On April 10, 2020, at about 4:30 a.m., I waddle my 40-week-pregnant self into the bathroom for the 1098th time to empty my bladder that feels like it’s sitting in my throat because our baby has decided to play Tetris with my internal organs. After the three drops of urine leave my body, I make the trek back into the bedroom to snuggle up with my husband and oddly-shaped pregnancy pillow (worth every bloody penny, ladies). April 10, crazily enough, is my actual due date — important information because, as soon as I put that comfy pregnancy pillow between my legs, I cough, and then my water breaks.
Now for those of you reading this who haven’t had a child, you’re probably thinking that it’s like peeing your pants. Peeing your pants this is not, because to pee your pants you still have some semblance of control over your body. But when my water broke it was like the Oldman River Dam burst open all over my bed.
I yelled at Jonathan, but I’m pretty sure he felt it before I screamed, “ OH MY GOD!?! I think my water broke!” I once again waddled my super pregnant self back into the bathroom and continued to gush water from between my legs. I didn’t think to jump in the tub to let this drainage happen, because, you know, that would have made sense. Nope. I continued to drain out the life fluid that was keeping my baby nice and comfy in the womb on an Ikea bathroom rug that sits directly outside of the tub. Let me tell you, those rugs hold a heck of a lot of fluid!
Once I’m down to a simple trickle we called 811, who told us to get to the hospital. Luckily, I’ve had our hospital bags packed since our second trimester (we had way too many bags, but a girl has GOT TO HAVE SNACKS WHEN GIVING BIRTH!) I slapped on that adult diaper, because who has time or energy to fart around with a jumbo size pad in their granny panties? I grabbed my coat and husband and off we went.
Two hours later we were back home. Contrary to popular belief, your water breaking does not necessarily mean your baby is coming right away. Instead, the nurses told us to go home, nap, eat a snack, and come back at 3 PM to get this party rocking. (Side-note: I also got this rad pee pad to put in the bed with me that has come in handy with our senior dog who has taken to peeing everywhere in our house! It’s super absorbent!)
Until this point, the pandemic had not been too much of a hindrance to our birthing process, but for others it was. You could only have one support person in the room. I was always planning on only having Jonathan to keep things less crowded; however, if you had a doula or if you really wanted your mom or whomever, that was not gonna fly with COVID.
When we headed to the hospital in the early hours, Jonathan didn’t have to wear a mask until we hit the Labour & Delivery floor. But between then and 3 p.m. when we returned, policies changed and he was going to have to wear a mask indefinitely. As the one giving birth to a tiny human, I’m incredibly thankful that it was not I who had to wear the mask. It was a pain for Jonathan, but if that’s what it took in order for him to stay with us, it was absolutely worth it. Once we settled into our birthing room with our nurse, we chatted, had funny conversations amongst waves of pain and Jonathan even snuck a trip to Burger King, which I later regretted. While we were waiting for things to get going, the nurses and staff didn’t have to wear masks, but policies changed again, and suddenly all the nurses were wearing masks. I was impressed with how fast and willing everyone was to pivot at a moment’s notice to mandatory changes province-wide.
Eventually, there was a shift change with our nurse; my epidural had been administered, and the Pitocin began to flow. Around 1 AM, while Jonathan is having a nap on the daddy-cot, the nurse yelled for him to grab a leg and get going — the perfect time for Jonathan to have to use the bathroom, right? Upon his return, I was pushing and screaming. I barfed up my Whopper Jr. and fries, and swore my ever-loving face off that this child of mine was not coming out. He was so dug into my pelvis that there was no amount of pushing or vacuuming one could do to have this baby vaginally. Off to the OR for a C-section.
Plan B was rolling out and I was emotionally prepared for it until things swung hard to the left. See, when you go for a C-section they usually give you another epidural, numb you up and, boom, here’s your baby in your arms. Well, unfortunately, the epidural and the spinal tap to follow did not work and I had to be put under. I’m going to be painfully honest here, because this was incredibly traumatizing for both me and Jonathan. When they told me I was going to need to be put under I thought I was going to die. Everything happened at lightning speed. They rushed Jonathan out of the room, everyone was moving so fast, and I had so many drugs in my system that I really didn’t know what in the heck was going on.
I pleaded with my surgeon, the anesthesiologist, and my nurse to not let me die. I was crying and truly thought this was it; I’m leaving this earth. I had only been put under once before when I was 9 years old for a tonsillectomy, but this was completely different. In my mind I was about to die and leave my beautiful family earth-side. That was when they put the oxygen mask over my face, while I pleaded one more time that they don’t let me die, and then I was counting back from 100.
I don’t remember much that happened in the recovery room, so I ask Jonathan all the time to tell me the story of the first time he met our son and what it was like when I met him, too. I’m incredibly grateful that Jonathan, within 4 minutes of Felix entering this earth, had him on his chest and sucking on his finger.
We spent a total of 4 days in the hospital, where we had the luxury of having our own private room (thank you, COVID-19), with wonderful nurses, lactation consultants, paediatricians and doctors treating us. Each and every person who works in the health care industry deserves not only our everlasting praise and admiration but a huge raise. These are the people who are bringing new life into the world and they are putting their lives and livelihood on the line during this pandemic. They risk becoming infected with a disease we know very little about that has no cure as to date; they clearly love what they do.
All in all, I walked away from this pandemic pregnancy with a healthy baby boy, the admiration of our health care system, and a pretty a kick-ass scar to prove that I’m a bad-ass mother!