Vivian Katherine's Zeroth Birthday


Vivian Katherine Bow (or Noteboom Bow? Still have to decide that one) was born at the Childbirth Centre of Grand River Hospital by C-section at roughly 9:15 p.m., Wednesday, November 2, 2005. She weighed 6 lbs, 10.5 oz.

Which means Therese wins the pool in terms of date and time and weight, having guessed November 3rd at 4 p.m. with a weight of 6 1/2 lbs. Kim Jernigan came next closest in time with November 1st at 12 noon, and Dan had the next best weight guess at 7.2 lbs. I didn’t get the information about her height. (Edited to add: 21 inches)

I can’t really describe to you just how pleased we are, how proud I am of Erin and how fundimentally exhausted I am at the moment. The C-section was not good news, but that’s past, now. Erin is healthy; our baby is healthy, and we have one heck of a war story to tell.

We’d had a midwife appointment early on Tuesday, which showed to us that, while the cervix had started to soften, it was still pretty well closed, and we left with the distinct impression that the baby, while just three days late, might not be here until the weekend. Erin was quite disappointed, worried about induction. She needn’t have worreid. her first disorganized contractions that led into labour began at 7 p.m. that evening. By 10, we were in “this is it” mode. By 11:30, contractions were highly organized, quite intense, and three minutes apart.

Those of you adding in your head will realize that this calculates into a total labour of about 23 hours, fifteen minutes, not including post-op, most of it dealing with contractions that came more frequently than every four minutes. Still, when labour started, it seemed pretty standard. When we began timing the contractions at 11:30 Tuesday night, despite being alarmed that they had reached three minute intervals so soon, I stuck to the advice that one doesn’t call the midwife until after the contractions reach under five minutes (but over two) for a whole hour. Well, almost. I waited until 12:15 a.m. to call her.

The midwife agreed that this was probably the real deal and said she would be over in a couple of hours once she’d had a chance to shower, collect her assistant and coffee. When she arrived at two o’clock, Erin was labouring in the bathtub, and I was helping her breathe by ladelling water over her belly in slow, smooth strokes during the contractions. This is apparently a common and effective labour coaching technique, and our midwife was impressed that we’d happened on it naturally.

A quick check told us that Erin had dilated to three centimetres in just four “short” hours. It didn’t feel like much, but apparently the shift from zero to three is the longest part of the labour, so that was good news. Except that Erin, myself, my mother-in-law and the midwives probably weren’t going to sleep. I myself hadn’t slept since waking up that morning, and I’d only once during my academic career pulled an all-nighter.

The contractions became more intense and I ladelled out a lot of water. At around 6 a.m., Erin had dilated to between 5-6 cm, and the contractions were taking on the intensity characteristic of the transition phase of labour (just before we needed to push). I drove to the hospital, was met there by the midwives who had the room all arranged, and we laboured some more until about 10:30 a.m., when the cervix looked to be fully dilated. It was then the midwife recommended breaking the waters and settling down to push. We agreed, and the waters were broke.

One problem with this labour was that Vivian was facing forward. This is not as serious a problem as a breach birth or anything like that, but ideally babies should enter the cervix with their face towards their mother’s back, as this presents a far smaller area of the top of the baby’s head and makes labour much quicker and easier. But by facing the front, posterior babies present a far larger area of the top of the head, which never properly engages with the cervix. It also causes incredible back pain between contractions.

Erin soldiered through this for twelve hours, and it was hoped that by breaking the amniotic fluid sac, this would help turn the baby. It didn’t. The baby didn’t descend. And as a full hour of labour proceeded, the cervix actually moved back from full dilation.

It was then the midwife recommended an epidural, which was not something Erin had wanted. A natural, drug-free childbirth, even one in hospital, was what we’d wanted to ensure our baby entered the world alert. It helps to establish breastfeeding, among other things. And it was also frustrating to go twelve hours drug free and then admit defeat. Even though the midwife told us this was far from a defeat, it felt like a defeat. But it had to happen. Erin was exhausted. The contractions were becoming irregular. We needed a drug to get the contractions back on track, and an epidural was required to keep Erin from feeling them in the interim, so she could sleep and build up her strength.

There was also a time limit, now, as the breaking of the waters revealed that Vivian had passed some Meconium while in the womb, and the hospital now had to ensure that she hadn’t aspirated it. A transfer of care occurred. Our midwives now became assistants to the hospital’s OBs, pediatricians, and anaesthetists.

They were a bit slow in showing up. That was the bad bit. Finally, at about 4:00 PM, the epidural was applied, and the oxytocin, which got the contractions back to regular, and allowed Erin some much-needed rest. (If you’re counting, Erin spent 18 hours in undrugged back labour, including 10 in transition.) As my mother-in-law and myself had both been on our feet since 8 a.m. Tuesday, we slept as well.

Unfortunately, the regular contractions still didn’t help. The baby wouldn’t turn over, and the head wouldn’t engage. Finally, at 8:30 p.m., the doctor in charge recommended a cesarian section. Neither Erin and I had wanted this, but the stress of labour was lowering Vivian’s heart rate, and she had to come out now or risk complications. We agreed, and were prepped for surgery. I was allowed to attend, in gown, mask and hairnet, and was there as Vivian was removed, her lungs suctioned, and then presented to Erin.

Although some meconium aspiration had occurred, which made breathing a little slow to start, it was easily taken care of and, after a couple of hours of observation, Vivian was released to us. Erin has to stay at the hospital for three days as she recovers from the cesarian, but the time will help her get the rest she needs, bond with the baby, and get the nurses’ help in breastfeeding. Vivian looks beautiful and was active and squirming straight from the start. So far, she’s a quiet baby, content to smack her lips while she waits in the observation crib.

I’ve no complaints about our medical care and nothing but praise for the tireless efforts of our midwives, who were there every step of the way. The cesarian-section was professional to the point of being a dance. There were an amazing number of doctors and nurses in attendance, with things being passed around, and yet nobody managed to get in anybody’s way.

More Baby Photos


Almost immediately after birth; Vivian being weighed.


Lively creature, isn’t she?


Me, allowed to gently touch the baby.


Just after the epidural was applied. And what I hope to do after writing this post.

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