While I am feeling all nostalgic ...
Well, it’s Tuesday the 9th of July 2002, 2 days before our Due Date. I don’t notice anything particularly different, though in hindsight I felt a bit ‘off’ all day – slightly dizzy, nauseous, crampy & tired. I even gave up on shopping and went home.
We had a very large tea – Chicken Parmigiana with loads of vegetables – little did we know that it would be the last effortful meal cooked for a long time!!
We went to bed at around 10:30pm. I fell asleep I think, only to wake at 11pm to go to the toilet – strange, because I usually only got up the once around 4am. I got back into bed a bit restless, and then I felt it. My first contraction!! I didn’t realise that at the time though. It wasn’t until I had had an hour of these at 5 minutes apart that the possibility crossed my mind – you’re meant to go overdue with your first!!
Up until about 3am I went to the toilet about 20 times, and about then I noticed that it was now every 3 minutes. I remember rushing out of the bedroom and saying to a very sleepy Raff “Oh my God, they’re getting closer together!!” I probably gave him the quickest wake-up call he has ever had!
There was no chance of sleep for either of us from then on. I was up and down until around 5am when both of us migrated to the lounge room, turned on the heater and tried to decide what to do. At 6am Raff rang the hospital and they predictably said “Take your time, no hurry, have breakfast, take a shower, pack your bags and come in whenever you like.” So we had a shower and I don’t remember feeling panicky or scared at all, just curious at how dilated I would be after 8 hours of contractions.
Looking back at those early pains I can’t believe that I thought they were painful!!
We got dressed, packed everything and tried to eat (I couldn’t). I said to Raff in the car “I won’t be disappointed if I’m hardly dilated, we will just come home” We got to the hospital around 7am. It was freezing cold, but it was going to be a beautiful, clear, blue winter’s day.
We entered the hospital, and all the Orientation classes went straight out of our heads. I felt lost, and it all looked so alien in the dawn light. We found our way to the Maternity ward, only to be told that the two delivery rooms were both in use, so we went into a tiny little room where I was examined internally. Not much happening apparently!! I could tell that the midwife didn’t think that I was in anywhere near enough pain. They gave us the option of staying there or going home. Easy decision, especially with no spare Labour rooms to sit and wait in!!
So home again, to bed to try and rest – what a joke!! After an hour or so I kicked Raff out. I felt better able to handle the pain without him watching me. We were waiting for an Electrician to come (I remember when we booked him in for the day before our Due Date thinking ‘This will guarantee that we deliver early…’), he arrived around 9:30am, and this kept Raff busy for a couple of hours.
By the time he left at 11ish, the pain was major. I was pacing up and down the hallway, walking around in circles. I couldn’t sit, stand, lay down, anything. Raff suggested putting on a video to distract me. We didn’t even get through the opening credits, before I decided that it was a stupid idea! We had day-time TV on. Painful enough at the best of times!! I recall watching a woman on the News that had just had sextuplets – that really didn’t help!
I told myself that we would wait until 1pm, see how I felt and then make a decision about going back to the hospital. One o’clock on the dot we packed the car and off we went. This car ride was far more unpleasant – it’s a 6 minute drive, and I had 3 contractions on the way! This time I knew that I would be devastated if something wasn’t happening!
This time the same midwife said “This looks a lot more convincing”. She did an internal – only 1cm dilated, but fully effaced. She suggested a bath and that was great. For two hours I sat in there with Raff pouring water over my back. I actually felt quite serene in there. Not long after I had gotten in there Mum rocked up. (She had rang home earlier in the day, as she had every day that week to jokingly ask “Have you had the baby yet?” I don’t think she expected Raff to say “Nearly”) I reckon she said to us about 50 times “Just tell me if you don’t want me here, I don’t want to intrude”
All of a sudden I had had enough of the spa. I needed to go to the toilet, and the appeal of the water had worn off. I dried off and ventured into the Labour room. It must have been around 4pm now. My brother and his girlfriend (now wife) came in for quite a while, which was a lovely distraction. (I think Eva is still walking around with her legs crossed! ) I was pacing back and forward, still peeing every couple of minutes. The pains were getting much stronger, but I felt quite positive – if a particular contraction was very painful, I would say “That one has to have dilated me another centimetre!”
The best way to cope was to lean up against Raff, hold him tight, bob up and down and breathe deeply. Occasionally he had to leave to go to the toilet or get stuff out of the car. So thank goodness that Mum was there also. It felt like lots and lots (and lots!) of contractions before I thought that I might need some gas. It took a little while to work out the right way to use it, and it made me very, very light-headed – not less pain though!
At some stage I felt very weird and strange between my legs. A quick trip to the toilet showed a lot of mucous – things were starting to happen! I was so excited that all these signs that I had read about and memorised were actually happening to me!! I can’t believe how many times I went to the toilet, and also how much mucous there was (TMI, I know)
I decided that I now needed to use the gas during every contraction. It was getting pretty hard to bear. The midwife kept asking me if I wanted a shot of Pethidine over and over and over. I resisted for a long time. During each contraction I thought ‘Yes’, but in between I thought ‘No’. I thought about it as much as I could, and when I realised that I didn’t even know how to think anymore I said yes. I don’t know if it helped – everything still hurt! But I felt a bit calmer and ‘together’, more in control.
As the midwife was trying to convince me to get up on the bed, I looked around and realised that my brother and GF had left. The midwife had done an internal earlier and I was 3cm. This time I was 7cm, and she attempted to break my waters with no success, so when my Dr came in he broke my waters. That was sooo painful. I knew that I was screaming, and tensed up, and totally not relaxing which made it so much worse, but I couldn’t help it.
It’s starting to get a bit blurry now. Umm, more contractions, more gas, more pain and more of the midwife trying to talk me into an epidural. This I knew I did not want (I was a bit p*ss*d that I had the Peth to be honest. If she hadn’t mentioned it, I would have gone without) Raff, Mum and I managed to convince her to give me another internal, and with surprise she said that I was fully dilated and could start pushing whenever I felt the urge. I couldn’t believe it! I kept saying “Are you sure?!” It just felt too easy. I think I must have read too many horror stories, and had prepared myself for the worst. I was thinking that ‘transition’ would be horrendous, but besides being extraordinarily hot and thirsty, it was fairly non-eventful.
Now, when I got to ‘pushing’, even after everything that I had read, it just felt so unreal – not pushing in the way I thought it would be. It felt like only 8-10 pushes, but maybe it was more…. The first couple of pushes were non-events really, until they told me that I had to push constantly for the count of 20. Raff was counting for me; all I could think was “Count faster!!” I felt quite controlled between each push. And then I would say “Here comes another one, start counting” Raff was counting down from 20 to 1, when Mum took over she was counting from 1 to 20. Talk about confusing!
During all this someone got Raff a chair as he looked very washy. I thought that it was all getting too much for him, but then he said he was faint because he hadn’t eaten all day! (Neither had I, but my mind was otherwise occupied!) Lucky for that block of chocolate I had packed in the Labour bag! After half of that he felt a lot better.
Mum was down at my feet, watching and waiting. Quicker than I thought was possible; she said “I can see the head! About as big as a 50c piece and it looks like it’s covered in black hair!” Now that’s motivation to push properly! Push, push, push – lots of yelling, grunting and in between each push that horrible feeling that something was stuck and stretching me beyond belief. (Which of course it was!!!) But definitely not a pleasant sensation!
I put my hand down there, and I could feel the head. So soft and downy, and covered in hair. I was just blown way!! One push and the head was out. Mum was yelling ‘Its got dark hair” over and over. (All the other bubs in our family had been baldies!) One more push and it just flew out – those midwives sure need good reflexes!
IT’S A GIRL!!! (I knew it!) Raff went down to cut the cord – very tough apparently.
All I could say was “Is she alright?” over and over again. She was screaming her head off, and oh so beautiful. I was expecting a funny looking, ugly, mushed up baby, but she was gorgeous! After a cuddle they took her to get cleaned up, weighed and measured. Then I delivered the placenta – easy and interesting to look at. Then the Dr showed up, just in time to stitch me up – not very pleasant at all.
Ella Louise was born at 6:57pm on 10th July 2002, weighing 8po9oz (3880gm)
52cm long and a head circumference of 37.5cm. Big and healthy, with loads of gorgeous black hair.
No words can truly capture the moment. The things that stand out the most to me are touching her head as I was birthing her, and the rate that she just zoomed out of me on that second push. Oh and of course just how perfect she was! I didn’t cry at all, I just fell in love. 5hrs and 10mins was the official length of labour. Not bad for the first time!
Unfortunately our breastfeeding relationship was a bit bumpy. I didn’t get her latched on properly until Day 8, but we then went on to feed for 15 months.