For two years I have been thinking about writing this down.
For two years I have been collecting my thoughts, and honestly, my memory of this day.
Every time I think about what happened that day, I cry a little and hug my baby girl tight.
This is the story of how Sienna came into the world. How she joined us in the most dramatic way I could have imagined. For a reason I had never heard of.
In the early hours of March 24, 2017, I was woken up with contractions. I sat on my bed and timed them, just as I had done two years and 11 days before with Isabella.
Half an hour into them, at only five minutes apart, Isabella woke up crying. I did what I did every morning around that time. I went downstairs, warmed a bottle of milk, took it up to her room, changed her diaper, gave her the bottle and a kiss, and put her back to bed. All while having a super intense contraction.
A few minutes later, I woke Anthony up and told him to page the midwife, while I called my parents to come be with Isabella.
My parents showed up just before 8am, and we were on our way. After battling ridiculous Friday morning traffic, we made it to McMaster hospital in Hamilton, ON and met our midwife there.
As I had done with Isabella, I asked for an epidural before I was even on the bed in triage. But this time, I also mentioned I did not want a C-section. There was never a reason for one. I had a successful, and relatively easy vaginal birth with Isabella, and this pregnancy had been a breeze. But for some reason, I kept saying that I did not want to have one.
My amazing midwife, Ashley from Access Midwives in Stoney Creek, ON, kept reassuring me I would not need one. She also said she could break my waters, and I would be holding our baby girl within the hour. I looked straight into her eyes and said, “I will wait for the epidural!!!”.
I got the epidural a few hours later and labour stalled. Sienna was not engaging. Nothing was happening.
I just kept repeating that I did not want a C-section.
They gave me the peanut, this big yoga ball type thing that actually looked like a peanut, to put between my legs to help her come down.
Finally, after a few hours, Ashley and Juanita, the student midwife, came in and said we were going to do some practice pushes to see if we could get Sienna engaged. At the moment they were coming in, Anthony was heading out of the room to get a coffee and something to eat.
I told him to go. I pushed Isabella for over two hours. What was he going to miss in 10 minutes??
Well, as it turns out, he would miss a lot. As in the entire birth!
After the second or third practice push, I heard the words that still haunt me to this day.
“I think I see the cord”.
Considering how fast everything happened, I still remember quite a bit of it.
Ashley was filling out paper work. Juanita was coaching me through pushing. She was the one that saw the cord.
Ashley flew over faster than The Flash, confirmed that it was the cord, and it was mayhem from there.
She pulled the alarm – which I didn’t know that your call button acts as an alarm if you pull it from the wall – and was yelling “Cord” over and over. Within seconds, there were 10 more people in my room and they were taking me to the operating room.
They were yelling questions at me, Ashley was trying to explain what was happening, I was screaming for Anthony and crying, and Juanita was on my bed, literally holding Sienna’s head off the cord to release the pressure.
To put it simply, I had cord prolapse. It only happens in 1% of all pregnancies – lucky me – and it happens when the umbilical cord slips past the baby and out of the vagina.
There is very little room, so baby is essentially putting pressure on the cord and cutting off their oxygen and blood flow.
I happened to be watching the monitor as this was going on, and I remember seeing her heartrate.
And then in one blink it was at 65. That’s when the cord came out and I knew something was wrong.
They had to perform an emergency C-section. There was zero time for anything else. Last thing I remember is yelling Anthony’s name and the mask coming over my face.
I had her at 4:27pm and I awoke to her crying somewhere around 5:30pm.
Anthony brought her to me, my midwife pulled down my gown, and we went skin to skin and started breastfeeding immediately. That was the only part of my birth plan that worked out in the end, sort of.
Luckily for us, someone grabbed Anthony’s phone and snapped some truly amazing pictures of us for the first time. Well, I look like a bag of garbage, but they are still in my top favourite photos of all time.
Over the next few days, I asked so many questions, and got a ton of information back.
It took only eight minutes from the time they saw the umbilical cord until she was out safely.
Juanita kept her hand on Sienna’s head until she felt her being pulled out of my stomach. And they had to pull her out because she finally decided that was the time to travel downwards.
I had to be X-rayed after the surgery. Normally, they count all of their instruments before a surgery and after, just to make sure nothing has been left behind – or inside. There was no time for counting, so they just took pictures of my insides to make sure I wasn’t trying to smuggle surgical scissors out with me.
The bruises that were all over my hips and stomach? I was told I probably got elbowed a few times because my body was in the way. That one made me laugh!
Sienna had to have oxygen forced into her lungs after birth. She had let out one cry, and then essentially passed out from the drugs that I had to be given.
A few hours after she was born, our parents and Isabella came to the hospital. One look at her, and I wept.
When my mom came in, we both cried.
I had to fill them all in on what happened because Anthony still really had no idea!
And since I forgot to mention, he came back with his coffee and muffin to a nurse asking if he was my husband. When he said yes, he was told there was an emergency and I was taken to the operating room.
He had to sit in my hospital room for almost 45 minutes, alone and waiting, until they came in with Sienna and told him he could go see me. My heart still breaks for him to this day because I cannot even fathom what was going through his head.
We stayed in the hospital for almost 48 hours.
We then got to take our baby girl home to bond with her big sister and meet her hairy dog-brother.
It was once we got home that the entire situation hit me like a ton of bricks.
I couldn’t talk to anyone about it. If someone asked me how the birth went, I broke down. And yes, that happened at my cousin’s wedding shower when a fellow bridesmaid – who is a nurse – asked about it. Thankfully my sister was there to fill her in, so I didn’t have to.
Within a few months, I was sharing my story with anyone and everyone.
I had never heard of cord prolapse before that day. Even though it has a 1% chance of happening, I feel like it’s something women should know about. Especially when they are preparing for their first birth.
We just celebrated Sienna’s second birthday. I still consider her my miracle baby.
I hold her a little tighter knowing that we almost lost her before we even met her.
But she is here, and she completes our crazy little family with her funny faces and infectious belly laugh.