We welcomed our beautiful baby girl, Rowen Kathryn Kirby on July 15th at 3:50pm! She was born 8 days early, weighing 6lbs 3oz and 18in. It’s hard to believe it’s already been a month since welcoming her into the world! We are adjusting to our new life as parents which has been challenging and exhausting but also so amazing!! I wanted to share her birth story while details are still relatively fresh in my mind. And just a warning that this post is a long one :)
My blood pressure had been borderline high since 36 weeks so my OB was monitoring it and talked about the possibility of inducing early as a precaution. It wasn’t until Friday July 12th that my doctor called and told me to come into the hospital on Sun July 14th to start the induction process with the Foley catheter, the official induction being Mon July 15th, one day prior to 39 weeks and 8 days prior to baby girl’s original due date of July 23rd.
We had a busy weekend as we hosted a ‘diaper party’ for my husband and his guy friends Saturday afternoon/evening. On Sunday, we cleaned and washed our bedding which I highly recommend, it so nice to come home from the hospital to a fresh bed and clean house. We went to the hospital at 2pm for the foley bulb catheter (this helps dilate the cervix). We were sent home for the evening with instructions to return the next morning to start the IV hormones. Once we knew the plan, my sister made arrangements to be home for the birth which was amazing as I really wanted her and my mom to be in the room along with my husband. I was told I would be really crampy due to the Foley catheter. The process of having it inserted wasn’t too bad, but they did a stretch and sweep at the same time which was not enjoyable but the discomfort subsided. We stopped and grabbed some frozen drinks as a treat on our way home and I started to feel increasingly uncomfortable. We planned to have a quiet evening at home with my mom and sister joining us, making a steak dinner, watching a movie and then hopefully getting some sleep. By the time we got home, the cramping was getting worse and I wasn’t sure if I was having contractions or not (pain was constant but also coming in waves if that makes sense). I actually started crying when my mom arrived because the pain was making me so nervous about what was in store for the next day and what actual labour pains would be like. I ended up getting nauseous and vomiting due to the pain and wasn’t able to eat dinner. Thankfully the cramping subsided a bit and I was able to go for a short walk around the block and then watch a movie. The catheter is meant to dilate the cervix to about 3-4cm and will come out on its own if it has been successful in dilating to this point. Thankfully it came out just before I went to bed so I was much more comfortable and actually managed to get a good nights sleep.
I woke up at 545am to get ready and have something to eat. My nurse recommended not eating anything too heavy for breakfast as a lot of women get sick during labour but it’s important to eat as it could be awhile before I would be able to. We also had to call the hospital to confirm if we could come in first thing. They gave us the go ahead to come so we grabbed our bags and the car seat, snuggled our pup and took one final picture as a family of 3.
My husband and I got settled in our room around 730am and my mom and sister were planning to come between 9-10am. I was 3cm dilated at this point and my OB broke my water. They decided not to start the IV oxytocin right away as someone else carme in in active labour so they needed to tend to her first.
Breaking my water actually got things started immediately and I didn’t end up needing the oxytocin as I was having contractions and a lot of pain as a result. We weren’t timing the contractions but I felt like they were on top of each other as I was not getting any relief in between. Similar to Sunday evening, I was again very nauseous and thought I might throw up. As things continued to progress, my nausea got worse and I began to vomit with each contraction. I had Intended to walk around during early labour but given the pain and nausea this was not an option. I would get freezing cold and start shaking so my husband would cover me in fuzzy blankets we brought from home. I would have a painful contraction followed by vomiting and then feel hot and sweaty so they would remove the blankets. And then it would start all over again.
My family was really helpful in reminding me to relax my body and breath through the contractions but this got more and more difficult. My doctor asked what I wanted to do in terms of pain management, I knew from the get go I wanted an epidural and requested it at this point as I didn’t think I could continue to manage the nausea and getting sick as things got more intense. The nurse told me my contractions still needed to get more powerful/productive and I was about 5cm dilated at this point so i knew things would get worse and I was already so mentally exhausted and discouraged from getting sick. They called the anesthesiologist and gave me the laughing gas while we waited. I HATED the gas as it didn’t provide any relief for the pain and intensified the nausea. The mask also limited my ability to take deep breaths which wasn’t helpful. Thankfully the doctor arrived fairly quickly, the worst part of the epidural process was having to sit up and lean over for it to be administered. I didn’t want anything touching my stomach or any pressure on it so this was uncomfortable. I had about 3 contractions (and vomiting) while sitting up waiting for the epidural. All I felt was the needle poke of the freezing and was relieved when they let me lay down again. Immediately I started to feel relief, I could still feel pressure but no pain and the nausea went away. Hallelujah!!
I got the epidural around noon and was 6cm dilated at this point. They told me they would check my cervix again at 230pm, not wanting to check sooner as they said it could be discouraging if I hadn’t progressed at all. It was like night and day after having the epidural, I was able to relax, talk to my family, enjoy listening to music and even had a nap! My sister had everyone guess how much I would be dilated before my nurse came back at 230pm. I was optimistic but still realistic only expecting to have progressed a cm or so. I was so shocked when my nurse said I was fully dilated!! They suggested waiting another hour to push given that I was comfortable, this way baby would continue to descend naturally and get into position before pushing. They suggested I have a nap which was impossible given the nerves and excitement of knowing baby girl was coming soon. I had made a labour playlist of all of my favourite slow/relaxing music that had been playing all day. The song “Lullaby” by Dixie Chicks played just prior to pushing which is such a beautiful song, a lullaby from a mama to their baby. I started crying as I sung the lyrics as it felt so meant to be. My sister had been snapping pictures the entire day and I asked that she continue during the birth to capture these amazing, intimate moments. She also had everyone guess what time baby would be born when we knew I would be pushing at 330pm. My sister guessed 3:40pm, my husband 3:45pm and my mom 3:50pm. I was much more conservative guessing 430pm or later. My nurse also suggested it could take anywhere from an hour to two and a half hours or more for a first time mom. At 3:30pm, my nurse had me prepped with my legs in stirrups and they gave me these grab bars to hold onto for leverage which were really helpful for pushing. The woman across the hall was also ready to push so my OB was back and forth between the two of us and the resident remained with me along with my nurse who had been amazing. Because I couldn’t feel much other than some pressure I didn’t know when I was having a contraction. She felt my stomach and told me when I was having one and when / how to push effectively. They said they could see the head almost immediately and my sister asked if we wanted to know what colour her hair was (which looked much darker than the colour it really is). My nurse and family were awesome, reminding me how to breath, to push and just providing general encouragement. My husband understandably wanted to stay near my head :) I honestly had no idea if what I was doing was accomplishing anything but according to my team, it was. After 20 minutes of pushing, our baby girl was born at 3:50pm — Welcome to the world Rowen Kathryn Kirby !!
They immediately laid her on my chest, which was an absolutely surreal, overwhelming, and amazing experience!! She was crying, I was crying and when I started to talk to her she sort of stopped crying, opened her eyes and looked up at me like “hey Mama, I recognize that voice!” a moment I will never forget!! My husband cut the cord (despite some serious hesitation lol) and she and I did skin to skin while the placenta was delivered (honestly I didn’t even really notice what was going on as I was just focused on my baby). Everything was good with baby and I so the doctors and nurses, along with my sister and mom left the room. My husband and I spent the “golden hour” alone doing skin to skin with our fresh little babe and I nursed for the first time!
My sister and mom along with my in laws joined us afterwards for their first snuggles with baby Rowen! We snapped lots of pictures and popped a bottle of champagne to celebrate our girl’s birthday (and my first drink since last October :) ha!)
My sister had to leave to get back to Toronto and my father in law stepped out to grab us a pizza for dinner since I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. My epidural had been taken out along with my catheter, but my legs were still very numb. The nurses wanted me to get up to pee but I didn’t feel like I could walk to the bathroom and thankfully I didn’t as I actually fainted when they tried transferring me to the commode. It was likely a combo of low blood sugar from not eating all day, low blood pressure from the epidural and some blood loss. Thankfully I came to quickly and while baby girl was napping on her grandma, I went ahead and slept too. Our families headed home and our nurse gave baby her first bath and then left us all to get some sleep. Our room was quite large with a couch/cot for my husband and a bassinet for babe. Our first night was pretty uneventful as was the following day. We just hung out watching Friends and enjoying newborn snuggles. We had a few visitors before being given the okay to go home at 5pm.
We were very eager to get home to our pup to introduce her to her sister!! Poppy has been so great, always wanting to be close to a Rowen and is concerned when she cries. She is so gentle and snuggly with her, it is adorable!!
We also couldn’t wait to have showers at home. I could have had one at the hospital and took all the necessities to do so but decided to wait until we were home. I overpacked my hospital bag big time! I had a few changes of clothes even though I only wore a nursing tank and robe while at hospital (as well as a hospital gown). I was happy to have brought slippers as well as a few of my own pillows and a comfy blanket. I wore a maxi dress home which was perfect. I was also happy to have brought a speaker for music which we had playing the entire time. A few other helpful items were extra long phone chargers, a tablet with some shows, good lip chap, dry shampoo, gum and hard candies to suck on when I couldn’t eat, some snacks like crackers, nuts and granola bars (mostly for family but I enjoyed the day after delivering), and Gatorade because hello breastfeeding thirst! We had our best friends who live on our street visit over to visit, enjoyed a glass of wine and spent our first sleepless night home as parents with our beautiful baby!
Life has been a bit of a blur since and I can’t get over how quickly time is passing already -although it doesn’t always feel this way during late night feedings and sleepless nights :) There have been hard days as we adjust but I remind myself that this newborn phase will pass quickly and soon I will look back and miss it! It’s a heck of an adventure and we are so happy to be on it together!!