Dear Jo and yoga girls,
At 41 weeks and 1 day, on a Saturday morning 3am, finally something started happening. Fairly mild and irregular contractions. I thought it would be like my daughter Leela’s birth where the early contractions also started at 3am and she was born by around lunch time. So we called our neighbour Amisha who had agreed to take the kids while the baby was born. Tulsi (4) and Leela (2) went up there around 9am. Just to set the scene, we live on a house bus in Kaukapakapa where we planned the baby to be born. Simon and I had a very rare next few hours with no children. It was so quiet and the bus was so tidy. We realised we had not spent any time just the two of us since Leela was born two years ago! Pretty ridiculous!
As far as the labour went, not much had changed. We went out for a nice walk and came back. I managed the contractions by stopping and breathing and moving. At home I would hang from the skylight of the bus and do those belly dancing hip circles. A bus has a lot of great features for giving birth that you wouldn’t find in an ordinary house, like strong metal bars on the ceiling to hold onto and open bus windows at the right height that you can hold or hang from. We also have some vertical poles around the fireplace.
At around 1 o’ clock I rang my midwife Irene as it seemed like I was having contractions every five minutes. However when she arrived she examined me and said it was still just the latent stage of labour. She said she would go home and come back later. She also suggested we go for a power walk to get things started.
After she left I got in a bit of a panic as I had thought the baby would be born that day before the kids came home. Irene said the third baby is the joker so doesn’t follow previous patterns. I felt really bad that our neighbour had changed all her plans to look after our kids and the baby hadn’t even come yet. My husband kindly reminded me it wasn’t my fault, that the baby was taking it’s time.
I went home and had a lie down. Time dragged on. Contractions started to get stronger. By about 6pm we had to deal with the kids. Simon’s plan was to pick up the kids and take them for a drive to get them to sleep. Contrary to my previous ideas of not wanting anyone at the birth, I suddenly didn’t want to be left alone. I rang Irene and asked if she could come while we settled the kids. She said she would come and see how things were going and maybe go to Margaret’s place up the road if not much was happening (Margaret was my midwife for Leela’s birth, now retired). She arrived before the kids and started laying things out ready for the birth. She examined me and said I was about 2cm dilated. It all seemed to be taking so long!
The kids came home and I was surprised how happy I was to see them. They didn’t seem too concerned about me bending over the pillows on the couch and making funny noises during contractions. Simon went with them off to the bedroom to get them to sleep. (This has been a time of many firsts as he has never got both children to sleep before). Not long after things started to get a more intense. The contractions got much stronger. Simon had been helping by pressing/ rubbing my lower back but now he was busy! The fire needed more wood. The contractions were consuming enough now that it was quite hard for me to perform this simple task of putting more kindling and wood in the fire. Irene was rubbing my lower back during contractions but the way she was doing it made me feel nauseous. I was trying to be polite but then burst out “I don’t like the way you’re rubbing my back”… She wasn’t offended she just asked what would make it better. So I told her to press harder.
It was a relief when Simon came out with the kids asleep. Irene never managed to go to Margaret’s house. She checked me at about 8 o’ clock and said I was 4cm dilated. The rest of the story is less clear in my mind. I spent time in different parts of the bus.
For a while I was kneeling down bent over some cushions piled up on the couch. Simon would come during each contraction and massage my lower back. The room was nice and dark with a few candles burning. Irene and Simon were very quiet. Everything was so similar to two years earlier when Leela was born in the same space, same couch , same fire, etc. Only that time it was daytime and I could see the trees out the window.
I spent quite a lot of time sort of bent over the kitchen sink being sure I was going to vomit but never did. I remember resting my head on the cold metal water spout between contractions. Very comfortable! Then I decided I needed to do a wee so I went to the toilet which is a very small pokey room. The thing I liked about it in there was that it felt private. Every time I sat on the toilet I would get a huge contraction so I don’t think I managed to actually go to the toilet. When the contractions came (which were quite full on by now) I kept trying to find something to hold onto above my head, eventually starting to put my left leg up on the bench. My husband was trying to help by making mooing sounds but I told him to stop as it was annoying me. Another thing I was doing was holding onto the two taps on the sink. My husband very sternly told me to stop doing this as he he plumbed them in and said they would easily come off and start a flood that would mean he’d have to turn all the water off in the bus.
I ended up going back out to the lounge room couch where Irene examined me and said I was 7cm. From then I was completely overwhelmed by relentless contractions. I was so hot and nauseous. There was no comfort to be found anywhere. I was writhing around with my head and arms on the couch trying to remember to relax and let go. I also found it quite helpful to do the soft loose camel lips. I seem to have a habit of repeating the midwife’s name like some sort of mantra. So I started saying “Irene, Irene, Irene”. Last time it was “Margaret, Margaret, Margaret”. She assured me everything was alright. I was sure I couldn’t take anymore.
Suddenly I got a respite period where I had a bit more rest between contractions and I started feeling the urge to push. I tried some different postures like leaning over the cushions and kneeling on all fours. In the end I stood up. Irene had to be very strict with me, telling me to put my leg up to make room for the baby. I was scared and holding back. Suddenly the waters broke which was quite a relief. There was a bit of meconium in the waters which I didn’t realise until later. Before I knew what was happening the baby was moving down and the head was seen. Irene was encouraging me to push push. I felt the baby come down again and the head crowned. What a strange sensation! With the next contraction the rest of the body wriggled out. What a great relief! Baby was born at 10:22 pm.
They got me to sit down and put baby on my chest. I was shaking all over from shock. Baby was crying. At some point the baby was passed to Simon. The cord was cut when it stopped pulsating. And then I got a contraction and knelt down while the placenta came out. Finally it was all over! Irene said the total active labour was only 2 hours and 5 minutes. A bit too quick in the end. I was happy because there was no tearing or stitches needed. Irene said that was because the baby was in the OA position. The second midwife arrived just after the birth of the placenta and stayed for about half an hour to write things up.
I lay down with the baby for a while and baby had a bit of a suckle at the breast. Then Simon took baby and I had a lovely bath. We set up the bed and hopped in. I was in for a bit of a nightmare. All I wanted to do was sleep but baby wanted to feed all night and it was very painful. I had a splitting headache and was pretty annoyed rather than overjoyed. The next day I went to the Helensville birthing centre and we discovered that Anja has a tongue tie like my son had, which has since been snipped. Breastfeeding is going a lot better now although not perfect.
Thanks for the yoga classes and all the truly helpful advice an information I was given. You’re fantastic Jo!
See you soon