“Before I Formed You In The Womb I Knew You. Before You Were Born I Set You Apart.”
– Jeremiah 1:5
It was August 27, and all week long, especially that day, I had been having awful headaches, nausea and fatigue. My mom and a friend both told me that these were signs that labour was just around the corner, but at 37 weeks pregnant (and expecting that I would surely be 2 weeks overdue with a 10 pound baby like my own mom was with me) I was certain I was just exhausted after working so much and that I probably had about a month left to go before he arrived. I had just finished photographing my last wedding of the summer, and was looking forward to finally having some days off to relax, and had booked a spa day with a friend for the following week to treat myself. I was swollen from head to toe and couldn’t wait for a massage. Sure enough, my friend who predicted that our sweet boy would arrive that weekend was right! On August 28, I woke up feeling soaked. Still certain that our baby was not arriving early, I tried to convince myself that in my uncomfortable third trimester glory- I had peed the bed. I got changed into some dry PJ’s and fell back asleep. I woke up again at 6:30 AM and the bed and my PJs were completely soaked. There was no more denying that my water had broke- I couldn’t possibly have peed the bed TWICE in less than 2 hours. I sat up and said to my husband that I think my water broke. I have never seen him fly out of bed in a panic so fast, it was so hilarious! I assured him that these things take time and that we didn’t need to panic. I joked to him that it was entirely possible that I peed myself since I didn’t get that stereotypical out of the movies gush, but when I stood up to get changed… it happened. This was it. I was so unprepared. I hadn’t even had a day off from editing yet and still had so much to do! I needed to pack my hospital bag, finish his nursery, buy supplies, clean my house… but ready or not, he was coming!
It was amazing to think that for all of those months I was never alone. Always feeling his gentle nudges, kicks and rolls. I couldn’t wait to see this sweet little baby that I had loved so much since day one. We had a prenatal appointment at 10:15 that morning in the city, and since I wasn’t having contractions or feeling discomfort, I told Greg that I would like to just go to our scheduled appointment and see what they said to do next. When we had almost arrived in St. Albert, Greg suggested I phone and ask them if we should just go to the hospital, and when I did they decided that’s what we should do. The labour and delivery ward was packed- there were so many babies being born! The nurse brought me in to be assessed and hooked me up to a monitor for a non stress test. I was in no pain at all, but the lady in the bed next to me was having contractions every few minutes and began to want something for the pain. I wondered silently what that must feel like, knowing my turn to experience this would come all too soon. The nurse confirmed that my water had broken, but since I wasn’t having contractions and they had no beds I was told to come back in 8 hours or if anything changed before then. I was relieved we could go finish up some last minute shopping for baby and to go home and get my house cleaned up. We decided to go to Buy Buy Baby first to pick up everything we needed on our way home. As we were about to walk in the door, I felt my water leaking… a LOT. It would not stop and soon my maxi dress was completely soaked from front to back and continued to leave a trail as I rushed to the bathroom. It was mortifying. Thankfully I have the sweetest husband ever and he brought me a change of clothes from the truck and assured me that this probably happens all of the time and to not be embarrassed. We quickly purchased what we needed and began the drive back to Drayton Valley.
My amazing mom met me at our house to help me do some cleaning. It felt so great to be organized and somewhat prepared. Later that evening I felt a really light cramp in my lower abdomen, but it was nothing at all what the nurses had described a contraction to feel like. I waited for my entire belly to get tight but nothing happened and the cramp went away. We continued cleaning and quite some time later I got another cramp. My mom suggested that maybe I was beginning to have contractions since they were coming and going. Greg was telling me that we needed to go to the hospital and that they had told us to start heading back there around that time. I was feeling calm and wonderful, and was in no rush to get there. I thought since they were so busy and I wasn’t feeling any pain that we would probably just be told to get a hotel for the night. My mom took our dogs back to their farm so they could watch them for us and was going to meet us back at our house, then follow us to the hospital. My poor husband was concerned and was adamant that we leave right then and there. I phoned my mom and told her that we were going to leave and to just meet us there. Thank goodness that my husband was so persistent that we go to the hospital because I would have never guessed what the next few hours would hold.
We were no more than a few minutes into our drive when the contractions began to come VERY quickly and very intensely. As Greg sped to the hospital, the next hour was excruciating. Contractions were about every minute apart and the pain was absolutely unbearable. I felt like a shark was eating my lower body. I wanted to be able to move into different positions to alleviate the pain but since I was strapped in by my seatbelt all I could do was grip the door handle, white knuckled, teeth clenched and beg for death (just kidding…kind of). Every bump and turn in the road sent me into tears and I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath. After what seemed like hours, we arrived at the hospital and I could not even walk myself in. Greg grabbed a wheelchair and brought me to labour and delivery. When they checked me, they said that I was 10 centimetres dilated and my body was trying to push the baby out, but that what they felt was not a head but in fact, a bum! The pain was blinding and everything was a blur. I begged for them to give me something to ease the pain but they informed me that the Dr. was not at the hospital yet and I needed to wait. When she finally arrived she confirmed that our baby was breach and that we needed to do an emergency C section. Most women I know who have had C sections experienced feelings of disappointment that they weren’t able to have a natural birth, but this news was music to my ears. Finally an end to my suffering! She told me that it was very important for me not to push and tried to help me with my breathing. At last, the anesthesiologist arrived to give me an epidural to stop the urge to push as I was prepped for surgery. It was heaven on earth. Instantly I felt amazing. The pain was gone, I was relaxed and able to breathe and talk. They gave me a small glass of liquid to drink. One of the nurses said it wouldn’t taste good and to take it like a shot of tequila. The thought of tequila and the taste of the drink made me feel incredibly nauseous and I began to get sick. They prepped me in the operating room and then Greg was allowed to join me.
This was it- we were about to meet our baby. I was so tired and felt like my head was in the clouds. I held Greg’s hand and smiled at him as the doctors worked. His head was stuck and it took a little while to get him out. Finally, she exclaimed “It’s a boy!”, and we heard our precious baby cry for the first time. I saw Greg’s eyes fill with tears and my heart was full of love for him. Greg was allowed to go to the warming table, which I couldn’t see. I felt anxious to see our baby. What did he look like? My arms ached to hold him and time dragged on. Finally, they put my sweet baby onto my chest. I studied and adored every inch of him. I looked at his wet curls, his tiny fingers and big kissable lips. He was perfect. This was my son! I was worried the name we had decided on wouldn’t suit him (we didn’t have another one picked as a backup), but when they asked us what his name was we both felt that the name suited him perfectly. Henry Maxwell Bennett. They took Henry and Greg back to our room to stitch me up while my amazing doctor held my hand. My only regret about having a C section was that I didn’t feel present. I felt so high and so tired that after he was born I remember thinking that all I wanted to do was sleep. While they were working on me, the surgeon told me that I had a Bicornurate Uterus. When researching this after, the statistics were kind of alarming! This condition can effect fertility, cause preterm labour, breach babies, miscarriages and in extreme cases, deformities or stillbirths. I feel so thankful to have my rainbow baby, and that he is healthy and we are both safe. They wheeled me back to our room and I was finally able to enjoy our first precious moments together as a family and bond with our new baby. On that day, I experienced an entirely new depth of love that I couldn’t have even imagined was possible. I would do anything to make him happy, to keep him safe. I would lay down my life for him in a heartbeat. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him, in awe that this perfect, precious gift was ours. Because everything happened so fast and unexpectedly, we unfortunately weren’t able to have our birth photographed, but here are a few of my favourite photos I took in his first few weeks of life.