On a sunny spring morning, my beautiful son celebrated his birthday. This was after an intense and relatively quick labour. I was lucky enough to be in the care of the RWBH Birth Centre midwives who would help me to carry out my plan of a natural drug-free birth (and the possibility of birthing in the water bath). I practised yoga, breathing, positive thinking and took care of myself for the upcoming event. I gathered my support team around me, my mum (to care for my two and a half year old angel), my husband (who rubbed my back and helped me make sure that my ohms were low in tone) and an amazing midwife (who wiped my brow and passed me tissues to blow my nose in between contractions). My son and I did not have a water birth, but we had an amazing six hour journey together, followed by a three hour beautiful bonding session while waiting for theatre (due to tearing). After a drug free natural birth, I would receive an epidural to repair the damage. I was bummed. The experience of an epidural assured me that the drug-free way was the right way for me to go about birth. I also got an epidural headache (think migraine x 3) that persisted for a couple weeks to remind me of the pain of drugs. My son and I bore the bruises of our journey, me with my tearing and him with a massive bump on his head, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. He is a very special, happy and smiley baby, my son, Levi.
Here is Levi’s letter
I am writing you a story, my version on the beginning of your life. It started after Christmas 2010. I had “morning“ sickness almost right away and it stayed for the duration of the pregnancy. I say “morning” but it was more like every day, most of the day, especially around 4:00 pm. While you were growing normally and beautifully, I was constantly getting colds, coughing a lot. I joked to all my friends that I would have to get a recording of the coughing so that when you were born you would be familiar and comforted in the world. Due to the sicknesses, I had a couple lots of antibiotics to make me feel better. I didn’t have any cravings. Everything I ate or looked at made me equally sick. The only thing that I looked forward to eating was carbonara, your Dad’s specialty.
The night of your arrival (which was eight days later than your expected arrival), your Dad and I were watching the Brownlow Medal Awards on TV. Well, really your Dad was watching while I was trying to get some sleep. At 3:00am I was woken up with cramping. The contractions were ten minutes apart but pretty intense. I got up, walked around the house, spiralling during contractions on the end of the bed. I lit some candles from the bedroom on my way to the bedroom. I was trying to be quiet so that I didn’t wake your Dad, your sister, your Grandma or Shadow (who were all staying with us). I spent a lot of time in the bathroom, getting ready for your arrival. Within half an hour, the contractions were five minutes apart. I woke your Dad up, I needed support. I thought it would be nice to get in the bath and have the shower pelt hot water onto my back, so I went to do it. Your dad got on the phone to the midwives to advise them that we would be coming in and to please fill up the water bath. While I was in the bath, the contractions really intensified. I must have raised my voice because now my mum was asking if everything was OK. I could also hear Alex getting concerned by calling out to me. It was time to go in. Your dad grabbed the birth bag and started packing the car. I just remember walking out of the house, down the stairs and getting into the car. Your dad put towels in the passenger seat and the back seat and also placed a bucket on the backseat of the car. (He doesn’t deal well with bodily fluids). I was strapped in backwards heading for the Royal Brisbane Birth Center. Your dad parked outside the front and we went in. We passed the security guard and he asked me if I was OK. I said “I’m going to have a baby”. He was very concerned. NOW??...”No, not now, but soon”. He advised us that we could leave the car there. (and so we did for a few hours, and we didn’t get a parking ticket!!) When we got to the room, the bath had been set up. I couldn’t wait to get in, but she had to check your heart rate and mine and ask a few questions. But then finally, water bath, ahhhhhh! The relief! The contractions seemed less painful and I could breathe easier. (I think the warm water helped to clear my blocked nose.) Soon enough Martha DeLacy came in to help. Between contractions she passed me tissues to blow my nose, wiped my brow and told me that I was doing a great job. We also had a few laughs. I was humming low ohms during the contractions and telling your Dad to do it with me. “Lower, keep me low” I’d say. Martha thought you would grow up to be very musical and we laughed that I couldn’t sing at all. Eventually though, the jokes dried up and things started to get more serious. Kneeling over the bath was no longer working so Martha suggested I float in the water with your Dad at my back, but even that was uncomfortable. Suddenly the water bath wasn’t comfortable anymore and I had to get out. I went onto all fours, but this too was not feeling right. Martha wanted to have a look and when she did, she noticed that my cervix lip wasn’t out all the way. She wanted to move it back to help. She tried but it was too painful on my back. I kneeled with your Dad in front of me for a little while. Martha suggested we break the waters, she advised that it would make for a quicker but more painful labour. I wasn’t sure, I didn’t with Alex, but then this labour was a lot more intense. OK, I agreed. Martha broke the waters and the pain intensified. Breathe I kept saying in my head, “Get out, get out” I kept saying out loud. I had to stand up. I stood up, my arms around your Dad’s neck and I was stamping my feet to the tune of “Get out, get out”. Your dad told my mom afterwards that I was someplace else, he had never seen this look in my eyes before. I wasn’t there I can only remember being in my body, aware of your head travelling through my pelvis. Something didn’t feel quite right, like you were sideways. Martha advised that I could start pushing. Within five minutes you were born. It was 6:50 am, a beautiful sunny spring morning. Martha caught you and handed you to me, after I gingerly moved my leg above the cord, turned around and then lied on my back. (This was the second time I had to do acrobatics after the birth of my child). You were so beautiful, so amazing. Martha delivered the placenta and then she checked out the damage. She was concerned that there I had a third degree tear and wanted to have a doctor come and have a look. The doctor agreed, it would be best to stitch up the tear in surgery. I would have an epidural. I was starving, tired and anxious about the upcoming procedure. I had to wait three hours with no food or drink. If I didn’t have your eyes to drown in, I would have gone crazy. We had a beautiful three hour breastfeeding/bonding session. You breast fed so well. You were amazing. When it was time for me to go, Martha weighed you. 3.900 kg, a big boy!! I went to theatre. I was missing you, thinking of your name. I loved the name Levi during my pregnancy, but your Dad didn’t. When you were born, he said that you looked like a Levi. I wasn’t sure if he really liked the name. They were doing research on epidural placement on the day you were born so I had an ultrasound to show where to put the needle. The doctor said “oh, I would have put it there”. “Ummm guys, this isn’t making me feel any better about the procedure”. Then they put the needle in my spine. I got a shooting pain down the outside of my right leg and a feeling of instant numbing/freezing feeling. “Tell us if you can feel this”. No I couldn’t. It was all the way past my breasts. They lifted me up and wheeled me into surgery. It was 10:00 am. I felt light and that I couldn’t breathe. I thought I could pass out at any minute. I watched the clock and experienced strange sensations. By 10:30, they were done. I got wheeled into recovery but I still wasn’t able to see you. I had to wait until the feeling returned in my breasts. It took two hours. At least I could eat. Finally you and your Dad arrived and we were taken to the maternity ward. Your Dad left to get your sister, Grand Bea and Shadow, who were all very excited to meet you. We had some more bonding time until they got back. Alex walked into the room and said “Hi Levi”. So everyone agreed! You would be Levi. I promised your Dad that he could name your middle name. He said “Dylan”. And I said “it’s got to mean something, not just some random name that we both agree on that we don’t love”. Your dad was silent. I said “Robin”. Your dad said “Really?” Grand Bea said “Oh that’s a beautiful name. I love it.” I loved it to. Your dad smiled. I think he liked it. So Levi Robin, you are, you amazing, beautiful, wonderful, little man. We all love you very much.
Love your mum.