Disclaimer: only read this if you are interested. If you are family or a friend, you just may not want to know. If you’re pregnant, you may not want to know – I know I didn’t like hearing/reading about other people’s labour when I was pregnant. Your choice! You have been warned.
This is a tricky birth story to write. My first pregnancy had a very “text book” labour. Contractions at home, arrived at the hospital already well dilated, laboured in a bath for a while, lay on a bed, pushed out a baby. Ok, so it wasn’t that simple, but in retrospect, that’s how it feels. In every second sentence of this story, I felt like writing, “completely different to last time”, but I’ve tried to avoid the comparisons. If you’re interested, you can read about my first labour here.
This one didn’t start so well. I had contractions from my 38th week. And at least 3 false labours, where I was convinced we were off to the hospital. So before we even got close, I was already on an emotional rollercoaster that was getting worse with every dip.
Anyway, on THE night I started having big contractions around 1am. I did my best to ignore them, but I couldn’t, so I woke Zac and we started timing them. They were reasonably regular, at around 6-7 minutes, so we had our suspicions that this might be it. The tricky thing was, it wasn’t just a situation of head to the hospital and see how things are going, because we had to get babysitting for Adella, and also contact our midwife to meet us at the hospital, so we didn’t want to do anything unless we were sure. So we waited a couple of hours, and the contractions were definitely getting closer. Besides, I’d done this before, and I really felt we were getting close. So we made our phone calls and headed to the hospital.
Since it was after hours, we were admitted through emergency, and I got my first ever ride in a wheelchair – sweet!
Our midwife met us in the birthing suite and we settled in. And then I started to walk and sway and walk and walk. After a couple of hours, the midwife checked my dilation and I’d only reached 3cm. She said that if I wanted to, I was welcome to go home and come back later, but emotionally I just wasn’t prepared for this. I felt I’d already worked hard and we couldn’t possibly be far away from things intensifying. So, I kept walking. And walking. There’s possibly a worn circle in the floor of birthing suite 1. Now and again the midwife checked whether I wanted a bath. However, I think I’d built up a mental block about baths as they had stopped my contractions in previous days.
As I walked, the room got brighter and brighter as daylight approached. And with that came a more and more clinical feeling, and I think this really slowed me down. My contractions continued, but just weren’t getting any stronger. The midwife checked me again, and I hadn’t progressed any further. At this point I was in tears. I was so sure that this had been it, and I felt that if I went home, I’d be there for more days waiting for this baby. But my options were home or an induction. I really wanted to avoid any intervention, and as desperate as I was to meet this baby here and now, we decided that home was the best option. So we packed up and I left the hospital in tears.
I’m crying now as I write this… it was such an emotional kick in the guts for me.
But I arrived home to the happiest little toddler who was having so much fun with Auntie Sally! I had some cuddles and then she went for a walk with Sally so that I could I rest. I went to lie down and have some vegemite toast and tea. Because vegemite and tea solve everything, right? Right. Within half an hour, I was having super big contractions. I was rolling around on the bed, every now and again jumping up on all fours, and making all sorts of terrible animal noises. I got Zac to run me a hot bath, and I rolled around in there for a while. By now we were much closer to 3 minute contractions and I basically had 90 seconds on, 90 seconds off. Except for the occasional nasty couple that would come back-to-back. At this point, I was having trouble doing anything really. Zac made some calls and got me dressed. I waited until I had a 90 second break, said bye to Sal and Adella and got into the car.
Enter the most intense car trip ever. Since we had two baby seats in the back, I had to sit upright in the front seat. Not. Comfortable. I have no idea how Zac managed to drive me there and concentrate on driving. I’m pretty sure I cried, screamed and groaned the whole way. I was completely oblivious to anything but pain. He half carried me up to the birthing suites, passing shocked faces throughout the hospital (I clearly looked like a disaster!) and our midwife was all ready for us again. She had some comfy mats on the floor and I was down on all fours straight away.
Shortly after arriving, my midwife’s work partner turned up. She was on the next shift as my midwife had a day off the next day, so she knew she’d be doing our home visit, so thought she’d come to the birth too! It was so wonderful having an extra pair of hands for massage, support and encouragement. I feel very lucky to have had her there.
For the next few hours I moved from all fours, to standing, to leaning and back to all fours. I just couldn’t find a position that felt good. And with each suggestion of a new position I felt more distraught. If someone had suggested pain relief, I possibly would’ve taken it, despite being against my wishes. At some point here my waters broke, but I have no recollection of it. After trying such a long list of options, the midwives suggested a bath again. I was again very hesitant, as by this stage of labour last time, I didn’t want to be in the bath. But I trusted my midwife – she’d sent me home and that had progressed labour by so much. Plus, I didn’t want to try any new positions. So I reluctantly got in.
And instantly felt better.
Because I’d spent 7 hours of my morning wearing circles in the floor, my body was just physically giving up. Not to mention having been awake for 33 of the last 35 hours. But suddenly all my weight was taken by the water. I’m not going to lie – it was still INCREDIBLY painful, but just not as tiring. So Zac leant over the edge of the bath holding me up for my last stage of labour. And consequently had a water birth! My midwife had me breathe through most of the last stage and really slowed the pushing down, and consequently, I didn’t have any tearing. After the baby’s head popped out, it was a good five minutes or so before my midwife stimulated some colostrum and the final contraction happened to push the rest of his body out, which was such a weird sensation – I had to keep his head under the water! He was very blue when he came out, but apparently this is normal for a water birth as it’s longer before the babies hit the fresh air.
And despite all the difficulties and intense pain of this labour, I was able to lean down and catch baby Arlo Miles in the water as he was born at 6.15pm. I held him for a few minutes in the bath and Zac and I said hello to our son. And, as I carefully and nervously stood up to get out of the bath and onto the bed, my placenta just dropped out!
We cuddled and rested on the bed together. Arlo did a nice big sticky poo all over me, just like his sister did, and did a great job of feeding straight away. We were given a clean bill of health and were home by 10.30pm.
I’m so glad for the midwifery caseload program that I was on. I’m pretty sure that if I’d gone through the standard system I would have possibly had an induction and/or painkillers because I found it so much more painful this time around. Never fully believe anyone who tells you it will be easier the second time around!
Many people have asked us about his name. The most common question is “Is he named after Arlo Guthrie?”. The answer is no – we hadn’t heard that name until the midwife asked that exact question in the hospital! We saw the name in a book dedication, decided that we really liked it, and thought it sounded cute matched with Adella. Miles is after Miles Davis.