Our little boy, Gideon Frederick, came into this world on Saturday the 18th of June at 9.06am. He surprised us all by being exactly two weeks early and weighed only 6pd6oz. My pregnancy and birth with Gideon has been very different to that of the other two. It’s been a time of reflection and learning for me as I worked through all the emotions surrounding my ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage the year before. I truly believe this was the reason Gideon was sent to us – to teach me about myself and make me a stronger person. I feel blessed for the precious miracle our little boy is.
Gideon’s birth story begins with gastro. Probably not the nicest way to start a birth story but I truly believe that’s what started everything happening. The Thursday night before I had him I was up all night with gastro. I actually thought it might be labour starting then as I was having really bad cramps. But when I focused on the cramps I realized they were coming from my stomach and that I wasn’t getting those familiar tightenings when they came. The next day I still felt quite washed out and not quite 100%. Chris took the day off and the kids went to my Mum’s for the day and I spent the day resting in bed.
I went to bed early that night and on Saturday morning I woke up at 5.09 with quite a strong pain. I thought to myself, ‘I wonder if that’s a contraction?’ but decided that there was no way it could be with it still being 2 weeks until I was due. I lay in bed but couldn’t get back to sleep. 20 minutes later I felt another pain and realized that they were contractions after all. I also realized that I hadn’t been sleeping very well all night and that I’d been having regular tightenings while I slept. I debated whether to wake Chris up to tell him but decided I’d wait and see what happened. I was quite adamant that the contractions were simply pre-labour as I’d heard so much about pre-labour and third babies.
I started getting contractions every 10 minutes or less for the next while. I decided to get up to go to the toilet and while I was there I sent a message to my midwife, Jan. I was reluctant to actually ring her because I thought I’d look a bit silly if it was just pre-labour. While I was on the toilet I had quite a few strong contractions close together and that’s when I realized this was definitely the real thing! I went to the door of our bedroom and told Chris that it was definitely happening. I had a contraction while I was standing there and felt the need to vocalize during it (which is a sure sign for me that things are really happening). We thought we’d better call Jan at that point and tell her she needed to come but she beat me to it by ringing. She told me she’d be up straight away.
I had quite a few more contractions while we waited for Jan to arrive. Luckily Chris was there to support me through each one. We rang Mum to tell her to come up (she was to be the support person for Jacob and Esme) and decided to blow up the birth pool. Esme woke up sometime around this time and I remember Chris telling her that we were going to have the baby today. She was very interested and intrigued by everything that was going on.
Jan arrived about 7.30 and things seemed to be progressing well. Contractions were getting closer together and more intense. Jan encouraged me by telling me that the baby was close. I remember Kelly, our second midwife, arriving not long after Jan got here. She walked in during a contraction. I couldn’t look at her as I had to focus on the contraction but managed a smile. It was wonderful to be surrounded by people who cared so much about me.
We talked about where I wanted to be for the birth. We didn’t think there’d be enough time to fill the birth pool and I didn’t feel the need to be in there anyway. All I knew was that I needed Chris to support me and I didn’t feel that he could do that properly when I was in the pool. I remember Jan asking where I wanted to be for the birth but all I could focus on was the contractions at that point, so my answer was ‘I don’t want to make any decisions’. Luckily I had people around me who knew instinctively what I wanted and could make that decision for me.
We decided to set up the bedroom for the birth. Chris brought the candle upstairs, we shut the curtains and turned the lights out and Kelly set about preparing the bed with the plastic sheets which I had (luckily!) already organized. Throughout the whole birth I felt quite present. With Esme’s birth I just sort of zoned out but with this birth I was able to talk and have proper conversations between contractions.
At some point I moved onto the bed. Chris sat in front of me supporting me while I knelt with cushions in front of my tummy. I remember having a lot of trouble finding a comfortable position when a contraction hit which I didn’t remember last time round. Jan and Kelly had their hands on my back providing support during contractions which felt so good. I began to feel the urge to push although this urge was not as strong as it had been for my other two births and seemed to come and go.
We had thought that the baby would be here soon but this pushing stage was a challenge for me during Gideon’s birth and actually really painful. With my other two, I found the pushing stage to be the easiest. A few pushes and they were out. But Gideon had other ideas. I had to battle with my head to birth him.
I didn’t realize until the end of my pregnancy just how much my ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage had affected me. I went into this birth feeling scared about the pain which I never have been before and I think a lot of that stems from the pain I felt when I had the ectopic pregnancy. Tied in with that as well was the shock of needing emergency surgery and being told afterwards that I was lucky to be alive. Also, I don’t think I was physically ready to birth this baby. I’d been so adamant this whole pregnancy that I was going to go over my date and I think my head was trying to tell my body that I wasn’t meant to be birthing him yet!
I’d spoken to Kelly about all of these feelings the week earlier but hadn’t had a chance to talk to Jan, who had been there to support us through the ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage, about it all. The ironic thing was that I had an appointment with her the day before where I was going to talk to her about all this but I had to cancel because I wasn’t well! I think Jan could see that there was something I needed to process before I could birth this baby and she sat next to me on the bed and asked me what was stopping me from birthing this baby. I was having quite long breaks between contractions and needing to push at that stage so I could talk to her about my feelings and being scared of the pain.
Nothing much was happening. I would feel the urge to push with each contraction, but the baby didn’t seem to be moving down much. I could hear Kelly and Jan discussing things quietly in the background and sensed some concern in Jan’s voice. She told me that it was unusual to feel the urge to push with third babies and not push them out quickly. She said she wasn’t worried but wanted to do a check which she did and couldn’t really feel anything. I don’t think I was very cooperative though! It was at this point when I felt a really strong sense of wanting to meet my baby. It suddenly dawned on me that this baby was coming. Today. Perhaps this was the point at which things changed and my headspace shifted to allow this baby to come.
In the end, Jan decided to do a proper internal. She told me that after the next contraction she wanted me to roll over so she could do it. If there’s anything I hate more during labour, it’s having an internal done (and I’d only had it done once, when I had Jacob in hospital all those years ago!) In some ways, I think giving me that ultimatum was the best thing. I remember Jan standing next to me putting on the rubber gloves and thinking ‘I’ve just got to get this baby out’ so with the next contraction I pushed as hard as I could. I felt the most intense pain I have ever felt in my life (even more than with my other births) and remember screaming really loudly as I pushed my baby’s head out. Kelly was standing at the other end and said to Jan ‘I think she’s beating you to it’.
Jacob and Esme were in the room with my Mum watching and waiting for this baby to be born. We had called them in when I started pushing, although we weren’t expecting it to take so long! I remember both of them being a little bit concerned about the noises I was making at some points during the birth but everyone there was able to reassure them that I was ok. They were there as I birthed this baby.
With the baby’s head out, I was able to rest a little bit and with the next few contractions, I pushed my baby all the way out. What a sense of relief and happiness I felt. Overwhelming happiness! Kelly (or Jan, I don’t even know who!) put him between my legs and I reached down to pick him up and hold him against my chest. He was so warm and tiny. And perfect. And loud (he didn’t stop crying for ages!) I was so intent on holding him, that I didn’t even realize that he was a boy until about 5 minutes later when I thought to check. But it didn’t matter anyway. This baby already had a place in my heart. He truly is our precious miracle.
Gideon’s birth would not have been what it was without the support of our wonderful team. I owe a huge thanks to our midwives, Jan and Kelly. Especially Jan who was with us for Esme’s birth and who also provided support to me through some of my darkest times when I lost my two babies. Also to my Mum, who was there to support and provide reassurance to Jacob and Esme during the birth and for everything else she does. And lastly, my amazing husband, Chris, who never doubted my ability and strength to overcome my demons and to birth our precious baby.
Gideon’s name has a special meaning for us. ‘Gideon’ means powerful warrior, which we thought was appropriate after losing two babies before him (and also what we have gone through since he has been in this world!!) His middle name, ‘Frederick’, is after my grandfather who passed away when I was about 6 weeks pregnant. I like to think that my granddad gave up his place on Earth so that Gideon could have a place. I only wish he could have known that I was pregnant before he passed away.
Sometimes I look at Gideon feeding and wonder what the two babies I lost would have looked like and I feel sad. But then I look at the beautiful boy right in front of me and realize just how lucky I am to have him on Earth with me. I will always remember the two angels I lost but I feel healed by Gideon’s birth.