Beatie's birth story
April 09, 2013
(taken in the hospital when contractions were at 5 mins apart)
Violet was just over 2 weeks early and I really expected that Beatie would come about the same time. Every day from 37 weeks onwards I thought that day would be it. I remember calling or texting Rob so often tentatively suggesting things might be kicking off. Then my due date came...and went. To be more pregnant than I'd ever been before in the middle of the hottest summer I can remember became torturous. I stopped enjoying being pregnant and started praying to have it be done. Trying to keep up with a cloistered, bored and energetic toddler became impossible. I lay on the couch counting the hours down until Rob got home most days, feeling good about myself if I managed to play for longer than 15 minutes at a time. At 6 days past my due date we went to visit Rob's brother to swim in the pool on the roof of his building. I spent the ride home and most of the evening sobbing because I didn't feel like I could do another day. I'd never felt so tired before, when I was pregnant with Violet I had moments of feeling tired but this was something else and I felt it every minute of every day. We stayed up late. Probably because I'd taken up our whole evening crying and once cheered up a fraction wanted to get back the hours we'd lost.
At about midnight I started having stronger contractions than I'd had all pregnancy. They were frequent enough that I started to time them but disappointingly they were jumping all over the place, from 6 minutes to 9 minutes, to 4 minutes to 12 minutes. At some point close to when they started I became hopeful enough that this might be it that I got into the shower to shave my legs. Eventually I told Rob to get some sleep, that I'd wake him if my water broke or they became more consistent. I honestly didn't really put much stock in this being the real deal as I was expecting my water breaking to be the first indicator, just like with Violet. I thought I must finally be getting some proper braxton hicks. Sure enough at 2:30am they stopped and I fell asleep. I woke again sometime after 5:00am. They were coming again. This time they were staying pretty close to 5 minutes apart and they hurt quite a bit. I suffered through them for a little while and then woke Rob. "I think I might need to go to the hospital" I said. He was up like a shot wanting to know why I hadn't woken him sooner. We text his brother to see if he could come to take Violet. He couldn't so I text my friend Caitlin to see if she could. She was up, dressed and leaving for the gym and could be over in 10 minutes. I called the hospital to let them know we were coming. Rob was getting that kind of nervous excitement but I was 85% expecting to be sent home after being checked out at the hospital. My water hadn't broken so I couldn't be in labour. Caitlin arrived, I took her through what to do when Violet woke up. Rob had a conversation with her. Made and drank two coffees. Cleaned the kitchen bench. I started to wonder if he was taking the piss. I don't think he was. I told him my contractions were down to 4 minutes apart and that got him out the door. It was half true, I was timing them at between 4 and 5 minutes, fluctuating. It was still dark outside and there was a surprising amount of traffic. I didn't know people drove to work at 6am. The drive was magical. The streetlights were yellow against the purpley black of the pre-dawn sky and I felt the way I used to feel coming home after being out all night. There's something about being on your way home after having had a great night with friends as everyone else in the world around is starting their day. Like you're in on a secret, they think you're like them but you're not, you just been a part of something. Like in The Perks of Being a Wallflower when they talk about feeling infinite. I felt like that on my way to have my baby because there's something about the air temperature before dawn and there's something about the colours before dawn and there's something about knowing that in a few hours your life will have changed irrevocably and in the most amazing way possible.
I ate tiny teddies for breakfast. There were some packets in the glovebox and I realised halfway there that I'd made breakfast but never eaten it. At some point I must have accepted that I was really in labour because I stopped timing the contractions and started counting down the minutes until we got there. Checking in was so easy. I don't know how it's done in your country but in mine all I had to do was sign my name once and they sent me off to sit down while they prepared a bed for assessment. As we turned towards the waiting room chairs a couple that we know through Rob's work walked in. She was scheduled for an induction at the same time. Of all the hospitals in all the world, right? We ended up in rooms next door to each other having given birth hours apart. The contractions were still around 5 minutes apart. I was starting to worry about that because last time they'd gone from nothing to 3.5 minutes to 2.5 minutes in the matter of an hour. They didn't hurt too bad either. They hurt but not the blood curdling agony of my last labour. They took me through. Rob went to get coffee and muffins. I ate while they assessed me. I was 6cm dilated. They said I was very controlled for being so far along. I was breathing through them fine. They took me up to my labour suite and I walked, gritty my teeth and nose breathing through the contractions. I got settled in and met the midwife who would be delivering our baby, Ashlee. She was lovely and very upbeat which was surprisingly something I cared about this time around. I took a moment to reflect on the fact that at this point in my last labour I was half mad with pain, screaming and snapping at people to shut up. I felt calm, I felt in control and I felt like I wanted to know when my bloody water was going to break. Ashlee left and we listened to music for a while, I dozed a little for the few minutes between contractions. I watched the time tick by without really knowing where it was going, from 8am to 10:30am with Ashlee popping in and out. I distracted myself by trying out different positions to see what hurt the least and by filling out the cord blood donation forms. At some point Ashlee told me that some babies are born inside their sacs and that the old wives tale goes that those babies will never drown. I don't remember the contractions.
I remember that they slowly got more frequent, I remember that they hurt in my back a lot more than last time and I think that was because the sac was putting pressure there as it came down with my baby still inside, I remember how easy it was to steel myself as each contraction came on. I picked a spot on the ceiling and started breathing, big deep breaths through my nose and out through my gritted teeth, before the contraction had even really taken hold, until each one was over. It was easy, even while it was hard. I remember being embarrassed that I'd made such a fuss the first time around. No one asked if I wanted drugs or gas, no one needed to. Ashlee said afterwards that she could see I didn't need them, I was doing fine. I can't even remember what happened but they decided at some point towards the end that they needed to monitor the baby a little closer so I had those bands put around my tummy. I remember being worried about it, especially when a doctor came in. There's no OB in the room at this hospital unless there's a problem. Everyone reassured me that everything was fine and he left. When he came back later, as I was ready to push they reassured me that he was only there because he was a student and needed to be part of a normal birth as assessment. He didn't do much, Ashlee was incredible. Eventually I went from telling her I wanted to push to telling her that I needed to push and the pressure of the sac coming down was incredible. I rolled onto my side when they started monitoring the baby because Ashlee wanted to make sure she didn't turn posterior and by the time I was ready to start pushing I didn't have the mental energy to roll onto my back. Or the energy to roll any other way so I gave birth on my side, one leg in the air, half off the bed holding Rob's arm with both hands to bear down upon. Between each contraction as my water didn't break she put on more and more plastic clothing, according to Rob. Goggles, smock, hat, face mask, between each contraction giving Rob humorous pointed looks to let him know it was going to be worse and worse the longer it didn't break. It broke just as she was crowning and by God, the BANG and the explosion of water were an experience all on their own. Rob said it was like in the first Men in Black movie when the alien explodes. It went right across the room, coving Ashlee from head to waist, catching the cord blood collection nurse across the legs, covering the floor and my legs. She was born just a few pushes later, with no ring of fire, no tearing, much quicker and with significantly less pain that I experienced last birth. I never made a sound other than pushing noises (which help me push harder). What an incredible experience, it was so wonderful that I told Rob I couldn't not ever do that again. I felt like a super hero, so strong.
They put the baby on my chest and I was so relieved that she was finally there. I think I cried a little but honestly it's all a little hazy now. I know I talked to her softly and welcomed her to life. I know they told me I did good, that I didn't tear and that she was big and healthy. We took pictures and videos and snuggled with our newest little girl. I tried to work out whether she looked like Violet. I missed Violet and couldn't wait to introduce her to her tiny sister. I felt incredible to hold a baby that tiny. It took a couple of hours for it to sink in that she was really here and that she was really ours forever and ever and ever. She was born at 11:35am (the report says labour was 4 hours and 12 minutes long, they must have been counting from when I was assessed at 7:30am), she was 52.5cm long with brown hair, blue eyes and weighing 8lbs 14oz (4kg 30g). Rob's brother had a break from work and came to meet little Beatie and I took a shower. About an hour or so after she was born they said we could go to our room and would I like to walk? I said that I would but Rob wanted to wheel me up in a wheelchair, he said it was tradition and to be honest I'm so grateful that he insisted. The afterbirth pains were just as intense as the contractions. I hadn't had any after Violet's birth and hadn't even heard of them so they were quite a shock. Once we settled into the room we spent time staring at her beautiful little face and discussing everything that had just happened. I'm so grateful to have her here and I'm so in awe of the magic of giving birth.