Sara Wood-Gates.jpg

Wednesday's Child

by Sara Wood-Gates

Honorable Mention 

Sara Wood-Gates is a single mother of two children living in Burlington Ontario. She has spent most of her career in various customer service roles from serving in restaurants to planning events to counselling job seekers on their careers. Currently, Sara works as a Pre-Sales Solution Architect for an American company which has allowed her to work from home since 2013. Sara is excited to draw from her wealth of personal stories as she dabbles in writing.

My water broke at 11 a.m on a Wednesday. I was on the toilet when I felt the pop and then the whoosh. 

 

Steve and I had been waiting anxiously for something to happen for the last week and a half. He was shipping out to Afghanistan in the next two weeks, no hard date for that either, and we were both hoping for as many days as possible for him to bond with an actual baby rather than a big tummy. 

 

Despite all that waiting, my water breaking was anticlimactic as I wasn’t yet in labour. Not even a twinge. We settled down to lunch after calling the midwife.

My water broke at 11 a.m on a Wednesday. I was on the toilet when I felt the pop and then the whoosh. 

 

Steve and I had been waiting anxiously for something to happen for the last week and a half. He was shipping out to Afghanistan in the next two weeks, no hard date for that either, and we were both hoping for as many days as possible for him to bond with an actual baby rather than a big tummy. 

 

Despite all that waiting, my water breaking was anticlimactic as I wasn’t yet in labour. Not even a twinge. We settled down to lunch after calling the midwives, letting them know what had happened, and hearing that they had finally gotten hospital privileges the day before. 

It wasn’t until I was in the shower about an hour later that the contractions started. Initially, Steve was timing them for me but as they approached every six minutes within twenty minutes or so, he decided he better have a shower as well if he was going to get one.

 

Things were progressing quickly. 

 

Our last birthing class, six weeks beforehand, had been an eye-opener for both of us. The teacher had pulled out her trusty 10-centimetre diameter plumbing pipe to show us the size my cervix had to reach to allow the baby to be expelled. I can still feel my jaw dropping, blood draining from my face, as I looked at it. It seemed impossible that a part of my body that had previously held a slim tampon in place, given pleasure to a normal male penis during the creation of the child, could ever accommodate a new-born baby. But I had to put that out of my mind. Because I had decided on natural childbirth. 

 

That had gone over like a lead balloon with Steve. I believe his exact words were, “I’m a dude and I couldn’t even do that.” Well, if anything was going to confirm my resolution, those were the words to do it. Hearing his lack of confidence galvanized my resolve. I was going to have a natural childbirth. 

 

By 1 p.m. we were in the car heading to the hospital. I was in active labour by that time. I wanted to jump out of the car and walk to the hospital rather than suffer the tourniquet that was the seat belt. As a contraction came on, I twisted to the side, leaning my weight on my hip, rather than take the force of it in a sitting position. 

 

The hospital was only seven minutes away. I thought I would only need to suffer through one contraction before we arrived, but the parking lot was busy that day. As Steve circled the parking lot looking for a good spot, I couldn’t stand it in any longer. 

“Just find a spot! I don’t care where you park!”

 

Steve checked me into the hospital and then went to move the car from the hash marks he had ended up parking on while I walked to the birthing suite. They tried to get me into a wheelchair but I was done with sitting. At least with walking, there was a slight distraction from the deep aching that accompanied the contractions. At the time I wouldn’t have described it as pain because it was deeper than that. It was as if I could feel my body physically changing internally with each contraction. It was deeply uncomfortable, however, it had nothing to do with the pain you feel when you cut yourself or sprain an ankle.

 

Because the midwives had so recently been granted their hospital privileges I was treated by both of them and my doctor. The midwives were an invaluable source of support. They were aware of my desire to proceed naturally without pain medication of any kind. They ran point for me when I declined medication but was asked repeatedly if I was sure. They got me set up in the room, kept Steve busy, and made me moving so my labour would progress. 

 

After arriving and changing into the hospital gown, being checked out internally, and the baby’s vitals assessed, the midwives got me back up and walking the halls. And honestly, if I had been left in a room where I was strapped to machines and couldn’t do anything but lie there, I likely would have ended up needing some kind of analgesic intervention. Being able to move around was my saving grace. 

 

After being checked again, I was transitioned to the yoga ball. I was sitting on it, leaning on Steve, as wave after wave of contractions crashed over me. At one point, he reached over and rubbed my earlobe as comfort. It felt so loving and reassuring that I tilted my head to the side, capturing his hand between my ear and my shoulder. I was craving more and more comfort. Steve misunderstood and took his hand away. It felt like a warm blanket was being removed. But I was so wrapped up in the intensity of the moment that I couldn’t voice my need. There was no space for words. 

 

As things progressed, around 8 cm dilated, they brought me to the tub in the suite. The midwives helped me lower my ungainly body into the water. It was like heaven. As soon as I was immersed, everything became lighter. The water softened the aching, the intensity and the weight of my body. The relief was instantaneous. I would have stayed in there the entire time. But that hospital didn’t allow water births. 

 

Back in the bed, another internal check and I was very close to 10 cm. There happened to be a class of paramedics doing their practicum in the hospital and the instructor asked if they could stay for the birth. At that point, I wouldn’t have cared if they toured all of Pembroke through the hospital. They phrased it as “showing the paramedics a normal, natural birth”. I remember my response was, “There’s nothing normal or natural about this!” I think they stayed. 

 

When it came time to push, the feeling that came over me with that contraction was so powerful, so instinctual, so necessary, that I couldn’t do anything but push. It was like a wave that would build inside me. Almost the opposite of throwing up. You can’t stop yourself from throwing up no matter how hard you try. And this was exactly the same, except the pressure wasn’t to push something out of my mouth but to bear down and push into my own body. I had no control over whether I was going to push or not. My body was pushing because it was time. 

 

Steve says he almost missed the birth because he was outside smoking. He’s exaggerating. She didn’t come out in one or two pushes. It felt both at the same time,  endless and as if time stood still. Both incredibly quick and infinitely long. He was shocked when he came back in and I was pushing. While it was happening, I had no idea who was in the room and who wasn’t. Someone was always holding my hand and that was all that mattered. 

Toward the end, when my daughter was crowning, the doctor was there as well as the midwives. He offered to do an episiotomy as he was worried I was going to tear badly without one. I was happy to agree and Adrianna was born within two pushes. A quick, final explosion. I have since learned that episiotomies were frowned upon. I was very disappointed when they wouldn’t give me one when my son was born two years later. I wonder what the midwives thought about it at the time. I was happy as I healed up within the week. 

 

Steve had said there was no way he was going to cut the cord when the baby was born. It was gross and disgusting and why would anyone want to do that? But he was right in there cutting away when they offered. I had read all about how it was most beneficial to wait until the cord finished throbbing to cut it, even if it took a while, but in all the excitement I didn’t even think about it. I also forgot all about my desire to save the cord blood. 

Delivering the placenta happened without my noticing. By that time, I was doing skin to skin with the tiny live creature that had just sprung forth from my body. I was in utter disbelief. I was in love. Even as my body shed the built-up adrenaline, as I shook and vibrated in my bed, I didn’t pay too much attention. At 4:04 p.m. I had become a mother. 

 

What did get my attention was when the doctor started to sew up the episiotomy. I did not know until then that it wasn’t possible to freeze the skin. It was almost more painful than the birth itself. I certainly complained more while he was sewing than I did when I was pushing.

 

That experience was a turning point in my self-esteem. Being able to manage natural childbirth, while everyone around me doubted that I could do it, changed something. That, combined with having a new person that I was responsible for, put me on a new path. A path that made me realize that I could accomplish things that were hard, that seemed impossible, and that others doubted I could. 

 

And I’ll never forget those first moments of looking into Adrianna’s eyes, the knowledge of galaxies shining back at me. All I could think in those moments was, “Oh, of course. It’s you.” Because in that moment, it felt like I had known her all my life, and had been waiting for her forever. 

 

My water broke at 11 a.m on a Wednesday. I was on the toilet when I felt the pop and

then the whoosh. 

 

Steve and I had been waiting anxiously for something to happen for the last week and a half. He was shipping out to Afghanistan in the next two weeks, no hard date for that either, and we were both hoping for as many days as possible for him to bond with an actual baby rather than a big tummy. 

 

Despite all that waiting, my water breaking was anticlimactic as I wasn’t yet in labour. Not even a twinge. We settled down to lunch after calling the midwives, letting them know what had happened, and hearing that they had finally gotten hospital privileges the day before. 

It wasn’t until I was in the shower about an hour later that the contractions started. Initially, Steve was timing them for me but as they approached every six minutes within twenty minutes or so, he decided he better have a shower as well if he was going to get one. Things were progressing quickly. 

 

Our last birthing class, six weeks beforehand, had been an eye-opener for both of us. The teacher had pulled out her trusty 10-centimetre diameter plumbing pipe to show us the size my cervix had to reach to allow the baby to be expelled. I can still feel my jaw dropping, blood draining from my face, as I looked at it. It seemed impossible that a part of my body that had previously held a slim tampon in place, given pleasure to a normal male penis during the creation of the child, could ever accommodate a new-born baby. But I had to put that out of my mind. Because I had decided on natural childbirth. 

 

That had gone over like a lead balloon with Steve. I believe his exact words were, “I’m a dude and I couldn’t even do that.” Well, if anything was going to confirm my resolution, those were the words to do it. Hearing his lack of confidence galvanized my resolve. I was going to have a natural childbirth. 

 

By 1 p.m. we were in the car heading to the hospital. I was in active labour by that time. I wanted to jump out of the car and walk to the hospital rather than suffer the tourniquet that was the seat belt. As a contraction came on, I twisted to the side, leaning my weight on my hip, rather than take the force of it in a sitting position. 

 

The hospital was only seven minutes away. I thought I would only need to suffer through one contraction before we arrived, but the parking lot was busy that day. As Steve circled the parking lot looking for a good spot, I couldn’t stand it in any longer. 

“Just find a spot! I don’t care where you park!”

 

Steve checked me into the hospital and then went to move the car from the hash marks he had ended up parking on while I walked to the birthing suite. They tried to get me into a wheelchair but I was done with sitting. At least with walking, there was a slight distraction from the deep aching that accompanied the contractions. At the time I wouldn’t have described it as pain because it was deeper than that. It was as if I could feel my body physically changing internally with each contraction. It was deeply uncomfortable, however, it had nothing to do with the pain you feel when you cut yourself or sprain an ankle.

Because the midwives had so recently been granted their hospital privileges I was treated by both of them and my doctor. The midwives were an invaluable source of support. They were aware of my desire to proceed naturally without pain medication of any kind. They ran point for me when I declined medication but was asked repeatedly if I was sure. They got me set up in the room, kept Steve busy, and made me moving so my labour would progress. 

 

After arriving and changing into the hospital gown, being checked out internally, and the baby’s vitals assessed, the midwives got me back up and walking the halls. And honestly, if I had been left in a room where I was strapped to machines and couldn’t do anything but lie there, I likely would have ended up needing some kind of analgesic intervention. Being able to move around was my saving grace. 

 

After being checked again, I was transitioned to the yoga ball. I was sitting on it, leaning on Steve, as wave after wave of contractions crashed over me. At one point, he reached over and rubbed my earlobe as comfort. It felt so loving and reassuring that I tilted my head to the side, capturing his hand between my ear and my shoulder. I was craving more and more comfort. Steve misunderstood and took his hand away. It felt like a warm blanket was being removed. But I was so wrapped up in the intensity of the moment that I couldn’t voice my need. There was no space for words. 

 

As things progressed, around 8 cm dilated, they brought me to the tub in the suite. The midwives helped me lower my ungainly body into the water. It was like heaven. As soon as I was immersed, everything became lighter. The water softened the aching, the intensity and the weight of my body. The relief was instantaneous. I would have stayed in there the entire time. But that hospital didn’t allow water births. 

 

Back in the bed, another internal check and I was very close to 10 cm. There happened to be a class of paramedics doing their practicum in the hospital and the instructor asked if they could stay for the birth. At that point, I wouldn’t have cared if they toured all of Pembroke through the hospital. They phrased it as “showing the paramedics a normal, natural birth”. I remember my response was, “There’s nothing normal or natural about this!” I think they stayed. 

 

When it came time to push, the feeling that came over me with that contraction was so powerful, so instinctual, so necessary, that I couldn’t do anything but push. It was like a wave that would build inside me. Almost the opposite of throwing up. You can’t stop yourself from throwing up no matter how hard you try. And this was exactly the same, except the pressure wasn’t to push something out of my mouth but to bear down and push into my own body. I had no control over whether I was going to push or not. My body was pushing because it was time. 

 

Steve says he almost missed the birth because he was outside smoking. He’s exaggerating. She didn’t come out in one or two pushes. It felt both at the same time,  endless and as if time stood still. Both incredibly quick and infinitely long. He was shocked when he came back in and I was pushing. While it was happening, I had no idea who was in the room and who wasn’t. Someone was always holding my hand and that was all that mattered. 

Toward the end, when my daughter was crowning, the doctor was there as well as the midwives. He offered to do an episiotomy as he was worried I was going to tear badly without one. I was happy to agree and Adrianna was born within two pushes. A quick, final explosion. I have since learned that episiotomies were frowned upon. I was very disappointed when they wouldn’t give me one when my son was born two years later. I wonder what the midwives thought about it at the time. I was happy as I healed up within the week. 

 

Steve had said there was no way he was going to cut the cord when the baby was born. It was gross and disgusting and why would anyone want to do that? But he was right in there cutting away when they offered. I had read all about how it was most beneficial to wait until the cord finished throbbing to cut it, even if it took a while, but in all the excitement I didn’t even think about it. I also forgot all about my desire to save the cord blood. 

Delivering the placenta happened without my noticing. By that time, I was doing skin to skin with the tiny live creature that had just sprung forth from my body. I was in utter disbelief. I was in love. Even as my body shed the built-up adrenaline, as I shook and vibrated in my bed, I didn’t pay too much attention. At 4:04 p.m. I had become a mother. 

 

What did get my attention was when the doctor started to sew up the episiotomy. I did not know until then that it wasn’t possible to freeze the skin. It was almost more painful than the birth itself. I certainly complained more while he was sewing than I did when I was pushing.

 

That experience was a turning point in my self-esteem. Being able to manage natural childbirth, while everyone around me doubted that I could do it, changed something. That, combined with having a new person that I was responsible for, put me on a new path. A path that made me realize that I could accomplish things that were hard, that seemed impossible, and that others doubted I could. 

 

And I’ll never forget those first moments of looking into Adrianna’s eyes, the knowledge of galaxies shining back at me. All I could think in those moments was, “Oh, of course. It’s you.” Because in that moment, it felt like I had known her all my life, and had been waiting for her forever.