My Birth Story

September 6, 2021

Welcome Home, Miss B

My husband, Ed, and I always felt the same way about adding to our growing family. We always knew we wanted four kids. 

After having three beautiful, healthy children—Aaron, 13, Eliana, 9 and Ethan, 6—we didn’t want to ever say “we’re done,” although, quite a few times amid the diapers and late nights, we thought we were done. This was especially as my youngest at the time was approaching a level of self-sustainability and things were getting easier all around. 

Last year provided me with an opportunity to add to our family—with the COVID-19 pandemic changing so much about our daily lives, travelling was out of the picture—and I was not getting any younger, Ed and I decided it was the perfect time to introduce the fourth baby that we had held out for. 

I work with babies on a daily basis so the baby fever is always there. I love their tiny toes, that baby smell, the cuddles…you could say that I’ve always had baby fever. The reality is, I feel so confident with babies. I photograph them every day for Lil’ One Photography, and it just comes so naturally to me.  

This time around, pregnancy was different. I reflected on how much I tried to speed up the newborn stages of sleepless nights, on the things I missed (like breastfeeding), and how the knowledge I’ve gained with three children has put me in a position to just want to enjoy the experience day by day; how small she is. I know how fast that little one will grow. I want to take in every moment—because it’s my last.

My birth story is something I want to share with the women around me because with so much conflicting information about what to do, and what not to do, there’s an opportunity for women to learn more; to feel empowered about their birth choices; to be educated about their options.

After a couple false alarms my newborn baby girl, Miss B, came into the world and I immediately fell in love. It wasn’t the labour I had been expecting. After two weeks of prodromal labour, with contractions feeling so intense I was sure I was in labour, I finally was able to hold my baby girl in my arms in the early morning hours of Tuesday, August 17.

Miss B was measuring to be a big baby, so I expected her early—around the 37-week mark—but my contractions started well before that. At 36 weeks and 6 days, I called my midwife as my contractions were 5 minutes apart. “I don’t think this is labour—yet,” she noted. For two weeks, on a daily basis I felt these contractions, thinking this was it. I was going into labour.

The night Ed and I travelled to the hospital contractions were 2 to 3 minutes apart. I had awoken at 4 a.m. with intense contractions but wanted to see how long I could hold out. By 6:30 a.m., I called my midwife who still wasn’t convinced it was labour. That said, I convinced her to meet us at the hospital by 7 a.m. This was Monday, August 16; at 39 weeks and 4 days. 

When we met at hospital, my midwife, and the student she brought along, checked my cervix and quickly noted that there had been no change since an earlier check in the week when I was only 2 centimetres dilated; and my cervix was still long. She wanted to send me home to wait a little longer for Miss B, which I couldn’t stand the thought of.

“I’m in a lot of pain and have been contracting for last 2 weeks,” I told Ed at the time. “I need this baby out. I’m not going home.”

Although the midwife cared about me progressing naturally, I was adamant that I didn’t want to go over 40 weeks due to the potential complications that can arise—like meconium aspiration. I’m a big proponent for listening to your health care provider, but an even bigger advocate for self-health. You know your own body and what’s good for it. Through pregnancy and other medical circumstances, women can be scared to question their doctor or midwife. But sometimes, there is no disagreeing with the instinct that asks you to push further.

Throughout the later months of my pregnancy I was monitored for placenta circumvallate, a condition where the shape of the placenta grows abnormally. It can result in a lack of nutrients for the fetus. Luckily, Miss B was growing well, so overtime I got less anxious about it. Every 2 to 3 weeks I was monitored with an ultrasound. This, combined with my age (38), presented risk factors that made me uncomfortable to go over my due date.

I pressed for my midwife to page the OB on call. When he finally came in, he said much of the same. I was not in labour, nor was I ready for any sort of intervention as it could result in a C-section. With it being the largest baby I’ve carried so far; he just didn’t want to take that risk. I wondered to myself if this is the largest baby I’ve carried, why wouldn’t we want her to arrive sooner?

He told me that OBs simply don’t induce for large babies. He was, however, looking for a medical reason to intervene if one presented itself. So, he hooked me up for a stress test to check on baby, who was fine. An ultrasound showed she was well over 9 lbs. Disappointingly, I was told again to go home and rest.

As a result of my persistence he offered to expand my cervix and help move labour along with a Foley bulb. According to Healthline, a Foley bulb induction is a procedure where your doctor insets a catheter into your cervix. One side of the catheter is deflated. Once inside your womb, your doctor inflates the balloon with a saline solution.

This puts pressure on your cervix and encourages dilation. The catheter falls out once your cervix dilates to 3 centimeters. In many cases, this method successfully stimulates labor without medication.  

Before I left, I managed to convince the doctor to give me the Foley bulb. And you’ll never believe it—but it fell out immediately because my cervix was already 3 cm, it was just positioned so far back that my midwife couldn’t feel it.

By 4 p.m. I was transferred to the maternity ward. It had a separate entrance for labour and delivery, gorgeously appointed rooms and most importantly, they were private. The best part about this ward is that new mothers can stay in the room after labour instead of transferring to another room. 

It was also at this time that I was set up with an IV of Pitocin to help move the labour along. By 6:45 p.m. it finally kicked in. I also knew what was coming—the epidural. This time, there was no way I would be waiting to get it. With my oldest, Aaron, I had my epidural later once the contractions were already very strong. I knew I couldn’t do that again. With Ethan and Eliana, I was quick to request, and get, the epidural. I noticed with all three children that the epidural immediately relaxed my body and allowed my labour to progress with ease. I knew what I needed to progress with this labour.

By 8 p.m. I was 4 cm dilated and asked for an epidural. The midwife asked to break my water first, which she did causing stronger contractions. All the while, I was asking repeatedly for her to page the anesthesiologist. I was in deep contractions by that point—a situation I was trying to prevent. 

To my surprise, the anesthesiologist turned out to be an old high school friend. He came to administer the epidural at 9:15 p.m. but I was in severe pain and this point. As time went by, I could still feel everything, so I requested a top up as I was sure the dose was wrong. My midwife replied that epidurals are given at lighter doses than in past years—so women can still “feel.” That was fine for other women—but I knew my body better than anything else, and what I wanted in that moment. Thankfully I was topped up, and by 10 p.m. I was fully dilated. 

My midwife checked my cervix and when she told me I felt such relief. I could finally start pushing.

Things got scary for a moment when after a few pushes, baby’s heart rate started dropping. The midwife turned me on my side and told me that the baby was not happy with the epidural. I felt like the worst mother in the world. We paused as my midwife checked her charts and told me that we needed to wait and let the epidural wear off a bit. At that point, she and her student went for a much needed dinner break as they had been at the hospital with me since 7 a.m. I was full of emotions at this point. 

By midnight, now Tuesday, August 17, my midwife encouraged me to push again. At 12:15 a.m. I was pushing, and baby’s heart rate was dropping yet again as I was being turned side to side. Baby just wasn’t happy when I was pushing—and this was after being fully dilated for more than 2 hours. When the midwife hinted that a C-section might be an intervention, Ed and I looked at each other with worry in our eyes. 

A new OB walked in and gave me a much needed injection of confidence. “You’ve got this, Sofiya,” she said to me, after they measured baby’s heartbeat through a belt looped around my waist. She then brought in a new instrument, which looked like a long antenna, to monitor the baby. As she worked her magic, she looked up at me and the midwife and said, “baby’s been at the opening for two hours…she was just sunny side up.” 

Her chin had been elevated in an upward position which made it harder to get through the birth canal. That is why her heartrate had dropped. Not because of any intervention. 

The doctor turned the baby in half a minute, and in 3 pushes, at 12:43 a.m. she was born into this world. My baby girl immediately started crying, had a bowel movement, was cleaned up and latched right away. We delayed the cord clamping—allowing Ed to cut it at the 2 minute mark to allow for additional blood flow.

I thank God that the OB came into this situation, picked up on the issue right away, and made the whole experience that much better. I will admit, it was one of the scariest moments in my life when I heard the words “baby’s not happy,” and the thought that I had contributed to it. 

We stayed in the hospital two extra days as Miss B was jaundiced and needed phototherapy. She powered through it though, with the cute little UV protectant glasses that they placed over her eyes. 

When I finally got home, the older children’s reaction was beyond what I could anticipate. Eliana fell in love instantly. She’s been at my side 24/7 helping me and her baby sister. Aaron wants to be involved and hold her, even though he’s a teenager! Ethan lovingly watches our little bundle with care from a distance.

It was the longest hospital stay I’ve had for any of my kids as I came into the hospital on Monday morning and left Thursday afternoon. And I’ll be honest with you: I felt like without my constant advocating for myself, my story may not have turned out this way. 

If there is anything that women know, it’s themselves and their bodies. We have an innate intuition that is incomparable to anything else. I hope my story encourages you to speak up when you need to—because the one thing I know, is that the voice inside knows what’s right and when to fight.