**note** long story ahead! i really couldn’t edit it down as i want to remember it all, this way
so where to begin? as i kept mentioning on my blog, every day after the 37 week mark, i was told and thought ‘any day now’.. and i had really begun to believe that i would ‘go early’. not that i had been checked (for dilation or effacement etc) but ‘second babies are usually faster’ and ‘gees you’re huge, you’re bound to go soon!’.
coming up to 40 weeks (the estimated due date) and no real sign of anything starting soon – i was getting anxious and impatient. each night I would spend hours reading other birth stories (especially second labours) and researching every single niggle and situation possible. i could feel myself slowly going insane and forgetting how natural and wonderful my pregnancy had been, and even on my due date i posted about how i was ‘still here’.
little did i know, that later that same night things were about to get interesting — and fast!
just before putting Jasper to bed at about 7.30pm, i used the bathroom and noticed a small piece of my plug had come away – not a big indication of impending labour but with Jasper I lost my plug and 4 days later he arrived.. so i mentioned it casually to Regan and we went about our night – Jasper went to bed, we spent some time together and then i headed up stairs for my nightly insanity session, Googling my eyes out on the laptop, in bed.
at 11pm, LOST was on – we usually tape it and watch it later on in one big hit but since Regan was still up, i went downstairs to see whether he wanted to catch it now instead. he wasn’t doing anything much (i think) so we sat on the couch and caught up on the latest episode … i didn’t find it weird, but my braxton hicks (that usually ramp up at night and then go away) were coming in frequently that night, so i would glance up at the clock. at this point, they were every 10 minutes.
after LOST, i headed back upstairs to try and get some sleep – but of course, ended up on the laptop and again, noticed that my braxton hicks were still present even though i had been moving around and changed positions etc. i decided to load up ‘Labor Mate’ on my iPod touch and ‘practice’ using it for when i needed it during the ‘real thing’. hmmm, they’re coming every 6 minutes now. that’s odd.
i stay up until about 2.15am or so when i start to get tired and decide to try and sleep it off – they usually wear off when i finally lay down to sleep. i stop timing them on the iPod as that was keeping me awake, and i drift off to sleep quickly.
POP. Around 2.30AM. i wake up. what was that? it felt like a balloon popped inside of me .. oh.
my water never broke on it’s own with Jasper’s birth – i decide to get up and use the bathroom as i needed to go anyway. i make it to the bathroom, and notice a mini flood in my underwear. another ‘braxton hicks’ hits me and i decide to put on a pad, go get my ipod and head downstairs so i wouldn’t wake Regan.
i keep timing and i’m now down to ‘braxton hicks’ every 5-6 minutes. i twitter. i get upstairs as fast as i can and wake up Regan. at first my voice doesn’t wake him, so i poke him with my finger. my finger poking doesn’t work, so i’m a bit more forceful, LOL. ‘can you put my TENS machine on please? i think my water broke and i’m having contractions. i’ll wait until 4am to call anyone, go back to sleep’. he pauses for a second but then agrees that he should try to rest as we don’t know how long we’ll be.
3am. Regan puts on my TENS machine, and as i walk back downstairs, waves are hitting me every 3-4 minutes. i twitter again. i sit on the couch and breathe slowly through each ‘braxton hicks’. i’m pretty calm and start thinking of everything that needs to be done if this is it…
i go use the bathroom, and on the way back to the laptop, waves are now every 1-2 minutes. i realise that this is really really happening and decide to call the hospital.
about 3.30am. midwife on the phone is calm but tells me to come on in, it sounds like i’m going to have a baby soon. i have a ‘braxton hicks’ while on the phone and more of my waters break. ‘see you within the hour’ she says. i hang up and quickly call my parents for the ride over and to look after Jasper. i tell my dad ‘could you please hurry. contractions are down past every 2 minutes. but don’t speed. but hurry. but don’t speed.’ it’ll take them about 20 minutes to get here, i’ve guessed.
i hang up again and quickly get up to switch on the outside lights and open the door for my dad. on the way, waters gush everywhere and i keep saying ‘not on the carpet tracey! tiles tiles tiles!!’ realising how funny the situation is and how surreal it is. i smile to myself, this is so cool! and i’m now convinced that my braxton hicks are contractions.. though i’m able to breathe through them and then scurry on my way.
at this point, holding onto the TENS machine unit and the ipod was getting tedious, so i put the ipod in my bag and just hold onto the TENS, boosting it up every time during a contraction and really concentrating on the buzz sensation it’s giving me. it’s really helping me focus, i think.
i take off my pants and shove it between my legs as the waters don’t want to stop. i cautiously waddle/run up the stairs, still contracting along the way and wake up Regan to tell him we’re ON and my parents will be here in about 20 mins so do what you need to do (e.g. eat, change, whatever). i make sure my hospital bags are ready (what am i saying, i’d had them ready for weeks!), i ask Regan whether he could bring them down stairs for me and i change my pants. i’m still calm – in autopilot i guess.
i head back downstairs to pack my water bottles and a snack into my bag – made sure my camera was packed and grabbed an extra towel for the car ride.
4.15am. i’ve opened up our front door and i’m standing there waiting, Regan is sending a quick email to his mum to let him know we’re going to the hospital and he’s putting on his shoes. i can see my dad’s car coming down the street and i realise i haven’t put my shoes on yet. a minute later, he’s pulled up – my mum pops out and my sister comes and helps with the bags. i’m standing out in the street waiting for Regan to get into the car first (there was no way i would be able to climb into the backseat AND shuffle over for him!!!), and mum is asking me where my keys were. i don’t know why she’s asking me that and I just want to go go go.
4.20-4.28am. my dad runs numerous red lights, the roads are very quiet and i’m very very grateful. i contract in the car, but still am able to give directions and lane preferences. lol.
4.29am. we arrive at the hospital main entrance and my sister is confused why it’s closed. i keep trying to get out that we need to use the emergency doors but no one is listening or understands what i’m saying, so i open up the car door and just start running for the emergency entrance. they finally see what i mean but i leave them behind saying ‘i’m going’. my sister catches up to me as i have to stop and breathe through a contraction in the emergency room foyer – she’s got a wheelchair and whisks me in the direction of the birth centre. thank god she remembers where to go. we get into the lift to go downstairs one level – the door isn’t closing fast enough for me and i keep repeating ‘press the close button. press the close button’. i’m not having this baby in this crappy little lift!
4.32am. we get down to the birth centre doors to buzz in. Regan starts saying ‘umm i have a woman in labour here..’ but i shout out ‘i called earlier – it’s Tracey’ and they buzz me in. i start to realise that i’m bossy – even in labour!!
4.33am. the midwife i spoke to on the phone greets us, i have my eyes closed, breathing through a contraction and she points to birth centre room 3, the only one available at the time. we can see that the lights are dim in there, ready for us.
4.35am. i’ve hopped off the wheelchair, Regan and Hayley have put my bags down and the midwife starts some paper work. yes. paper work first. i’m leaning over the double bed, contracting and contracting. she’s asking for Regan’s contact number. our home number. Regan is getting it wrong. through a contraction i’m repeating the first 4 numbers of our number but can’t get out the rest. the midwife is getting confused. Regan is scrolling through his phone for the right numbers. Hayley has gone back upstairs to give back the wheelchair, she meets up with my Dad who had parked the car but tells him to go and wait at home.
sometime between 4.39am and 4.55am. the midwife (Valerie) gets me to lay on the bed for an internal. she checks me and i’m already at 8cms! i don’t have time to celebrate as another contraction comes along. she’s saying i’m making good progress. on the next contraction, she wants to check me again and i don’t have the capacity to ask why and what for. she mentions that i’m not going to like her much for a few seconds – and she stretches me to 10cms. fully dilated. i was begging her to stop, Regan raises his voice to the midwife to get her to stop. but it’s over with and i’m actually thanking her for doing it as the contractions were getting intense and now something has changed..
just before 5am. the once strong braxton hicks/contractions are now different – my body is doing something new. it’s pushing. it’s pushing for me. i can’t control it and i start to get scared. i search for Regan’s hand and grab it. i don’t let it go. my other hand is still holding the TENS machine unit and it’s now on the highest setting possible and i don’t turn it off.
i kept repeating ‘i don’t like this’ and i keep saying ‘i’m scared’. and i really was. after all the talk about being a strong empowered woman, i am not afraid to admit that i was really really scared at this point. transition. no drugs. this is it. right now. and i realise, you know what – it’s OK to be scared.
the midwife Valerie is not interfering with the process now. in fact, she is still doing paperwork and i have a good view of her between my legs, writing down something in one of many folders laid out on the end of the bed and telling me that to listen to my body, calmy. at first i’m pissed off – but then i realise that i should be listening to her, my body is telling me something and i need to go with it.
i see the seconds hand of the clock on the wall go round and round – and resolve to not let this go on any longer that it needs to. that i was able to do this and i could do it myself. that this was really freaky and how weird and wonderful the human body is and to just calm down and focus. breathe.
on my ipod, i had prepared a playlist of music that would calm me – but at this point, with no ipod in reach (or in thought), my mind could only load up 1 song – these arms of mine by otis redding. two lines repeating over and over ..
These arms of mine
They are wanting, wanting to hold you
i remember back to how i pushed Jasper out, and start to get to it. chin down and a big deep breath. push. (and yes, push like you’re doing a big poop, it’s true). Regan and Hayley notice that i’m ready and are my cheerleaders once more. they do a great job keeping me motivated, and cool with cold compresses and water to my lips every now and then. i’m sure i’ve crushed Regan’s hand but he lets me hold it still. i push a few times and Valerie is telling me that my baby is starting to crown and that it’s not long now. my body is surrendering and pushing, purging is a good way to describe it actually (though that doesn’t sound pretty does it).
5.18am. ring. of. fire.
so THIS is what it feels like. i don’t like that at all, lol, but my body is now pushing non stop and i calm myself inside to let it do what it needs to do. i let out a few quiet swears (s-bombs) as it’s the most accurate way of illustrating my emotion at the time, lol.
5.19am. stop stop stop, pant pant pant. the midwife is telling me to slow it down, but i can’t seem to stop it. i consciously don’t push, but then
5.20am. our beautiful Jovie is born and Valerie places her on my belly. bliss.
5.21am. Valerie notes that the cord is braided around our girl, around her hips, around each leg and her neck — but she’s totally ok. Jovie let’s out a cry and we all start beaming.
within seconds, i’m okay again. we’re okay, there’s my daughter on my chest and Regan is kissing me congratulations. i’m elated, i’m shocked, it’s over and she’s here!!
Jovie Penelope H—-
born 21st May 2009 (40 weeks + 1) at 5.20am
Blacktown Hopsital – Birth Centre
Length – 52.5cm
Weight – 3.59kgs
Official labour time – 2 hours 50 minutes; born 43 minutes after arrival at the hospital.
Tearing – minor 2nd degree tearing
Pain Relief – TENS machine, hired from mamatens.com.au
** Photographs of the birth are here – http://sh1ft.org/blog/?page_id=1420. Be warned that I am naked from the waist down, but you don’t see anything too graphic. (I’ve set that page to ‘private’ – can you let me know if you can’t view it).
Jovie & I stayed at the Birth Centre overnight and was discharged after lunch the next day as we were both doing great and didn’t feel the need to be away any longer. we’re happy and healthy and very excited to be home with Daddy and Jasper!
for such a short birth, I’ve written such a long story! I try not to compare Jasper’s birth with Jovie’s birth — but in one respect, I have to. I’ve been given 2 pregnancies, 2 labours, 2 healthy children. i am so glad to have experienced what I have – and that I can speak of both experiences, with their differences, with such a positive light. i’m very lucky and so extremely grateful.
for those who are interested, the Birth Centre and the midwives at Blacktown Public are awesome. i was really happy to be given the opportunity to attend the Birth Centre, one of only a few in Sydney, and am proud to have been able to experience giving birth within those walls, with the team they have. during labour, only 1 midwife attended – which is and was perfectly OK with me. it was a really calm experience. i knew i was in good hands and was able to just listen to my body and be confident that all was happening as it should be. i did give birth semi-flat on my back (which I adopted myself), but there was the option of a shower, bath, fitball, birthing stool, aromatherapy, gas or morphine – i just didn’t have the time to try it out! the room was HUGE (my friends asked how i got a private room as a public patient!), there was a double bed, a lounge area, kitchenette, ensuite – all to ourselves tv was available for a fee (didn’t ask how much) and we had a private balcony. the midwives were very helpful and friendly, but also left us to ourselves if we felt we were OK.
for anyone that’s had any reservations about whether you can do it – go drug free, i still say wait and see how it all pans out on the day. i didn’t think i would be able to do it and i still describe it as scary as heck – but take it a minute at a time, take it one contraction at a time and see. there is NOTHING wrong with being scared before/during/after but you might surprise yourself