Roen’s Birth Story

Dear Roen,

You’re six months old! How did the time pass so quickly? Weren’t you just born? I think back to that October day with so much gratitude. It was an amazing day. So that we never forget, here’s the story of your birth day…

I was ready for you weeks before you arrived. Given that I’m a bit impatient, I fully expected you to show up early. Plus, we were just soooo excited to meet you…

It all started around 2pm on a Thursday. Your grammy and I were in a theatre watching Bridget Jones’ Baby. How ironic! Strangely, thirty minutes earlier, as we were buying our tickets, I saw a familiar face. It was our doula, Muneera! I couldn’t believe it. It was such strange timing. And we’d only met her once before! I shared with her that I felt ‘today could be the day’ (but really I’d felt as if every day could be ‘the day’). Little did we know, a short while later, contractions would begin…

They were light at first. I wasn’t even sure they were contractions. It was a familiar feeling…they were just like period cramps. An hour into the movie they intensified to the point where I left my seat to pace the halls. I couldn’t believe you were coming!! I texted Darren with the update. He was so excited that he left work to go home and pack the hospital bags.

Later that evening, contractions reached five minutes apart, but they were still light enough for me to do stuff around the house. We lost track of time watching a show, then realized I hadn’t had a contraction in thirty minutes. We’d felt sure the hospital was in our near future, but now we weren’t so sure. With bags packed, we went to bed feeling sure we’d be up again very soon…

At 2am, I woke up with stronger contractions. We started our contraction timer app. Darren and Effie were beside me the whole time. I was blown away by how concerned Effie was…her eyes were fixed on me, especially during more intense contractions. She would come really close and rest her head on me. It was as if she had an intuition for what was happening (she’s given birth, herself). When I moved to a new position, she followed. It was the sweetest thing.

Roen, your dad was amazing. Throughout the entire birth adventure, he exuded his strong, calming presence. If there was something to be done, he’d do it. It felt as if every five minutes he was coming back with my water bottle refilled. He was an angel…he did everything to make the day flow as smoothly as possible. He didn’t even complain or joke when I threw up all over the bathroom floor. He just cleaned it up. Same story when I stepped in poo on the way to the car…twice. On your birth day, I was extra grateful he was ours.

By 6am, I was feeling ready for some help with pain relief from our doula, Muneera. She arrived soon after and from the moment she walked in the door, I senses her calming presence. If I had to share one tip about giving birth, it would be to hire a doula!! (Here’s Muneera’s info if you’re hunting for one.) It was beyond comforting to have someone with her kind of experience join us for the ride. As for pain relief, the warm bath was my favourite, followed by the tens machine. Both so helpful!

10:30am. Contractions had intensified and we all agreed it was time to head to the hospital. Your dad and I were beyond excited!! On the way, Darren asked which song I’d like to listen to. I’m bad at remembering song names at the best of times, but given how I was feeling in that moment, I didn’t care at all about music. But then suddenly, Ed Sheeran’s music from the movie Bridget Jones’ Baby that I’d just watched popped into my head. Darren had never heard me mention Ed’s name before so was surprised by the request. I didn’t have a particular song in mind either. Darren ended up choosing, Photograph (scroll for the longer story about this song). 

We arrived to Women’s Hospital and got a cervix check…I was only 1cm dilated!!! How was this possible!?! Contractions had been light, but they’d started so long ago! I was devastated. Part of me wanted to stay at the hospital and walk around the parking lot until it was time, but we got back into the car and headed home. To make things worse, I stepped in dog poo on the way into the house. Roen, your poor dad had to clean it up. But as usual, he didn’t complain.

Things escalated really quickly once we got back home. Within the hour, Muneera made the decision to head back to the hospital. We were so grateful for her instincts!! This second ride to the hospital was not fun…but not just because the contractions had intensified. I’d stepped in the poo AGAIN! The deep breaths in the car ride back to the hospital were not easy. (BTW, it was not Effie’s poo!)

Back at the labour and delivery ward, we met Zoe, our midwife, for another cervix check. I prayed so hard there’d been progress! When I heard the words, “Six centimeters,” I nearly cried for joy. We could stay! It was time!

Knowing I was hoping for a water birth, Muneera ran up to the room ahead of us to fill the tub. At this point, contractions were more intense and frequent…it took a while to walk to the room, having to stop every minute to wait out a contraction. As soon as we made it to the room (a nice new one in the Cedar Wing…we were so lucky), I jumped in the tub and took hold of the laughing gas. I swear it didn’t do a thing, but Darren insists otherwise (based on my facial expressions).

Right away, I felt an urge to push. I told Zoe the midwife, but she reminded me she’d just checked and I was only six centimeters. The contractions kept coming and my body seemed to take over…I couldn’t stop it from pushing. Minutes later, Zoe did another cervix check “to ease my worries”, and to everyone’s surprise…I was 10cm…you were coming! I was so relieved and so happy. This sudden progression must have had something to do with Muneera’s encouragement to keep moving, swaying, and staying loose. It was challenging, but I think it helped…

Pushing had begun. I’d always dreaded this part of childbirth, but it was not nearly as bad as I’d expected!!! (I’d always dreaded the epidural needle too, which is one of the reasons why I didn’t get one.) Compared to the transition contractions, pushing was much less intense! In a way it felt good to push because it meant you were near! I felt so motivated to get you out and into our arms. I think strength training and fitness really helped here, too. Pushing lasted about 30 minutes. Also, I think the water helped to numb the pain. I loved giving birth in water.

Your tiny body burst out into the water and you were placed on my chest. Your amazed dad and I stared at your little swollen face in awe. You were beautiful. You looked so Japanese!! One of the first things I said was that you looked just like your Japanese grandpa, Fred. Darren was crying. It was a surreal moment. My whole life, I’d referred to ‘my future daughter’…and there you were. Thankfully, Muneera captured the whole birth on video for you to enjoy someday.

After several minutes, we moved to the bed. You peed and pood on me…the sweetest poo and pee ever! We stared and stared and stared. I admired your long fingers and toes, your extra long nail beds and your delicate little nails which looked ready for a French mani (so long!). You were 6lbs 15oz. You were (are!) perfect…the cutest little thing we had ever seen.

Those moments after birth were euphoric. There was second degree tearing but I didn’t feel a thing (during the birth or after). The joy had taken over. It was so beautiful seeing your handsome dad hold you on his bare chest. I’m glad we have a video of that. I could watch it over and over.

Your Grammy Ireland was your first visitor. She’d requested we call her in the middle of the night had you chosen to show up then. She was so so so excited. The look on her face when she first laid eyes on you melts me. It was emotional for me to see her for the first time and to picture her going through these kinds of emotions on the day I was born 33 years ago…

Once the midwives and nurses had finished their amazing work, we moved into a room in the Dogwood wing where we hung out for a few hours (until the swelling had gone down and I was able to pee). My dad and your dad’s parents came to visit…everyone was just so excited. It was an amazing day. We were lucky to get to go home that night.

We got home around 10:30pm and were reunited with Effie. We were so curious to see how she’d react to you. Deep down I was worried she’d be jealous, but the complete opposite was true. She stared at you, sniffed and then instantly became your protector. It was so incredible to see and such a relief for me because I didn’t want her to be sad. Like us, I think she has a new sense of purpose…

Now, when we get a knock on the door, Effie runs to the door and puts her whole body into fierce warning barks. A few of your visitors have been the recipients of gentle ‘warning bites’ on the ankles from Effie. She’s just reminding them that she’s there. Even when our friends come to visit, Effie jumps up and positions her body in between them and you. Her protective maternal instinct brings me to tears.

You’re now six months old!!! You are such an amazing baby! You are observant and calm (for the most part). You love it when we try to scare you and you’re pretty ticklish. I always say you’re more like your dad because of your chill demeanor, but your grandma says he was a difficult baby, so maybe you’re more like me!! Your eyes, however, are his! It’s crazy how when I look at him…I see you. With your eyes shut though, you look a lot like me when I was a baby. And you have blonde hair like I did. Every night and every day I wake up excited to see you and see what you’ll do that day. But mainly I’m excited to spend the rest of our lives with you.

PS – On our drive to the hospital, when I asked Darren to play Ed Sheeren music, I had no idea how significant and special the song he randomly chose would become. The day after Roen’s birth, I watched the Photograph music video for the first time, only to discover that it was filled images of babies. I couldn’t believe my eyes. At first I thought I must have clicked on the wrong video. But I hadn’t…the song Photograph is filled with baby videos…they’re all Ed as a baby. The song is about his love for his mom. It was impossible to listen to and not burst into tears!! Some of the lyrics in particular felt so relevant: “And if you hurt me, that’s okay baby, only words bleed,” and “Loving can heal, loving can mend your soul, and it’s the only thing that I know, know I swear it will get easier, remember that with every piece of you, hm, and it’s the only thing we take with us when we die.” Needless to say, Photograph will forever be Roen’s special song.