I’ve had many people ask me about my birth story and I thought it would be best to write it out for people to read here. On Sept 30th I gave birth to a little boy named Hudson Raymond Chen. Here is the story of my whirlwind labour and delivery.
Thursday (Sept 29) I was 40 weeks and 2 days pregnant. I had previously convinced myself that I would have my baby at 38 weeks— just like my two sisters—so I was feeling super overdue. Earlier that day I had an appointment with my OB (Dr. Nancy Mitenko) to check how many centimeters I was dilated and if my cervix was thinning. She told me I was 3 cm dilated and my cervix was what she called “ripe”—whatever that means. Describing my cervix like you would a banana or peach! Dr. Mitenko then asked if I wanted a membrane sweep. I was open to try anything in order to jumpstart labor.
Around 5pm I started feeling period-like cramps that were very irregular and not painful at all. Being a first time mom, I had no idea what contractions would feel like. I continued on with my day and finished making dinner just as Kevin (my fiancé) was getting home. At 7:30pm the cramps really started to intensify and become more regular, coming every 2-3mins apart and lasting 50 seconds—but they still weren’t painful. I texted my sister around this time to ask her what contractions felt like. She assured me I would know when they came. Sure enough, the contractions gradually became more intense, and Kevin and I started packing up last minute items into our hospital bags. At 10:30pm we called the hospital (St. Pauls) to ask if I should come in. Contractions were 2mins apart and lasting 1 minute. The nurse on the phone asked if I had taken a bath to help relieve the pain. I hadn’t. I was told that once contractions lasted for 1 minute and came consistently every 2 minutes for over an hour, it was time to go to the hospital. But when I told this to the nurse, she insisted I take a bath at home before coming in. So I did. Kevin ran the hot water and I sat in the tub until I couldn’t bare it any longer. Contractions were coming on quick and strong. I got out, dried off, got dressed, and grabbed my hospital bag.
We pulled into the underground parking lot of St. Pauls and parked. Kevin carried our luggage as we tried to navigate the labyrinth-like parking garage. All the exits were locked because it was after hours! We walked around desperately searching for a way out, leaving a trail of vomit behind us. The contractions were extremely intense and coming every minute. After 5 minutes and 4 episodes of vomiting, we finally found our way out and headed towards the emergency room. The reception took me straight in, and after giving my information and getting registered, I was taken to maternity in a wheelchair.
Once on the labor and delivery ward, I was placed in the assessment room to be checked by one of the nurses. I was 4cm dilated. I was given gas and air to help alleviate some of the pain during contractions. I was then informed that the maternity ward was at full capacity and I would need to be transported to another hospital. By this time it was 12:30am. I was left to continue laboring in the assessment room with no options of pain relief aside from the gas and air. I’m convinced that gas and air does nothing! It helped me to focus on my breathing, but that’s all. I wanted an epidural!
After two hours of laboring in the assessment room, the nurses finally heard back from the hospital that offered to take me—Surrey Memorial Hospital. I was examined one last time to make sure I wasn’t too far along to travel in an ambulance. I was 5cm dilated. They felt I had enough time to get to Surrey in time for delivery.
The 45 minute ambulance ride was particularly uncomfortable. My contractions were coming every 30 seconds, and I was left alone to cope with them. Kevin had decided to drive behind us so that we would have our car with us. Upon arrival, I was rolled into the “Family Birthing Unit,” with Kevin there waiting for me. I remember looking at him when it suddenly hit me: “Our baby’s birth certificate is going to say Surrey on it!” If you’re from Vancouver or the Lower Mainland, then you understand my random concern.
The nurses at Surrey Hospital were told I wanted an epidural ASAP! They called for the anesthesiologist while I was checked again to see if I had made any progress during the ride over. I was confirmed to be 7-8cm dilated, and it was 4:30am. I was still sucking back the gas and air and wouldn’t let my death-grip off of it. One of the nurses sternly told me to only breathe on it during contractions… but I defied her.
Then, like a knight in shining armor, the anesthesiologist arrived! He began explaining the risks to me, and asked if I was sure I wanted the epidural. I was more than sure. However, our conversation was interrupted by the abrupt feeling that I had to push! I explained this to the nurses. They checked me only to find out that I was fully dilated. The OBGYN came in and very bluntly said to me, “Vanessa, I can break your water and you can have this baby in your arms very soon; or, you can wait and have your epidural.” When she put it like that, I made the hard decision to wave goodbye to the anesthesiologist and labor the old-fashioned way—DRUG FREE! The OBGYN proceeded to break my water, and meconium rushed out in the flood. It was time to push, and push hard! I pushed from 5am to 6am. With each contraction, Hudson’s heartbeat dropped. In order to get him out quickly, an episiotomy was done. Hudson was born at exactly 6am, weighing in at 7lbs and 13oz. He wasn’t super happy (as you can see from the photos), but he was a healthy baby boy—which is all we could ask for.
That’s my birth story. While I was pregnant, I read and watched hundreds of labor and delivery stories from other women. I thought I would write mine out for other people to read. I learned that you can throw your birth plan out the window, labor NEVER goes as planned. But I wouldn’t change anything about mine.