On April 9, 2011, Keelan and Joe Di Trolio welcomed their baby girl Avelina into the world. Almost eight months later, Momma’s little munchkin and Daddy’s sweet princess has done a lot of growing up – now eating solids, clapping her hands, sitting up by herself, and getting ready to crawl. Everyday, Keelan asks herself where the time has gone. On occasion, you may catch yourself thinking how you can’t wait until your baby sleeps through the night, or can hold up her own head, or can talk to you but Keelan’s advice: enjoy every moment – the good, the bad, even the ugly – and never wish the time away because it will be gone before you know it.
The beginning of my birth story begins the night before I delivered my little munchkin. At this point I was already two days past my due date and was starting to think that maybe, just maybe my doctor was going to induce me at my next appointment on Monday as we had discussed.
I remember that night like it was yesterday. We had my in-laws over for a visit, along with some family friends. I remember feeling very uncomfortable and just not myself. I also remember very vividly how offended I was after my husband mentioned to me that I wasn’t a good hostess!! Now, I just laugh about that because a few hours later, I would be in labour, and well, that explains EVERYTHING!!! I remember that night feeling super uncomfortable. This was normal for me, but the fact that I had this anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach explained everything!
My contractions started in the early hours on Saturday morning (2:15 am). At this point, I had no idea if it was the real thing, but knew that they were nothing like the Braxton Hicks contractions that I had been having a couple of weeks earlier. My husband was sound asleep, completely unaware of what was going on. In my true fashion, I didn’t want to wake him as he had just gotten to sleep two hours earlier. A few days earlier, I had downloaded a contraction timer on my iPhone that kept track of the frequency and the intervals of each contraction, so I quickly pulled it out and started to time them. I THOUGHT I was good to go, but when you’re trying to do this all on your own, it makes for a difficult time. I was trying to focus on breathing, trying to time my contractions and trying very hard not to wake Joe!
After this went on for a good half an hour and things started to get more uncomfortable, I thought the best thing to do was get in the bath, as I’ve heard this is good for labour. There is something so soothing about being in the water. Even though I was still having contractions, it was more manageable in the tub. After being in the water for 10 minutes, my water broke. At this point, I was still on my own trying to remember everything the pre-admin nurse had said about WHEN YOUR WATER BREAKS. I decided very quickly to get out of the water as I had this sudden urge to go to the washroom. I was thinking that maybe it was still my water that was breaking, but instead it was the beginning of my mucous plug.
I remember reading all the forms and paperwork the hospital gives you and more specifically I remember a pink sheet of paper that reads: WHEN TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL. In my case, it was ASAP! After this whole ordeal, I still managed to jump into the shower while Joe was still sleeping. Once out, I got my husband up and explained what had just occurred. He frantically started to get ready – while he was in the shower, I managed to straighten my hair, put makeup on, clean a few things around the house AND call both sets of anxious parents! At around 4:30 am (almost two hours after my first contraction), we were en route to the hospital!
I remember driving to the hospital like it was yesterday. My husband was driving like a maniac and kept saying that he hoped we ran into a cop, because then it would give him a reason for speeding.
At this point, I was still having contractions, but they weren’t too bad. After what seemed like an eternity, we finally arrived at St. Joe’s. We pulled into the emergency parking (which to Joe and I was “OUR EMERGENCY”), got out of the car and proceeded into the hospital. I remember going up in the elevator and looking over at Joe, who at this point was exhausted and anxious and saying to him that this was the last time it was going to be the two of us! It was at that moment when I realized that this was the beginning of our reality show called “Joe and Keelan, PLUS ONE!”
We proceeded to Triage, where it was super quiet. It was almost eerie how quiet it was on the baby floor. In the past when I went in for appointments, it was crazy…you could hear babies screaming, doors slamming, people walking/running down the halls. That morning, NOTHING!! The registration nurse at the desk, decided that before she officially registered me that it would be a good idea to get me into a room and check me.
Once in the room, the nurse recorded all of my information about what had occurred in the last few hours, checked me and then hooked me up to a baby monitor to check the baby’s heart beat. At this time, I was starting to get more uncomfortable and soon realized that YES, my water did indeed break as my contractions were speeding up a bit. At this point, I was 1-2 centimeters dilated.
To speed things along, the nurse then suggested that I walk around for a bit. At this point, we had been parked in the Emergency parking for over an hour, so my husband decided to go move our car, while I walked the quiet, empty halls of St. Joe’s. I had been walking for a while, when I started to get uncomfortable and a little distressed. Anyone who happened to be in the hallway could see that I was in pain, as I was bending down holding onto the rails on the walls. After a contraction, I would get up and continue walking only to have another one and down I went! Being scrunched down took some of the pressure off my back, which at this point was such a relief!
I continued to walk alone until my husband came back up. Once with me, I decided that I was in too much pain to continue walking and Joe and I agreed to go find the nurse. Once in my room again, the nurse checked to see if I had made progress. She checked me and I was relieved to know that I was 2-3 centimeters.
By this point we had already been at the hospital for well over an hour, enough time to get me registered and down to a birthing room. Once in the birthing room, my mother showed up. Joe and I had agreed that while I was in labour I had no problem with family coming into the room. It was when I was going to start pushing that we were going to politely ask everyone to leave.
My mom was the photographer that day. As much as I didn’t want my pictures taken (I wasn’t looking so pretty before the epidural), I am so glad that she took them. I look at them now, and it makes it easier to remember the events that transpired.
Right off the bat, I met my attending nurse, had my blood work done and had multiple discussions with residents about my health, my pregnancy, my birth plan and my ideas/concerns for pain management. I quickly suggested that I would like the epidural. At this point, my legs were seizing up – not only was I trying to deal with the contractions themselves, which had picked up in intensity and frequency, but now I was yet again scrunched down trying to relieve some of the pressure and pain shooting up my legs.
After waiting and waiting for my epidural, and trying to move around in different positions to take the pressure off my legs, my attending nurse called yet again to find out the status of the anesthesiologist. I could tell that she was a little concerned by the tone of her voice. Come to find out, they were tied up with an emergency c-section.
My nurse, Melissa knew I was extremely uncomfortable. Nothing I did, no position I tried was helping, so she offered me the laughing gas, aka “nitrous oxide”. Originally I refused, but having that last contraction was what threw me over the edge. I quickly agreed to it, and then she proceeded to show me how to use it. Did it work??? I’m a firm believer that it just took my mind off of things. You are concentrating so much on trying to breath with the mask while dealing with the contraction that it kind of masks the pain, but in all reality I was still conscious of it. After over an hour, I had my epidural! I was never happier!! Joe was allowed to be in the room when they administered the needle, which I was so glad about. I’ve seen on TV how they would ask everyone in the room to leave, but I was pleasantly surprised when they suggested to Joe that he stay for support.
I am still glad to this day that I got the epidural. I admire women who choose to withstand the pain of childbirth…I am NOT one of them! I try and think about how much pain I was in at 3-4 centimeters and I know…KNOW that there is NO WAY I’d make it through the entire process without it. I felt like a different person. I wouldn’t say that I was miserable without it, I would just say that took the edge off. I could still feel some pressure, but NO PAIN!!
Overall, my labour (after the epidural) was fairly quick. No real, huge hiccups! After a few hours of not progressing, the nurse and resident decided to put me on pitocin/oxytocin. Apparently, it’s supposed to kick start the labour process when at a standstill. My nurse felt that this was the only way to get things progressing quickly again. When I was at 5 centimeters, my back started to act up. Not sure why this happened, but my nurse suggested I sit up, so she moved my bed to a complete upright position. Believe it or not, it was felt great sitting up. I stayed in this position the rest of my labour, only to lie down to be checked.
At about 2:30 in the afternoon, I was completely dilated. My mom and Joe at the time were out getting coffee and lunch, so I was a bit worried that I was going to have to start pushing before they returned. To my luck however, they strolled in very casually not expecting the progress I had made to be so quick. My nurse started to get everything ready and had my mom leave the room as I was about to begin the pushing process.
By 3:00pm, my nurse informed me that I could start pushing. I was pleasantly surprised by the calmness in the room at that time. On TV, you see mass chaos. I had imagined a million people in the room, residents, doctors and nurses. My nurse informed me that during the pushing process, it’s usually just the attending nurse, the woman giving birth, and the significant other, whomever that may be!!
The nurse had Joe hold one of my legs and had me hold the other when I was pushing. It was literally just what you see in the movies, breath in and bear down for 10 seconds, repeated 4 times! The nurse asked if I wanted the mirror to see what was going on and I opted out of it at first. Eventually when she said that she could see hair on the baby’s head, she asked again and I said YES!! It was amazing to see…sounds crazy I know, but incredible. I think that’s what gave me the incentive to push her out…knowing I was sooo close!! When I was almost ready to deliver, the doctor on call came with a resident to deliver her. As crazy as this sounds, I didn’t feel any pain. I felt lots of pressure (no pain though). My little princess was born at 3:43 pm (43 minutes of pushing).
My husband and I opted out of finding out the sex of the baby. It was just one of those personal decisions. I was convinced I was having a boy, my husband; a girl! So when I delivered the baby, I was dying to know the sex. When our baby was born, the doctor had his hands in between her legs, so we couldn’t see what we had. Joe asked the doctor if everything was okay, the doctor on-call, looked up and said “Congratulations, you are the parents of a healthy baby girl.” A girl?? What?? All this time, I was convinced it was a boy and then just like that I am the mother of a baby girl? I had already been crying as soon as they pulled her out, but as soon as they said a “healthy baby girl”, the waterworks started up in high gear!
The doctor put our daughter on my chest and my husband and I just stared at her through our watery eyes. What a miracle! All the trials and tribulations of pregnancy were worth every second of that moment. My daughter, who we named Avelina was healthy at 6 pounds and 8 ounces and 19.5 inches long.
When I look back, I feel extremely fortunate to be one of those people to say that I had a great labour experience. I would do it over again in a heartbeat!