Welcome back to the June series looking at all things birth. It’s now time to hear about how we welcomed baby number three.
Back when we were dating, both my Husband and I were surprised to discover that we each wanted four children. Fast forward to 1998, and talk turned to our third child. It seems that before we knew it I was pregnant again, and even though it was number three and the excitement should be waning, there were many happy tears at the positive pregnancy test.
I was honest about hoping for a girl. I would have been very happy with three sons, but I think it’s fair to say that everyone would like one of each sex. I was very out-numbered by this stage, and was fantasizing about all things pink. Happily, my twenty week scan confirmed that we had a daughter on the way! Hooray!
The nursery cupboard was overflowing with dresses and pink things before the month was out.
This time round I experienced the textbook first three months of nausea, and after that felt really good. There was another decent weight gain, about seventeen kilos this time (about thirty-five pounds). I actually stopped weighing myself because I was getting so big. My asthma played up big time with this pregnancy, I got heartburn for the first time ever, and I craved beer.
Once again my due date came and went. And once again I enjoyed midwife care the whole way through, until my forty-one week visit. The doctor was planning to schedule an induction, which I was expecting. I had always sworn after my first birth that if I had to have another induction I would not wait to get the epidural, so I was prepared for that. Funnily enough, in trying to book me in for an induction the doctor was faced with a long weekend where there were to be no scheduled procedures, and the hospital was also testing it’s equipment for the Y2K “millennium bug” that weekend. My induction ended up being booked for forty-two weeks.
I hoped to go into labour naturally before then, and tried it all. Curry, caster oil, bumpy drives, and sex sex sex. To no avail. We presented ourselves at the labour ward for induction late on a Monday night. It turned out baby’s heart rate was too fast (tachycardia), and they wanted to err on the side of caution, so the induction was postponed until the morning. Works for me!
First thing in the morning, and her heart rate was now too slow, which they put down to her being asleep. Regardless, they still wanted to play it safe, and that ended up working in my favour. It meant that when they inserted the IV drip to stimulate contractions it stayed on a very low dose. A dose I could cope with, and which proved just enough to get my body into labour on it’s own.
But first they took things very slowly, starting with the gel applied to soften the cervix and encourage contractions. The gel was inserted at about seven am. Nothing. Another dose of gel at midday. Nothing. Eventually I told them to just get on with it, to insert the drip and break my waters. They had been very respectful of my wishes in trying to avoid a heavy duty induction, and the midwife caring for me understood how bad an experience my first induction had been. I really felt that I was calling the shots, and they went very slowly in the whole process of inducing me. It felt really good to be listened to, and cared for.
The drip went in at 3.30 pm, and I was barely a centimeter dilated, cervix long and posterior. Nothing happening in other words. By 4.00 pm the contractions had begun, though very mild. (The drip was kept on the lowest dose). As I mentioned, my own body soon kicked in and from then on it was a natural progression, which I could cope with. At this point I should mention that I had invited a close friend along to be a support person. In hindsight, it was the wrong decision. We were close enough to share the experience, and I would be with her a year later for the birth of her son. But she was not really interested in being an actual support, and made jokes about seeing me lose the plot. Which the silly stubborn part of me refused to allow. So at about 5.00 pm, and coping well, I opted for an epidural. Looking back, I didn’t need it. I think that if I hadn’t had the distraction of her joking with me while I tried to deal with contractions I would have been okay. At 5.30 pm, without an examination to see where I was at, I had the epidural inserted. This time I asked for one small dose, a single injection, with no catheter. I explained that I was happy for it to wear off.
Lo and behold, wear off it did. An hour later.
Just as I felt what was unmistakably my baby’s head bearing down.
I was silent for about five or ten minutes, and enjoyed the feeling of her head pushing down while the remnants of the epidural dulled any pain. It was strange but exciting. I could feel my body starting to bear down, and so I decided to share the news with the midwife. Once again it was just us with two midwives, and my friend proved great at helping me push effectively. Her excited encouragement meant a lot, hearing her exclamations that she could see the baby was more exciting because she would actually know this baby.
At 7.00 pm on the dot, after about ten minutes of pushing, and with the epidural still (just) taking the edge off, out slid my little girl. Little, at 3.590 kg (7 lb 14 oz), and with a tiny head, bless her soul. And, oh, the joy. The tears. Straight on my chest, that warm, wet, scrunched up girl of mine. “It’s my daughter, we have a girl, we have a girl, look how small she is”. My Husband, who had never had a sister, weeping as he held her.
How can someone so small and amazing exist where moments before there was no-one? How can they appear and be so instantly, insanely loved?
Another small tear along the old scar, a couple of small sutures, a shower, some phone calls. And with this birth being in the evening, we were surrounded by our families by the time I left the room. I wheeled her cot into the family lounge and was overcome with the love from our parents and siblings. “Look boys, you have a sister, she’s like a little dolly”. So much love, such happiness in one small room.
It was when they all left to continue celebrating at our house, and I found myself alone in a quiet hospital room, that I thought for the first time of how magical home birth would be. I didn’t want to be in a strange room by myself. I felt on top of the world, I wanted to go home and celebrate too. The only thing I did wrong that night was not check out immediately, go home with my family, and sleep in my own bed. I felt so lonely that night, it was such a comedown. I was buzzing, high on endorphins. I wanted to party!
I was home by five the next afternoon, and that night everyone came over, including the extended family of cousins, and it was one big party. I got comfy in my bed, with lots of pillows and my sleepy little doll. The room was filled with aunts, cousins, sisters, and mums all keeping me company while the men raised a glass or two and the kids all ran wild. It was awesome.
This little girl of mine was waking just once a night by the fourth night, and sleeping all night by two weeks. She breastfed happily and easily for many months, and adored her brothers. She was my dress up doll, and had a smile for everyone. She was just the most easygoing baby ever born. She never cried, loved to sleep in her rocker by a sunny window, slept through lots of noise, and wanted steak for dinner at six months.
And for a while it seemed that my birthing days were done.
But there was one last surprise to come…
…though it would take almost ten years.
Til next time,