Our expected due date for Princess Alex was 12 September. I was so excited to have a September baby, a Virgo, the calm between all the strong personalities in our home. September sounded like the perfect month to me for this little one to be born. On Sunday 26 August I told Sherwyn that I will be lying in bed all week with my feet up to ensure she doesn’t come early, we still had a few days of August to get through. My mother had been on my case about packing a hospital bag but because Jayme came two weeks late, I assumed I had all the time in the world. I remember packing and repacking the hospital bag with Jayme made me impatient and I was trying to avoid those emotions.
Fast forward to 3am on Wednesday 29 August 2018. My water broke. I thought my bladder broke as it sometimes does when you reach this stage of pregnancy. I was exactly 38 weeks pregnant on that Wednesday. When the wet feeling hit for the second time and I felt my tummy tightening I knew it was go time. I also knew that labour can be a long process and I had a doctor’s appointment anyway at 9am so I might as well fight out the first bit of contractions at home.
A quick summary of my first labour so that you can understand my assumptions. My water broke early hours of the morning and we went in. I was in labour for 17 hours without epidural or any kind of pain relief. It was crazy. Jayme was born at 42 weeks weighing 3.37kg.
The idea of having to sit in the hospital for possibly 17 hours again made me want to try and be at home for as long as possible. I wanted to at least get Jayme ready for school so he could start his day without any worries. I tried getting back into bed to hopefully get some sleep but the contractions started getting stronger. I’ve read so many different explanations of what it feels like but for me it felt like an intense period cramp coupled with my tummy pulling tight. I started googling what I need to do to help the pain and came across an article that said if your water breaks you should go in immediately. Damn, there goes my plan on waiting it out. I honestly think I was just looking for an excuse not to wait it out at home because the pain was already pretty hectic.
A little after 6am we phoned my friend to let her know that it was go time and we were bringing Jayme to her. I am so glad that I arranged this with someone far ahead of time and so grateful that I had a friend that could help us out as our families stay pretty far from us. After dropping Jayme we head to the hospital and called Tracey who was our birth photographer to let her know we were heading in.
Our birth photographer was booked very early into my pregnancy and it was the best money I could have spent. I can not encourage this enough. My family thought I was crazy to pay someone to capture me giving birth but now it is some of the images they treasure as well.
When we got to the hospital I told the nurse on duty that I think I might be in labour, I was still in denial even though all the signs were there. We had a false alarm with Jayme so I was not going to say that I am officially in labour until someone confirms it. The worse was that no one ever confirmed it to me. They asked some questions and admitted me that was it, I was hooked up to the heartbeat and contraction monitor after a few minutes. I should probably have accepted that as a sign that the labour was real.
Tracey arrived shortly after us and brought an extra bit of energy and distraction to the room. An amazing surprise which I didn’t expect at all was that Tracey is also a doula. For those that don’t know, a doula is a birthing couch and it is their job to assist you in getting through your birth process. My doctor recommended I get a doula but I could not justify the cost at that point and I got through one medication free birth, surely I would be fine. Boy was I wrong. I wish I invested in a doula, the tips Tracey handed out was pure gold and helped me so much with getting through each contraction. She even showed Sherwyn how he could support me better during the contractions. Sherwyn had just come home from working late and he hadn’t gotten any sleep so having Tracey there was such a blessing.
Time ticked on and everything was going well. The contractions were regular and I knew when the next one was about to hit. I think that knowing when you are about to have a crazy amount of pain coming your way messes with you. You are so focused on getting through each burst of pain that you struggle to think of anything else at that time.
I planned to plan a birth plan. That sounds like a tongue twister, but that is exactly what it was. I had a plan, in my head. I was going to discuss my birth plan with my doctor that same day so I could figure out exactly what to put on my plan. Some things like buying energy sweets for us to get us through, or putting together my birth play list and that I wanted the doctor to keep the placenta on for as long as possible. I didn’t get to any of that. Well technically my play list of Drake songs was already there but I wanted to add a few other artists to it.
The way I dealt with the pain of the contractions surprised me. In mind I thought that having the room filled with music that I could sing along to at the top of my lungs would be my best bet at getting through the labour. What I ended up doing was the complete opposite. I ended up dealing with the pain the same way I deal with stressful situations. I went quiet and I breathed. So simple and it was what my natural response was. I remember reciting Psalm 46:10 a few times during a contraction to help me get through it.
We had the most amazing Midwife assisting me through the process. She initially said that baby might be born around 12:00. GREAT! Only 9 hours of labour. That was the best news, but 12:00 came and went and there was no baby. Only contractions seeming to get worse and worse. At some point I started throwing up and I couldn’t take in any fluids. I remember this from Jayme’s labour and it was the worst part for me. It made me exhausted. They offered me an epidural at this point and even though my initial plan was not to get it, I opted for it.
A few things I would like to mention here. The way they administer the epidural these days is a wonderful thing and I can’t believe all the horror stories I heard beforehand. I really think people should learn to watch what they say especially when it could cause paranoia for the next person. Secondly, I was not dead set on having a fully natural birth. I think that decision made the entire process so much less stressful for me. If they had told me I needed to go for a C-section in order to deliver my baby safely, I would have done it. I know so many women that put so much pressure on themselves and I believe that pressure can affect your labour.
After getting the epidural I felt so much more relaxed. I stopped throwing up and I had no more pain. I still felt every contraction as it happened but the pain was gone. I could relax and wait and Sherwyn could take a much needed nap. As it got closer to 4pm the midwife let me know that I was reaching 8cm dilated and they would turn the epidural off soon. Oh joy, the pain was about to come back again. She explained that they do this so that when the time is right I would know exactly where to push. When she eventually turned it off I could feel the pain coming back but not as instantly as I assumed it would be thank goodness.
I was completely dilated by 16:30, I could feel her head was in the correct position and they called my doctor to come in. Everything was so strangely calm. My first birth was dramatic at the end and stressful. This time everything just flowed, the doctor made jokes and the midwife assisted with a few last words to mentally prepare me before I had to push. My doctor explained that when I feel a contraction then I should push. I waited, when the contraction hit, I pushed. With everything I had, Sherwyn held my head up and for some reason that helped. I could feel her moving down, my eyes where tightly shut and I could hear the midwife encouraging me softly on my left and Sherwyn’s warm hand under my head on the right. The contraction stopped and the doctor instructed me to take a short break until the next contraction comes. I felt it starting and gave another push, harder than the first one and this time I was not going to stop pushing until she was out. I felt a pop sensation as her head came out and kept pushing until her little body came out as well. My doctor gave her to me immediately. We did it! She was perfect, a little pink tiny human covered in thick white vernix. She came into our lives two weeks early, at 16:49 weighing 3kgs and measuring 51cm. On the 29th of August, Yes not September. Typical. After a few minutes Sherwyn got to cut her cord before the midwife took her to do some final checks. My doctor was still busy with me as we delivered the placenta which had disconnected from the cord.
Not long after they brought her back so I could feed her. She latched immediately. It was amazing how much easier everything was this time around.
Sherwyn left to fetch Jayme so he could finally meet his little sister. He has been anticipating this day for months. Every time we went to the doctor and came home with no baby disappointed him. Even after explaining it many times he still hoped that I would show up with his little sister. This moment is what makes me so grateful for Tracey and her talent for capturing stories. Jayme was in awe of his little sister. The pictures speak for themselves.
We are now the proud parents of a pigeon pair and an incredibly happy family of four. We could not have asked for better. Tracey put together a lovely slide show with a song that is close to my heart, give it a watch when you have time. I cry every time I see it, so if you are as emotional as I am, keep a tissue close by.
If you are in need of a birth photographer check out Tracey Baard Photography.