Charlie arrived into the world on Saturday 2 October at 11:45am. He was born in the bath into the waiting arms of his mama after what I'd have to describe as a pretty good labour.
Warning: Long PostPrelabour contractions had started the weekend before, but were not strong enough to demand my attention until Thursday night. I went to bed hoping for action during the night, but woke up a little disappointed. After breakfast we all went for a walk to the park and I walked around on uneven surfaces to try to get things moving, but by 9am it was clear that Charlie was planning to take his time and so I told P to go to work.
(Feel free to just look at the photos)
(Feel free to just look at the photos)
After P had gone, my Dad came over to look after Lily and they went out to the city to do some shopping. I busied myself in the kitchen baking focaccia and mixing a birthday cake for Charlie (the carrot, coconut & macadamia nut cake from Vegan with a Vengeance), stopping every now and then to manage the contradictions which were starting to get stronger.
Dad and Lily returned from town and we all had lunch together of fresh focaccia and salad. I put the cake in the oven, hoping...
After lunch I sat out in the sunshine that afternoon watching Lil play with Dad. Around 3pm we sat down to have cake for afternoon tea and my contradictions became intense enough to require most of my attention, but were still around 10 minutes apart.
Dad and Lil sat down to watch some Playschool in the late afternoon and I had a nap. I also called P to ask him to bring home some spicy Indian food for dinner (from Blu Ginger).
Dad headed off around 4:30pm and I gave Lily some early dinner. She was unfazed when I had to turn my attention to my contractions, which helped to make then seem less important.
At around 5:30pm P came home with dinner. I added lime pickle to the curries and every time I had a really spicy mouthful my contractions would intensify. This seemed like a good thing.
P got Lily ready for bed and (most unusually) I did the dishes in order to have something to focus on.
I snuggled Lily to sleep (like I do every night) and breathed through the contractions in bed and then sat on the couch with P while he rubbed my back. By 8pm I was having to stand and lean on the arm of the couch to deal with my contractions, which had become pretty strong (but were still only 10 minutes apart). P started to get up with me and rub my lower back through each contraction, which really helped. Then he thought of pressing on my hips, which was even better as it was starting to feel like my pelvic bone was being forced open (which, of course, it was).
By 9:00pm I decided to text my doula, Vickie, and my Mum to give them some warning and to allow them to get an early night (just in case). The contractions continued to come only 10 minutes apart though and so at 9:30pm I thought that I had better try to get some sleep.
I took two panadeine forte and lay down in bed while P continued to rub my back. When the contractions came I rolled over on to a pillow, circling my hips and breathing through the pain. Within half an hour I could feel the codeine in my system. I started to feel slightly nauseous and heavy and worried for a moment that I had only made things worse, but then I drifted off to sleep. P went to sleep in Lily's bed (as he has for the last few months).
I woke up around 2:30am. The pain killers were starting to wear off and I had to concentrate again to get through each contraction. They were still 10 minutes apart and I decided to stay in bed and to try to sleep between each wave. This worked until around 3:30am when I was working too hard to sleep at all, but talked myself into staying in bed to get a bit more rest.
I managed to stay in bed until 5am when the contractions were just too strong to handle lying down. I got up and made myself a bowl of cereal. While I was eating it I wrote a shopping list for the farmers markets. For some strange reason I thought that P might still have the chance to go and buy our fruit and veg for the week...
It was still and peaceful in the early morning light and I felt quite calm despite the growing intensity of each contraction. I worked through a few of them by leaning over the kitchen table, but decided to move into the loungeroom in order to use the Swiss Ball instead and rest my legs a little. I knelt in front of the ball and used it to help me rotate my hips through each contraction. In between each wave I rested my head on it and tried to sleep a little in order to preserve my energy. I was surprised to find myself drifted off every now and then.
At 6am I sent my Mum a text message to ask her and her partner, A, to come over to look after Lily so that I could monopolise P's attention. By 7am, when P woke up, I hadn't heard back from Mum and so I asked P to call her. She had just looked at her phone and was getting ready to come over.
Lily got up around then and we all sat down in the kitchen for breakfast. I left the room for my next contraction, but had to lean on the kitchen table again for the following one. Lil wanted to know why I was leaning on the table and, after the contraction had peaked, I explained that my back hurt and that leaning on the table helped me to feel better. She decided that her back was sore too and to join me. Laughing at her made everything feel a lot less intense.
Mum and A came over while we were finishing breakfast. I had a contraction just as A walked in the door and wasn't able to greet her, which felt odd, but she just walked passed quietly and went to entertain Lily in her bedroom.
I stayed in the kitchen with P who was now free to rub my back and hips through each contraction, which helped so much. I was starting to find it hard not to vocalise loudly and was a little disappointed when Lil decided not to go to the Farmers Markets with Mum and A.
We gave A our market shopping list and Mum stayed behind to look after Lil. I moved back into the lounge room in order to lean over the Swiss Ball again. At one point Lil came in and wanted to know why I was leaning on the Swiss Ball. I explained that it helped my back and she informed me that her back was still quite sore and that she'd like to use it. Once again laughing at her calmed me right down, but I was glad that she didn't keep the ball for very long.
By 8:30am my contractions were getting really strong and Mum started talking to Lily about going over to her place for a play. I also asked P to call Vickie to ask her to come over, but then got all indecisive while he was on the phone and ended up saying we'd call her back. (I'm not sure why, in retrospect. I have a horrible feeling that I was trying not to be a burden!) But it wasn't long before I asked P to call her back to ask her to come over.
A returned with the market shopping just before 9am and Mum and Lil were able to head off. As soon as they were out of the house I started to vocalise loudly through each contraction and found that it helped so much. I was amused to realise that I sounded just like an elephant at one point after years of failing to make a good elephant noise for Lil.
Vickie arrived around 9:20am while I was having a contraction. They were coming on very strongly now and she remarked that labour seemed to be pretty established. Within a few contractions I started to sob as I became overwhelmed by the pain. (I know now that I was transitioning, but had no idea at the time). At that point Vickie suggested that we think about heading into the birth centre pretty quickly. Looking back at my (long, painful posterior) labour with Lil I realised that I'd gone in too soon last time and I was determined not to make that mistake again and told Vickie my concerns. She reassured me that it wasn't too soon this time around and so I agreed to head in.
Vickie called Gill, my midwife, who said that she would go into the birth centre and start running the bath. P started to get the car ready, while Vickie stayed with me and massaged my back through each contraction, while encouraging me to vocalise and breathe deeply.
Last time the car ride had been horrific, as I anxiously watched each turn from the front seat and waited fearfully for each contraction to hit me. This time I knelt backwards on the back seat with my head resting on a pillow. I also kept my eyes closed and was able to move and breathe through each contraction. It was a much better trip as a result.
We arrived at the birth centre at 10:30am. I sat down on the couch and Vickie dimmed the lights and started to burn some essential oils. I was amazed by how good the scent of the oils made me feel. When the next contraction hit I knelt on a mat on the floor and leaned over a bean bag. Gill suggested that I move into the bath.
Again I was determined not to get into the bath 'too soon' as I had done during my labour with Lily and expressed my concerns, but Gill reassured me that this was a good time to get in. P put on his board shorts and sat on the edge of the bath while I knelt on a foam pad, leaning forward over his knees. This enabled me to move through each contraction and to lie forward and rest in between. Vickie turned off the lights and put on a couple of tea lights instead. She also put on some calm music and brought in the oil burner. It was incredible what a different this made to the atmosphere in the room and to my capacity to deal with the pain.
Not long after getting in the water my contractions seemed to slow down a little and I was a bit concerned until Vickie mentioned to P that things had slowed down because Charlie's head was molding. I had been thinking that I might be going into second stage, but didn't want to get my hopes up and decided to keep thinking that I should pace myself to keep going until dinner time. Gill and Vickie left us alone in the bathroom and I started to feel all emotional, telling P how much I loved him over and over.
Not long after I started to feel strong pressure during my contractions and could feel myself starting to push. Vickie came in and suggested that I focus my energy down through my vocalisations. As I controlled my screams into grunts I could feel my pushes start to become more effective. I didn't experience this part of labour with Lily (as I'd had an epidural by this point) and as the intense pressure built up in my pelvis I decided that this was probably a good thing. I have heard that some women prefer the second stage of labour, but I found it unbelievably painful.
I could feel Charlie moving through the birth canal and it wasn't all that long before his head was pushing out. Gill was using a mirror and torch to see what was happening and I felt like saying "his head's about to come out," but I continued to be paranoid about getting my hopes up and so I kept quiet (well, about that, I was doing plenty of grunting and screaming during contractions).
Soon I could feel Charlie's head pushing through. It stung like mad and felt totally wrong, but I also started to feel excited that we were about to meet our baby boy. After his head had come out there was a brief pause and then I pushed the rest of him out with the next contraction. Gill told me to reach down and pick him up and so I did, amazed that I could 'catch' my own baby. As I pulled him out of the water I noticed that his cord was wrapped around his neck and told Gill who gently took it off. I held our gorgeous little boy to my chest and he began to scream. At least we knew that he was breathing!
It was 11:45am, only 75 minutes after we'd arrived at the birth centre.
We asked Vickie to call Mum so that she could bring Lily in to meet her little brother. Apparently she had to be told that Charlie had actually been born before she could be convinced to leave the fun at Grandma's house. She hadn't been there very long.
Gill pulled a mat into the bathroom and piled some pillows up against the bath and then P helped me up with Charlie still in my arms so that I could birth the placenta on the mat. I'd decided not to have the injection of Syntocinon and was glad that it only took 15 minutes, and a couple more contractions, for this to be over.
From there I took Charlie to the bed and soon after he was having his first breastfeed. Lily arrived shortly after and came in to meet her little brother. It was love at first sight.