Tuesday 22 September (39 weeks & 2 days pregnant)
Woke up to Jack at 7am and gave hubby a sleep in. Had cuddles with my firstborn on the couch, fixed him breakfast and then jumped in the shower. When I got out Jack had found Daddy in bed and crawled in with him and they were reading together. Hubby decided to take Jack out for a walk so I took the opportunity to do a few things around the house. I baked and iced a chocolate cake, did the dishes, changed the sheets on our bed (putting my favourite one’s on hoping that Murphy’s Law would mean my waters would break all over them), put washing on, hung it out and vacuumed the lounge and bedrooms. Started feeling some lower back pain and mentioned it on the Facebook page but attributed it to overdoing it with the housework.
That evening was rather unusual for us. There was nothing on TV so hubby and I just sat in the lounge in silence, both with a cup of tea and a book in our hands and then opted to head to bed for an early night. I remember thinking to myself that it would be a restful night to go into labour. I should also mention that I knew instinctively, as I did with Jack’s birth, that I would go into labour in the middle of the night. I just didn’t know which night.
At 11.30pm I woke up to Jack who just needed a very brief resettle. I took the wake up as an opportunity to pee and then drifted straight back to sleep.
Wednesday 23 September (39 weeks & 3 days pregnant)
Was woken again at 1.56am with a pain I knew too well. Could this be it? As it was still fairly mild, but enough to jolt me out of sleep, I stayed in bed and waited to see if there would be a next one. Low and behold, a few minutes later, another. I got up and went to the toilet. No bloody show like the beginning of Jack’s labour. This can’t be it. Nevertheless, I stayed up nervously folding some washing and started timing the contractions on my iPhone app. They were anywhere between 1.5-3.5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute each. After timing a few more, my app screamed at me on the kitchen bench to “CALL AN AMBULANCE OR DRIVE TO HOSPITAL”. I decided I had to call the hospital and ask their advice which I did at 2.36am according to my call log. “Um hi, my name is Belinda and I’m due to give birth there on Sunday but I’ve woken up with definite contractions, but its weird because they‘ve started about 3 minutes apart. No. Second baby”. I was given strict instructions to come in and get checked out.
What? No! This isn’t part of the plan! I wanted to labour at home as long as I could, in my own environment, where I would cope with the pain and head to the hospital only in time to have my baby drug free and naturally. I desperately didn’t want a repeat of my last birth in which I had to go in early, be stuck on a bed being monitored, unable to move, losing control over the pain, requesting an epidural, starting a cascade of intervention and seeing my birth plan go out the window.
However, my plan this time WAS to head to the hospital when the contractions got to 4 minutes apart. I just didn’t think they would kick off closer than that, so I was left with no choice. I went back to our bedroom and turned on the light “Honey, wake up! Easton’s coming, you need to call your Mum”. I was expecting a tired, groggy husband to roll over or respond with a sleepy “what??” but he impressively sprung into action. Within the next 5 minutes my mother in law was on her way to stay in our house with a sleeping Jack, my hospital bag was loaded in the car and hubby was dressed and ready. I got dressed myself, remembering to pack the last few essentials such as my camera, water bottle and phone charger all the while still continuing to contract 3 minutes apart.
At 3am my mother in law arrived and after a couple of contractions in which I knelt on the floor leaning over our couch, we prepared to head off. I was still in a bit of denial and hoped this was really going to be it, especially since we’d dragged hubby’s mum out in the middle of the night. I told her she was welcome to go and sleep in our bed and that Jack would wake at 7am. Hubby started giving some instructions about dressing Jack for the day or something along those lines and I responded with “you can text her this later, we have to go!”
God bless labour in the middle of the night. Even though my contractions were close together, I only had to endure a couple of them in the car, and one outside the hospital front door, as there was no traffic on the road. It was a dream run. Once we arrived at approximately 3.20am we were ushered into a delivery suite where, after the formalities and paperwork were sorted out, I was up on the bed and hooked up for monitoring (uh oh, I thought… here we go). Thankfully, they were wireless devices, and after getting a good trace of the baby’s heartbeat, the strength of the contractions and a check of my blood pressure, I was allowed to move around. Truthfully, my hips were starting to hurt and it was actually a relief to be able to take my weight off them so I opted to stay on the bed for awhile anyway. I also had a wave of nausea after one contraction so I was handed a sick bag, which thankfully I didn’t need to use. As I was no longer timing the now very painful contractions, I asked the midwife how often they were coming “you’re having 3 every 10 minutes” I was told.
There was no comfortable position in which to bear them now, so I just reached for hubby’s hand and squeezed to try and get through each one and if I held my breath I’d quickly be ordered to breathe. Sips of water in between them helped as well. As I still had the portable monitors on, Craig was watching the contraction strength number rising on the screen as I’d have one. I didn’t want to look so I asked him to please tell me when the number started to drop after reaching its peak, so I knew it was almost over and could begin to relax. Several more contractions after this the monitors were removed altogether and I went from not wanting to be monitored at all to worrying that without the numbers on the screen, hubby couldn’t tell me when a contraction was decreasing. This is when I started trying to recall everything I told myself I’d try in labour, such as positive mantras and visualisation techniques. I was determined to try and stay calm and try my own brand of hypnobirthing. Even though I wasn’t getting much of a break during each contraction, I was being reminded to relax my body and try to rest between them.
At approximately 4.30am I decided it was time to get off the bed and try and find alternate positions in which to cope. Sitting on the fitball didn’t work for me, sitting in general was awful, so I stood up and just leaned over the raised bed for the next contraction. Well that one felt different! Less painful, some pressure and my body involuntarily pushed. Relief, excitement and anticipation flooded over me and I knew what that should mean!! Could this be almost over? I asked Craig to grab the midwife and I told her my body pushed. She asked if I wanted an internal. Hell yes I wanted an internal. I thought you’d never ask! I had been wondering how far dilated I was ever since I arrived but I was too busy concentrating on contractions to request one until it was suggested. While I waited for her to come back, I had a couple of contractions up on the bed, on my knees leaning over the pillows on the head of the bed. Yes, my body was definitely starting to push on its own. I got onto my back when the midwife returned and a fairly pain free internal was performed but without giving anything away, the midwife who must have been fairly new, said “I think I know, but I just need Jane to check” so after waiting for the next contraction to pass, the internal was done again by the more senior midwife. I didn’t mind in the least. I finally heard the only three words I wanted to hear in that moment “You’re 9 centimeters”.
In my head I screamed “9 centimeters?! Isn’t that called transition? Aren’t I supposed to be yelling that I can’t do this and vomiting or something?”
While they called my obstetrician to make his way to the hospital, they suggested I go back to kneeling on the bed leaning over a pillow to encourage the baby to come down even more, for that last 1 cm. I did just that, and although I’d been silent during all previous contractions, this insane natural urge to push (a feeling I don’t think I’ll ever forget) was also causing me to let out a primal groan into the pillows I was leaning over. I couldn’t believe the force of pushes that my body was doing all on its own. A couple more contractions later my legs and hips just couldn’t handle my weight, not even in the kneeling position so I was told I should lie on my left side, which felt better. My waters were still intact at this stage but that they were bulging and would break at any moment, which they did, all over the midwife. It felt like a relief, I was worried it would make the contractions more painful but it didn’t make a difference to them. In fact, it was a positive thing for my mental state as I knew it had to happen before this baby came out. That was the final sign, my OB was paged and told to get into the room NOW.
Before he arrived I asked hubby if he would film the birth on his phone. I can’t believe I was coherent enough to request this, but I just knew that I’d want this very private keepsake. When the doctor arrived shortly after, it was down to business. He had one leg, the midwife had the other because it was feeling like it would cramp and I was told to push, and push. Holy crap the crowning! This was easily the most painful part of the entire birth. I could feel he was very very close to being born but after pushing for over an hour with Jack and getting nowhere, I was scared that that would happen again. I could actually relay word for word what happened from here if watched the footage on Craig’s phone because this was where he started filming but I’m not ready to yet. Anyway, after about 3 pushing contractions with me now groaning through the pain and at one point trying to push my obstetricians hands away, Easton’s head was out, and then his body only seconds later.
Happiness doesn’t even come close to describing how I felt at that moment. I was exhilarated, in love, proud, relieved and ecstatic all at once. I’d made it clear to everyone that I wanted to really try for a pain relief free birth, but I had so many doubts that I could actually do it once push came to shove. I’d achieved exactly that.
Welcome Easton Patrick