By Suze Keys
My second pregnancy was very different to the first one, with what felt like every possible pregnancy “problem” including symphasis pubis disfunction that started at 25 weeks and got worse and worse. By week 39 I was really looking forward to getting my body back and meeting this new little baby. I’d had Braxton Hicks contractions since about the 20th week and had not noticed any other niggles as the due time loomed. However, we were all prepared with candles and everything for a night-time labour like the first one (Silas’ one) had been.
That weekend, Silas was staying at his Dad’s. My husband Phil and I were relishing the time alone together – aware that it could be our last weekend on our own for a long time. On Sunday I wake up at 7.30am, busting to pee (again) and think “oh well, another night’s passed and it hasn’t happened. Maybe tonight…” and go back to bed for some more sleep.
At 8.36 I wake again, feeling refreshed and energetic, which is unusual because I’d been dragging myself from bed, not feeling refreshed, for weeks. Then I have a definite “niggle” and think “hmmmm, I might be in labour”. Juliet, my midwife, had said that second labours often stop and start. I didn’t want to jump to any conclusions so, apart from telling Phil, I didn’t get too excited just in case it stopped. Silas wanted to catch the baby and since he had a long way to come from his Dad’s at Kaianga, I didn’t want to call on a false alarm.
I decide to have a shower and continue to have contractions throughout. My breakfast, after the shower, makes me want to be sick and I can’t finish it. But I still can’t decide if this is it. A friend calls at about 9.30 and we have a bizarre conversation between my contractions, but I’m still not sure if this is really it. Just in case, I call my sister Beccy, one of my support people, to say that we might be having a baby today so keep in touch.
Phil and I decide to at least put the cold water in the pool, which we’d had setup in the lounge from the day it arrived, just in case. While Phil gets the pool sorted, I continue to deal with the irregular contractions – they are coming anywhere between five and ten minutes apart and are varying length. There’s no real pattern to them so I still can’t decide if this is really it or not.
We call Juliet at 9.50, just to let her know what’s happening. She’s been at a birth over night and has just gone to bed. She says to see how we go and call back later. I continue to work through the erratic contractions, but I’m getting more and more uncomfortable and end up pacing between leaning on the kitchen bench and sitting on the toilet.
At 10.20, Phil’s Dad calls our landline to see how things are. At that same time my boss calls my mobile; she just had an urge to call. With one phone to each ear, I tell them both that I think I’m in labour so will just go and have a baby now and talk later! Meanwhile, Phil puts the hot water into the pool, completely emptying our cylinder – to a perfect 38 degrees.
Beccy calls about 10.40 and Phil says she should come. By this stage I am positioned nearly permanently on the toilet, which is the only place I can get comfortable. Phil finishes with the pool at 10.50 and then announces that he is calling Juliet because I am definitely in labour. I speak to her and she asks if I want her to come but I’m not sure and say she can come if she wants to.
Beccy arrives at 10.55 and times my contractions at two minutes apart. I’m starting to pray for Juliet to hurry up because I’m feeling pretty desperate to get into the pool and will get in without her if she doesn’t arrive soon. She arrives 10 minutes later to me sitting shaking on the toilet, with contractions about a minute apart. Juliet told me later that I was wide eyed, pupils fully dilated and obviously at transition when she first saw me. Even I believe I’m really in labour now.
At 11.15, while Phil calls Silas and Rebecca, my other support person, I get in the pool. Juliet listens to the baby’s heartbeat as I step in and the relaxation of the contractions that I expect when entering the water never comes. This is a disappointment because the contractions are really intense and coming really quickly. This baby wants O-U-T!
I had wanted to let my uterus do all the work in this birth, but when it actually does take over and start to push the baby out, it is stronger than I was expecting and I am rendered completely powerless. I find myself screaming with the contractions. I am thinking that the “mooing” noises I made with Silas were a much nicer sound – I am so glad that I’d told the neighbours I was planning a homebirth. The pressure through my bottom is really full on. And what is that? Poos in the pool? No time to worry about that now – this baby is coming.
My waters break in the pool at 11.30 and Jacqui, the backup midwife is called. After what feels like five pushes, Zavier is born at 11.41am, weighing 10lb 6oz. Silas and Jacqui both miss it, arriving only a few minutes too late. At first Zavier is quite stunned and takes a few moments to start breathing properly. I should have felt more concerned about this, but I had not caught my own breath yet. Thankfully Juliet gives him a good rub and I talk to him as best I can. Zavier comes round, opening his eyes and looking about but he doesn’t cry. Silas is not too disappointed to have missed catching his little brother and is much more interested in the poo in the pool!
The placenta birthed easily at noon and Phil cleaned it and wrapped it with lavender and salt for the Lotus Birth.
Our support people made us lunch and the afternoon continued pretty much as per usual, except for a new baby in the house. The day was bizarre – get up, have breakfast, have a baby, have lunch. Done – just like that.
Zavier’s birth was three hours and for about two hours of that time I could not decide if I was actually in labour. The speed of it made it very intense because my body took over and I could not control it or relax into birthing at all. Fortunately as labours go, it was quick and therefore easy. My body worked amazingly and again I had no tearing, although the pubis symphasis was really bad following birthing such a big baby and it took several months and osteopath appointments to correct itself. The way in which my uterus did what it needed to do was humbling and I will forever be in awe of the power of the female body. I had another amazing support team and fantastic midwives (yay for Juliet!).
Zavier is a happy, contented little baby, who has already given us a lot of joy and we look forward to a long life together. Thanks to everyone and the Universe for allowing me two such beautiful birthing experiences.
Published in Birthplace Magazine – Winter Edition 2009.