Bennett’s birth story kind of starts around the time I hit 38 weeks pregnant. At 37 weeks, Nick and I spent a night in Canmore to celebrate my 29th birthday, and being that I wasn’t really able to enjoy the experience (not even a full body massage!) confirmed that I had hit that point where I was officially “done” being pregnant. I powered through and finished my last few shifts of work the following week (seriously so proud of myself for making it that far lol), with my last day falling on November 23rd -- the day I hit 38 weeks. I saw my OB earlier that morning and asked for a membrane sweep to hopefully help kick start things, as I’ve learnt that my body kind of likes to “hold onto pregnancies” (not a bad problem whatsoever) and definitely didn’t want to go past my due date. I was told by several individuals that my particular OB was “known” for her thorough sweeps, and that most of her patients go into labour soon after. Unfortunately, while I did experience some light contractions for about 48hours after the sweep, followed by loosing my mucus plug that weekend -- baby boy stayed put and I had to continue to be patient. This wasn’t easy, because while I was physically bigger with my pregnancy with Evanna (thanks to something called “polyhydramnios”… ie. I had like triple the normal amount of amniotic fluid with her), I experienced a lot more physical pain with Bennett due to him dropping down into my pelvic/pubic area around 35 weeks, and was getting a little desperate for some relief “down there”.
I saw my OB again at 39 weeks, and asked her to do another sweep – and boy, did she go to town! I left the clinic (which was located within the hospital that I would deliver at, as I’m considered “high risk”), but it took me almost 30 minutes to make it out to my car after the appointment due to having to make multiple stops along the way and take significant breaks…. as I was in a considerable amount of pain from the sweep lol.
I drove home -- and because we (THANKFULLY) had a nurse watching Evanna for the day, I immediately ran myself a bath, followed by taking a long afternoon nap. Later that night, my friend Amanda texted me to see how I was doing and if I was having any contractions. She happened to be working in triage on the Labour + Delivery unit at the hospital I was assigned to deliver at, and informed me that “they had a ton of discharges earlier that day, the floor was clear and they had a ton of float nurses” and basically stated that it was a great night to have a baby lol. I sent her a screenshot of my contractions that I was tracking through an app on my phone, but because they were still pretty weak and inconsistent -- knew it was nothing to get excited over. She suggested that I could still come in and get checked out by the OB, and maybe even have a “mini sweep”. Nick wasn’t thrilled with this idea – as he knew they were just going to send us home (and I knew he wasn’t wrong) and it would just be a waste of time…. but he also knew not to argue with me about it at this stage in my pregnancy either. We waited til our night nurse (Cecilia) arrived to watch Evanna (10pm), and headed off to the hospital – which conveniently is somewhat “down the street” from where we live (about a 5 minute drive).
We arrived (around 10:30pm) and I was quickly assessed and hooked up for monitoring in the triage area. I was still 4cm dilated (which I had been since 38 weeks), but about 75% effaced. I was a little disappointed because of how much pain I had been in that day and that the “sweeps” weren’t working like I had hoped they would. I asked the OB if he could “sweep me again”, but he assured me that examining me “was enough”, and that I would go into labour soon. After we left (and my friend hinting that we should have LOTS of sex lol), the OB told my friend Amanda that had he actually done another sweep, he would have broken my water because of how tight and bulging it was.
We got home around 11pm, went upstairs to check on Evanna and headed off to bed. I changed into my pajamas and climbed into bed beside Nick praying that maybe things would happen the following day and try to get some sleep in the meantime. Well, no less than 15 minutes later, I felt this HUGE pop and gush of water and I quickly jump out of bed and yelled to Nick “okay, my water definitely just broke!”. He swiftly sat up and yelled at me to get off the carpet and into the bathroom, but I ended up moving onto the bathroom mat instead, and Nick was like “Kierra, get off the rug and stop getting everything wet!” lol. With every move, more fluid continued to gush out of me and I kind of froze in an adrenaline rush for a few minutes, trying to figure out what exactly I needed to do. Due to the fact that I was aiming for a VBAC, I wasn’t allowed to labour too long at home, and was told to come in as soon as possible so they could monitor me closely. Don’t laugh, but from reading other birth stories, I recall most state they have a shower after their water breaks, so I decided to quickly hop in the shower and wash off. I could slowly feel my contractions get stronger while in the shower, so I got out and dressed once again. I quickly texted Amanda that my water had broken and gave her the heads up that we were headed back to triage!
While I had most of hospital bag already packed from the week prior, I ran around the house grabbing a few last minute things, checked on Evanna and asked Cecelia if she could shoot a text to Carmen (our other homecare nurse), asking her to come and watch Evanna in the morning (all our nurses were “on call” and waiting to help watch Evanna and ensure she was taken care of while I was at the hospital). During this time, my contractions started to get more intense, and I knew I was definitely in full blown labour by the time we were in the car and headed towards the hospital.
After parking, Nick went and grabbed a wheelchair and wheeled me up to the labour + delivery unit where I was triaged once again (so I ended up being triaged twice in a span of about an hour lol). It was quickly confirmed that I was definitely in labour (the continued gushes of anmotic fluid and me bent over in pain kind of made that obvious), and I was asked if I wanted to get my epidural started. I said yes, and they sent a page out to the anesthesiologist. They slowly walked me down to my room (which happened to be at the very end of the hallway... so I may have uttered a swear word under my breath lol), and tried to get me settled. Unfortunately because I had “funny bloodwork” from my D&C/miscarriage back in July 2016 (apparently my INR was slightly elevated), the anesthesiologist wanted to be cautious and have new bloodwork done before he would start my epidural. Colour me annoyed and slightly frustrated -- especially because I had more current bloodwork done throughout my pregnancy that was just fine and my contractions were getting more painful by the minute. The nurses (they asked if I wouldn’t mind having a student – which I didn’t, so I had both a regular RN and student assigned to me during that shift) went and grabbed me some nitrous oxide to help with the pain (which did help a little), and even suggested applying warm water in the shower to help provide some additional relief. Finally around 3am, my bloodwork came back normal and the anesthesiologist proceeded with inserting epidural.
UNFORTANTELY, the epidural wasn’t working as efficiently as it should have been (as I was still experiencing a significant amount of pain), and so they paged the anesthesiologist to come back and redo the epidural at around 5am (good thing I don’t find this process particularly painful).
I was finally able to experience a little bit of relief after my epidural was reinserted, and was left to get a bit of rest while I continued to dilate. When the day shift started (7am), I was introduced to my new nurse, but the rest of the morning honestly became a bit of a blur from there on out. Our birth photographer Jennie arrived at some point, and I know I also sent a text to my mom letting her know that I was in labour during that time too. As the morning progressed, I could not get comfortable, and every time I pushed for a bolus of anesthetic drugs through my epidural, it caused me to feel this stabbing sensation through my upper back (it was brutal). They determined it was due to Bennett being “sunnyside up” (though his body was in the right position, his facing the wrong way, with the front of his head facing up), and not in a very good position. They tried several attempts at turning him around…. but baby boy wouldn’t budge.
Overall, it was a horrible morning, and I could find a comfortable position whatsoever and having a tough time finding the right pain management. The OB that was on during the day came in a few times, but I was just completely out of it to have a proper conversation with her (and apologized later in case she thought I was being rude).
Around lunchtime, I finally found a somewhat decent position to sit in, and a little system that worked to provide me some relief. I ended up having the bottom of the bed pulled down so I could be in a “sitting position”, and every time I pushed the button to provide me with a bolus of anesthetic, I would use the nitrous oxide for about 10 minutes to help lessen the upper “stabbing pain” that the bolus caused me to feel. Once I got into this system, I finally able to feel some relief and labour a bit more easily for the rest of the afternoon.
Later in the evening (… yeah, my body didn’t dilate particularly fast), I was finally dilated to 9cm, but was having a hard time achieving the full 10. So they started a little bit of oxytocin around 3/4pm -- but because I was a previous cesection, they had to start at a much lower dose to be on the safe side. Just before shift change (6:30pm), I got to 10cm and they decided I could finally start pushing. I got a new nurse around 7pm, but I wasn’t having too much success pushing – and it was mostly due to Bennett’s horrible positioning (and later finding out that he was quite the little chunker too!). After 2 hours of pushing (8:30pm) and getting quite exhausted, they went and got the OB (Dr. Watson) to talk about my options. He and his resident came into my room and we talked about where things were at, and inquire what I would like to see happen. I told him that while a part of me just wanted to have another csection and get things over with, I also wanted my VBAC due to the fact that Nick and I don’t know how many kids we want either. I’m very aware that it starts to become more risker to have children when you hit 3 csections, and I don’t want that particular limitation in case Nick and I decide to have a 4th or 5th child (however, at this time, we’re just taking it “one kid at a time”, and only know that we’re for sure having one more baby, and we’ll wait til after that to decide anything else). Dr. Watson stated that we could try pushing again with the aid of forceps, and if that didn’t work, we would proceed with another csection. I felt like this was a good plan, as it was providing another opportunity of getting my VBAC that I was really wanting, give that little bit of help that I could just feel was necessary, but still have a backup option to safely deliver Bennett. So they got the room ready, called the NICU team for standby and once the foreceps were in place, I began to push again. After a few more big pushes, BENNETT WILLAIM IRVINE was finally born at 9:15pm. He weighed a whopping 8lbs12oz – and with Evanna’s birth weight at 6lbs12oz at also 39 weeks, my original guess that Bennett would be somewhere within the 7lb range was wayyy off, and definitely caught me off guard to say the least.
Bennett was immediately put onto my chest while Nick cut the umbilical cord and we both burst into tears. A few minutes later, the NICU team took Bennett for a quick assessment and do a few deep suctions while Dr. Watson stitched up my 3rd degree tear. After the OB finished stitching me up and the NICU team was finished assessing Bennett, he was placed back on my chest and the medical team started to clear out of the room.
About an hour later (11:30pm), Nick left to get me some McDonalds… as we were both hungry, and I felt like I deserved a little reward lol. When he arrived back, we took a few more photos of just us 3 with Jennie so she could leave (can’t believe how long she was there – birth photography is no joke!), ate our midnight dinner, sent out a few texts to close friends and family announcing Bennett’s birth, swaddled him up real good, and decided to try and get a few hours of shuteye.
The following day was essentially filled with me getting assessed by the nurse every few hours, having the pediatrician drop by to check out Bennett (who payed extra close attention while listening to his heart due to our “little history” with Evanna), and having just a few family members visit. I wanted to keep a majority of the hospital stay somewhat intimate and have/enjoy that private time with just Nick and our new baby, so I requested that most people wait til we were discharged before coming over to visit and meet Bennett.
The hospital somewhat tried to convince Nick and I to stay one more night… but due to the fact that we’ve spent more than our fair share of time in hospital (thanks to Miss Evanna), we kindly declined the offer and booked it out of there just after 8pm (plus, how hard can a healthy baby be to handle… right?!? Oi). Evanna was already in bed by the time we got home, but it was such a nice feeling to have our family of FOUR sleeping under the same roof (something we never take for granted).
For the most part, I got everything I wished for. A more laidback (ie. very little drama), stress-free, successful VBAC (!!!!) delivery close to home (relocating and delivering Evanna in Edmonton made for quite the lonely experience that caused quite a lot of anxiety and heartache at the time). Sure there were some interesting moments – but when my only previous point of reference is Evanna, you gain quite the interesting perspective, and so I did’t get hung up on the little things and am just grateful for this experience.
xo The Irvine Family
xo The Irvine Family
BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHY BY