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Charlotte’s birth

Charlotte Émélie Lemay-Maurice’s birth story 

Momma: Katherine Lemay

The day prior to her arrival I was an emotional mess. I was crying thinking how long it would take to meet my daughter, and catastrophizing that at this rate I would never meet her. 

The week prior I had told my husband that I thought I was going to give birth on Monday and low and behold… 

February 12th 2024 – 4:30 am – officially 40 weeks and 2 days

I was waking up several times with cramp like sensations – but also went to the bathroom several times with the runs, so I wasn’t sure if I just ate the wrong thing at the superbowl party at my sisters the night before. The closer I got to 5am – the less I was able to sleep because of these cramp-like feelings. 

5:15am – I wake up JS (my husband)  who was sleeping downstairs at the time because of how much I tossed and turned and required trips to the bathroom by the end of my pregnancy. I told him I think I was experiencing a stomach ache or contractions. We cuddled a bit and tried to sleep through it some more, as we were told we could be in this state of labour for days, so as to conserve our energy. Not even half an hour later, I told him it wasn’t possible for me to sleep. So we got up, he poured me a bath which I gladly soaked in while he bulldozed through the house to clean it up so we didn’t have all our reno items out and about if we were to come home with a newborn. (Yes we decided to renovate the stairs of our house while I was 40 weeks pregnant). I already can’t recall if my contractions continued or discontinued in the bath, but I know when I got out, I had another contraction. 

By 8-9ish we decided to stroll around the neighbourhood to get the contractions more consistent since the doula was not going to be traveling down to our home unless I was experiencing consistent contractions. She asked and we delivered. By the time we walked around the block twice I experienced 1-1.5 minute contractions 2-5 minutes apart. That being said we got home, and we were told that our doula would continue to wait because for a first birth they want more consistency. 

I called my sister in-law (who gave birth three months prior) and told her that I think I might be in labour but I’m not sure because I’ve never been in labour before. I confirmed that the contractions don’t go away even if I do relax, and she warned that if I were to start vomiting head to the birth centre right away. 

So JS threw on the Magic Mike 3 movie (I wanted to finish the series before baby C arrived) and I went on the walking pad and waited for the next contractions. The next contraction put me to the floor and I puked out all the breakfast I had hoped would keep me fuelled for what came next. JS took the bucket I just filled, cleaned it up, and called the midwife and doula and didn’t take no for an answer – we were going to the birthing centre. At this point, I had already told JS that if I hadn’t progressed enough in labour to be admitted then we were going straight to the hospital to get an epidural because there was no way I could rest in this state. 

10:30am – We drive over to the birthing centre where in between my contractions my midwife checks my cervix for the first time. Low and behold I was 6cm dilated, 90% effaced and officially in active labour. While measuring my cervix, my midwife tried at completing a stretch and sweep to continue to process along, and oh boy did I now know the pain I was experiencing was my cervix doing its thing.  I got to pick my room – and went with the blue coloured room, and started getting unpacked. That being said, I was already in the state of zoning into labour land and closing my eyes. I had no idea of my surroundings, that I told my husband “where is my doula?, she really missed the mark” to which he responded “she’s in the room”. Embarrassed, I was relieved she (Kaella) was there. She owned the room – she started putting lights, music, affirmation quotes, prepping the bath and so on. And things were rock and roll from then on. I tolerated the contractions and used the deep breathing of 4 in and 8 out while I was in the tub, toilet and on the bed, however things were moving so fast I wasn’t given much of an opportunity to take a break. 

11:30-noonish Soon after being in the room I felt a painless little pop on the left side of my cervix while I was on all fours next to the bed on the floor – and I look up and just say calmly “I think my water broke” and did it ever. Thankfully I had a team cleaning up after me while I walked around through the contractions, because I had no idea the mess I had made until JS told me after the birth. I lost the remainder of my water and mucus plug in the bath. Kaella even had a filter to clean the bath so that it was nice and clear when I returned. 

JS was coaching me through my breathing, massaging me and being the best affirmation coach ‘“I’m so fucking proud of you”, “you’re doing this” and so on. I was experiencing some lower back labour, to which when my mom arrived and cried upon arrival (She’s not a crier, but I believe she was overwhelmed by the fact that this was really happening), she was the one to massage my lower back for the near entirety of my labour. Prior to that it was the lovely Kaella who played that role. My mom was getting a little too high pitched while I was pushing – and it was annoying me, so I had asked her to stop talking while I was having my contractions although she was just cheering me on “vas-y katou, vas-y!”. It was interesting to have the person who birthed you, be present while you birth your own baby girl. 

At this point, I was able to pinpoint that the pain was the opening of my cervix. The warm bath, the massages and moral support helped tremendously. I even felt strong enough to invite my dad in for a quick chat before I went into transition (which happened shortly after). 

Pre-transition – the pain was never worse than a 6/10. However once I got started on the transition while in the bath I was begging for the epidural and didn’t believe I was already in transition because it had only been 3 hours since being in the room. I was still in my analytical brain about the experience and was underestimating where I was in my progress so as to not be disappointed. At this point I was re-measured and was told I was an easy 8cm if not more (but I couldn’t tolerate the measurement because of the steady contractions). And although I said to just listen to me and let me go to the hospital – I knew that the window had closed – there was no   way I could get an epidural in time for my delivery – I just wanted them to pretend and tell me that I was going to get it. 

By 2pm (I’m assuming), I was now in the tub for what I believe was the third time as I moved freely in the room and in different positions throughout the labour. And I was experiencing my first “urges to push ” but it felt more like the fetal ejection reflection, or what I like to call it “vomiting from my vagina”. I would go ahead and place my fingers in my vagina and felt her head to be half a finger away and I felt the softness of her head as long as the hair on her head. I could visualize her blond hair that would later be affirmed when the mirror would show me her head coming out. I am so grateful I went ahead and felt her as she was descending. It really made it all real for me.

By the time I hit transition in the tub, I hit my adrenaline rush/panic mode. I remember lifting up and saying “I’m panicking” and wanting to get out of the tub. JS and the midwife talked me through it – I knew the stage was bound to come, however it still sucks to live it. The midwife came and talked to me, and the next thing you know there was this amazing and powerful sunshine that came through the sliding doors of the room. It felt like God, it felt like Lolo’s soul, it felt warm, and it gave me strength to continue on (as if I had another choice). 

JS helped me out of the tub, and helped me through another contraction standing, only for me to ask him why he didn’t wear deodorant because he smelled. Once I got to the bed – the contractions were so intense – I was roaring her out. I remember yelling “I’m shitting” – to which I later found out JS swiped my pebble poops away. It felt like my anus was getting inverted outwards –  I made them reassure me it wasn’t going to come out. I was using the back massages, the laughing gas, and the comb all at the same time to manage the intensity of the pain. I was in child’s pose on the bed. I may have even swore at Charlotte to come down. I was then told I could push in addition to experiencing those contractions. I was begging for a break. 

Next thing I knew, they encouraged me to transition to the squatting stool. I remember seeing a piece of cloth on the stool, and because I knew she was coming soon, I didn’t want the cloth to be in the way of birthing her. I told them to remove the cloth. The next contraction in that seated position they told me she was crowning, and I pushed so hard at the tail end of that contraction because I did not want to have to go through another one, and at 14:42 birthed Charlotte Émélie Lemay-Maurice. The midwife caught her and asked me to grab her and I did instinctually. And I was in so much relief. I birthed her so quickly “head and shoulders, knees and toes”, that she needed a second to catch her breath. But all I could see was her beautiful face and wet cheeks. She is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I smothered her cheeks in kisses, while the midwifes cleared her airways, and then she started to cry, but not too strongly, a delicate cry from what I recall in that daze. 

The midwife warned me that I should birth my placenta quickly considering the fast delivery to decrease the risk of hemorrhaging, and I did within the minute. No bones, no pain in comparison. And there you had it, I had delivered my baby and her personalized little organ that I am so grateful for keeping her nourished for the last 10 months. 

My husband was in tears, we kissed, and I was in lalaland. I held her on my bare chest and they moved me to the bed – and the next hour I don’t really remember aside from smiling, being in relief, and just in utter disbelief she was finally here. My beautiful, perfect, blond little baby. She has my nose, she has her left eye that is slightly smaller then her right, just like her dad. She has her dads lips, and we have yet to place the rest – but she is her own person already. Ma petite Charlotte d’amour. 

They had to monitor her O2 stats and tonus because she was still under shock from the quick birth. But that improved in no time. I had 2nd degree tears, so I held onto her and breastfed her for the first time while I got stitched up. Had I been less impatient I may not have torn, but as my midwife said – it was made to be torn. Charlotte had a champ latch from birth – and still to this day is a great drinker. 

She weighed 7lbs7oz, 48 inches in length, and has the dreamiest blue eyes.

After I was stitched up, I was walking around the room  as if I didn’t just birth a baby 2 hours prior. She was held by her dad for his golden hour. JS was so excited he got undressed way too early for skin to skin only to be standing around the room half naked for someone to remind him his golden hour wouldn’t be in another hour. Once the time came, the only time I cried on her birthday was watching the love of your life hold your daughter for the first time, there’s nothing like it. It makes it so real.

My sisters and their partners came to our room with a platter of sushi. And we all had a lovely dinner together in the birthing room. Feasting on the yummy sushi and sharing the details of the birth while I nursed Lolo her colostrum. 

By 7pm we were out the door of the maison de naissance and on our way home, just like we were done the workday. Absolutely in disbelief.  We were new parents who didn’t want to sleep and just wanted to stare at her all night and make sure she was okay. 

I keep telling people she is a great starter baby. She only cries when she needs to eat, get changed or has gas. I love the smell of her farts and sourmilk skin. We can stare at her for hours. I’m healing slowly but surely, I can’t believe how much my body is changing in such a  short amount of time. I was high on oxytocin for the first week – just taking in stable, feel good bonding hormones. I felt so secure and so well, I was worried that I was missing out on the attachment or full postpartum experience. I later learned that I was just responding really well to oxytocin and benefitting from a positive birth experience. I was seeking euphoria, but it is just calm, well adjusted, feel good hormones, and I’m so grateful that I was flooded with it. 

I love you Charlotte – ma petite Lolo d’amour. I am so grateful that you made me a mom, and most of all, your mom. There’s no more magical feeling than being a family of three just laying in the bed and staring at your beautiful face. 

A note about my doula: I’m grateful to Kaella who created such a secure, informed and supportive atmosphere that allowed my husband and mother to play the greatest role in supporting me in my birth. They would go to her as a guide and then bring the tools to me during my labour; for instance: massages, wet clothes, music, hydration etc. I thought the doula was going to act as the main support system, but in light of having my support system present, she became a facilitator which I think was pretty awesome, and I am so grateful. 

 If you had one tip to share with futur parents in regards to birth, what would it be? 1) Stay active during your pregnancy to em help you in the marathon of birth 2) practice your breathing – because that’s one of the only techniques that is always available to you 3) when fearing birth – get informed and educated ! You were made for this !

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