Again nothing gory here. But what amazes me is how amazing my experience was this time. I always felt a little bit mentally traumatised by the birth of my first, even though it was completely textbook – (physically it was more demanding and longer than the second one and the whole shock to the system and adjustment into motherhood took a long time to get over- in fact I don’t think i got over it until the birth of my second was done and dusted). I was so elated with how much more efficient birth no.2 was that I was already thinking about baby no. 3 on the day after she was born!
My first baby was 7 days overdue, so I wasn’t hoping to go early or even at 40 weeks at all, but when seven days came and went, I felt a little bit anxious – everyone was having their babies except me. I woke each morning and had a little cry. Princess Kate was due on the 25th the exact same as my due date. She had the whole world waiting for her baby and she delivered less than a week overdue. A few friends had also their babies early. But I was still waiting. I had tried acupuncture twice which cost $100 each! Still nothing. But I did feel amazingly calm and serene, like i was on holiday without a care in the world. I highly recommend acupuncture just for this !!
Anyway, I set my hopes set on the 9th day – it was a full moon and it was the 4th of the month. My husband, myself and my first baby were all born on the 4th of the month. It would have been so cool if baby no.2 was too! i was positive this was going to be the day. But I went to bed that night and woke the next morning, still in one piece.
By now I was getting really upset – and to make it worse, my midwife informed me the baby’s head was no longer engaged!! The baby had been in the OBP (optimal birthing position) engaged in my pelvis for around 8weeks and all of a sudden she wasn’t anymore??? I thought my body was failing me. Then on the 10th day overdue, I bent over to pick something up in the shower and I felt my back twinge. I couldn’t stand up. I was in a lot of pain and I could hardly walk. How the Heck was I going to labour and have an active birth in this condition ? I was sure I was going to need medical inducement and then a c-section. NO no no no!!
I went to the Chiropractor as I had been every week during my pregnancy, since about 12 weeks. As soon as I saw her I burst into tears. I just wanted my baby in my arms!! She comforted me and assured me she could help my back. Not only that but she informed me that it is completely normal for a second or third babies to not engage in the pelvis until the very moment labour starts or even not until the pushing phase begins! Still, i was feeling very sorry for myself.
I had another antenatal appointment that day, to discuss medical induction. Great. They booked me in for the 12th day which would be the 7th May. They advised to eat dates (yep- proven to help start labour naturally) and try some nipple stimulation. GREAT. My 3 1/2 yr old still asked to be breastfeed every now and then. So that night I offered it to her. Not even a blink, it was YES from her. I laid down with her in bed and she sucked for around half and hour and fell asleep. I could feel Braxton hicks starting while she was feeding. But i didnt want to get my hopes up, because I had been having strong Braxton hicks since around 20weeks and over the last few weeks we’d had a few false alarms where they had been every 5minutes or so.
So I stood up to get a glass of water. I walked to the kitchen and could feel a Braxton hicks. I started swaying my hips in a figure eight, just mentally practicing what I was going to do when the real thing started. Suddenly I felt a “pop”. I knew straight away that it was my waters breaking. I had heard this described before. I calmly walked to the bathroom. (my husband and mum were on the lounge totally oblivious to what was happening. i think they had lost all hope too). I felt a trickle down my leg and started questioning whether it was my waters or not when suddenly a huge warm gush came out. It’s crazy how much fluid is actually in there!! I felt elated. But also very very calm. I had been so anxious during my whole pregnancy that something would go wrong, and the last week had proved in my mind that it was so – but I felt so calm. And in a way this convinced me that this was the real thing because the oxytocin has a naturally calming effect on the mind and the endorphins that are released during labour also do too. I calmly walked back to the lounge room and announced my waters had broken. Both of them jumped up with joy and excitement! YAY.
We rang the hospital. I told them I wanted to come in even though they were pretty sure I wasnt yet in labour because I could talk and I wasnt having painful contractions. We packed our bag, said good-bye to Oakes and Mum and off we went. The walk from the car to the ward was about 600 metres and by the time I arrived my leggings were saturated with warm gooey amniotic fluid. I walked through the doors smiling at the midwives. “Oh you must be Alison” they said smiling back at me. They knew.
They hooked me up to monitors and checked the position of the baby quickly. We stayed there for about an hour and half. The Braxton hicks were gone. Nothing was happening. I felt sad again. They talked about induction again. “if noting happens by tomorrow morning you have to come back in and be induced.” Home again. By now it was about 10pm. We went to bed and I fell asleep for four hours. At 2pm I woke up to Braxton hicks again. They seemed to be fairly regular but I let my husband sleep so he could have enough energy for tomorrow when I had to be induced.
The pain was building. Instead of rubbing my feet together and breathing deep and slow I had to get up on all fours and grunt a little into my pillow. I got my phone and started timing. They were ten minutes apart exactly. This went on for two hours. 4am. I woke Casey up. I couldn’t manage the pain on my own anymore. (BTW how did women do it on their own all through history??!) Between rubbing my back and getting everything organised again he rang the hospital. I paced the driveway while he took the car seat out for mum to bring Oakes in the morning. By now the contractions were only 2minutes apart and they had two peaks in intensity and they seemed to last for 2minutes long! The drive was horrendous. I hugged the back of the chair with my butt in the air facing the windscreen. Luckily it was only 5minutes away!
This time on arriving to the hospital I had to stop and bend forward and have Casey rub my back 4 times in the 600metere walk to the ward. That’s how close the contractions were. at 430am I didn’t smile on entering the ward this time. I couldn’t talk, or hardly walk. At first they were going to put me in the assessment room again, but after about 5 minutes fussing around trying to get it ready they realised I had had about 2-3 painful contractions already and instead took me to the birthing suite! YES! i felt a rush of excitement and adrenalin now. I was ready to let go. I was in a safe place and I didn’t need to convince them that i was in labour anymore and I relax! I was in so much pain and hardly had any rest between contractions that they couldn’t even check my cervix to see how dilated i was.
At 6am I felt like I couldnt do it anymore. I was in so much pain. The contractions were so ridiculously fast and strong, still with two peaks in intensity and a very short rest. Looking back i must have been in transition. I was almost sobbing during the contractions, and nothing Casey was doing to soothe me was working. It was all happening so fast i felt like i was losing my breath and about to start hyperventilating. Even the midwives couldn’t keep up, they were still fussing about getting my files and the room ready, and still trying to put a canula in.
Suddenly i needed to push. “What ? no you can’t push now, hold it in and breathe”, they said. Anyone who has had a baby knows that the pushing feeling is an involuntary and uncontrollable urge that takes over your whole body. “I can’t!!” I yelled.
A few more urges to push came and I was trying to be obedient and fight it. My screaming turned to deep groaning. “Ok we really need to check your cervix NOW”, they said. 10CM!! “You can push! well done! go for it” they said.
I quickly got up off all fours on to my knees. I looked out the window, the sun was coming up, and we had the best view right on the beach over Mona Vale. I felt excited, calm and beautiful. It was nearly over! During the pushing with my first baby i remembered I would push and her head would crown and then when the contraction died off her head would suck back up. So changing my position now would help the baby to descend without being sucked back up. It was the one and only clear thought i had, but man it was difficult. Every single cell and muscle fibre in your body is making effort to birth that baby. It’s such an indescribable bizarre feeling – the words that come to mind are pain, effort, blood, sweat, tears, screaming, groaning, fist clenching, opening etc etc.
The baby came out after about six pushes. It did seem harder this time, even though i was on my knees. She wasn’t getting sucked back up, but once she was out the midwives realised it was because she had her hand up around her face, and she also had hit her head on my pubic bone (which i felt) as she was descending.
She had a short cord, so she wouldn’t reach my chest until it was cut. We didn’t cut it for 8minutes. She sat between my legs until it was cut and then she was straight on my chest. The placenta detached within 15minutes. I lost less than 300ml blood. Looking back I know now that this was because I hardly consumed any sugar during pregnancy. (see Essential Oils for Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond by Stephanie Fritz). My first birth I lost over 500mls and the placenta did not detach for 60mins, I almost had to have surgery to remove it, which in turn increases the risk of blood loss. I also continued to bleed heavily for 4weeks after, loosing massive blood clots each week.
Even though both my births were 100% natural and text book – they were both so different. My body was definitely more efficient this time around, but also I was much healthier (even though 3.5years older!)- which helps every bodily function during bith and beyond. The recovery has been amazing. I have been less tired that I was with the first. I couldn’t walk for the first 24hours due to being swollen, but I wore one of those ridiculous ice nappy pads in the ward for the first 12hours and that definitely helped. By the second day I wasn’t very sore anymore, and I enjoyed being in the hospital having that time with just me and the baby, having to do nothing else except bond with her and rest. I woke each day with energy and didn’t need a nap during the day like I did with Oakes until she was 2yrs old.
At 3weeks old i took Juniper to get her first chiropractic adjustment. She was a bit colicky and responded really well to treatment. she had been so curled up in the womb, her pelvis and neck were out of alignment and the bump on her head during birth plus the velocity at which she was born had made it a pretty traumatic experience for her. (She had done a poo on the way out of the birth canal, which meant we wer both covered in it). The adjustments chilled her out for a week or so until it wore off. Did you know that adjustments in the first few years of children’s lives increase their health and wellbeing and ensure they have a great nervous system for the rest of their life?
Here is a photo of her and Oakes in the ward, at their first meeting. When juniper heard Oakes voice (she was only four hours old here) she instantly responded by turning her head and seeking out eye contact. So amazing. I am loving everything more the second time around too. I think you just get used to being sleep deprived and living for your kids that it’s a much smoother transition from 1 to 2 than from 0 to 1.
Ps Tell me yours!