Before you were conceived I knew I would have an October baby. It was a strong feeling of intuition and my intuition continued to serve me well during my pregnancy, labour and birth. I dreamed about those two pink lines appearing on the test and I was ecstatic to show the positive pregnancy test to your daddy later that week. Your dad, big sister Hannah and I were more than ready to welcome you into our family.
My pregnancy was perfect and you were growing beautifully inside my womb. You were an active baby in utero – almost as active as your sister – which was both comforting and annoying at times! Because I already had a toddler to look after, I often felt that I didn’t have enough time during your pregnancy to just reflect and appreciate your time inside me and how special it was. The constant Braxton Hicks (BH) contractions didn’t help me enjoy the experience either.
The BH started when I was only 14 weeks pregnant and then at 30 weeks I was diagnosed with an Irritable Uterus because they had become painful and like pre-labour. Unfortunately there was nothing my midwives could do for me except encourage me to rest as much as possible. Having semi-painful contractions all day long was tiring (I had at least 1 an hour). I was worried that I may go into early labour and risk my place in the birth centre. When 37 weeks of pregnancy finally rolled around I was thrilled because that meant that you wouldn’t be premature and I would be able to give birth to you at the birth centre as planned.
I began my natural induction assult at this time. Normally I am very against induction or intervention that is not necessary and looking back now, it was only a few weeks… but baby, a few weeks at the end of pregnancy seems like a lifetime. There is a sense of such anxiety and anticipation. I felt like I was more than ready to end my pregnancy and finally meet you, and the BH were exhausting me to the point where I was worried I wouldn’t have enough energy to labour efficiently when the time came.
So the natural induction methods I tried during the next few weeks included; sex, walking, Evening Primrose Oil capsules inserted internally to aid effacement, magnesium supplements that would assist the efficiency of the contractions and using the electric breast pump for nipple stimulation which is said to increase the strength of contractions. I don’t eat spicy food and castor oil is a no-no in my books, so I did what felt comfortable for me.
The week leading up to your birth day, I had several bouts of proper pre-labour. Contractions would get into a regular pattern of 10 minutes apart but then fizzle out. This was incredibly frustrating. I was disappointed that I couldn’t enjoy the last weeks of pregnancy and that I just wanted you out, but all I could think about was meeting you baby, I just wanted to finally hold you in my arms. Throughout my pregnancy I had always thought that you would be born either on a Sunday like your sister or on a Tuesday. When the Sunday before your birth day came and went without your appearance, I lost it! I sobbed to your daddy that I couldn’t do it anymore, he held me andcomforted me and told me the truth which was that you would be here soon. And you were.
I could feel that labour was getting closer and I was so ready to meet you baby. The waiting was killing me. We had found out at the ultrasound that we were expecting another baby girl. In anticipation, I had splurged on some new pink outfits and had given away anything remotely gender neutral in my attempt at accepting this little girl who was coming into our lives. I was not disappointed that I was having a girl but I was surprised, as both your daddy and I had had a strong initial feeling that you were a boy. I had always imagined having a son. Something inside me told me to pack one white wondersuit in amongst all the pink clothes in my birthing bag, and I did – even though your daddy laughed at me when he saw it! I couldn’t imagine my labour beginning in earnest during the day, so every night when I went to bed I would wonder if that was the night that labour would start, but I was always disappointed in the morning.
Monday October 11th, was one of the wettest in recent Brisbane history. I noticed that as I pottered around the house with Hannah, the tightenings were obvious even when walking around. I did not have to sit to feel them properly anymore and this made me feel hopeful, but I knew contractions needed to be closer than 10 minutes apart for you to be born! That night, while Brian put Hannah to bed, I timed the contractions on the computer. I was surprised to see they were coming closer together now, between 6-9min apart. Brian came out to tell me that he was going to let Hannah stay up for a while as she wasn’t falling asleep. This made me unexpectedly angry, and I actually became angry, telling him I needed to get these contractions closer together and that I couldn’t do it while H was awake. Brian just looked at me a funny (we had had a few false starts in the last week so he obviously thought it was going to happen again) but he did put her back and ended up falling asleep himself. I felt a bit foolish after he left, thinking that it was probably all going to fade again, but I was determined to at least try.
I read some more natural induction info online, and decided to try my electric pump and the acupressure points again. I was very ready for labour to begin, so around 8:30pm I sat down using the pump and massaging the acupressure points in my hand and I decided to try some visualisation as the website had suggested. I told myself that I would wake up to a painful contraction at 1am and that our baby would be born by 4:30am. I kept thinking about that while using the pump and then I went to bed. I could feel little butterflies dancing in my belly but I wanted to stay calm as I knew adrenalin would counteract all my good efforts.
I had a good contraction whilst brushing my teeth and went to bed hopeful that something was starting, even though I didn’t really believe I would be holding you in my arms in just a few hours. I fell asleep at about 10pm, almost as soon as my head hit the pillow, which is unusual for me. At 11:30pm I woke with a contraction and I remember thinking “that hurt” but then I fell asleep again. Contractions at night were certainly nothing new! But I woke again at 11:40pm to another decent contraction, and after this one ended I lay there wondering what to do. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but I thought I would try kneeling into a beanbag in the hopes of moving you down a bit and to get the contractions closer together. This position had been very comfortable during my labour with Hannah and I was hoping it would have a good effect now.
The contractions certainly continued whilst I was on the beanbag, and I was surprised to find them to be quite intense in this position. I was watching the clock and they were coming closer together – 8min then 6min – and I started to get uncomfortable. Just after midnight I was walking around and squatting during contractions when your Daddy came in. He had fallen asleep with Hannah so had missed to entire lead up and was shocked to see me really labouring. He began timing the contractions and they were now about 4 minutes apart.
I had told Brian early in my pregnancy that I wanted to aim for a 5-7 hour labour this time, start to finish. It had taken me 16 hours to get into established labour with Hannah even though contractions had been 5 minutes apart that entire time so I was hoping that early dilation would be quicker the second time around. I think that when your daddy came in, he could see I was in labour, but he was very much in the headspace that you were still hours away based on our first experience.
I, however, knew that things were moving along quickly. I had grabbed my fruit ice-block out of the freezer that I had saved for the labour, but I couldn’t finish it as the contractions became 3 min apart and more painful. I was coping by leaning over the bed and then squatting low during contractions to bring you down, deeper in my pelvis. After waiting and contracting and waiting and contracting for what felt like months, I was so excited to be in ‘real’ labour that I was actually smiling during contractions baby. I was so ready to do this, to give birth to you, to finally meet you.
The pain was becoming acute and I knew that soon I would need to go to the Birth Centre. At 1:30am I asked Brian to ring the Midwife (MW). He had the gall to tell me that the contractions “didn’t look painful enough’” (!) but after a few words from me, he called her. At this point, I started to feel clammy and shivery and slightly out of focus. The MW asked me a few questions and I had a couple of contractions while on the phone and she said the shivering was because I was probably in very active labour. We arranged to meet at the BC at 3am. Brian called my parents and told them we were coming to drop Hannah off with them. I was really worried during the pregnancy that Hannah would cry at being woken at 2am and that watching me make weird (quiet) noises into my pillow in the car would scare her, but amazingly she was totally fine! She didn’t even cry when we dropped her off which was such a relief to me.
The drive to the BC was horrendous with contractions really starting to intensify. During the drive I asked Brian to tell me to relax at the end of contractions when things really started to heat up, and also to tell me ‘the baby is coming’ or words to that effect, to remind me that it was all as it should be when I started losing focus. I also messaged my birth photographer Lana then, to meet us at the BC.
We arrived at the BC at 3am and after watching me through a couple of contractions and feeling my belly, the MW said that I was having very strong and close contractions and was definitely in established labour. I was happy to hear her say that, but was still unsure what stage I was at, because waters were still intact and I hadn’t even had a show! As she was trying to do my BP and check the baby’s heartbeat the surges started coming every 2 minutes I had such a strong urge to just close my eyes and go inward, but I needed to be fully present until she was finished. We discussed having an internal and although I had considered not having any during this labour, I decided I wanted one now so I could be sure of my progress.
The MW said she’d go get some paperwork and then come back and do one. In the meantime my photographer arrived, and I went to the toilet to find I had finally had my show which was so exciting! I continued to deal with contractions by leaning over the bed and swinging my hips and squatting. They were becoming very strong and I know I started getting slightly panicky during some of them now. I tried to get my focus back during the surges, by whispering “down, down” as the pain increased and breathing as if I was blowing a candle on the out breath to centre myself.
When the MW checked me at around 3:40am, she found that I was 7-8cm dilated and extremely stretchy. Your daddy said ‘She’ll be happy to hear that!’ and I certainly was! Brian started to massage my back during contractions now and encourage me with the words I had told him earlier. During one particularly intense contraction I remember wanting my mum to walk through the door and comfort me! The end was getting closer although no one knew just how close it was.
I started to feel more pressure during the surges after the internal, and at around 4am I felt a need to change what I was doing. The MW commented that the bath was waiting for me if I wanted it, but Brian suggested the shower, as I had found that great during Hannah’s labour. I could feel your daddy almost physically turning me towards the shower and he told me later that he really thought we still had hours to go at this stage. I had another contraction and decided that I needed to get into the bath NOW!
I sank into the big tub at 4:08am. It was so warm and comfortable and I kneeled into the side with my head on some towels. Straight away the water relaxed me and it took a couple of minutes for the next surge to hit. When it did, the pressure was incredible and I could feel you moving down the birth canal. The realisation that my body was pushing you down with no effort from me was a shock! With the next surge I could feel my body pushing so hard and then I felt a huge POP and my waters broke. My mind was buzzing, I was stunned as to how fast everything was happening.
Another surge hit almost immediately, and what felt like a huge ball slid down the birth canal. That was obviously your head baby, but I was still in shock at the speed in which things were happening. I was trying to keep calm and was blowing out as much as I could to try to control the speed, but your head crowned completely in just one contraction! At that point, I was still so confused as it was only minutes since I had entered the tub, I wasn’t even sure that it was your head or the waters that was out, which sounds crazy in hindsight. Looking back, I wish I had put my hand down there to check, but that thought didn’t even enter my mind!
Everything had happened so quickly up to that point that my MW – who had been sitting at her desk in the corner doing paperwork letting me get on with the job of labour – rushed up just in time to get Brian to push the red button that is a signal for a second MW to enter the room. It took a minute or two for another contraction to come and the second MW came in just as another surge hit. With barely any pushing from me, you were born into water at 4:16am. I immediately turned around and the MW handed you to me. It was such a beautiful moment, I was ecstatic! I was overwhelmed with happiness at the realisation that I had truly achieved the birth of my dreams.
It took a few moments for you to take your first breath and the MW encouraged me to talk to you and to blow on your face so that you would take in your first gulp of air. I wasn’t worried at all though, I knew you were still recieving oxygen from your placenta and that you were going to be just fine. You soon began screaming and I was helped out of the tub to birth the placenta on the birth stool. There was a slight trickling and the MW decided I needed the syntocinon to avoid any further bleeding. I was disappointed, as I had really hoped for a physiological third stage this time, but I had prepared myself for this possibility and I was happy to have it if the cord had stopped pulsating, which it had. Meanwhile, I was holding you and staring at your precious face which was already searching for my nipple. I was on such an incredible high at that moment, on the video I am even saying, “That was so good!” in regards to the birth.
After I had had the injection, and as your daddy went to cut the cord, the MW exclaimed ‘This isn’t a girl!” and Brian and I just stared at her! I was in such a different state of mind at that point, that her words had little meaning and all I could hear was the shock and concern in her voice. To me, her words were registering as something was wrong with my baby which frightened me. The MW opened your legs properly then and said “You thought you were having a girl right? Well this is a boy!!!” and she was right, we had a SON!!! I was in absolute disbelief! And then I realised that my intuition had been correct all along, and the next thing I said to Brian after exclaiming 20 times incredulously, “It’s a BOY!” was, “I told you so!” I accepted the news straight away. For me, it felt perfect that you were here, like it was always meant to be this way. Your daddy was thrilled to meet you and he too, was happy that our intial instincts about your gender were correct. We fell in love with you immediately.
You continued to suprise me by attaching to the boob with minimal help from the MW which was such a fantastic feeling after I had such a hard time with Hannah. The after birth time was blissful. I looked at the clock as we all hopped into bed just after 4:30am, and realised that my visualisation had come true! Everything felt absolutely perfect. The MW checked you over and even though you screamed the entire time, you were given a big tick of approval! I had a small graze but no tears, which I was thrilled about, as I was sure you had done some damage during crowning! You had a feed and then fell asleep with us in the bed and later that morning your grandparents brought Hannah over to meet you for the first time. She initally ignored you, but after about half-an-hour she gave you a big cuddle and she hasn’t stopped cuddling you since. We rested at the BC for a little while longer and then went home that same day at 1pm.
I still feel so absolutely blessed to have had such a blissful birth. It was hard work, as all labours are, but it came very, very close to my ideal birth and to have had the unique aspect of your gender surprise included is so special to us. Hannah’s birth paved the way for a new path for me and I learned many lessons from it. Your birth Blake, was a realisation of all my learning since my journey into ‘Labour and Birth’ began, and I will always cherish the memories, emotions and of-course, the photographs! Thank you for the experience we had together, I will treasure it forever.
Love, Mama xx
Birth Photography Slideshow
All photography in the slideshow by Lana from Little Posers Photography