Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Blaise's Birth Story {part two}

do you know the meaning of the phrase "gong show"? when it seems like everything is going wrong and it really shouldn't - it's a bit of a ridiculous situation. i use that phrase all the time. especially here. any time you want to get something done here that involves other people here in uganda, it often ends up as a bit of a gong show. at least, that's what i call it.

so we were on our way to the hospital. the contractions were now picking up in intensity and frequency. not so much that i needed to cry out or moan or do anything of the sort {that sounded quite british of me} but i was now certain that i was going to meet my little man very shortly. and that was very exciting.
we stopped at the main intersection closest to the hospital at the red light. {of course there would be a red light.} a little girl in rags came by and started wiping our windshield and bonnet {hood of our car}.
where are your parents little girl? why aren't you in bed? sigh. 
jamie scrambles in his wallet for some change but for some reason the girl is gone on to the next car. green light. we advance through the intersection and turn right. up the steep hills and around pot holes and we pull up to the hospital at last.

enter the gong show.

the parking lot is full for some reason {it's not a very big parking lot} and the guard wants us to sign in. jamie says to just let us in so he can drop me off - i'm about to give birth, by the way. so up we go to the emergency triage door and i get out telling jamie i'm okay to walk in and he'll just meet me in there.
i walk into emerge and there is no one in emergency. no one. no receptionist. no patients. no one. the floors are flooded with soapy water and i look around and see a guy washing the floors with some sort of floor washing machine. he looks at me in my obvious discomfort and tells me to go around to the other entrance {where i usually enter for my doctor's appointments.} so i start walking there {it's just around the corner}. there is only a woman sitting at the information desk.
she looks at me holding my belly and i tell her that there was no one in the emergency room. she says, "you're not well..." and i look at her in disbelief and say, "well, i'm having a baby. i need to be admitted." she tells me to sit down and she'll call someone in emergency. i walk out and meet jamie and tell him what just happened and he reminds me that our midwife said she'll often skip triage and go straight up to labour and delivery on the 1st floor. so i said, "let's do that." and we walked up the ramp to the first floor.

the contractions were extremely intense and i told jamie, "i think i'm going to have to start pushing really soon." he sped up and as we approached the labour ward he grabbed a nurse/midwife coming out and said, "she's going to have the baby." the midwife {called martha as we soon found out} was extremely kind and led me by the arm to a room where she immediately got me a gown to change into. i quickly changed into the gown and started swaying while holding onto the side of the bed.

in between contractions i attempt a smile for jamie. minutes later {14 to be exact} i would be holding blaise in my arms.

the midwife wanted to check the baby's heart beat but in order to do that, i would have to sit on the bed. in between contractions i got up on the bed, but it wasn't long before another contraction slammed me and it was so uncomfortable for me that i could stay on my back and instead flipped over onto my hands and knees and now i started to have to moan a little bit.
what was incredible for me was that i recognized the stages as i was in them. i said to jamie, "i'm in transition." and was so incredibly thankful - in fact, i think i whispered "thank you, jesus." it was so empowering for me to know that this baby was coming and be confident in my body's ability to deliver this baby unlike my first where i was in complete disbelief as i went through each stage {mostly because of how fast it was all going when everyone always said first time births usually took around 12 hours}. i was still a bit surprised that my water hadn't broken yet, though.

a few more contractions hit me full force when i felt the urge to push. i let out a bit of a moan/bellow and started to bear down {still on the bed. still on my hands and knees.}. the nurses started calling out for me to flip over but i didn't respond {obviously} but i did hear jamie say, "no. she's more comfortable like this." and that seemed to quiet them. another contraction and urge to push and i felt my body pushing - almost on its own - and then my water broke. everywhere. i remembered my midwives in canada telling me to breathe through the crowning of the baby's head when i was pushing with jude and i did the same and then his head was out.
amazing. sweet relief. and then i heard the midwife and nurse saying "the cord. the cord." and i knew the cord was around his neck. and then a few seconds {which seemed like forever} and i heard them say, "it's loose." in my head i was telling myself that i needed to get this baby out in the next couple pushes. and then another push and more water exploded {this was by far my messiest birth so perhaps it's a good thing it happened in the hospital} and he was out in one big gloppy, slippery push. i turned my head to look at him and was shocked at how bluish-white he appeared to be. the midwife told me to turn over {this time i complied} and took my gorgeous {albeit blue} baby and all i could think was, "i just want to hear you cry, kiddo. please cry for mama." and then martha put him on my chest and he let out a huge wail.
again. sweet relief.

i was instantly and completely in love. i have never had this with my other babies. with noah, i was in complete shock and awe that this baby was inside me and now i was holding him. with jude, i smiled because i thought he looked like a little sumo wrestler but i never had the instant swooning that a lot of woman talk about - love at first sight. but with blaise? he had me from the very first second i held him in my arms. i breathed to jamie, "he is so beautiful." and then "look at the full head of hair!" {i always wanted a baby with a full head of hair!}
i think a lot of it was just from being so empowered by the birth - no one needed to tell me i was in transition or when to push, i was in control {or as much as one can be} and fully aware of what my body needed and was doing. it was absolutely exhilarating. i definitely experienced that post-birth high {which resulted in very little sleep for me - if any - that night}.

now because of the speed at which blaise arrived, we beat our doctor to the hospital and the on-call doctor attended the birth. of the entire experience, this was probably the "low" of the whole thing. due to us being in the labour ward only 20 minutes prior to blaise being born, our birth plan/preferences weren't able to be read by the nurse/doctor on call. so i had to tell them not to cut the cord until it had stopped pulsing {which the doctor complied easily with. also if you're curious why, there are many articles and benefits to letting the baby have this very oxygen-rich blood continue to flow. you can check out more here or here or here}. but then once it had, the doctor cut it and then started pulling on the cord to which i said, "no! please wait a bit longer, please." i was shocked that doctors still do that! then he started mashing on my belly {again i had requested this NOT to happen} and it was a bit painful {this coming from the woman who just birthed a 9lb4oz baby}. eventually the placenta was birthed.
then he insisted on cleaning me off. at one point i asked, "isn't there a shower in our room that i can do this in?" and the nurse said that yes, there was. but the doctor continued to wipe down my legs. it wasn't creepy, but i didn't find it necessary - yes, i was a mess, but if there was a shower in our room {not the labour room, but the room we'd be moving to} why couldn't i do all this myself? and then when checking if i needed stitches he was rough with cleaning {they weren't. hooray!}. but i definitely winced several times and was annoyed at how rough and gruff he seemed.

aside from that, it was an amazing experience and i'm so thankful for how everything turned out. i still didn't like staying in the hospital overnight and we were made to wait over 2 hours to finally get our bill and leave {jamie eventually "threatened" to go home and we'd come back and pay the next day - the nurse did not like that but luckily our bill was quickly brought up and we were able to leave shortly thereafter.} but what a blessing for me and blaise to have come through labour and birth and both of us healthy and doing well.

so that's the story. i am so amazed at the perfection of God's perfect timing for us. it hit me that if i had been in canada, i would have been induced before blaise had had a chance to come on his own. it would be very rare for a midwife or a doctor to let me stay pregnant for 16 days and so i am thankful that me giving birth in a hospital in uganda was all part of his plan for me to still be able to give birth naturally and without being induced.

thankful. and blessed. and oh-so-in-love.


  1. Wow, I just LOVED reading this Vanessa! You are amazing and I am so glad you were able to have Blaise just the way you wanted. He's gorgeous and your birth story is so beautiful too. Much love...

  2. ah-mazing. I so remember that high. and thinking, "this is really stupid... my baby is ASLEEP and probably won't be for the next 3 months, so I should try to get some shut eye" haha! but it feels so good at the same time :)

    I'd be curious to see how I felt if I were ever to give birth again in terms of control. I felt slightly more *aware* for Oli's birth (maybe because I had to push longer so I had time to process) than with Lily. But nothing like what you're talking about.

    Congrats again!

  3. This story brought tears to my eyes! How wonderful. Congrats Vanessa.

  4. GAH!!! I dont know where to start responding to this!! Mostly, my insides were turning in the story. Maybe its just because I don't know what to expect but know that its happening regardless in about 3 months time. And its scary. And the messy bit scared me. And the hands and knees bit scared me. BUT, BUT, the whole, knowing and remembering what your midwives had told you to do and the fact that you were so clear-minded and that it only took 14 minutes of being in the hospital and that you didn't need stitches and....ALL THE REST OF IT...(except for the gruff doctor, that scared me too, cos my doctor is gruff) was amazing. And mostly though, I was so amazed at God's plan. He KNEW you'd be overdue. He KNEW Blaise would come naturally, in a hospital, in Uganda, with a full head of hair. He KNEW that Jamie would be able to support you the way you needed - oh by the way, that almost made me cry, how supportive he was, how he knew what you needed.

  5. awesome story - i'm guessing dr. gruff didn't compliment your placents :) amazing how same mom can have such different labor stories.. and reactions to the babies. love that you have a household of boys. and the last pic of you two sleeping is gorgeous.

  6. substitute 'A' for the 'S' at teh end of Placent haha.

    1. Ahaha. No, he definitely did NOT comment on my placenta. And for a moment, I thought you were just shortening "placenta" to "placents". Too funny.

  7. So heartwarming! I think I held my hand to my heart the whole time I read your story, it brought back so many good memories of my daughters' births! I really like what you said about it being a blessing giving birth in were SO right, they would never let you go that far over here, but your body seemed to know exactly what it was doing :) Thank you for sharing!

  8. Beautiful! What a great experience!

  9. Ok sis your "stone cold" sister had tears welling up during that story. I think if I'd seen your reaction to him, all your "in-loveness" I would have balled. Also a side note...I want to be like you when I'm preggers/giving birth hahaha! In all ways possible :) you're one amazing woman xo

  10. Ahhhhhhhhh, so wonderful! I'm reliving all my births and realized how much I relied on my midwives each time, inspite of 'knowing' what was next! I'm sure I would have gone AWOL to avoid inducing :D God bless Jamie for executing his role perfectly!! love you guys!

  11. Thanks everyone for your sweet comments!

  12. Loved your story. Thanks for sharing it Vanessa. It had me thinking of my births all day.

  13. currently singing "did you ever know that you're my heeeerooooo!!"
    whoa. blaise is SO beautiful. i'm so proud of you for remembering everything. your brain is gangster.

    love you mama!

  14. You are my birthing hero! LOVE how you & Jamie took so much control amidst the chaos around you and that you had a great experience overall. You look amazing too in the shots from after his birth.

    So happy for you!

  15. OH MY GOODNESS! I LOVE that full head of hair and I love how FAT he is!!! What an amazing story from an amazing woman. Way to go Vaness & Praise God for how it all worked out so beautiful (minus the rough doctor arg!) Love to you all xoxo And yes mad props to Jamie for speaking up when it was needed!

  16. Ah, I can't believe it! A birth in Uganda. In my mind, after you told me the brief story of the nurse finding a room for you, I had in my mind that it was you, Jamie, the nurse and Blaise. Even with a doc present, you pretty much did all that on your own. No coaching... I can't think of anyone else who would do so great giving birth in Kampala! Craziness. What a cool thing for Blaise to have said, "Kampala, Uganda" as his birth place!

    Oh and I just had to chuckle how Jamie threatened to leave and then you got the bill. Some places whether it's China or Africa, they are oh so the same!!

  17. way to go, girl! you are awesome! LOVED hearing the full story and I'm proud of you! it's so awesome to know your body well and to understand the process- just makes the whole wonder of the experience that much more amazing! hope you are resting as much as you can!


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