We had all arrived in Perth to wait for the arrival of baby #2.
I'd convinced myself that I was in for another long wait with an overdue baby, so had been relaxed about getting everything organised and had made lots of plans to keep myself busy up to, and beyond, my due date.
It was Thursday and I was 39 + 1. We'd had a productive day- I took Bay to the doctors for a check-up, got my nails done (fire engine red), went to look at a Home Open in the Hills and then enjoyed a beautiful pregnancy massage using a voucher from a friend.
Chae had organised to have drinks with one of his work mates so I dropped him at the pub and Bay and I went back to my Parents for dinner. I mentioned to Mum that I was getting some pretty strong Braxton Hicks, but figured it was because we'd been rushing around all day.. I'd been having them on and off since about 30 wks and they were always stronger on days where I'd been on my feet. Mum didn't think too much of it but said to call her if I needed anything.
After putting Bay to bed I sat reading my book (BirthSkills by JuJu Sunden!) for a while. About 9pm it dawned on me that these cramps appeared to be coming regularly.. I started timing them and sure enough they were about 4mins apart and lasting for about 30 secs.. But they didn't feel particularly strong, so I wasn't sure what to think..
I called Chae at 9.30pm to tell him maybe he should head home.. The pub was walking distance from our house so he said he'd be home shortly.. An hour later and my contractions now 3 mins apart, lasting for 45 secs and getting stronger.. I was feeling more convinced that these were actual contractions.. But still no sign of Chae! I was feeling angry he wasn't there, so I called him again, told him I was probably in labour and he needed to Come. Home. Now!
My anger affected me physically as then the contractions went back out to 5 minutes.. He did arrive home soon after that, so I calmed back down and jumped under the shower. I just focusing through each one, while Chae tried to get his head around that I was actually in labour. He felt really happy and excited that things were happening, but I was more reserved because I knew the hard part was yet to come.
It didn't take long for contractions to get back down to 3.5 - 4 mins apart, but they were still much less intense than what I remembered from my first labour.. although they would make me pause, I wasn't doubled over and could still talk through them.. But Chae was terrified he'd have to deliver the baby himself, so at his urging I called the Birth Centre to see what they advised.. Given it was my second baby they said it best to come in for an assessment and bring my bag just in case.. I quickly threw a bag together, called my Mum so she could come to look after Bay and as soon as she arrived, ewe headed to the Birth Centre.. By this time it was 12.30am.
They let us settle into our room before giving me a once over.. Babies heart rate was great, my blood pressure good, pulse Aok.. and cervix 4cm dilated.. The good news was they weren't going to send us home, so Chae went back to the car to get my bag. This was when I really let myself believe we were actually going to be having the baby that night! Yay!
They showed me the place where they could set up the birth pool but suggested I start off with a shower. The shower had two heads which was heaven, one to point at my back, the other at my tummy. It was joy! I stayed in there for quite a while just swaying back and forth and dealing with each contraction as it hit.. The midwives at The Birth Centre have a very hands off approach and I was only vaguely aware that they were observing me and that The Mister was timing the contractions for them. Every so often they would come in and ask to listen to babies heart rate, which remained strong and steady and other that that they left me to it. As with my previous labour I didn't really want any massage or touch or talking, so Chae just remained by my side, offering me water and adjusting temperature of the taps.
Things were intensifying quickly and before long I had moved to the shower floor, where I knelt leaning over a white plastic chair. I would rub my feet against the wet tiles during a contraction and would slouch over the chair to rest in between. I was grabbing handfuls of my hair and clawing at my own face to try and get through each one.
As the contractions ran into each other I started to feel quite shaky and nauseous and also a bit panicky and overwhelmed. I wanted to cry and felt like I couldn't do it anymore. I knew from giving Birth to Bay that this is classic 'transition' where reaching 10cm is often accompanied by feelings of fear and panic. I think its designed to get the adrenalin going for all that pushing! This knowledge, plus the midwives reassurance and encouragement helped calm me down.. I remember gripping her hand so hard because I was scared. She told me my body was doing everything it should and it was all going perfectly. Sure enough a few moments later there was a a bit of pressure, then a gush and my waters had broken! This was the same point at which my waters broke in my first labour.. And as with Bay, straight after that came the strong urge to push.
I was still on the shower floor leaning over that plastic chair. Each urge to push felt so intense and once again like you are doing a huge poo. It's not very pleasant but I knew that our baby couldn't be too far away... It stung more than I remembered, but it didn't last as long this time. I remember gripping the midwives hand really hard. They told me when they could see a head of hair and the next thing the head was out.. they said the cord was wrapped around the neck and told me to pant instead of pushing for next urge while they unlooped it from the babies neck... Not pushing was even harder than pushing.. But they untangled it and then a few more pushes and the baby was out! Oh the relief!
It was 2.15am, just over 5 hrs since I'd had my very first contraction, an hour and forty five minutes after we'd arrived at the birth centre.
The lighting in the ensuite was very dim but I could see the baby between my legs, I thought I maybe glimpsed a boy but wasn't sure.. They handed the baby to me on my chest. I asked out loud is it a boy or girl. They told me to take a look but I was feeling so weak and the baby felt so tiny and slippery on my chest, I worried I might drop it. They helped me move into to sit up onto the chair that I'd been draped over for the last hour.. Only then did I check what we'd had.. it was a boy! Chae had thought so all along but I had been sure we'd have another girl. I looked over his perfect little face and his perfect little body.. I marvelled at how small he was. The midwife told me he didn't actually look that small. I held him close to my breast to see if he was interested in feeding.. He had a bit of a suckle but seemed more interested in cuddling.
In my birth plan my preference was for delayed cord clamping and a natural 3rd stage of labour. But sitting in that shower on that plastic chair, with my wet singlet I justI felt too impatient to wait for placenta to come out on it's own. Once the cord stopped pulsing, Chae cut it and then I asked for the syntonin injection to speed up delivery of placenta. Just a few minutes later, they gently tugged it out and we all got to move out of the bathroom and onto the lovely bed. Chae took the opportunity for a cuddle of his own.
Despite my emotional high I felt physically shattered and really wanted to get away from that chair, out of the bathroom and into the bed! It felt so nice to lie down.. They gave me a quick check up and noted I had a small tear (along my episiotomy scar from last delivery) and would need a few stitches. I'd been hoping to avoid that but nevermind.
It was a busy night in the birth centre, so they couldn't stitch me up straight away. It was a random wet and stormy night and they had told me they always expect lots of admissions when the weather is crazy. So they left us for a while and this gave Chae and I time to marvel at our little boy and we agreed the name Ivo was just right for him. It was inspired by Chaes' late Grandfather Ivan and was one of the few boys names that we had agreed upon.
It was still only about 3.45am but we sent a quick txt to our parents to let them know we'd had our baby! Then my phone went flat. We hadn't packed a charger either. Doh.
A midwife came in to apologise for delay and she bought me a mug of milo with a straw. I'll never forget that Milo, It tasted amazing. I think it had sugar in it. Chae had fallen asleep next to me so at least I didn't have to share it with him.
Ivo snuggled in my arm between us, I offered him my breast again and he took it, feeding away with a strong suck. We lay like that for quite a while. It all felt a bit surreal.. I couldn't believe I'd actually had the baby early! I couldn't believe I suddenly wasn't pregnant anymore.. I still couldn't believe we'd had a boy! But I was so thrilled he was here and he was him. After 9 months of pregnancy, there is nothing more magical than holding that healthy baby in your arms. It is such a relief to finally let go of all those pregnancy doubts and fears you don't even know you're holding.. You can finally know that everything is okay, rather than having to just trust.
After an hour a midwife returned to stitch me up.. I had a good chat to her she was from Yorkshire in the UK, near where we used to live. Getting stitched ip is quite uncomfortable and a bit undignified but I only needed 3 stitches so it didn't take too long and at least this time I was lying in a nice comfy double bed in the birth centre, rather than under the bright lights on a hospital bed. The Mister and Ivo were still next to me, sound asleep.
Once done they left me to it to get some sleep, it was about 4.30am. I could faintly here a woman in another room in labour.. Hearing her, I felt really grateful mine was already over!
Despite the physical exhaustion I wasn't able to sleep. I was just looking at my little boy, so tiny and perfect and looking back at me with these soulful little eyes. I think I dozed on and off for a little while.
At 6.30am I woke Chae up and used his phone to speak to my parents about bringing Bay in to meet her new brother!
While we waited for her to arrive the breakfast tray arrived and lucky for me Chae didn't want anything to eat because I ate it all! Two rounds of toast with jam, two hard boiled eggs, two serves of tinned peaches and four week-bix. If there was more I would have eaten it too.
My Mum had work that morning, so my Dad arrived with Bay about 8am. We gave her big cuddles and kisses and told her that her brother had arrived if she wanted to meet him. She went over to where he was now sleeping in his bassinet and she patted his fuzzy little head. She kissed his face and had a turn holding him. Then her attention turned to the fit ball in the corner of the birth suite. For the rest of the morning she was more interested in that than her brother, who in her defence was doing nothing but sleep. Once he did wake up she did have some turns holding him and she did a fantastic job. It was so sweet watching her cradle him as gently as she could, kiss him and declare "I love you Ibo". Once he started crying she informed me it was my turn to hold him again.
|Bay and Ivo.. before she spotted the fit ball..|
Dad had also bought my phone charger with him so I sent out a general message to all our friends and family telling them Ivo was here!! It's so fun sending out a good news message and then getting back all the replies! Lots of people surprised he'd come early! Mixed reactions about his name :)
Chae had to leave at 9.30 because we had our appointment to fit our new baby seat into our car! Talk about last minute! Dad took Bay for a walk because she was getting restless and wanting to throw the fit ball around the room. While they were all gone the paediatrician arrived to check Ivo out. He weighed in at just over 9lb, was 52cm long, a head circumference 35.6cm and passed all his other health checks. He had some mild jaundice that we were told to keep an eye on.
By the time Chae got back we just had some forms to fill out, they gave me a final checkup and then we were all good to go home!
What a whirlwind to be eating dinner at home that night, have a baby, then be back home again in time for lunch!!
Luckily there were no dramas or complications following the birth, so it was nice too get home quickly and back into a semblance of normal life.
We are all besotted with our baby boy and loving life as a family of four.
Bays' birth story can be read here