Having babies had been on our minds for a while so the plan was to start trying to conceive once we were married. In the lead up to the wedding I was slightly obsessed with the birth world and doing lots of research. By the time we were married I had felt like I had already been waiting for the longest time to start trying and so each month that I was not pregnant I got more and more disappointed. I am beyond grateful that we were able to conceive in 6 months, as the small taste of the heartbreak of each month without a pregnancy was hard enough. I was on a uni study trip in the villages of Bali in July when I got my positive pregnancy test. I was pretty certain I had conceived that month because I had gotten a positive ovulation test and timed the bedroom dance accordingly and then had what I thought was an implantation bleed and cramping… and I was right! So there I was pregnant, in the mountains of bali with symptoms starting to plague me. I was bone tired, peeing every hour in dodgy tin sheds with squat toilets at the other end of the village and disgusted by all food that wasn’t potatoes. And I couldn’t even have a cocktail with my colleagues!
I had a beautiful, complication free pregnancy once I was through the first trimester and I just loved being pregnant. Yep I’m that annoying one. We chose not to find out the gender of our bub and signed up to birth at Flinders through the Southern Midwifery Group Practice. I finished my year of study and worked part time up to 35 weeks. I stayed active until around 6 months, doing modified bootcamp sessions and I continued on with Hatha yoga and prenatal yoga right till the end. Life got a little complicated in my last month though when my husband had a blackout whilst driving, and then another one later in the month at the breakfast table. The second blackout landed him in hospital for 5 days. I was 38/9 weeks pregnant and spent the days sitting with him in the hospital. There were a lot of jokes about who the patient was and bets on if I would have the baby before he was discharged. Finally on the Thursday he was discharged and we went home to enjoy the comfort of our couch, hubby excited for a good nights sleep.
Spoiler: he didn’t get his sleep!
That day I had felt some added pressure on my pelvis but went to bed at 9 thinking nothing much of it. I woke at 11.30 for a wee and lost my mucus plug. I was excited that things were starting to get moving because I had no signs that labour was close, not even a single Braxton hicks! I crawled back into bed thinking I’d get a good nights sleep and hopefully everything would start kicking along in the morning… But I couldn’t get back to sleep and the pressure was building in my pelvis and at 12 I went to the toilet again. As I sat on the toilet my waters broke, and once again I was excited but I had been so prepared for a long drawn out labour that I didn’t read too much into it. I was 39 weeks 2 days. Then the first contraction hit me. Like a damn truck. They were strong and close from the very start and I remember wondering where all my ‘practice’ contractions of early labour were! Surely I couldn’t just be thrown straight into it like this!
I ran a bath sometime after those initial contractions and let hubby know I was getting in, in case I needed help getting out. Unfortunately, I didn’t last very long in the bath, it was just too small and laying in a half sitting position was not at all comfortable. I got out of the bath and about 20 minutes after I had told my hubby to go to sleep that I didn’t need him yet, I was waking him up. I sat on my fit ball and leant on the end of our bed or knelt on the floor draped over the fit ball and we timed contractions. They were so strong and coming every 2-3 minutes so we called the midwife. She was happy for me to continue at home. In the back of my head was my expectations that I would have an active labour and birth with lots of movement and calm breathing and I was in so much shock that I just couldn’t even move without bringing on another contraction prematurely! I spent some time in the bathroom being sick and then we called my mum to come down to drive us into the hospital before I called the midwife back.
It was around 2am that we started to make our way into the hospital. I pretty much couldn’t walk and so when we got there I begged for a wheelchair and in we went to the emergency room in a frenzy - me on the wheelchair, shaking, vomiting and in my nightie with a towel between my legs sopping up my waters! Beyond glamorous. They sent us through to our birth suite and I headed straight for the shower. I was breathing and moaning through the contractions and the shower gave me some relief when it was on my belly during a contraction but I was getting cold and couldn’t find a comfortable position. I stayed in the shower until my midwife Bev arrived, I think around 3-3.30, she then gave me an internal and checked my dilation. I was at 5cm!
At some point when I was in the shower I began to feel what I thought was a pushing sensation right at the top of my contractions, like my body was pushing the baby out. I wasn’t sure if it was just the baby descending with each contraction, or something more. I mentioned it to Bev and she encouraged me to breathe deeply and try to relax my body, not saying too much about it. I still felt utterly incapable of moving and so tense because I got such little respite between the contractions. I tried a TENS machine for about an hour but the buzzing mostly just annoyed me. I spent most of the time sitting upright on the edge of the bed with my mum rubbing my back. Standing or moving or laying down would bring on another contraction and so that was the only position I could make it into to rest. We didn’t pull a single thing out of the birth bag that I had packed and didn’t even think to put my playlist on or anything.
After I gave up on the TENS machine I begged for the gas and finally it allowed me to relax my body a little and eventually I was able to lay down on my side and enjoy the gassy la-la land for a while. I layed with a peanut ball between my knees because I felt like I just needed to have my pelvis as open as possible. Around 5am I still felt as if my body was pushing at the top of my contractions and when I mentioned it to my midwife this time she wanted to check my dilation. It was only around 8cm so she encouraged me to really breathe through the contractions and try my hardest not to bear down so I wouldn’t cause swelling on my cervix before I was fully dilated. I crawled back into position with my peanut ball and really started to go deep inside myself, using the gas to help my deep breathing along I would breathe deeply until the peak of the contraction hit me and then I would focus on softening my body and not bearing down repeating ‘stop, stop, stop’ in a whisper.
Around 7.30am I had my last internal and I was finally fully dilated. After hours of trying so hard not to push I was ecstatic that I was finally allowed to push! My midwife readied all her gear and we raised the head of the bed up and I kneeled on the bed and leant over the top of the bed. My husband came around told hold my hand and I spared a quick nervous thought to him standing there on no sleep after 5 days of being strapped up to monitors in bed in hospital! With each contraction I pushed hard and was amazed by the thought that I was actively about to bring my baby into the world and meet them for the first time earthside. After about 20 minutes pushing in this position I was beyond exhausted, I couldn’t even hold myself up over the bed anymore. I did quite a bit of reading about birthing positions and how important it is to use gravity as an ally, but all I wanted to do was lay on my back, draw my knees up and push! And so that is what I did. I wasn’t using the gas while I pushed and the world came into focus very quickly and sharply around me and I could feel my baby slowly rocking in and out with each push until I gave that big almighty push and my baby’s hairy head was born! It was incredible, beyond anything I could ever describe. Then after a short rest my baby’s whole body was earthside at 8.08am Friday and the beautiful warm body was on my chest. The baby came out pooing and crying and wearing the umbilical cord like a scarf. We all went in for a look of what we got, a boy! We admired the boy’s thick hair and looked at his squidgy face and long feet. He was a cutie and looked so healthy. He was born 8 hours after my waters broke and I pushed for 40 minutes.
After the cord had stopped pulsing I had the shot to help birth the placenta, which just kinda slopped out not long afterwards all warm and squelchy. The baby was very alert and layed on my chest checking out the world for a long time before I brought him to the breast for the first time. I asked for help getting him to latch and we had our first breastfeed. My midwife Bev, who I had seen throughout my pregnancy had to finish her shift and a different midwife came in. After about an hour baby got weighed and wiped down and dressed and got his first cuddle with his daddy while I had a shower. I had torn, however this new midwife couldn’t stitch me and I had to wait for a doctor to come in and do it, which wasn’t for a couple hours. Of the whole experience, I think getting my stitches was the worst! I had to go back on the gas just to be able to relax and get the numbing injections.
We then all rested for a few hours and left the hospital around 6pm. Once we were home we had midwives coming to the house regularly in the first week and then occasionally for 6 weeks through the midwife group practice program. I had trouble with feeding because my milk never came in properly which after a month it was finally figured out that the baby just wasn’t sucking whilst being latched on. I mix fed for 9 weeks and cherish every breastfeed I was able to provide my boy.