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In the Dark

By Leslie Harris

Honourable Mention

“Just one push, hold it… there you go… there’s your baby.”

I wish I could say my labour, that both of my labours were like this. That I just had to give a few little pushes and out they came.

This is my birth story. This is a story of love. Two separate birth stories actually. You see, I just can’t write about the birth of one baby without the other, because they were equally as important, memorable and incredible.

Each baby was wanted so desperately that fertility treatments were used to conceive them. The news of my friend’s pregnancies, births and baby showers were like jabs to my heart. Until the day I finally found out I was pregnant.

But you can’t have a birth story until you have a pregnancy story. Both of my pregnancies were high risk, complex and long. They just seemed so long! I had hyperemesis, early contractions, placenta previa, preeclampsia and bed rest.

But despite the multiple complications I faced with each pregnancy, I didn’t lose hope that I would meet my baby.

Finally came the day of my two special but complex deliveries, both early! My first labour started with headaches, protein in my urine, high blood pressure, the baby not moving and contractions at a steady rate. We were advised to go to the hospital immediately. I had a birth plan in place and my figurine in my bag to help me focus. I was prepared for walks, and showers to help with my pain. An epidural was also on my checklist. I was 3 cm dilated and the doctor said, “Tonight we are having a baby!” Within minutes the power went out! The backup generator came on and my contractions increased! Lighting was minimal and my husband thought it was a perfect time for a nap. Cozy and warm in his recliner and blanket, he slept, I groaned!

One hour later, the resident doctor came in and said, “We are going to send you home”. I asked why and he told me my contractions were slowing down and I would be fine to go home, despite their findings of protein in my urine. Well of course you could say it elevated my blood pressure even more. So off they went to do my discharge papers, get me out of my comfy bed, and off the monitors. However, the moment I stood up, my water broke! I called for the nurse, but she didn’t believe me. So she used a litmus paper to confirm if, in fact, it was my waters. She had to take the stick out into the hall with better lighting and well, yes my water had broken as I knew. My contractions increased and the nurse came back to tell me we were staying. My husband slept, my labour took a slow long journey. I was hooked up to every monitor you can imagine: baby heart rate internal monitor, contraction monitor, blood pressure monitor every 15 minutes for the duration of my labour, and an IV. My labour lasted 37 hours. I was kept in bed, and in the dark. No TV, no walks, no sunlight to stream through my window, no music, no nothing that could elevate my blood pressure. It was scary, I won’t lie, and eventually, the baby was trapped in my birth canal. She should have been a C-section they later told me but I was too far in progress when they realized. My epidural only worked on one-half of my body. Basically, my beautiful birth plan had gone out the window.

But finally, after two and a half hours of intense pushing at 7:05 p.m., my baby girl entered the world. When it came time to cut the cord, my husband could not do it. So I took those scissors in hand, and cut it myself. Separating me from baby. But the moment she was placed in my arms I knew we were connected in a differential, no longer by flesh but by the heart.

My second baby came early after a lengthy bed rest due to placenta previa. She was born on a Thursday morning at 9:45 a.m. after 45 minutes of intense pushing and a 17 hour labour. My birth plan was in place, and I was able to walk, have a shower and enjoy the freedom that I was not afforded in my first labour. I was still hooked to many monitors, but the curtains were wide open and the sun was shining brightly. The doctor broke my water this time. I felt like this baby would never get here safely. I was so excited for her, but was emotionally detached as I was told multiple times that this baby may not make it into the world, therefore I was highly emotional when she was placed into my arms. I could not believe she was alive. My husband found the courage to cut her cord after she was delivered.

These are my birth stories, both with many complexities but in the end, despite some trauma, and still remembering the pain this many years later, they are the most precious to me and I would have endured anything to bring them into this world.

About Leslie

Leslie Harris is a mother of two grown adult daughters, 25 and 26 years old and soon to be a grandmother. Her youngest is pregnant and going through similar issues with her pregnancy. Leslie works with children with special needs which she loves. She also loves writing stories and poetry, reading, knitting, sewing, painting and doing other crafts. She is married and enjoys travelling with their small dogs in their travel trailer, canoeing and hiking. Her mother also lives with them. You can follow her on Instagram: books_and_rose_all_day and cuddleupandreadkids

Don't miss the virtual Birth Sharing Circle 2021 on Zoom on October 30th at 2 p.m. (EST) Come meet the winning writers, including Leslie, who will share their birth and writing experiences. Many of the jurors and readers will be there too! It will be a unique heartwarming event! Tickets are available on Eventbrite by donation.

More moving birth stories

All the winners of the Birth Story Writing Contest 2021 are announced here. You can also read the 2020 and 2019 winning birth stories.

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