Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Tomorrow is my sweet Peach’s 2nd birthday and I am imagining we’ll be too busy having birthday fun to post tomorrow. I can’t believe that this time 2 years ago I was yet to meet my girl. At this point, I had already been in labour for 18 hours and I was more than eager to meet the Peach!
On the eve of her birthday though I’ve been thinking about our journey to her birth. I find myself still processing the events that seemed to almost hurl me into motherhood. When Leigh from Marvelous Kiddo wrote about Theo’s birth story, she entitled it ‘Welcoming Theo’ and that is how I feel about Theo’s birth, it was welcoming. I felt as though we were ready and waiting for him to arrive, his labour was calm and I was prepared mentally and physically.
I am not sure what the heck I was doing during the 9 months I was pregnant with Priya but I didn’t feel like I was ready at all, it did not feel ‘welcoming’. The whole process of her birth seemed abrupt and terrifying – not at all the natural and beautiful outcome of a pregnancy. Perhaps because I had no idea what to expect, perhaps because I hadn’t researched enough and decided exactly what it was I wanted or perhaps it was just a hard labour (and fighting the natural process before it’s even started is hard, let me assure you!). But regardless, I am getting a little ahead of myself.
My pregnancy with Priya was fairly uneventful, for which I am grateful. We claim the pregnancy was unplanned but I distinctly remember having a few glasses of wine and Errol and I both getting starry eyed talking about babies. Oh wait, no. I’ve been informed that we’re still claiming Peach was an immaculate conception. No really, it’s true!
Suspecting that I was pregnant I told Errol I would pick up a pregnancy test on the way home from work and we could test that night. I picked up a 2-test pack and tried my best to wait till Errol got home from work. In the end, I tested by myself because I couldn’t wait. The lines came up instantly on both tests.
It was somewhat lucky Errol wasn’t home when I tested as I went into a bit of shock and ended up having a little cry on the couch. Being 19, unmarried and pregnant certainly hadn’t been on my list of things to do – I was yet to realise those two lines were the best thing that would ever happen to me.
When Errol did arrive home I’d mostly recovered. Errol opened the door and said -”Honey, I am hoooooommmeee and I said “Honey, we’re having a baaaaabbbbby”.
I decided right away that I wanted to move our wedding forward. We’d been planning an April wedding but I wanted something sooner.I didn’t really think I’d be feeling like being a bride at 7.5 months pregnant. Given limited options for dates as Errol’s brother was going to Europe for a few months, we quickly decided December 1st.
Rather than hiding red-faced about our unexpected pregnancy (as Errol had loudly proclaimed we wouldn’t kiss until we got married. HA!) we used this as our wedding invite.
After telling our parents at 9 weeks we had 3 weeks to pull the wedding together. Thankfully my mother is a whirlwind of production and the wedding was gorgeous. I was almost 13 weeks pregnant at the wedding.
Somewhere in there, beneath layers of 50 year old tulle is the tiny Peach (who coincidentally was the same size as a real peach at this point).
Hannah, my bridesmaid (and sister-in-law) was 7.5 months pregnant, I’m just poking my tummy out!
This is Hannah and I right before Hannah gave birth to her son Zen. I look almost as pregnant as she does (I’m on the left) and I am only 5.5 months! Our pregnancies were 4 months apart with Priya and Zen. We are a clever pair and planned our next pregnancies four months apart too!
At 7 months my sister and I went to the beach to do a belly shoot. I was glad we did it when we did as not too long after I got lots of stretch marks : ( I also look full-term and if we’d waited until I actually was full-term the photos would be freakish (more freakish than they are, right?!)
Already by 7 months everyone had already started making flattering comments like “you must be due any day now” (and who could blame them?)
Don’t be fooled by the bikini, it was winter and cold.
We found out at 25 weeks that we were expecting a baby girl which I was very excited about. It was actually a little bit of a task to find out the gender and is a funny story in itself but I’ll summarize to say it involved a Chinese doctor, a rude ultrasound tech and a few lies! But goshdarnit, I wanted to buy baby things!
I was really lucky to get into the Birth Centre at the Royal Womens. The birth centre had a ballot entry system and it was really hard to get a place in. I knew I wanted to have a natural birth. But once I got into the birth centre I thought that was all I needed to do !
As with Theo’s pregnancy, people would stop me all the time and ask if I was having twins or if I was already overdue. Overall though I was lucky it was winter. I didn’t swell up too much and could still fit my normal jeans at full term. I just seemed to carry her really high. I gained 8kg for the whole pregnancy. I was happy with that as Priya was nearly 4kg and the placenta was well over 1kg (!!).
This (photo above) is my favourite photo of all time. I have it printed HUGE on our lounge room wall. It makes me happy every time I look at it. When I first saw it, it really hit home that it was ‘us’ now, not just me and he. Having a photographer sister is the best!
I was very, very round.
Since my older sister and mother had been very ripe with their babies, I had a sneaking suspicion that I might be overdue. Our family likes to bet on due dates and although I was due the 5th of June, I had picked the 15th as my guess for when the baby would come (surprise, surprise, I won that $70!).
Knowing the chances were high of me going past my due date and not wanting to as this would risk me out of the birth centre, I decided to start getting acupuncture two weeks before my due date to try and get things moving along. I had to lie to the acupuncturist who wouldn’t do the treatment before my due date (yes, I am a terrible moral-less person who also had no faith her body would do this thing on it’s own!). The acupuncturist was a sweet old Chinese man who told me “you do what my wife do, eat lots of spice, the baby just pop out”. I hadn’t had acupuncture before and I was a little nervous. He placed the needles behind my ears, on my toes, in my ankles, on my knees, on the belly (I was a little concerned by this) and between my thumb and index finger. It wasn’t as painful as I had imagined but the sensation it gave me wasn’t exactly pleasant. In our second session the acupuncturist was surprised to see me back saying “this baby stubborn, must be a boy”. Feeling that he needed to step the treatment up (believing I was a week overdue – oh the lies!) he placed the needles in the same positions but then attached them to a TENS machine which gave me extreme nausea and I spent the rest of our hour session recovery. Serves me right for lying and trying to hurry my stubborn Peach out.
When my due date finally did come around I went in for a check up with my midwife at the Birth Centre. She didn’t seem overly concerned I was now a day late and sent me on my merry way advising I do lots of walking. Walking we did, up and down the hills around our house and up and down the stairs at Kangaroo Point. After a couple of days and still no sign of baby, I was starting to worry because my brother and his family who had flown from Colorado to meet the baby would be leaving in a few days. My mother who had booked his tickets had mistakenly thought my due date was in May ?
My husband, Errol and I started to get serious trying to get the baby moving and dideverything suggested by our midwife. Lots of sex. Check. Eat entire pineapple. Check. Induce diarrhea. Check. Walk, walk, walk. Check. Eat spicy foods. Check. Evening Primrose. Check. Acupuncture (two MORE sessions – with different acupuncturist as sweet Chinese man would think I was a MONTH overdue). Check. Stretch and sweep x 3. Check.
On Sunday evening I got a call from the Birth Centre saying that my midwife was having a family crisis and wouldn’t be present for the birth. I was really upset by this as I had had all my prenatal checks with her and felt comfortable with her. To further my stress they told me that the replacement midwife was going to be the lady who had run my birth classes. I had found this midwife really intimidating. My mind flashed back to the birth class when she was explaining cervical checks and said “You just stick your hand up there and have a good feel around” and illustrated with a full hand rather than fingers. Errol and I were both a little scarred by the mental images that conjured.
On Monday (the 16th) after a morning romp with Errol I felt a number of small tightenings. These continued all day with surprising regularity but without much discomfort to me. By Monday evening they were VERY regular (about 5 mins apart) but still not very painful.
I laid around on my sisters drive way and she thought it would be hilarious to chalk around me in case I decided never to get up.
Thinking that labour may be on its way, I ate as much as I could and headed to bed. At 11pm I woke and could feel the beginning of contractions being quite discomforting. I couldn’t sleep very much from then on. I rolled my hips around on our large exercise ball. This made the contractions come harder and faster. When Errol woke up I was rolling around on the ball eating icy poles and watching a scary film (which I never do) so he had a good idea things were heating up. My mum came and braided my hair as I wanted it out of the way for labour. The contractions were quite hard and close by 10am so we called the midwife and told her we would be coming in soon. I was suddenly filled with an urge that we should stay home, I didn’t want to go to the hospital but we weren’t prepared to stay home at all. We were staying downstairs at my sisters house (as we had just bought our busand actually lived in another town), my entire family were hanging around upstairs waiting which wasn’t conducive to feeling comfortable in labour. Ideally we could have been settled in our own home and I could have relaxed and let myself get excited about this adventure!
My mum, my sister (a photographer) and Errol and I hopped in the car and headed in to the Birth Centre. It was a 20 minute trip and wasn’t too awful considering the contractions. Sneaky Priya had wait till 41+6 (the day before I’d be risked out of the birth centre) to decide to come out.
We were very surprised to find my original midwife had been able to come in and would be there for the birth. I was so relieved. Errol was nearly popping with excitement bringing our bags in to the room and setting up our essential oils to burn. The midwife asked to do a check of my cervix and asked me about my night. We chatted in between contractions and I felt good about how things were going. I could breathe through most of the contractions easily and felt a sense of purpose.
Not long after we’d arrived my midwife came to me and suggested to me that we rupture my membranes. I was a little surprised, I certainly hadn’t expected this to be suggested at 3cm when I had only just arrived and was labouring well. Furthermore, it wasn’t a Birth Centre practice and the midwife hadn’t even mentioned it as a possibility prior to this. I asked her why and she said she rarely did them but in this case she ‘felt’ it was right. Looking back I still don’t know why she suggested this or why I consented to having it done as I had only been in the Birth Centre for a short time. The midwife reasoned with me that while it would make the contractions come harder and faster it would also speed the labour along. I didn’t really feel one way or the other as I hadn’t considered this or researched before hand, but I trusted my midwife and consented. In hindsight, I wish I hadn’t consented.
After my waters were broken I could barely stand because of the pain and completely lost my rhythm with breathing through contractions. I remember curling into a ball over the bean bag on the floor and falling asleep. I spent most of the afternoon curled over the bean bag and only woke every so often when there was a very painful contraction. At 4ish, I asked if I could move to the tub and my midwife agreed. The warm water made me feel quite nauseated so I didn’t spend very long in the water.
Sympathy pain. My poor darling. He was very brave.
A nice moment with my mum.
Yes, I cried like a big baby.
One thing I really felt during the labour is that everyone was all up in my space. I just wanted to be left alone, or at least with a nice amount of personal space. Errol, my mum and my midwife were always very close. Thankfully my sister hid in the corner and just snapped photos.
After getting out of the tub because the warmth was making me vomit, I went back to the bean bag. My midwife wanted to see if I had dilated any further and checked at around 5 pm. She advised me that I hadn’t ‘progressed’ since arriving and that she thought it would be wise to transfer me to the hospital (which was just down the hall) to be put on Syntocinon. On receiving my birth notes from the hospital I found that I was actually 6-7 cm dilated. If I had known that I was actually making progress I doubt I would have been as dejected as I was. In my mind this is where I gave up on my the labouring process. I decided it was all just a bunch of evil pain that would not yield a baby.
A midwife named Michelle (who was my lovely midwife for Theo) came to put a drip in my hand and provided us some comic relief when putting the drip in sprayed her in the face with a lot of blood. Errol said this was the worst part of the labour (for him). He says, I quote “It was like some horror film”. Errol does not cope well with blood, especially not blood spraying unexpectedly all over someone’s face.
Michelle also was in charge of moving me to the normal hospital suite. I told her I couldn’t stand and I couldn’t walk there and she said in her lovely accent “Yes, you can, and you will, GET UP!”. No need to say I was up and out that door as fast as I could go. My mother and sister begged for Michelle to stay saying I needed someone to boss me around, which to be honest, I did.
When I got to the hospital birthing suite, Errol went with my sister to get something to eat and drink. I think the blood spraying everywhere had been too much for his stomach. He claims I sent him out but I was sure he left of his own accord. While he was gone they connected me up to Syntocinon and I felt the contractions turn into one constant ouch. I had thought they were bad before, well.I.had.no.idea.
My midwife’s shift ended at this point and she went home. She was replaced by the older midwife, Margaret (the one I was freaked out about from my Birth Classes). I had to eat my judgmental thoughts about her because she was amazing. I found out later that it was actually Margaret who started the birth centre and she was wonderful support to me. It is a good thing that a birth centre midwife will attend you even after you have been transferred because it was great to have her with me. When the doctors started suggesting a c-section she told them to please leave and she would call them if necessary. Ha. I think she gets away with it because she could be all of their mothers and obviously had much more experience with birthing women.
Once in the birth suite I was in the hospital bed which was difficult to get comfortable in and my mum had moved in very close to my face and seeing that I was obviously struggling kept saying “breathe, BREATHE!”. My mum’s breath smelled faintly of cigarette smoke (she smokes whenever she’s stressed). I really don’t like the smell of cigarette’s and was annoyed she was so close to my face saying “breathe, BREATHE” in this urgent voice. I told her to shut up. She told me she’d leave if I was going to be rude. I laughed and said okay. She didn’t leave of course and a little while after this I started begging for an epidural.
Leading up to labour I was so sure that I would not ask for an epidural, the idea of a needle in the spine sounded far more disturbing than utter agony. I had gone over and over with Errol what he should say if I did break down and ask for one, he would refuse to let me have one. Conveniently Errol was out of the room at this time and an anesthesiologist was mysteriously standing by the door. My mum asked me if I was sure I wanted one to which I replied I’d rather die than continue without one. Less than half an hour later I was feeling the epidural start to work. I suddenly noticed the birth suite was actually a really beautiful purple/redish colour and that labour wasn’t all that bad at all. I felt really high. There was no pain and I knew I’d be getting to hold our baby girl soon! Errol returned quite horrified that I was rigged up to an epidural but knowing better than to question it now, he said nothing.
Labouring with an epidural was pretty uneventful. Doctors kept coming in and out and checking on this or that. I felt like a bystander at my own birth. A bystander who couldn’t stand but you get my drift.
Finally around 10 pm I was told I was fully dilated and could commence pushing. This would be all very good and well if I wasn’t paralysed. Who’s stupid idea was this epidural anyway. The epidural had been turned down so that I could feel my best to push but I was not able to hold my own legs up at all. My mum and Errol made a good team and held my legs for me while I pushed. I kept thinking they were lazy and weak because they kept saying there were tired and asking my sister to take over for them while they rested. I thought the pushing stage lasted 15 minutes but was later told I pushed for over 2 hours! No wonder my poor family were getting weak and tired. Dead legs are very heavy so I hear.
Yes, my mother is a drama queen and I am her daughter.
The midwife Margaret asked me if I would like to have a mirror so that I could see the head crowning. I am not sure why but at the time this sounded horrible and I nearly cried when she got one out before hearing my answer. I was squealing “No, no, no, it’s okay, I can see enough in the reflection of your glasses!”. Which was true, I could see quite enough as it was. Margaret coached me on when to push (as I couldn’t feel as much as I should have been able to).
I knew the time was close for the baby to be arriving as a team of paediatricians had gathered in the room and were waiting arms folded with looks of boredom on their faces. One of the paediatricians looked as though she was about 19 years old and I remember in the midst of the pushing thinking “surely there is a policy against wearing yellow Chuck Taylors when people are supposed to trust you with their newborn!?”
And then, in an instant, she was there.
She was perfect. I couldn’t believe it. I would go through labour again and again to have her handed to me like that again. I couldn’t believe she was real and ours. Of course I forget every ounce of pain the moment I saw her. Very well marinated in meconium and quite red and purple from the labour. Born at 12:07 am Wednesday the 18th of June.
This was the face I pulled to my sister. It was the ‘oh my god, I actually had a baby and she’s absolutely amazing’ face.
This was Errol’s face as he first saw her. This face is disguising his thoughts that our baby was deformed. I had neglected to tell him that baby’s heads could become misshapen during the labour process. Here he was thinking our daughter was a cone head. But isn’t he being brave about it?
I was only able to hold her for a few moments as the midwives and doctors whisked her away to be weighed and scored.
8lbs 8 oz / 3860 g
How sad to be all alone on a scale only minutes after you were born!
It wasn’t too long before they handed her back though and Errol and my mum snuck in for their first holds.
Very well cooked!
I loved looking her over and seeing all these amazing tiny details. So perfect! The two things I noticed first were how long her fingers and feet were. It’s a strange thing meeting your new baby for the first time and realising they don’t look anything like what you imagined!
They told me I could only have her for a short time because of her elevated temperature, the wanted to have her monitored in the neo-natal ward. At the time I was so tired and in shock I didn’t argue or question, but looking back I am incredibly sad that I was separated from her in her first day. I didn’t realise that an elevated temperature was a common outcome (for both mother and baby) of labouring with an epidural. I am sad for Priya that this was her first experience in this world.
Before she went to the nursery (where she stayed for 3 days) Priya and I had our first breastfeed with the help of our midwife to latch her on. She fed well for almost half an hour and then they took her away ?
At some point during all this I was stitched because I had a second degree tear. Once Priya had been taken to the nursery, they said I would be transferred to the maternity ward for the night and Errol would have to go home. Our midwife kindly offered to drive Errol home as it was nearly 3 am and all our other family had left. It was a very lonely and strange feeling to find myself in a dark, cold maternity ward without my husband or our new baby. I was thankfully too tired to process all my emotions from the labour otherwise I would have been a crying mess.
After three days, a few arguments with doctors and signing an ‘against medical advice’ form we left the hospital and settled at home with our peach. We were blessed with the best baby ever™ who has slept through the night since we took her home, waking only for breastfeeds with a quiet mew. She made my transition into motherhood such an easy one. I am constantly delighted and in awe of this girl who is my daughter.
As I reflect on Priya’s birth (and especially in comparison to Theo’s birth) I feel very sad. I feel sad for Priya that her first experience in this world was a scary one; that she was taken from me when she needed me most. That I did not welcome her in the way I did Theo. I am sad that I didn’t trust my body to do what it was made to do (and what it does wonderfully).
And as much as I keep wanting to type that I regret so much about the experience – the truth is, I don’t. Priya’s birth taught me a lot about not only birthing, but motherhood. I didn’t realise what an all encompassing emotional experience birth was. It’s a physical, emotional and spiritual process. After Priya’s birth I suddenly knew what birthing was notsupposed to be like. And sure it’s shame I didn’t figure that out before I had a baby but it certainly has made me very certain about it. I read, researched and knew exactly what I wanted before I had Theo. I trusted my body and myself. I just wish more women could experience a birth where they get what they wanted! Theo’s Birth brought me in a complete circle and was so healing.
Now, because I’m on a roll with all the photos, and may as well sink the ship – here are Priya’s newborn photos that we had printed on our thank you cards.
All photos by my sister Hailey.
Oh how I miss my little chub! I cannot, cannot believe she’s nearly two!