Please be warned, this post is looooong! And detailed. So if you aren’t into stories of birth, look away now. If you are wanting to read about a really positive birth experience, you’re in the right place! Here goes…
So Reuben was born at 37 weeks gestation, and therefore in my mind, I was pretty well certain that the same thing would happen with baby ‘Tadpole’ too. So when I got to 38 weeks, I started to feel like I was overdue. At my 38 week midwife appointment on Tuesday, everything was going well and just as it should be, and I had to book in my 39 week appointment with an obstetrician. I was told that at that appointment I would have the option to have a stretch and sweep, and I would have to book an induction date. The midwife assured me that I would not HAVE to keep the induction appointment if I didn’t want to, but policy requires one to be booked. I REALLY did not want to have to go to that appointment.
That week was just so hot, back up to the high 30’s in temperature and incredibly humid and I was so uncomfortable, and just really over it. As much as I hated to even think it, I was really over being pregnant. Everything felt like such a big effort – I couldn’t lift up Reuben anymore, and even hanging a load of clothes on the line left me feeling like I needed to go and have a lie down.
On Saturday, I told Pete I wanted to go for a big walk and see if we could get things moving. It was a nice afternoon for it and I quite enjoyed the time out of the house with my family. I had one quite intense contraction when we were just about home and thought we might be onto something but nothing more came of it. While we were out my sister Alexie (who had been present at Reuben’s birth and was planning on coming to Tadpole’s too) rang me and told me that she was planning to come up on the weekend and wait it out.
On Sunday we had a surprise when my Mum & Dad turned up at our church. Unfortunately not enough of a surprise to bring on labour. After church we all went around to my sister’s place and had a lovely family lunch together. Everyone had a stern talking to my belly telling Tadpole that it was time to come out! My parents headed home, and we talked about how funny it would be if things started off after they left and they had to come straight back!
That night, I had a small part of my show. I told Pete that I didn’t think I’d be making it to my obstetrician appointment but it wasn’t the ‘real’ show, so might still be a couple of days.
I started having contractions at around 4am on Monday morning. Even though they were only light (I had had much stronger ones in the past few weeks), I knew instinctively that this was going to be it. I went back to sleep for about an hour, but by about 5.30am my contractions were a regular 10 minutes apart, lasting for over a minute. I woke Pete and told him I was in labour. We rang Alexie to tell her to come over, and to wake up our other sister who was going to be looking after the kids. Pete rang his boss to let her know he wouldn’t be at work, and I rang my mum, who had booked long service leave from when the baby arrived to come up for a while to help me settle in to life with three.
The contractions were reasonably intense from fairly early on. I spent some time in the shower and had a few moments feeling really overwhelmed about everything I knew was coming (why oh why had I watched all those episodes of One Born Every Minute??) After my shower I had a super intense contraction that lasted about 5 minutes (there’s an app for that haha). After that contraction, they went from being 10 minutes apart to 2-3 minutes apart, just like that.
I told Pete that I wanted to wake up the kids and spend some time with them, as I was hyper aware that these were our last hours as a family of four. We went in to Mayana and told her that her brother was going to be born today. She calmly took it all into her stride. The only thing she was worried about it that she hadn’t gotten to draw a picture on my belly yet (something she had done on my pregnant-with-Reuben belly). I told her she could do it now. I found that with the kids up, I was able to deal with the contractions more effectively. Partly because they helped to keep me distracted, and also because I didn’t want them to be scared or worried about me. The kids did their drawings on my tummy between contractions. Bethanie arrived not long before 7am.. I knew that we would probably need to head off soon.
Pete had made the kid’s breakfast, and then rang the hospital to say that we would be coming in soon. He told them that the contractions were 2-3 minutes apart, and that this was our third baby, and that we live half an hour away from the hospital. They told us to get in the car NOW!
We packed everything into the car, took a few last photos of our family of four, one last bump shot, and we were off.
I got a bit teary leaving the kids. I didn’t know how much Reuben understood of what was going on, and how much his life was about to change. I also was a bit terrified of this car ride, because I remembered how awful it had been the last time! Thankfully my contractions slowed off a little bit while we were in the car, and I only had four during the drive. I asked Pete and Alexie to pray for me and for the labour, and after that I played my “birthlist” playlist through the car stereo, and Pete, Alexie and I sang the hymns I had chosen for the rest of the drive. Singing REALLY helped me to get through contractions; it regulated my breathing perfectly.
After only having four contractions on the half hour drive, it was a bit of a rude shock to have six of them just on the walk into the hospital. The maternity staff were waiting for us and quickly showed us into a birth suite. Pete got my music playing, and we got introduced to the midwife who would be with us, Mel. She asked me to hop up onto the bed to get a trace with the CTG. Oh yuck. When I had Reuben, the midwife let me stay standing for this part and just held the monitors on herself. This time I had to be all strapped up for a couple of contractions. Contracting on the bed, on my back, was no fun at all. While I was there I decided to take the gamble and ask Mel to check how far along I was. My heart sank when she reported that I was only FOUR centimetres. Man! She must have sensed my disappointment, because she quickly told me that even though I was only that far dilated, my cervix was very thin; I was close to being fully effaced. She told me that was a lot of the hard work done, and would probably mean that I would dilate quicker than I might be imagining. I told her that I didn’t want to be on the bed anymore, and she agreed to unhook me from the monitor.
It wasn’t long after that that I felt a fair bit of pressure in my bottom throughout a contraction. I told Mel and she told me just to keep breathing through contractions for a while. She told me it was only half an hour since I had last been checked. I soon felt a trickle down my leg, and assumed that my waters had broken. There was no big gush, but I could feel sticky drips down my legs each time I contracted. I later found out that it wasn’t my waters at all! We think maybe it was part of the show.
Labour kept going, and I mostly dealt with contractions by putting my arms around Pete’s neck and swaying my hips while he coached me to breathe, and told me how great I was doing and how proud he was of me, and Alexie rubbed my back. I went in and out of the shower a few times, but I just didn’t know what to do with myself. I could still feel a lot of pressure, which was quickly morphing into the urge to push. Sometimes I could still feel the pressure between contractions, and in some contractions I could feel my body starting to bear down.
Alexie says that she could tell I was in transition around here. I was starting to feel a bit panicky and could hear my voice getting slightly hysterical as I wailed that I didn’t want to/couldn’t do it anymore. Mel kept asking if I wanted the gas, but that was the one thing I was definitely sure about... no thank you!! I soon began to feel that I couldn’t control the urge to push anymore. I was insisting that my body was starting to push, and if I gave into it during a contraction I felt a lot of relief. Mel agreed to check my progress, so it was back up on the bed for me.
Mel seemed pretty surprised when she told me that I was pretty much fully dilated, with only a small lip remaining! I had progressed by 6cm in just under an hour! Phwoar! No wonder it was hurting so much. Mel asked if she could continue the examination until my next contraction, so she could see what happened with my cervix during it. She also discovered that my waters had in fact not broken, but were bulging, and were stopping the head from fully engaging. If my cervix fully opened up in the next contraction, she said, she would break my waters.
So she’s standing there, with her fingers checking out my cervix, and finishes this spiel by saying, “So, let me know when you can feel your next orgasm starting...” The four of us completely cracked up laughing, and Mel went bright red and apologised and corrected herself... “Contraction!! Contraction!!!” It was a great tension breaker, who’d have thought you could laugh like that in labour. I replied that I wasn’t planning on having an orgasm for a very loooooong time. My next contraction was there before we knew it, and yes, she said I was ready to push and she would break my waters. I TOLD YOU I COULD FEEL PRESSURE!
So, my waters were broken and it was time to push. As I felt the next contraction starting, I closed my eyes and began to bear down. Almost immediately I heard Alexie say, “Ooh! I can see the top of his head” and I felt the baby start to crown. What felt like a split second later, POP! His head was out! It literally felt like it popped, and I opened my eyes in surprise. Alexie, Pete & Mel were all looking at me with faces as shocked as mine felt, and Mel was still pulling her gloves on! There was probably less than 30 seconds before my next contraction, and with that, the rest of our baby’s body was born. It was 9.11am, about an hour and half since we had arrived at hospital. It was unreal. Mel quickly put him on my chest, and he SCREAMED! I think the way he arrived had been as much of a shock to him as it had to me! I couldn’t believe that just like that, he was here. A screaming, slimy, absolutely divinely perfect and beautiful baby son, who looked almost exactly like his big brother. And we were in love.
Peter (as has become our tradition) announced his name: Quinten Jeremiah Erick, and cut the cord and he and Alexie took a thousand photos of Quinten’s first moments. I had a jab in the leg which helped me to deliver the placenta before too long... (oh my goodness I’d forgotten how much relief you feel after the placenta comes away) and we lay there in our newborn bubble while the hospital staff cleaned up around me and did all the things they needed to do. After an examination from the midwife and then an obstetrician it was decided that the tear I had would be capable of healing itself and would not need stitches (PRAISE THE LORD!). Quinten had his first feed – he latched perfectly first go and had a fairly epic feed really, I was most impressed.
My parents arrived at the hospital around this time and we all gooed and gaahed and fell in love. After Quinten had fed, Mel took him over to the baby table to have his jabs, get weighed and measured and dressed. When Quinten was first placed on my chest, I was surprised by how small he was. While I was pregnant, I had thought he was going to be significantly bigger than his brother and sister, but he was so tiny and I thought for sure he’d be another five-pound-somethinger. So I was impressed to hear that he weighed 6lbs 8oz (2.945kg) – almost an entire pound heavier than his big brother had been! He was 48cm long, exactly the same as his big sister.
I told Mel that I wanted to go home that afternoon if it was at all possible and she told me she’d do her best to make it happen. Mama, Papa and Alexie went off to the cafeteria to get themselves some food, while I got to the business of preparing myself to get up off the bed and into the shower. Mel helped me to walk into the bathroom, then left me attempting the toilet while she went to help with the clean up. She was quite surprised when she came back about ten minutes later to find me already showered, dressed and applying makeup. She had a quick chat to me about my labour and told me “it was awesome! That was a really awesome experience,” and that really made my day.
Quinten’s birth experience was amazing. It was incredibly painful and fast-moving and intense, that is for sure – but seriously, giving birth to a little human being is so mind-blowing! Being pregnant one day – uncomfortably so – talking with friends and family about how much we hoped it was going to happen SOON, and then the next day ringing them with the news that our family had a new member... how surreal is that! Plus there’s that whole unleashing of hormones and emotions that leave you feeling all “I-am-woman-hear-me-roar” personified. And on top of all that, we have a new son in our arms.. an absolutely gorgeous and delightful boy who I am enjoying with every part of my being.
I know this has been a long post, filled with too many details, and if you got to the end... well done! I love recording my birth stories, and go back often to read Mayana’s and Reuben’s, reliving the moments and emotions, and it’s important to me to get it all out with everything that I remember. I will write a second post in the next few days about Mayana and Reuben meeting their brother, and our first week at home, but for now I will leave you to enjoy a few pictures of our beautiful baby boy in his first hours Earthside.