I remember the day my daughter was born as clearly as if it were yesterday. My husband and I had recently moved in with my parents during the last month of my pregnancy. We made this big move to save up to buy our first place together as a soon-to-be family of three.
April 21st, 2016
I arrived at the hospital very confident. I’m not sure if it was 1 am or 2 am, but it was late. I was in pain and convinced I was in active labour. (Btw, when living with your parents, they go everywhere with you, even at the age of 24. If my husband and I were going to the hospital, so were my mom and dad.) Once we spoke with a nurse, she told me I was not dilating, so she gave me morphine and sent me home. As someone who has never been to the hospital for even a broken bone, experiencing morphine was a trip. I remember it being so hard for me to fall asleep that night: I could still sense these waves of massive pain as if they were part of my dream. I don’t think I slept a wink even though my eyes were closed. I felt terrible for dragging everyone out so late with false labour.
Later that morning, my mom had just left for work, and I remember shuffling to the bathroom to pee, but instead, my water broke. For a brief moment, I thought it was pee until I realized it wasn’t stopping. I yelled out to my husband midstream and told him my water broke. You can imagine how comical this looked(!): both of us in the washroom, me hovering over a toilet with water coming out, and my husband insisting it was pee. I started looking for someone else to acknowledge and validate that I was not, in fact, crazy and to confirm that my water had broken. I pulled up my leggings (the ones I was living in every damn day for that last trimester) and looked for my dad. I remembered that my obstetrician had told me to go to the hospital as soon as my water broke because I had high blood pressure quite severely.
Both my dad and husband, now side by side, asked me if I was sure. I think they both doubted me because we had just left the hospital earlier that morning, where they had told me I was not in labour yet. After a few minutes of zero validation, I lost it and said, “You’re taking me to the hospital!” My husband called and spoke to a nurse who told him they might not be able to let us deliver our baby at the hospital (which we had been registered at for the last nine months) because it was full?! They suggested we call another hospital, and my husband, bless his heart, told them no, we were coming to that hospital.
We left the house, and I sat on a towel in the car and headed to the hospital. I can’t remember if my mom met us all at the hospital. I know she left work immediately when my dad told her we were heading there, and I felt like I got whiplash of déjà vu of our previous visit. Once I had sat in the car, the contractions got worse immediately. When we arrived and were in the delivery ward, they started monitoring me, and things started to feel very real, and I felt scared. I was getting contractions but was not dilating. They gave me oxytocin to speed up my contractions and help with dilation. That’s when the pain worsened, and I could feel exhaustion within my body. I felt very overwhelmed.
The nurse moved us to a private room when they gave me the oxytocin. I remember feeling so small. The room was big, but there were way too many people (pre-covid life): two nurses, my husband, both my parents and other nurses kept coming in and out. The window in the room overlooked the Fraser River, and I realized the sun was beginning to set. I lost complete track of time but felt safe looking into the pink clouds. I remember my husband leaving the room; watching me in so much pain and not being able to stop it from happening left him defeated. I remember him crying and going into a corner. I remember my dad trying to massage my feet to help. My mom was right next to me. She was my rock. She held my hand until the very end of that day. I remember pleading for an epidural and the nurses telling me I would get one, but it never happened.
The pain was unbearable. When they gave me oxytocin to speed up my contractions and help me dilate (with laughing gas as my only tool to ease the pain), I was only reminded of what the morphine did. It makes you muggy, but you still feel it all. If anything, I felt like I lost my voice more and more that night.
There was a moment where I was looking out the window. My eyes were opening and closing. I saw the pink sky and felt this feeling of no longer being in my body. The pain became numb, and in those moments, I was telling my daughter how much I loved her as if she could hear me. I no longer felt hurt but a feeling of calmness. My body was just so exhausted that I felt myself drifting. That same moment, a nurse beside my mother started shaking me. I’m not sure if I was so burnt out that I was falling asleep, if I lost oxygen from inhaling so much gas, or if I was losing blood, but she looked worried, and I felt myself come back. My heartbeat was becoming irregular and now had to be monitored.
After that moment, I lost track of time again, but finally, I was dilated and about to have my daughter. The exact moment she was crowning, they finally told me I could get my epidural because they had a doctor on site who could do it. At that point, it was too late, so I had to do it with no relief. It was not how I had imagined the birth. The room was packed with my parents, my husband, and two nurses, and now I had a doctor and a student doctor there too, all part of my daughter’s entrance into the world. I was pissed. I had no voice this entire time. I was then told to push. It’s weird because you don’t realize your strength in the moment. How will pushing get this human out of me? But I did it, and out she came. They put her on my chest, and she looked at me, and I looked at her, and I could tell we were both exhausted.
She didn’t cry, nor did I, but they took her out of my arms after a few seconds had passed because she didn’t have her first cry. I realized that my family, the nurses and the two doctors were concerned if she was breathing. Once again, I lost my voice. I was yelling on the inside: she is OKAY! She was happy, but they took her. While they had her, I also took in my surroundings. One nurse was trying to clean incredibly fast, which I think was because there was a lot of blood. My husband’s face was white, and seeing his shocked face, I noticed how much blood had come out of me. All I could think about was how I had probably broken my poor mother’s hand with my death grip during the entire experience.
Next, they told me I had to deliver the placenta. (Great, I thought I was done.) I pushed, and out it came, and they gave me my daughter again. This was when I noticed the male student doctor going in with a needle and thread. I had a third-degree tear. As soon as he started, I told him how painful it was and asked if he could numb me because I could feel it all. My body was just so vulnerable, and I felt so exposed. “Just hold your baby,” they all told me, “she will help ease the pain .” No offence, but she didn’t. I couldn’t even hold her; I was in so much pain. This wasn’t how I wanted my first real moment with her.
The nurses then cleaned me up and helped me into a wheelchair so we could go into our private room for the night. They handed me my daughter, all bundled up, and once again, I couldn’t hold her: I was still shaking from my birth experience. My mom was still with my husband and me, and she held my daughter until we got into our room. I know my mom knew I felt overwhelmed because a mother knows their child’s feelings without words. We all said our goodbyes, and finally, my husband and I got to be alone with our daughter. She was sleeping in her hospital bassinet. My husband and I were hovering over her looking down at her, our masterpiece, our creation of love. She was perfect. I finally felt safe.
Our daughter, Adaline Rose Jupp, was born 30 minutes before her due date. That night she already taught me my strength as a mother. I knew this was just the beginning of many more lessons on love.