I waited so long to meet you.
This is the story of your journey from my womb space to our Earth.
According to the medical experts you were “overdue” but right from the beginning your Dad and I had a very strong feeling around when your arrival date would be.
We had scans to check that you had plenty of placental fluid to keep you going during that week and they showed all was well. I didn’t really need that scan because I knew intuitively that you were fine and that you would make the journey when you were ready.
The man we entrusted in guiding us through your birth journey – Peter – was a little cautious and didn’t want you to wait later than 10 days. During the week you were born, he gently offered to stretch and sweep my cervix to try and get things moving but I declined. I knew you didn’t need that. He did however, book us in 10 days past your due date to be induced if you hadn’t made your way out yet.
I was confident you would make your journey when you knew it was time.
The Day Before
The day before I went into labour with you was the first time I thought to myself “Okay…I’m absolutely ready little soul. I’ve nothing left to do. Our bags are packed, your clothes are all washed and folded, the freezer is full, our labour and birth preferences are complete, I’m one hundred percent ready – mind, body and soul wise. Let’s do this!”
For the first time in the pregnancy I was twiddling my thumbs. I decided to take your Nana’s advice about painting my toenails and walked up the street to have my first ever pedicure. Walking home through North Melbourne, staring at my newly painted shiny red toenails I wondered when you would make your move.
The Night Before
That evening I’d been invited out for dinner with some old friends at a restaurant about a twenty minute drive away. Your Dad had been invited to meet a friend in the city. All was quiet in my womb and I remembered a suggestion of a close friend to “go out to dinner to get things moving” so I accepted the invitation out!
I’d only been in the car for a minute or two when I felt a strange sensation wash over me.
It was exactly the way I had felt in the weeks before I knew I’d conceived you. It was almost an out of body experience. I felt extremely calm but also as though I was floating between two worlds – the earthly plane and the spirit world. I knew then that your journey would begin soon.
At dinner, my friends were so excited to see me so round and ready to give birth to you! They wondered if they’d all be accompanying me to the hospital. I laughed it off but as dinner progressed, the lightning strikes you’d been making at my cervix for the past week or so began to intensify a little and I silently breathed through them whilst trying to concentrate on the dinner conversation. My closest friend looked up at me and knew straight away that something was happening. I assured her that I was fine and wasn’t in labour but she and I both knew that you had started to make your move!
Not feeling as cocky as when I’d driven out we agreed it was best I get closer to home so I hugged my friends goodbye and clambered into the car with you striking my cervix loud and clear. The trip home was a little intense but I laughed and breathed my way excitedly between what I now recognise as either Braxton Hicks or ‘pre-labour’ contractions.
That evening though all was quiet in our womb space. No more lightning strikes but I shared your movements excitedly with your Dad when he got home later that night. “Our little one is not far off. I’m sure of it!” I told your Dad happily.
The Day of Your Birth
Sure enough, I woke around 6.30am on the Friday morning with period like cramps and a touch of nausea. I went to the toilet and you’d made your mark to ‘show’ me you were on your way. By 7am I had my first contraction and five minutes later I had another.
“It’s happening!” I declared to your Dad with joy.
Your Dad was due to go to work that day and we decided that given he worked just a seven minute drive away he would still go in for a couple of hours. Your Aunty (my sister) had given birth to your cousin just a week beforehand and her contractions had been on and off for a few days before he’d made his arrival. Naively using your Aunty and cousin’s recent birthing journey as my guide I declared to your Dad that “we have plenty of time, go to work, I’ll be fine!” Before your Dad left around 8.30am I had a shower and got him to strap the TENs machine to my back. He made sure our bags were all at the door ready to go for when we needed to make that trip to the hospital. I tried to eat a little toast but all your movement made me feel a bit sick so one bite was all I managed. The magical Labourade I’d mixed up during the pregnancy kept us going for hours though. Your Dad pulled extra out of the freezer and made sure I had plenty to hydrate us while he was gone.
Dad goes off to Work
I kissed your Dad goodbye and he promised he’d be back within a couple of hours. I was already surprised at how much movement you were making with my body. Since the very first contraction at 7am, each one continued to come within 5 minutes or less for the entire day. I moved between leaning over our bed, against the bedroom wall and later the kitchen bench. With each surge I pressed START on the contraction timer app I had on my phone and clicked the button on the TENS machine which initiated a warm and comforting vibration through the pads and electrodes stuck to my back.
It provided a wonderful pattern and consistency to each surge and I rode them like waves; my eyes tightly closed, surrendering into each one and remembering the advice of one friend to visualise a deep blue sea as each wave rocked my body.
In between the surges I was sending screenshots of the contractions from the app on my phone to your Nana (my Mum), Aunty (my sister) and close friends. They were so excited to know you were making your way here and a little bemused that I was texting them between surges! By 11.30am things were feeling a little more intense and you were rocking my body at closer intervals. I sent your Dad a message to come home. We needed him with us.
When your Dad arrived home I set him to work pressing START and STOP to time each contraction as it rolled in. I kept my eyes closed and focused and your Dad pressed and massaged into my lower back which was giving me a lot of discomfort. We rang the hospital around 12.30pm just to let them know what was happening and they were happy, as we were for us to stay in the comfort of home as we progressed through our labour.
“Do you want your playlist on honey? Need any of your oils? Something to eat?” Your Dad asked, referring to the very detailed list of instructions I’d put together in our Birth Preference booklet!
“Nope…nothing. Just keep pressing on my back,” I instructed. I didn’t want music, food or oils. I just needed to keep my eyes closed and to breathe with each surge and rest in between.
As the afternoon rolled on I grew a little weary and was finding it harder to get into a comfortable position. Sitting on the fit ball felt awful, your Dad tried to create a little nest of cushions on the floor for me but that didn’t work either. I was getting tired and wanted to sit down but it hurt too much. I felt better standing and leaning over something but my legs were tired. The contractions continued to roll on, all under 5 minutes, some three or four minutes apart, others just two. They lasted for anything from 45 seconds to a minute and a half with some really intense ones lasting two minutes.
An Urge to Push?!
Soon I felt an instinctual urge to move to all fours on the floor. You were really starting to make your presence known and all at once I felt a strong need to either go to the toilet or to push. I was confused…the surges were still inconsistent, I wasn’t even at the hospital, surely this part wasn’t happening yet. I described what was happening to your Dad and we decided to call the hospital. When I explained what was happening to the midwife over the phone she strongly asserted that it was time for us to come in.
I was reluctant, protesting that “I don’t want to be checked and find out I’m only 4cm dilated and then be sent home feeling disappointed!”
The midwife convinced me that even if I did end up disappointed it was best I came in rather than risk you being born unprepared at home, especially when I was starting to push!
To Hospital We Go
The five minute car ride around the corner to the hospital was intense. You didn’t like being in the car then for that ride and you still dislike car trips now! I curled up in the back seat with the TENS machine buzzing continuously now as high as it would allow. We arrived at the hospital around 4.30pm, your Dad guarding us through the harsh light of day and helping us through the surges as we rode the lift up to the sixth floor. I kept my eyes tightly closed most of the time, ignoring kind faced onlookers and determined to stay “in the zone.”
When we reached the front desk we were overjoyed to see Pete – our Obstetrician – seated right in the middle flanked by midwives on either side. He greeted us with a huge, warm and welcoming smile “It’s wonderful to see you,” he said gently.
We were led into our birthing suite and greeted by Kara – our dream midwife – kind, softly spoken, respectful and so gentle. I’d forgotten about my birth preferences that I’d so painstakingly put together to ensure you and I were prepared for the most natural and positive experience possible, whatever the circumstances; but your Dad remembered and passed these on to Kara who read them carefully.
I’d been so worried earlier in our pregnancy journey about whether I was making the right decision in choosing a private hospital for your birth but from the moment we arrived I felt safe, supported and held. I knew you had led your Dad and I to make the right decision for you.
In the Birthing Suite
Kara left your Dad and I for a moment to get acquainted with the space. Your Dad remembered all the things I’d requested and listed to make us comfortable but I felt the need for none of them. The lights were already dimmed, the room was quiet, your Dad was there with me and I immediately trusted Kara the minute I met her. I knew we had nothing to fear. All I wanted was a little nest on the ground so I could get back on all fours because the surges in my body were getting extremely uncomfortable. Kara and your Dad put a mat and some cushions on the ground for me and I breathed through the contractions back on all fours while Kara gently strapped a wireless monitor to me to check that you were doing okay. We were all glad to see you were doing fine!
When Pete came in, he held my hand warmly and I was so pleased to see him. Before falling pregnant I’d never thought we’d choose a male obstetrician to care for us but I truly believe you led us to Dr. Jurcevic and he was definitely meant to be there. He gently asked whether I’d mind if he checked to see how far dilated I was and this time I was ready. This was the first internal examination I’d had throughout the entire pregnancy journey.
9 cms! Hell Yeah!
“The good news is, you’re 9 cm dilated! You have done an amazing job working through this labour, you are doing wonderfully. But baby is not in the best position, he’s sitting a little high.” Pete told us quietly. I remember feeling elated to hear I was at 9cm, so proud of myself and you for getting so far together with your Dad by our side and my breathing keeping us focused. I also wasn’t surprised to hear you were sitting high; I’d had an inkling towards the end of the pregnancy and during the labour that you weren’t exactly in the best position.
Pete offered to break my waters in an attempt to help move you down. The sense of release this gave me as the warm liquid rushed out of me felt wonderful. I hoped that would be all you needed to move into a good position.
We returned back to our little nest on the floor, me on all fours with my forehead pressed hard into my hands, eyes closed, focusing on breathing and visualising. Your Dad put out a couple of the things I’d brought with me – my Nana’s red scarf and a statue of Quan Yin and I felt some comfort knowing they were close by. He continued to press hard and massage my lower back for me when each wave of intensity hit. Kara gave me some gentle suggestions for breathing in a different way each time I felt the urge to push and this helped me stay focused.
2 Hours of on and off Pushing
We worked hard together for about 2 hours from when we’d come into the hospital but even through the pushing then I think I knew that it just didn’t feel right. I felt like we were getting nowhere and the pain and intensity was starting to feel unproductive, not helpful.
Pete came back and asked me how things were going and whether I’d mind if he checked to see if you’d changed position at all. He did it very quickly for me as he knew how uncomfortable I was if I moved from the position of all fours on the floor.
He was grave yet very gentle when he broke the news to me…
“Your baby is in a very compromised position I’m afraid. He’s still sitting quite high up and is ramming against your cervix which has become quite swollen and is now back at 8cm. I’m really sorry to have to say this to you because you are doing SO well, you’re a poster girl for calm birth, you’ve worked so hard, but my recommendation is that this baby needs to be born by caesarean.”
At that moment your Dad tells me he felt so upset for me because he knew how hard I’d worked to prepare for a natural birth and how much I’d hoped that was how you would be born.
But as I heard Pete’s words I felt no fear and I knew he was right. I could feel it in myself, you were not going to come out vaginally, it just wasn’t feeling right.
“There is absolutely no hurry to make a decision,” Pete assured us. “You’re doing great, the baby is not in distress and I am absolutely not recommending this for convenience. I’ve got nowhere to be, there’s no hurry and we have plenty of time up our sleeves so take all the time you need.”
He explained that in terms of other options we could try moving to another position that may help you but would be more painful for me and potentially lead to an epidural which could lead to further complications and in Pete’s honest opinion; you were not able to be born vaginally.
“No it’s fine. We’ll do it. I trust you.” I said between contractions. I didn’t need any convincing; I knew we were getting no further than we’d come naturally and that was okay.
“It’s a big decision, I’ll leave you two alone for a bit to talk about it together.” And he left the room, despite me thinking ‘Let’s just do this now!’
Your Dad turned to me, ready to gently convince me of why this was probably the best thing but I needed no convincing. “We need to do this. I trust Peter. Let’s tell them.” Your Dad agreed and I begged him to tell them straight away.
Waiting in Pain
The next 45 minutes or so before receiving the anesthetic on the operating table were the hardest by far of your labour. The contractions continued to come hard and intensely but now my mindset had changed. I knew they were not getting you or I any further and that each wave was a reminder that you were not in the position you needed to be in. The pain was more intense and much harder to deal with during this time. It was more difficult to control my breathing and I asked “When is the anaesthetist coming?” many times!
Again, in the state I was in, I’d forgotten that on the back of my page of birth preferences I’d also made a list of preferences in case of an unplanned caesarean birth! Beautiful Kara had already read this carefully though and talked through my requests with your Dad and I and also Peter. It wasn’t standard practice for the baby to be put skin to skin on the mother until after recovery as they worried about the very cool temperatures of the operating theatre. However, they decided that so long as you came out doing well, this would be fine. They also arranged to get a mirror so I could see you being born from my womb!
Off to Theatre
Lying on my back on the hospital bed and being wheeled to theatre without the TENs machine or your Dad rubbing my back was also challenging. I thought of all the women who’d been forced to give birth on their backs and how much pain they must have been in. I was so grateful to have laboured all day at home and then at the hospital in the position I chose!
Once in theatre, Pete and Kara gripped one hand each on either side, helping me to breathe through the contractions that were still coming hard and fast as the anesthetist administered the spinal epidural. Not long after this, the pain relief began to work and I relaxed as the epidural masked the intensity of the contractions. Soon enough your Dad was by my side, holding my hand and we were so excited to know we’d be meeting you so soon. Whilst the experience of birthing you by caesarean is a little foggy to me because of the pain relieving drugs I was on, I do remember the feeling in the room. I fondly recall that despite the fact that I was technically having an “operation” – it didn’t feel like that. The room felt positive, supportive and there was a buzz of excitement in the air – a baby was about to be born!
A Mirror to See You Born
One of the attendants held a mirror up for your Dad and I so we could see you being born from my womb while one of the midwives took photos for us. I am SO grateful for these photos now as they have captured the most incredible moments. As Pete pulled you from my womb he asked your Dad and I whether we thought you were a girl or a boy. “A girl,” we said confidently. We were so sure you were going to be a girl!
“Well, it’s a boy!” They declared, holding you up so we could see you. The joy, the love, the amazement we felt at this time is just indescribable. Funnily, even though we’d been so unprepared with names for a boy, both your Dad and I replied with a hesitant “Jimmy?” when the doctors and nurses asked if we had a name for you.
You were quickly checked for ten fingers and toes, wrapped in a blanket and put on my chest where our skin met and your beautiful little hand reached out to touch my cheek. I felt weak and shaky from the drugs in my system but they didn’t affect the love, awe and wonder I felt for you in that moment.
Our Beautiful Baby boy – you were here.
Thank you for reading our story.
Much Love and Many Blessings,