I was woken around 7am with strong tightenings at 40 weeks, 2 days. Waking with aches and pains was nothing new at this stage, so I casually got up, let the dogs out, changed their water bowl and refilled the biscuit bowl. They seemed to know what was happening and were overly excited but still cautious not to jump up on my massive belly or get under my feet.
I slowly paced the backyard with them for a little while, rubbing my belly and concentrating on breathing deeply through each contraction. I had researched a lot about embracing labour, trusting my body as well as the baby, breathing through contractions and staying calm, positive and above all relaxed – even still as calm as I was, I was also super excited!
Instead of dreading labour and the birth process as I had done twice previously – I had been dreaming of the perfect birth I wanted and was confident it was going to happen! I had been eagerly awaiting this day for a while now. I kept talking to Bubby (as we called her as we didn’t know she was a ‘her’) throughout as well, “Okay little one – this is it. Time to enter the world. We can do this together.”
I noticed these pains were pretty regular, less than 5 minutes apart and they were certainly increasing, but still I felt no urgency – with our first child’s labour actively lasting about 12 hours and our second 8, I figured I had plenty of time.
I decided to have a shower before I woke my hubby and the kids. I had a few tightenings while in there but the hot water was easing the pain well and I even managed to wash my hair. Hubby woke to me rocking on the bed on all fours. “You okay, Babe?” as he sleepily rubbed my back. “I think this is it” I smiled at him – I’ve only ever seen him wake so fast one other time – when I’ve woken him in labour before. It was about 9am by this stage. Still, I insisted there was no rush. We gently woke the kids and their friend who had stayed over. Hubby took their friend home while I made some phone calls.
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First to the hospital – “Hi – I’m pretty sure number 3 is on its way.” I was surprising myself by just how calm I was. They asked me the particulars of how things were going – I’d said contractions were bearable, about 5 minutes apart – even though they were more like 3 minutes apart now. I was determined to stay home as long as possible. I breathed through another one while on the phone. The midwife advised me to come in when I was ready and to take a couple of panadol (really?!? yes – they really suggested this! Needless to say, no – i didn’t take any) I called our mums as the plan was to have my mum in law and her partner as well as my step mum with us at the birth as well as the kids. I had written out a text message earlier in the morning while sitting on the loo, but hadn’t pressed send… they needed about an hour to all get up here – still i thought there’d be plenty of time.
Hubby returned from taking the kids’ friend home around the corner, to find me having another contraction, doubled over the trampoline out the back with our eldest rubbing my back. I was starting to get rather vocal, sort of humming loudly through each pain. Hubby put his foot down and said “we’re going to the hospital RIGHT NOW,” so we all piled in the car and off we set on the 7 minute journey.
I had 3 more contractions on the way, another walking from the car, another at the reception desk and another walking to the room. With each one we’d stop, I’d hang on to Hubby and he’d hold me and rub my back or my ears (more about this later) while I concentrated on my breathing while swaying/rocking and humming. Hubby was doing all the talking for me although I did manage to get out “water birth” but the midwife on duty wasn’t ‘water birth certified’ so that was out. No biggie – I had prepared myself for that. The only thing you can be sure of in labour is that things don’t always go the way you want them to so being prepared to be flexible is a must.
The time was now 9:50 and the midwife wanted to ‘check my progress’. After what seemed like forever in between more contractions, I made it up on the bed and onto my back for her to ‘take a look’. “8 cm” she said. 8cm already?!? I was elated – ecstatic even! A wave of what I can only describe as euphoria came over me. Renewed confidence. It was all happening as I had envisioned and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face even as the next contraction came.
That was enough on my back for me – I was determined to not be anywhere near the bed after my first 2 births, but now, as it so often goes in labour, I had other plans… I wanted the bed head raised right up so I could lean over it while kneeling on the bed – this is what felt right. I had Hubby with me at the head blowing on my face and rubbing my ears as each wave of pain came and went. I had read up a lot on the physiological side of birth and how using the techniques that “turn you on” can trick your mind away from the ‘pain’. I cannot articulate enough how well this worked! With the beginning of every contraction Hubby would gently stroke my ears while rubbing my back or blowing air in my face – whatever I’d allow him to do at the time – it was an amazing feeling! Of course it was still hurting but my brain was busy concentrating on feeling good – it was weird – good weird. There were lots of gentle kisses and cuddles in between contractions – this was important. It rejuvenated me in a way I cannot explain. What can I say – love is mighty powerful, and oh so much encouragement. Hubby kept telling me how great i was doing and how proud of me he was – In the brief moments between each contraction I’d correct him and let him know that WE were doing this together. I could not have done it without him. Or our older 2 kids there either. Our daughter was 11 and knew what to expect having seen her brother born 7 years earlier. She was his pillar of strength, but even though we had all studied and watched lots of births videos in the months leading up, her brother didn’t like seeing his mummy in pain (oh yes – I was still “humming” maybe more groaning now – the ring of fire was coming!) My waters broke about then and I remember hearing our son worriedly say “what’s all that?” and his sister gently reminding him what it was and that everything was going to be okay.
We had stated on our birth plan that we wanted pretty much to be left alone to do this ourselves, and thankfully we had a great midwife who did just that (this was another first for us – making a birth plan – I highly recommend this to anyone wanting to be in control of their labour). We had written that we very much appreciated, though, the guidance and encouragement to keep us on track with our goal of a natural delivery. I’d also stated I intended on trying to allow bubby to make her own way out with the help of controlled breathing rather than pushing.
The dreaded “ring of fire” had started – for those who don’t know what I’m talking about, this is when bubby’s head is crowning – it literally feels like your bits are on fire down there and an overwhelming urge to PUSH! The midwife gently reminded me not to push so hard and then it happened… no bubby hadn’t arrived yet – I pooped! This was my biggest fear… 50% of women actually do poo while giving birth but I hadn’t done with our first two and I certainly didn’t want to now but it just comes out. You have no control over it. With our son complaining about the smell and me apologising over and over again, without any fuss the wonderful midwife reassured me not to worry while cleaning the mess in no time at all, then stepped back again to just observe – I appreciated this more than I can describe.
I reached down and could feel a bulge of wet hair and even through the ‘pain’ that ecstatic feeling was still there. With the next two contractions she slid out into my hands as I carefully turned around scooping her up to my bare chest all in one motion, she was here at 10:08am – just 20 minutes after arriving at the hospital!
Our oldest two who were at the end of the bed with full view of it all, came up onto the bed with me as did Hubby and we all just enjoyed the moment for a few minutes with happy tears saying over and over again “we did it” and “welcome little one ” before realising we didn’t even know she was a she yet. More happy tears and elation all round to discover we had another little princess – just what both kids had wanted. The midwife grabbed the camera we had ready but hadn’t managed to take any photos yet and captured the precious moment. Only then – after the cord had stop pulsing and Harmony had received all her blood from the organ that had been her life-force for the past 9 months, was it clamped and cut by my Hubby and our oldest two together. Moments later she was having her first feed like a pro.
Just 10 minutes later – the mums walked in the door having only just missed it. It just wasn’t meant to be. Everything had gone just the way it was meant to and we finally had the birth we’d always wanted.
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