On September 10, 2011, Jolene and Peter became parents for the second time and their son Vasili became a big brother to a beautiful, healthy girl. In addition to focusing on and enjoying her pregnancy, Jolene and Peter were also preparing their firstborn for the arrival of another baby. They read books about becoming a big brother and told him that for the first little while, she would mainly be eating, sleeping, crying and pooping – not playing. After almost three months of being a family of four, Vasili has adjusted well to having a little sister who he loves to pieces. Jolene’s advice to mothers expecting a second child: be realistic with your firstborn, leave all expectations at the door because every child will react differently to a new member of the family, and above all else, reassure him that there will always be plenty of love to go around.
On a lazy Saturday afternoon, September 10, 2011, I gave birth to my second little miracle with the help of midwives at North York General Hospital.
Despite what seemed like constant nausea and occasional vomiting in the first 3 months or so, I enjoyed my pregnancy immensely. After a premature labour and delivery with my firstborn at 32 weeks, I relished every moment of my pregnancy this time around. I had my complaints, don’t get me wrong but I was always happy to “still be pregnant”. I loved my belly and made sure that throughout this pregnancy I took as many photos of myself as possible. I was even brave enough this time around to do professional photos, some with my two-and-a-half year old son, and some rather provocative ones alone (for my eyes only of course). I did everything I felt I missed out on with my first pregnancy. My advice to any expectant mother is to enjoy your pregnancy as much as possible. It is the most beautiful and amazing thing that your body can do.
I was 39 weeks and one day into my pregnancy, a whole six weeks longer than I had carried my firstborn. I had spent the morning lounging and meandering around the house. My husband Peter had taken our son out to give me some needed rest. Upon their return I began preparing lunch and felt a trickle of water down below. I quickly dismissed it and returned to the task at hand. Once I lifted my son up into his chair for lunch the trickle became a gush.
I readied his food and as he sat happily eating, I headed for the bathroom to see what was going on. Amniotic fluid…but I had to get my son fed and down for his nap before I could consider going into labour! I decided not to panic since I had not yet had any contractions and I returned to eat lunch. After all I was going to need the energy for later.
Once lunch was finished I tucked my son into to bed for his nap. I must have kissed him a thousand times and told him I loved him about a million. I explained to him that mommy was going to have a baby soon and that I might not be home tonight to tuck him in at bedtime. I sang him his favorite song and sobbed through the whole thing. I felt like this would be our last time together just the two of us. It made me sad and guilty for having to leave him. I kissed him one last time and left his room.
Now I could be in labour. I called my secondary midwife Wendy since my primary was off on vacation. We discussed what to do next and when I should call her back. I still wasn’t having contractions so we agreed that I should get some rest and wait until I had contractions that were 5 minutes apart. We thought it might take awhile. She also told me that my primary midwife Carla agreed to be on call for me even though she was still on vacation! I was thrilled.
I called Dina, my doula, next to tell her to be on high alert, my water had broken so the baby should be arriving soon. I lay down on the couch and tried to take it all in, but it didn’t feel real. Finally I called Peter, but told him there was no need to rush home since there were no contractions yet.
I went to my bed to lie down just as Peter arrived home. He rushed upstairs into the bedroom to see if I was okay and asked if I needed anything. I asked him to just lie down beside me for a while and I began to cry.
Then I had my first contraction. It was so intense that I immediately had to stand up. I walked around a few minutes and then tried to lie down again. The next one came within 20 minutes and was even more intense.
I decided that I needed to get in the shower. The warm water was a relief on my body. I knelt down on my hands and knees and began using my breathing exercises through the contractions. I remember thinking that this might be a bit premature but nevertheless I needed to manage the pain.
The contractions quickly became more intense and closer together. It was time to call Carla and the babysitter for our son. I spoke to Carla on the phone while still in the shower. From the sound of my voice over the phone she said we should head to the hospital. As I got out of the shower in a daze, the next contraction came and took me to my knees. I breathed it out and dressed quickly. I knew I didn’t have much time before the next one would come.
Peter loaded the car just as his aunt and grandmother arrived to watch our son. As he left our bedroom to carry my labour bag, I felt the baby’s head begin to crown. It was an intense burning pain. “Peter, the baby is coming right now!” I screamed down the hall. He ran to the bedroom and helped me to my feet. We rushed to the waiting car where I breathed out another intense contraction on its hood. I got into the car, took off my sandals and put my iPod on with my “Zen” breathing music.
As we drove down the highway, I felt the uncontrollable urge to push. Terrified I told Peter to pull over and call 911. He called Carla instead.
Then we hit traffic! Bumper-to-bumper on Highway 400. I felt my throat close up. I would be having my baby on the side of the highway. Then I heard the comforting familiar sound of Carla’s voice on the other end of the phone. She was telling Peter to drive on the shoulder and not to worry about police, if anything they were a good thing in this situation, and would escort us to the hospital. No such luck. Peter rode the shoulder down the highway as people honked and gave him the finger. Carla talked me through each contraction and helped me breathe in such a way that I wouldn’t push.
Finally we arrived at the hospital. Peter pulled into the roundabout in front of Labour and Delivery. Waiting there was Carla and a team of nurses with a stretcher. They opened my door, ripped out my IPod and flung me onto the stretcher. I let out a very loud scream and began breathing through another contraction.
We raced down the hall and up the elevator. “I need to push,” I kept yelling and they would assure me that we were almost there. We finally entered the room. The nurses rolled me onto the labour bed and quickly removed my clothing. “I need to push” I yelled again. Carla came straight away. “Okay “she said, “I won’t torture you anymore, let’s push.”
I began pushing, feeling relieved and scared. Peter burst into the room on my second push, and just in time. Carla encouraged me to push through the pain and applied a warm compress to my perineum. I remember thinking that from all this pain, I would soon meet my baby and the pain would disappear.
I pushed one last great big push. Then I heard her first cries. “Your baby is here!” I heard someone say. She came right from my womb and Carla placed her on my chest. I looked at her little pink body and then at Peter. “You’re amazing,” he said and kissed me. We both looked at our new baby smiled with teary eyes. Peter cut the umbilical cord and I pushed out my placenta with one last push. At last it was all over, 11 minutes after arriving in the hospital parking lot.
My new baby girl lay with me skin-to-skin and began sucking her lips and looking for the breast. I gently guided her to the breast and she latched on with ease. I felt a sense of euphoria as I sat there proudly with my new baby snug in my arms. What a rush! Both Peter and I were amazed and a little bit in shock.
“So what’s her name?” Wendy asked. Peter and I looked at each other. “Violet” I said, “Violet Minke after my mother.” Wendy took Violet to weigh her and assess her – 6lbs 2oz, a beautiful healthy baby girl!
After the birth, we had my mother-in-law bring our son to the hospital to meet his new sister. We had decided to go home that night and we thought it was important for him to see the new baby at the hospital before going home.
Vasili burst into the room with his big beautiful smile. “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!” It had been just 4 hours since I had tucked him in for his nap but it felt like an eternity. He was so big all of the sudden! He ran over to see me and gave me a hug. “Baby here now,” he said. We all laughed as he inspected his new sister.
And just like that we gathered up our belongings, two kids in tow and headed out the door. It all felt so surreal. By 8:30 that same evening we were home, eating dinner and toasting to our new baby girl!