My little Ollie is 2 weeks old today – in some ways it feels like just yesterday I gave birth and in others it feels like an eternity ago!
I always write a post after each birth (Read Tom’s here and Will’s here). It’s a way to remember the details for my sentimental self, years from now. Tonight I feel particularly sentimental, I know my newborn baby is getting bigger by the day and his smallness will soon slip away. I try to be mindful of the moments in each day so I don’t long for the past too much or the attachment to the newborn phase. It’s hard because I love little babas so much. But I love equally a big bundle of baby on my hip and equally a cute toddler and equally the quips and wit of a 4 year old. No doubt I will love elements of each phase.
Below I have written what I have experienced and how I perceived things – it’s not meant to be a sugar-coated post, just an honest one. I’ve posted it to our blog for those who want to read it…in case they may learn or be interested in my thoughts/feeling/experiences, but mainly it’s for Jem and me and even for my boys to look back on one day. It’s a long post. Maybe make some tea first. I’m just saying. If you feel like it.
If I start at the beginning of this whole journey, it begins with me sitting on a fence…deciding whether to have a 3rd child or not. When I look back now at the heartache and restlessness that indecision creates, I realise how fruitless it was trying to insert logic into what was ultimately a heart decision. Head vs Heart. Heart always wins. And once I committed to going with what I knew was beautiful and right for us, I climbed off that fence and felt so free to run and completely embrace the prospects of a bigger family. My baby is only 2 weeks old but I can say without a smidgen of a doubt, I have absolutely no regrets. Having 3 boys is not going to be an easy task but I’m happy because I feel peace in my heart.
My pregnancy went by so quickly. In so many ways I wanted it to last forever. I loved that bump. I loved the movement and the development of the little person in there. I loved that that little person went with us everywhere since the middle of 2014. I loved the excitement and intrigue of not knowing the sex. The only time I wished my little baba out was on his due date and even then it was a gentle message of it’s okay to come out now..we’re ready for you.
Well he waited till my mom got back from Australia, 3 days later. Pretty much until he had heard her voice. She came for tea at 2pm, left at 3pm and my waters broke at 4.45pm! Boys!
We took the boys swimming that afternoon to Nana and Papa’s and it was there that the heavens opened! Well, actually, they really opened on the way home. Jem was driving and I was scrounging around for a towel in the car, but Jem sensing the urgency, gave me his shirt – there was a lot of water! I felt nervous yet giddy. Jem and I kept looking at each other with wide yet glistening eyes, both knowing, big action was going down that night! Contractions were growing closer, I just breathed through them and was cognisant of the comfort that the late afternoon sun had shining down on my face. In between contractions I phoned Lize, my doula and told her the baby was on its way and I texted close friends to say the same. I really thought it was going to be a long night (based on my other 2 labours) but Ollie had other plans. When we got home from swimming, I hopped in the shower, lathered myself in sweet smelling Jasmine and got ready for my date night out!
I was reluctant to go to the hospital straight away – I didn’t want any unnecessary interventions…but then the intensity grew and my waters had already ruptured and I was having contractions – I couldn’t see what interventions they would implement so I deemed it okay to go. Jem was looking tense too. I could here the Mcguyver music silently playing as a monologue in his head. And boy oh boy did Mcguyver come to life once we started the car! Overtaking on single carriageways and zooting along the freeway like I was about to birth at any second in the front of the Landrover. I think all guys must be genetically geared to want to drive their wives to the hospital fast. It’s just a thing with them.
Arriving at Hillcrest hospital, I was again met with the most gorgeous sunshine beaming through the windscreen onto my face. I just remember closing my eyes and smiling through my contraction. Finally, a little bit of discomfort I thought! Sounds a bit odd I know but I was actually looking forward to a bit of pain because it meant baby was coming!
I was 6cm when the midwife checked me at the Hospital. The one nurse looked at me and said “whoa but you know what you’ve come here to do hay?!”” Yeeeeees Maaaaam!
I walked through to the delivery ward and Gail, the beautiful and amazing midwife, ran a hot bath for me and turned the lights down. It was serene and calm. I breathed through contractions and closed my eyes in between to rest. I walked out a few contractions and also tried a pilates ball which was fantastic but ultimately the biggest pain relief was the hot water of the bath. Dr Adrian Payne arrived shortly thereafter and I was about 8cm already. I climbed back into the bath and was supported by my hubby and doula, Lize.
When you move further into labour, you talk less but you hear everything. You go to a different level – which is really difficult to explain…You’re tired and just retreat into yourself.
I remember Jem and Dr Payne talking about running. Jem said contractions were like running, once you start you just want it to stop.
“Yup, but you can’t stop a contraction once it’s started”. Retorted Payne.
The great thing about not having an epidural is that, amongst other things, you can feel when to push, you have the sensation that takes over your whole body and you just want to bear down and push your baby out. I stood for a while holding Jeremy and him holding me and used gravity for a few contractions to help the baby’s head move into my pelvis. By now, the pain was intense, a sign baby was almost here. Once I was on the bed, the time between contractions slowed down, giving me a longer time to rest in between. Dr Payne used that time to explain how to push! Seems obvious but you have to feel the contraction building up and at the height of it, you take a deep breath, bring your chin towards your chest and push, all the while holding your breath for up to 10 -15 seconds, before releasing and doing that again before the contraction is over. It’s exhausting – I felt like I had pins and needles in my face from a lack of oxygen. Dr Payne was gently encouraging and patient and calm. Absolutely what you need in a natural birth. When I pushed well, he’d tell me the baby moved down nicely. When you’re pushing so hard that it feels like a poo is going to torpedo out your bum, you just want to hear good things from your team ie. that you are a machine baby-pusher-outer.
All the while, I had the most incredible support from the midwife, my doula and my man.
I remember Dr Payne asking Jem what size glove he needed – obviously looking at his hand and deciding for him. I knew he was prepping him to pull the baby out. The baby is almost with us! And then, as all labour books will tell you, there is the ring of fire as the head crowns – you feel as though your area is burning into a mass of flames. It just burns. It’s sore. It’s hectic. Enough said. I then heard Dr Payne say “Jeremy”, and obviously signalling for him to takeover and pull the baby out. Jem’s face concentrated intensely, not wanting to pull too hard and put too much pressure on the baby, but then all of a sudden, the pressure eased and the burning completely disappeared and my baby was being handed to me. Jem flipped that baby over so quickly and pronounced “It’s a boy!”
Ollie was born at 8.12pm, weighing in at 4.4kg. uhum!!! Yes!!!
With all 3 of my babies, I have laughed and cried at the same time when the baby is handed to me. It is just the most incredibly rewarding and intensely beautiful moment, this warm body on your chest, skin on skin, little curious eyes peering up at you, enquiringly. It’s your first meeting with this person you’ve been waiting to lay your eyes on for months. It’s a moment that you know you will long for even as you live it.
“Look at your baby, Lou” my doula kept saying…there was so much going on, my eyes often left Ollie to just close and rest. But I could feel him and he was in my arms and he wasn’t going anywhere, not even for a bath. I wanted to cuddle him close the whole evening, right by my side and take in that beautiful new puppy smell and inspect my little boy’s hands, fingers and toes and kiss the nape of his neck as many times as I wanted to.
Dr Payne congratulated us and liked his name, especially his second name, John, because he had the same middle name. He left soon thereafter to attend to another labour at Westville Hospital. Talk about hard-working – he only arrived home at 1am that evening and started all over again at 6am. Noble profession.
It wasn’t easy to leave Dr. Candice Roberts for a new gynae but sometimes the universe figures these things out for us and it all lands up good in the end. Candice (who was pregnant at the same time as me), had her waters break at about 25 weeks and she had to deliver her baby at 28 weeks – thats 12 weeks premature. They are both doing well now though and she is back at work but all her patients had to find a new gynae as she was booked off for a few months. I chose Dr Payne after numerous friends and friends of friends recommended him. I met with him and wasn’t sure at first (of him and how pro-natural he was) but he completely won me over on subsequent visits once I got to know him a little better. A very intelligent, respectful and friendly man. Leaving Candice, who is known for her pro-natural stance, I was always wary of anyone else…I thought I would honestly have a caesar this pregnancy….I just somehow thought that. But Dr Payne was completely and whole heartedly in support of my natural birth..sharing Candice’s sentiment of “the only way to test the passage, is to send the passenger down the passage”. And he was happy to let me go a week overdue too. Impressive. And internals were kept to an absolute minimum – I had two on the evening of giving birth and one at my 8 week check-up. So 3 internals for my entire pregnancy…completely non-invasive. So yes, Dr Payne can stay. And Hillcrest Hospital can stay too. That place is like a hotel, the staff were outstanding. Every single one of them, I was completely blown away. I stayed at the hotel for 2 nights – and left already wanting another baba. Evolutionary hardwiring, delusional or just a great experience? Probably a combination of all 3.
In the 2 weeks following the birth, I have had my teary moments, it usually lasts a few days with uncontrollable emotions of gratitude and sentiment. Everyone has been so incredibly thoughtful and supportive, from meals being dropped off, to flowers, to cupcakes and gifts for the boys, to gifts for Ollie, blankies and quilts made, phone calls and messages and practical advice and devices being dropped off. We have so many people to be grateful for. Most of all though, I am so grateful for my little family – I should say big family now. Thomas and William have welcomed their baby brother so warmly. They’re understanding and patient with me when I need to attend to Oliver, they’re intrigued and want to be involved. It’s very special and heartwarming.
And then of course there is my husband. My Jem. He is the cement and strength of my family. He’s the one who holds us all. In those days past (and days to come) where I’ve felt exhausted and broken, he has been the one to hold my emotions and gently offer his strength and reassurance. We can all find comfort with him, he has this boundless love for his whole family and has the most incredible capacity for patience and tolerance with our boys. It is so endearing and makes me love him with an even bigger heart. He’s taken on the duties of super dad spectacularly, lifting kids to and from school, to swimming lessons, nurturing Ollie and I and still finding the time to manage the building of our house and run a business, and all the while maintaining a wicked sense of humour and making us all laugh together, sometimes hysterically and sometimes with tears. I love you hun. Thank-you for everything you do for us.
To Ollie, I love you my baby, I’m so glad you got here safely x mum