I don’t know who in the heck is going to want to read this besides maybe my Mom but here is a birth story (contains very little gore but some swearing).
On February 17th, 1999, Ron and I drove to work together for the one and only time in our careers working at the same plantsite. We both worked in the same plant at the time but I was a day worker and he was a shiftworker so always started at 6 AM or PM. On this day, we were scheduled for some training that the whole site was receiving.
I was 34 weeks pregnant at the time, starting to feel pretty bulky but still getting around pretty well. The weird thing about that morning was when I took Kyah out for a pee, I noticed a bit of trickling down my leg. (I know, WAY too much information!) I wiped it up and noticed it was a bit tinged with pink. I went back inside and went for a pee myself. I thought, “Wow, that was a really big pee!”. By 7 1/2 months, you get used to having lots of little tiny pees because some small person is sitting on your bladder all the time!
(32 week ultrasound showing the little bean nestled into my bladder)
We ate breakfast and went to our course. I wasn’t feeling so well. In fact, as I listened to our site leader droning on and on, my friend Marilyn, who was sitting beside me kept whispering ‘are you sure you’re all right? you’re sure squirming around a lot!’. (I was in fact listening to the speaker thinking ‘ why doesn’t he just shut the fuck up and get on with it’) We then broke up into little work groups and I thought I’d whip to the bathroom.
What I saw there was enough to stun me (gory details eliminated here) and I went to find the room Ron was in. His group was surprised to see me and more suprised when I said ‘I think we’d better go to the hospital’.
We got to the hospital in the Fort around 9. My doctor happened to be there and she examined me. She said we can’t deliver here before 36 weeks so you’ll have to go to Edmonton. I screeched “what!!!???” There was no way my mind was letting in the idea that I was having the baby! She said, well yes, you’re water’s already broken (Hello!! really big pee!!) and you’re beginning to efface, I’ll check with the Obstretrician on call but I’m pretty sure they won’t want to stop it. She told Ron to go home and get the stuff we’d need and meet me at the hospital. Because my water had already broken she would send me to the hospital in an ambulance with a paramedic.
So began my journey to delivery. You have to understand, I’d been reading all the books (too early yet for my ‘delivery class’) and I was under the impression that I had hours and hours of labour to go through. They talk about the warm showers, the massages, the different positions to labour in…well, that pretty much went out the window.
The Ambulance ride from hell:
Do you think Ambulance’s have shocks and a suspension? No, they don’t. I found that out that day as the dickhead driving took the longest possible route to the Grey Nun’s hospital. Instead of driving around the city and coming in on the south side, he went right through Edmonton. Through a million stop lights and a bazillion pot holes. The guy driving was a ‘trainee’ and a little bit tense so he was doing lots of fast starts and stops, during which I would slide on the gurney and bang my head on the divider. The paramedic with me kept hissing at him to slow down and at one point went and spoke in his ear ‘if you don’t slow down I’m going to break your legs’. I was kind of happy with this, because, if I wasn’t having contractions at an alarming rate I would have wanted to help.
I remember two great things about that paramedic. One, he let me use their ancient little phone in the back to call our office professional so I could arrange to cancel a European teleconference I had set up for the next day, and two, he had really, warm hands. He kept putting his hands on my baby to feel the contractions and, oh my god, that felt so good when a contraction ripped through me. For anyone who hasn’t experienced this, by late in a pregnancy your uterus is stretched from your pubic bone to your sternum. Its one gigantic muscle. when that one gigantic muscle gives a big squeeze, its an unforgettable feeling. Hot hands are delicious. ( Hey, you have to allow me one pleasant memory from the ambulance ride.)
There was one more person with us, a junior paramedic. I remember that he stunk of cigarettes and he kept tryingto chat to me. This, combined with the head banging and the contractions was making me feel a little bit testy. In fact, I’ll tell you another dark secret about me, when I’m feeling a bit testy, I have usually have these words screaming in my head ’shut, the fuck up’ (maybe you heard them already). I don’t know if the chief paramedic was psychic or what but I think he could tell those words were going to burst from my lips soon. He nicely told the other guy that labouring women don’t usually like to chat. No kidding.
When we finally got to the Grey Nuns at about 10 to 11, I asked the paramedic if he thought they’d give me an epidural if I asked. I was ready! He gently said, I’m pretty sure they won’t now. I was like ‘what!?’. He said, you’re going to have this baby right away, its too late. Talk about speechless. I was just thinking this is going way too fast for me, I’m not ready for this. Whatever happened to hours of labour?
I was taken to Labour and Delivery and there ensued a bit of a flurry of activity as they got me up and emptied, hooked to monitors and on the bed. I was having massive contractions by now and I told the nurse with me that I thought I had to poop. The paramedic was still there filling out my chart and primly said “Mrs Balanko, if you feel like you need to move your bowels, that means its time to have a baby” I hate that phrase ‘move your bowels’ but for some reason, on this day, I’d rather hop to the bathroom then hop up on the delivery bed. The nurse examined me and said, yes, you’re ready to push! I was still heavily in the mental resistance zone at this point and spent a couple of minutes trying to lecture myself into submission. I’d read somewhere that delivery goes a lot better if you can just go with the flow. In reality, the flow is not a very comfortable place to be so the mind starts seeking alternatives. Unfortunately, there is no bargaining your way out of the next steps!
Right about then, Ron walked in. Thank god he didn’t dawdle getting there on this day (because sometimes he is a master dawdler!)
The nurse handed him a cup full of ice chips to give me. Poor guy, he was kind of clueless but quite earnest about helping out. I won’t go into any more details about the delivery except to say it wasn’t as bad as I expected. There was a swarm of doctors there, obstetrician and his resident for me, a pediatrician and his resident for the baby and a couple of students.
It didn’t take long and at 11:40, we had us a little purple and pink baby. They wrapped her and put her on my chest for about 3 seconds then whisked her off to do all sorts of checks. She was six weeks early so they took her out to give her some Oxygen and stuff. I asked Ron to follow them to make sure they didn’t lose her or anything!
About 10 minutes later my friend Nancy arrived. She had agreed to be our back up labour coach, you know, in case it went on for hours and hours and poor Ron needed about break (what about me!). Anyway, one of my best memories was seeing her walk in, saying ‘ hi honey, I came as fast as I could’ and when I said ‘you missed it’, the way her head whipped around and she stared at my flat abdomen..well, it was priceless. I’m still grinning just thinking about it.
There is a lot more to this story that I’ll tell another time. Let’s just say that I phoned my parents from the room to tell them they had another granddaughter. They were surprised and happy but had to rush off to the hospital. That was the day my Dad suffered complete kidney failure and they started him on dialysis the next day.
One more funny memory…there was a Phillipino millwright in Ron’s group at that training course who had just met me that morning. Very nice guy, who I had seen many times at the lab when he brought samples of unknowns out of motors and pumps. He was so surprised to meet Ron’s wife (we’d all been around the site for years but never met) and then so shocked that we left and phoned back that the baby was born, all before lunch! To this day, whenever he sees me in one of the plants or goes by my office he always comes up to me, beaming, shakes my hand, and asks to see a picture of Nicole.
I don’t have a picture of the baby Nicole because we didn’t have a camera in the delivery room. Trust me, she was a beautiful little 5 pound angel! And now, she’s 7!
Happy Birthday Sweet Pea!