Continued from Part One here…
I turn on my side facing Hannah and close my eyes for a minute or two and then I feel it. That tightening. That tightening that makes me question whether I actually just experienced it or not. I check my phone for the time. It’s 02:40am. I wait. And it comes again. 02:46am. I breathe out. A little knot of excitement begins to grow in my belly. I wonder whether I should get up and walk around but decide to wait and see. Another surge comes at 02:53am. Irregular but painful. I look at the birth affirmations I have posted next to my wall and I read my favourite ones again “I trust my baby and my body to orchestrate a beautiful meeting.” “Everything will unfold exactly as it should.” I feel calm for an instant but then another surge comes at 02:58am and I start to worry. Your daddy and brother are in the hospital, they’re not here with me and I think I am going into labour!
I text Brian at 03:01am – Will you be leaving soon? I’ve had 4 contractions in the last 20 minutes. Not sure if she’s just trying to turn to the left, or if this is the start of something but they’re ouchy. I can still lie down through them… just. Hope you got some sleep..!
Brian replies immediately, In the cab now, be home soon.
Good! I answer and have another contraction.
I can feel you on my right hand side and because I know that to complete the birth process you need to move to my left, I wonder if this is just you trying to get into position. I have had pre-labour like this before. I feel ready though. I know it isn’t the most perfect of circumstances with having spent the whole day at hospital with your brother, but I am so desperate to meet you. I know my husband is on his way home to me and my body relaxes. I have been using visualisation as a powerful tool during my pregnancy and I am excited to find out if what I have envisioned will be accurate. I am waiting for the contractons to become regularly 3 minutes apart so I can call it. So I can say I am finally in labour with you.
I get out of bed to see what happenes to the contractions with some movement and walk into the living room. I love labouring in the dark and all of my labours have begun in the night. I’m timing the surges – 03:04am, 03:09am, 03:12am… There’s the magic 3 minutes I think to myself. I hear the cab pull up. Brian comes in and we embrace. I have another contraction. They need my attention but I don’t need to moan or move too much to get through them just yet. The peak is acute but the beginning and the end of the contraction is mild. My mind isn’t in the labour zone anyway, I have too much else to focus on. I check my son. He is sleepy and his arm is bandaged up. Brian lays him on the couch next to where I am labouring.
After a quick update from me and an excited shared giggle that this is IT, Brian decides to have a quick shower while I continue contracting in the dark and the quiet. I kneel on the floor next to couch where Blake is sleeping and I take a quick photo of him in the shadows. I am reminded of his birth almost 3 years before, of how beautiful it was and I try to channel that strength and peace again as my body gives way to the rhythm of labour.
At 03:22am I text my friend and birth photographer Georgia, I think something might be starting hun… will keep you updated. She replies and I sink into the contractions more, I moan with one, really needing to sway and squat close to the ground to get through it. I mention to Brian that if the next one is like this then we need to call the midwife. He agrees and when he watches me through the next contraction he makes the call. It is 03:40am. The phone cuts out and he needs to re-call but J eventually answers and he arranges for her to meet us at the birth centre at about 4:30am. I wake Hannah and dress her quickly, stopping to move through a couple of contractions. I feel a sense of urgency now, I know we need to get to the birth centre soon. I feel a need to go to a warm, dark space and get ready to give birth. I am still having contractions 3 minutes apart with every second or third being quite intense and long. Brian takes the bags to the car, and then comes back up for the kids. We’re nearly ready.
I am just about to head down the stairs when I feel another contraction coming, I grab my phone for the contraction timer and I notice the time is 04:15am. I lean over the couch and sink low to the ground. I begin to feel nervous, I have been envisioning 04:15am as an important time for my labour. I am just about to find out why.
The contraction peaks and I feel wetness in my underwear. I come out of the contraction fog and realise my water has broken! Brian, it’s my waters I scream as he tries to usher me down the stairs. Andi let’s go, I can get you there. It will be okay, he says. But, we said we would stay here if my waters broke... But even as I say it, my voice trembles and I know my baby will not be born at home. The house feels cold and empty and my kids are in the car waiting for me. I put my trust into my husband but I give myself an out… If I feel pushy with the next contraction, then we’re coming back upstairs I whisper. Deal.
We get into the car and I sit on a plastic bag. My pants are wet but I have no time to change them. I pray that I can hold on until the Birth Centre. My biggest fear is having you in the car and I wonder if we’ve made the right decision. Thankfully, even though the next contraction is fierce, I don’t feel pressure. Brian flies down the main road and squeezes my hand. We’ll be there in 5 minutes he promises. I turn to look at Hannah and she says, I am proud of you mummy and I melt. As hard as labour is, it is so incredibly beautiful and I know I am blessed to be able to do it again. I know the end is near.
We pull up at the Birth Centre and I see a figure in the shadows by the entrance. I irrationally freak out about having to labour past a random stranger who is probably smoking at the front of the hospital! And then I notice the stranger coming toward us and before I can say anything I realise it is Georgia and I couldn’t be happier to see a familar face. And also that she has made it in time to capture the birth! I manage to whisper, the baby is coming before sinking in to another contraction. Georgia leads Hannah and I towards the entrance and we have to buzzer through. They both disappear behind the double doors but I am left outside contracting again. I worry that I am about to have this baby by the front door but that pushing pressure has not yet arrived. I know we need to get upstairs quickly though so I finally make it through the doors and we get into an elevator. I contract again and moan and moan. I can see Georgia’s eyes widening and I wonder if she will need to catch this baby in the elevator!
We make it into the birth centre. I can see light and hear running water coming out of room 1. The same room that Blake was born in and the room that we had coincidentally taken the kids into when discussing the birth a couple of times during our midwife appointments. I walk in without a second thought. I’m having a baby, I declare as I waddle into the room. The nurse looks at us in shock and asks if I am Di’s lady. I let her know that No, I am J’s lady, and I am about to have a baby as I prepare to contract again. I can feel adrenalin begin to seep into my body, I am getting anxious and I want to turn the lights off and get ready to give bith. I feel like I am holding on at a time when I really need and want to just let go.
The nurse says she will get a midwife and I wonder where J is. I am waiting for her. Before she leaves, the nurse grabs Georgia by the arm and implores her not to allow me to get into the water under any circumstance. Now that she has said it, all I want is to hop into that tub, to feel that hot, hot water swallow me up and soothe my aching body. I know if I get in, the birth will be imminent so as soon as the midwife – who comes in from Birth Suite – arrives I let her know I need the tub. She tells me I have to wait for my midwife as she isn’t waterbirth accredited and asks me to sit on the bed so she can check my blood pressure and the baby’s heartrate. I sit but then shake my head as she presses her doppler onto my skin. and cry out as a contraction begins. It is so strong and I need to stand up and then bend right over the midwife holding her arm and shoulder until it is over. I sit again and she finds your heartbeat on my left. I know you are ready.
She moves to place the blood pressure strap on my arm and I move her hand away. The baby is coming, I whisper, my waters have broken. Okay, she says as I stand up. Are they clear? I have no idea, I say and I pull my pants off completely so that I can kneel into the beanbag on the mat on the floor – in the same position that I birthed Hannah in – and begin the pushing stage. Oh, you are coming now. I can feel you moving down. I wonder where J is again as Brian rubs my back and signals to the midwife that the baby is coming. The kids are on the couch, munching on bikkies as if they were watching a movie and before I can think any more, another contraction rips through me and I know the second stage has begun.
I kneel into the beanbag and moan and breathe into the fabric as I try my best to relax and focus on the pressure without being scared of it. When the surge is over I lean back and rub my belly for what I know will be the last time with you inside me. Hannah and Blake look on and Brian is with me. I am ready and I let the next contraction sweep me away.The urge to push is irresistable and urgent. I am completely taken over as each body part does its job to perfection and I feel you moving through my pelvis . The strength of the contraction is incredible, my whole body tensing and relaxing all at the same time to allow your head to pass through.
I pause and wait. And then I feel the midwifes hand against my vagina holding your head. I shake my head and ask the midwife to move her hand away. It feels extremely uncomfortable. I have never had anyone touch me during the pushing stage before. She refuses and tells me she is just supporting the head. I wonder what she means but I have no energy to question her further so I decide to put my own hand down and touch your soft velvety head. I haven’t done this with either of the other two and although I wish the midwife would move her hand, I try to enjoy that special moment bonding with you while you are in that etheral space of being half earthside, and half within me.
The next surge finally comes. It builds and finally I give way to your body. I feel that sweet sensation as you glide out and are passed through to me. You are born at 04:41am on Sunday 11th August, and I am ridiculously happy. I pull you through my legs and hold you against my belly. You have hair! And you look exactly like your big sister did at birth. You are covered with a fair bit of vernix and your body feels amazing against mine. I am so relieved. Everything happened so fast. I smile at your daddy and we kiss and I smile and smile. I didn’t have time to take my shirt off during the labour so someone does it for me and I try to pull you up against my chest but I feel tension in the cord so I leave you where you are. I rub your soft body a little to stimulate you and you give a little cry. I feel as though I could cry but I am too happy to even produce any tears. It is a beautiful moment. I have waited for you, and now you are here. My Daisy.
The midwife breaks my reverie and asks me to pull you up. I can’t, I say. You can, she answers, just pull her up to your chest. I shake my head and mumble something and finally the second midwife (also from Birth Suite) says the cord is too short. We all look down and you do seem to have an incredibly short cord. I realise that if you had been born in the water I wouldn’t have been able to fully pull you up to my breast and out of the water and I wonder if that’s part of the reason you came so quickly. The midwife advises us to cut the cord even though I had wanted to leave it unclamped for longer but I know I need to bring you to my chest to keep you warm.
First we check that you are indeed a girl and are delighted to see that you are. Brian goes to cut the cord but I ask him if Blake would like to do it. He had expressed an interest in this during the pregnancy but as I look over at my little boy I remember his right hand is bandaged up so Brian cuts the cord for the third time. I lean back against the beanbag and pull you up to my breast. J finally arrives having missed the birth by mere minutes. You lie calmly on my chest and I just take you in. Your sweet face is so soft and your little hand is resting on my heart.
Hannah and Blake come over to see you. Blake is looking at you wide eyed whilst still muching on his food. He is literally starving after not eating for most of Saturday due to being nil by mouth for his trip to theatre. He smiles at you and I am sure that if he wasn’t concentrating so hard on eating that he would be cuddling and stroking your sweet head non-stop! Brian explains Hannah was a little worried when I moaned whilst pushing your head out, but he let Hannah know I was working very hard and she immediately relaxed and was satisfied with that. I can see Hannah is excited and reserved at the same time. She strokes your head a few times and looks at you with a shy smile. I know she will need a little bit of time to physically want to be close to you – as she often does in other situations – but I know she will get there. I am so happy to have us all there together on such a special day. It feels like we have all worked towards this, that the labour was an experience we all shared rather than just me taking the load. I feel light as air and completely amazed that we have done it, together we have achieved a beautiful birth and you, our sweet baby girl Daisy Emmeline, are here.
Brian takes you and has his first cuddles while J helps me prepare to birth the placenta on the birthing stool. I am having my first fully physiological third stage after being advised to have the syntocin injection the last two times. I am really happy about this but I am not prepared for how incredibly painful this stage can be. I feel a contraction coming and it is so strong. I have a moment of panic as I wonder if they missed a baby during the ultrasounds and that I am now about to birth your twin. That is how intense this stage is. The surges keep coming and I really have to lean on my midwife – physically and emotionally – to get through them. Emotionally I am full of energy after the high of the birth but I know my body needs to rest. It feels difficult to now have to push again when my baby has already been born. Finally after 20 minutes, the placenta releases and I feel that ecstatic sensation as the birth process completes itself. I take a moment to let it sink in that I have been blessed to succesfully give birth unhindered to my third baby and I let that joy sweep me up once more.
J helps me onto the bed and you are back in my arms. Hannah comes over and after a kiss and a cuddle she hops into bed next to me. Blake has fallen asleep on the couch, exhausted after an unbelievable 24 hours. He looks so little sleeping there but compared to you now I realise he is my baby no more. I hold you next to my right breast – next to my heartbeat – and you immediately begin to root around for the nipple and soon you are latching on. I am thankful that you seem to be as effecient as your big brother was and I hope this is the beginning of another successful breastfeeding journey. You stay in this position suckling on and off for about an hour. I am content just to gaze at you, have a little snack of jam toast that your daddy brings me and de-brief your super-fast birth with J who of-course missed the best part!
We decide to call your grandparents all the way in Croatia via Skype and they are thrilled to see you. I am so grateful for amazing technology in that moment so that they can share in our joy and not have to wait another 11 days to even see you. We then prepare to weigh you and I guess that you are around 3.6kg. You feel smaller than Hannah and Blake were at birth. You are 3.51kg on the scale and amazingly you are holding your head up after being in the world for only less than an hour! J measures you – 49cm long and 34cm head circumference – and then checks me for tearing. Once again I have a small labial graze (this has happened every time) but no actual tearing and nothing to stich thankfully. J calculates your labour time after hearing details from me, and counts your birth as 1 hour and 50 minutes from active labour to completion of birth with the delivery of the placenta. So I was in active labour for almost exactly an hour and a half, and you were born pretty much 2 hours from the first intial contraction. I really can’t believe that just hours ago I was in my bed sleeping with no clue of what was coming next.
Brian and I keep making eye contact and just beaming at each other. Watching him hold you and get to know you makes me fall in love with him all over again. I feel so incredibly blessed to have him by my side. I know as I sit holding you, that a homebirth would have been perfect but your daddy has shown me that we would have had an amazing experience no matter where we birth as long as he is next to me, supporting and encouraging me.
I look over at Hannah next to me on the bed who is just soaking everything in and I feel a pang of impossibility – wasn’t I just holding her newborn body in the room two doors down so very recently? How is it that she is already a little girl? But I am glad she is, and I know this experience will be a shared memory we can treasure as mother and daughter forever. Blake wakes up and wants to see you and spends some time rubbing your head and murmurring sweet nothings in your ear and my heart melts with love. I look down at your fresh little face with your beautiful eyes staring back at me and I am overwhelmed with joy.
I fall in love with you, thanking you again for coming into my life and I wonder what great lessons you have come to teach me. With all five of us on the bed as Georgia takes our first family photo, I realise that this is it now. This is my new life and I honestly couldn’t be happier.
BIRTH VIDEO – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iNGWKf84ts
All birth and pregnancy photography and videography thanks to Georgia from Documenting Delight
Birth Affirmations thanks to Renee from Present Moments Birth Support