I remember the day I became a mother like it was yesterday. Though some days it feels like a lifetime ago as I try to recall the person I was before. And on other days I still can’t quite believe that I have created a human being. Two in fact. It’s been a busy few years!
It took me a whole year to write my birth story for Jesse, I shared it on his first birthday. With Jasper having recently reached six months old, it feels like the right time to delve back to the day he was born. Again I remember it vividly and it is so unbelievable to me that he has been earth side for half a year already.
So here goes….
Those last few weeks of pregnancy
Having experienced giving birth before, I think I was more nervous this time. Partly because I knew what I was in for but also because I was worried this time wouldn’t be able to live up to the amazing and positive experience I was blessed to have with my first.
I’m not sure why but I was absolutely convinced that the baby would arrive early. Jesse was born 8 days before his due date and I just had in my head this baby would be an early arrival too.
From 38 weeks my Braxton Hicks were getting more and more intense. Some days I’d have four or five in an hour. Every night around 1am I’d have contractions on and off for several hours, enough to keep me from sleeping. But every morning they would stop.
At first I was excited because I knew that it was all positive signs that labour was imminent. But as I hit 39 weeks and still labour wouldn’t establish, I was starting to get frustrated and uncomfortable. I was losing more and more sleep each night (as if sleeping at full term wasn’t hard enough). I was in pre-labour for 24 hours with Jesse but two weeks!? It was getting a bit ridiculous!
Tuesday, 18th April 2017
Despite my frustration and increasing exhaustion, I tried my best to savour the last days of pregnancy and trust that both my baby and my body would know when the time was right. In saying that, I also felt like there was a ticking clock hanging over me.
As I lay in bed on the eve of my due date I couldn’t help but cry; actually I sobbed. My sister was leaving for America in less than 48 hours and I so badly wanted her to be with me for the birth. If I didn’t have this baby the next day she would miss it. Not only would she not be there to support me through the birth but she would not get to meet bub for 6 weeks. I was so worried that she wouldn’t bond with this baby in the same way she had with Jesse. I prayed my little heart out as I cried into the darkness hoping not to wake the two sleeping bodies beside me.
Right on schedule my contractions kicked in again but I tried not to let my brain get too carried away as they would likely go away anyway.
Wednesday, 19th April 2017 (Due Date)
I was in complete shock that I had made it to 40 weeks. I fully expected to have a baby in my arms by now.
As I got out of bed and started going about my day I was aware that I still had some slight cramping hanging around but again the intensity had lessened. I was a bit disheartened but felt strangely confident that this might be the day.
So much so that I washed and straigtened my hair and put on some make up (no harm in looking nice for the big event, right). As I did I found myself having to stop and breathe through some contractions. Could they be coming back on strong?
Kaine took some photos to document my 40 week belly and again I was breathing through some bigger surges. I hadn’t really said much about it at this point. I didn’t want to scare them off! But I was quietly getting more and more convinced that this might be the day.
Around 10.45am I decided to start the contraction timer. They were ranging between three and six minutes apart and lasting about 30 seconds. It was around this time that I notified my student midwife and my sister and asked Mum and Dad to collect Jesse. I was nervous about putting everyone on high alert prematurely but with each contraction gaining momentum it felt like the right thing to do.
It was around about 11.30am when my parents arrived to take Jesse. I was having contractions about every three minutes. This would usually be the time to make a move to the hospital but then I’d have a few that were further apart. So I thought I would just get comfortable in my now quite home and see how things progressed. I popped the birth play list on and bounced on my fit ball through a few contractions. In between I felt great. Happy, excited and strong.
Shortly after my student midwife suggested I phone the birth suite. Good idea! Just around this time the contractions started to get more intense and I was finally ready to admit that this was probably the real deal. The voice on the other end of the phone told me to come in and be checked out. “We can always send you home again”, she said. I knew that wasn’t going to happen!
In between contractions we scrambled for the hospital bags which had been sitting packed for about two weeks now. I was filled with elation and felt giddy with excitement. It’s happening! And my prayers have been answered, Lia will be here to meet my second baby.
Next up, the car ride. Shit! It was 12.15pm and we were pulling out the drive way. I texted Mum, my sister and a couple of close friends to tell them it was all systems go. At first I told mum that we would arrive at the hospital, get checked out and then give her the thumbs up to meet us there. One car contraction later and I sent another text “Leave now!”
As we approached the highway on-ramp I said to Kaine “Once you get passed the speed camera, gun it”. I knew this baby wasn’t far away but I didn’t want to panic so I tried to block that thought out and just face each contraction as it came. It seemed like things had gone from 0-100 now that we were on our way to the hospital.
I think I had about 4 contractions during the 15 minute drive and they were intense. I breathed heavily and winced and moaned throughout each one gripping onto the seat and door of the car. I felt a lot of pressure on my pubic bone but it was just too scary to think that baby’s head might be wanting out whilst we’re booking it down the Bruce Highway!
As we pulled into the car park I said to Kaine that I thought I was about 6-7cm dilated. I knew he didn’t believe me.
We managed to find a park relatively quickly but it was a fair walk to the hospital entrance. I basically climbed out of the car and started walking immediately leaving Kaine for dust as he grabbed the bags. I was repeating to myself “I am calm, centered and in control” as I walked briskly but cautiously through the carpark. For some reason this was the one line from hypnobirthing that stuck with me.
Making record time (for a 40 week pregnant woman in the throws of labour!) through the car park I felt another wave start to build. There was a park bench up ahead and I just focused on making it to that so I had something to brace myself on. Though I couldn’t help but worry I was scaring two small children with my moaning and groaning as their mother gently ushered them off the path and out of my way. I leaned over the bench breathing and moaning heavily as I rocked backwards and forwards.
Kaine had caught up to me by this time. It was now 12.50pm. As the contraction started to subside I picked up the pace again and headed for the hospital door. I’ve just got to make it to the birth suite I kept telling myself. It felt like forever but a few minutes later we were heading through the birth suite doors. One look at me and the staff knew I wasn’t going to be sent home. This baby was coming!
I headed for the railing against the wall to lean on and was greeted by a midwife. She says they are waiting for a room to be cleaned. Faarrrrk! I’m going to have my baby right here in the hallway. I see my beautiful student midwife walking towards me and I just lost it. Or maybe I was already crying, I can’t be sure.
We hug like long lost friends and I apologise for being a blubbering mess. I think we joked about how quickly things had progressed and how lucky I was that we left home when we did. True. But here I am trying to stop a baby from being born in the hospital hallway. I don’t care if the room is ‘dirty’ just let me in there! The midwife has a stern word with the cleaner and suddenly I’m ushered into the room. Thank God! I realise now that I was probably in transition, arguably the most painful and scary part of labour, whilst waiting for a fricken room to be cleaned!
I barely had the chance to take in my surroundings as we walked into the room. They needed to examine me. I leaned over the bed and said “Do I take my pants off?” I knew it was an incredibly stupid question but it felt weird to just walk in and drop my dacks! She responds “Yup, bit hard to have a baby with them on!”
I started whimpering, “Please don’t make me go on my back”, I begged. But they needed to see what they were working with. And as it turns out I was 9-10cm. It was time to have a baby.
Knowing I didn’t want to be on my back and that I’ve laboured before, I was encouraged to move into whatever position I wanted. I instinctively asked for the back of the bed to be put up and I went on to all fours with my arms draped up over the back of the bed. They gave me the gas and air tube. I took it though I knew in my head that I was way past the point of it being any help. I was in so much pain and I was feeling overwhelmed by how fast the labour was progressing. I gripped the mattress as hard as I could and let out low primal growls. I’d be meeting my baby very soon.
“Where’s Mum?”, I asked in a panic.
Kaine tells me she’s almost there. I knew I could have started pushing. Heck, I could have pushed out in that hallway. But I needed my Mum. And my sister. I hear the student whisper to the midwife “I think she’s waiting for Mum”. Bah, they’re on to me.
And then there they were. Lia came around to my left hand side and I leaned my head into her and sobbed. Like ugly, snot coming out of my nose, sobbed.
Contractions were the most intense now but further apart. In between them we chat and laugh. Everyone commends baby on deciding to come on it’s due date and how great it is that Lia can be there before going overseas. I join in where I can and then wait quietly as the next surge builds.
Things feel calmer now. I feel calmer now. The room feels cosy. We’re a team, even though some of us had only just met, and I know that everyone feels like they are part of something special.
As the next one comes I bear down, squeeze Kaine’s hand with everything I’ve got and push. A groan turning into a squeal. It passes and I apologise to Kaine for almost breaking his hand. Again we chat, have a giggle and wait for the next contraction. With my head down and my eyes closed I let the soft music (currently Janet Jackson’s I Get Lonely) take me away as I rest for a moment.
I squeezed Kaine’s hand again, with both hands this time and said “Don’t leave me”. Not sure where I thought he might go at such a time. Important appointment perhaps? He assures me he’s not going anywhere.
My waters still hadn’t broken and I heard the midwives talking and saying that they were bulging. Perhaps stopping baby’s head from coming. But they listen to baby and all seems well so they decide to leave membranes intact. I started to feel really excited about meeting my baby. Or maybe the labour being over. Probably both.
Two more contractions. More pushing. And groaning. I surprised myself with how vocal I was. They tell me to do three good pushes with the next one. “You’ll tell me when to stop pushing won’t you?”, I asked. Clearly still terrified of tearing as I recall 33 years of hearing mum tell me about my birth! They comforted me and it was time to go again. Three good pushes. I hardly made a sound this time. Push…..breathe, breathe, breathe….push…..
The midwife decided to break my buldging waters to avoid Bubby getting distressed. I let out a little shriek with the shock of the pop. “Oh baby, my baby”, I say over and over as I rock my hips back and forth, as if to entice it out.
I push again and then hear them tell me little breaths. Right, that’s my cue. Not needing to be told twice I stopped pushing and instead breathed little puffy breaths quietly. I hear voices start to discuss cord and maneuvering shoulders. I hear Mum and Lia say they can see it.
“It’s got brown hair”.
“Your baby has kissy lips”.
I guess that means the head is out? My eyes are shut and I just keep puffing away.
The excitement builds and discussion about the sex of the baby has everyone bubbling over. I say to Kaine that I want him to be the one to tell me what it is. This whole time he has been my rock. Holding my hand and encouraging me with each surge.
And then all of a sudden its time. I felt every bit of this baby being maneuvered out of me. Completely different to Jesse when, after his head was out, it felt like the rest of his tiny, slippery body just slipped out. I remember being very loud and even actually squealing at one point. And then long loud sighs of relief as I felt baby finally release from my body. It was 1.32pm.
“Lean back and meet your baby”. I look down and scoop up another slippery bundle in my arms, just like I did with Jesse. It seemed so surreal as the sweet relief and the enormity of what has just happened starts to hit me. It was pretty awkward in this position because the umbilical cord was really short.
“What have you got?”
Kaine and I saw at the same time that we had another little boy. We looked at each other and beamed happily.
By this time he had started to cry and I just couldn’t stop looking at him. Taking in every feature and committing this moment to memory. Unfortunately, due to the super short cord, it had to be cut pretty much straight away. Kaine proudly did the honours. I could now roll over and give my boy a proper cuddle. We stayed like this, skin to skin and undisturbed for over an hour.
When I say undisturbed I mean there was still the small task of birthing the placenta to do and there was lots of excited chatter as we all marveled at this beautiful boy. But he remained on my chest the whole time.
He had his first breastfeed and his latch and suck were impeccable. I couldn’t believe it. I also couldn’t believe the after birth pains! They’re not kidding when they say they are worse the second time round. Panadol became my friend pretty quickly.
I found out my Dad was waiting outside with Jesse. He must have come to the hospital when Mum did with the expectation that it wouldn’t be a long wait. So at less than an hour old, Jesse met his little baby brother for the first time. He was very unsure of the hospital environment and clearly very tired but it was a special moment.
It was now nearly 3pm, Mum, Dad, Lia and Jesse all left the room so the three of us could have some time together. It was time to weigh baby, get him cleaned up and have his first cuddles with Daddy.
Earlier, we had all started putting our guesses in for baby’s weight. It was clear that he was bigger than Jesse was but we were in total shock when he came in at a whopping 8lb 6oz (3.9kg). Over a kilo heavier than Jesse’s birth weight. I could not believe it. But totally explains why I felt every bit of that almost 4kg body coming out!
I pretty much knew straight away what I thought we would name him. It was the only name we had actually really loved so thank goodness he turned out to be a boy. But we didn’t lock it in straight away. After we discussed it and agreed, Kaine started making some calls and letting people know the news of the arrival of Jasper James Barton.
And it was time for me to have a shower….finally! Don’t forget my waters had broken on the bed right before the birth. Not to mention all the other gunk and Jasper christened me with his first poo during our lovely skin-to-skin time! There is nothing quite like the joy of that first shower after birth (ok, showering after camping is a close second!). Your tummy is deflated, every muscle in your body is sore and tender but the elation you feel is second to none.
At around 4.30pm we were moved to the ward and for the next couple of hours we baby gazed and showed him off to a few close family members and friends that came to visit. Including my best friend whom Jasper now shares a birthday with. And he is a part of the 4% of babies that are born on the their due date.
By lunch time the following day, just shy of 24 hours after his birth, we headed home with Jasper to begin our new life as a family of four.
I feel so incredibly lucky to be blessed with another amazing birth experience. Both labours have pushed me to my limits and beyond and made me feel empowered in a way nothing else could.
Jasper James Barton
Born on Wednesday, 19th April 2017
1.32pm / 8lb 6oz