Planned hospital birth – first baby.
Kath and I had planned for and dreamed about a baby for 4 years. After 10 joyful weeks I lost our first baby which was very sad for us both – but this one had stuck and grown...and grown...and grown, and by 37 weeks I felt really ready for our baby to be born – and convinced he would be early.
I had a wonderful pregnancy. I bloomed and blossomed, and showed off in tight outfits. I took a full 3 months off work, slept every afternoon, practised yoga, had acupuncture and osteopathy, and massaged my perineum faithfully. We had learnt about acupressure points and had a homeopathic kit in preparation for a home birth. So now everything felt right: the baby’s head had been fully engaged for a couple of weeks, I was beginning to get mysterious pains in my hips, back and abdomen, my whole body seemed to be moving down saying “release, you are ready, let him come”. So feeling like labour could begin at any time I waited.
Three weeks later I was just full. Walking around the supermarket the general discomfort I had been feeling around my middle felt like period pain and at the Warehouse I bumped into a woman from our antenatal group. As we shared aches and pains and excitement I told her how I was feeling but “everything hurts at the moment – so it’s probably nothing!”.
That evening Kath and I decided the funny feeling was just another funny feeling – my body was so full of weird sensations, who knows what’s normal? But I agreed to wake her if the pain became discrete as opposed to feeling constant; I didn’t have a clue what a contraction would feel like but I knew that if you were going to time them, they needed to have a beginning and end! So I drifted to sleep feeling like all those bad periods had come back to haunt me.
At 1:30am I woke up realising that the feelings were stronger and that there seemed to be a definite beginning and end to them. This might just be IT… and it was!
We had everything ready for the first stage of labour. Thinking it was going to be long, boring and tiring we had videos and snack food and trashy magazines so I was surprised that the contractions required a great deal of my concentration even though they didn’t feel terribly painful. I had no desire to think about anything except breathing and trying to relax during the pains. I knelt on a cushion with my head in my hands on the seat of the couch, my out breaths becoming moans before too long. Kath tried all the accupressure and the point that was useful was in my feet – so every time a pain came on I called out for her and she and I did it together.
During labour the hours whiz by but a minute is a really long time. By 7am the contractions were 3 minutes long and 2-3 minutes apart and feeling quite intense – I was making so much noise that when Kath rang the midwife, Helen, she said she would be round before 9 – I wanted to explain that it didn’t hurt nearly as much as my cries suggested but I was too busy. When the midwife arrived the contractions slowed right down which made me realise how psychological the whole thing is. They wound back up though, and during the next five hours became quite painful and very noisy. I was crying and yelling, rocking backwards and forwards – still against the couch, Kath still pushing the points in my feet which made me feel contained somehow.
Later in the day the next door kids got worried and came to see what was wrong. Luckily our support person, Wendy, had put a sign on the door DO NOT DISTURB – HAVING A BABY… but by 3pm, I was beginning to wonder if I was. I was in the birth pool, which was either too hot, or too cold and made me feel wet and uncomfortable. The pain was very bad, I was sobbing, and nothing I did seemed to make any difference.
Then the contractions slowed down. Helen suggested that my body was giving me a break, but when the contractions did come they were unbearable and I realised I couldn’t do it after all and the baby was never going to come and even if he did I didn’t care. Was this transition? I begged Helen to examine me, she didn’t want to, and I didn’t enjoy it – I was only 6cm dilated. The wrong part of the baby’s head was against the cervix and there was nothing Helen could do except break the membranes which would intensify things. The thought of things getting more intense destroyed any resolve I had. Wendy later said she was stunned by how polite I was during the entire birth but when I asked to go to the hospital I turned to my beloved and most supportive partner and snarled “just make it HAPPEN”.
The ride to the hospital was short… and awful. I had a contraction halfway down the hall, one in the car which lasted the entire trip and one on the pavement outside the hospital which brought staff running. Getting an epidural in was excruciating. I was crying, Kath was crying – but then – gentle warmth… and pure calm, I could rest.
While I rested, my helpers rested and monitors kept track of any signs of distress in the baby – his heartbeat was fine, and my contractions kept coming: strong and efficient, and two hours later the baby had turned, I was fully dilated, the painkillers had worn off and I was ready to push.
Except what I needed was not to push out the baby but to poo – and I didn’t want to because I was surrounded by people (all looking at my bottom), in broad daylight and I was about to welcome our son into the world – a beautiful moment indeed! This became intensely uncomfortable until I realised this was the urge to push – and I gave up any tiny scrap of modesty or restraint and pushed... and pushed and it was exquisite. I pushed with contractions, I pushed between contractions, and after what seemed like five minutes – a slow, firm push – a head, another very slow push – shoulders, then squelch – a warm, wet slippery torso, arms, and whoosh long beautiful pink legs and the baby was up on my breasts, in my arms, very slippery, purple, slightly squashed – and a girl!
Pippi was born on December 29th, her grandmother’s birthday, at 8:18pm after 19 hours of labour; she was 8lbs 13oz. At eight weeks she is now the smiley, wriggly, precious centre of our family and our lives.