I woke up. Hot as usual, because of the “baby blanket” inside my tummy. I’d been hot all winter, sleeping with only a flannelette sheet, and perhaps a light summer blanket. Mr Banya was sleeping on the other side of the bed, hidden under several winter blankets and a doona (duvet), and JJ slept between us, head between our two pillows, not needing the doona because of the heat radiating from me.
I was tossing and turning, more than usual. I decided to get up, rather than to risk waking Mr Banya and JJ. It’s important that they get a good night’s sleep, even if I can’t.
I was exactly 40 weeks pregnant. Due date day. As I’d assumed the baby would be early like JJ was, it had been a not-so-patient wait to get to this point. For the last 3 weeks, I’d been saying, “Today’s the day, I can feel it”, every. single. day.
After about an hour or so, I was thinking about heading back to bed, to see if I could sleep. When I stood up, my waters broke. Not the big gush that you see in the movies, but enough that I needed to get to the toilet really fast to try to save the carpet. So I waddled upstairs, popped on a maternity pad, and woke Mr Banya up.
As Bee’s head had not yet engaged, the obstetrician had advised to treat my waters breaking as an emergency. So, we called Mr Banya’s mum to ask if she would rush over, packed the last remaining items in my hospital bag, and grabbed a toasted peanut butter sandwich to go. I drove myself to the hospital, knowing that Mr Banya would follow shortly.
At the hospital, a lovely midwife found a bed for me, checked my blood pressure and temperature, checked the position of the baby and left me to sleep.
Mr Banya arrived 15 minute or so later. No contractions yet. I felt fine, so we agreed that Mr Banya should go home and be there when JJ wakes up. She’s very attached to both of us, and to me in particular, especially at night. We’d been preparing JJ for the last few months for the birth, but it was still very important to us that this transition be as gentle as possible.
The obstetricians popped by. They took blood to test my platelets, iron levels and blood type grouping and inserted a cannula in my wrist. My waters were still breaking and the babies head was still very high, putting me at risk of umbilical cord prolapse. I was given the following 3 options:
- to be induced that morning. The obstetrician favoured this choice, but then again I’ve found that obstetricians favour intervention. It is easier for their scheduling to have a day-time induced labour than a night-time emergency. However, induced labour has it’s own risks (eg stress to the baby) and can lead to what is known as a “cascade of intervention” – where inducement leads to increased chances of unnecessary caesarean, forceps delivery, vacuum births etc.
- to stay in the hospital for monitoring and wait until labour commences naturally.In this case, I would be re-evaluated every morning to see whether I can continue waiting, up to a maximum of 3 days, at which point the risk of possible infection is too high to continue waiting. In the meantime, the baby would be monitored every 4 hours, and I would need to keep tabs on the babies movements in between for signs of distress.
- or to go home and wait until labour commences naturally. This was strongly advised against, as if I did develop umbilical cord prolapse, I may not be able to get to the hospital in time.
Mr Banya, Grandma and JJ came into hospital to visit. Mr Banya and I quickly discussed the options, and decided for option 2; I would stay in the hospital and wait. It wasn’t a hard decision – we’ve always been in favour of as natural a labour as possible, as this is healthiest for the baby. One of the reasons why we chose to go to a public hospital vs a private hospital is because the public system in Australia has significantly lower intervention rates.
So, I diapered myself up, and headed down to the cafeteria for breakfast with my family. It was really beneficial for JJ to be able to spend this time with me at the hospital, so she could be reassured that everything was OK.
Then Mr Banya and JJ headed off to play, and Grandma headed back home, with everyone on standby in case true labour began.
10.00am until 7.30pm
I pottered around the hospital, browsed the Internet in the cafeteria, phoned some family members, gave myself a tour of the maternity ward, and so on, popping back every 3-4 hours or so for monitoring of the baby. I don’t get time to myself very often these days, so it was quite lovely really!
While Mr Banya and JJ came to visit me to say goodnight I felt my first pre-labour contraction. It was so mild, I wasn’t even sure if it was a contraction or not, but nevertheless we scooted back up to the maternity ward.
I was strapped up to a Fetal Heart Monitoring machine – basically a machine that measures both the babies heart rate and my contractions – for about an hour. The contractions were short and sporadic, and were so mild that I could only feel about half of them. This was classic pre-labour (or false-labour), which could go on for hours (or even days) before true labour commences.
Mr Banya headed outside with JJ, planning on leaving her with Grandma and returning straight to the ward. But JJ wasn’t coping very well with that idea. So we agreed that Mr Banya should take her home and put her to bed. He would return to the hospital once she was asleep. I was to call if things progressed. As we only live a few street away from the hospital, Mr Banya could come within a matter of minutes.
Once JJ was sound asleep, Mr Banya came back to the hospital as planned. He had time to have a cup of tea and have a cup of tea and talk about the day before my contractions increased in intensity, length and frequency. Pain memories from JJ’s birth came flooding back. Mr Banya was massaging my shoulders and lower back. I started moaning “I don’t want to do this again. I don’t think I can do this again.” After 3 or 4 strong, long contractions in quick succession, it was obvious that I was now in true labour and it was progressing bloody fast.
It was time for me to move from the maternity ward to the delivery suites, one floor up. I tried to walk, but couldn’t manage more than a shuffled step before bending over, moaning, groaning, yelling. All the poor ladies with their newborns in the maternity ward must have copped an earful! So they pushed me up in a wheelchair. I remember being so hot, and the breeze from being pushed was so refreshing that I made them wheel me around in a circle for a few seconds while they waited for the elevator to arrive. Despite having previously agreed with Mr Banya that we would try for gas pain relief only this time, I started saying “Honey, I think I’m going to need pethidine…” and “Maybe we should just have an epidural. I think we should have an epidural. Yes, lets just go with an epidural.” The midwives responded with “Let’s try the gas first. We have to see how dilated you are.” Which of course is totally reasonable, but hard to accept at the time!
Once in the delivery suite, they checked my dilation, and I was already 8cm (and no pain relief thus far). Bloody hell, no wonder I was moaning! They gave me the gas tube to suck on, which takes a few deep breathes before it works. It is SO HARD to suck when you are in agony, and every part of your body says to yell it out instead of breathing in. Mr Banya was great. He kept me focused on the rattling sound that the gas machine makes when you breathe in. Especially with the gas making you so sick and dizzy, it was great to have something to concentrate on besides the pain.
I could hear the instructions from the midwives / Doctors (I was beyond telling who was who at this point). They had me get up on the bed and on all fours. (OMG – so painful to move between positions. A few times I really needed to suck on the gas, but just couldn’t stop from yelling out the pain either. Painful dilemma. OUCH!). People were yelling directions all over the place. The midwife was apologising that I wasn’t going to have time for my epidural. Mr Banya kept me focused on the sound of the gas. Suck in, breathe out. Suck in, breathe out. I had almost reached full dilation, and had the urge to push, but I could hear the midwives / Doctors saying to SLOW DOWN. So I did. Until at last they told me I could push, and I pushed with all my might.
I didn’t realise that my eyes were closed until her head came out. The adrenalin that surged through my body opened my eyes, and an overwhelming flood of stimulus came rushing to my brain. Such a surreal feeling.
Her shoulders and one hand came out next – she was holding her arm up, as though to say hi. (Lovely gesture, but next time please keep your hands down as it would be less painful that way.)
Mr Banya cut the cord, and I was given an oxytocin injection to kick off the third stage, the delivery of the placenta. Because of my history of retained placenta and haemorrhaging, there was a flurry of Doctors attending. My placenta was hesitant in coming out, so whilst I was still dilated they gave me the gas again and removed it manually. Luckily it didn’t have any extra lobes and came out in one piece. As a precaution they attached a Syntocinon (synthetic oxytocin) drip to help my uterus contract, as well as the usual saline drip for rehydration.
We left our camera at home, but Mr Banya did get a few shots with my phone’s camera. (Apologies they are a little blurry.)
I was exhausted, thirsty and famished. I ate a trail bar (muesli bar / granola bar), an apple and drank three cups of water. Afterwards I started to shiver violently, which would be from shock – apparently this is common after such a quick labour. The lovely midwife fetched a pre-heated blanket for me to snuggle into.
Bee breastfed for almost an hour. So strong! Apparently she would have been dosed up on the adrenalin that I released during the birth.
Mr Banya stayed until they weighed and measured Bee, which wasn’t until about 2.00am. She was 50cm (19.7 inches), 3446g (7.6 pounds), with a head circumference of 35cm (13.8 inches). All smack bang on normal. And considering that she was also born on her due date, this little girl is starting life with top marks!
The midwife helped me into the shower. I was too exhausted to bother with my toiletries bag, but just let the hot water cleanse me, both physically and emotionally. I dressed in a hospital gown (as I was attached to two drips, this was easier than getting into my own pyjamas). By the time I headed back to the bed in the delivery suite, some nice person had put on fresh clean sheets. I crawled back into the bed, and waited for the midwife to finish all the paperwork.
Finally, 5 hours or so after Bee was born, I was taken down to my room in the maternity ward and went to sleep. Bee slept in a bassinet beside me. After an hour I woke needing to go to the toilet. Another hour later I woke up to the sound of the drip beeping and called the midwife to remove it. Another hour and a half later, I woke naturally, feeling surprisingly refreshed, considering I’d just given birth and had only 3.5 hours of disturbed sleep. Hormones are wonderful.
Mr Banya and JJ came to meet the new baby. She and Bee exchanged presents, and we gave JJ a new T-Shirt that says “Big Sister” to wear. JJ was so excited – she’d been waiting for this baby to come for a long time. Once the introductions had been made and sufficient cuddles had been had, Mr Banya and JJ headed off to play, with promises to return at lunchtime.
I’d told the midwives that I wanted to be discharged as soon as possible, so my room was a hive of activity. Hearing check. Breastfeeding check. Paediatrician check. Newborn photos. Government forms. Physiotherapy class. First bath.
I’d eaten, showered, and dressed. I was feeling good. Sooo much better than I did after having JJ.
Mr Banya and JJ came back after playgroup. JJ was exhausted and playing up. She doesn’t sleep well when I am not there, and two nights of disturbed sleep were taking their toll. Hospital wards are difficult places for a 2 year old – there are so many rules and things you cannot touch. I knew that if I could be home for this afternoon’s nap, it would be easier on everyone.
I was ready to be discharged, the only thing we were waiting on was for Bee to do her first wee. I spoke to the midwives and they were happy to discharge me, as long as I looked out for a wet nappy when I got home. A midwife would be coming out to my house daily for the next 3 days to check that everything was OK.
And, so it was at around 1.00pm, only 14 hours after giving birth, that I found myself power-walking out of the hospital after a running JJ, with Mr Banya and Bee close behind.
Almost a week later
Last week I was still pregnant. Now I’m sitting here at 1.42am, with Bee swaddled up and nursing in my arms. Bless.
You can also find JJ’s version of Bee’s birth story here.
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