24 March 2010
I was in latent labour from 3:30am on 23 March, but having said that it was painful enough that it kept me awake and I knew all about it. I knew that things were moving slowly and tried to take things easy. At 7am I called the midwife to tell her I was in labour, but that I didn’t think she needed to rush to my side. In the mean time, my husband, Jo had left to go to some important meetings promising me he’d drop everything if anything changed. My mother arrived at around 11am. She soon started telling me how it “Wouldn’t be long now” and that it would be “only a few more hours”. Jo arrived at around 1pm cursing that he’d been held up by a traffic cop who’d wheel clamped him for parking on a yellow line and the midwife, Marianne, shortly after him. When she examined me, she found that I was only 2 cm dilated and recommended that I go back to sleep and that she leave and come back later. In the mean time, I had been led to believe that my little one would be arriving around 3pm. I took a moment to go and lie on my bed and feel the disappointment. It was already almost 12 hours since I’d first become aware that I was labouring. I mentally regrouped myself and told myself that this was going to take a lot longer and was going to get a LOT tougher. Then I had a little cry. I didn’t want Marianne to leave, but I also didn’t want to waste her time. Then, suddenly about 8 contractions came quickly in a row. Marianne had another look and I was 5cm dilated.
Jo was a superhero. From the moment he arrived he held me and swabbed me and massaged me.
At around supper time, Marianne announced that I probably wouldn’t birth before midnight. We laboured through the night spending several hours in the birthing pool I’d hired until I wrinkled like a prune. I lay on the bed, putting myself into a trance-like state as I’d done in yoga. Every now and then I’d feel myself starting to lose it and I’d yell: “Marianne help, I’m losing it” and she’d talk me through the breathing again. In the wee, small hours of the morning I puked my guts out. Every drop of water or juice I’d drunk since lunch time, my eggs and bacon from the morning before and the muesli I’d had earlier, reappeared. Then, I needed to go to the toilet and Marianne said sitting on this appropriate fixture would help to move the baby down… good thing too, ‘cus I would have made a hell of a mess!
Sitting there I suddenly felt something big and round come out reached down thinking: Is this the head? and caught a white round object. I got such a fright that I immediately dropped it. It was the waters. I remember thinking that the baby was coming out very easily. Well I was right. It was easy; too easy.
We squatted, we stood, we spiralled… I was in the bathroom when I felt the urge to push. It felt like the urge to projectile vomit, not like nausea, but like every muscle in my abdomen simultaneously contracting at great speed. Then, I thought to myself; This is it, I’m going to push him out now. I gave a really good push with what I thought was all my might and… nothing. Oh Fuck! Did he move at all? I thought. At this stage I couldn’t speak. I remember Marianne asking me what we’d do without toilet paper and I thought: What an odd time to ask such a question. I wanted to tell her we’d have pressurised shower hoses like they do in Thailand, but I couldn’t. So when Noah didn’t move, I didn’t tell her. It was the second time I would mentally regroup myself for the long haul. This too, would take a lot longer than anticipated and be a lot more difficult.
Marianne’s assistant, Gail, arrived and we moved to the bedroom. Then Marianne said: “OK the baby’s head is stuck on your cervix. I want you to stop pushing and lie on your side for the next contraction.” If I had been in a trance and not really feeling so much of the pain the rest of the time, I felt that next contraction. I whimpered like a frightened animal. Then to my horror, I was told to roll over and wait for the next one.
For the next hour, Jo sat behind me holding me up, Marianne held one foot and Gail held the other. I started to open. His head started moving out and then back in again, and then out and in again and then his head was halfway out and it stayed there and Marrianne said to me, “Now you’re going to give this one all you’ve got, you need to get him out now. Wait for the contraction”. There was a longer pause as we all waited. I felt myself and my baby rest and regroup for the final push and then the contraction came and we finally pushed him out. It was 4:55am.
Noah was limp and needed resuscitation. They sucked the fluid out of his lungs, gave him oxygen and finally mouth to mouth. They were rubbing his little body and his eyes began to open, then he closed them again and I thought we were losing him. They rubbed him again and he opened his mouth and bellowed. I was in a daze, but Jo said, with that first cry, Noah had him for life. He said it was the best sound he’d ever heard.
They put him on my chest and he had the softest downiest head I’d ever felt. They waited for the umbilical cord to stop throbbing and then clamped it and handed Jo the scissors to cut it. He was grinning from ear to ear as he did it. As soon as it was cut, I felt another contraction coming and pushed the placenta out. We tried to get Noah to breastfeed, but he was too tired and he was tongue tied and couldn’t latch, so we had to do it manually.
Noah is now breastfeeding beautifully and putting on weight rapidly.
Every day I learn something new about him.
Birth is the beginning.