And in the blink of an eye she was 6 months old… Just yesterday she was a tiny little squishy ball and now she is a robust little lady with the happiest smile. This post is totally not fashion related so please feel free to keep scrolling, especially if you don’t like discussing vaginas. Since more and more of my followers happen to be of the breeding variety I thought I might share my birth story… Look away now if you are squeamish!
A quick recap on the birth baby #1 – Isaac
Isaac was born at 37 weeks gestation, I hadn’t even started my maternity leave (I was convinced that all 1st borns arrive late!). One minute I was watching Big Brother (all that excitement) then my water unexpectedly broke. Contractions never came, I spent the following day shopping, going to brunch, cleaning the house and still nothing so I was chemically induced 2 days later. Inductions are quite un-natural as it doesn’t let your body ease into labour, it just goes from zero to 100 very quickly and is VERY painful. It started with me asking for Panadol, then gas, then morphine then an epidural, all before I was even half way. Isaac was born about 9 hours later… on my 31st birthday and my “last day of work”. I missed my farewell/birthday parties though everyone else still attended and were kind enough to send me photos of the festivities.
Baby #2 – Ava
Ava was born in February, at exactly 41weeks gestation. I didn’t want to make the same mistake and started maternity leave a week before Christmas, leaving me a with two months to twiddle my thumbs, nest and generally be an impatient, cranky bitch.
Due to the intervention with Isaac’s birth I felt quite un-prepared on how to actually go through labour at home. I borrowed a range of birthing aides from a friend who had recently had a bub of her own… exercise ball, calming candles, aromatherapy oils, calm birthing literature, things to squeeze, where to massage, natural pain relief methods… I used none of this!
When they say subsequent babies come quickly that is not a lie! One minute I’m cooking dinner, next minute dinner is in the bin and we are racing to the hospital…
The previous day I went to see my obstetrician who performed a sweep and stretch, a procedure which involves the OB sticking fingers up your vagina all the way into your cervix, stretching it open then sweeping the fingers around to separate the amniotic sac from the cervix… it’s about as pleasant as it sounds. The purpose is in the hope that it will trigger labour. Does is work? HELL YES. From the moment I left the hospital I had mild “period pain” type aches which continued through to the next day. To keep things progressing I made sure to keep moving, wandering aimlessly around Kmart trying to go into labour. With not much progress I just kept about my daily routine, picked Isaac up from childcare and made dinner.
7pm: By the time dinner was almost cooked and Isaac was put to bed I noticed that the pain was a little stronger leaving me breathless with each contraction. I could no longer happily go about my business but had to stand still and focus on breathing with each wave of pain.
7:30pm: Half an hour later I was doubled over and moaning like a walrus, sweating profusely and clinging onto the nearest piece of furniture for dear life with each contraction. While the contractions were still quite far apart (around 7mins) they were about a 8.5 on the pain scale. I called the hospital who were very blasé about it, suggesting I stay at home a bit longer. Fuck that. Hubby called my mum over to look after Isaac.
8:15pm: Mum arrives and we literally race out the door with barely a hello and Hubby puts his Mario Kart skills to work speeding to the hospital. By this point my vision was clouded with pain. If you have ever fainted (or passed out blind drunk) it’s a similar feeling. You vision starts shrinking into a little tunnel and you lose awareness of what is happening around you. I’m mildly aware that I’m clenching the door handle of the car to the point my muscles are shaking. I don’t know how fast Hubby was driving or if he went through any traffic lights. I have my eyes squeezed shut and I’m screaming… just screaming. In the earlier stages of labour you get time in between contractions that are completely pain free, towards the later stages of labour the contractions rate a 10 on the pain scale and in between they are still a 7.5 so there is virtually no break. My foggy brain is pissed off with itself for choosing to birth at The Canberra Hospital, located 30kms from our house which felt like an interstate road trip at the time.
8:45pm: We arrive at the hospital and there are no parks near the entrance. Hubby puts me on a bench seat next to the door and GOES TO PARK THE CAR because he doesn’t want to get a fine! I’m not thinking very clearly at this point but I strongly wanted to throttle him but I was immobile and he ran off before I could articulate my fury. So here I am, heavily pregnant sitting outside the hospital entrance alone and howling at the moon like a werewolf and all these people walk past without batting an eyelid, it must happen a lot!
In what seemed like an eternity (I think it was 2 mins) hubby was back and we got upstairs to the birthing ward. This is where my personal experience at The Canberra Hospital took a nose dive. I know lots of people have had great experiences there but this is my story and this is what happened.
We rang the door bell to be let it… no one answered. We rang it again… then again. Meanwhile I’m still screaming and it is echoing down the halls and being amplified 10 fold. Luckily at that point some visitors are leaving the ward so we ghost them in and locate a midwife. All I want is to be rushed to a room and be given a beautiful cocktail of drugs immediately but she just says “It’s ok love, breath in through your nose and out through our mouth. The check-in counter is at the end of the hall.” I’m so enraged by that stage but I can’t express any of my thoughts (thankfully, it would have bee R rated), I am just meekly dragged along by my poor husband to the check-in counter. All the midwives were so relaxed, no one really came to checked on me or asked many questions. My more brain was so clouded by this stage. I fainted once at a Boyz II Men concert and this felt similar. I didn’t really know what was happening, what I had to do, I could no longer speak… Something happened at the check-in counter I’m not sure what… maybe some paper work… when can I get a bed to rest on? Where are my drugs? Where is my bathtub full of warm water to float in? How far away was the baby? Is she safe and ok?
Then the unthinkable happened, through the fog I heard the midwife say “I’m sorry, there are no available beds” WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK!?! Apparently there was a single vacant room that had yet to be cleaned from the previous patient and they were waiting on the cleaners. We were ushered into the public kitchen area. I remember seeing a lovely brand new family. A proud new dad, beaming grandparents showering this tiny newborn with adoration. Then there was me yelling FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK at the top of my lungs. That poor family. I expected them to move away back to their hospital room but they stayed.
9pm: By this stage I felt so helpless and lost and panic had started to set in. I clung to my husband just sobbing, screaming and swearing and my whole body convulsed and shook. Then BOOM, my water broke all over the kitchen floor in front of strangers. It was humiliating and degrading. The late stages of labour are a private and intimate time for a woman and to have go through it in public was my worst nightmare.
My husband ran off a this point and I desperately hoped he would come back with a medical professional of some kind but alas he only returned with towels for me to stand on as I continued to leak amniotic fluid onto the kitchen floor, this was beyond a joke!! I think I was delirious at this stage, I’m not sure if I was crying or giggling at my plight. Eventually a midwife came and ushered me out of the kitchen and away from the innocent eyes of the new family and into the hallway where she left me there to continue to labour… I clung to the hallway handrail for dear life and tried to prevent this baby from falling out onto the floor.
Finally a midwife walked past and noticed my awkward posture and came over and asked, “Honey are you pushing?” I didn’t realise I was but what I was actually trying to do was prevent my body from pushing so the baby didn’t come out. “YES” I screamed and it was game on! Midwives popped up out of no where and started rushing around and at one point I was asked “Honey would you like to have the baby in the hallway or in a room?” That is the last thing any woman in labour wants to hear. With the last of my strength I managed to hiss “I WANT a room!!” My husband tells me the next few minutes the midwives were kicked to turbo and running in and out of the room trying to wipe it down with towels and change the sheets at the very least.
9:10pm: They helped me to the room and I literally ripped off my pants before the door had even closed behind me. I threw myself onto the bed and 5 mins later I was cradling a squishy, puffy little girl in my arms, sobbing with relief and joy.
You see visions of “Hollywood Labour” where a woman grits her teeth, has a sweaty brow and squeezes her husbands hand. Real labour is a lot less cinematic. I birthed on all fours, bellowing like a byson, 2 midwives had the unpleasant view of my “action end” and hubby had the right idea and chose not to watch his “favourite pub burn down”. I only had to push 2 or 3 times to get Ava out. They call this stage the “ring of fire” for a good reason. When you are trying to squeeze a watermelon through a rubber band IT.FRICKEN.BURNS. Have you ever tried to stick a whole apple in your mouth as a kid and the corners of your mouth split? With Isaac this stage lasted for over an hour with his giant head half hanging out, thank god for drugs. Ava was out within minutes but I remember screaming at one point “I can’t do this!!!!” The physical impossibility became too real when my veejayjay became the ring of fire around baby’s head and panic set in quickly with me not being able to keep going and not being able to back out. Thank god for the reassuring words of the midwives and my husband in that moment I was ready to give up.
The funny thing about having a baby is you can’t see what is going on and the pain is so intense you can’t really decipher what is happening down there. You don’t know if the head is out or the shoulders or if the baby is just crowning. One minute I was pushing and the next I hear a crying and the midwife has passed a bright red baby between my legs under me, I didn’t feel her come out and I don’t remember the pain ending but it was instantaneous. I was just sobbing with so much feeling – love, pain, relief, joy. It’s indescribable. I’m clutching this tiny slimy little thing for dear life and am tangled up in the umbilical cord and million towels and blankets.
Over the next few hours I birthed the placenta, gave Ava her first feed, hubby cut her umbilical cord, I had a few stitches put in to repair some minor tearing, had a shower. Oh yeah, and 2 hours later the cleaners showed up to “clean the room”. We were out of hospital by lunch time the following day and busily trying to adjust to life with a toddler and newborn!
Ava has been the happiest little baby. She feeds really well and sleeps well at night. She only ever fusses when hungry or tired. Motherhood is a life changing journey, it changes almost everything about you and I’ll be the first to admit it is not always the “most wonderful, rewarding” thing that has ever happened which is how most mothers describe however it sets you off on a completely different path in life which is full of delight in the small and wondrous little things that only children can bring.