My birth story starts on a Saturday, 5 days before my due date of 8/8/2012. Darren was home, after weeks away for work so, eager to meet my baby, I enlisted the help of some ‘natural prostaglandins’ to try and kick start the process. All day Saturday I assumed the only thing it did to my body was make it hard to walk, and totally disengage the baby, who remained pressed against my ribs all day. Sunday morning I was thrilled, however, to see the start of my mucous plug coming away. Mucous plug failure, as Darren delightfully put it, was happening as my cervix started to get things ready.
Monday afternoon, in a burst of energy, I walked to pick Bowen up from school, taking advantage of the time to do a little ‘gutter walking’ (one foot on top of the gutter, the other in the gutter). This is meant to help move the baby down to a better position to kick start labour. I had to be super careful not to roll my ankle on our curved gutters though! Things definitely felt different afterwards, and I began to feel uncomfortable, with a pain radiating around my pelvis and back. I complained to my mum about it, and she was certain I was about to go into labour, but I assumed I had just overdone it, as a sore hip had stopped me walking for a few weeks.
Very tired that night, Darren and I went to bed at about 9pm. I was still feeling uncomfortable. I don’t think I slept at all, with strange pains keeping me awake. I tried to stay in bed, deadly still, so I wouldn’t make a new pain start. It didn’t work. I got up, to see if I could time them, and to have some Panadeine in a vain attempt to get some sleep. It was about 3am at the time, and I was watching the Olympics, sailing, I think, while trying to time contractions for the first time in 4 pregnancies. They were all over the place, lasting the same amount of time but varying in distance. One thing they were not varying in was intensity. I pottered around, putting the last things in my baby bag, and then tried to rest again.
By 5am, Darren’s alarm for work had gone off and he found me pacing around, trying to work out if I was actually in labour or not. My last labour had gone on for 30 hours before it ramped up enough for me to know it was time to go to hospital. I called the hospital, and together we decided I was still probably in early labour. I poo poo’d her suggestion of having a shower, it was too freezing cold! Instead Darren and I decamped to the lounge room to sit in front of the heater and watch more Olympics. We decided Darren wouldn’t go to work, and at 7am called my mum and asked her to come over.
Mum arrived, and at 7.30 all the pains stopped. I actually managed to get half an hours sleep, thinking I had overreacted and this baby would be late like the boys were. That was until I woke at 8am with an almighty contraction which knocked me off my feet, and I announced we were going to the hospital. I was having a baby!
I barely had a contraction on the car trip, and found myself again doubting if the baby was coming. The parking, even at 8.15am, was diabolical at the hospital. Darren ended up dropping me off, and, of course, as soon as I tried to get out of the car I was frozen again with a contraction. Cars were lining up behind us, and Darren was telling me to get out of the car, but if people can’t cut a heavily pregnant woman in her pyjamas, at a freaking hospital in pain, some slack, when can they? I waddled up to the delivery suite, and promptly burst into tears. They weren’t expecting me, my records were actually at the midwife clinic where I was supposed to have an appointment that day, but I was ushered into a room straight away.
My midwives were Rachel and Annie, one of whom was a student nurse. They were both fabulous.
I got changed and lay on the bed to be monitored. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take the monitors off, and had to have a cannula as I was having a VBAC and it was hospital policy. To be honest, I didn’t really want to move as any movement would give me a contraction! I was examined at about 9am, and to my surprise, and delight, I was 9cm! The baby’s head was still very high, so from then on it was a waiting game. I made very good friends with the gas at this time. I’d had it once before and didn’t like it, but this time, with a face mask instead of a mouth piece, it was fantastic, and all the pain relief that I needed. I could breathe in through my nose the way I’d been taught in calm birth classes, counting in my head to distract me.
After almost two hours of waiting, where I could literally feel the baby’s head descending, I wanted to get on my knees at the end of the bed. The midwives decided it was time to break my waters to see if that would finish the job, but as I turned to let them do their thing, my membranes exploded! It was like a water balloon. I got a massive shock at the sound, as did Darren. It was all on then. There was no way I could stop myself pushing, and Aerin May was born 12 minutes later. I think that gravity was my best friend at the time, as she was a huge improvement over my previous pushing efforts of 1 ½ hours and 45 minutes.
It was not all smooth sailing. Aerin was born with the cord wrapped tightly around her neck, and wasn’t breathing. She was immediately taken to the little heater table for a good rub to get things going, but it wasn’t enough, and suddenly the room was full of people trying to get my little girl going. In hindsight, it was terrifying, but at the time I was strangely disconnected. I was sore and exhausted, and all I could think was that I’ve seen this on TV before, and it all worked out OK. It wasn’t too long before we heard that amazing cry, and our baby girl was fine. Her agpar scores were only 3 and 5, and she was taken, with Darren, to the NICU to be observed. It was only a fleeting visit, and she was soon back for her first hold, and breastfeed. She was a little shell shocked, and after some lovely skin to skin contact she latched on as though she’d been doing it for years.
I managed to come through the whole event reasonably unscathed, with some 2nd degree tearing and stitches. There was a lot of ‘back passage’ probing that I could have done without, but everything was fine back there. I still had my beloved gas during the flu flu inspection, and it must have been turned up pretty high, as things got a little trippy. It was like a bad drugs sequence in a movie, with everything spiralling around, and voices sounding like they were miles away. The one good thing about gas is that it wears off really fast, so I was soon back to reality.
All in all, my last EVER birthing experience went mostly to plan. I’d said all along that I wasn’t going to be hanging around the hospital for long, and would only rock up when I was ready to push. Big tick there. I didn’t want to stay for long and was hoping for the six hour discharge, but we stayed overnight so Aerin could be observed after her birth issues. My main motivation for not staying was that I didn’t want to share a room, but I ended up in one by myself, and was discharged at 10am. I really don’t mind that I had to stay. The food was pretty ordinary though. The most important thing was that I got to leave hospital with my gorgeous, healthy daughter, with whom her whole family is besotted.
Aerin May Pearce
3.41kg, 7lb8oz; 35cm head, 52cm long. Perfection.