Looking back I had prodomal labour for at least a week prior to her birth. After numerous false starts, especially in the evenings ... it was all starting to wear very thin. On the 16th May when I was 40 weeks 3 days I had a stretch and sweep where i was already 3-4cm & 50% effaced with a posterior cervix and could be stretched to 5cm. I had an achy and crampy afternoon with lots and lots of bloody mucous with occasional tightenings. Later that evening lovely, strong and mildly painful contractions started around 9pm but after a few hours and early into the next morning they all but fizzled out. When I woke up that morning after just two hours sleep I was just devastated to discover I was still pregnant and nothing was happening.
I spent most of my last day of pregnancy on the Tuesday acting like a complete 2 yr old and feeling utterly sorry for myself. By late afternoon I had started to cheer up, refocused and resigned myself to the fact I could have at least another week to go. I rang our local acupuncture clinic and booked in for an acupuncture induction for 10.15am the next day and tried not to have a dummy spit that acupuncturist could not fit me in that same afternoon. We had dinner and later that evening I sent my midwife Melissa a message letting her know about the acupuncture idea and if it was possible to have another stretch and sweep on the Thursday because full moon or not this kid was never coming out.
I relaxed on the couch and finished crocheting another beanie with Frances the cat perched on top of my bump. At about 9.45pm I started having the odd tightening, they weren't regular or painful. My good mood quickly disappeared and I thought here we go again ... another night of no sleep and no baby. I decided to have half a glass of red wine to relax, which did wonders! I should have done this every night for the last week. I didn't mention the odd tightenings to Hippy Brad, I put them down to just Braxton Hicks and I was pretty sure he was tired of me saying 'maybe tonight's the night'. So at 11pm we checked out the full moon outside which was so so beautiful. We were both thinking this should have been the night! Hippy Brad always said Baby G was coming on May 17th the night of the full moon, I knew he was a little disappointed. After this we headed off to bed where he promptly fell asleep. I just rested for awhile thinking about what I had to do the next day and wondering what the acupuncture appointment would bring.
I had only just started falling asleep when at 12.40am I had a strong contraction lasting about 90 secs, but It still didn't hurt at all just intense pressure. At the end of the contraction I felt/heard an 'internal click' like a rubber band snapping. I though gosh that's strange I wonder if this is the start of anything and waited to see if another contraction would follow. But 3 mins later @12.43am there was a huge gush of lovely warm fluid and I just couldn't stop smiling, this was finally it!!. There was a lot of fluid, my cervix was literally a garden hose that had been just turned on and the whole bed was absolutely soaked. I woke Hippy Brad to tell him and he quickly jumped out of bed while I waddled to the bathroom to check if the water were clear, they were ... phew. I jumped in the shower while Hippy Brad got busy changing the sheets on the bed. Contractions started straight away, 2-3 mins apart, strong, couldn't walk or talk through them but still not that painful. I was so happy I felt my waters break I never had that experience with my other 3 and it was awesome! For some reason Hippy Brad thought we were all going back to bed for another sleep. I had to quietly tell him this was it, labour has started and we needed to get organised. Very reluctantly he started setting up the birthing pool wondering what all the hurry was about.
I sat on my birthing ball in the kitchen breathing slowly through my contractions. I figured I had at least another 6 hours of labour ahead of me and started to worry about the kids waking up when it was time for school and who would take them? etc. I said to Hippy Brad we really need to have this baby before 6am, that would be perfect timing! Whilst I was sitting there on the ball I had another huge gush of clear fluid. So much fluid!! this left a massive puddle on the kitchen floor. Now it was around 1.15am and contractions picked up with strength & intensity and started to hurt. I was also beginning to feel a little bit of rectal pressure with them and decided to go sit on the toilet and see if anything needed to happen there. Nothing was happening on the toilet, I couldn't believe it was the baby's head causing the pressure so soon. At 1.43am I yelled out to Hippy Brad who was pumping up the pool that now would be a good time to call Melissa. I got off the toilet and started running a bath. Our bath is only little but I thought at least i can sit in here until the pool was ready. Contractions were coming 2-3 mins apart, lasting 90secs and super strong now. I really had to focus, close my eyes and breathe deeply through them. Around 2am I started wondering what time Melissa would come and I was thankful we called her when we did. When she showed up around 2.15am I breathed a huge sigh of relief and started to relax.
Melissa checked out Baby G's heartbeat which was lovely and my BP too which was fine. I told her I was doing ok but feeling lots of pressure and really needed to get in the pool. Melissa went off to see how Hippy Brad was doing and came back to say it wasn't ready just yet. I could hear Hippy Brad in the kitchen trying to get it filled, I knew he still would be thinking 'what exactly is all this fuss about, I'm sure there is hours to go?'. I think when Melissa told him I would be 'birthing soon' reality set in for him. At this point I was still in the bath managing my contractions & having lots and lots of pressure. I could feel the baby moving down and started to lose the plot a little. I was having crazy thoughts ... if something went wrong and we called an ambulance to transfer to hospital 'how would an ambulance get up our stupid steep driveway'. If I called an ambulance 'the bastards probably wouldn't give me any pain relief anyway' plus i would 'have to lay flat on my back in the ambulance and there was no way in hell that was happening'. Then it was 'ok I don't want to do this anymore, it's not a good idea'. While I was having these silly ideas a calmer second voice in my head was saying this was just transition and I would be meeting my baby very soon so the calm voice said 'just focus and get on with it Sarah'. After this lovely little self pep talk, Melissa came back to let me know the pool was ready yeehaa!! I felt an immediate boost of energy and renewal and just wanted this next contraction to be over with so I could quickly waddle as fast as I could to the pool.
At 2.55am I climbed into the pool, it was deep and hot and the sense of relief was far better than any morphine shot or epidural could provide. I must have been quite loud in my sighing because Hippy Brad starts panicking that he made the water too hot, unable to talk anymore I just shook my head and Melissa reassured him that it was fine and I was just relieved to be in the pool. As soon as I hit the water I knew the baby's head was just sitting there and with my next contraction I said 'It's coming'. I think I said this rather abruptly as I was aware of Hippy Brad standing in the kitchen fiddling with the water still and I didn't want him to miss it. He came and sat down in front of me and whispered in my ear 'you are just amazing' and I shook my head again to let him know I didn't want to be touched. Melissa told him to go sit behind the pool as Baby G's head was visible and beginning to crown.
This was the point in my labour I feared the most for many reasons. I was determined not to push at all when the baby was crowning. I can't describe the noises I was making, it wasn't a loud noise but it was definitely something primal and I couldn't stop myself from doing it during the contractions. I started to feel the baby's head beginning to birth and I kept breathing all the way through it. I was waiting for the 'ring of fire' but although the crowning hurt and stung, that never came. The pushing sensations I felt as soon as I entered the pool felt so much better as the contractions stopped 'hurting'. The sensation of pressure and baby's head crowning felt so much better than the pain of the contractions. This was all happening at about 3am just 5 mins after getting in the pool. I could hear Hippy Brad's amazement and felt the head slowly being born at 3.04am. All i can think was 'thank christ that's out, but then I felt more pressure and the baby's head moving. I honestly thought Hippy Brad had his hands in the pool trying to drag his baby out, I let out a few noises to let him know I was not impressed! I was so focused on birthing the baby's head I had forgotten that babies then rotate for shoulders to birth. I have to say that although the wriggling/rotating feeling was weird, it didn't hurt at all. With the next contraction the shoulders were born, it did sting a little, probably more than the head crowning and I did give a little push at the peak of it which I probably shouldn't have done. I remembering smiling at this point because I knew the rest was simply a piece of cake and when i felt the rest of the baby slither out into the pool it was almost a delicious feeling.
Melissa gently guided the baby in between my legs and said 'pick up your baby'. I sat back on my knees and looked down into the water and all i could see was this beautiful beautiful baby wriggling up towards me. I reached down and picked her up out of the water. She was just so so quiet and relaxed, I pulled her up to my chest and looked over at Hippy Brad who was just in tears, so i lent over and gave him a kiss. Our baby was finally here and was born @ 3.05am. I moved closer to the edge of the pool and quickly checked that she was indeed the little girl I was expecting and handed her to her Daddy for a cuddle who just could not stop smiling or crying. I was feeling a little stinging and shaky so I just sat in the warm water watching Hippy Brad with his new baby girl and thinking 'phew! thank god that was over'. About 10 mins later contractions started again, the cord had stop pulsing and the placenta had separated so her cord was clamped. Hippy Brad cut the cord I handed him back his baby, moved back to the edge of the pool and with the next contraction and a few gentle pushes the placenta was birthed @ 3.28am. A beautiful physiological third stage. The backup midwife arrived at this point too. After the placenta was out I straight away thought 'Wow, I could do that again!'. I did not dare mention this to Hippy Brad because he would have dropped the baby and gone and cracked the champagne right there and then.
Hippy Brad took his baby girl off to the couch and my midwives helped me out of the pool and to dry me off. I laid down on the couch so Melissa could check my perineum for tearing, relieved to discover it was a small first degree tear that didn't need stitching! I think that was from when the shoulders were birthed and I gave that little push. I sat up as laying down felt crappy and Baby G had her first breastfeed. Melissa starting cleaning up and the backup midwife left soon after. Around 4am Melissa weighed the baby, we all had a quick guess I thought she looked small and around 7lbs, Hippy Brad thought around 7lbs 4oz but she weighed 4kg on the dot or 8lbs 8oz! Wow I couldn't believe I just pushed out a 4kg baby with only a small first degree tear. Gabby was 7lbs10oz and I had a 4th degree tear with her which explains all my paranoia about tearing and crowning. Annaliese comes running into the room as Hippy Brad is dressing Baby G, this is when I got my first lot of tears seeing the look of surprise on her bleary eyed face, she went off to get her sister Gabby. They both came up for a look at their new baby sister and went off back to bed with a little encouragement. Melissa left us about 5.30am and planned to return at lunchtime to see how we were going.
I had showered and dressed and felt fantastic so Hippy Brad and I snuggled up onto the couch with our gorgeous baby girl. I breastfed until 6am when the kids all got up for school. I wrapped her up and she promptly fell fast asleep. I sat on the couch having some tea and toast while the kids got ready for school. I couldn't believe it was all over, our baby was finally here & everything went exactly how I wanted it too. I thought it was funny that it was all so natural and normal and we were going about our day getting the kids off to school after just having our baby 3 hours earlier. When Hippy Brad got back from doing the school runs, the three of us climbed into bed. Both baby and daddy were fast asleep. I just laid there a little teary watching them both sleep the morning away together.
I wasn't expecting to have such a quick labour. Maggie was born 2hrs & 22 mins after my water broke & contractions begun. With a physiological third stage of 23 mins.
A huge heartfelt thank you to Melissa for being such a wonderful midwife. I knew as soon as I met her that she was just perfect for us! Another thank you for picking up the camera and taking some beautiful photos, I would have said 'No' if she asked at the time:)
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Phew!!! That sounds scary, but very beautiful experience. Thank you for taking us through that wonderful trip.