Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Navigating the Waters

Life is a lot like going down a turbulent river in a boat of some kind (raft, canoe, kayak- take your pick). You start at one place and are sent hurtling through rapids, with white water splashing all around and on you. You're trying very hard to hold on to your paddle and kept yourself on course. Sometimes there are other paddlers there with you, but sometimes the specific channel you're navigating is a solo task.

It's hard work! There are moments when you feel you're losing track of the route that leads to your destination, and sometimes you end up on a different part of the river altogether. To be fair, I've never actually been whitewater rafting, but I remember watching the kayakers on the river not too far from where I grew up as a small child and this is how I envision what they were going through.

Sometimes there is so much water spraying around you that you feel like you're going to drown. Your paddle can't seem to steer worth shit and you feel so very helpless. But then the river widens a bit and you hit calmer waters. Suddenly, you can breathe and relax again. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale.

I never wrote about my birth story with Miss K. In the aftermath of PPD, I was just trying to keep myself going; and truthfully I still am. But I think back to it every now and again, especially when I am around a newborn and remember those hours.

All told it was a fairly smooth birth and from the time they moved me from triage to a delivery room and the time Miss K was born, five hours passed. 9pm- 2:09 am. Those who have been reading my blog(s) since those days may recall I was having blood pressure issues and was high risk for pre-eclampsia. The decision to induce me a couple days before her due date was made promptly at my OB appt that morning when I came in with a splitting headache and my pressure was 150/90. I was tired, in pain and the thought of trying to manage the headache for however long it took her to decide to come along on her own made me ill.

My OB got the process started by rupturing the membranes that morning. A small detail perhaps, but that kick-started labour all on it's own and by the time I arrived at the hospital that evening, I was in labour. A couple hours later, as we were watching the contractions on the monitor, we noticed they were consistent. They moved me into the delivery room at the same time as my parents arrived, fresh off their  ferry and mad dash to make it from one city to another to be there.

I had back labour. Horrible, painful back labour due to her laying on her side. Because of my blood pressure, they had me hooked up to monitors and had a fetal monitor on K. I had to stay on my back because every time I shifted into a different position (like I desperately wanted to), they would lose her heart rate. After a couple of hours of this, I was in tears because the pain meds did nothing and I was exhausted from the all day migraine. They suggested, and I accepted an epidural... quite happily I might add. I could have done without the contraction that happened right as the anesthesiologist was inserting the needle though.

The part of this story that made me think of the river metaphor was when during the last parts of delivery I gave up. I was tired and pushing was harder than I ever imagined. The epidural helped a great deal but also softened the intense awareness I have of my own body. It's hard to trust your body to do what it needs to in that instance. I don't remember all the details vividly, but I do remember saying that I couldn't do it, I couldn't do anymore. It didn't feel like I was accomplishing anything. The nurse (or was it the resident?) did the one thing I will forever be grateful for. She paused everything and made me touch K's head. I had no idea had close we were to her actually being out, and in that one moment when I could so easily touch the top of her head I was thoroughly humbled. Yes, I could do this since I
was doing it!

It was that calmer part of the river, where I could breath, where I could evaluate where I was and see where I had to go next. It was also essential, I think, for me a woman who had lost two pregnancies, to see that yes, the baby that had been moving inside of me was actually real!

In fact, when the next contraction came and I continued pushing, I was resolved. I was going to do anything and everything to see this through. I was a bit... um... overenthusiastic in fact, as evidenced by how quickly she came out. The joke is that the resident needed a catcher's mitt, lol. None of it mattered though once they placed her on me. But my first thought was 'a real baby'?!

She was real.

I was thinking about that moment the other day when walking home. I've been doing a lot of reflecting lately in fact. These last couple of years have been extremely turbulent and this time two years ago, we were preparing to move out of our apartment in Vancouver and move in with hubby's parents because with no money and no job on the horizon we couldn't pay rent or any of our bills. We were broke, having spent the last of our savings on that month's rent and food.

Here we are two years later and I'm writing from a flat in Scotland. Scotland! It still boggles my mind, truly. I don't know if it'll ever really sink in or not, but I guess I have three years to find out.

Right now, in this moment, I'm in calmer waters. They are certainly moving swiftly though, but it's calm. I know what's ahead of us in the next couple of months and for now, that's all I need to focus on. In 27 days we fly home for Christmas. 20 days of time with both our families and I can't wait!

In other good news, a few days ago I officially walked out of a bank with a bank account of my very own. Which (gulp!) means that I can start my business. I won't start until we come back from our trip though, as there's not enough time to ramp up and get things going before we leave. But I have to say, after this year's ups and downs, this crucial piece of the puzzle feels rather anticlimactic. Calmer waters indeed. I have work to do, but there's no great rush, and I'm going to enjoy this breather while it lasts, because the rapids are looming again. It's going to get busy, and I doubt I'm truly prepared, but I've got my paddle in hand and am ready to go.

The glass is actually full...


  1. Awesome post! And I remember thinking someone...anyone, better get down there and catch her as you shot her out and they weren't looking at the time but looking at the monitor!! I feel ten times closer to you and Little K for that moment in time...thank you for allowing me to be apart of the experience!

    1. And I am so glad you could be there too. It was very special.

  2. So lovely to read your birth story and the fact that touching your daughter's head gave you the strength you needed at that moment. So many huge changes since that day - congratulations that the business is becoming a reality. That is so very exciting.


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