By Phillipa Hiles
When I went to bed on Saturday night, the 12th of February I had no idea that the next day I would have my baby. No idea. Although I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for a few weeks. When I woke up at 6am to sort out 2 year old Jimmy’s bottle and felt a contraction I couldn’t believe I was “on”. I was 39 weeks pregnant. (Strangely I had also delivered Jimmy at 39 weeks and had my first contraction with Jimmy at 6 am as well).
I had decided to have a homebirth with this bubba as Jimmy had come pretty fast (20 minutes after I had got to the hospital). By 7am I was up and pacing, googling pre labour signs. I didn’t want to get everyone excited and it be false (I love living in denial). By 8am I had called my mum to come and collect Jimmy. The contractions were needing concentration and more intense than the pre labour stuff with Jimmy – they were about ten minutes apart. At 9am Jimmy was collected and I began to think maybe I was going to have the baby today. I called my midwife Helen Cussins who had just got home after delivering another baby and was going to get a few hours sleep in. Her husband would drop off a pool to us as he was on his way out.
I choose some baby clothes for the baby to wear and started firing instructions at hubby Chrishiles. “Is there anyone else coming?” he said, I guess a little anxiously. “Just the two midwives,” I replied. Just then my sister Ange rang to check in and asked Chrishiles if he wanted company. “Yes please,” was his reply. Ange missed Jimmy’s birth as was in the car park of Wellington Women’s applying her eye make up when he was born (2:20am!) Half an hour later, whilst I was in the shower Ange arrived – newspaper in hand (in anticipation for the long day ahead). It was 10am.
Contractions were still 10 minutes apart and increasing in intensity – I was needing to concentrate through them, breathing away and clutch at the wall. Once I was out of the shower I started my labour rituals – pacing the floor, drinking lots of water and resting in between, doing some breathing/vocal exercises to let go of the contraction (thanks drama school). I get quite loud and primal. I also hate to be on display so I asked Ange and Chris to leave me to it but be on standby. Ange started emptying the dishwasher.
Things were intensifying quickly and I was calm and going with it. Contractions were speeding up and sometimes could last 40-50 seconds and sometimes last ten seconds but by 10:30am they were coming thick and fast and then I felt the head drop down, and I got the urge to push and I thought “Man! I’m about to have this baby!” We decided to call Helen who said she would come now; Chrishiles said I was fine and all was well. I don’t think he realised the baby was actually coming as it was happening so fast.
I then requested quite assertively to open my shower curtain for the floor and I knelt and began pushing. This was fairly full on and I was nervous as Helen wasn’t there. I was squeezing Chrishiles’ arm and trying to be brave in between contractions although I was scared. I could hear him wincing a bit when things got a bit tough, and he and Ange were really calm giving me lots of fantastic encouragement. I just wanted Helen there.
Anyway once Ange knew the placenta didn’t need to be addressed until later on I think she felt OK (she had three babies of her own and has seen a few deliveries). I kept asking her to catch the baby and she assured me she would. At one stage I got her to get a mirror to show her the baby was coming – couldn’t see too much just a slight opening. I was trying to verbalize what was happening inside me which was difficult.
Anyway … a few more contractions and then Ange said she could see the head. I remembered from Jim’s birth to blow raspberries in between contractions to avoid tearing, which I was doing. I was telling myself lots of brave thoughts (“You can do this!’’) and then one big involuntary push and SWISH, out he came into Ange’s capable and ready hands! He was here.
Phew. Amazing. I hid my face in my hands as I was in shock. I couldn’t talk. It had been so fast.
Ange so lovingly wrapped him up, Chrishiles was in tears and it was beautiful. Then Helen arrived – and so good to see her, she could help reposition me so I could have a hold and sort out the placenta. It was a glorious sunny day and the curtains were pulled and it was an awesome scene. I was happy and relieved and shocked at the speed.
We called John’s time of arrival 10:50am. Helen called it 30 minutes of established labour. Ange never got to open her newspaper. The pool never made it inside and the dishwasher remained full.
It was so nice having Helen to assist me into my chair where I held and fed and gazed at John. I did have a big cry as well, and then a beautiful cup of tea and a chocolate bar.
It was everything I had hoped for and more, John’s birth.