Atlas’s Birth – 27 June 2012
At 1am on my due date, (Thursday 21 June) I woke up feeling sick. I went to the bathroom & promptly threw up all of my dinner from the previous night. I was a little hopeful that it meant labour was going to start soon, but less than an hour later I was sick again, and as it got worse through the night I realised I’d picked up the bug that Brendan had the day before, except seemingly worse – I was sick every hour until 9am.
One of my team midwives (Sarah) was due to visit that morning, so I called to let her know I had a gastro-y bug, and that I was a bit worried about what it might be doing to the baby. She came over and checked him out – his heart rate was up a little, but she put it down to me being dehydrated, and when she checked again later it was only a little higher than usual. Other than that, he was fine. Sarah told me to get lots of rest & drink plenty in case I went into labour soon, but she didn’t think I would that day, as ‘your body is too clever to do it when you’ve been so sick’. Brendan stayed home to look after Evelyn, and we missed out on playgroup that day – which was supposed to be my ‘baby shower’!
The next Tuesday (26 June) was Evelyn’s second birthday, so I spent the day preparing for the afternoon tea we had planned. I had noticed that my hands & feet were swelling up, but didn’t want to call Denise, my midwife until I’d had a chance to rest & see if it went away. Brendan came home early to celebrate & open Evelyn’s presents, and then all our family arrived at 3pm. It was busier than I thought, and Denise ended up calling me to check in, and when I mentioned the swelling, she said she’d stop in on her way home to check me out, at around 5pm.
Denise came over just before everyone left and my blood pressure was fine. She offered to do an internal, and I said ” yes, please!” a little too eagerly – I was keen to see if the 2 previous weeks of prelabour had done anything at all. It had, a little. I was 1-2 cm ‘dilated’, but Denise asked if I wanted her to see if she could stretch it out any more. I said yes, and she stretched to 3-4cm with no discomfort – I was pleased with that.
We made an appointment for a 41 week visit, but Denise said she was hoping I would call her that night to have a baby – I said it would be great, but wouldn’t hold my breath.
As she left, I had started feeling a bit anxious, like I knew I needed my house back. I hoped our guests would leave soon. We said goodbye to all our family & I decided I needed a rest, so sat down on the couch with my feet up. By 5:30, I had started timing some minor pains that were coming 7 minutes apart – I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but at around 6:15pm I told Brendan about them getting closer – 6 – 6.5 minutes apart. He’d had just finished making dinner, and wanted me to eat something just in case, so I had a small bowl of stir-fry.
After dinner I pottered around the house finishing up ‘work’ while Brendan showered in case he didn’t get the chance later. At 7:25 we unpacked & repacked hospital bag to make sure we had everything. The next few contractions over about 20 minutes were very mild & I worried it was all going to stop. Then I had 2 strong pains 5 minutes apart, they got stronger from then and I started using a heat pack to help. I was leaning on the kitchen bench using it to put pressure on my lower belly with the heat pack underneath.
At 8:10 I called my Doula, Lindsay & asked her to come over – I was still a little worried it was a false alarm, but she assured me it was okay if it was.
When I got off the phone, Evelyn still wanted her night feed – sitting through the contractions while I fed her was agony, and it made me pretty sure this was it. Brendan called my mum to tell her to stand by to come and watch Evelyn – he told her we’d probably call in an hour or two.
I started timing contractions again as they seemed much closer than before and at 8:35 they are 3.5 minutes apart. I was leaning over the kitchen bench again, but was smiling through my contractions as I was so pleased that my body had done this itself (DD was induced, and I still feel a lot of anxiety about that).
Brendan called Denise at 8:40, who said she’d been expecting our call. She asked to speak to me, and after a quick chat, she said to come in whenever I was ready. I said we’d head in when Lindsay arrived.
I called my Mum & she said she’d be over right away. She arrived quickly & entertained Evelyn, who Brendan had already gotten ready for bed – but we were both too busy to actually put her to sleep. We think she was picking up on the energy though, and was too awake for bed.
At 9:25 contractions were between 2 & 3 minutes apart, called to see where Lindsay was, she was just around the corner & arrived a few minutes later. We got in the car at 9:35 after saying goodbye to DD & mum. I was in the back seat and was meant to lean forward & grab the front seat when a pain came, but I was too comfy laying back after being on my feet for so long.
Arrived birth centre at 9:50, and when I saw Denise she greeted me with a big smile. I told her I was so glad she’d come over this afternoon!
Denise & her student midwife Tony had set up the room with lovely dim lights & a fit ball like I’d mentioned in one of our appointments.
At first, I was kneeling on floor leaning my belly on fit ball through contractions with the heat pack, like at home while Brendan & Lindsay applied pressure to my lower back. I started taking my clothes off bit by bit as I was getting hot. My knees started to hurt so I tried changing positions – standing with my arms around Brendan’s neck – I remember saying I just wanted to go to sleep.
My legs got tired again, so I moved to sitting on the fitball with Lindsay behind applying pressure, and Brendan supporting me from the front with a heat pack. I remember moaning through the contractions, and after one I commented that I must sound like I was singing the sound score from ‘Xena’ – it sounded very warrior like. Denise said it sounded lovely.
I’d lost all sense of time by now, as someone had cleverly taken down the clock I had been watching earlier. I moved to standing again & started feeling ‘pushy’, and I was thinking that my waters should break any minute now. Denise suggested I take off my underwear, so I did, and had been bleeding a little, but no waters yet. Lindsay was pressing on my hips during contractions to help open my pelvis for the baby to come down.
My legs started to hurt, so I moved to kneeling over a fitball again.
The midwives started making preparations behind me to deliver a baby, and my body started pushing without my ‘help’.
I had to moan through contractions, and was trying to focus on bringing the baby down without pushing too hard. Between contractions was great, I was still briefly chatting with everyone, asking for water or a cloth. I did complain a little, and started to wonder if there would be room for the baby to get out. At one point, Tony leaned in close to Brendan & asked if he would like to catch the baby. Brendan looked at me, said “yeah”, and I smiled at him and said “I think that would be nice, if you want to do it”.
I asked at one point “how close is he?” and one midwife said I could check myself – I couldn’t feel his head yet, but could feel how much pressure there was from the inside. My knees started to hurt, so I stood up again for a while, and told my doula “I know it’s stupid, but I want to sit down – but I can’t, because the baby can’t get out!” and she suggested we try a birth stool (which I’d wanted to use all through my pregnancy, but being in labour made me forget about it!). Lindsay asked if they had one, and Denise went & got it. It was set up in front of a low table with a sloped cushion on it, so I could rest backwards – it was bliss!
I was actively pushing a bit more now, as I was so much more comfortable, but still not too hard, as I wasn’t feeling the urge – my body was doing it all for me.
I felt like he was getting closer, and tried to feel him again, and could only feel something soft & squishy. I panicked for a moment, then remembered my waters hadn’t broken yet – I said to Denise & Tony “I can feel my waters” and they both smiled.
I was glad he was so close, as I was getting tired, so started pushing harder with the contractions. Soon I could feel his head just inside me, and the burning started a little. I asked someone to put some pressure on my perineum, as that’s where it was worst, and I was handed a wet cloth so I could put it right where I wanted it. Once the pain was gone, Denise asked if I’d like to see what was going on, and held up the mirror for me. I could see his head poking out, and tony told me to put my hands down & get ready to catch his head. Without even trying, I could feel it slowly slipping out as I held it back a little, hoping I wouldn’t tear. Brendan & Tony got ready to catch his body, and my waters broke all over both their hands! It seemed to shock the baby, as he gave an enormous kick inside me that hurt more than a contraction!
One more push and his body slipped out into Brendan’s hands, with Tony’s there for support, and they passed him straight up to my chest. He stayed quiet for a while, gurgling & squeaking, and cried once Tony rubbed him off a little. He settled quickly once he was warm, and Brendan and I just admired him. Brendan had said “it’s got hair” once his head was born, and he certainly did! A mop of black – totally opposite to Evelyn, who was nearly bald at birth.
I looked up and asked if it was after midnight – and Lindsay told me it was 22 minutes past 12, so our children don’t share a birthday!
We had opted not to clamp his cord until the placenta had come out, and I started to hope it came quickly, as my legs were very shaky & I wanted to sit somewhere more comfortable. It was only about 8 minutes before Denise said, “I think if you give a little push, the placenta is right there.”, so I did, and it landed with a splatter in the kidney dish underneath me – everyone laughed as little flecks of blood went shooting all over the mat on the floor – it was a bit gory looking!
We managed to shuffle over to the bed, and got settled on some pillows with Brendan next to us. I felt like royalty, people bringing me drinks and warm blankets.
Tony & Denise checked me out for tearing, and there was just a small graze which didn’t need stitches.
Atlas finally decided to attach for a feed, and stayed there for over an hour. Brendan called my mother to let her know the news. When he was done, Tony weighed & measured Atlas – 4.050kg, 53cm long and a 38cm head – almost exactly my ‘stats’ at birth!
While I went & had a quick shower, the baby had some skin-on-skin time with Brendan in bed – the midwives left us to it. When I was done, we dressed Atlas & snuggled up for another feed. Brendan called his parents & I called my dad to let them all know & we tried to get some sleep.
I didn’t get any sleep at all – we had a hungry baby on our hands. Brendan managed a few hours sleep though!
Mum bought Evelyn in to visit the next morning, and she wasn’t too interested in the ‘bubba’ at all, but did give him a kiss. She was more interested in playing on the (clean) birth stool that was sitting in the corner of the room! One day I’ll show her the photos of her playing on the birth stool her brother was born on!