On February 24, 2014, we got our “million dollar family” when our sweet baby girl was born. We named her Brooklyn after a beautiful song by the Avett Brothers called I And Love And You. We were head over heels in love from the moment we laid eyes on her and our son, then almost 2.5 years old, was the most smitten with his sweet “baby B”. Even though I had been through pregnancy, labour, and caring for a brand new baby before, each experience was so different from the other, I might as well have been a first-time mother. The one thing that hindsight did provide was the comfort in knowing that no matter what I had to do in those early days to survive, like let her sleep on my chest instead of her crib or give her a soother or top her up with formula, nothing was going to do any kind of permanent damage. It was a nice change not Googling every single thing that she did or didn’t do or second-guessing every decision in case it resulted in her going off to college with a soother or never sleeping through a single night in her life. Having a little bit more confidence made a big difference. And now, at age 2, she lies on my chest every night before bed and I tell her about how that was the only place she would sleep when she was first born. It’s a daily ritual that allows me to relive our first few weeks together. And I feel so lucky to have that.
Unlike our firstborn, our daughter took a very quiet and unassuming approach to making her entrance into the world. It was four days before her due date and unbeknownst to me, as my son and I spent hours at the “mall with the rides”, she was readying herself to get outta Dodge.
When Jack and I arrived home that afternoon, the mild cramps that I had been feeling all day started to intensify to the point where I had to lie down and put in a call to my midwives. Still unsure if I was in labour, she suggested that I simply rest and call her back if anything changed.
Sure enough, things started to change. As the cramps turned to mild contractions, I decided to try out the TENS unit that I had rented from my midwives’ clinic on the advice of a woman who looked like Angelina Jolie and was about to give birth to her fifth child using just this contraption. Only a damn fool would not have listened to her and I am no fool.
Sitting on my yoga ball and with the electrodes stuck to my lower back, I gently bounced through contraction after contraction, waiting for my midwives to arrive. Jeff also put in a call to his aunt who had so kindly volunteered to stay with Jack when it was time for us to go to the hospital.
Jack, sensing that we were on the precipice of a life-changing event, clung to me. I did my best to hold and comfort him while grappling with the pain that was now demanding my full attention. After focusing as much of my mind and heart only on him, I kissed him goodnight and off to bed he went.
The midwives then arrived to assess how far along I was. And at 6 cm dilated, it was go time! I tried to get my shoes and jacket on as quickly as I could but with each contraction, I had to stop, walk a lap around the kitchen table then go back to getting my things on. We were finally out the door, admitted into the hospital, and settled into the birthing room by 10:15 pm.
Up until this point, the TENS unit was really living up to the hype that the Angelina Jolie look-alike had sold me on. Then suddenly, it wasn’t. My midwives quickly removed the electrodes and I was left with nothing but my own will to battle the pain. It was a scary and overwhelming feeling.
Luckily midwives are well versed in the realm of drug-free pain management and most of the tricks that they tried gave me some measure of reprieve until it was time to get on the bed and start pushing. They even offered me laughing gas, which I had no idea was even an option. I took it but was by no means laughing. I’m not entirely sure that the gas itself helped to relieve the pain but the simple act of breathing through the mask allowed me to focus on something other than the fact that I was experiencing the worst pain of my life.
Then out of nowhere, I felt a powerful urge to push. That was the midwives’ cue to cut off the laughing gas and for Jeff to get into position, propping one of my legs up against his shoulder for leverage.
What then followed was hard. Really really hard. So hard that I won’t even attempt to verbalize it. So hard that at one point, I simply stopped pushing, laid back and whispered that I couldn’t do it any longer. Obviously, that was the most ridiculous thing to say in that moment but for some reason, it felt so good to say it. And funnily enough, it empowered me to keep going.
Little by little, I could feel her head making its way to the outside world, accompanied by a very strange burning sensation. And like it was with my son, the part where the baby actually came out is a complete blur to me. Then suddenly it all became clear again as they placed our baby girl on my chest.
There she was. Born at 11:28 pm. All lovely and perfect in a way that only little girls can be.
The bond that I felt with her was immediate, from the first moment that I held her and in the hours that followed. As cliché as it sounds, I felt complete. She was my girl. My sidekick. My best friend. The pain and fear of the last few hours simply melted away and all that remained was the immense relief and joy that she was finally here.
That woman she’s got eyes that shine
Like a pair of stolen polished dimes
She asked to dance I said it’s fine
I’ll see you in the morning time