Nikki Tomasi-Gunter

Nikki is the founder of Kindred Parents, a family-oriented activity studio for kids, parents, and families of all shapes and sizes within the Northumberland community, and beyond. With a degree in Child and Youth Care, Nikki has had a longstanding passion for working with young people and parents alike. Now, as a mom of two young children (Maverick, 1 year; Grayah, 2.5 years), she understands more than ever, the need for a ‘village’ in the wonderful and wild world of parenthood. The Kindred Parents Blog is just another small way in which Nikki endeavours to create space for parents and caregivers to connect.  

The second time around I wanted my birth experience to be different. It wasn’t like I had a terrible delivery with Grayah, as far as labour goes, 8 hours isn’t THE worst. Though, you couldn’t have told me that at the time. I was ‘practical’ going into it, in that I instinctively knew that there wasn’t really anything that was going to let me know “what to expect” with childbirth.  Pitocin? Epidural? Episiotomy? I had a sense that I didn’t want these interventions but didn’t really feel a super strong resolve either way.

As I mentioned, my daughter’s birth wasn’t necessarily traumatic, but it wasn’t all that wonderful either. ‘Miss Thing’ came 5 days early, my husband was out of town for work, and only just by chance my family happened to be on there way to visit me all the way from Northumberland, at my Toronto home.

My step-mom, Nanny, little sister, sweet niece, and sister-in-law arrived to find me pale, sweaty, and frantic on my staircase. I didn’t even realize I was in labour-denial, much? It was all downhill from there. Heavy rain, traffic, and getting lost as we navigated the busy T. O. downtown. I had to be escorted by wheelchair from the emergency drop-off area by security, because there is legitimately NO reasonable parking in the GTA. Security took me up to the maternity floor, attempting small talk (are you for real, dude) and left me at the nurses’ station. Legitimately, they did not acknowledge me. I sat there writhing in pain, and when I tried to get up to find somewhere to vomit, I got yelled at! I mean, I get it ladies, this is just a flipping Tuesday for you, but for me it’s a bit of an event! Just sayin’.

In the end I had an epidural, and it was fine. Not great, but we all made it out healthy and that’s a win for me any day. It was really frigging painful, guys. I know I am not supposed to say that, but sincerely, I was not a fan. Some women have shared their birthing mantras, and usually these affirmations are something really beautiful and empowering, like “you are stronger than you think”, or “birth is joyous”, or  “you are an independent woman, can you pay my bills, bills, bills, throw your hands up at me”… you know, something real deep. Conversely, my inner dialogue went something like this:

Okay, Nikki. This is literally THE worst!  Just get through this and you literally NEVER have to do this again. It’s a moment in time! I mean, you tried it, child-bearing is not for you. Super! Let’s just move on. Just get through this, and you are done. How do women say you will forget the pain. There’s no way! You won’t forget. How could you? Your body is breaking in half. To be honest, you might die, but if you don’t, coooooool. Never again. #NeverForget.

A mere 20 months later, and I’ll be damned if I am not expecting again! It’s Good Friday, Easter 2017 and baby number 2 will be here anytime. Yea, I did it. I got pregnant again before my first even reached her first birthday-but that is not the point of this story, so just hush your mouth.

I now live in a small town, so what happens next has become a tale that is a bit famous on the ‘mom-scene’ around here. Okay, maybe “famous” is a bit generous, but just let me have this one people, because it is legitimately an interesting story.

It is spring last year, I am pregnant, and this time around I wasn’t about to play games. I knew on some level what I was in for (kind of). From the moment I peed on that stick and the plain phrase “pregnant” appeared in no uncertain terms, I spent the next 37 weeks or so preparing for battle, this MEANT WAR! And by war, I mean I turned to HypnoBabies in an attempt to find my birthing Zen.

I listened to the tracks, I read the literature, and got myself some Midwives (the real MVPs). I was on track to have the most peaceful damn birth experience the world had ever known! Yes, this baby would gently knock on my cervix with a whisper of “I am ready to arrive sweet mother” and simply float out of my vagina on a damn cloud, with nary a tear or a single tear (coincidence that these words have the same spelling? I think not!). Needless to say, this is the delusional shit you would expect from a first-time mama, but haters be damned. This was going to be beautiful.

Maverick

  1. an unorthodox or independent-minded person.

individualist, nonconformist, free spirit, unorthodox person, original, eccentric;
rebel, cowboy, loose cannon, bad boy

  1. an unbranded calf or yearling.

Maverick’s arrival came at roughly 5:45am, on the early morning of April 15th, 2017, and suffice it to say, he quickly lived up to his namesake. The ‘unbranded calf’ part especially resonates with me, as I remember myself sturdied on all fours on my bathroom floor, my baby emerging, unprovoked, from between my legs like a real live heifer *, bovine groans and all, I am sure.

My labour and delivery clocked at about 45 minutes, total. When I tell people this, I know their first thought is that I am a damn liar, but the subtext of their reaction seems more rooted in terror than malicious disbelief. But as far as I can tell, it is true! I was feeling a little nauseous at family dinner the evening before, but it subsided, and I slept most of the night with only the usual discomfort of being 9 months pregnant. I woke up at about 4:30am having to pee, which was pretty typical. It had been months since I could make it through an entire REM cycle without having to uncoordinatedly roll my plump body-for-two off my mattress to relive myself, fingers crossed that you do actually return, and don’t just glamorously pass out on the throne, mid-stream.

I came back to bed and lay awake for about a half hour. I assume cursing my sound-asleep husband beside me because he can sleep on a dime, and I am over here stressing over real world crises like climate change, and whether or not there are any cookies in the house, because I apparently have a perpetual hankering for chocolate-chip-anything.

After about a half hour of mulling over the truly ‘tough questions’ about life and baked goods, I started to feel little tinges of cramping in my belly. Hmm that is interesting…As they quickly became more rhythmic and intense, I took the opportunity to look over at my sweet, sleeping husband…and shake his ass awake! “I think today might be the day babe”. Obviously in disbelief and probably a bit disoriented, he sort of lay there trying to get his bearings. “Maybe call you parents and give them a heads up?” I encouraged, as I puttered around collecting my supplies, and changed into my recently purchased, and very sensible ‘birthing gown’ from Walmart. Was I nervous? Hell no! For what? I am a Hypnobirthing goddess, and this is all going to be juuuuuust perfect. Cut to literally 5 minutes later: I am listening to my Hypno track, draped over my birthing ball, screaming at the top of my lungs that “this shit is going down now”.

The hospital we intended to deliver at was about a 40-minute drive. The thought of getting into a car at that moment was as equally appealing as having my nostrils deeply penetrated by jabby toddler fingers, a fan-favourite move of my daughter at this particular stage in her development and discovery.

“Okay, so we’ll go to Cobourg”, the hospital is only a few minutes away in a close neighbouring town. Nope! That’s going to be a hard pass, honey. This is happening NOW!

I managed myself into the bathroom, and settled in for a big number 2, and no, I am not talking about baby. I am talking…well, you get it. By this time Morgan is on the phone with the 911 Operator, and as soon as he reveals that I am on the toilet, she knew what was coming. She didn’t say it in so many words, but the gist was “sir, you better act fast, or you are fixin’ to have a toilet baby”. Morgan hoisted me off the latrine, and that was about the extent of his assistance. I like to say that he was there in body, but not in mind. After the dispatcher asked him to reach “down there” to investigate progress, and his response was a very sincere “I don’t know, but something ain’t right”, I knew that I was doing this on my own or bust!

This baby was coming, no doubt about it. Maybe it was the HypnoBabies training that I had been diligently studying for weeks. Maybe it was the sobering realization that my dear husband was having an out of body experience, as he heaped me with warm towels like I was a dog birthing a litter of puppies in some old-timey comedic movie (was there a kettle boiling?). I don’t know, but whatever it was, I suddenly went primal. I reached down, and felt the tiniest little head already emerged, and I went ahead and pulled that little guy out and to my chest. Maverick was born.

The dispatcher was alerted to the baby’s arrival with a hysterical Morgan yelling “he’s here! He’s here, the baby is here!”. I overheard the voice on the line asking if he was crying. No. And instructing me to check his airway passages. Clear, I think? “Just hold him to you and do skin-to-skin until the paramedics arrive”. I did.

Minutes later my room was full of paramedics. I claim that there were about 10-12 men in my room, though Morgan insists it was maybe 4. I was in shock, but suddenly acutely aware that it looked like a crime-scene in my bathroom, and I was ASS NAKED with a bunch of strange dudes traipsing around my boudoir. I obviously refer to it as my ‘boudoir’ to class it up a bit because, in reality, it looked like a damn triple homicide just popped off in this place.

Ultimately, the paramedics were wonderful, and I was so grateful for their assistance during the most shocking and emotionally charged experience of my life. However, as I mentioned before, I live in a very small town, which means I still see at least one of the attending paramedics from time to time. He is gracious and kind, but all I can think to myself is “this guy has seen some things” and mourn my dignity quietly to myself. HAHA! I mean, who cares though, right? I’m a survivor (what!), I am not gon’ give up (what!), keep on survivin’ (RIP Destiny’s Child), or whatever.

So, today is Maverick’s first birthday! He is an incredibly cheerful, gorgeous baby boy, who is generally as chill as he was the day he came into the world. Despite the dramatic way in which he arrived, he is a pretty breezy kid! My wish for him is that he remains free-spirited and continues to navigate this world on his own terms.

Happy Birthday, Mavie. Mama loves you.


*Note: I looked up the true definition of a heifer, and it turns out it actually refers to female cattle that have no yet birthed a calf. So technically, I would have just been a cow. Just a big ol’ cow, two kids deep. You’re welcome.