Wednesday 6 January 2016, the day our little love Eva James was born and changed our lives forever. At 41 + 3, my patience on playing the waiting game had totally run out. The calmness of “oh she’ll come when she’s ready” had gone and I was all “get this baby the hell out of me now”. It felt like forever had been and gone and I was still with no baby.
I wanted to try and have as natural birth as possible. My partner and I had both been to a calm birth course and I’d been doing pre natal yoga and practicing my breathing. I felt prepared and oddly calm about going into labour. I saw labour as the final little (okay not so little) hurdle to jump before meeting my babe. And oh my god, there had been a heap of freaking hurdles for us to jump to get this far. The journey to get this baby in my belly was a pretty mammoth task. It took us quite a few years to even get pregnant. Nothing worked, so we had to turn to good old science, aka IVF, to get our little love cooking. It was hard work, emotionally draining and full on, but we got there, first go, and I will always feel so incredibly thankful for how lucky we were to get that positive result on the first round.
So 41 weeks rolled around and an induction date was booked in. I felt pretty upset and let down by my body. COME ON can’t something just WORK!? I had booked into the birth centre and knew if I had to go on the induction drip, I wouldn’t be able to birth there and my plan would then pretty much go out the window. The midwives thought we’d have one last stretch and sweep two days before induction to see if that got things moving.
Home from the hospital after the stretch and sweep I plonked myself on the lounge to catch up on important TV series watching. I’d accomplished watching the entire series of Friday Night Lights (again) in the last few weeks. Straight away I started having quite intense cramps. Nothing new though; I’d been cramping on and off for three weeks. This continued all day and I still didn’t think much of it as I’d been down this road before and then the cramps just stopped. It wasn’t until 8pm when I couldn’t concentrate any more on watching The Bachelor that I realised this was probably the real thing.
Come midnight and I started getting a little concerned as I was having quite strong pain in between my contractions! This confused me – apart from being painful and annoying, I was under the impression there was supposed to be some sort of break where you have lovely polite conversations with your partner about life. I remember just crying to my fella saying “WHERE’S THE BREAK?? THERE’S SUPPOSE TO BE A BREAK!?!?”. At 3am after writhing in the hot shower for a few hours we picked up our bags and drove the five minutes down the road to the hospital. At this point I was pretty distressed and my breathing had gone out the window.
The midwife examined me and popped the monitor on the baby as soon as we arrived to check everything was all okay. I was 4cm dilated and all was totally fine. I’ve had six surgeries for my endometriosis so the scar tissue was most likely not agreeing with the contractions and my cervix was inflamed from the stretch and sweep, hence the in-between contractions pain. Oh great, so it was just pain ALL THE DAMN TIME! The midwife said to lay down and sleep and we’d probably have a baby by 7am. I thought that sounded pretty alright. Little did I know that bubs had her own ideas and preferred a slow and drawn out entry into the world.
Everything from about 6am then became a bit of a blur. Labour is such a weird thing, I kind of look back on it as an out of body experience. It’s like you go into another world and nothing else exists. I had our birth suite filled with candles, the lights were off, music playing and lavender filled the air, talk about ZEN! I had my breathing and focus back and was feeling a little more on top of it all and just trying to go with it.
At 7am my absolute favourite midwife came on shift and I was so happy to see her. She had this calm energy and we had just clicked. With her on board, I had a renewed sense of focus.
As the contractions ramped up I alternated from being in the shower to the bath with my fella. I’ve always loved water and knew I wanted to use it as my main source of pain relief. I was coping pretty well but the pain I was feeling in my back was intense and so they offered to give me water injections into my back with the warning that it felt like being stung by wasps as they entered. “Whatever”, I thought, “I can handle a wasp right now, give me all the wasps, just take this back pain away”. I think this was the only time I did some sort of high pitched Celion-Dion-esque screaming. But the pain eased and it all seemed a little more manageable for a moment.
I think one of the hardest things during labour, despite the pain, is the exhaustion. The all-consuming-tired-like-never-before exhaustion. I’d missed the nights sleep and was just so damn tired. I climbed back into the bath, (someone really needs to invent a little gadget to get pregnant woman in and out of the bath!?). This time Colin got in too and laid behind me and held my weight so I could kind of float there for a bit and have some type of semi rest. It was here that my waters FINALLY broke. Some people say they feel a big gush, others just slowly leaks out… I felt mine gush out quickly, followed by an instant need to push. I had no control of it, I was pushing, my body was just doing its thing. We called the midwife back in where she explained to me that I needed to get out of the bath and be examined before I could keep pushing. At this point the baby was down so low and I had no idea how on earth I could possibly get out of the bath when I felt like her head was already in between my legs, whilst in so much pain. It just seemed physically impossible, but somehow we managed it.
My midwife examined me and gave me the all clear to keep pushing and set me up on the floor over a bean bag and away we went. I originally wanted to have a water birth, but I was just so hot and there was no way I could climb back into that bath again.
I remember being told that when the times comes your body just knows what to do and I always wondered if that would be the case for me. It was to a degree. I was pushing, my body was just doing it, but it took me a while to get a hang of it and understand what a good push was.
I remember at this point just going on and on about the pressure. Oh lord, that pressure down there is like nothing else you’ll ever experience. I’d been pushing for over an hour on the floor and was bone tired. We were about 20 hours into labour now and I thought I was exhausted before, but this was a whole new level. It was here at this point where I thought to myself that I didn’t think I could do this anymore and the thought of an epidural sounded quite nice… but I quickly pushed that thought out of my head as I realised I had no choice in the matter – I had to keep going. Our midwife just kept saying “you just have to get her head around the bend, she’s nearly there”, and I remember thinking “HOW FREAKING LONG IS THIS BEND?! FUCK THIS BEND. I HATE THIS BEND AND WHAT THIS TO STOP”. I don’t remember talking much during my labour, I was so focussed and just needed all my energy to keep on doing my thing.
By this point I think our midwife realised I was running out of energy, I’d been pushing for close to two hours and so she decided to get me up and use gravity to help. So I took up a squat position standing over the bed. Pre-baby I was quite a gym junkie and squatting large weights was my thing so I thought, yep I got this, no worries. Well, I held that squat, and it was the longest damn squat of my life. After another hour of pushing and still no head I sensed the urgency was changing a little, I could feel it in the tone of her voice, so I was moved again onto the birthing stool. I had no energy left at this point, but somehow just kept going.
Finally, here on the stool, with my man sitting behind me, things started to happen, nearly two and a half hours into pushing. I never thought I’d want to have a mirror down there, but they asked if I wanted to and I said yes. I think I needed the extra motivation to actually see what the hell all this pushing was doing. I’m so glad I did. Watching my babies head coming out was amazing, totally strange, and something I’ll never forget. As her head came out little by little I saw my man get up and reach for the tissues, he was already a blubbering mess. With a few more final pushes our tiny love was out and pulled up onto me. On her way to my chest she did a giant wee, all over me as if to say “Hi Mum, I’m here”.
I always thought I’d be an absolute crying mess at that first moment of meeting our baby, but I wasn’t. I didn’t shed a single tear. I think I was just too exhausted, overwhelmed and in shock. I remember my very first thoughts being “thank-fuck-that-is-over”. But that moment, that very first moment, where you lock eyes on your baby, is like nothing else in this world. Everything else stops, time stands still and nothing else exists, except you and her. I can’t put it into words, nothing compares. It’s just magical. Totally and utterly magical.
We spent the next five hours in the birth suite just in a love bubble, gazing at our daughter. Our beautiful daughter, after all these years, she was finally here and we were in love.