Tuesday, August 31, 2010

'The Accidental Earth Mother' or...Little Elliott's Birth Story

It was the world's shortest labour... or the longest. Depends on how you look at it. It all began on the Friday, when I woke up with mild 'period' pain and a feeling that something might be happening. Or at least imminent.

I was a little put out, to be honest; bubby wasn't due for another week and I had important stuff to do... you know, like get my hair cut and my toes done and so on. Throughout that Friday I continued to feel very mild pain but it was sporadic and by Saturday morning... gone. The scare was enough to get me finally packing bags though, and probably about time! Sunday morning I woke up and tore the house apart - cleaning the architraves with a toothbrush and the like. Not really normal behaviour. Then, I decided it was the perfect occasion to test out my new bike, despite the fact that pregnancy had kept me off the bike for the last 8 months. I rode the couple of km's to a new art/craft market like an old lady, perched uncomfortably upright. I had lunch there - some vegetarian Turkish Gozleme (yum!). When I got home, I made another lunch. I couldn't stop eating - I was a human vacuum in that last couple of weeks.

Then, I drove to a friend's baby shower. Ate my own body weight in cake. Chatted to the girls. And on the way home, I stopped in at another party - Fern's cousin's 5th birthday party - just to say hello. We went home and started preparing dinner as a friend was coming over. I whipped up a chocolate and pear pudding while my husband worked the barbeque. And then, after dinner, I realised the pains had started again.

And that they were much closer together than they had been on the Friday previous.

I still wasn't in any great pain, but something told me that something was going on. I phoned the hospital and explained my symptoms and agreed to call back in a couple of hours if things changed. I then got into my trackies and decided to go for a walk. About 500m into it, I about faced and came home. Something wasn't right. I phoned the hospital again on a gut instinct and asked if I could just pop in and find out whether I was even in labour or whether this was just braxton hicks I was experiencing.

Our friend agreed to stay while we drove to the hospital so we wouldnt have to drag Fern there with us. It was after 8.30pm by this stage and she had long since gone to bed. I packed the dishwasher calmly, finished packing my bags, and got into the car. "I'll be back in an hour!" I promised our friend....

When we got to the maternity ward, I felt a bit like the boy who cried wolf. Sure, I had some pains but there were no contractions, as such. What if this was all in my imagination? The nurse led me into one of the birthing suites and hooked me up to a monitor, to determine whether it was real contractions I was experiencing. While I lay there, I realised that this was the very suite I had been in when in labour with Fern - when it all went horribly pear-shaped and ended (eventually) in an emergency caesar. Oh god, if I was in labour, I couldn't do it in this room again, could I??

Am I even in labour??
I lay quietly for half an hour, watching the monitor. I could see the little graph recording the pains I was having and watched the numbers rise with each (contraction?!) I realised the pains were coming very regularly now, about every couple of minutes. The nurse then did an internal examination and pronounced me 4cm dilated.

I was officially in labour! The nurse suggested we make arrangements for Fern because I wouldn't be going home that night. But I wasn't ready! What about my hair appointment the next day? And it was late (after 10.30pm at this point) and I was tired. Couldn't I come back and do it in the morning?

The midwife rolled out the guest couch and suggested we get some sleep. Was she kidding? My husband thought it a great idea and invited me over for a snuggle. Um, I don't think so! I needed to wrap my head around having a baby in the next 24 hours and I lay on the birthing bed practicing my breathing (oops never quite got around to listening to that Calm Birthing CD a friend lent me during the lead-up, guess its a bit late now) as the pains got a little more intense. The nurse came back after about an hour and suggested I have a shower.

After a quick splash I realised I wasn't really enjoying the experience (no water birth for me!) and returned to bed. At this point in my story, things get a little hazy in my memory...

The nurse did another internal exam and pronounced me still 4cm dilated. By now, my contractions were painful enough that I couldnt talk through them and I didnt think I could keep labouring to the end without drugs, glorious drugs. I'm not brave, I don't wear pain like a badge of honour, and I saw no need to continue hours of pain when it could be avoided with one mildly scary needle! I ordered my Epidural and the nurse left the room to make the necessary calls. It was after 12am by this point.

And then, everything sort of sped up. The pain, manageable up until this point, intensified and all of a sudden my waters broke. I almost needed a life raft, there was so much fluid! The nurse commented that "oh good, things might happen a bit faster now!" and then I found myself in a sea of pain wishing somebody would drown me and put me out of my misery...

The anaethesist arrived and started asking me questions. I could only stare at her -- did it look like I could hold a conversation JUST GET ME THOSE DRUGS ALREADY!!!

Manoeuvring myself to the edge of the bed for the needle to be inserted, I felt foggy and sick. And in waaaay too much pain. I started to cry. And then, I felt this overwhelming and undeniable urge to PUSH and I completely lost the plot.

OMG this could not be happening... I was only 4cm dilated. Wasn't I??? I watched in horror as the anaethesist disappeared (along with my drugs) from the room like a ship passing a flailing lifeboat. Trolleys and instruments and nurses appeared from nowhere and, as I unabashedly and uncontrollably screeched blue murder (we've talked about my intolerance to pain!) they crowded around my business end and ordered me to PUSH! And I pushed. I pushed so hard I thought my eyeballs would pop. I pushed so hard, my insides DID pop. Out. Another story entirely. But I got to that ring-of-fire (those of you that have done this will know the ring of fire all too well) and everything inside me screamed to stop right there. I begged anyone listening to let me come back tomorrow to try again. I couldnt do this, dammit!

What's the definition of relief??
The nurses hoisted my legs up into the air and, in a short break from my shouting ordered me in no uncertain terms to PUSH THROUGH THE BURN!!" And I pushed. And pushed. And screamed and cried some more. And no, I didnt want to feel the head as it came out, I didn't even want to look at this thing, possibly for the rest of my life for putting me through this much hell.

But then, at 1.02am the head of my baby finally descended. And I felt the rest of the body slither out quickly thereafter. And then it was on my stomach, this foreign, grey, crying thing. My baby. Our baby. A boy.

I was in way too much shock to process the baby immediately; and not quite distracted enough not to notice the needle and thread entering my nether regions. Stitches?!? I could.not.believe. I had just had a baby. Without drugs! Me!

Ok, I think I can look at you now, boy-o!
And the rest? Well, the rest is yet to come. Our baby-o is home now and I've decided to speak to him after all. The pain is all but a distant memory... though not yet distant enough to make me feel I ever want to repeat the experience! But what an incredible experience! I have realised that childbirth is an incredibly miraculous feat any which way it happens. And Im so proud of myself for having done it. Welcome to the world, little Elliott -- can't wait to see what the future holds for us! x

ps. Remember this post about the superfluous labour bag? Well, this time it didnt even get opened. No one read my birth plan. I didn't suck on Chiccos. My feet were not cold enough to require slippers. Next time (not that there will be a next time!) Im not even taking a bag! At all! ;)


  1. I loved reading through your story of sweet little Eliott's birth Nicole and what a wonder woman you were!! I agree that any way a baby born is amazing, but I would be proud if I were you too! :) Sounds like things moved along really quickly once your body decided you were in labour!! x

  2. Oh Congratulations Honey..what a trouper you are! What a story...your a champ...very strong indeed..you should feel so proud of yourself...and without drugs...whoa!

    Welcome little Elliott....you are going to have lots of fun reading back on all of mums old posts about you.

    Congratulations again sweety...what a beautifully perfect little family you have before you...Im sure Fern is going to just be so besotted with her little bro :) xo

  3. What a w/e! I had to giggle picturing you riding your bike... crazy, irrational pregnant woman you were :) Again, thanks for sharing Nicole. It has made me all the more excited about BB's birth... well yes, and no... I sure don't like the sound of 'the ring-of-fire'! :P x

  4. What a great story! A so wonderful to here that a natural birth is possible after a caesarian. Good on you and welcome gorgeous Elliot :)

  5. Go you (inadvertent) Earth Mother you. I love your story Nicole. Welcome Elliott...you certainly made an entrance. Big hugs to you all. xo

  6. What a great birth story. Thanks so much for sharing it. I remember all too well, the burning ring of fire!! Good on you for the VBAC!! Legend!

  7. Thanks for sharing your story! And what a great one it is. Congratulations again on the safe arrival of the little man!

  8. This is a fantastic story...congratulations on your beautiful little boy. I love the name Elliot -

  9. Oh wow... this is third post of yours I have read in the past week and every single one has had me BAWLING! What a fantastic birth story - I am so happy for you! And a VBAC! Yay!

    I am hoping I cn have one too - your story has given me lots of hope :o) xo

  10. Congratulations on little Elliot, he is beautiful. I had an epidural with Matilda but didn't want to have one with Polly because I couldn't tell when to push etc.. holy cow, I'm glad I'm not planning on having any more kids because after feeling it I'm not sure I would be brave enough to go back there!!

    I love your next post, what a lovely thought to breathe in his first little breath.

    Congratulations, and enjoy your little new born!

  11. Aw! Congratulations! Well done on bringing your little man into the world so beautifully!! xo

  12. Wow, you're very brave and such a trouper, my labour with Will was very fast too and unexpected so I could totally understand all your thoughts through it all. You got me crying again too damn it, sooo sweet to read and I'm glad it all went so well. Big hugs to you and Elliot (love the name btw!) Jxx

  13. what a great story!
    congratulations ♥
    pain is definitely forgotten isn't it.

  14. After reading this beautiful birth story - I came across this BLOG and thought i'd pass it on. You should send your story in.



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