weeks before my due date, i’d started with pre-labour symptoms which gradually just became part of my every day pregnancy routine. the aches, the cramps, the nausea – all normal and getting my body ready for the big day.
at the end of october, on an early tuesday morning, a couple of days from my due date, the cramps (that were actually contractions) started on and off.. nothing too bad, i managed to sleep through them. later that day, the show! i lost my plug and got super excited, lol.
early wednesday morning around 1am, the cramps started to come on stronger and wouldn’t let up so i got Regan to put the tens machine on me and i went downstairs to wait it out… they kept coming, but were irregular (my timing notes say they where anywhere from 3 minutes to 20 minutes apart). i had a checkup that morning at the hospital, and they confirmed i was in fact contracting (!) but it was still too early to say when i’d pop so we were sent home to wait
as time went on, the contractions became stronger and harder to manage. walking and standing helped me get through them, but at the same time i didn’t want to expend my energy so i made little breaks here and there on the beanbag. late nights became early mornings, i had formed a late night tv schedule of letterman, everybody loves raymond, infomercials, passions, more infomercials and then some american morning tv shows.. it was nice to catch up on some tele, but i was so tired from all the ‘breathing through the pain’ i just wanted some relief..
on thursday, i made a call to the delivery suite to ask whether i should come in – but no, apparently i seemed like i was handling things fine so they told me to wait. i went on, thinking maybe this wasn’t so bad yet (even though i was crying from pain and exhaustion) and hung around the tv for comfort. by early friday morning, i really had had enough so at about 3am i gathered up my strength and got up off my butt and worked the contractions down past 5 minutes apart by pacing up and down and keeping upright. once 6am hit, i gave the delivery room a call and told them that i needed to come in – i wanted to be checked to see how i was progressing. after i hung up, i called mum to give me a ride in and woke up Regan to get going. my sister Hayley was going to be my second support person, so she came in with us too (though I was surprised to see her there, she must of really believed that this was it too!). as a side note, i had been keeping time track of all the contractions since tuesday to just before i left – i had written down that i had had over 300 contractions already. yipes.
friday morning, 7am we arrived at the hospital to be told that if i wasn’t far along that i’d be sent home with 2 panadiene and a sleeping tablet.. 8am, i was checked and thank the lord i was 4cm dilated already! i discussed with the midwife about whether i wanted any pain relief – my options where to have a couple of panadiene and a sleeping tablet to see how things progressed when i woke up, or i could have the epidural and go painless while we waited. previously i had decided against the epi, so i opted for the sleeping tablet at that point. the midwife handed me the sexy hospital gown and told me to go stand under the shower for a bit while they made up the room for me. i stood under the water for a little while thinking ‘wow’ and ‘thank god they’re not sending me home!!’ while contracting and breathing through it. i came out of the bathroom in good spirits, knowing that today was it! the room wasn’t ready straight away, so we were put into an observation area towards the back of the ward that i dubbed the ‘store room’ because of all the extra furniture floating around us. at one point, i was contracting and someone came around to look for the spare big cups.. lol.
it was also around this time, that i decided to get the epidural. alot of things made me decide to get the epi, mostly because i knew that were no guarantees that i would dilate while having a sleep, and that the pandiene didn’t work before, so why would it work now. i did feel a bit guilty for ‘caving in’ but Regan and my sister reminded me that i shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting to take a break from the pain i was already in for days and days beforehand. i firmly decided that it was what i wanted, and had no hangups about my new plan.
at about 11am, i finally got a birthing room and the doc came in to administer the low dose epidural. it wasn’t a big a deal as i thought it would be – i rolled onto my side and curled into a ball (read, i was rolled onto my side like a beached whale and Regan helped me bring my knees up to my chin and pushed my head downwards, lol) while they inserted the super fine needle into my back. at first, i flinched but not from the pain – it was the smallest and easiest needle i’ve ever had. thank god for epidurals. the doc also put an iv line into my hand, first trying the right hand but they couldn’t get a good vein so the left hand it was.
about 10 minutes later, the painful breathtaking contractions became more like braxton hicks – i could feel them coming but it didn’t hurt and i didn’t feel the need to start my relaxation techniques through them. i could move my legs, but they were incredibly heavy. if i slapped my thigh or my abdomen, it was numb. they then left me alone in the room for a couple of hours so i could relax into the situation and get some rest – at this point, i hadn’t slept in 3 days and hadn’t eaten in 24 hours so it was a really good decision to be able to chill out and take it all in. while i was sitting there, i kept an eye on the clock that was on the wall directly in front of me. most people would tell you not to keep time, but i found it motivating and used it to set myself mental and physical goals.
at 1pm, the midwife came in to check on progress – i was still only 4cms dilated and my waters had not broken at that point. the contractions were still irregular too, so we had to make a new plan. i had already thought about what i wanted to do if X happened or if Z needed to be done – so the midwife and i agreed to break my waters manually. again, i did not plan for intervention beforehand and started to feel a bit guilty, but quickly realised that this is not something i wanted to pussy foot around with and if i was ready, then let’s do it. that’s what i was there for, afterall. so my waters were broken and i was again left to hang out and progress. i remember at this point i could hear the lady next door giving birth (and would hear her for hours yet), and i felt so sorry for her.. there was something so sad in her voice and i prayed that she would be ok
at 4pm, they checked me again – and no progress. i was just over 4cm’s now and the contractions were showing up as irregular still. at this point, we knew what was next – the drip. so at 5pm, they hooked me up to the new stuff (syncotin?) and again, we waited. they kept and eye on the machine that measures the contractions, and we all could see that something was finally working! contractions where now coming in every 2 mins, so we were certain that it shouldn’t be too much longer. they checked me again at 7pm, and hooray – fully dilated! they told me i’d have my baby by 10pm for sure – and i was kind of shocked but excited!! after all the waiting and no progress, finally we were moving along
8pm – go time! epidural had totally worn off as planned and i started to feel the urge to push. i remember anticipating this stage of the labour, and i was scared as heck.. i really didn’t want the epidural to wear off but by that stage i had been topped up 3 times and i really didn’t want anymore than that. they told me that your adrenaline kicks in and it helps you along – and it didn’t really until after an hour of pushing (first on my back with a bar up for my feet to get leverage on, then on my side), when something inside me told me that this is IT and you gotta let it go now. so that’s what i did – with everything inside of me, i closed my eyes and brought my son into the world. i could hear my husband and my sister cheering me on, stopping every now and then because they were so shocked at what was happening – i knew that i was doing something that i was born to do and the love and support in the room was incredible.
Regan and Hayley tell me that i was so so quiet during this stage and the whole labour – that i hardly said anything and didn’t scream out or curse like in the movies you see. they say it was the most peaceful i had been, though they could see that i was in alot of pain of course!
after almost 2 hours of pushing, at 10.18pm on a friday night – Jasper Pollux entered the world and was placed onto my belly and up onto my chest.
we stared at each other for what seemed the longest time, and i sang happy birthday to him in between kisses and smiles. my gorgeous husband, now the proudest person in the room, a new father, cut part of the umbilical cord and our baby boy was briefly taken away to be cleaned up and checked out. (the cord had been wrapped around his neck and was initially cut minutes before).
at first, Jasper didn’t cry out – so he was given some oxygen and they were talking about putting him in special care, but after a few minutes he seemed to do much better and was allowed to stay with us. while they were still tending to him, the placenta was delivered easily and the doctor stitched me up (i have 2nd degree tearing).
Jasper was then placed onto my chest and we had our first breastfeed, much to my surprise I could do it! (my boobs are normally so small you need a microscope to stare, and i hadn’t seen any signs of colostrum yet).
it was a really amazing feeling to know that i could do it – and i did do it.
the one thing about the whole experience – from conceiving to birth – is that i never knew i could have so much faith in myself and my body, even when things didn’t progress the way i wouldn’t of liked. speaking now as a mother (wow), i feel much more like the person i was supposed to be. all thanks to this little person we’ve created, i’m finally here.
Jasper Pollux H*****
Born November 2, 2007 at 10.18pm
Westmead Public Hospital, Sydney Australia
Apgar score at 5 minutes – 9
Born at 40 weeks along – right on his due date! (though the due date i calculated puts him at 1 day overdue)