Theo’s Birth Story

By Louise McHaffy

I had glorious preconceptions of how number four should be – efficiently popped out while preparing dinner and everyone tucked into our bed by 7pm with our new baby boy and a cuppa – after all, me and my body have it mastered by now. Ha!!

I wasn’t aware I was pregnant until I had some bleeding at four weeks. Inky was six months at the time, so my body wasn’t back to anything resembling reliable. After the positive pregnancy test, the bleeding was ongoing and became heavier until I went into Christchurch Women’s for a scan.

It wasn’t a day I care to recall, but I distinctly remember the young doctor, as she looked so nervous and said to me, “You’re definitely losing this baby.” All she had seen was my blood-soaked pad. I’m sure she probably thought it was best not to give me false hope, but I was quietly outraged. The scan picked up a sub-chorionic haematoma – not a rare occurrence and not associated with any complications, but by then I was expecting the worst.

I’d had two blood tests testing my hCG levels, which were rising slowly, however it was Julie’s phone call after my third blood test and several days after the scan that caused me to burst into tears – the hCG levels had more than doubled! I wasn’t prepared for how attached I had become already. A further scan and no more bleeding confirmed he was sticking around for the journey – instant bonding glue.

My pregnancy from then on was much like the others, though I felt he was bigger – his movements were brutal after Inky, who had slept through the entire pregnancy.

Shortly thereafter, Inky weaned herself (as the others had all done) in the fourth to fifth month of my pregnancy. I was a bit put out, thinking at about ten months she was too young to give me up, but she paid no attention to my whimsical notions.

Monty was especially excited about his new baby – not long before Theo was due, together with Jaye, he painted a masterpiece for Theo on my belly. (INSERT PHOTO HERE!!)

Contractions started at night on Friday the 19th of June (after a show) – enough to wake me through the night on the couch in front of the fire, but little progress. I called Julie on Saturday evening when they became stronger, then sent her home again at 9pm as they eased off again. Another wakeful night and called Julie again at 6.20am on Sunday 21st as I got the bath ready. I had bought some rubber ducks with multi coloured LED lights that glowed in the water for the kids (and me!) to enjoy. I’ve always found the kids to be a welcome distraction and a comforting slice of reality – my happy place!

Once again, as is my habit in labour, the vomiting started (Inky’s labour was vomit free – I often wonder if that had anything to do with her posterior position) but luckily Monty had that sorted and brought me in his LEGO bucket.

Hours passed, the kids played with LEGO, visited me in the bath for kisses and went to Leah’s round the road in the hope I would get on with it. I just couldn’t get comfortable or settle in any position – bath to bed, kneeling, squatting, standing, birthing stool, and I was getting very weary.

Then there was meconium draining and my safety net was gone – I couldn’t get back in to the bath. I felt so foggy walking back into the bedroom and dear Monty – lying next to me and stroking my hand with each contraction when I had lost the spirit to work through them. I knew it was time to call the ambulance.

Julie called the ambulance at 1.05pm, Luke had dropped the kids back at Leah’s and rode with me and Julie in the ambulance. I grabbed the Entonox (nitrous oxide gas for pain relief) like a lifeline, but the only thing it was good for was biting on!

There were road-works over the hill so we went through Lyttelton, stopping once through the tunnel as I was pushing by then, but I felt I was getting nowhere so we carried on. At 2.20pm Theo’s head was visible – it took five minutes to push his head out, then he didn’t turn.

This shocked me – the unbearable pain that should have been fleeting wasn’t going away – whether he was trying to squirm into the correct position for his shoulders as it felt to me or whether I had lost a couple of sandwiches by that stage, I’m not sure but it was all business from then on. Julie applied strong traction on his head and shoulder, under his arm, and turned him.

At 2.28 he was born, 10lb 5oz, pale, floppy and not breathing outside Wing’s Takeaways on Ferry   Road. It took 90 seconds before our Theo started breathing spontaneously. I realised well after those paralysing moments it was the first time I’d heard authority in Julie’s voice – every decision thus far for all my babies had been ultimately mine, and I felt humbled by how fortunate I had been with my family – she was our hero that day.

Once he was on my chest, warm and watchful and ours for the taking, then nothing else in the world mattered a jot. Our family surrounded us at the hospital, Monty, Jaye and Inky, quieter than usual as they met their new brother, but very impressed.

Yo-yo (as Inky called him) remains hot property of the older three and we plan to celebrate his first birthday with Wing’s Takeaways.

‘In the sheltered simplicity of the first few days after a baby is born, one sees again the magical closed circle, the miraculous sense of two people existing only for each other’ – Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

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