Where do I even begin. It has been another exhausting, pain staking, emotional but beautiful and life changing experience to birth my second daughter. I wouldn’t change the way she entered the world or the way she has filled our lives with so much love and gratitude for anything.
This birth story was very different in so many ways to my first. And I am so glad I was able to experience what I did.
It all started on June 27th. This was my due date and there was still no sign of any immediate labour happening. I had been having a few signs a few days beforehand. Even down to having some braxton hicks contractions every half hour. Now, at the time I thought that perhaps it was time and anxiously told my mum every detail so we could judge when she needed to fly into town to be here for when it all actually happened. Anyways, because I thought it might be the start of labour, my mum made her way here as fast as she could. But as soon as her flight made it in the air, all the contractions had stopped. There was nothing then till much later, but I am secretly glad this had my mum come early and not miss a thing.
Anyways, fast forward a few days. We had been twiddling our thumbs and were eager to roll up our sleeves and get this show on the road. My due date came, and this was when my first daughter was born. So I had officially been pregnant longer than I ever had at this stage. I had an appointment at the hospital with the midwives where I was to organise when I may need to be induced. What I didn’t know, is that I was to get a stretch and sweep at this same appointment. Now with this, if your body is ready, you have a 50% chance of going into labour within the following 48hours. This scared me completely, because this was the beginning of it all. From my appointment at 11am and for most of the day, I was having real contractions every hour. Luckily, Trent had taken the day off because he had actually put his back out the day before, so although he was in some pain himself, he was there every single step of the way. Along with my mum of course. I don’t know how I would’ve kept so strong without them there.
It wasn’t until about 7pm though that these contractions became a lot closer. I was in a lot of pain. I was vomiting. I had lavender oil going in the diffuser and peppermint oil being massaged on my back to relieve the labour pains I was having in my back. I also had Trent and mum push on my back during each contraction to not only relieve some pain but also so I could concentrate on something else. I tried focusing on different spots in the room as I breathed so deeply through the pain. But what I found the best was leaning forward on a pillow on the couch as I kneeled on the floor. I had also read into ‘hypnobirthing’ this pregnancy and what I found really helpful was the soundtrack I had. It kept me calm and although I may not have been thinking exactly about being off in the meadows or listening to every wave crash on the sand, it calmed me completely and I was able to gain a lot of focus. Things were moving along and at about 10:20pm things we’re getting quite close together. So we called my cousin Maegan and arranged her to come as soon as she could to spend the night with my daughter and then take her home with her in the morning. Once Maegan arrived I felt so relieved that now no matter how things played out from there our daughter was going to be fine and well looked after.
So I continued to labour at home another couple of hours until I just could not stand it anymore. It then was 2:10am when I was contracting every 2 minutes, that things were looking serious. We quickly called the hospital and we were on our way. That would’ve been the best drive into that hospital that I’ve ever had and perfectly timed too. We didn’t get a single red light and in no time, I was there. I remember focusing on the little red light next to the clock on the dashboard like you wouldn’t believe. Trent dropped us at emergency while he sorted the car out and I remember getting all the way to the door and then contracting just before I made it inside. With my hands leaning up on the wall just outside, I just wanted to get settled into the birthing suite! Things happened quickly from there, I was wheeled to the room and finally set up. The midwife did some observations and then, what I’d been waiting for this whole time, she checked how dilated I was.
This was definitely a little disheartening considering how long I’d been labouring and how close together and intense each contraction already was. But at 3am I was only 4.5cm. I could’ve cried, actually I’m sure I did at this point. I was already at 2cm earlier that day when I had my appointment, so I definitely was not expecting that. The midwife also told me that the baby’s head wasn’t quite in the right position (the forehead was coming down first instead of the top) and she was still slightly posterior but that there was still time for her to turn. This broke me. I couldn’t stop thinking about the birth with my first and how badly positioned she was. And how traumatised I was because of all that. I just didn’t want it to happen again. So you can imagine I was not focusing and had myself in a bad way.
And because I had worked myself all up, from then on, my contractions slowed right down and it was quite frustrating. Each contraction was now about 15 minutes apart and I just couldn’t see an end to this pain anywhere. I cried, I vomited, I was tired, I felt defeated by my own body at this point. After all, I had been having contractions for over 14 hours so far. I was so ready to meet this baby, but my body wasn’t working the way I thought it should have been.
This was when we decided to talk about our options. My midwife was very for the epidural, which I’m definitely not against. In fact it saved me with my first but this time I wanted to do things a little differently. I wanted to get my baby here the quickest and safest way possible and if that allowed me to do it naturally I was going to give it a go. I’d done a lot of research this pregnancy, and I knew this would also be the best thing for myself in terms of recovery. And if you’ve read my first birth experience, I was not going to have things end as badly as they did this time. Anyway, the midwife was suggesting I think about the epidural because I was so exhausted and needed some sleep. But I felt like I could keep going. Although painful and exhausting, I wasn’t quite ready to opt for the epidural again. Instead, I opted for the happy gas to start with. From my experience last time, I knew the gas wouldn’t completely take away the pain but I knew that perhaps it might push me a little further and then we could see how things were going. My body hated this. I vomitted more, my eyes would roll to the back of my head and I’ve never felt so dizzy before. But I liked the fact, that although I could feel it all, it took my mind elsewhere and I could let my body just do it’s thing. It’s such a surreal feeling, I don’t know if I can explain it better than that. And I have been told since that while I was off with the fairies, I was saying how much I missed my sweet little girl through it all.
It was then that my midwife’s shift finished and a new one was to come see me through to the end. While this whole change over was happening, not much was happening for me so we were talking about what to do next. I decided to have my waters broken at about 7:55am and maybe that would trigger things to start back up again. Well, that was warm and just felt like I wet myself! I still continued to labour but very, very slowly. Intense, but slow. I remember then getting a morphine injection at about 8:20am to ease some pain and hopefully give me a little more energy. It never got rid of all the pain either, but it dulled it slightly for a little while, then I was back to feeling everything in full force. At this same time, I could hear another woman in what seemed like the next room. She was screaming like you wouldn’t believe and that terrified me completely. I am what you would say a very ‘quiet’ labourer, most of the time. So when I could hear her, I thought about how much more pain I must be yet to experience and there was no way I was ready for it.
Now it was getting to the point where they were going to check me again and see what we were in for. I was 5cm. Just 5cm. I felt so defeated at this point. I was incredibly emotional and just could not see the end. This was the point that I almost gave up. Not that you can, this baby was to come out no matter what. But this is when I lost all focus and was not in a good place mentally. Plus, the woman outside was not helping. How much longer would this take? I then started begging my mum to tell them I need the epidural. The doctor was making his rounds to each birthing suite and when he came to mine, he suggested I be given the drug Pitocin that they use to induce women or trick their body into going into labour, and then after that we could look at getting the epidural. So at 9:20am, they hooked me up to all the drips I would need.
This is when it all became a little blurry. I remember feeling such intense pain and really did not feel like I could do it anymore. It was like, all of a sudden, my contractions ramped up in such intensity, that I can’t even describe. All I know is that I had never felt them that bad before, even with my first. It was after four of these intense contractions that I felt the urge to then push. I told everyone in the room. I need to push! But at the same time, I thought there’s no way. I’m only 5cm dilated. And that’s what the midwife said to me. She said ‘Do not push Rachel, Do not push!’ Because, if I put too much pressure on my cervix, it would’ve started to close and we’d probably end up in an emergency c-section. So I was trying with all the strength that I had left to resist that urge. I wanted to listen to her. But on that second contraction that I was holding back, I felt the baby drop inside me. And I just screamed, ‘I can’t. I can’t. I need to push!’ They still didn’t know I had felt that. And at 10:40am I remember Trent saying ‘Just make it to 11am honey. Or at least to when they can check you again. You can do it’. Bless him, I know he was just concerned that I wasn’t dilated enough but that would’ve probably been the only moment I yelled at him. I told him there was no way, “No. I need to push!’ Then another big contraction later and I couldn’t stop it. I was pushing! I remember the midwife looking and then running to the phone, “Crowning in Room 4”. Then everyone started to move I tell you. Three pushes later and at 10:50am our beautiful baby girl was resting on my chest! It was such a beautiful moment. One I’ll never forget! And I couldn’t help but cry with so much gratitude and exhaustion that she had made it here and so safely for the both of us. But fancy Trent trying to tell me to hold off to 11am. Yeah, no thank you mate!
It was such a wonderful experience. Not that last time wasn’t, but I then was able to hold my baby girl for as long as I wanted. We weren’t going to be separated and I was able to breastfeed straight away, then watch them weigh and measure her. Which are all things I hadn’t done before! We were waiting in the birthing suite for a little while, still listening to that poor, screaming woman, but we were all together so it didn’t bother me. And although our beautiful baby had turned at the last second and had been in the perfect position, I needed to be stitched up from just barely a 2nd degree tear because she suddenly come out so hard and fast! To me, that was nothing though and I was just in heaven watching my little girl so bright eyed and alert for the first time!
What I didn’t know at the time and my midwife told me later, was that she had actually never turned on the Pitocin. She said she felt like she needed to hold off just a little longer and that things were going to pick up on their own and quite quickly. Which I thought was interesting and I’m glad she didn’t. How I went from 5cm to 10cm in just four big contractions, I will never know. And then only pushing three times. So different to my first experience! And I’m so happy about the way things eventually played out.