I had my 40 week OB appointment this morning. Am so over being pregnant. My OB laughed at me (in a nice way) and told me that I'm doing well. I rolled my eyes at him. The appointment was perfunctory. Everything is still going well. Blood pressure good and low, heartbeat strong. I ask for an internal to check that things are actually happening, because even the Braxton Hicks, the copious CM, the slowed movements cannot persuade me that I'm going to give birth any time soon.
The cervix is soft and 1-2cm dilated. But it's multiparous soft, not fully effaced. "Can I have a stretch and sweep"? I hate the way it sounds pleading and whiny to my ears, but my OB assents. I clench my teeth as the membranes are swept, trying not to jump off the table. But I'm still pessimistic as we book my induction date for October 5. That would make me 41 weeks and 6 days. I am resigned that nothing will happen before then, 2 weeks and three days to go. My heart sinks a little further but Sophie kicks me hard in my ribs. It makes me laugh - my little girl is trying to remind me that she's still there. I'm just so impatient to hold her.
I walk despondently down to the mall, trying to stay upbeat but my head in that whiny place. 2 more weeks, MORE than 2 weeks! I walk into David Jones, determined to buy something for Sophie. But the clothes hold no appeal, and I can't even manufacture enthusiasm about the toys so I head to the top floor to walk around the Christmas display - it's beautiful and sparkly in the spartan surroundings. I look at the ornaments, and a sparkling fairy on a swing appeals to me, should I buy two little fairies for my little fairies? I pick them up, but then worry that maybe Sophie isn't "Sophie" and put them back.
I head to Myer hoping that something in there will catch my eye, but nothing inspires and the Christmas display isn't open yet. So I trudge back through the mall, deciding to go home and get some useful sleep.
I stop at Sussan on the way back to the train station - they have a huge sale advertised in the window and I want more pyjamas for the hospital - they're the only possible thing that I can think of to pack in my bag that I haven't already. So I try some things on, all soft and snuggly. I love the new smell of the cotton. I buy a few things and feel less despondent. In fact, for some reason a little voice is telling me that it's going to happen today. Sometime soon anyway.
I catch the train back to my car and decide that a few more old wives tricks can't hurt and decide on Indian for lunch. Something hot and spicy, a tasty vindaloo seems to fit the bill. At home it is hot in the middle of the day. The air smells dry and still and hot and spiced with the curry. I'm feeling big and tired. I talk to DH and friends on MSN and am depressing and whiny.
It's cooler now than it was then, as I sit and wait for DH to finish reading stories to DD in the early evening. I snuggle in to DH when he comes to me and wait to be petted and reassured that I'm not just fat and am not going to be the eternal pregnant woman. In spite of my whininess I am completely in love with my husband at this point. We joke around and laugh for a while, before trying another well known induction method. It is wonderfully good, afterwards we're both blissed out and I even forget about the interminable pregnancy. But there is no "show", I'm not as completely oblivious as I'd hoped.
DH is tired, I've been getting up a lot at night and work is hard for him at the moment. We watch some crappy TV together and the now familiar Braxton Hicks start up again. I don't tell him because we've been down this path so many times in the last couple of nights. It's not painful either, just "contractions" - I can't think of any other word to describe them, just a sensation of a muscle tightening and squeezing in my pelvis. It's not painful at all and it doesn't feel "periody" like my labour with the Grot. Ergo, it is another false alarm. I refuse to look at the clock but it is about 10. At 10:30pm DH is exhausted and I tell him to go to sleep. "Any contractions" he asks, and I tell him that yes, every 10 minutes, but no pain so just another false alarm.
I don't want to go to bed so I tell him to sleep, I can always wake him if it;s the "real thing". I sit on my computer and read random topics on EB. Then a friend logs on and I chat to her on MSN for a few hours. The distraction is wonderful and stops me obsessively timing the contractions which are now about 5 minutes apart.
At one point she asks me if anything is happening and I sheepishly reply that contractions are every 5 minutes. But I refuse to get excited. It is now about midnight. I am wearing my new pyjamas and ugg boots in the strange September coolness. The sensation is becoming more uncomfortable as the time passes, but not painful yet. I am unconvinced that this is "it" but at the same time I don't want to lie down in case it makes them go away.
At 1am we're down to every 3 minutes and I am getting distracted when it happens. I know it is real now, but deathly afraid that it's going to stop and I'm going to go back into limbo. I decide to tempt fate. I say goodnight to Leesh and turn off all the lights, crawling into bed with DH. "I think this is it" I whisper to him, but lie down waiting with baited breath. They keep coming. They hurt now as well, not enough to cause me to yell or need anything, but I can't ignore them. The deep dragging sensation, the feel of my uterus contracting hard. I can feel them when I lay my hand on my belly.
I wake DH up fully, and he talks to me sleepily. Should we call SIL I ask? She is to pick up DD "when it's time". I am afraid to call her in case this is still a false alarm. But I'm also worried that if it goes as fast as it did last time that she will get here on time. Each contraction is only lasting 20-30 seconds though, even though they are only 2-3minutes apart. This is just prelabour my brain screams. BUt the night is only going to get later, so we decide to take the step and call SIL. It feels like we have truly set the ball rolling now and we can't stop it.
I rock with each contraction, backwards and forwards, swaying my hips feels good. I want to sit in my rocking chair which is in DDs room. The chair is noisy when I sit in it, and DD stirs, she sees me in the chair and sits up a little so I sit on her bed. and cuddle her to me. "Sophie is coming sweetheart" I whisper into her silky curls "she's goign to come out of Mummy's belly. Aunty U will pick you up soon and then tomorrow you can come and see Mummy and Sophie at the hospital". The Grot is dopey but wide awake at the same time. It must feel like a dream to her. I cuddle her to me as DH gets her bag ready so that she can get picked up. SIL arrives and picks her up.
As soon as the Grot leaves I am hit by a "real" contraction. It hurts and brings me to my knees. I rock backwards and forwards and beg DH to rub my back. It feels so good. 3 minutes later another contraction slams into me. I am ready for it and drop down, and DH rubs where I ask. 3 minutes later another contraction hits. I am confused, should I call the hospital? Should I hop in the shower? Should I lie down and conserve my strength? I am pretty sure that I am going to have this baby today, so I decide to let the hospital know that we will be coming in some time this morning. Gauging by the speed of my last delivery, it will probably be before day break as well.
When I call the hospital, the lady on the phone is concerned that as my first labour was only 6 hours and I'm already having contractions 3 minutes apart that I should come in soon. I am not convinced that much has happened, but I am worried about trying to get to the hospital in transition so we set out, packing the bags into the car. As DH closes the garage door Bittersweet Symphony starts playing on the radio. It suits my mood completely. Contractions are still coming every 3 minutes and hard, but I don't feel that labour is going to happen as fast as with the Grot.
DH and I are still joking with eachother when we arrive at the hospital. We wait for another woman to go through, so that we can start signing the forms. One form makes m laugh out loud - it gives the hospital permission to contact Sophie if she has any concerns about her hospital stay. Finally we are granted access to the birthing suites. An older midwife named Lynn is apparently "our" midwife. She gives me a tasteful yellow muumuu to wear and asks me to get changed so that she can check what's happening. Contractions are still every 3 minutes and painful, but in between I am myself, laughing and chatting with DH. I am feeling very restless and hate being confined to the bed.
This bed is hard, and lying on it the contractions are hurting my back and DH can't rub it for me. I am annoyed with the nurse, she is rummaging through paperwork and asking me questions all the while making me spend more time on my back. I suppose I could get up, but I just want this bit over and done with so I can jump in the shower. More annoying questions, and then the blue latex is snapped on so she can have a feel of how dilated I am. She waits until the latest contraction finishes and then feels my cervix. I can feel already that my cervix is posterior still, and my heart sinks.
"One centimetre" she announces. As if it might be a good thing. My heart is being eaten away by stomach acid. Seeing my face she adds "but soft, you are in labour". I am feeling unbelievably embarrassed. I have another contraction but it is mild, I can barely feel it from the outside, and I can see the expression on her face change. "Was that a little one" she asks. I nod, fearful that I'm going to cry. She calls up to the ward and then starts to explain what's going to happen to me. She wants me to take something so that I will sleep up on the ward and then I can come down later when I am truly in labour. I flatly refuse to take pethidine so she starts to talk abou tablets that can "help me sleep". I am firm that I will NOT take sedatives. She tries again to convince me that I should take something so I can get some rest but I am adamant that I will not take anything.I promise that I will lie down and rest when we go upstairs though. I don't remember if I cross my fingers at this point but I have absolutely no intention of lying down.
Contractions have all but vanished. It is 2:30 am as we make our way up to the overflow ward. They are full tonight, so I am in the crappy end room. It has a single bed and no bathroom and two straight chairs. I cannot lie down, and refuse to. I try and make DH lie down though so he can sleep. He is so tired, and now nothing is happening. I am so restless. I pace around the tiny room, staring out the windows.It's hot, I am annoyed at myself, and the room is terrible. No contractions. Labour has stopped. We have to reset the clock. Sophie is squirming inside of me and I chat to her, plead with her to come out. Little baby girl I love you so much already, I just want to hold you and to stroke your tiny head. I wander down to the shared bathrooms, and I have a bloody show finally. It's bright red, I don't remember that with the Grot. But no contractions.
The clock on the wall is irritating me. Every second that ticks by reminds me that I am not in labour. I'm distracted but I refuse to lie down. Sophie's head is already not in the optimum position to dilate my cervix, damned if I'm going to lie down and slow it down even more. Plus it WAS labour before. My pain threshold is huge so when I thought the contractions hurt then they HURT!
I get bored with the pacing around and pick up one of the magazines I brought with me to the hospital - Cleo looks suitably vacuous. I sit cross legged on the bed while DH slumps over and falls asleep. I am having very faint contractions again but at weird inconsistent intervals and they don't hurt at all. I flick through this seasons "fashions" and pretend to be interested in this year's bachelor of the year contestants. Contractions still in the background like fuzzy static on the TV - impossible to completely ignore but nothing more than nuisance white noise at the same time. More trips back down the hall to the bathroom. Still no real contractions. The clock on the wall insolently tick tick ticks. I can hear it ticking it is that quiet.
I am restless but not tired at all. I am still frustrated. Why has this labour been so different to the Grot's? Am I dilating at the moment? Who knows? The contractions are not palpable at all. Pace pace pace.
It's 4am, I'm looking at the clock and wondering if maybe I should have taken the Midazolam or the Pethidine, or something. Just too wired to sleep. The sky is still dark but there is a purplish haze forming on the horizon - dawn is coming and Sophie is still inside of me.
A contraction hits from nowhere, no lead up, nothing. I drop on all fours and rock and breathe. My breathing is not automatic, I am forcing myself to breathe. Deep breath in, hold it, controlled breath out. Oh Lord that hurt. I've woken DH even though I was quiet, he rubs my back as the contraction subsides and it feels good. Then 10 long minutes pass before another one sneaks up on me and king hits me. I feel like my legs have been knocked out from under me. Another 10 minutes and it surges again. I am a little boat in a big ocean being lifted up by huge waves and then slammed down minutes later. They are exactly 10 minutes apart, DH jokes that he could set his watch to them.
It's just before 5am and the light is beginning to creep over the horizon into the misty foggy morning. I stand at the window waiting for the next contraction as it builds and builds and punches me deep in my pelvis. My knees go weak again. Down to 5 minutes now, the contractions are huge. I cannot speak through them, and I cannot stay still. I rock on all fours with DH rubbing my spine. I am eerily quiet except the monosyllabic instructions to DH, higher, harder, closer, up down.
It's 5am on the mocking clock, contractions are every 4 minutes now. Hard, long, painful. But I can still hold onto myself through them. The breathing and the rocking and the rubbing are giving me a routine. As each one starts to build we cope, my mind reminding me that it will soon be over. This is real labour now. I have none of the unsurety that I had with the previous night's debacle. This is real and powerful. I feel connected to the Earth.
I grasp the top of the wardrobe to see if that helps, rocking my pelvis while DH rubs. It feels stronger than on all fours, but my legs are so weak. I will myself to stand up to the contractions. Feeling the spray of the surge on my face as they hit and somehow being reenergised by the incredible power. In the short periods between contractions I feel Sophie fluttering inside me. Soon I think.
As they build in strength and intensity I give myself a timeline. It took 6 hours with the Grot so I have until 10am to birth this baby. And look, it's already quarter to 6, 4 hours left. I can do that. I can do that.
Contractions are changing, they are harder and longer than ever before and the doubt starts to creep in, can I do this? My back has been pummelled by DH and is sure to be bruised later and I know that it's goign to get worse. At 6am I feel sure enough that this is labour to call the nurse. We press the green button and watch the sun rise in the sky outside. The light gleams off the copper of the PAH sparkles in the early morning.
Twenty minutes later DH looks for a nurse as contractions are coming one after the other with barely 20 seconds break in between. The nurse is lovely but harried, they have had more arrivals during the night and she is working a double shift to care for all the about to be and new mothers that have arrived. We start to walk down the hallway and I contract, falling to the floor.
As it abates we manage to get to the nurses desk before I again fall down. This walk is long and tortuous. We finally get to the lifts and DH and the nurse wait again for me to get up and be able to walk. Down to the birthing suites and I'm again down, holding onto an oxygen tank that happened to be there when I went down.
There is some confusion when we get to the birthing suites, they're nearly full and there are more people coming in. I snaffle the last suite, the same one that the Grot was born in. This knowledge buoys me.
There is a wait before I a nurse is allocated to me, as it is also handover time. I kneel in front of the large chair in the room hoping to use it as a support, while DH rubs my back. My breathing sounds so foreign, I can't believe that I'm having to tell myself to breathe! But the focussed breathing is helping. I control it so strongly that it distracts from the power the pressure and the pain.
My muumuu is annoying me and I want to take it off and get in the shower with its hot water. The nurse finally comes in to assess me, and I joke that if I'm only 2cm dilated that I want an epidural right NOW. I'm 6cm though and in transition. I smile at this news, but it's a weary smile. I'm a complete sucker for the encouraging words from the nurse though.
I finally get into the shower. How blissful does it feel to be naked instead of ensconced in the hot sticky material of the hospital gown? I bounce and roll on the fitball in the shower while blasting my body with hot water. When the contractions hit I aim the nozzle squarely at my pubic bone and with DH rubbing my sacrum the pain is less than what it was in the overflow ward.
The nurse comes in to check Sophie's heartbeat with the Doppler. I can feel her moving occasionally and know instinctively that she's fine, and I'm irritated by the insistence of the nurse. She has trouble finding the heartbeat, it's not on either side and she can only find it low down in my belly, right above my pubic bone. Which means I can't use the shower while she checks. Contraction overlapping contraction I have to stand still so she can find the heartbeat. Surprisingly I am not worried even for a second. I know intellectually that I should be worried that they can't find her heartbeat but I know she is fine. Finally she finds the heartbeat but it's a little slow. The nurse turns down the hot water - "you're cooking your baby" she says and forbids me from using the water at the scalding hot temperature I am currently using. I think I pout at that stage but acquiesce.
It's about 7am now and my OB is doing his rounds in the hospital. Cheerfully he pokes his head in and asks how we're going. DH answers and I say nothing, just riding the waves and incapable of doing much more than that. OB is concerned by this and checks again if I'm OK. I break out of my meditation and turn my head slowly "all OK" I manage to get out with some effort, and then go back to concentrating on the shower nozzle in front of me. The lady across the hall from me is also my OBs patient, and she's having trouble, OB explains that he will leave me be as I'm coping and go check on her. Whatever, I wave him off. I can't concentrate on much beyond what's happening right this second in my body. I certainly don'pt need OB hovering, I want the sanctity of the warm humid room with just DH and I back.
There is no break between contractions now, just an upstroke and a downstroke. My breathing is what is getting me through, but I'm proud of myself because I'm coping. "This is as bad as it gets" I remind myself! And tehre are less than 3 hours to go on my self imposed timetable.
It's nearly 7:30 when the contractions change again, they start to get further apart again but the sensation is different. In the short minute to 90 second breaks between them I feel completely normal and pain free. After hours of pain, it is a surreal sensation. I realise after a few of these contractions that I'm bearing down, involuntarily pushing against my pelvic floor with each one. I press the big round nurse call button in front of me wearily - I don't want to get out of the shower but know they will "make" me. The nurse bustles in and asks what she can do to help. Her voice is accented - Irish maybe? I find it odd that it is her accent that I am focussing on at this point. "I'm pushing" I say simply.
It is 7:30 when I make my way into the sun splashed room. Early morning, a beautiful spring day outside the window, still tinged with dew. I am still naked and wet from the shower. The nurse asks if I want another gown, or a blanket so that I don't get cold, but wearing clothes just seems so foreign. The idea of covering myself now seems ridiculous. I need to feel free at the moment, and I can't with artificial coverings. I probably look and sound completely feral but I am adamant that I don't need any clothes.
The nurse checks to see how dilated I am - 8cm and waters still intact, bulging through. She doesn't want to break them as my OB is in theatre with the other lady and she suspects things will go quickly once they are broken. I am neither here nor there. I kneel on the bed, gripping the top and push with every contraction now. It feels wonderful. Like I have some sort of control. Although the effort of pushing is almost unbearable, it takes the pain sensation away and replaces it with one of sheer pressure.But after a while I realise that I am pushing against my membranes. I can feel them like a closed door, stopping things from progressing. I feel like I am pushing into a brick wall every time and it begins to frustrate me. I push and push and push involuntarily but nothing seems to be happening. It feels exactly the same way it did with the Grot and I ask the nurse to break my waters. She is not keen as I still have a cervical lip and also because OB is still in theatre. It is nearly 8am.
I spend most of my time on all fours in the middle of the bed, collapsing my head down after the effort of each contraction.The nurse comes back in to check on me and stifles a laugh, I am basically mooning anyone who comes into the room and I find it funny myself but I am not moving for anything. I have found a comfortable position and I'm sticking with it. The nurse asks if I would like a beanbag to lean into and I decide to give it a whirl. Nothing seems to be happening at the moment and I feel like I'm just waiting for someone to tell me what to do. The nurse and DH then take it in turns to check that I'm breathing as I spend my time, butt still in the air and face planted firmly into the beanbag. "I'm thirsty" I manage to croak, my head cold means that I can only breathe through my mouth, and with all the heavy breathing that I'm doing, I'm dry and parched as the Atacama.
Just after 8am my OB comes back into the room cheerily and congratulates me on my progress. I am like a puppy dog as I lap up the compliment, and when the nurse chimes in I feel very clever and extraordinary.
The amniotomy that I have been waiting impatiently for is uncomfortable and surreal - I feel the whole process, which ends in my thighs feeling warm and wet. There is not a large amount of liquor however, her head is pushed firmly against my cervix.I try pushing for a bit longer on my knees, both on all fours and up, with my head and arms draped over the end of the tilted up bed but it still feels uncoordinated and wrong. So when my OB suggests trying on my side I am happy to give it a try. I need the direction, for the first time my body seems a bit unsure as to what it shoudl be doing.
"Wait for the contraction and then push REALLY hard right into here" my OB coaches, pushing against a spot on my perineum. As the next contraction builds I push as hard as I can, then gulp in another breath and push again. I do this for about 4 or 5 contractions before I feel it, I feel Sophie's head moving down. I am excited by this, I never felt it with the Grot and I feel so strong. "I'm doing it!" I exclaim.
My cheer squad keeps up the encouragement with each contraction and I use their words to lift me, to push harder. "Her head is still OP" my OB tells me between contractions, "so this time I want you to give me all that you've got to turn her, she's turning, you're doing very well". I lap up the praise and set myself the goal of turning her with the next contraction. By the end of the next breath she has half turned, and is almost crowning, I can feel her hard head in my vagina, pushed against the barrier of my pelvic floor.
"Push push push push push push push" from the squad. I can feel her now, burning the muscles, but not painfully. She is crowning, if I were to reach down now I would feel her slimy head. I never felt this with the Grot. I am feeling every second of this. I am feeling her being born. I feel euphoric, Sophie is THERE, in a few more minutes I will push her out of me.
"Push push push push push push push"
Her head is there, I can feel it, it isn't out yet but it is hard and firm against my pelvic floor.
Slowly I feel the soft tissues of my body yielding, allowing her passage, birthing her. I am birthing my baby, my Sophie, she is coming and I am whole, intact and can feel her being born I feel exultant - I am doing this!
"Push push push push push push push"
Her head is out, I can feel her body being squeezed by my muscles, I feel each shoulder being born and then there she is - arms outstretched, covered in vernix, thick like lard over her whole body. Sophie! That's my Sophie! I put my arms out and draw her tiny slippery warm body into my chest so that I can smell her. So primal, so primitive and so euphoric. My baby is in my arms. SOPHIE is in my arms. I want to cry but I want to laugh at the same time. DH cuts the cord, severing her last physical link to me and giving her life as her separate self. But I am entranced with my precious bundle and barely notice.
My OB is beaming at me, "she turned back" he says "you birthed her OP". I try to smile but my body has started trembling as if it has just finally realised the enormity of what has happened. All I can focus on is holding my tiny squalling little girl. She is still yelling, but as she snuffles closer, the squeals dies down and it is quiet in the sun drenched room. I am so proud of her, and so proud of myself and my body. The previous night and the shame of the holding cell (overflow ward) is forgotten. It is just me, DH and our baby girl.
The placenta is birthed and I couldn't care less, I'm not interested in it. OB wants to check that there are no lacerations but I know that there are none. I feel whole and intact and incredibly powerful. My whole body is trembling now though. I think I am hypoglycaemic but refuse to concentrate on myself. After some photos are taken I bring Sophie to the breast. She nuzzles for a little while before latching on. Her attachment even this very first time is perfect and she makes sighing noises in the back of her throat as she sucks for half and hour.
It is complete. Our family is complete. As the colostrum flows into my tiny baby girl and the world around bustles back into its normal routine unaware of the miracle in my arms, I am feeling complete.
I woke this morning with a burning sensation behind my eyes and a lump in my throat. I cannot believe that it has been a year.
Happy Birthday Sophia.