Coco Mama » Creative Adventures in Preggo-hood

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This is my long overdue birth story number 2!

Prelude (WARNING: I talk about my vagina here, so if you’re uncomfortable with that, skip ahead to the next section).
Around month 6 of my pregnancy, varicose veins popped up all over my vulva.
This was a result of pushing for 3 hours during my first labour.
Had I gone to my postpartum appointment (big whoops – completely forgot to go), I would have learned that pushing for that length of time is very hard on your vagina, and I should’ve undergone physical therapy for my pelvic wall.  Because the area never had a chance to heal properly, the pressure of a new growing baby plus the body’s increased blood flow during pregnancy resulted in vulvar varicose veins.
Oh the joys of child bearing.

The concern (besides extreme swelling and discomfort), was that if these veins were to tear or be cut, I may hemorrhage.
To avoid any cutting, I would not be allowed an episiotomy (so no vacuum or forcep delivery – fine by me).
To avoid tearing, my nurse practitioner explained I would need full mobility to labour in various positions. Gravity would assist in the pushing and therefore ease the pressure on my vulva (and veins).
This also meant: no epidural (well, to clarify, I could have one, but she highly recommended I didn’t).
I was completely ok with that.
My goal this time around was to have a drug-free labour.
Partly as a personal challenge (women have been doing this drug-free for a zillion years; surely I can do it too),
and partly because I suspect (you may disagree), that it’s better for the baby and recovery-time for the mom.
I asked our nurse practitioner if we should hire a doula.
She responded, “PLEASE hire a doula”. And she gave us a list of referrals.

I often get asked what a doula is, so I’ll explain here.
A doula is a labour coach/assistant. They do not perform any medical procedures (you would still require a doctor or midwife). A doula literally coaches you through labour.
I wish I would have hired one the first time around.
Women (myself included), we will hire someone to style our hair, paint our nails, clean our house, train us at the gym. Why not hire someone to assist you through the birth of your child?  It is such a momentous occasion.
And it’s completely foreign territory.
Did you know how to labour before you did it?
I sure didn’t.
I was still clueless even after my first.
Hell, even now after my second.
Nurses only offer you  “PUSH NOW!” instructions.
And though husbands offer emotional support, they really have no idea how to actually help you push out a baby.

(Note: you do not have to have a drug-free labour to hire a doula. During the interview process, I asked ours “what if I decide I want an epidural halfway through my labour?”.  She responded, “I am here to support you. It’s your body, your labour. I’ve even had people hire me for elective c-sections.”)

I was so pleasantly surprised at how much my nurse practitioner, doctor and our hospital (St.Mary’s for those of you in the area) embraced hiring a doula. I was expecting indifference or even some hesitation. It’s a testament to how progressive they are.

Ok back to the action…

2:00 am (3 days post due date)
Woke up to go to the washroom. Started having contractions. I’d been having occasional strong contractions here and there for the previous 2 weeks so I thought: “I’ll pay attention, though I’m not sure if this is it”.
I decided to have a bath. I figured that either way, it’d relieve some pain.
The contractions were 10 minutes apart. And STRONG.
During my labour with Caio, my contractions were up high and felt like extreme food poisoning cramps.
This time they were low. More along the lines of severe menstrual pain that radiated through my bones.
The bath seemed to do little. Every time I had a contraction, I’d kneel on all fours just to find some relief.

4:00 am
Woke up Gino.
My contractions were now 5 minutes apart and our doula had warned me not to delay with second-time-around labours, as they are generally fast and furious. Plus we live about an hour from the hospital.
Gino called his mom (she would be watching Caio).

4:30 am
Blow dried my hair.
Between contractions.
So ridiculous.
Or maybe I AM WOMAN-ish.
Who blow dries their hair while moving a baby through their birth canal at the same time?
Apparently I do.
My contractions were now 2-3 minutes apart.

5:00 am
I called our doula Millie.
She recommended that we pack up and meet her at the hospital.
She said if I was not in good labour yet, we’d walk around or go for a coffee.

6:00 am
Gino’s mom arrived and we left the house.
The car ride to the hospital during my first labour was very pretty and polite compared to this time around.
With Caio, I chatted lightly with Gino and my father-in-law, paused to breathe calmly through a contraction, and then continued on conversing.
And what was this time like you ask?
I couldn’t even sit.
I tried to get in the front seat and just about screamed.
Instead picture me keeled over on all fours in the back seat, with my face in a nursing pillow that was sitting on a toddler carseat.
My contractions were now 2 minutes apart.
And let me tell ya, there was nothing polite and pretty about these ones.
I was gripping anything around me, half yelling/half moaning, swaying my hips back and forth.

 6:45 am
We met our doula Millie in the hospital parking lot.
She looked at me and said “Yeah I think we’ll go up and admit you”.
I had to stop every 10 steps or so to lean over and have a contraction.
Millie would massage by back and hips and talk me through my breathing.

7:00 am
A doctor in triage gave me an internal exam and informed me that I was 7cm dilated and my membranes were bulging.
They skipped hooking me up to a monitoring system and directed me to go straight to a delivery room.
I began to sweat.
Marathon amounts of sweat.
Not from nerves or heat, just seemingly randomly.
My doula explained this signifies a hormonal change in your body and the baby would be here very soon.

7:30 am
Hobbled into the delivery room.
I could feel a bit of leaking as I approached the bed.
Me: “Um, I think my water is breaking?”
POP ( it sounded exactly what you’d expect a breaking bag of water to sound like).
Water and blood gushed everywhere.
And the pain went from a 7 to a 10 (the amniotic fluid that had been providing some cushioning between my bones and the baby’s head was now all over the floor) and then my legs buckled.
“Can you get on the bed?” my doula asked.
“No I can’t!” I wailed sadly.
She lowered the bed and rolled me onto it.
Millie told me later that she could see the baby’s head at this point.

Gino appeared (he had gone to the washroom expecting he’d have a lot of time) to a chaotic scene of nurses, blood and amniotic fluid galore.
He panicked assuming something was wrong.
Millie assured him all was well.
One nurse announced “Now THIS is how you come to the hospital in labour!”.
Apparently most of us go way too early.

I was overcome by the need to push.
It’s unbelievable how labour takes over. Like a freight train charging down a track – it’s this force that moves through your body and you feel it. You feel ALL of it. But with no control.
I can’t even really explain it, but truthfully?
It was brutal.
Sounds were coming out of my mouth that I wasn’t consciously making.
Gino said I was just quietly saying “ahhhhhh!!!”, though in my mind I was full out yelling.
And I consider myself to have a high pain tolerance.

(Note to all of the moms-to-be out there: I know many people who have had very easy natural labours. No sweating. No screaming. Just 3 pushes and baby appears. So it may be that way for you! Please don’t think my experience will be your experience. I’m just providing an honest account of what this labour was like for me).

There was no way I would’ve been able to have a natural labour without a doula.
I think I would have panicked.
Millie was there instructing me through every contraction (“Chin down! You’ll get a better push!”) and breaking the pain down into small, bite-sized bits (“Use this contraction! The harder a contraction the more it’s actually moving the baby.”)
It never felt cheerleader coaching-esque.
She gave thoughtful, helpful, useful instructions.

March 26, 2014 at 7:56 am
After 6 hours of labour from start to finish including 20 minutes of pushing,
Elika Mae Cocomello was born!
8 lbs, 8 ounces and 22 inches.
They lay her on my chest and asked, “What do you think it is Mama?” (we chose not to find out the sex beforehand)
And I responded, “A girl!”
And I was right. :)

Elika Mae Cocomello

Doula, Rochelle and Elika Mae Cocomello

  • Ashley Cavener - To my brave friend Rochelle,

    Is it normal that I cried while reading this? Sshh, don’t tell anyone! I felt like it was one of those horrific but beautiful stories that you just can’t stop reading! Thank you for sharing with us and it is a relief to know that as hard and painful it is (you are a very brave woman Rochelle!), it is all worth it to see the little miracle you just created. I am so happy for you and Gino and of course big brother Caio. You are a wonderful family and we are so blessed to have you as friends. Congratulations on your new addition and welcome to the world beautiful Elika, you are one lucky lady to have Rochelle as your Mama, she is one terrific lady! We love all of you and wish you nothing but the best! :)

    Ashley xoxoReplyCancel

  • Sasha - I love this birth story- a completely honest no holds barred account. I could feel the excitement and visualize pain as you told it. Well done!ReplyCancel

  • Julie - YOU BLEW DRIED YOUR HAIR?!?! El.Oh.El. You crack me up. You are seriously awesome. ;)

    This pretty much sounds like my first labour. I can totally relate to everything you said, minus the varicose veins and the doula. The pushing is so totally weird isn’t it? It was kind of scary to me how much your body knows what to do and what little control we have other than over our minds.

    About to write my second birth story too, have to document these babies. I’m glad you got to experience a natural drug-free delivery. Crazy isn’t it?ReplyCancel

  • nova - Daaaamn girl. haha I forgot you had a blog, and then this popped up on my bloglovin’ feed and I read it without realizing it’s YOU until I read the name Cocomello.

    You’re a superstar. I don’t know, I’ve never had a baby before so it all sounds pretty terrifying/brutal/amazing/weird. I love the way you wrote this, it’s refreshing to not just hear how “beautiful” it all was, you know? I want to know what REALLY happened.ReplyCancel

My husband Gino is a carpenter but has been working as an actor of the side for the last 15 years or so.
Due to his olive complexion (which I would die for), he gets type-cast often. This actually tends to work in his favour. Looking “ethnic” gets you all the cool roles. His resume of characters includes a Colombian warlord, Middle Eastern drug dealer, sleazy salesman, and Italian strip club owner. Fun! Who wants to play the bland guy-next door type when you can shoot guns at Cedric The Entertainer in The Cleaner or make under-the-table deals with Lois Lane on Smallville?
Here he plays a Mexican waiter.

p.s. My husband is probably mortified that I’m posting this. He’s all shy about his acting (even though he’s brilliant). But as his wife I get unrestricted bragging privileges right?

Wheat fields

I love lists and I’ve seen these list posts floating around on blogs (such as here and here), so I thought I’d give it a whirl.

If you really knew me…

… you would know that I cannot scream. You know, the high-pitched horror movie variety. I can’t do it. I try and try and the most I can muster is a loud manly yell.

… you would know that I was born and raised on the prairies (Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta). And though I left as soon as I could, it’s the landscape that I miss the most. I’m at home in oceans of wheat fields under giant skies.

… you would know that I haven’t eaten at McDonald’s since 2001. Not even a french fry. It’s more for political reasons than health concerns (I’m trying to put my money where my mouth is). To make this boycott fun, my bestie and I have a bet to see who can resist temptation the longest.

… you would know that I’m ridiculously insecure and very anxious person. Generally only the people closest to me are privileged enough to see all the cracks in my foundation (sorry guys).

… you would know that I’m not a foodie. At all. I just don’t care. I’m happy with cheese and crackers and a side of sliced up dill pickle.

… you would know that I hate making business phone calls. Doctors appointments, dentists, restaurants – I won’t even order pizza. I have to bribe Gino to do it. I’m not shy; I just feel like I’m bothering people for some odd reason.

… you would know that I’m tired of people asking me if Caio “does his nights”. No he doesn’t, and a 4-month-old breast fed baby SHOULD be waking up to feed at least twice during the night. So no, he is not manipulating me, and no, I’m not spoiling him by meeting his basic nutritional requirements. Ba-hum-bug.

… you would know that I grew up poor. We were the family that received food hampers at Christmas. I remember when I was 6, my dad took us to pick up pop cans on the side of the highway so we could recycle them in order to buy milk. My parents weren’t drug addicts or bums – our financial situation was a result of a business arrangement gone bad. Living below the poverty line never carried any shame for me until high-school (being poor in oil-rich small town Alberta makes you stand out like a tree on the prairies).


If you’ve done one of these posts, please paste the link below. I’d love to read it :)

About the photo above: I took this photo last summer during our road trip across Canada. It’s the backyard view I had growing up in Saskatchewan. Gino’s reaction: “I’ve never seen anything so flat in my life”. Welcome to the prairies my love :).


  • nova - You forgot to mention the big skies. :) It’s what I miss most.ReplyCancel

    • cocomama - And the thunderstorms. Unbeatable :)ReplyCancel

  • Sasha - love this- i knew all but two- I see this as a sign we need to spend more time togetherReplyCancel

  • julie (xfallenmoon) - ahah. my brother used to live in edmonton. he would say: “you can lose your dog and still see it.” i thought it was pretty funny.ReplyCancel

  • Marilyn - I can relate to being poor, Rochelle ( I know you wont beleive me but its true!!!) Well, we never missed out on food because we grew our own! ( vegetables and animals) and face it, my family is italian, food is never an issue!lol I often got hand-me-downs for x-mas and took showers at friends houses because we sometimes had no electricity. As you know I had a sick father, the little money we had was to pay for his treatments and keep him alive. Gos bless his soul and your heart, Rochelle! I love to read your blog, XXXReplyCancel

    • cocomama - Marilyn I had no idea! I think living it poverty makes us interesting people – as they say “necessity is indeed the mother of invention” and imagination I think :)ReplyCancel

  • Scarlett - I love this type of post…
    I’ve also nominated you for the Liebster Award…..check out my post to see what it is all about.

  • denise frost-moore - hi Rochelle, I too grew up poor and if it weren’t for my grandma, Dennis & I wouldn’t have enjoyed things like Hockey, skating, baseball or camp. it’s cause of my grandma that we never went hungry. I got hand-me downs too and it was soo embarrassing as I went to school with the girls used to wear those clothes. I remember when I was 14 and in the 8th grade and my mom told me that Christmas was cancelled cause they couldn’t afford to buy us presents :( well it got back to my classmates and that was soo embarrassing and we did get Christmas but only cause our mom lied to usReplyCancel


I had good intentions.
I really did.
I spent $200 on the cutest cloth diaper set.
Organic cotton inserts, washer and dryer friendly, made in Montreal.
I did my product research.
But when reality sets in, and it’s 4:16 pm and you haven’t brushed your teeth yet because your screaming baby refuses to be put down even for a nanosecond, rinsing/washing/drying 10-12  runny, mustard looking poopy diapers a day is so unfathomable, it’s almost funny.
Disposable diapers I love you and all of your non-biodegradable convenience.
I’m sorry environment. I tried. I really did.

  • Melanie - Oh Rochelle! I love you! And the environment forgives you! :) But I did have to giggle. I do remember those moments of ending the day the same way I got up… no brushing teeth, showering, same pjs that I wore all day unless baby spit up or I got poop on them. It’s SO not the way I originally thought it would be. But I couldn’t imagine life without my munchkins (most days)! Maybe once things settle down & the poops become less runny & messy, there is always the option to switch back. It does get better as they get bigger. I promise! :) XOXOXO to you all!ReplyCancel

    • cocomama - It’s true Melanie about the bigger they get the easier it is – we hit the 3 month mark today and I swear in the last week he’s been WAY more content. Yey to self entertaining!ReplyCancel

  • ana {bluebirdkisses} - ugh…please don’t remind me! I have a huge box of brand new {yet washed} organic cloth diapers. I must have spent close to $400 on everything but we used disposable diapers in the hospital and haven’t stopped since. To be perfectly honest, I was doing 2-4 baby loads of clothing in the first few months alone, I can’t even imagine adding another load of dirty diapers to my ever growing list of house tasks. It is what it is. The environment, baby and we will all survive. I felt guilty at first, but I’m kind of over it. I think I need to put up all the cloth diapers and accessories on craig’s list.ReplyCancel

    • cocomama - Yey Ana I’m glad I’m not the only one! We meant well right? :) I’m with you – we will all survive. I think my time is better spent with the little guy than rinsing diapers anyway :)ReplyCancel

  • Julie Claveau - lol. i have to say i’m glad i’m not the only one with not enough time for personal hygiene!! bah! >.< as for the diapers… totally agree. as for the loads of laundry, i have to admit i've slowed down… can't be changing clothes 20 times a day (baby and mom) because of baby spit up anymore… it's much worse for the environment than disposable diapers!ReplyCancel