Monday morning around 3am I wake suddenly. Staring at the ceiling, wondering why my brain is suddenly alert.
I can hear DH snoring across the hall, I can hear the heating vent creak. I hear the skylight in the toilet banging. But there’s no reason for me to wake suddenly. I lay there, Tristan breathing next to me. I roll off my side and begin to feel that dull ache across my back and through my cervix. Ahhh, so that’s what woke me. I get up to go to the toilet, and another ache rolls across my back, the cold draft from the skylight bugs me. I’m completely awake and the thought of laying down again makes me feel nauseous, so I light the candles in the lounge room and wrap myself in a blanket while I sit and stare at the wall. I feel a bit giddy, and the rolling ache comes and goes. I begin to nod off on the couch and catch myself wondering if it’s worth timing the sensations. As I lay down, I realise I can’t actually sleep during the peak of the rolling, but in between I am napping, believing that today is the beginning of a big task.
By 4.30am I am convinced it’s going to continue, I figure they’re coming in waves about 10 minutes apart and I can’t say they’re particularly gentle. I feel jagged on the inside. I get up go to the toilet again and I feel my plug move down and out of me, it had been slowly coming away in the weeks previous, but now there is no mistaking what I have in my hands. Grinning at myself.
At 6am I sms doula and mw, just letting them now I feel the beginning of something, and reminding them that I am a slow starter. My doula rings me later that morning, I’m pacing the house and getting frustrated that the sensations aren’t changing, they’re just sharp and seem to be moving further apart. DH has the day off, it’s a public holiday, I warn him that something is happening and that I’m feeling fragile, and he takes the boys into the shed to ‘build stuff’ and manages to distract them for most of the day in there while I pace the house. My doula decided to come down and give me a hand, knowing that I was really fractious and volatile. The sensations were backing off, and leaving me confused. Some really hurt, others didn’t. I knew it was all working towards a higher purpose, but believing that I could have days and days of this to come was playing with my head.
My doula loved me, nourished me. She committed to staying the night, believing that once the kids were in bed, things might change.
She organised getting the pool blown up. She set up my space with help from the boys. We eat take away on the front lawn and watch a storm roll in. We watch a movie,. I feel strange in myself. I’m not quite sure where I feel comfortable and I’m nesting all over the house. We go to bed late in the end. And there is nothing happening. Not a twinge. Not a twang. I’m feeling lost.
I wake in the morning to a busy house. DH leaves for work and MIL arrives to take William to school. Melissa helps me get breakfast and after the house settles again when the morning rush is over, she showers and I vacuum, like a crazy woman. I clean the lounge room, I vacuum the house. Melissa emerges from the shower and I sit on the lounge room floor and have a tantrum. It was a good one. I threw toys. I cried. I can’t do days more of this. I am exhausted. I am in pain. My body aches. My bones hurt. My head hurts. I’m terrified of things going on any longer, because I fear what I might resolve to do. Melissa listens, the little boys listen. I cry. Melissa asks me what I want to do. I need sun, I need air. Let’s go for a walk at the marina. We get down there, and it hurts to walk, so we go get a juice and sit, then leave soon after. I feel like a freakshow exhibit. I feel enormous and hideous and far too obviously pregnant. Melissa has clients for the afternoon, and decides to keep her appointments and lets me know that if I need her tonight, it has to be after 10.30pm. I agree to that. I think she’s mad. I’m never going to have a baby. It’s all a fucking myth.
I get in the car and I cry, Tristan and Lochlain fall asleep on the way home, so I grab something to eat and lay them on the couches. A friend had dropped off a copy of ‘Birth As We Know It’ over the weekend, and I’d been putting off watching it. But now that the house was silent, it seemed like as good a time as any.
I sat on the couch with the phone, watching this film, and in my hand I had a piece of paper with Andrew’s work number, the midwife’s phone number and King Edward’s phone number on it. I was at the end point. I needed help. I needed to have a baby before my back broke with the pressure, before I became an even worse parent than I felt.
The boys woke from their naps together, I fed Tristan while Loch lay his head in my lap, and the phone rings. It’s Andrew. He’s on his way home. Why? He’d thrown up at work. Great. He gets home about 45 minutes later, and he lay on the couch moaning for a couple of hours. His parents dropped William off after picking him up from school, and Andrew volunteers me to cook dinner for everyone. I want to hurt him. His parents agree to stay, and I cook a giant chicken stirfry. They bug me through dinner, asking if I feel like it’s going to be anytime soon. No. There is no baby.
They do my dishes and get the kids in their pyjamas, Andrew is in the shower, he doesn’t eat dinner, he goes to bed, he looks green. Andrew’s parents leave, William falls asleep on the couch and I tell Lochlain and Tristan it’s time for bed. Lochlain climbs in with Andrew and I take Tristan into my bed. It’s about 8.30pm I hear Andrew get in the shower again, and I hear him vomiting, fair enough, now I’ll have a fucking baby. I roll over, and I feel a *pop*. I wait for the gush. There is no gush. Where is the gush? I get up to pee, still no gush. What the hell was the pop then? I lift William off the couch to put him to bed, there’s the small trickle. Aha!
I contemplate going to bed. It’s after 9pm now and the house is silent. I might just enjoy myself for a bit. Andrew is back in bed. I soon start noticing that sharp sensation again in my hips. I get the ball and bounce in front of Andrew’s computer, leaning on the edge of the pool sometimes. I’m finding I can’t sit for long. I try chatting to Jo/Sirius. I let her know something is happening. I begin taking note of the times the sensations are happening... 8 minutes apart, 7 minutes apart, 6 minutes apart... ok they’re getting closer and they’re hurting. I can’t sit here. Talk to you later.
By 11pm I have texted Melissa to get sleep. By 11.20pm I am ringing her telling her to get her arse down here. I’d gone in to DH asking him to help me. He’d put his hand on my back and he was cold and clammy and his stomach gurgled. He looked at me and his skin was a yellow/green colour. He apologised and said he couldn’t move, as he shook with chills. I’d come back out to the kitchen to ring Melissa and noticed that the sharp feeling was more frequent. I messaged my midwife, asking when I should call her, and she just said when I was ready.
I busied myself while I waited for Melissa, I gathered blankets for the baby and towels, and gripped the bench often. Planting my feet solidly on the floor, not believing this was going to be quick.
Melissa arrived, she helped me with grounding myself. She got my drinks sorted out. I bounced/rocked on the ball between the rushes and stood at the bench holding her hands tight during them. It hurts in my back. I don’t like this. Back pain is not my thing. Get these pants off me.
At some point she asked me if I wanted my midwife, yes. I hear her talking, I hear my midwife says she’s on her way. From one contraction to the next, the pain moves from my back, to my front. Suddenly the sharpness is in my pubic bone. I can cope MUCH better with this. It’s easier to hold out hope of surviving without splitting in two.
I stay at the bench. Bouncing/rocking. Standing and roaring. The house is oblivious. I’ve shut the hallway door.
My midwife arrives, she asks me if I want to have my baby in the water. No, the idea makes me feel nauseous. Right, she’ll fill the pool she winks. More contracting, I feel the splitting, sharp tearing sensations in my cervix. At some point the backup midwife arrived. I didn’t hear her. I hear Andrew get in the shower again.
I hear my midwife ask if I want to get in the water now. I am already on my way into the lounge. Stripping off as I walk. Emma says it’s too hot. I say I don’t fucking care and get in. It’s too cold. More hot please.
I’m on my back, I put pressure on my own hips as the contractions get further apart but far more intense. The splitting pressure builds and there’s no release. The candle light is pissing me off. Get rid of it. Melissa. Get that clock off the wall. Put it outside. That ticking is too loud.
The contractions stop and change. The baby moves, and wriggles and moves more. Make it stop. It’s making me feel sick. It’s moving and kicking. Make it stop.
Suddenly, I feel the sensations change. I grunt. Nope, I don’t want to push yet. It’s too early. No. I don’t want to do this bit. I push again. No. And again. No. Next one, I don’t get a choice, I am pushing and it’s hard work. Melissa wanders off to get Andrew and the boys. I push and push and push. There’s my men. I have a head, it’s almost out. It’s nearly there. Sally tells me it’s a caul baby. Clunk. Push, no movement. Splitting pain across the pubic bone. Sally, help me. I can’t get it to move.
The head moves back in. NO! Sally tells me the head is gone. I blow through the next contraction I want to save up the energy. I feel the baby turning, spinning, the head on my perineum. Sally tells me she can see the baby turning.
I breathe and then push. I roar. The head moves down again and I ask for help. Sally reminds me to move to all fours. I throw my legs back and lengthen my body. I feel something slip inside me. The head births, and Sally reminds me to bring my knees right up on the next push. Knees up, push. It’s still really hard work, Sally tells me she’s not going to help me but she’s going to reach down. I feel her feeling the shoulders, they’re past the bone, they’re on the perineum and they come through on the next push. She supports the weight as the abdomen is birthed. I breathe and roll back over as she brings my baby earthside. I’m handed my baby, one hand behind its head, one hand between its legs. There’s nothing there. I feel again. It’s smooth. I look up. There’s my men. It’s a girl! It’s a what? It’s a girl! HOLY SHIT!
The boys come closer to meet their sister. Andrew stays in the corner, in the chair, he’s still green. He smiles at me. Melissa grins. Emma emerges and grins too. Baby girl cries and we’re wrapped in a towel. I feel a push coming, and small clots coming through. I let Sally know. Then I push again, and I tell her that if that’s not the placenta we’re in trouble. It’s the placenta. Get me out of the pool. I’m cold.
Andrew asks me if I am going to need the shower any time soon. No, I’m going to get warm on the couch first. He goes and gets back in the shower to vomit.
I move to the couch, the boys crowding around to see the fresh baby. I’m piled with blankets and towels. Andrew comes back out to message his parents. I ring mine and Melissa plays with my feet to keep my body aware of being ‘here’. I’m fed. I have tea and toast. Lamingtons too. We chat and sit staring at this little girl. The placenta sits on the coffee table and Will investigates the cord. He’s fascinated by it.
Emma leaves. Melissa begins to nap on the couch. I ask Sally to cut the cord so I can get the baby to my breast better. I offer Will the chance to cut it, but he doesn’t want to. Let’s weigh this baby. Sally lays her on the scales, then looks behind to see that no one is leaning on them, then checks again. Nope, that really does say 5.5kg. 12lb something. I shake Melissa, it’s a fucken 12lb baby. She blinks. And sits up. No way. I look at Sally. Yep. Cool.
I want to shower, I feel great. I feel fine. I walk steadily, there’s no pain anywhere other than my tail bone. I shower and get in to bed. Sally checks for tears. Nothing. Not even a graze. No swelling. No bruising. I feel wicked. Time for a well earned rest.