Here is the story of how Teya Foley’s daughter, Cadence came into the world. I connected with Teya through the Mommy Soul Tribe and we have become easy friends, despite our very large geographical distance. Teya hosts a website called And So She Thought, that is focused on supporting women from all walks of life. Her story is beautiful; full of raw feeling and truth from the small to the big details of bringing her daughter into the world.
I am happy to be posting this today because as my own due date draws near, I am constantly frustrated with my body. “Why haven’t I delivered yet?” “Can’t I just have one baby arrive early?” “Is this contraction a real one or another Braxton Hicks?” “I don’t want to go to ____, I’ll have to pee 1,000 times while we’re there.” I’ve had a few times when I thought labor was imminent, only to be let down. I am trying to turn all of these frustrated and disappointed thoughts into grateful ones. “I’m glad that I have safely carried my babies to full term.” “My body has provided safe harbor for my most precious loves.” Hearing other stories and knowing that every woman has hopes and expectations has been comforting to me. I hope it will be for you too.
After the hottest summer on record, the 39-week mark had finally arrived. The nursery was ready, my bags were packed, and my mindset had shifted from “I love being pregnant” to “bring on the birth”. Living a state away from my family brought an additional challenge, I really wanted my mum and sister to be in the birth suite with my husband and myself, however given how expensive last minute flights become, attempting to “schedule” my birth was interesting. As you may know, the possible birth window is about 4 weeks long, 2 weeks either side of the estimated due date. My mum decided to come down and stay for 10 days, starting approximately 5 days before my “due date”, while my sister was to stay for just 7, arriving 4 days before the expected arrival time.
I was so determined to have my daughter arrive in the 7-day window during which my mum and sister would both be down. I googled every possible “trick” to bring on my labour. I ate chillies and cherries, the dog scored lots of extra walks, my mum massaged the “trigger” points around my ankles, my nipples were stimulated…and we even tried “that”. When my sister arrived, we drove the hour to the airport and on the way home I was feeling off and was super irritable. I wondered what the morning would bring.
At 4:30am I woke to light cramping. Could this be it I wondered? I started monitoring my possible contractions and they were all over the place. Sometimes they were 5 minutes apart, at other times they were 40. At about 8am they had built to a significant enough level of pain that I called the maternity ward. I advised them that I thought I might be in labour, their response was that I would know if I was in labour and to just have some pain killers and a sleep. In truth though, I had no idea what labour would feel like and definitely didn’t know how to distinguish between Braxton Hicks and labour. From what I’d read/googled Braxton Hicks stayed fairly regular and consistent in terms of levels of discomfort. While this didn’t really seem to match what I was feeling, I also wasn’t feeling a sudden confidence that “this was it”. So, given it was Easter Sunday, I laid down and tried to get comfortable until the shops were opened and my husband could bring me some pain killers.
As the day progressed, the contractions continued to become more intense but they remained sporadic in their timing. My husband took our dog to the park for a good run just in case it would be his last good play in a while. My mum, sister and I enjoyed a nice relaxing day of binge watching The Bachelorette as my sporadic contractions continued to build. Eventually we decided to take an approximately 10-minute walk to join my husband at the dog park, hoping this would help my suspected labour progress. This definitely worked! On the walk there, I stopped every minute or so to swear while I leaned on a fence or my mum in pain. While I enjoyed joking around between contractions, during them the joking from my mum and sister absolutely and irrationally infuriated me (an annoyance that dissipated immediately each time the contraction passed). We arrived at the dog park and then took a walk along through the nearby fields and eventually back home.
Even though I had always intended to have an epidural, especially given I already suffered from bad back pain due to having scoliosis, all day I found myself challenging myself to have a completely natural birth. Out of nowhere I found myself feeling the pressure to conform with other people’s ideals and forgetting my own birth plan (which was essentially to have an epidural and follow the instructions of the experts with the hopes of a natural delivery). After returning home and attempting to nap, I snapped back from allowing other people’s judgements to determine my birth and gave myself permission to own my own experience. I called the hospital to see if I could come in for an examination and to confirm my labour so that I wouldn’t miss my opportunity to have the epidural. They tried to convince me to stay at home where I would be “more comfortable” until my contractions became more frequent and regular (as they were still all over the place, 5 minutes apart, then 12…4…7). I stood my ground and insisted on coming in. My family all sighed with relief at my decision to finally go to the hospital at about 6pm, having endured the whole day of watching me slip in and out of intense pain.
When we arrived, I sat waiting in the Birth Assessment Unit, waiting to be examined. My contractions now coming through thick and fast. When I was finally examined it was determined that I was about 8cm dilated. The examining midwife wanted to see how my body was responding to my contractions internally. So, I lay there for about 12 minutes with her fingers up there waiting for a contraction, that had suddenly decided to vanish… Definitely not the most comfortable 12 minutes of my life! Eventually I suggested standing to see if this would encourage a contraction, and instantly my body reacted. Given my obstetrician was on his one day off per month, his replacement was called and he asked them to send me to a birth ward and to organise my epidural. As disappointing as my obstetrician being unavailable initially was, the glowing responses from the midwives about his replacement, who also happened to be the head of the whole obstetrics unit, quickly allowed me to feel confident that I would be well looked after.
The anesthetist finally arrived just before 9pm, and I focused every ounce of my strength and focus on remaining completely still while he delivered me my pain-relief. My sister who was a photographer attempted to capture this moment, but was quickly left feeling woozy after watching the needle be inserted, and we all joked about how hard that must have been for her while the midwives switched their focus from comforting me to comforting her. I was lucky that the hospital where I gave birth had the option of self-administered pain relief; meaning that every 30 minutes I was able to press a button to release small top up of my pain relief. This allowed me to stay more focused and present throughout the birth, and I was still able to feel when my contractions were occurring without all of the accompanying pain.
I really enjoyed that night just lying in my hospital bed telling jokes with my family and my midwife Louise. It was like I was enjoying a catch up with friends and family over a few wines, and not like being in the middle of labour in a birthing suite. At about 11pm I started feeling my contractions again, I realised I hadn’t once topped up my pain relief and then we realised my epidural hose had somehow come loose anyway. The anesthetist returned to fix it up and I quickly pressed that button…ahh…sweet relief! Meanwhile my “poor” sister was feeling tired, so Louise found her a yoga mat to nap on, my labour had been so tough on the poor girl haha.
About 30 minutes later Louise gave me an internal exam to see how things were progressing, and as my waters were still intact she handed my husband a knitting needle (yes…really!) ready to break them. Fortunately, I managed to avoid that knitting needle, as during the exam my waters spontaneously ruptured, and rather hilariously narrowly missed my sister who was still napping close to the end of the bed. A call was made to the obstetrician to hurry up as active labour was now upon us.
At about midnight we were still awaiting the arrival of the obstetrician and we discovered he was having car troubles. Ah…of course they were. Fortunately, at this point I wasn’t too phased by this as I had every confidence my amazing midwife Louise was more than capable of getting the job done. She organised for a second midwife to join us, as per hospital regulations, and the pushing process was finally able to begin.
Prior to this point, I had insisted everyone stay above my shoulders, my birth canal was for the eyes of medical professionals only. Oh, how quickly my sense of modesty disappeared! Within a few pushes I was crowning (thank you pilates!!!), and Louise invited my family to come and have a look, and I quickly granted them permission to do so. It was like my vagina was no longer a vagina, and rather just my baby’s window to our world. My ever-respectful husband still lingered above my shoulders until I again told him that it was alright and said that he should go and see our daughter. He quickly shuffled down and his face was full of love and awe.
The pushing continued in sync with my contractions, which thanks to my lighter epidural I was still able to detect. The obstetrician had still not arrived and during the pushing process I experienced a micro-tear of my vagina, my sister again overcome by wooziness. Due to this micro tear, the midwives thought I may need a slight “snip” to make room for my daughter to enter the world. They started prepping the required tools, and just seconds before making the “snip” the much-anticipated obstetrician finally arrived! He was in his forties, Scottish and absolutely lovely; the reasons for the admiration the midwives had all expressed earlier was immediately clear. As my late Poppy was Scottish also, this link in heritage made me feel more connected to my roots and my family, it felt so right to have this man be the one to help me welcome my daughter into the world.
I was snapped back into the reality of birth when another round of contractions hit me and this time the adrenaline they brought with them caused me to throw up all over myself. My family looked at me with worry and concern, until I quickly reassured them that I was fine, and just wanted them to clean me up in time to meet my little girl. Once cleaned up, my obstetrician recommended one more round of pushing before giving me the “snip”. Well that definitely motivated me to push, and push I did! Success…within moments my incredible daughter made her way into our world, she let out that long anticipated cry and found her home in my arms. This moment was pure magic and was worth every bit of pain, exhaustion and discomfort. It was almost 2am at this point and I had been awake and in labour for 22 hours straight, however in that moment I felt more energised, alive and connected than I had in my entire life, for my world now included my beautiful daughter Cadence.
To learn more about Teya, visit her site at andsoshethought.com
For more birth stories, visit the features page.