Oscar’s water birth.
3rd March, 2012.
It was a sunny Saturday morning, about 8am and Ruby, Anton and I sat down to our weekend ritual breakfast of bacon, scrambled eggies and toast. Whilst eating I became aware of very slight niggly crampy feeling in my lower abdomen. I mentioned this to Anton, but that I thought it was probably wind… and stopped paying attention to it as we finished up our breakfast and got into our day. I was 39weeks+1day (I think) and quite ready for bub to be in my arms! I was over feeling soooo hot and having ankles and feet swollen like balloons! I had been having Braxton hicks since about week 17 of my pregnancy and in the last few weeks they had increased in frequency and duration. My belly would get so tight I thought it would pop!
We had a busy day of ‘getting things done’ planned. Dad arrived about 830 to start knocking out a kitchen cupboard with Anton so we could fit a dishwasher in. I went out the back with Ruby to hang out some washing and became aware that the niggles were still there… and they were coming and going and coming and going. I called to Anton through the kitchen window “You might not get all you hope to done today if this keeps up”. His response was, “You mean with Ruby’s carry on?”… Yes, she was pork chopping as only an almost two year old can, but “Ah, no… I’m pretty sure I am having contractions”. “Oh”.
At this point (around 9ish) the niggles were only at about 1-2 out of 10 on a pain scale, but they were coming and going quite regularly. I think they were already less than 5 mins apart. I got the washing hung out, pushed Ruby in the swing and admired our Poinciana and Hoop Pine trees.
I text messaged our friend and birth support, Deb, that there was some action. I also sent a text message to Georgia, our birth photographer, so she could organise her day. Dad and Anton were banging away in the kitchen and I was trying to keep Ruby entertained. Anton asked me about 10ish if he should send Dad away to keep things a bit quieter and for him to be able to focus on Ruby for me. I said no… I was feeling ok and the contractions still weren’t very strong. I could talk and laugh and was still getting things done. I spoke to Mum and my brother to let them know things might be happening. Both were excited!
I was nervous to commit to the idea that we would meet our baby today as I thought it might be a false start, or the labour may go on for a long time. With Ruby’s birth I had predicted the day she would be born and she arrived on that day. With this wee bairn I had predicted the end of February and here we were into March without his/her arrival! I had a really down day the day before, wondering why bub hadn’t come and feeling tired and heavy. I had a chat with myself that evening about letting go and knowing that my baby would come when they were ready. I also had an osteopathic treatment the day before where Bec worked along my rib/upper abdo border and I really felt like she had ‘shifted’ something.
Dad left around 1030 and Anton and I decided to lie down on our bed to try to get Ruby to have a sleep and for me to as well, if I could. Ha! Best laid plans…. Ruby was not keen to sleep, I think she could tell something was going on and I felt more uncomfortable lying down. Anton timed some of my contractions and they were coming less than 4 minutely and lasting for about a minute. They still were not really intense and I could easily breathe through them.
Around 11 I decided it was time to get some things organised so I could let myself relax into this… I was so distracted by Ruby and focused on her that I thought maybe things weren’t progressing like they might if I wasn’t tending to her. I called Mum to come get her, but discovered that Dad was at my brother’s rental property working on something, Mum had my nephew and my bro, Gregg, and his wife, Cherie, were out shopping for flooring for their new home! Ummm…. I rang Gregg and he organised for Cherie to come and get Ruby to take her to Mum and Dad’s for us.
I realised somewhere here that we didn’t have any of Ruby’s special protein powder for her nightly bottle, so I rang a shop to ask and got them to put some on hold. Then I sent Anton out to get it… against his better judgement he went… he didn’t want to leave me, but he also didn’t want to argue with his labouring wife!!
Once he left and I was alone with Ruby I got a little nervous and nearly called my friend & neighbour to come and be with me. Alone with a testing toddler….hmmm….. Somewhere around 1130, Anton got back from the shop and Cherie arrived to get Ruby. Things were intensifying, but I was still doubting whether I was really in established labour… It was lovely to see Cherie’s beautiful smile and to get some feminine energy in her hug. There was so much relief once Ruby was safely with her and on her way to my folk’s house.
I called the midwives at the RBWH Birth Centre where bub was to be born to let them know that things were a happening. I also called our friend and birth support, Deb. She got a bit of a shock to hear where things were at as somehow in the business of her morning she had missed my text that things had started. Deb said she would jump straight in her car and head over (there is more to this story and it is quite amusing… Deb can tell you if you know her!).
Things really kicked in with Ruby gone and I could no longer talk through contractions. Like with Ruby’s labour, I found the mantra of “just one” (just get through one contraction at a time) helped me to stay in the moment. They were about 3 ½ mins apart and reasonably intense. Yet I was still thinking I wasn’t really in the right ‘zone’ and I wasn’t sure what I needed. I decided that once Deb arrived we would head in to the birth centre. I got in the shower to let the warm water run over my back and abdomen to help with the pain and to relax me.
Deb arrived around 1230 and I remember saying to her that I thought we should head to the birth centre as I didn’t want to get into the zone here at home and have it disrupted by getting in the car and getting to hospital. Deb asked me if that was my head or gut talking? I said it was my gut, I felt like we should go. The thought of sinking into the birth pool was very appealing too! I think I also mentioned to Deb that I could feel pressure really low down in my bottom. At this point Deb apparently made it quite clear to Anton that we really should get to the birth centre ASAP, otherwise we may have another homebirth on our hands.
I sent a text to some of the wonderful women in my life saying things were go and to send me strength and then around 1245 I clambered, quite gracefully I’m sure (snort!), into the back of Deb’s car and with Anton by my side we headed off. And whammo!! Things got really intense and I started crying my eyes out. It was pouring rain, my phone kept going off with return messages and for some reason I suggested the back way and again no one argues with the labouring woman and we bumped towards the RBWH. Anton was sweating it, wishing he was driving and Deb was in the back with me as he was really worried I was going to have the baby in the car!
In retrospect I guess I went into transition in the car. I was wishing we’d just been having another homebirth and I hadn’t had to deal with the car ride! During the car trip and also later on in the shower at the hospital, I thought of all the women that had gone before me and birthed their babes and I drew strength from knowing I was part of such an amazing thing.
We got to the RBWH and drove into the multistorey carpark to where we could walk into the level closest to the birth centre. The time on the carpark card said 108pm. We made our way slowly to the birth centre. I had to stop and clutch Anton through several contractions on the way. I remember an older man smiling at me and I wondered if he realised what was going on. Probably!
We got to the birth centre reception and asked to go in… the admin officer there got a bit officious and was asking my name, saying she couldn’t find me and asking was I in established labour … I wanted to scream at her “Helloooo, you are not a midwife and seriously I am about to have a baby on the floor here if you don’t let me in!!!” I could feel Deb and Anton looking horrified by the interrogation and then the AO finally listened properly to the fact we were there for the birth centre and her demeanour changed and she said go on through. THANK YOU!!
Our midwife Carolanne was waiting and I got into the shower whilst they got the bath filling as fast as possible. I really should have called just before we left home so the bath was ready… With some contractions I would stand on my right leg and sort of wave my left leg around in the air…. Weird! I guess maybe my body knew I need to create more space on that side. With other contractions I would need both feet planted firmly to cope with the swaying and bobbing I was doing! Georgia also arrived just after I got into the shower and started discreetly snapping pics.
In the shower the contractions were really really strong and I was getting more and more pressure in my bottom and feeling like I needed to poo (I really dislike the pooing part!). I told Deb so she could tell Carolanne. I reached between my legs at some point here and I remember Deb asking me what I could feel. I could feel my bag of waters bulging out and I was thrilled by this! Ruby was frank breech, so the sensations of a head down baby moving through the birth canal were a new experience and much harder. Not as in difficult, but in firmness.
The bath was ready at this point. I think it was about 140pm. I hobbled out to it and went to step up to it and my waters broke with a big warm gush! I looked down at the floor and some bystander part of my brain noted that there was vernix in the amniotic fluid and no meconium!
Carolanne said to me “if you want to have a water birth you’d better get into the pool now, otherwise hop onto the mat”… I really really wanted to get into the pool, but I could feel another contraction slamming in and so when my loving husband said quietly “shall we get into the water” I let out a guttural “Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo” which shut everyone up for a bit (I’m sure they were all pulling faces at one another!). In my head that animal bellow translated as “I am about to have another contraction, which I know is going to be more intense as my waters have just broken, so everyone just leave me be for a minute and then I will get into the damn pool!!”.
Once through that contraction I climbed nimbly (clambered in an ungainly fashion) into the birth pool and got onto my hands and knees, spreading my legs wide. Like with Ruby’s birth I had started out wanting Anton to be in the water with me, but when it came to the crunch I would not let go of him up near my head so he hung out on the side of the pool, having his arms squeezed viciously! Somehow in hanging onto Anton for dear life in the pushing stages of my births I feel I am channelling his calm strength and using it to help me push. Also to refuel with his energy, as the ‘tank’ gets low by this point!
Carolanne asked me if I was going to be able to catch the baby as she couldn’t quite reach me where I was in the pool. Damn straight I will catch my baby!
The ring of fire (I think this is a massive understatement!) was well and truly BURNING and I said to Deb ”I still don’t like this bit, Deb!!!” And I got a comforting, amused smile from her. The feeling of my pelvic bones lifting and separating was unreal. Not painful, just amazing.
During the pushing stage in Ruby’s birth I felt completely overwhelmed by how out of control I was, how it was just all happening, but with Oscar’s birth I just let go and went with it, and it wasn’t scary.
I pushed with the next contraction and reached down and felt the top of our baby’s head emerging. This was wonderful to do and so motivating. I got so much joy from touching that soft wrinkly little scalp! I had been too scared to do this with Ruby’s birth. I thought to myself, ok, next push, get bub’s head out and then you will have some relief, so that’s what I did!
And then when I felt the next contraction coming I thought, right, let’s get this baby OUT… so that’s what I did! Our wee one swum out into my hands and I flipped over to a kneeling position in the bath and cradled our baby to my chest. Anton was kissing me saying “you did it, you did it!”. It was 1.51pm (yep only 43mins since we parked the car!). I was so excited, relieved, shocked, amazed & delighted to be holding our baby that I didn’t think to check if it was a boy or girl until Anton and Carolanne asked! I knew bub was a little boy without looking, I had known from the start of my pregnancy. We were all marvelling at how much vernix bub was covered in and I kept wanting to kiss his perfect little rosebud mouth.
The umbilical cord was quite short so I couldn’t relax back into the bath and keep bub’s head above water. Carolanne also said there was some bleeding she wanted to checkout, so I got out of the bath and onto a birth stool next to it. It took about 10 minutes and the placenta was birthed. I wanted to keep the placenta, umbilical cord and bub joined for a while, so once the placenta was out and into a big silver bowl, we made a funny little procession over to the queen sized bed.
It was lovely to cuddle up onto the bed with Anton and bub and marvel over this new life. We spoke bub’s name aloud to tell Deb and Georgia – Oscar Gregg.
About half an hour after birth we decided to cut the umbilical cord. Oscar stirred a bit with this, but soon settled peacefully back onto my chest again. We then weighed him and Carolanne checked him out. 3.73kg/8lb3oz and 51cms. The midwives checked my perineum and said I had a first degree tear, which we decided not to stitch.
After the weigh in etc. we called my parents and Dad was gobsmacked that we were calling him to tell him that the Oscar had already arrived. We also called my brother to give him the news and he was so touched we had given Oscar his name as the middle name. Calls were also made to Anton’s parents and two of my closest girlfriends.
My folks arrived with Ruby about 4pm and I was so happy to see my baby girl. I couldn’t wait to cuddle her and introduce her to her new brother. She seemed so big and so little all at the same time. Ruby was a little bit interested in Oscar, but more keen to check the room out! It was also so special to have my parents meet their newest grandson.
After an hour or so Mum and Dad took Ruby home with them, she was to spend the night at their house. I knew this was good for all of us as I didn’t know when we would head home, but my heart squeezed in my chest as my Dad carried her away out the door. A new and different time in my relationship with my baby girl had begun.
Oscar had a good lick and nuzzle at the susu (breast) in the hour after his birth, but he was mostly content to sleep in his daddy’s or my arms for a good while.
I was very happy to have a shower, and I felt really good and strong.
We were keen to head home, but had to wait for a paediatrician to come and check Oscar out. When she finally did, she was a bit funny with us for choosing not to give Vitamin K. Our decision was based on research and not an uninformed one. Oscar was a healthy term infant who had a non-traumatic birth, as we understood it, the risks of haemorrhagic syndrome were very very very low for him.
After the paed had been and we’d been through some information with a nurse, we called my Dad to come collect us about 800pm and take us home. Oscar seemed so tiny to be putting into the capsule in the car and I felt pangs about letting go of him. Luckily it was only a 10 minute drive home and we were soon tucked up in our bed together, being reminded of just how LOUD a little baby can be!
Throughout Oscar’s birth I was much more present than with Ruby’s birth… this was partly a conscious decision as I wanted to be really aware for what we plan to be our last birth. It was also influenced by having Ruby around in the early stages and then transferring to the Birth Centre. I don’t think this made it any better than Ruby’s birth, just different!
My thanks for this beautiful birth go to:
Georgia for her sweet, creative presence and our wonderful birth pictures;
Deb for her loving, nurturing, soulful guidance, support and ability to just BE with birth and the birthing couple;
Our midwives – Carolanne, Martha, Nicole and Corinne for their wisdom, respect and smiles;
Anton, my beautiful, ever-loving and absolute rock of a husband, I am so blessed to have you to share life and babies with;
And last, but not least, our darling son, Oscar… thank you for joining our family, and completing it xxx