At 40 weeks + 1 day I arrived at the hospital for my scheduled visit with the midwives, not at all surprised to have gone ‘overdue’. I was hoping that there was at least some action happening with my cervix as I really wanted to avoid an induction and if the baby came during that 10 day post due date window then I wouldn’t have to fight against having one. I consented to the midwife doing a stretch and sweep and held my breath hopefully as she assessed my cervix. “Oh wow!” she exclaimed, “You’re 3cm dilated and I can feel your membranes bulging – I could pop them right now if I wanted to! You’ll be back here within the next day or so having this baby.” Thank God! I thought. All those days of pre-labour WERE actually doing something! She ummed and ahhed about even booking another appointment for the following week as she was certain I wouldn’t need it but decided to ‘just in case’. Then she sent me on my way with a “See you soon!” and a knowing wink.
Seven days later I was back. Still no baby. And not bloody happy about it either. I was now 8 days overdue and the midwife who saw me kept shaking her head in amazement and saying how she couldn’t believe I was ‘still in one piece’. Yeah, me neither. She decided to perform another, rather vigorous, stretch and sweep and sent me on my way with a promise to come back on day 10 for an ultrasound if I hadn’t popped by then. I went home and was crampy all afternoon but didn’t want to get my hopes up. That night I hopped in the bath and tried to get a bit more relaxed and comfortable before bed – the cramping was still there but it wasn’t anything strong or regular and I knew I needed to get some sleep if this did turn out to be labour. We went to bed and I drifted off easily, although I woke a couple of times and realised that the cramping was still there. At 3am I woke up when my waters broke, two small gushes of fluid. It wasn’t much so I figured it was just my forewaters that had ruptured but I got up to check that the fluid was clear before laying down a towel and going back to bed. The cramps had gotten slightly stronger now but I knew that getting as much rest as I could was the best thing to do – labour wasn’t fully established yet and I probably still had quite a few hours ahead of me. I could no longer sleep but I rested for a couple of hours before Phil woke at 5:30am and I told him that our baby would be born today.
We stayed in bed until about 7am when I had to get up and get the kids ready. I had texted my stepmum to let her know that this was it and she came over to take the kids to school. Once I was up and moving around, the cramps became much stronger – they were painful now. At 9am I decided to call our doula Tina and fill her in – she lives a couple of hours away and has kids of her own to organise so I wanted to give her plenty of notice. I told Tina that my membranes had ruptured several hours ago and that I was getting contractions but that they were still quite manageable and had not yet become regular. I wanted to labour at home for as long as possible before transferring to the hospital so as to avoid the unnecessary interventions which had hindered my previous births. Tina encouraged me to take it easy and told us to keep her updated with my progress – she would join us when I felt her presence was necessary. I decided to take a shower and wash my hair, wanting it to be clean and fresh (apparently I had completely forgotten what labour was like and that very soon I wouldn’t give a shit if somebody shaved all my damn hair off).
The contractions stayed constant in their intensity but remained irregular – I’d have 3 that were 5 minutes apart and then not have another one for 15 minutes, which was a little frustrating. At about 10:30am I decided I was tired and wanted to lay down for a bit, then promptly fell asleep. My body must have decided that I needed the rest because I slept solidly for a couple of hours – if I was still having contractions, they weren’t bothering me. I awoke after lunch refreshed but disappointed – the contractions had backed off again and I kicked myself for letting things slow down. I needn’t have worried though because as soon as I got up, everything started right back up again. Phil had spoken to Tina while I was sleeping and she said it sounded like I was having a typical labour of a posterior baby (early rupture of membranes, strong yet irregular contractions) and that she would email through a list of things to try and encourage the baby to turn. I had discovered that it was damn near impossible for me to be standing up while having a contraction now, I wanted to be close to the ground. Phil was watching TV so I had set up a pile of folded towels on the seat of the couch next to him and then knelt in front of the couch, hunched over the towels for support. This position was working quite well for me and when Tina’s list of things to try came through, the position I was already in was on there. It must have worked too because at about 2pm the contractions became much stronger and were finally coming regularly – I was starting to vocalise through them which I realised meant that things were really kicking into gear now. Tina had suggested during my pregnancy that when labour was well established, it was a good idea to head into a dimly lit, secluded room where I felt comfortable and calm and could focus on what my body was doing. I had decided that this would be our bedroom and Phil had already spent the morning taping cardboard over the windows and making sure everything was cosy. We headed to the bedroom and I took up the same position, kneeling in front of the bed while hunched over my pile of towels. At about 3:30pm I told Phil that he should tell Tina that it was time for her to make her way over and that we should probably call the hospital to let them know I’d be in at some point in the next few hours. Phil spoke to the midwife on call who wanted to know if we could be a little more specific on the ‘when’ we would actually be at the hospital so she would know when to leave home. We weren’t really sure so they decided we’d meet at the hospital at 5pm and let her know if anything changed before then. About 5 minutes after he was done making the calls I told him to call both Tina and the midwife back because I wanted to go to the hospital RIGHT NOW. I no longer felt like I was coping well with the contractions, I’d never gotten this far in labour without any drugs before and IT HURT LIKE HOLY HELL.
Phil rang everyone back and rushed around grabbing bags while I writhed in agony on the bed. I had lost my calm, lost my concentration and started to doubt my ability to do this. I struggled out to the car and climbed into the back seat for the worst car trip of my life (Phil probably wasn’t a fan either). Being in a seated position made the pain a thousand times worse and I was suddenly so grateful we only live a 10 minute drive from the hospital. We arrived at about 4pm and were thankfully able to park relatively close to the entrance because walking was not something I was all that keen to do at that point. If I could have crawled my way to the birth suite, I think I would have. We’d only gotten about 5 steps away from the car when the security guards realised what was happening and raced over to see if we’d like a wheelchair. I struggled my way across the car park while they located one and brought it out. Unfortunately it appeared to be defective and refused to open so I could actually sit on the bloody thing. Security guard no. 1 raced off to find a replacement while guard no. 2 performed his three stooges routine trying to get it open. I would have found a middle aged man wrestling with an un-cooperative wheelchair far more amusing if I hadn’t been yelling at him (in my mind obviously, I no longer had the ability to form coherent sentences) to get out of the freaking way so I didn’t have this baby on the pavement. New wheelchair finally located and we headed upstairs to the birth suite with two extremely nervous escorts who looked like they were terrified one of them was going to be expected to catch the baby en route. Express check in to our room and my midwife asks if I’d like her to run a bath – I think I manage a nod mid-contraction but what I want to say is “Oh god yes, get me in the bath STAT!”. I had read and heard so many accounts of how being submerged in water was supposed to make you feel like you were floating on a cloud surrounded by rainbows and unicorns (or something to that effect anyway) and I wanted in on that action. I’m not sure whether it was the size of the bath (I struggled to actually get my whale-like figure ‘submerged’) or the fact that I had waited too long and had already lost my concentration and was struggling to get it back or that everyone is just bullshitting about the magical bath tubs but I sure as hell wasn’t feeling it. Tina arrived at some point, I’d lost all concept of time by then. I’m not sure how long I spent in the tub, I just remember Phil and Tina sitting beside me, coaching me to try and slow my breathing through the contractions and the midwife popping in occasionally to check the baby’s heartbeat. I told Phil that I’d had enough and I wanted to go home, this was decidedly not fun. And then I finally gave in and told them I wanted an epidural. Even though I ‘d been adamant throughout the entire pregnancy that I didn’t want one this time. Even though I knew I was in transition, the baby was almost here and there was no way in hell they’d give me one at this point. I knew all that and still, I demanded an epidural. Repeatedly. Phil and Tina tried to talk me out of it but “I want the epidural” had become my new mantra.
Tina felt like the bath had actually slowed things down a bit so suggested I try the shower instead. Changing positions just seemed like the hardest thing in the world at that point but I dragged myself out of the tub and sat on a birth ball while Tina showed Phil where on my belly to direct the shower spray. Sitting wasn’t working for me though and I ended up reclining on the birth ball, head in Tina’s lap with my legs climbing up the shower walls. The midwife found that quite amusing and I think Tina and Phil were terrified I was going to roll off but it was the most comfortable position I could find. I was still banging on about an epidural and my midwife commented that that’s not usually the first port of call for pain relief and that perhaps I’d like to try some gas first. I couldn’t explain that I hated the ‘spacey’ feeling the gas gave me and that it made me throw up (oh and the small matter of NOT DOING A DAMN THING FOR THE PAIN) or that I didn’t want the pethidine injection so I’m pretty sure all that came out was “I want the epidural”. But since nobody seemed to be taking me seriously I quickly decided that yes, I’d have some gas and now would would be just peachy. Apparently they had to fetch it from the next suburb over or something because it took bloody forever. As predicted, the gas didn’t even begin to penetrate my pain bubble and I must have still been nattering on about the epidural because the midwife said I’d have to get on the bed so they could examine me before having one. I lurched out of the bathroom before another contraction hit but not much further, Tina managed to get a mat underneath me as I crouched on all fours on the floor then promptly vomited everywhere (damn gas). Before I could even get on the bed I got the overwhelming urge to push and I was like WOAH! This is what the urge to push feels like?? It was incredible and completely involuntary – all of a sudden I was pushing, without any conscious thought about doing it.
Somehow I got on the bed. I remember very little except that pushing felt good and incredibly productive. I welcomed the contractions now as with them came that undeniable urge to push and I could physically feel my baby shifting through my pelvis – it was such an amazing feeling, completely different to when my first two children were born. Both Charlie and Max’s births involved a large amount of people, equipment and drama. This was just me, Phil, Tina and two midwives, I wasn’t attached to any machines or IVs and I felt like I had this. After a mere three or four pushes her head was out and the midwife asked if I’d like to touch it so I did. There was a pause for a good three minutes and then at 6:49pm, on the next contraction, her body slipped out and the midwife placed my baby on my chest. A wave of relief swept over me, mixed with pride. We had asked that the midwife not ‘announce’ the sex as we wanted to discover the surprise for ourselves but I had to be prompted to actually check! “It’s a girl!” I smiled up at Phil, “Charlie is going to be so happy”.
I wanted a physiological third stage so the umbilical cord wasn’t clamped until it stopped pulsating and then I cut it myself. Once the placenta was out the midwife was concerned about how much I was bleeding. A second midwife entered the room, took one look and told Phil to hit the emergency button behind him. The room flooded with people and I knew it was a post partum haemorrhage (I’d had one after Charlie was born too). Surprisingly, I wasn’t overly concerned – I knew what was happening and I understood what needed to be done to fix it. Poor Phil didn’t have a clue what was happening though so it gave him quite the scare. They managed to get the bleeding under control and everything calmed right down. I could have a proper look at my baby.
You looked small, I thought you were my smallest baby yet. Your face was swollen and a little bruised thanks to your speedy exit but you clearly resembled Aiden, everybody said so. You had big, dark blue eyes and a small amount of dark hair. About an hour after you were born, the midwife weighed you and we were stunned to realise you were 9lb 4.5oz, not my smallest but in fact my heaviest baby! You just didn’t look it, you were so petite and for months everyone commented on how pixie-like you were. You were perfect.
17th July 2014 – 6:49pm
9lb 4.5oz – 53.5cm