Tuesday, 40+1 weeks
My midwife, Jan, came to visit me at home. It had been a couple of weeks since I last saw her and she did a check of my tummy. She couldn’t feel the baby’s head and thought that the baby was either breech or its head was down really low in my pelvis. We agreed that she would do an internal and it turned out that the baby’s head was really low. She also discovered that the baby was posterior as when she went to check how ready my cervix was she couldn’t find the opening due to the baby’s position. I panicked a bit when she told me that the baby was posterior as I had heard that it would make labour more painful but she reassured me that it wasn’t an issue with second babies, that it might just mean a longer pushing stage (Jacob had come out in only a few pushes!) Jan told me that she was going away on Saturday night but said that she expected the baby to arrive in the next 5 days anyway given it’s position and the fact that Jacob was born at 39+5 days (well, I think that was more my thinking!)
Thursday, 40+3 weeks
I was starting to get a bit concerned that baby hadn’t come especially as Jacob would have well and truly been born by this stage of pregnancy last time! I was also concerned that it would all happen the one night Jan was away! We had a bit of swapping and changing of caregivers during the pregnancy. I was originally going to have a homebirth GP and Jan attending but the GP had gone overseas and wouldn’t be back in action until the Sunday and now Jan was also going to be away!! Which meant that should I give birth on the Saturday night I would be attended by the back up midwife (who I had met briefly and felt comfortable with) and also another midwife I hadn’t met before! This really worried me, along with some information I had read about posterior babies. Luckily, Jan was able to reassure me about everything when I called her.
Monday, 41 weeks
By this stage I was getting really antsy and wondering if this baby would every come! I was over being pregnant by this stage (something that I didn’t feel last time!) and beginning to doubt my bodies ability to go into labour on it’s own (quite ridiculous really when I knew it had done it so well by itself last time). I don’t know whether it was today or the next day that mum told me that the girls in the family had all been born well past their EDD (my mum was born at 42+4 weeks and I was induced at 42 weeks). I started to think well, ok, maybe this baby is a girl and THAT’S why she is taking her time!
Tuesday evening, 41+1 week
While I was feeding Jacob tonight I started getting really strong and painful Braxton Hicks contractions. I started to think that things were going to start happening but the Braxton Hicks continued every 5-10 minutes for a couple of hours and then stopped…
Wednesday, 41+2 weeks
While feeding Jacob this morning, I started having some painful contractions. I felt about three during the 30 minute feed Jacob had. We got up and I got breakfast for myself and Jacob. Contractions started coming roughly every 10 minutes apart from then on. Although I wasn’t sure if things were ‘serious’ or not, I thought it might be time to call Chris to get him to come home from work (he works an hour away from home) It was about 10am by this stage and he said he’d be on the 10.30am train.
In the meantime I went and had a shower. Contractions were still pretty regular but quite manageable and I was still able to look after Jacob. By the time Chris got home at 11.30am I was having a bit more trouble entertaining Jacob when a contraction hit. Chris arrived home and was pretty excited that things were finally happening. I was still a bit apprehensive about how it would all unfold and what I still had to get through!! It was such a relief to have Chris home though and to have him with me when each contraction came. I found that having him massage my back and stand with me when each wave came helped a lot. It was so different to last time when I just wanted to be left alone and hated being touched.
Chris ended up ringing Jan then and just letting her know that labour had started, although I was sure that we still had a long way to go given contractions were staying much the same intensity and frequency. I felt safe to tell Jan that we might not need her till later that night. Chris made a fire and we spent some final time together as a family of three and I managed to eat some lunch…
About 2ish I got a text from my support person, Donna. I told her that I thought things were happening but pretty slowly and we’d give her a call when we needed her. I headed off to bed to read and rest for what was to come! I had only been lying down for a little while when my mum arrived (she was to be Jacob’s support person, we had rung her earlier at work). I got up and spent some time talking to her. We told her it would probably be ok for her to go home and come back later (luckily she decided to stay anyway as things got intense so quickly that we wouldn’t have had time for her to get here in time).
Contractions started getting a bit sharper during the time that mum was here and I started needing Chris to be with me as each one hit. By the time 5pm came around contractions had started happening close together, every few minutes and becoming so painful (especially in my back) that I needed to cry out as each one happened. I said to Chris you’d better ring people so he rang Donna first and then Jan. Both were on their way straight away. I was really surprised at how quickly the contractions had changed and how they had gone from being so manageable to so intense in such a short space of time. As each one hit, sometimes one after the other I remember thinking ‘no, not another one’ and ‘I can’t do this!’ At 5.30pm we told Mum that Jacob would need dinner, I was still trying to instruct Mum about what to give him for dinner and get stuff out of the fridge between contractions at this stage!! Donna arrived at about 5.50pm and by this stage I was on my hands and knees on the couch with Chris rubbing my back through each contraction. I remember being relieved that there was someone else there to help Chris and give him suggestions about what might help me. I could hear all that was going on around me at that stage but I just couldn’t respond to anything! Jacob was making some concerned comments about me while he was eating dinner and Mum was reassuring him that I was ok. He was also saying some things that were making the others laugh but I only heard snippets. Donna put a heat pack on my back and I remember it feeling better. I was really struggling with the back pain at this stage and feeling like my back was going to break in half…
About this time, I started moaning as each contraction hit, my voice rising and falling as each contraction came and went. With Jacob’s birth I didn’t make any noise whatsoever and now I’m not sure how I quite managed that, crying out really helped deal with each wave of contractions as they came and kept me focused on the job at hand.
Everything is a bit of blur from then onwards, I remember having a strong contraction and feeling a vague sensation of needing to push. I was really surprised, it all seemed to happen so suddenly and Jan hadn’t even arrived. I said to Chris and Donna, ‘I needed to push with that contraction’. I felt calm about things even though Jan wasn’t there. About 5 minutes later at 6.20pm, Jan arrived. I was glad she was there but couldn’t really talk much through the pain. I remember her saying ‘be happy, you’re going to have a baby tonight’ and trying to smile! Somewhere around this time, I remember getting down on my hands and knees on the floor. Jan asked me if I felt like pushing and I said yes. She told me I needed to get my pants off. By this stage I was finding it hard to do anything during and between contractions. I tried to tell her that I would do it and trying to get them off but not quite being able to voice my thoughts! She thought I just wasn’t going to do, and said to me a few days after the birth that she had her scissors ready to cut them off me if necessary. It was suggested at this time Chris sat on the chest we had in the room and for me to lean against him while on my knees. I remember everyone moving around and when a bad contraction hit searching for and needing Chris who had moved for that one moment. I remember pushing everyone else out of the one and searching for him blindly. Meanwhile, Donna was bucketing cold water out of the birthing pool as we had discovered when Mum went to run Jacob’s bath that the hot water had run out! Although we had planned on having a waterbirth, I just felt I couldn’t move from the position I was in. I felt like I needed Chris to be with me and support me and I couldn’t get that from being in the pool.
I remember being alone with Chris for the next few moments although I later found out that Donna and Jan were right behind me. Mum had taken Jacob to give him a bath. I gave a big push and all of a sudden my membranes ruptured. It felt like such a relief and I actually thought Esme’s head had come out in that push as it relieved so much pressure! I remember Chris saying to me, ‘you did it all by yourself’ as last time my membranes had been ruptured by the ob about an hour before Jacob was born and having that intervention last time was something I had struggled to accept for a very long time. Finally, it proved to me that my body could do this on my own! After this happened, I had a bit of a break between contractions. My body felt like it was resting and I had a chance to catch my breath. Then I felt that need to push again and intense searing pain that made me squeal. I remember being told, ‘keep your noise low’. All of a sudden Jan said ‘sit up Narelle’ quite urgently. I didn’t realise that in that push, Esme’s head had popped out and I was sitting on her! No one had been able to see her coming out because I was so close to the ground so it came as a bit of surprise! All of a sudden everything was a rush of activity, Esme came out completely and people were helping me to take my top off so I could put her on me. Someone helped me to reach down and pick her up and I cuddled her close to my tummy. I felt such happiness and relief at the same time because she was out. Chris said to me ‘would you like to know what it is’ and he said ‘it’s a girl’. I was so excited and happy because I had hoped for a girl but had thought it was a boy. I remember giving a huge smile and hugging Chris. I couldn’t believe the enormity of what my body had just done! I was helped to move to the couch to lie with Esme on my tummy and mum and Jacob, who had finished his bath, came down to see us. Jacob was so excited and kept saying ‘baby, baby’. Mum said they had heard her cry and came rushing down the hall to see us. I delivered the placenta not long after that (interesting that we had a natural third stage and it came out quicker than with Jacob where I had the injection to supposedly sped it up). It turned out that I had second degree tears which needed stitching but they were pretty superficial (and it actually turned out that I had torn last time and should have probably been stitched then too). We ended up waiting until after I had my stitches done to cut the cord as I wanted to make sure that Esme had received all the blood. Chris said to me after that he really noticed the difference between cutting Jacob’s cord and Esme’s cord. Jacob’s cord was cut soon after birth and still had some blood in it whereas Esme had obviously received all the blood from the cord. Esme cried a little bit when the cord was cut but as she was breastfeeding she soon stopped.
It has taken me a little while to process the birth and understand the magnitude of what I have done. Not only did Esme came out posterior and in only a couple of pushes, it later turned out that she was 10pd 5oz (and this was after being weighed the next day when she would have lost some weight). I had no pain relief during the birth and no interventions. The birth was such a natural and undisturbed process and most of it was spent with just us as a family until the last hour or so. I feel so empowered by the experience and am so proud of myself. I also feel like I have such a special bond with my beautiful little girl. I am so grateful for my wonderful team of people who helped me birth my daughter and know that things would not have been the same without them, I felt so supported and empowered by their energy. So, to my wonderful husband, Chris, my midwife Jan, my support person, Donna, and my Mum, who was Jacob’s support person, I say thank you with a heart full of gratitude. No words could ever be enough to say thank you…
39 weeks pregnant, Jacob getting 'Mr J' to give my tummy a kiss!
Almost 40 weeks pregnant, who was to know we still had more than 9 days to go!!
Being supported by Chris during the later stages of labour, what a wonderful support he was!!
I love this photo, thanks to Donna for capturing it, this was the exact moment I saw my daughter for the first time! I love the look of happiness on my face