From 37 weeks I felt Braxton hicks contractions. On Christmas Day evening, my mucus plug started to loosen. On boxing day I went into a sudden very intense fake labour. I had nausea, chills, cramps and gastro-style contractions for five hours and then everything stopped. For the next three days I slept in three hour blocks, didn’t leave the house and had a build up of prelabour contractions. These didn’t hurt much, but made me tired and withdrawn. On the 29th December, I saw my OB/GYN and he found that I was dilated to 3cm and cervix effaced to 1cm. On the basis of this, he did a stretch and sweep to help my body move to active labour.
Stronger (yet irregular) contractions started in the evening after dinner. However, they did not build up too much and Morgan and I went to bed at 1 or 2am. I woke up again at 4:30am and felt my body moving into greater rhythm. I was able to eat a piece of rye toast with peanut butter and jam for breakfast, the last thing I was able to eat until giving birth. Morgan laboured with me for three hours when my contractions were 1min and 5mins apart. During each contraction I tried to vibrate a low ‘om’ or other ritual-esque vibrational sound—a practise I continued for 18hrs. At 7:30am I felt like going to hospital. So, we headed off. When examined, the midwife said that although my cervix had effaced to half a cm, I was still only 3cm dilated. I felt like such a flop! I wouldn’t be admitted until 4cm, so we went home again. I spent the day in the baby pool on the verandah with sun streaming in—the first sunny day in many weeks of flooding rains. I took some panadeine. Morgan gave me lovely kisses and contact. I tried to rest as much as is possible with contractions 5mins apart. Food made me nauseous, so I didn’t eat. I laboured at home until 3pm when I was getting what seemed like quite a lot of blood and Morgan rang the hospital. They said I should come back in. The blood turned out to just be the ‘bloody show’, thus no concern. However, this time upon inspection I was at 4cm and my cervix was completely effaced! Thank goodess. Active labour had begun.
I was now admitted into the birthing suite. I began active labour on a fit ball in the shower with my doula hosing my back with warm water. The shower had great hand rails, so I was able to move around very comfortably. I tried drinking some cordial. It tasted amazing, but within five minutes I threw it all back up (my first vomit of the whole pregnancy). My psychology was so much better in the suite than at home. I felt like things were moving. After an hour or so, I moved to the fit ball by the bed, resting on the mattress between contractions. This was the last time I really spoke much between contractions. We then filled the bath. I was allowed in, just as long as my contractions got stronger. Getting in the bath at 6pm, I didn’t leave until ready to push at 10pm. The bath was amazing. My doula poured cups of water over me. Morgan held my arms and vibrated through contractions-steering my pitch low as it got ragged or high.
The birth suite was dark and silent the whole time, lit only by a lamp. My midwife was amazing, she did occasional Doppler checks of the baby’s heartbeat, my pulse and my temperature, all while I was in the bath. There was almost no intervention. In fact, the ritual and supportive environment meant that good surges of my own oxytocin and adrenalin were released throughout active labour and I didn't feel the need to request any pain relief during this time, when pushing or post-birth (until day 3 when some panadol and Voltarin was good). At 8pm, the midwife even did an internal check in the bath! It was a triumphant moment when she prounounced I was 8.5cm dilated!!! I had progressed about 1cm per hour since arriving. No one was taking me out of that bath! I finished stage two by 10pm and then felt the urge to push.
Getting out of the bath was very painful. The weight of gravity was excruciating on my back. I collapsed on the floor on my knees on all fours and then fell over on my side. My knees were just not up to the challenge of all fours. My team tried to make me comfortable, but after a while I wanted to get on the bed. I managed to get settled on my side in bed to start pushing. This was a new skill and quite different to contractions. Gratefully I had some cordial and the sugar was fantastic. It was at this time I burst my waters. After some time in this position, my team suggested I try something different. I was able to kneel on the bed, leaning against the raised head. I did much better in this position and started to get the hang of moving the energy down to the baby. I felt inspired to try squatting.
So the midwife got a birthing stool and Morgan sat behind me. Having Morgan there and gravity was brilliant. Soon I was able to crown the head. The moment I did though I also lost sensation (pins and needles feeling) in my hands and arms. Not to worry.
To finish the job I was moved to a different position again (to reduce tearing). This time I was standing, leaning over the bed. My OB came in at this point and the midwife, doula and OB all coached me through moving out the shoulders, breathing and finally, at 11:09pm 30th December 2010, a baby came shooting out! They quickly passed him through my legs and into my shocked arms.
As soon as I could I clambered into bed and held onto my little boy skin-to-skin.
Morgan cut the cord when it had stopped pulsating. Gully nommed on colostrum from both breasts as I got two stiches and finished stage 3. Morgan then took him for skin-to-skin for another hour.
We ate loads of food and drink.
He was measured, 4.3kg (9lbs, 8ozs). I fed him again before we headed up together to the room where we fell asleep together. A new family!!