So, this post is all about my labour. It's Tully's Birth Story. Consider yourself warned if you don't like talking or thinking about things such as uteri, babies squishing through cervix's, etc.
I had expected to go into labour early. This did not happen. But because I was expecting it, I was very carefully monitoring myself for signs of early labour from 35 weeks onwards. Particularly because it would mean 8+ hours of travelling for James to get down to Perth from Halls Creek. This was stressing me out a fair bit. I talked to the OB in charge of me at the hospital, who got a letter written to excuse James from his last week of work. This was a huge relief. And when James got down to Perth, I was super happy! And he was just in time to take care of me through a nasty cold.
So then we settled in to wait. We were pretty much ready for Sprout to come at any point in time. READY! I'm ready now damnit! But no-show. Pa travelled from Melbourne for Christmas, but no Sprout. Pa caught his plane back home. In the week before I went into labour, I was experiencing braxton hicks daily. I had to make a huge effort to go to bed expecting to not be in labour the next morning, else I'd get all morose about not being in labour. We also made tonnes of plans! Plans for lunch, for movies, for dinners, for hanging out with friends. We went out most evenings to play board games with good friends. This was super important in giving me something to look forward to each day.
At 40 (weeks) + 8 (days) I started getting strong, but sporadic contractions Sunday evening just before we went to a friend's house. Determined to not be a slave to pseudo-contractions, we went anyway and I just gritted my teeth through them. They continued being irregular, but strong throughout the night and into Monday (40 +9) morning. Although they hadn't abated, I was still determined to get on with my day. So we went to see Frozen at the cinema. Pretty much as soon as we sat down, I started getting contractions every 5 minutes for about 30 seconds. By the time Frozen finished, the contractions were getting stronger. We left AS SOON as the credits started to roll, hopped in the car and drove to the hospital (we had been taking my hospital bag with us everywhere, just in case). When I was admitted, I was 4cm, hurrah!
They strapped monitors to me and the very first contraction it picked up also showed a dip in Sprout's heartbeat. This required them to continue to monitor me in case it happened again. I was monitored for half an hour in the assessment room, then for another half hour in the labour room. When I was in the labour room, the monitors were wireless, so I changed into my bathers and laboured in the shower for a while. I had the hot water pointed at a painful spot on my belly. James was in his boardies pointing the shower head while I vocalised, swayed and clapped my hands. This was pretty effective at managing my pain. Once it was established that Sprout's heartbeat was stable, they started filling up a pool for me to labour in.
This took about half an hour. At the time it felt like hours and in hindsight it felt like 5 minutes. But soon enough, I was in and that was nice. The pool was definitely an improvement. But not for long; the pain soon became unmanageable again, so I requested gas. Gas was hella funny, but I didn't do well with it. I was HIGH AS A KITE! And that affected my ability to perceive pain and make rational decisions. For example, breathing in an orderly and mannered way; taking breaks from the gas to breath in oxygen, etc. It was pretty clear that I was still not coping with the pain, so I requested an epidural.
The anaesthetist was with another woman, and then had a second woman to give epidurals to before getting to me. AND I needed to be assessed to see how far along I was. So I stayed in the pool with the gas for a little bit longer, before I had to get out for an assessment. I was 7cm dilated. Epidural time plz!! I sat on the edge of the bed, James was in front of me, being supportive. I had to stay very very still, which was super hard to do. The doctor put in some local anaesthetic to numb the area, then put the epidural in. I didn't feel it go in because of the anaesthetic, yay! It took about 10-15mins to kick in and once it did... it was wonderful! I was able to chat with James, eat a sandwich and generally look forward to meeting Sprout. I still felt contractions in this spot that the epidural didn't get to, I was able to walk around and change position on the bed. I was quite surprised that I wasn't belted down the whole time!
Labour continued in this fashion until we figured that given the time, I should be ready yet, shouldn't I? The midwife checked me out, and I was dilated to 10cm, so surely I should be ready to push? After an hour of waiting for my body's push to kick in, the midwife decided we should bring it on anyway. So she set me up in pushing position and I started to push. She also let the epidural wear off. I changed position to make pushing better, but I much preferred sitting up, so I went back to doing that. After 45mins of unsuccessful and painful pushing, I requested the vacuum, but the midwife was all "but you just gave a great push! Keep going" and wouldn't get the doctor.
So at this stage, the epidural has worn off, I'm PUSHING DAMNIT!! And it's damn painful! A couple of times I was like "screw this! I'm over it!" and stopped pushing, which was like jumping from the pot into the fire. PAAAAIIIN!!!! As painful as pushing was, it was better than enduring the agony of feeling the contraction racking my body. So much pain! PAINPAINPAIN!!! The very brief respite in between contractions was half spent with me pleading for an assisted delivery and panting. After another 45mins, the midwife FINALLY got the doctor. I almost cried!
They popped my legs up into thingers, the doctor popped the vacuum cap on and in 3-5 pushes, Sprout was out! It wasn't as easy as it sounds though.
Half way through, Dr White was like, "your contraction is over right now, we need to pause so you can stretch."
And in the back of my brain I was like, "yes, this sounds like a good plan. Stretching = good!"
But my body was like, "RING OF FIRE!!! WHAT ARE YOU KIDDING ABOUT STOPPING?? DO YOU KNOW HOW THIS FEELS!!?!? PUUUUUUUUSH!!!"
So I pushed and consequently got a 2nd degree tear. When I say that, my legs cross together and I wince. But I didn't feel myself tear at the time. EVERYTHING was just so painful, what's more pain on top of pain??
But anyway, at 2:23am, out he came and they put Sprout straight on my belly with towels and I'm like "omg, this is my baby?? How did this happen? That all happened so quickly!" I used my hand to feel around, felt out-y bits and told James we had a boy! I feel a bit tear-y recounting it now because it's so amazing and special, but at the time I was just astounded! A lot happened in those brief moments. The cord had stopped pulsating very early, so James cut the cord. I (had requested and) received an injection so my placenta would be delivered quickly, so that came out. After a few minutes of holding him, the doctor needing to stitch me up and generally tidy up a bit, so I passed Tully over to James who got about 20 solid minutes holding Tully, which is really special too. Stitches, assembling the bed again, cleaning up all the blood, then Tully was passed back to me to feed. The instructional videos I watched in our antenatal classes were super helpful for that though, so I kinda fumbled my through remembering what to do and spent the next 90mins with Tully feeding.
In the midst of all the bustle, I turned to James and said, "Tertullian Brian??" to which he agreed, and that's how Tully got his name! I sent James home because he was falling asleep on the couch (that the hospital had in each of the delivery rooms, yay!) and continued feeding. Then the midwife took Tully for weighing, shots, etc and I had a shower, then off we hobbled to my bed in the maternity ward.
There's way more I could continue on with, but this is long enough. In summary, pregnancy and labour were damn hard! I do not particularly like pregnancy because of my excessive nausea and horrific back pain (though my chiropractor was super amazingly wonderful and made that aspect so much better). I did not like labour because it was the most painful experience in my life, full of painful pain!!!!!! But I love having Tully with us. I love him so much! He is the cutest baby in the entire world! (said every mother ever). I don't mind the crying. I don't mind being weed and pooed upon. I don't mind that my boobs are sore because breastfeeding is still new. Having Tully with us is just the best of all!!