. About 10 minutes later a nurse peaked her head in and told us we had a baby about to be delivered to our room and soon thereafter they wheeled in Isla's bed and explained she was completely clear and did not have any complications from the meconium. We of course were overjoyed and relieved. She showed some jaundice but not enough to treat so we were instructed to just feed lots and do skin to skin and hopefully she would be fine without treatment. Her vitals were great and she was perfect. She was finally here. I cried a lot... this baby we had prayed and ached for for years was finally in our arms and we were incredibly blessed because she was healthy.

I will write more about the rest of our hospital stay and the turns that took our recovery on a bit of a ride but I will leave the story here for now and do a second post about our hospital stay!

Here is a link just below to our birth slideshow {click where it says "Our Birth Video"} which was photographed/filmed by our amazing doula Toni Botas of Mountain Momma Collective. I didn't know how I would feel about birth photos but was so incredibly thankful for this tasteful and meaningful collection of images. I actually can't even put into words what these images mean to me. My birth had a plan but it wasn't my own. God knew all along what journey we would be on and what story was being written. We were so blessed by incredible care throughout the twists and turns of labour and recovery. We were strengthened in our trust and faith as well as our teamwork as a couple. We allowed ourselves to feel disappointed that our ideals weren't quite met but we also more than anything else just feel immense gratitude that everything turned out okay and that both myself and Isla are doing great, which in the end is really what matters. We love this little girl so much - she has completely rocked our world in the best way and every step we have taken to finally be here with her, whether with leaps of joy or with trembling and tears, was worth it.

This is our birth story. And though it wasn't the one we would have wrote for ourselves, it sure is beautiful.

Comment Below

5 comments

  1. That is so beautiful - the video and the story - and Isla is just beautiful! Parenthood appears to suit both you and Scott! (I have yet to meet Scott, but he certainly looks like a loving husband and father!) I have to say... in the video, at about 3:04 on my footage marker, Isla is laying there gazing off into space, and I immediately thought "She's gonna be a Thinker!" I love how you've coped with the changes to your plans... as you said there was a plan that Isla's birth would happen as it did, it just wasn't your plan, and that is O.K. Someone with more power took over in order to keep her safe. Take care! Hugs and kisses to the wee one, and congratulations to a wonderful set of new parents!

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  2. Thank you for sharing Sam and Scott. I am so happy Isla Rain is here and well. The slide show is touching. Beautiful. I wish you every happiness possible. Bless you all. Pam

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  3. Sam - you are such a wonderful writer. ..I just love the way you told your story. Congratulations!! I truly believe that both you and Scott are going to be amazing parents and Isla is a very lucky girl. Hugs ��

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  4. I too had meconium as Nathan had his first bowel movement & he also had the cord wrapped around his neck twice along with his entire body ... I remember watching the commotion in the room in slow motion through the reflection of the light above me ...they took Nathan and were working on him, & were trying to find a bleed I had...it was loud, but I could only concentrate on Nathan across the room, until they found my issue & brought him to me. I remember listening for his gasp of breath & once I heard that I knew he was ok, so I was then also ok. AMAZING & eye opening birth is, & like you said, everything else kind of goes out the window once you are safe and sound in each others arms. I am glad you all made it out safely & have had a positive outcome as now this is what truly matters xo Enjoy your sweet baby girl

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  5. That is beautiful and she is gorgeous! Congratulations! My first had her cord wrapped tightly around her neck and her heart rate dropped with every contraction - her birth story ended in a c-section though - and although I am truly grateful for God's protection, I am glad you did not have to have a c-section for your sake. Enjoy these beautiful days with your new girl!

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