Welcome to the next installment in my June series on birth. In my last post I shared the birth of my first child, and now it’s time to look at the difference a year can make.
We left the hospital with our first baby and entered that strange world that is life with a newborn. Getting to know an entirely foreign creature, learning how to care for him. Those dark and shadowy moments when the world sleeps, while you and this new person are in a little bubble, where it’s all feeding, soothing, learning. (And smelling: I am like an addict when it comes to sniffing a newborn). I pushed his birth from my mind (to be dealt with somewhere in the distant future), and became absorbed in my baby. We struggled with breastfeeding before switching to formula, sorted out a routine that everyone was happy with, and were traveling along nicely.
Fast forward a few months.
I had started to lose some of the weight I had put on while pregnant, until all of a sudden it seemed that no matter what I did, it would no longer budge. It was frustrating to say the least, but the idea that I could be pregnant was brushed aside because I felt so good. No tiredness, no nausea, no physical changes at all. But with a history of irregular periods which frequently went MIA, I figured there was no harm in checking. I took myself to the GP for a general check-up, had blood tests and so on. I left his office and put it out of my mind, thinking that my weight loss had probably just hit a plateau.
So imagine my total shock when he called to inform me that I was in fact pregnant.
My baby was just five months old.
I was six weeks pregnant.
The pregnancy remained very inconspicuous, and if it hadn’t been for my growing belly I wouldn’t have even known I was pregnant. I was able to get on with looking after my growing baby boy, felt great, and somehow (I still don’t know how), only gained nine kilos (about twenty pounds) the whole pregnancy.
We cruised along until I was about a week overdue and the midwife mentioned that I would need to see the OB/GYN to talk about induction. So we booked that for my next visit, when I would be almost two weeks over. There was no fuss, no feeling of rushing things along. It was all pretty relaxed. I had not seen one specialist the whole pregnancy, and had loved having midwife care at every visit. The whole experience just felt so chilled out. I had delivered one large baby already, and I had a feeling it would be easier this time.
Just a few days after that midwife visit, late on Sunday night after waving good night to some visitors, I settled down to watch a little TV when I felt my first contraction. Keeping in mind that my previous labour had begun with the waters breaking followed by an induction, feeling the first contraction that my body had ever produced on it’s own was positively exhilarating. I didn’t tell anyone, just quietly watched TV and timed them. After an hour or so everyone had gone off to bed (we were living with my in-laws at the time), and I basked in the quietness of the night, knowing I would hold my baby by morning. I had a strong feeling that this would be a good birth, and having contractions was very reassuring.
After a couple more hours I called the hospital, who felt that with contractions being five minutes apart, it being baby number two, and the short gap between babies, labour would be quick and I should head to hospital. So off we went.
Arriving at the hospital at midnight I was already 3 cm. This was fantastic news, and after half an hour of being monitored we were left alone. For the next few hours we enjoyed the peace and quiet. I was coping well and able to manage with just deep breathing. It was at about 3.30 am that I started to find the contractions a bit more challenging. I remember saying to my Husband that I wouldn’t mind a couple of Panadol (paracetamol). I asked the midwife to examine me, thinking I might be about five or six cm, and would think about having some gas and air.
Turned out I was hitting transition! When she said I was 8 cm I wanted to cry with joy. I so vividly recall how excitedly I reminded my Husband of how long it had taken me last time, and how I had lost the plot by 4 cm. Here I was at eight, and managing so well. It gave me the biggest boost mentally. It seemed like only minutes later I was ready to push, and feeling the pressure that I had never felt before was both exciting and frightening. So frightening in fact that I decided I didn’t want to push after all and lost it for a bit. There were about fifteen minutes or so of the midwife explaining that I had to just go with it and push this baby out, but I was so scared. (There were only two midwives in the room with me this whole time). I actually tried to hold back the urge, and in the end the midwife made me flop my knees apart, and the relief that came with that first push was amazing. After about fifteen minutes of pushing, and exactly ten days after I turned twenty-one, out came the boy who would be my biggest baby ever, at 4.35 kg (9 lb 9 oz, half my total pregnancy gain). With another big head, naturally 😉
Bliss. Ecstasy. Tearful exclamations of “I did it, I did it!”. Tears through the laughter as I realised I was now the mother of two sons. Total total joy. (I’m crying typing this).
It was 4.15 am, and we had been at the hospital for four hours. No-one, apart from my in-laws, knew we were even at the hospital. Nobody knew I was in labour. There was something I loved about that. The privacy in managing to have a baby while everyone slept felt so good, so right. It felt that the night belonged to us mothers, whether birthing, or up feeding and soothing. By sunrise I was on the phone, waking up our loved ones with the best news.
I felt fantastic. Even though I had torn along the old episiotomy scar, it was a small tear that only needed a couple of sutures. I went home a few days later, a little nervous about the challenge of caring for two babies at the same time. But honestly, and I give the credit to the babies themselves, it was never as hard as I had pictured it would be.
This birth healed something in me, and gave me an extra hit of confidence that, yes, I was made to do this. And even though my memory may have tricked me into forgetting the shitty days, being a stay at home mum with my two boys was so much fun. I loved it. We had our routine, and they were both good eaters and sleepers. I didn’t drive so we walked everywhere, which helped melt off my extra weight from the first baby.
We copped a lot of criticism and were considered irresponsible for having two babies so close, being so young. But even though I was initially very shocked, and had thoughts of “but this happens to other girls”, it was the best surprise we ever got in our lives. Every child is meant to be, and we are all here for a reason. I learned different things from each of my first two babies, and loved every minute of it.
Finally I was fortunate to experience natural birth as it could be. Just my Husband and I, and two midwives. Immediately after his birth he was placed on my chest, where he checked me out with a very alert, knowing gaze. (Oh, if I had only known the amazing personality that lay beneath those big blue eyes, and the fact that he would be the funniest person I have ever known!) I think I floated out of that hospital. I couldn’t believe how much it meant to me to know that I had birthed my baby myself. Knowing that the midwives had guided me, but that I had done all the work, felt so amazing.
It felt so amazing that I couldn’t wait to do it all again…
…after a bigger gap this time.
Til next time,