We are so excited to announce that our little babe has arrived!! We welcomed a baby girl into this world Saturday, May 18th, 3:05am weighing 6lbs 1oz. Since we didn’t know if we were having a boy or girl, we had a few names ready, but when we finally met her face to face we knew she was a Langley May Kurceba. If you’re interested in what happens when you have a baby, here is Langley’s birth story.
On Friday morning, May 17th, we were scheduled for our 10th ultrasound appointment at 39 weeks and 1 day pregnant. Right from the beginning of our pregnancy, we were monitored extra closely since doctors had noticed a smaller placenta and they wanted to keep a close eye on baby’s growth. At this point we were doing weekly ultrasounds being so close to the finish line, and I am grateful we were! The ultrasound technician told us baby looked happy and healthy, but that my fluid levels were pretty low. We were sent to a waiting room to meet with the doctor to review our results and when the doctor came in she asked me if I had noticed my water break recently. I told her I didn’t think it had, and she responded, “Well whether your water broke or your fluid levels are just very low, you’re having a baby today!” My husband and I were in shock. We did not expect to be delivering that day! We had felt ready, but in that moment we were stunned. The doctor continued to tell us that my placenta might have stopped working so the fluid was decreasing and baby could go into distress if we didn’t deliver right away. So we quickly stopped at home to pick up our bags (fortunately we had already packed hospital bags), give our puppy Stevie some love, and then drove to the hospital!
When we arrived around 1:00pm, the hospital knew we were coming as the ultrasound clinic had called them. The doctors and nurses right away strapped my belly up to a non-stress test to make sure baby was not in distress (she was still happy as a clam!) and then tested to see if I had indeed broken my water. I had not. It was definitely the placenta that had stopped working, which meant it was urgent to get me into labour. So to get the process started, the doctor inserted a balloon catheter into my cervix to encourage the cervix to dilate to 3 centimetres. Having the balloon inserted was definitely uncomfortable, but once it was in it wasn’t so bad. The balloon could sit there up to 12 hours, or until it falls out on its own. Fortunately the balloon fell out after only 5 hours. As soon as it came out, around 7:30pm, I was quickly moved to the Labour and Delivery ward to really get things going. There was a shift change at 7:30pm so when I was transferred to the room I would deliver in I also got introduced to my new nurse and doctor. Once the introductions, set-up, and another baby non-stress test were done, the doctor ruptured my water. They do this by poking the water bag gently with a plastic tool that looks like a crochet knitting needle. I really didn’t feel a thing but you definitely knew when your water had been broken, it gushed out just like the movies!
So far, my birth experience had not been at all what I imagined. I had expected to have my water naturally rupture and to work through some labour contractions in the comfort of my own home with my husband and my doula before heading to the hospital. My “birth plan” was an all natural experience, so while no drugs had been given to me, I was still a little disappointed that the beginning wasn’t a natural start. Even so, the most important part of my birth was a healthy baby, and I was willing to do what was necessary to make that happen. Baby was so far happy with the progress of coming out so I was taking it all in stride and happy to meet this little one soon. But there was one thing I was not willing to give up, and that was a drug-free birth.
The next step of induction into labour after the balloon and ruptured water is oxytocin. The new nurse we were assigned unfortunately was super pro-drugs and wanted to inject me with oxytocin immediately. I said that since baby was still happy (they were doing regular non-stress tests to make sure) I would like to be given the chance to go into labour naturally. While the nurse was not pleased, the new doctor was supportive and granted me two hours to walk the hallways to stimulate a natural labour. The rule was I had to come back every 20 minutes to check baby’s heart rate and fetal movements, and if all was well I could continue. So for the first hour I speed-walked the hallways, moving at a brisk pace. I started to feel some small cramps, but the nurse was convinced those were not contractions since if I was having contractions, “you shouldn’t be able to breath/talk/walk during a real contraction.” So I upped my tempo and ran the hospital stairs! There were 10 floors, and I went up and down them as fast as I could. Now the cramps were coming really often, so I decided to time them on my contractions app and sure enough they were 1.5 minutes apart and lasting about 30 seconds. When I reported this, the nurse was surprised since I could still hold a conversation through the “cramps”. But when the doctor came back in to check on me after 2 hours I was 4.5 centimetres dilated and in labour!
It was 11:30pm when I officially went into labour, and my contractions quickly intensified. Soon I was needing my husband and my doula, Sharon Loose, to apply pressure to my hips and lower back to relieve the intensity. The contractions were about a minute apart and lasting about a minute long, and it was definitely painful. I closed my eyes around Midnight and honestly I don’t think I opened them until the baby was born. I needed my eyes closed to focus on my breathing, to relax my body in-between contractions, and to find a meditation in this pain. Around 1:30am the doctor came back to check on me and I had only progressed to 5-6 centimetres dilated. This news mentally crushed me because the contractions were super painful and I thought I would be further along. This is when I asked my husband, “can I please have some drugs?” But my husband knew that if I reeeaaalllyyyy wanted pain medication I would say our secret phrase, not just once, but twice. But I never said the phrase nor asked for drugs again. My husband ignored my request like I had asked him to and continued to support me with pressure points and talking me through each contraction. I’m seriously so grateful for his support, I couldn’t have gotten through my labour without him. I also needed my doula, Sharon; she said all the right things to relax me as much as possible, pressed on all the right places to get me through each painful contraction, and recommended great position changes to keep baby moving downwards and my labour progressing. My husband and her were the best support team I could ask for.
Around 2:30am, the doctor came in to check on me again because apparently my “sounds” had changed. My doula knew I was close to deliver and asked the doctor to check if I was fully dilated. Sure enough I was 10 centimetres dilated! But I had accidentally pushed a little and my cervix was a bit swollen. My doctor told me, “I’m going to push your cervix to the side, so the baby’s head can move past it. It’s going to hurt but as soon as I’m done you can push baby out!” That was all the motivation I needed, I was ready to push. So after a few painful minutes of moving my cervix out of the way, we were ready!
Feeling baby move through your bones and out the birth canal is truly the craziest sensation. I knew exactly where baby was and could tell we were making progress. At first I was pushing and making noise, but the nurse and Sharon helped me focus that energy inwards and downwards, so then I was pushing without making a sound. This is when baby really started to move. I ended up pushing for only 20-30 minutes, and our beautiful baby girl was born at 3:05am.
Our baby came out crying (and pooping!) and was immediately placed on my belly. She was full of life, had the cutest little hands and toes, and instantly I was in love. Since we didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl, my husband was the one who got to announce what she was. And when he said, “it’s a baby girl!” we both started crying in happiness. It’s so crazy that most people say you forget the pain of birth immediately, but it is so true. Yes birth was painful, but it was all so worth our little one’s arrival. I had requested we delay the cord clamping for 5 minutes so she could get any last nutrients from my placenta, and after 5 minutes of loving our perfect little girl, my husband got to cut the umbilical cord. She was then placed on my chest and we got to have the most loving skin-to-skin cuddle session.
40 minutes after birth we experienced our first complication. My placenta and cord had detached from each other and my placenta was still attached to my uterine wall. After birthing your baby, your placenta is supposed to release as well and then you birth your placenta. Unfortunately mine was not budging so an OB was called in to assess the situation. The OB told me removing the placenta would be extremely painful, and that maybe I would want some pain medication for it. My options were laughing gas and fentanyl. At this point I was so tired from birth and from pain and had already succeeded at birthing this beautiful baby that I didn’t feel like enduring anymore pain. I asked the room if it was cheating if I had the laughing gas now, if I could still claim a natural birth. They all laughed and said of course I had a natural birth and no this wasn’t cheating! So I said yes to the laughing gas and she went in. WOW DID THAT HURT! The process of removing my placenta hurt way more than birthing a baby. Once the placenta was removed she explained that she would now have to go back in to make sure she didn’t leave any pieces behind that could cause infection. I upped my laughing gas and took the fentanyl because it was excruciating. But then it was over and all was well. The OB assessed my placenta, and sure enough it had not just stopped working but had calcified as though I was weeks overdue instead of early. She asked to send it to the lab to see if they could figure out what went wrong and of course I wanted to find out too. Unfortunately the lab results came back with nothing irregular other than it not functioning properly, so we still do not know the cause. But because of this placenta failing, all of my future pregnancies will be monitored even more closely incase it happens again. Like I said earlier, I am grateful the doctors decided to take extra caution with my pregnancy because had they not, we might have lost the baby not knowing it was in destress at the end of pregnancy. Luckily for us we have a happy ending because we had such great doctors.
The placenta complication took about an hour and while this was all happening my husband got some quality skin-to-skin with our baby girl. When her measurements and weight were taken she weighed in at 6lbs 1oz and measured 19.7cm tall. Even though she was small for her gestational age, she was healthy and happy. But probably because of the placenta failing, she came out hungry! She even tried to latch to my husband’s nipple while he was doing skin-to-skin! Finally when my placenta was out and I could hold her again, she immediately moved and latched to me. While she fed for over an hour, my husband and I decided on her name: Langley May Kurceba.
While she fed they also finished fixing me up. My final complication was that with such a quick labour and delivery, I had a 3rd degree tear and a 2nd degree tear. Tearing had been one of my biggest fears while pregnant, but when it actually happened, it wasn’t such a big deal. Yes I was uncomfortable for especially the first week after birth, but the discomfort wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It definitely didn’t compare to the pain of birth or placenta removal, so in perspective I could handle it.
Finally around 6:00am we were moved to the postpartum area for me and baby to rest. We were told we would be monitored here for at least 36 hours since Langley was born so small, they needed to make sure our breastfeeding went well and that her weight and blood sugars didn’t drop too much. Unfortunately for Langley that meant having her heal pricked every 3 hours to test for blood sugar, she really didn’t like that. But after 12 hours of fantastic blood sugar and feedings, they switched to prick tests every 6 hours which made it a little easier on all of us. Langley was a milk drinking machine, so much so she stimulated my milk to come in in just over 24 hours! We were certain she was making up for lost nourishment inside me and I’m glad that I could now provide what she needed on the outside.
Looking back on our experience, I wouldn’t change a thing. The ups and downs were intense, but it made Langley’s arrival that much more rewarding. I won’t sugar coat it, birth is painful, but instead of it being a traumatic pain memory, it is one of empowerment. I am amazed by what my body was capable of, and so proud of my strength and will power. And best of all, I would do it all again to meet my little one.