You need to flip through this book and read this story. This isn’t just a birth story. It is a story of healing and transformation, and it is one of my all-time favourites that I have had the honour to write and design.
It was a hard journey to meeting our Myra, and I strongly believe she knew that, because she has been a reassuring presence right from the beginning.
I decided I wanted a second child when Austin was around three days old. It’s funny how quickly you forget how terrible giving birth can be.
Joey wanted a baby, too, but I don’t know if he wanted them necessarily as close as me.
I always wanted two. Especially since we are far away from family. Our children won’t have cousins, aunties and uncles. I wanted them to have each other as siblings, so that they’d grow up together.
I became pregnant before Austin was even one. We waited longer before telling people than we did with Austin, which is ironic, since we weren’t worried with him and that pregnancy was fine. I was around 10 weeks when we told people, and then we lost the baby at 13 weeks.
It was absolutely heartbreaking. I remember just sitting in the office, listening to the doctor say, “This pregnancy’s not going to be successful.” I remember thinking, ‘No, it’s fine.’ I was in complete denial. The truth was too difficult to accept. That was the first time I realized that it wasn’t a given that you’d get a healthy baby at the end of a pregnancy. It was devastating. I cried so hard. Austin’s pregnancy went so well, I wasn’t expecting that at all. I didn’t think that could happen to me.
I had to have a D and C in May. After that, I still wanted another baby, but I wasn’t ready to take the chance to lose another baby. I became pregnant in December and then lost that baby in January. I was around four or five weeks pregnant. After this second miscarriage, I started to really worry that I wouldn’t be able to have this second baby that I wanted so, so much. Then, I became pregnant with Myra just weeks after losing that pregnancy.
I had an appointment with my doctor to talk about my second miscarriage – since I’d had two miscarriages back-to-back, we wanted to make sure there wasn’t something we needed to address – and she did a blood test. She told me, “Your levels went up so you’re probably pregnant.” I was so in denial, I was so afraid of seeing another baby and then losing another baby. I was in denial for a long time. I didn’t take a pregnancy test for a couple days after that, but by then it was my fourth pregnancy, I knew the signs in my body. I remember thinking, ‘My boobs do hurt, I was feeling nauseous, I had the weird cramps.’ I took a pregnancy test, and sure enough, I was pregnant. I was so happy but so, so scared. My doctor was really good about making sure I was reassured. I went for blood work twice a week. She sent me for ultrasounds at 8 and 10 weeks until we could hear the heartbeat, and then I was more reassured that the pregnancy would be a success. I was so anxious those first 12 weeks. I dreaded going to the bathroom because I was afraid to see blood.
Even from early on, my pregnancy with Myra was a reassuring pregnancy. I would be stressed and go to an ultrasound, and the doctor would say, “She’s moving, I can see her face.” I felt her kick early on and felt it constantly. It’s almost like she knew that I needed to know she was okay. Every time I started to have a little doubt, she would kick and give me the reassurance I needed. I felt like she was telling me: “Let me kick you for two hours, you’re not sure if I’m okay, so there you go.” I dreaded every ultrasound, I dreaded every heartbeat check. I was always scared it would be bad news. But Myra always sent me a sign: “I’ve got you, Mom.”
I was nauseous and not really enjoying food for longer than I did with Austin, but that was also reassuring, because the symptoms were still there, so it meant I was still pregnant. I was a lot sicker than with Austin. I was a lot more emotional than with Austin. I was also very lucky to be pregnant at the same time as my good friend Ashley. It really helped me to be able to go through a stressful pregnancy with her. From the very beginning of pregnancy, we said this had to be a girl for me to be crying all the time. We found out the sex at the 22-week ultrasound. The tech wrote it on a piece of paper and we gave it to our friend Lindsay. We had sets of streamers in a popper and confetti came out in pink. I had felt in my heart it was a girl. It felt like she was a caring girl making sure mom was okay.
By the end of pregnancy, we would ask Austin, “Where’s baby Myra?” And he’d point to my belly. And he called my belly Baby Myra for a couple months, but I’m not sure how much he understood.
We were lucky that she was due during a time when the pandemic restrictions weren’t as strict as they later became when she was an infant. I was due October 7th. Joey was gone for work almost all of September. My mom flew in from New Brunswick in September in case I was early. Because I was 10 days late with Austin, I wasn’t worried about going early. She had to book her return ticket on October 11 because she had to quarantine at her house for two weeks after returning to New Brunswick, and she only had so many days off she could take. Though no one said anything to me, inwardly I felt the pressure to have this baby out before she left because she couldn’t stay any later. I’m sure she would have stayed if she absolutely had to but I felt that stress: she needs to be out, so my mom can meet her before she leaves!
I had my 40-week appointment on October 5th. My doctor was doing walk-ins at Martensville clinic, so she suggested I come in for a membrane sweep at 7 that night. When she checked me, she said I was already two centimetres dilated. Again, that felt like a way Myra was taking care of me, making it a potentially smoother labour. With Austin, it took me 24 hours of painful contractions to get to two centimetres! My doctor performed the membrane sweep, I sat up, and while we were talking, I felt a gush of water. “I think my water just broke!”
She tested it and confirmed that my water just broke. I was standing in the doctor’s office, leaking everywhere. She said I could go home and wait until I had contractions or go to the hospital and see if they’d keep me. She said, “Either way, I have a feeling we’ll be seeing you shortly.”
Because of COVID, I had driven to the clinic myself. I drove home, in a puddle of water. I tried to call Joey, who was playing PlayStation, so he wasn’t answering. I called my mom and told her to get Joey to pack a bag.
I arrived home and all of our bags were at the door waiting. I changed because everything was drenched. We left for the hospital because I was so anxious, there was no way I could sit at home, waiting. On the way to the hospital, I started having contractions. Again, it was like she knew I needed it to happen. When we got there, they were already five minutes apart. This labour was already going so much quicker than Austin’s. That helped me relax a bit. It was as though Myra was saying, “We’ll make this quick and fast, you’ll see me soon, don’t worry.”
I was assessed when we arrived at the hospital around 9:30 p.m. By 10 p.m., they made the decision to keep me. My water was continually gushing, and by then I was at three centimetres. While we were waiting in the assessment room, Joey was on his laptop, trying to get some work done and I was watching “Parks and Rec”. It’s funny, because with Austin’s labour, I watched “The Office”, a very similar show. At first, I thought I could labour without an epidural, but later changed my mind and made sure they knew I wanted it as soon as I could have it.
When I was checked at 11 p.m. and midnight, I was still at three centimetres, and again still when checked at 2 a.m. I lost it and started crying, worried that labour was stalled, worried it would be hard like last time. The doctor came back in half an hour, and thankfully I was at four centimetres and went to a birthing room. At 5 a.m. I got the epidural, and at 6 a.m. I was at 10 centimetres. I believe Myra was sending me the message: “You want this done, we’re ready.”
I began pushing at 7 a.m., and she was born at 7:25 a.m. The birth was very quick, and it went well. I had moments where I thought I couldn’t do it, but Joey was always there to reassure me, letting me know I had this. With Austin, it was two hours of pushing, and it was never ending. With her, it was 20 minutes and she was out and she was fine.
They put her on me right away. I just wanted to hug her and keep her with me. I needed her on me. I needed to make sure she was okay. I just wanted to make sure I got my healthy baby I had been wanting for the last year. I didn’t even look at her face. I just needed to feel her on me and feel her breathing. Count her fingers and count her toes. My doctor’s shift began at 7 a.m., so I ended up giving birth with the on-call doctor. My doctor walked in at 7:30 and she’s the one who lifted Myra a little bit so I could see her for the first time. It hit me that she was a real baby, she was healthy, she was mine, and she was okay. She looked like Austin so much. We kept saying that over and over. “Oh my gosh, that’s just like Austin.” It’s like we made the same baby twice.
Joey’s grandmother’s name was Myra, and he really wanted that name. He loved his grandma and had the best relationship with her. And I liked it. Her middle name is Sam, which is my sister’s name (Samanta). I felt like Samanta was too long, so we went with Myra Sam.
We were in the hospital for 24 hours after her birth. Everything was going well and Myra was healthy. After the 24-hour blood test, we left and were home by lunch the next day.
Austin met her when we came home. We recorded it the first time he saw her. He was very unsure. He looked at her. He didn’t really know what she was. From the beginning, every time she would cry, he would run to her and say, “It’s okay, Myra.” Now he is smitten with her: he loves her and he’s very, very protective of her. Even sometimes when I’m skyping with my parents and turn the phone to Myra. He’ll run over and say, “My Myra.”
During my pregnancy, everyone told me the transition from one to two is really not that bad. Four months in, I’m really feeling the difference. I don’t know if it’s the pandemic, but it feels like I’m always neglecting one of them. Because there’s only me and Joey who can be around them – because of the pandemic restrictions – and Joey’s working, it’s hard. I’m super happy and grateful I’m at home with her and not at school, especially right now. But I’m really struggling with making sure they’re both okay and getting what they want all the time. Then you’ll see Austin just lay beside his sister and it’s all worth it. He’ll run around like a crazy person and won’t stop until she’s laughing. As soon as he finds something that makes her laugh, he’ll do it over and over and over again. It’s in those moments that I think, ‘This is why we’re doing this.’ I can’t wait until she’s a little bit older and they can actually play and interact together. Two kids are definitely harder but also better.
I’m more confident in my abilities of a mom a second time around because you know what’s coming. The first month when you’re home and you’re so tired and you feel like you’ll never be able to sleep again…now I know eventually I will get sleep. That in itself is more reassuring. You know you were able to do it the first time and you know what it looks like. I don’t feel as anxious with her. I don’t feel as scared that I’m not doing a good job. I have more confidence in what I’m doing.
With Austin, I was out and did lots of mom and baby activities. We would leave the house every day, even to just go to the pharmacy. So the pandemic has made it hard, not being able to see other moms, and there are many of my mom friends also on mat leave right now. With Myra, we only leave for doctor’s appointments or walks outside if it’s nice. I’m happy it’s not my first time becoming a mom: it’s already isolating becoming a mom, and it would be even more isolating during a pandemic. I wish I had more opportunities to do swim classes or activities with Myra. I don’t get a lot of practice leaving the house with two kids!
She’s a very easy baby who sleeps lots at night and smiles a lot when she’s awake. Myra’s more vocal and a lot more smile-y than Austin, who was very chill. She interacts more with her surroundings. Myra needs to be around people or held a lot more than Austin did. She’s a social baby, which is sad that she can’t be out around others because of the pandemic.
With Myra, within minutes of being out, she was breastfeeding like a pro. I had bought bottles, a sanitizer, I had formula at home, I told myself I’m not putting myself through all the struggles I went through breastfeeding Austin. I’ve been able to breastfeed her, and she’s a chunky baby. I’m not on a weight watch list. Again, it’s like Myra is telling me: “You’ve had a hard time, this will be easy.” That’s been one big surprise: I didn’t think I would experience breastfeeding in a positive way. It’s kind of nice that she’s making me enjoy it.
After the dark grief of two miscarriages, her pregnancy, birth and start to life have been a healing balm on my heart.