Throughout our pregnancy we were determined that we would not go into labour until New Years at the earliest. We were going to have a January baby. My brother has his birthday on the 29th of December and I know that it can be horrible to have a birthday so close to Christmas (seriously why do people even consider a joint Christmas/birthday gift?).
We were travelling along well, bub was growing at the expected rate, I was having no complications, and it even looked like I would come out of the pregnancy with a lower weight than I started with thanks to aversions to fatty foods. Then on December 18, when I was 36+3 weeks pregnant, I started to have contractions. And by started I mean instantly three to four minutes apart, and fairly intense (or so I thought). I called my midwife after about half an hour of contractions and it was decided that I should come in to be monitored.
So hubby and I inform the boys that they may have a new sibling, collect our hospital bag, and head off to the birthing suite at our hospital. I am hooked up to the monitors and have the confirmation that I am indeed having regular contractions. I felt uncomfortable, but it seemed like every other contraction would be stronger followed by a more weak one. It was decided that I should stay in for the night to be monitored because of being pre-term, but the doctor said he didn’t think much more would happen.
And he was right. By 3.30am the contractions had all but stopped. I was getting the odd one every hour or so after that for the rest of the morning, but nothing else. I ended up back home by 11am, feeling relieved bub hadn’t decided to arrive, but also frustrated that I had gone through a fairly sleepless night for nothing. On the plus side, at least we kind of had a practice run for when real labour came. And the view from my room was pretty nice when I woke up that morning.
From that point on hubby was overly cautious about what I could and couldn’t do around the house. He would give me orders to leave all the house work to him, even though he was working too, just in case I set off more contractions. It was kind of torture really, as I was definitely going through the nesting phase, I wanted to go and clean out our laundry in anticipation for me spending a lot more time there cleaning nappies after bub arrived. I wanted to clean out and rearrange all the cupboards in the kitchen. I wanted to just clean in general. But I didn’t, I decided to wait it out until January 1st then go nuts with the cleaning.
But baby had other plans.
We went to bed early on the 29th of December (my brother’s birthday) because hubby started work early the next morning. There were no indications that anything was about to happen. At about 9.45 the room lit up when my phone got a notification. Normally my phone is set to do not disturb from 10 so that I can sleep without any interruptions, but if I go to bed early I will manually set it. I had forgotten to do this, so rolled over to do so and suddenly felt wet like I had peed myself. Only I didn’t feel like I had peed. I got out of bed and headed off to the toilet to clean myself up.
When I was in labour with the boys I had to have my waters broken both times, so I had never actually experienced a spontaneous breakage and was unsure what it would be like. TV and movies would have you believe it is a great big gush. This was not what I had experienced. While sitting on the toilet I could hear a small trickle of liquid that would start and stop. If it weren’t for the fact that I couldn’t feel the liquid I would have thought I was peeing.
I decided that I had too much liquid on my legs to be able to clean up without a shower, so I got in to wash it off. Before I started the water I had a small gush of liquid. I was now pretty sure that my waters had broken. I put on new underwear and a pad and went into the bedroom to let Garry know, and to call my midwife. She said to come in and they would check me over to confirm my suspicions.
So once again, we collected our things and headed off to the hospital. As we pulled into the hospital carpark, about an hour after my first feelings of wetness, I had my first contraction. That was when I realised that even though the contractions the previous week had been consistent, they were definitely not intense at all.
We made it to the birthing suite, I was hooked up to the monitor, and proceeded to writhe in pain with each contraction. I was hating the monitor with a passion as it was stopping me from being able to change position, which was making the pain all the more intense. Eventually after about an hour they took me off the monitor and I was able to move around the room. My midwife let me know that she was going to leave me in the care of the on duty midwives and she would be back when there were signs that I was moving along in my labour.
At first I tried to brace myself with each contraction by leaning into the bed, but I could feel myself beginning to lose control. I wanted to give birth without drugs, so knew that I would have to get a grip to succeed. One of the midwives came in to check my progress. I was 4cm dilated, but given that that was the first time I had been checked I had no idea how quickly I was progressing. I decided to sit in the shower as I knew that the hot water had helped with both the boys, and I could always move to the bath if the shower stopped working.
Initially the hot water didn’t do much, until I began deep breathing. The only thing I can really equate the feeling to is when you are in a meditative trance. With every contraction I would breath through the pain and close my eyes, focusing on the feel of the water. At one point I nearly fell asleep between contractions, it is quite amusing to think that even though I was in pain I could manage a mini cat nap.
Time pretty much didn’t exist for me while I was in that shower. I could have been in there for 20 minutes or 20 hours for all I knew, but after one and a half hours (according to hubby) my midwife had come back in. She came in to check on how I was going and I swear I felt like a was drugged up with how drowsy I was. Suddenly the pain I was feeling went from being manageable with the hot water to being crazy. I had intense downward pressure and felt like I needed to hold the baby in. I told Garry to get the midwife back quickly.
So now here I was, naked, being helped to the bathroom floor of my birth suite, where one midwife had placed a padded mat for me to kneel on, while another directed the hot water on my back and I held on to Garry’s hands. We turned off the water while I was checked and informed that I could push when I felt ready.
This was such a different birthing experience to the boys, where I had ended up in the bed and was told when I should be pushing. It was almost freeing. Overtime I felt increased pressure I would push. Then I would rest in-between. My midwife was a great support, she encouraged me to push when I felt the need, and kept reminding me that I was doing a great job. Hubby was able to help me focus by holding me and offering comfort.
After 4 hours of labour and a few minutes of pushing, our little girl arrived into the world two weeks early on the 30th of December at 2.38am. I knelt on the mat while I held her. She barely made a noise. I remember asking one of the midwives if she was alright, and was told she was. I think her lack of crying really made me worry. I was moved to the bed, where we got to cuddle and kiss our daughter. She was perfect.
Harriet Aila has been in our world for 2 weeks now, and we have been in a blissful peace. She is definitely perfect. She rarely cries, sleeps really well, and is almost always content. If you had have told me this time last year that not only would I be a mum again, but I would also be the happiest I have been in a long time, I would have called you crazy. But Harriet has brought so much joy into our lives. Welcome to the world little one.