the home birth of Rory
May 1st 2017.
I started the day with good energy and decided to get out of the house with my son. It was another rainy, Vancouver day. I felt a tiny bit apprehensive and felt like maybe staying close to home was a better idea. But I ignored that sensation, feeling pent up with cabin fever.
I drove thirty minutes out of town, because driving has been our favourite third trimester activity. We picked up some colouring books and I bought socks, and looked for bedding for Teddy. As I was leaving the store, I felt some small gushes of water, but chalked it up to being on my feet and pushing Teddy around in a shopping cart. I lifted him into his car seat and felt some butterflies in my stomach but really didn’t pay attention to it. Then I sat down. I noticed my pants were really quite wet, like soaking. And I smelled that familiar scent of amniotic fluid. Instantly, my body was tingling with adrenaline. I texted Jay, and let my mum know what was happening, as she was a good 2 hours away in another city. Then I paged my midwives, still feeling uncertain if my waters were leaking.
They told me to come in for an assessment, to see if it really was amniotic fluid. If it was, we wanted to start antibiotics because I was Group B Strep positive this time around. With a track record of fast labours, getting in two doses of antibiotics was a priority for me. My midwife did the fern test under the microscope and confirmed that my waters were leaking. So, we set up an IV and I got a dose in before I headed down the street for some acupuncture. When one is positive for Group B Strep, a variation of normal, there can be a time limit put on labour because the risk of infection can increase once your waters break prematurely. Often women go to the hospital to get induced, but I wasn’t keen on that option.
So, I went for acupuncture, feeling absolutely famished but with little appetite. Jay purchased a grocery store aisle worth of food and nothing seemed to work for me. We drove home, got stuck in bad traffic, I was very hungry and feeling on edge, but eventually we pulled up to our house.
As soon as we were home, I felt much more comfortable. I took one dose the labour cocktail, just as I did with Florence’s birth, while my midwife came over to give me another dose of antibiotics and check in, then she left to leave me in peace.
I finally ate some toast with jam and hard cheese, and gulped back a berry smoothie.
Nothing was happening, so I sat and bounced on the birthing ball. Very shortly after that my waters started gushing. As in, you could see and hear the fluid hitting the floor and I soaked through two bath towels and four pairs of shorts. It was around 7:50pm. I stood in the kitchen, eating and waiting for contractions to start. I felt some mild twinges, but nothing major. I decided to head upstairs anyway, just in case. Our bedroom is upstairs and that was where I wanted to birth.
I put some music on and started grooving a little. My mum asked if I wanted some space and I said that I did. Meanwhile, my contractions were picking up in intensity. I liked being alone at this point, trusting my body and accepting each contraction. My midwife sent me a text to check in and I told her she could come on over and make herself at home.
The next thing I remember is hearing my midwife and birth photographer coming up the stairs, and I couldn’t open my eyes to acknowledge them. Everyone was bustling around me, but I was in the birthing zone. Someone placed their hands on my back and applied hip pressure. It felt great. With the next contraction, it felt terrible. Finally, I screamed: don’t touch me! And then I thought of Florence. I pulled her picture close to me and gazed into her eyes. Deep waves of grief came over me as I laboured and I cried for her, missing her and loving her all at once. I put on the songs for a grieving heart playlist I had made weeks ago, and fell right into the perfect rhythm as I listened to “A Case of You.”I was gone, deep into the world of transition. I was on my tip toes, trying to escape the pain. Each contraction got more and more intense. I didn’t know what to expect, because my other labours had a bit more of a rhythm.
I was encouraged to let the baby come and do what I needed to do. With that encouragement and freedom, I started to groan and push. I waddled to the bed, completely overwhelmed by pressure and fierce contractions. As soon as my knees hit the bed, I leaned over the pillows and pushed. There was no time to think, I just pushed. It felt like 30 minutes, but it was really on a couple of minutes of pushing. I remember two distinct pushes. Getting his head out, pausing, and then pushing out the rest of his body. Jay and my mum marvelled at the speed, while shouting and crying and laughing and talking about his beautiful face. I just couldn’t believe my third baby was once again hanging in limbo outside my body.
He was caught by his dad, and then pushed up through my legs to my trembling hands at 9:30PM, an hour and a half after the first contraction.
He looked a little stunned but was peacefully looking around. No screaming or flailing, just a calm, sweet boy, warm and sticky in my arms, lathered up in vernix and showing off a remarkably long and healthy cord (it measured one metre!)
Very quickly after that first introduction, I pushed out the placenta, which was just an awful feeling as the placenta was huge! I was then greeted by immediate after birth pains. So, I snuggled up in my own bed with pillows and blankets and put him to my breast. He latched right away and had some sweet colostrum.
Meanwhile, my after birth contractions were dizzying and I asked for pain relief a dozen times in a minute. They were so uncomfortable and distracted me from those sweet, magical moments after birth. A few hours later, they calmed down and I was checked and intact and all bleeding was under control.
It was pure and holy relief.
When Jay and I looked at our boy, we knew the name we had picked out wasn’t the right one for him. So we went to bed that night, unsure of what to call him. When the morning sun came in, we looked at each other with groggy smiles and started throwing out a few other names. One name stuck immediately: Rory. It was a name I had picked out around the 20 week mark, but quickly dismissed for some reason. When Jay mentioned it, I felt my heart lift and I just knew that’s who he was: Rory Gold.
Rory: Irish// Fierce ruler, red king.
Gold: A brilliant precious metal. Heart of Gold. In memory of his big sister, Florence Marigold. Also inspired by the Japanese art of Kintsugi or Kintsukuroi: “Most people would like damages to their broken items to be concealed and hidden by repair making the object look like new. But the Japanese art of Kintsugi follows a different philosophy. Rather than disguising the breakage, kintsugi restores the broken item incorporating the damage into the aesthetic of the restored item, making it part of the object’s history. Kintsugi uses lacquer resin mixed with powdered gold, resulting into something more beautiful than the original.”