Fast forward 3 months, and I think I've finally found a minute to tell you all about the birth. I also wanted to wait to be able to share some beautiful photos taken by my uber talented friend Melanie Louette.
The weeks leading up to the big day were filled with pre-term labor or braxton hicks contractions. Every night played out much the same- contractions started around 5pm, and continued on with regularity even after the kids were in bed and my feet were up. I'd try a bath to see if they subsided, and then eventually turn in for the night saying that if it was the real deal they'd wake me up. My original due date was March 23rd, but with every midwife appointment, my belly measurement got larger and larger until everyone eventually agreed we should move the date up to March 13th based on previous ultrasound measurements. I believe I was already measuring 42 weeks at 39 weeks gestation.
So I was BIG and round and uncomfortable, but in no hurry to evict my last tenant. Of all my babies, he was the calmest by far. Ethan was a kicker, Parker would roll around and around, Rowan did a bit of everything, but this one mainly just wiggled and nudged.
On Sunday March 17th, we started the day with a breakfast of green crepes, and green St Paddy's day shirts for all the boys. As I browsed facebook posts and saw all the St Patrick's day events, I remember thinking that it would be a great day to have a baby. Sometime in the afternoon after Rowan went down for nap, I took off to Chapter's bookstore for a coffee and a bit of Easter shopping. I remember sitting next to and chatting with another pregnant mom at Starbucks who was expecting her first baby. The question came up of when I was due, and when I calmly answered "4 days ago", the look I got was priceless.
Despite a few contractions on the way home, I didn't really feel like a ticking timebomb. Contractions popped up periodically throughout the day, and became regular around dinner time. I laid down while Mark put the kids to bed. Later on, I felt the urge to get some more laundry into the wash, and some last minute baby things ready. As usual, I timed contractions on my Iphone, while watching TV with Mark. Around 9:30, I decided to take care of the last load in the washer, and then head to bed, since there had been no real change in contractions. Too uncomfortable to bend down to change the laundry over, I got down on all fours. BAM! a huge contraction! I yelled upstairs to Mark to start the contraction timer, but I didn't need a timer to tell me this was the real deal. By the time I emerged with am arm full of laundry, and installed the newly washed cover on the baby swing, I was into a second powerful contraction and telling Mark to call in the troops ( that would be brother Evan and his wife Erin, who were about a 5 hour drive away). A quick glance at the clock confirmed 4 big contractions in 20 minutes and as many trips to the bathroom; signaling that things were moving really, really quickly. I paged the midwife on call, and sent my friend Melanie a quick text at 10:06 pm, letting her know it was time. She replied "now? ACK!" and "feeling a little nervous!" I was contracting and laughing at her comments at this point nervously waiting for the midwife to call back, and trying to remember the last minute things for my bag. Photographing her first birth must have been nerve wracking, but she did a fantastic job given the low lighting and immense pressure.
Sometime shortly after I received a call from the midwife asking me when we wanted to meet her at the birthing center. Since it was late, there was no one there yet. My short answer? " um...now?!" Thank goodness my assigned midwife was off that week, because of where she lived, I don't think she would have made it in time.
Mark in the meantime made arrangements for babysitting, putting calls in to our friends who live across the street, and to his coworker. Claude was walking across the street to stay with the kids until Norma arrived a couple of hours later. Norma agreed to spend the night on the couch until Mark's brother and his wife arrived from Ajax.
Last minute things packed, and a travel mug filled with lemongrass tea, I headed out to the car which Mark had already unlocked. Then he said he was just going to go make sure the boys were tucked in...So at 10:26, sitting alone in a cold ( I mean snowy and cold) car in the dark I sent a text message to my family letting them all know we were headed to the Birthing Center. Then I waited...and waited...and waited shivering with only my lemongrass tea to keep me warm and calm.
Mark took much longer than he should have, but I think he was trying to run though a mental list of things too, and the drive to the center was only 5 minutes away afterall...over TWO sets of railroad tracks! As we made the railroad crossing, and the next contraction hit I blurted something like "Oh No! Not F'ing now!!". Mark turned his eyes from the road to stare at me with a look of terror. I then realized that he thought I was about to give birth. As soon as I could catch my breath from the contraction, I let him know that it was the tracks combined with the timing of the contraction that had me uncharacteristically swearing like a trucker. I hadn't lost my sense of humor yet, because I found it quite amusing. I don't think I'll ever forget that look.
We made it in one piece, and I took my time getting from the car to the building. I was pleasantly surprised to find Mel sitting on the couch in the dark kitchen when we arrived. I don't remember, but I guess I tore off my winter boots right there, and left them in the middle of the floor, for Mark to discover the next morning. The midwives were there too, making preparations for us. They told me to pick a room, since we were the only ones there, I had my choice . I walked to the end of the hall, and into a room with crisp white linens, and turned right back around saying something like "too white!" I have to laugh now, because I really was in no position to be picky, and as it turns out didn't have a lot of time to be shopping for the right room. I walked into a dimly lit room with bright orange sheer curtains topped with glowing fairy lights, and proceeded to climb up onto the bed sideways and laid there trying to catch my breath. Afterworking through a few contractions, I had Mark help me into the little adjoining bathroom, where I stayed for what seemed like forever. I finally told him I had to get up and out for fear the baby was going to be born right there. As I made my way to the side of the bed, I warned my midwives that I was feeling a ton of pressure. I remember everyone instantly came alive and scrambled to my side. Turns out they both knew my water was about to break, and tried to get something under me before it did. I know if I had stayed at the bedside, steadying myself with my hands on the mattress, little man would have been born right there and then. I wasn't ready. We had just arrived, and I wasn't physically or mentally ready. I climbed back up onto the bed which took so much energy and willpower.
A few more contractions came and went, and I worked through each one wondering when the baby would be coming, how far dilated I was, if I could even physically give birth on my side. It was then that I realized I was in control this time- complete control. No one was going to check to see how far along I was, no one was going to tell me when to push, or how I should be positioned for birth. I had to trust myself. That realization, coupled with the intensity and frequency of the contractions was all at once exhilarating and terrifying. Taking matters into my own hands, I asked Mark to position himself behind me for support. I was ready for this baby, and the baby was ready too. The only instruction I remember getting from the midwife was to let them know when the baby's head was starting to crown. I'm guessing this was so that they could apply counter pressure, but there was no time, and he was not slowing down for anyone.
I remember staring down at this pudgy warm little being that had just made a huge entrance, and hearing them say " grab your baby" a couple of times. I just stared for a second, not being able to move my hands and arms for what seemed like forever. I finally picked him up, and brought him as close as I could to my chest, forgetting more than once about the umbilical cord that still attached us. He was perfect in every way. My next question was "what time is it!? Did he make it!?" I didn't realize until then that I still wanted that St. Patrick's Day baby. Time of birth: 11:39pm.
The atmosphere after was very relaxed. I nursed the baby, Mark finally cut the cord, and the bowl that remained beside us under the covers containing the placenta was taken away to be examined. I took a bath, while the bed linens were changed, and baby was checked over by midwives and daddy. Then we cuddled in bed together some more, and were brought what felt like a feast of fresh fruit, nuts and cheese. At some point, Angele, one of the midwives asked if I wanted to see the placenta. She brought it back into the room in a plastic bag, and laid it out on a clean absorbent sheet. She showed us the two separate membranes, the side that was against my uterus, the side that was against the baby, where the umbilical cord exited the placenta like a tree with roots. I was intrigued and amazed, sobered only by her next question "Do you want to keep it?" "Um...no." She explained that some people take it home and plant it with a new tree. Thinking of how cold and snowy it was outside, I imagined bringing it home and putting it in the deep freeze until spring... "UM...really...NO."
Once baby was weighed and measured ( 9lbs 6 oz, 21.75 inches), Mark and I we were left alone for the evening with our newest little man; Asher Callan Kislingbury. We didn't get much sleep that night, but I remember thinking how peaceful and quiet it was, and how beautifully blessed I felt nestled in beside my husband with our hours old baby sleeping like an angel in my arms.