On June 24, 2011, Elena and Vince were blessed with the safe arrival of a healthy baby boy. Although Elena wholeheartedly embraced her role as a new mother from the moment Sven was born, she has faced her fair share of challenges in adjusting to her new life. Before, Elena had the freedom to go and do as she pleased but now she must work at finding time for herself. Her advice to expectant moms is to ensure you have a healthy balance between caring for your baby and caring for yourself because your baby feeds off of your energy, whether you are stressed and unhappy or calm and relaxed. While books and advice from others can be helpful, Elena believes a mother’s intuition always knows what’s best for her baby.
In the mid-afternoon of Midsummer Day (St. John’s Day) on June 24th 2011, I gave birth to my first son Sven. I am grateful for the help from my team of midwives, my loving husband Vince, and the nurses at the Women’s and Children Hospital in Vancouver to help me through the long labour.
We had chosen midwife care to get a more personable and comprehensive care. A team of 4 midwifes who’s clinic was located down the street from our home provided emotional support and monitored the health and well-being of myself and my baby during an exciting and scary time of our lives. We were able to develop a trusting helpful relationship with them throughout the pregnancy that continued as needed for the first few months after the birth.
Sven was 4 days late. June 19th was supposed to be D-day. But our baby was comfortable where it was and wasn’t ready to meet the world. When I thought my belly couldn’t get any bigger it did. I was feeling more and more uncomfortable. I was very ready to reclaim my body and for the baby to move out.
It all started at 11:30 pm on June 22nd with all the neighborhood cats oddly sitting outside our bedroom window meowing. Then our dog Juno joined in and started whining. Vince and I joked with each other that maybe they were telling us something. Vince took our dog Juno outside to graze on the grass as we thought she wasn’t feeling well. I decided to get out of bed for a last run to the washroom before I turned in for the night only to find that I couldn’t control my pee realizing that my water had just broken.
I had a moment of uncertainty. I think panic and adrenalin kicked in. I had an overwhelming fear of the unknown. A fear of how the next few hours were really going to unfold. I stood in the claw-foot tub for a moment to reconnect with the reality of what was happening. I was soon going to meet the little person inside. I then waddled to the back door leaving a trail of water behind me calling to Vince who was still in the yard with our dog Juno yelling “its time!” Vince called back ‘its time? For what?”. I yelled again… “Its time! We have to go!”
Shortly after midnight we got ourselves sorted and made our way to the hospital and met up with our midwife. I got a dose of antibiotics and we headed back home to bed and waited for the contractions to start.
Vince and I spent the next day walking around the neighborhood; calmed and reassured by the periodic house visits by one of my midwives; danced around the house to our favorite artists trying to get the contractions to start but nothing seemed to work. I called my parents in Ontario to give them an update only to find that my mother had already heard the news from my sister-in-law and was on a plane to Vancouver.
By 9 pm on June 23rd my contractions still hadn’t started. My mother arrived at our house just in time before we left for the hospital. We decided it was time to get things going and I was induced at the hospital. Being induced felt very un-natural. When the contractions started they were bearable at first. But over the next few hours they grew more and more intense. Trying to cope with the pain through breath and with the reassurance from my husband became more and more difficult.
By 2:00 am on June 24th I was unable to cope with the pain. We were both very tired and I requested an epidural. The doctor gave me a walking epidural. Which allowed me to walk around but it also took all the pain away. I used this time to try and catch up on some rest. A few hours later the labor had progressed and the baby had moved lower. The epidural became patchy and isolated areas were very painful. At every contraction the nurse or my husband would help with the pain by applying pressure or heat to my left hip, which was the worst of the pain.
By 10 am I was fully dilated and started pushing. After 4 hrs of pushing with the help of my coaches; my husband Vince, my midwife and the nurse, there was no progress. The baby hadn’t moved. The doctors on staff came in to assess me and recommended it was time for alternate methods. The baby’s head was down but turned the wrong way and needed a little help. The doctors recommended that at that point the only options were to go in and manually turn the baby’s head with forceps or have a caesarian birth. Within minutes we were transferred to the operating room. With the help of the baby’s head gently turned with forceps and an episiotomy, I was able to push him out after he had dropped into position. At 2:32 pm on June 24th, we were proud parents of a beautiful healthy baby boy.
Our life has suddenly changed forever. Walking out of the hospital the next day with a new member of our family was an indescribable feeling. We are both just smitten with having Sven in our lives and couldn’t be happier. I’m looking forward to the new chapter in my life – ‘motherhood’ – and am embracing every moment with our son.
Life is ever changing. And entering into motherhood has been the biggest change in my life. Thankfully every new challenge has been balanced with a reward. The lack of sleep is replaced by cuddles from my baby during the midnight feedings. My new identity as a mother is now grounded in nurturing and watching my son grow and learn. Enjoying his firsts from the first smile, giggle, word, the first bite of real food to taking him to his first swim class and putting his head under water is priceless. The loving feeling of nurturing our new family is endless.