A surprising fact for first time parents is that the doctor really doesn’t have any idea what the baby’s due date will be. On our second visit with our family doctor, The Wife was asked when her last period started because a typical pregnancy ends about 280 days after that date. Since we were not actually “trying” to get pregnant at the time, we didn’t keep track of those dates. Based on best memories of the time, we were given a due date of March 31, 2014. The Wife had her first ultrasound in November 2013. The ultrasound technicians measured the size of the baby’s head and guessed that the due date would be April 9, 2014. We weren’t really sure about either of the dates, but figured it would probably be somewhere in between the two. It turned out that everyone was wrong, and the baby had its own agenda.
February 13, 2014 – 2:00am (labour begins)
The Wife woke up at 2:00 am in some pain. She had complained about not feeling well the previous day, but we had no other indications that something was up. Within about 30 minutes we were able to determine that the contractions were real and not Braxton Hicks fake contractions. We called the hospital and they asked us to come in to get checked.
February 13, 2014 – 3:30am (1.5 hours of labour): We finally arrived at the hospital about 3:30 thanks to a huge snowfall. I had to shovel the car out of the driveway and then navigate snow covered, wintery Winnipeg roads. The only other vehicles on the roads were giant pieces of snow clearing equipment. We got to St. Boniface hospital and proceeded to to to the wrong door. Fortunately we were able to convince the security guard to let us in instead of going back out into the frozen tundra and walking to the emergency entrance. We went to an observation room where we had to wait for a senior nurse because The Wife was officially only 32 weeks into the pregnancy.
February 13, 2014 – 5:30am (3.5 hours of labour): The senior nurse examined The Wife and found that she was in labour and dilated 3cm. For those unfamiliar, 10cm is the goal. For a full term pregnancy with no complications, the hospital will send you home if you are less than 4cm. However, since we were 7 weeks early we were kept for observation. Our labour plan of trying to watch the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy before having to go to the hospital was now officially cancelled.
February 13, 2014 – 6:30am (4.5 hours of labour): Our birth doula arrived and met us in the high risk labour room. A birth doula is like a coach, someone who doesn’t delivery babies but provides helpful advice before, during, and after delivery. Our doula came with a repertoire of pain management techniques, helpful positions, and full knowledge of all of the possible situations that could come up during labour and delivery. On the other hand, my experience was limited to a 4 week prenatal class and hundreds of movies and TV shows where people easily delivered babies in an elevator or taxi. Needless to say, The Wife and I were both very happy that we hired the doula. My sister also arrived and I went home for a few hours of sleep.
February 13, 2014 – 9:00pm (19 hours of labour): After a mostly uneventful day where contractions sped up to 5 minutes apart and then slowed down to 12 minutes apart, we were moved into a different ward until the process started to speed up again. My good friend Junk (who you may remember as the only person other than my parents who came to see me off when I moved to Japan) showed up at the hospital hoping to have a quick visit. The Wife didn’t really feel like having visitors, so I met Junk in the hospital atrium to have a coffee. Before leaving the room, I took a picture of The Wife waving to Junk. He decided to return the favour by taking the picture above which graphically illustrates the miracle of birth.
February 14, 2014 2:00am (24 hours of labour): Things started picking up again so the Wife was moved back to the high risk observation room. Naturally this caused the contractions to slow down again to about once every 6 minutes. After each contraction The Wife slept for 5 minutes in the hospital bed. The Doula slept on an uncomfortable chair and I slept on a small stool leaning on a table. We all woke up for the contractions then went back to sleep. Labour is stupid and sleeping on a table sucks.
Things continued like this for some time. Fortunately for our sanity, something actually happened around noon on the 14th. That part will be in the next installment…