|First moments with Lachlan|
I had an appointment with my obstetrician, Dr Lucy, on Monday, June 4 at 41 weeks and 2 days pregnant (nine days overdue). I was nervous about this appointment because I knew it would involve a discussion about an induction and the inevitable end of this pregnancy. Some women are desperate to give birth after 41 weeks of pregnancy, but my fear of the birth and general good health left me feeling reluctant to rush things.
Many doctors don't allow their patients' pregnancies to extend beyond 7 - 10 days overdue so I was relieved when my doctor indicated that she would let me wait until Friday (13 days overdue) until she would induce labor. That would allow baby four more days to come on his own if he was ready.
The doctor did an internal exam and told me that I was one centimeter dilated and also did a quick membrane sweep (separating the amniotic sac from the cervix to get labor started if the baby is ready). None of us thought that less than 24 hours later, our boy would have arrived.
|After weighing and measuring|
In the hours after the appointment I began to experience mild cramps. I knew this might happen after the membrane sweep and managed the pain with panadol and my heating pack. As evening turned into night, though, the pain only increased and by midnight I suspected that this was the real deal. I had read that pre-labor can go on for days so I decided to let Mickey sleep and wandered out into the living room. I had every intention of watching one of my favorite shows, but when I flipped on the TV, the Kardashians were on and I didn't change the channel. The Kardashian reality show was followed by another featuring Clint Eastwood's wife and daughters and still I didn't change the channel. It's funny what makes sense during labor.
By 3:30 I woke Mickey and asked him to start timing the contractions. We phoned our doula Gaby and she told me to have something to eat and also to rest. My mom prepared some scrambled eggs, buttered toast and grilled cheese, but I could only get a couple of bites down. The contractions grew longer and slightly more frequent so we phoned Gaby again and told her to please head our way.
She arrived at 7am and I told her that I wanted to go to the hospital right away. Gaby usually encourages women to labor at home as long as they can because going to the hospital sometimes slows labor down when women leave their comfort zone. Also, the hospital sometimes puts you "on the clock" and expect your labor to make a certain amount of progress over certain periods of time.
I didn't care about either of those things, though, because the contractions were painful and difficult and I couldn't imagine dealing with them while Gaby navigated morning traffic. Looking back on it now, there was a funny moment when we entered the elevator and found two men already in it presumably leaving home for work. It was pretty obvious from my girth and expressions where we were going and my mom made a joke about getting stuck in the elevator together. I contemplated that possibility for a moment and then said, 'Mom, don't even joke about that.' Mickey and Gaby placed a plastic sheet and towels down in the back seat of her car (in case my water broke) and away we went to the hospital. Fortunately for me, the roads were clear of traffic and we arrived relatively quickly at 8am.
|Papa Lachie time|
The next couple of hours are kind of blurry for me (literally because I took off my glasses and have poor eyesight). I do remember a very uncomfortable internal exam not just because of overwhelming contractions, but also because I had to lie on my back for the midwife to be able to do the exam and even reclining, let alone lying on my back hadn't been comfortable for months. On the plus side, though, the exam revealed that I was 6cm dilated, a cause for celebration. This piece of news confirmed that my labor was not only for real (I had a lingering fear that they'd send us back home and tell me I wasn't actually in labor), but that it was progressing well.
I asked the midwife to show me how to use the gas (nitrous oxide that you breathe during contractions) and was thrilled that it did indeed take the edge off the pain. The whole situation felt almost bearable when I hopped into the tub and alternated between sucking on the gas intake tube and my blackberry flavored lollypop. Mickey had read in his childbirth-for-blokes-type book that a dad took a hit of his wife's gas while she was in labor and he was working on a tricky crossword puzzle. He claims that the gas cleared his head and allowed him to complete the puzzle easily so, of course, Mickey had to give it a try.
After a couple of hours in the tub, it felt like even the gas and warm water weren't cutting it in terms of pain relief and I felt the sensation to push. My doctor confirmed that I was 9cm dilated and it was nearly push time. I hung out on a chair for a while until my water broke. I wanted more pain relief, but the midwife and my doctor told me that by the time the anaesthetist could administer an epidural, the baby would already be here. Prior to the labor I had feared this sort of 'it's too late for drugs situation,' but my team kept telling me that I could do it. I was more disappointed when I learned that I couldn't use the gas during push time. During our antenatal class at the hospital, they showed a woman doing exactly this and so it came as a surprise that I couldn't breathe the gas while pushing. In hindsight, though, my doctor was right that I would not have pushed as effectively on the gas so this was ultimately the right decision.
I pushed in a standing position for perhaps half an hour before the doctor and midwife encouraged me to hop up on the bed on my knees while leaning against the front of the bed which they had elevated. I gripped my mom's arms while Mickey massaged my back through the pushes. Mickey had a look down at the business end of things and told me he could see a small fraction of the baby's head. I remember thinking, 'if this is what it feels like when they see a fraction of baby's head, this isn't going to work.' I told the doctor this by saying, 'I don't think there's enough room!' She assured me that there somehow was and at 1:02pm, our baby was born.
I grabbed him first and turned into a seated position before Mickey and I looked and learned that he was in fact a boy. My family and friends knew that we were hoping for a girl, but we were thrilled with our sweet healthy boy. He cried a little, but didn't scream. He looked up at me wide eyed while I held him on my chest. I thought I would be the one to cry with emotion and relief, but it was too surreal. Instead I found myself saying, 'are you my baby?' as I looked in his eyes.
Lachlan and Sidney were at the top of our names list for boys. I preferred Lachlan and Mickey favored Sidney. I also loved Sidney, but worried that as he grew up, that name would be considered a girl's name. I looked at Mickey and asked if he could be Lachlan and I don't think Mickey could have refused me anything at that point, poor guy. His second name is Nicholas after my brother.
I continued to hold Lachie while they delivered the placenta, Mickey cut the cord and the doctor stitched my tear. My mom was surprised that the nurses didn't clean Lachlan up, but the general wisdom these days is to allow the baby to keep the smells of the womb on their bodies. We wiped him, but didn't actually bathe him for three days. Likewise, I didn't jump in the shower until after Lachie and I had some bonding time.
Our stay at the hospital and hotel and Lachie's first days deserve a separate post. For now, I just wanted to reflect on his birth and express my gratitude to the friends and family who were physically there with me and those who were there with me in spirit. I drew a lot of strength from the positive energy I felt from those on my birth team: the midwife, the fantastic doctor Lucy, my doula Gaby who knew exactly what I needed at each phase, my mom and, of course, Mickey. He never once made me feel gross and instead told me how very proud of me he was. Though Lachie's birth was challenging and painful, it was also incredibly positive and empowering.