Let me take you back to Monday the 26th of August. I will remember it forever as a day of laughter and so much joy.
At 41+1 weeks pregnant I was wondering when the big event was going to happen. I was eager to meet my little girl but didn’t want to rush her – I wanted her to choose her own birthday. Everyone around me assumed I would be getting very frustrated but other than the excruciating hip pain that had me barely able to walk at the end (thanks in part to the whole getting run over thing), I was actually OK. Impatient, but still OK. If it had been the height of summer I have no doubt it would have been very different.
I figured I needed to relax so I booked a pregnancy massage for the next morning. I booked knowing that their cancelation policy required at least 12 hours notice and I’d lose a cool $100 if I didn’t show up.
At 2:30pm I had an appointment with one of my midwives at the Family Birth Centre attached to King Edward Memorial Hospital. She offered to do an internal to see if I was dilating already, and to do a stretch and sweep if I wanted. I was 1cm but still thick. I thought it was proof Bobbin wasn’t ready yet but the midwife thought different as I managed to have a contraction while she was examining me. I didn’t feel it. She said I’d be back in tonight to have a baby. I said I’d cross my fingers but wouldn’t hold my breath.
I went home and kept having a few minor tightenings. Nothing painful. I tried to time them but was having difficulty because they were so mild that sometimes I couldn’t quite tell if it was there or not. At 4:00pm the midwife called to see how I was going. I laughed at her certainty and brushed it off but at the same time hoped that she was right. All I knew for sure was that I trusted my body to do what it needed to do.
As soon as I hung up the phone I started to have a few crampy feelings. They got a little stronger and though still irregular, at almost 4:30pm I cancelled the massage appointment. I am, after all, a tight ass when it comes to money.
Knowing that Tricky had been born so quickly I was told to come in as soon as possible when things started happening, so despite not being sure if I was actually in labour or not, my fear of a freeway baby saw me call the Birth Centre at 5pm to let them know we would come back in. The contractions were still irregular (anywhere from 1minute apart to 10 minutes apart) and still not painful at all but I didn’t particularly feel like being that girl on the news with the kid born in the emergency lane in the pouring rain.
My parents picked up Tricky and he went off for a sleep over – because I still wasn’t convinced I was in labour we didn’t tell him. I felt for sure we’d go in and be there for hours and be sent home. I texted my student midwife who has followed my pregnancy and come to my appointments from 16 weeks, letting her know what was happening.
We arrived at the Birth Centre just after 6:00pm and went to room one. There were still a few after hours appointments happening so the midwife was coming between us and the other women. I heard her on the phone calling my team midwife, Caroline. “I’d say she’s definitely in labour”. She was certain and yet I still didn’t think I was as I wasn't in any pain, just slightly uncomfortable.
Map Guy put the TENS electrodes on my back and while bouncing on the birth ball we chatted and laughed. Each time I got a contraction I would beam and say “Another one! Oooh it was a bit stronger!”. They were starting to hurt a little but were only lasting about 30 seconds. I was so excited BUT STILL didn’t think I was anywhere near giving birth… until my waters broke just before 7:00pm! It was a small pop and only a small amount of fluid, but enough to see that it was nice and clear.
So this was it! I finally believed I was in labour!
I went back to my birth ball and when the next contraction hit I redefined labour glamour with a good litre or so of amniotic fluid coming out. All over the ball, all over the floor. Map Guy and I were in fits of laugher because it just wouldn’t stop! We couldn’t find where the towels were hidden so he popped his head out the door:
“Um, could we get a towel please? Or a mop?”
It took three giggling midwives and six towels to clean me up before I could get back to my bouncing. The contractions were getting more frequent but not regular and only mildly painful. Caroline asked if I’d mind if another student attended the birth and I thought why not. The more the merrier. You gotta learn somewhere, right? So I had Caroline, the on call midwife and two students coming in intermittently to check on Bobbin and I.
At 8:30pm I was offered an internal to see how far along I was. Because I was planning on using the water for pain relief and didn’t want to get in too early I agreed. I was 2-3cm. Even though I’d only changed slightly since my appointment that afternoon I didn’t get disheartened, I just focussed on the fact that I’d have a baby soon.
The contractions were ramping up and even though we had been snacking on a fruit and nut mix, we hadn't had dinner and were both getting hungry. This is where the experience between an OB at a private hospital and midwife at a Birth Centre really deviate because you are encouraged to eat and drink to keep your energy levels up at the Centre.
So we did what anyone would do in our position. Ordered a pizza.
Just after 9:30pm the Centre door bell rang and Map Guy headed to the foyer to greet the much amused pizza delivery dude. I could hear the midwives laughing again – it was such a great atmosphere having everyone so relaxed.
|Pizza. Not the only thing delivered that night.|
The midwives would come and go to check on Bobbin and I, and each time we’d chat and laugh. In between they would leave us alone to share this special time. There was no fear, no anxiety, just love, trust and support. Map Guy was massaging my shoulders and my legs and we were listening to everything from instrumental classics to Regina Spektor to Michael Buble.
By 10:45pm the contractions were nice and strong. I was having to rock and sway on the ball to get through them. I couldn’t talk and would make little grunty, humming noises until it passed. They only hurt in one spot though. With Tricky, my entire abdomen felt the pressure, this time though it was just a small band above my pubic bone. I started to feel like I was about to revisit the pizza so we pulled the bin close to me and called for a heat pack to help with the pain.
|Mid contraction with the glam bin next to me (with pizza box) ready to spew in to|
Caroline came in and took one look at me, looked at the bin, watched me have a contraction and said it was time for me to get in the bath. I wasn’t sure. Surely the pain only being low down in one spot meant that not too much was happening, right? But the idea of the water, well, I couldn’t resist.
The birth pool at the centre is amazing. They left the room dark and the only light source was the one light under the water. Almost as soon as I hit the water, I hit transition. The contractions got stronger and I was making more of the grunty noises again and I couldn’t open my eyes. I was rocking and swirling my hips in the water and directing the jet of hot water on to my belly. I dropped a few swear words, too. Then suddenly I realized that the contractions were rolling on top of each other and for the first time I recognized a sensation from Tricky’s birth… that continuous contraction I had just moments before he was born. This was it. It was so exciting.
|Hitting transition in the giant birth pool|
I rocked and swayed on my knees, listening to the words of support coming from Map Guy, Caroline, and the others. They were saying the most empowering, encouraging words. Telling me I was strong. I was capable. That I was ready to have my little girl.
The pressure was increasing but I tried hard not to push yet. I wanted my body to do most of the work by itself. Finally I felt that she was right there and that it was time for me to help her. I beared down and reaching my hand under the water, felt the top of her head. I pushed her in to my hand in an attempt to stop her coming so fast. Despite the fact that everyone could see, I announced it to them all that her head was out.
I looked down and watched her rotate slightly and saw her shoulders slither past. I reached down and put my hands under her arms, and with one last gentle push she was born and I lifted her up on to my chest. I couldn’t believe it. I looked up at Map Guy who was grinning from ear to ear. “I did it. I did it. I caught her.” I had delivered my own baby. It was exhilarating.
|Ecstatic and a bit exhausted|
We stayed in the pool, skin to skin and still connected by her cord, for an hour or so and in that time she had her first feed. When it was time to get out her cord was clamped and Map Guy did the honours of cutting it, just like he did with Tricky. He lifted Bobbin from me and snuggled her for the first time, his face an image of pure joy.
The hours on the ball had completely knackered my injured hips and I couldn’t move very well. Getting out of the bath was a form of torture and the midwives had to physically lift my legs for me. I can honestly say that at that point my hips hurt more than birth. By far.
After one and a half hours there was still no sign of the placenta and even though I felt amazing emotionally, my body was exhausted and my hips so sore that I just wanted to get in bed and go to sleep, so I took up the offer of the oxytocin injection. The bugger still didn’t want to come out but eventually did, though a small portion was retained. We kept it and had it encapsulated so I could eat it over the coming months.
We spent the next hour snuggling, taking photos and breastfeeding. Map Guy and I climbed in to the big queen sized bed and settled down to sleep with Bobbin in a crib beside us.
The next day Tricky came to the Centre and we introduced him to his little sister. He was shy at first, but warmed up remarkably when we mentioned that Bobbin had a present for him – a gorgeous crocheted race car driver specially commissioned from Daisy, Roo and Two. Even now two weeks on he is hesitant to hold her, afraid he'll drop her, but doesn't stop giving her kisses and cuddles. He loves to play with her hands and have her grasp his finger - we told him in the lead up to the birth that because they can't speak, that is how babies show someone they love them.
We were all packed up and ready to go by early the next morning but had to wait around for the paediatrician sign off, so spent the time lazing around, eating a giant lunch and staring at our little girl. Early afternoon we were home snuggled up together enjoying our first day of being a family of four.
It’s been an amazing and very tiring two weeks. I’m so grateful for the outstanding care I received from my midwives at the Family Birth Centre. We came so close to not being able to birth there (due to a low lying placenta) so to get pretty much the exact birth I had dreamed of makes me feel truly blessed.
Thank you to everyone who sent us congratulatory tweets and Facebook messages. I will print them all out and put them in her birth book to show her one day just how well she was welcomed in to the world.
It already feels like she has been here forever; I’ve almost forgotten what it was like without her here, so fully does she fit in around these parts. But it has only been two weeks. And now, I have to get back to staring at this baby.