Sheryl Jesin


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Alexandra’s Birth Story – Part 2

So Part 1 of Alex’s birth story left off with Jake and I heading over to the hospital to meet my midwife, Nicole, for an induction.  It was a strange feeling leaving the house and driving to the hospital without being in labour at all!  In a way it was nice not to have to drive with contractions.  It was easy to call my parents and ask them to come over and watch the boys – it wasn’t the middle of the night, no one had to rush!

We arrived at the hospital around 6:30 PM and headed to triage.  Here’s how the night unfolded:

6:30 PM

Nicole hooked me up for a non stress test.  This involved watching the baby’s heart rate and movement over half an hour.  The baby looked perfect on this test, and this meant that the induction could go ahead.

8:00 PM

A room opened for me on the labour and delivery floor.  We headed over to the room.  To my surprise, it was the exact same room I had for Benjamin’s birth – lucky number 18!  Number 18 has special significance in the Jewish religion – it represents life and therefore quite a fitting room for the occasion.   The room was tiny, crowded, old, run down, worn out – there wasn’t even a pillow on the bed and we couldn’t find an unclaimed one anywhere else on the floor.  This didn’t phase me much – I wasn’t planning on spending much time lying down in bed.  The room was adequate and I was hoping I wouldn’t be spending too much time there.

9:30 PM

First step in the induction process was getting an IV.  This was necessary because at 37 weeks I had tested positive for GBS and therefore required a dose of IV antibiotics.  The insertion of the IV really hurt – but I knew I had much more painful things ahead of me that evening!

10:00 PM

The antibiotics were done, and my IV line was disconnected, but a saline lock was left in my hand in case I needed another dose.  It was uncomfortable to leave the line in my hand, but there was no other choice.  As the night progressed, I would forget it was even there.  Nicole suggested that I have a little rest at this time, to give the antibiotics time to work and so that I would have the energy necessary for labour.  I lay down and tried to rest, but I was quite excited and unable to sleep.  Instead, I ate a banana, a Larabar and drank a lot of Nuun.  Felt like preparation for a half-marathon!

11:00 PM

The time had come to break my water.  As soon as Nicole did this, I immediately felt a pop and a contraction.  It was amazing how quickly my body responded!  Regular contractions followed.  They weren’t very painful right away, but they were certainly uncomfortable.

From 11:00 PM to 1:00 AM, the contractions came regularly every 3 minutes or so.  They increased in intensity over time.  I had to be hooked up to an electronic fetal monitoring machine, to monitor baby’s heart rate.  This was the hospital’s protocol for an induction.  It was a bit of nuisance to be hooked up to wires, but Nicole ensured that I could still move around and remain upright, rather than being limited to lying in bed.  This was very important to me.  Contractions when you are lying down hurt 1,ooo,ooo times more than contractions when you are standing up.  Moving around and standing up allowed my baby to move into an optimal position, and I believe this helped to minimize pain during contractions. At around 1:00 AM the contractions were quite painful, but always bearable.  The reason for this was that I always had a break in between contractions to regain the strength needed to tackle the next one.  I knew that each contraction meant my cervix was dilating further, and that I was one step closer to meeting my baby.  I was becoming a little bit worried though, as it had only been 2 hours of labour, and I wasn’t sure that I could handle the pain for too much longer.

1:00 AM

Nicole asked me if I wanted to be checked to determine my progress so far.  She said that I shouldn’t get my hopes up too much because it had only been 2 hours since she broke my water.  I said definitely YES!  I needed to know how far I was. However, I remembered vividly from Benjamin’s birth that lying down to be checked was extremely uncomfortable.  Nicole suggested that I climb up on the bed, but remain in a hands and knees position.  This worked out quite well and was much better than lying down, and felt just as good as standing up.

Nicole checked me and we were all shocked to learned that I was already 10 cm.  She asked if I felt ready to push, and at the point I did not.  She said let’s just wait a bit until my body was ready.  She called my second midwife, Noushin, to come down to the hospital.

1:05 AM

After a strong contraction – I went from not needing to push, to needing to push right away.  I told Nicole and Jake that this baby was coming soon!  Nicole called to the nurses station to ask for a respiratory therapist to come and help since it looked like Noushin would not be at the hospital in time for the birth.

1:15 AM

After a few more strong contractions, I yelled out:  This baby is coming RIGHT NOW.  Nicole picked up the phone to tell the respiratory therapist to come immediately, but there was no time for that.  Almost involuntarily, I gave a small push and out came Alex’s head, followed shortly after by the rest of her body.  Jake and Nicole were not expecting it to happen so fast – Nicole caught the baby with one hand and Jake didn’t even see Alex come out.  Nicole and Jake helped me out of the hands and knees position and I lay down in bed.  Alex was placed immediately on my chest skin to skin and we were all in a bit of shock.

The respiratory therapist came into the room a couple minutes after the birth.  I said to her:  That was amazing and so much fun!  She told me she hasn’t heard new moms say that before.  I truly felt great at that moment – so many endorphins were running through my body and my baby high was starting.

Alex and I snuggled for about an hour after birth.  She latched on immediately and nursed like a pro.  Noushin arrived and she and Nicole took care of all the paper work that needed to be done.  After an hour, Noushin did the new baby exam on Alex and we learned that she weighed 5 lbs 10 oz.  This corresponded to 2551 grams.  We were quite happy  – if she had been under 2500 grams we would have to stay in the hospital for 24 hours.  We were ready to go home!

4:45 AM

Noushin wheeled me to the door in a wheelchair and it was time to take Alex home.     Alexandra didn’t make a peep on the way home.  My parents heard us come in and came downstairs to meet their new granddaughter.  Dylan followed shortly after at around 6:00 AM and was immediately in love with his new sister.  Benny woke up at 7:00 AM and was a bit more cautious about the stranger in his house.  It was so wonderful to be at home, eating my own food, resting in my own bed, and showering in my own bathroom.

Final Thoughts

After weeks of worrying, both about the initial breech presentation, and subsequently about Alexandra’s size, I was so thankful that she had safely joined us and that she was perfectly healthy, despite being little.  We will never know why she was little – the placenta and cord both looked good.  She is already growing so much – she reached her birthweight before she turned one week old.

I am so grateful that I was able to have a natural birth again, without medication.  I was so concerned that I would require either pitocin or an epidural, and I am so glad I didn’t need either.  I know people think it is crazy to even consider a birth without an epidural.  I don’t think I accomplished anything special by not needing one – I think anyone can do it with proper information,  an open mindset and lots of support from a partner and health care provider.  Jake and Nicole didn’t doubt me once and kept telling me I was doing a phenomenal job.  I thank them both, and Noushin as well, for all of their help and their love during all 39 weeks of my pregnancy.

Alex at one week old

Alex at one week old

And now we adjust to life with three kids.  It is crazy, tiring, amazing and wonderful.  I feel like our family is complete and look forward to watching Alexandra grow up, alongside her two big brothers.

Photos by Kelly Fischstein.

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Alexandra’s Birth Story – Part 1 – The Background Info

So, ya….a lot has happened since I last posted in February. To summarize the most important parts briefly – I got pregnant with baby #3, experienced 39 weeks of pregnancy, and had a baby girl last week!

Needless to say, we are overjoyed with the safe arrival of our brand new daughter. I feel like the luckiest mama in the world to have two wonderful boys and now and a healthy little girl. The hormones are definitely flowing and each time I look at my new baby, my eyes well up with tears and I am so grateful.

And now for her birth story.

It starts back at 31 weeks when Alexandra presented herself in a breech position. She stayed in this position until 36 weeks, and for those 5 weeks I was extremely stressed out at the prospect of a breech birth. I was not interested in a c-section at all, and was very skeptical about the idea of a vaginal breech birth. It would require transfer of care from my midwife to an OB, and the birth would have to take place in an OR…the whole thing made me want to cry whenever I thought about it.

What did I do from weeks 31-36? I swam 3-4 times a week, I saw a chiropractor regularly and I did some yoga moves involving inversions. I can’t say exactly what did it, but I was thrilled when I went for a checkup at 36 weeks and Alex’s head was down. This was confirmed the next day at an ultrasound.

However, at the same ultrasound, Alexandra was measuring small, in the 10th percentile. This meant I had to go for another ultrasound at 37 weeks, and then another at 38 weeks to keep an eye on her, with an induction on the radar if she dropped from the 10th percentile. I know that there are people out there who enjoy ultrasounds and feel reassured by them, but they stressed me out immensely. I kept worrying that they would find something bad at each one! The ultrasounds at week 37 and 38 were OK…she was still looking small but everything seemed fine. I was worried about an induction – I really wanted to have a natural, drug free, intervention free birth, like the one I had withBenjamin .This seemed to be slipping away from me. I was also of course and more importantly very worried about the baby – how was she doing in there? Did she need to come out?

At week 39 I went for another ultrasound, and this time Alexandra had dropped from the 10th percentile to the 5th percentile. This concerned the OB that reviewed the ultrasound, and he suggested at this point that I be induced and not wait any longer. He wanted to make sure that the baby could tolerate labour, and there was a chance that if we waited too long, this would not be possible.

So here I was, at 39 weeks plus 5 days…I called my midwife after the ultrasound, and she agreed with the OB that it was time to be induced. So we made a plan to meet at the hospital and get this show on the road! At this point it was already almost 5pm. I went home to get a quick bite to eat, and to pick Jake up. And we headed down to the hospital at around 6pm. To be continued…

 


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Birth centres are coming to Ontario!

I was quite excited this week to hear the announcement that the province of Ontario has plans to open two birth centres within the next couple of years.  What great news for the women and babies of Ontario!

Right now, women in Ontario can choose to deliver with the assistance of an obstetrician or family doctor in a hospital, or with a midwife at home or at a hospital.   Soon women will have one more option – the choice to deliver with the support of a midwife in a birth centre.

“Evidence shows midwives provide quality care – excellent patient outcomes and good value for health care dollars. Midwifery care also leads to fewer medical and surgical interventions which benefits both mother and baby.”

 – Deb Matthews
Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

Birth centres are amazing in so many ways!  Here are just a few great things about birth centres:

  • By birthing in a birth centre, and thereby avoiding a birth in a hospital, women and newborns can reduce their exposure to hospital-based infections and to outbreaks of the flu.
  • Did you know that C-sections are costing the Ontario health care system over $100 million every year?  The current C-section rate in Ontario is over 30%.  Birth centres can help decrease these costs by reducing C-section rates and reducing other medical interventions.  Fewer interventions are better for moms and babies too – moms recover much faster from normal births.
  • Birth centres can free up hospital beds for high risk moms who need to be in a hospital.  

I feel so lucky to have been supported by two wonderful midwives for the birth of my second son, Benjamin.  I wrote about my experience with a midwife assisted birth in a hospital here.  His birth was such a peaceful and empowering experience, and if we are blessed with a third child and a low risk pregnancy, I would choose a midwife again in a heartbeat!  I wrote a bit about my experience with a midwife here.  I would absolutely love to try out a birthing centre!!


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Benjamin’s birth story

This post is part of Lamaze’s Giving Birth With Confidence Blog Carnival.  Lamaze promotes 6 healthy birth practices:

  • Let labor begin on its own
  • Walk, move around, and change positions during labor
  • Bring a loved one, or doula for continuous labor support
  • Avoid interventions that are not medically necessary
  • Avoid giving birth on your back and follow your bodies urges to push
  • Keep mother and baby together post birth

My second son Benjamin was born about 3 weeks ago.  He arrived approximately 5 days after my due date.  For about two weeks before he was born, I was feeling Braxton Hicks contractions on and off.   Everyday I’d wake up and wonder if this was it!  I went to a midwife appointment at around noon on the day he was born.   Before the appointment, I went for a long walk and experienced a number of contractions that felt more “real” than any others – instead of just feeling tight, they also caused some painful cramping in my lower abdomen.    At my appointment, my midwife asked me if I wanted her to do a stretch and sweep.   I said yes.   I was ready to meet my baby!

When she did the stretch and sweep, she told me that I was already 3 cm dilated and that she could stretch me to almost 5.   She said that I may start to feel contractions after I left the appointment and that if they lasted for a couple hours and were increasing in intensity that I should call her.

As we walked to our car after the appointment, I started to feel contractions.   We decided to go for lunch and as I sat eating my pizza I felt more contractions.   When we got home, at around 2pm, we started timing them.   They were about 3 minutes apart at the point and they definitely didn’t feel like Braxton Hicks contractions anymore.   After about an hour, I was reaching the point where it was hard for me to talk during the contractions and at that point I called my midwife and she suggested that we head down to the hospital.  I also called my doula so that she could meet us there too.

My mom was at our house already because she had joined us for lunch, so we said goodbye to her and Dylan and Jake and I drove to the hospital at around 3:30 pm.   It was hard to believe it was happening!

My contractions slowed down when I reached the hospital and the intensity lessened also.   I second guessed myself and wondered if we had gone to the hospital too early.   Jake and I walked the halls for a while, which helped the contractions pick up again.   At around 5:30 pm, Jake and I, my midwife and my doula all went downstairs to the hospital lobby to get a bite to eat.   At that point my contractions really picked up.  When we got back up to the room, my contractions felt quite intense.   It felt best for me to be standing during them.  My doula suggested raising the hospital bed so that I would have something to lean against during the contractions.   That turned out to be my favorite position to manage the contractions!  When a contraction would come, I would stand up, bend over, bury my face in a pillow on top of the bed, and hold Jake’s hands.  When the contraction would stop, I would sit on a chair directly behind me and rest.   It worked great!

This went on for a while.   Around 7pm, my midwife checked me and I was already 8 cm.   She then called the second midwife and started setting up for the birth.  I could hardly believe things were happening so quickly and going so well!  When my second midwife arrived, probably around 7:30 or so, my midwives suggested breaking my water.   They felt that if they did so, right after I would probably be ready to push.  So I lay down on the bed for for my midwife to break my water and I felt a contraction.  It felt HORRIBLE to experience a contraction lying down.  I could barely handle it!   Made me realize how important it is to be upright and mobile during labour.   The actually breaking of my water was painless.   My midwife asked me if I was feeling an urge to push.  I wasn’t.  She suggested that I go to the bathroom and sit on the toilet as that could help open up my pelvis and bring the baby down.   So Jake and I and our doula spent some time in the bathroom.  In between contractions I sat on the toilet and during contractions I leaned against Jake who was sitting on the edge of the bathtub.  I’m not quite sure how long we were in the bathroom – maybe half an hour or so?  My midwife came to check in on us a few times and asked me if I felt the urge to push.  I still didn’t feel a strong urge to push but I was definitely feeling some pressure in my bottom.   She suggested checking me again to see how far I was dilated and to check if the baby has moved down.

So we left the bathroom and I lay down again on the bed.   At that point I was 10 cm and she said the baby was far down and that I could start pushing.  I couldn’t believe it!  The head of the bed was raised so that I was in a semi upright position.   It was about 8:30 at this point.    A contraction came and I pushed!  My midwives told me that they could see the head.  I still could hardly believe it!  My contractions at this point were probably 2-3 minutes apart, which allowed me to rest between them.   It was great to be able to rest between contractions and gather my strength for the pushing.  At about 8:45 my midwife told me that this baby would be born between 9pm.   I was getting really excited at this point to meet my baby.  A few more pushes and the head came out.   Then another push and the shoulders.   Then a little push and my baby was out.  He was born just before 9pm.

Earlier, I had told Jake and my midwives and my doula that I didn’t want them to announce the gender of the baby – I wanted to take a look myself.   My baby was placed on my chest right after he was born.   I was so happy and excited that this moment had come that I forgot at first to check if the baby was a boy or a girl!  A minute or so later I remember and saw that he was a boy!  I was so thrilled that my son Dylan would have a brother and I was so ecstatic to have a healthy baby.

Benjamin stayed on my chest for the first hour of his life.  He latched on like a pro within minutes and I fed him on and off for that first hour.  It was so incredible that he just knew what to do.   My midwives knew that it was really important to me to have that first hour of skin to skin and waited to do the newborn exams.

It was my plan to go home from the hospital within 3-4 hours after Benjamin was born.   Thankfully, everything went really smoothly and both Benjamin and I were doing really well and my midwife discharged us at around 11:30 pm.   We were home just before midnight.  It was so incredible to be back home in my own bed with my husband and my new baby boy!

I couldn’t have asked for a better birth experience.  I feel so lucky that everything went smoothly and that I was able to do it drug free!  It was an incredible experience and I am so thankful for the support of my midwives, my doula and of course of my wonderful husband Jake.