My Birth Stories
These are the birth stories of my two sons. As you read them, it’s interesting to observe how my perception of birth and reliance on the medical profession changes, and I become more focused on trusting myself, my body, my baby, and God. My first was 60+ hours from waters breaking until birth. He ended up being induced and having his cord cut before he was even born as it was apparently very tight around his neck. My second – well, from when my contractions were serious enough to decide that I needed to go to the hospital? 25 minutes. He was a peaceful accidental homebirth. Enjoy!
Welcome to the world Gabriel Thomas
1st December 2008
Birth Story written Dec 08
It was a usual Friday night for me. I went to bed about midnight, and woke up at 3.30am having to go to the toilet (as you do when you are 8 months pregnant). I lay in bed thinking ‘I can’t be bothered getting up’ when all of a sudden, I felt what felt like a bubble pop in my nether region! My automatic response was ‘that was weird’ and then ‘oh! I’m wet! Did I just wet myself or did my waters just break??!!’ I couldn’t tell, even after I had got up, but as the early hours of the morning progressed and I kept leaking, I decided, yup, that was my waters! I tried to continue sleeping as I knew I would need my energy, but kinda difficult when you’re a bit excited, and you keep leaking!
I told Rob about 7am that I was pretty sure my waters had broken, but I didn’t have any contractions yet, and he took the news pretty calmly. He later told me that he didn’t realise that that meant baby was on the way – he thought they could break a couple of weeks early! No wonder the calm response! Hehe!
So in we trundled to the hospital. It was indeed my waters that had broken, and due to the fact that I had written a birth plan, I was allowed to go home to try and get labour to start of its own accord. If I had not written the plan, they would have induced me then and there on the spot! So, they gave me until 8am Monday morning for labour to start all on its own – 52 ½ hours after my water had broken.
So my contractions started 11am on Saturday. They were spaced anywhere between 3 minutes and 15 minutes, and lasted from 30 seconds to 90 seconds. Probably spaced 7 minutes apart on average, and they stayed like that for the next few days. So I didn’t get much sleep!
We had a trip into the hospital on Sunday afternoon (36 hours after my waters had broken) – just after shift change, as I wasn’t coping with my contractions. They were very intense and about 5 minutes apart. (I’ll just copy this next bit from another post I made about a week ago) So, I go in, and find the midwife is hopeless. I have a contraction, and she starts timing it HALFWAY THROUGH and then stops before it finishes – and proceeds to tell me that my contractions are only lasting for 20 seconds.
She hooks me up to that machine that measures bub’s heart rate, and my contractions. Well, she didn’t hook the contractions one up right, so after recording 1-2 contractions, it didn’t record any more. we rang the buzzer to tell her, and she came in, moved the sensor thing – but didn’t leave the machine on there long enough to see 2 more of my contractions – I’m not sure if it even showed one more. So I get sent home being told my contractions are too far apart, and they are not long enough. Grrrr.
I kinda felt that because I was breathing and attempting to relax through my contractions they saw me as an easy patient, and seeing as I was booked in to be induced the next morning, they could just tell me to go home. I felt like if I had groaned and cried and writhed in agony they would have taken me more seriously. Darn hypnobirthing relaxation methods… =P
They gave me some sleeping tablets to help me sleep through contractions, and I took one at about 10pm. It lasted 2 ½ hours. Yay! 2 ½ hours sleep in 45 hours! (I had slept in the last couple of days, but only in 15 minute blocks in between contractions).
So, I was back to having intense contractions that I wasn’t coping with! So about 3am I rang L&D and asked if I could come back in again, and she made some comment about not being in regular or productive labour (something like that). She said I could come in, but it sounded like she would probably just send me home again. I burst into tears when I hung up the phone and my hubby took it off me and rung them straight back and told them ‘my wife just called and she’s really not coping with the pain, can we come in?’ (I tried to tell him that they said I could, but had a contraction and couldn’t get the words out). I think they kind-of sat back and took a bit more notice when he rang, as they didn’t send me home when we got there.
So in we trundle to the hospital again, 3:30 Monday morning, 48 hours since my waters broke. Man I was tired. But they were really nice, hooked me up to the monitors, and let us stay there. Rob was able to sleep on the couch in the room – he said it was the best 3 hours sleep he’d had in days. I was able to relax a bit more inclined on the bed, and again, sleep between the contractions.
But still, they didn’t become more regular!!! Stupid contractions.
So at 10:30am I was induced. They hooked me up to the Syntocinon and checked out how dilated I was. 1cm. One lousy centimetre after having contractions for 2 days straight. I was not happy.
One thing I did not realise about being induced is that once you’re hooked up, they have to monitor the baby’s heart rate constantly. I think this was the think I was most upset / annoyed about. I wanted to use all these natural pain relief methods (bath, shower, massage, birthing ball etc) as well as use things like walking to help when in labour, but all of a sudden these options were basically taken away. I was stuck lying on my back in bed. The one way that I did NOT want to spend my labour.
Anyway, there I was, on the Syntocinon, and now my contractions were about every 3 minutes. And more intense. And I was exhausted. Still. I was sleeping in between most of my contractions, even though they were so close together.
Next check was at 1:45pm. Ok, I thought things have got to be going well now, these contractions and all the visualisation of opening and widening have got to have made a decent dent in that necessary 10cm… 2cm. You can imagine how that went down. I was so tired and all I could think was, it took me 3 hours to dilate another 1cm, I’m still going to be in labour days from now. This little one won’t be born till Wednesday.
I finally decided I was too tired to cope with the contractions myself, I wanted some help dealing with them so I went for the gas. This was ok, except that coz I was so tired and was sleeping between contractions, I’d actually miss the beginning of each contraction – and hence started sucking on the gas a bit too late for it to work properly for the peak of the contraction! I used it for a while, and then decided it was too hard. I also started getting the major shakes / cold shivers around this time. I don’t know if it was a reaction to the gas, going into shock, or adrenalin, but I just felt insanely cold – my teeth were chattering. So I laid off the gas for a couple of hours.
So anyway, nothing was happening… still… and it was about 4.30. My hubby decided that he would go home and get some lunch as we only live 10 minutes from the hospital.
So, while Rob was gone, and I asked the midwife what sort of options were open to me coz I was just sooooo tired. I was so tired I just didn’t know how long I could go on. I even seriously thought about having a c/s just so it would end and I could sleep. Her response was that my next check was at 6pm, and we’d just see how things were then. I could then go the morphine that would help me sleep between contractions, or the epidural. All I could think was ‘6pm? That’s an hour and a half away!’
At about 5:30, while Rob was still away, I was just breathing through my contractions (big slow breath in (counting to 20 fast or just to 5 slowly) while pushing out my tummy as far as it would go, big slow breath out (same time length) while kinda pushing my diaphragm down). All of a sudden my body started pushing! This completely and utterly freaked me out coz you’re not supposed to push until they tell you to, and I sure didn’t want to risk having an even longer labour coz I’d damaged / swollen my inside bits by pushing too early! I remember saying over and over ‘I’m trying not to push, I’m trying not to push. My body keeps pushing! I’m trying not to. I don’t want to.’ It was just insane! It was like I had completely lost control! Rob turned up in the middle of all this – Thank goodness!!! The midwife was about to ring him.
My next check wasn’t meant to be until 6pm, but the registrar was walking past at 5:45 so she grabbed him and said ‘she’s got this really strong urge to push. Can you check how dilated she is now?’ He had a look and said ‘well that’s why… there’s the head!!!’
So, I was told, next contraction I should push, so I did! I really couldn’t hear what the midwives were saying down there, I was kinda, well, I have no idea where I was, but my hubby was up near my head, and he was the only one getting through to me. All I did was kinda push with my breathing – kinda breathing down and out, without long drawn-out strain of holding of the breath. Apparently it was ‘perfect pushing’! Yay! Something going right!
It was so weird though – the noises you make when pushing!!! All I could think was ‘oh my goodness! Where is that noise coming from?!! I can’t believe I’m making that noise! People can hear me! People could hear me in the corridor! People will think giving birth is much, much harder than it actually is! It’s not THAT bad!’!! Yes, those were my actual thoughts!
So I started pushing at 5:45, and at 6:00 the midwives decided that the best course of action was an episiotomy. Rob went into bat for me (sorry, cricket terminology) and said ‘she really didn’t want one of those, can you just give her one more contraction to push?’ and they said ‘no, the baby’s heart rate is too low. We’ve got to get bub out’. So next contraction, at 6:02 I was given a 3cm episiotomy by one of the midwives, as they didn’t feel they had time to wait for the registrar to come and do it. Apparently I screamed, which I vaguely remember, as I had no idea what was going on at this stage. I think that I thought I just tore or something.
The cord was wrapped quite tightly around bub’s neck, so they had to cut it before he was even out. As soon as the cord was cut (and he wasn’t even out yet) the midwife pushed the emergency button.
He was born at 6:04pm and about 8 people rushed into the room and the baby was taken over to the other side of the room. This was the first time I realised anything was wrong. I just asked ‘is the baby ok?’ and the midwife said ‘yes, I saw him take a breath’. I then relaxed again, going half into that brainless world I’d spent the last half hour in.
A couple of minutes later they said ‘it’s a boy’ and I realised that I’d forgotten to ask, or to even care what we’d had! He was breathing and that was enough for me. I’d been in labour for a grand total of 62 ½ hours (but the hospital only counted it from 1pm, so they say it only lasted 5 hours!).
So that’s round about the end of my part of the story, now I will switch to Gabe’s. I didn’t find out this information until after he was a couple of days old, but this was how his life on the outside started.
His APGAR score when he was born was 4. He got a 1 for his heart rate which according to the chart means it was less than 100, and he got a 1 for his respiration which means it was just irregular gasps. They pumped oxygen into him for 3 minutes, and he started breathing more regularly. They said that if he had not picked up after 4 minutes they would have started working on his heart.
Tell you what, it was such a blessing to hear that first cry. It took him 5 minutes to be healthy enough to cry. And all it did was make my hubby and I have such great big smiles on our faces.
I still didn’t realise what troubles Gabe had had breathing. I was kind-of occupied with them getting the placenta out and that kind-of thing. He was placed on my chest for about 5 minutes for skin to skin contact, and then had to go down to the NICU coz his breathing was still not good. He spent his first night in a humidicrib, and then was just in a normal cot thing for the next 1 night and 2 days he spent down there. We went down there about 2 hours after birth and then found out he was 2.954kg (6.8lb), 48cm long with a 34.5cm head.
Due to his rather stressful time at birth, he had quite a few feeding issues to start with. He’s always had a good suck (I call him my excellent little sucker) but just had an exaggerated gag reflex, which meant he only wanted to ‘nipple feed’ rather than ‘breast feed’. This has improved a lot, but he still doesn’t always get it right! Practice makes perfect though. [It took 13 weeks before I was able to breastfeed him pain free. I was crying every day before that. So if you find it horrid, get help, and keep asking until it stops hurting.]
We have an absolutely gorgeous, healthy, content baby, and feel so blessed. The biggest word I can use to describe my labour is exhausting. If I wasn’t so darn tired for the whole thing, and hadn’t had to be stuck labouring on the bed, I wonder what it would have been like. But even as it was, it was fine, and I would totally go back and do it again. People keep telling me how well I’m doing and how good I’m looking seeing as I gave birth not long ago! I think I blame it on the 2 most influential books I read during my pregnancy ‘Gentle Birth Method’ and ‘Hypnobirthing’. I think these really made a difference in my labour.
So there you go! The birth story of Gabriel Thomas Sykes, born 1st December 2008, 2.954kg (6.8lb), 48cm length, 34.5cm head, totally gorgeous baby!
Oh, and the parking ticked Rob bought to place in the car windscreen expired 1 minute after Gabe was born (it was after hours, so no fine). How’s that for timing!
Welcome to the world William Jacob
22nd July 2010
Birth story written July ’10
William Jacob was born after a 2 hour (or was it 25 minute?) labour! You decide! He was born at 11:05am Thursday 22nd July 2010.
Where do I start? I guess it all starts with Gabe’s birth! When I had Gabe, his labour was over 60 hours from waters breaking to birth! So, this time round, I had been preparing myself for an early labour that lasted a long time, and to not be scared by the process, but to trust my body, my baby, the process, and God.
I’d also been on an unassisted childbirth forum, not that I wanted a UC, but I wanted to learn all I could about having faith in my body and the birthing process. I planned on a hospital birth! These women planned to have UCs, and because of that, they knew a hell of a lot about the mechanics of pregnancy, and birth, and what are complications, and what can be done about them in a ‘natural’ way. Knowledge is power, and I just wanted power in birth – not to feel hopeless and helpless like last time.
Soooo. 39 weeks pregnant. I was excited as my body started showing signs of getting ready for labour that it didn’t with Gabe. I was losing parts of my mucous plug, and had loose bowels, both of which indicate labour isn’t too far away. I just figured that the plug meant that I had to be at least a little dilated, which meant I had a small head start on Gabe’s labour!
Anyway, Wednesday night (21st July) I thought I may be having contractions, but I wasn’t sure as I thought it might just be bub moving around. Either way, if I couldn’t tell what they were, they obviously weren’t very serious contractions! This continued through the night, but I slept through them.
We were babysitting a friend’s two year old on Thursday. So they turned up at 6:30am, and I told her I’d been getting a few niggles, nothing major. Thought I would probably go into ‘proper’ labour in the next couple of days or something. (He was born 4 1/2 hours later!)
8am I decided to have a shower. The contractions were still no different to the rare Braxton hicks I had got throughout my pregnancy. While in the shower, I decided to squat for a little while, as I believed that bub hadn’t dropped down and engaged properly yet. Well, I’m not sure what happened, but I’m pretty sure (now) my waters broke when I squatted – and I have no idea if bub dropped then too – all I know was that something felt different all of a sudden.
Now, I am someone who looooooooooooves long hot showers. And we only have a small hot water tank. So I proceeded to run the hot water out. :) I thought I’d have heaps of time for the water to reheat, Rob have a shower, and I have another one later in the day when the contractions got serious. Little did I know…
9am, since jumping out of the shower, the contractions started getting a little more serious. Still not regular or painful, but definitely noticeable. Then my Mum rings. She told me I had been on her mind since about 3am, and just really felt led to tell me ‘everything is in God’s timing’. I told her I’d had a few contractions, nothing serious though and I would call her when things changed.
10am, I sent my friend (the Mum of the child we were babysitting) a text message saying that I thought she would probably need to ‘knock off work early’, and asked ‘how much notice would she need to give’ so she could come home, as I felt that by 4:30 (her knock off time) I’d probably be in active labour and need to go to the hospital. But at that stage, I felt there was no rush or urgency. This was only one hour before Will’s birth!
10:30am (35 minutes until birth!), I was on the computer, updating people! I quote “ok, got contractions now. Not regular, but still full on. I don’t feel like being on the computer atm, but I’ll let you all know if / when things eventuate!”
Anyway, I don’t know what happened in the following 10 minutes, but at 10:40am, I rung my friend and left a message “you need to come home now”! Contractions were suddenly taking all my attention. My hubby jumped in the shower (the water had finally reheated), as he also felt like if we weren’t babysitting, we would be going to the hospital straight away.
As you may or may not be aware, the biggest cause of pain in labour is tension. And the biggest cause of tension is fear. And I really wanted to break this cycle. Since jumping out of the shower, I had basically spend most of my contractions sitting on the floor on my heels, or sitting on the toilet (had loose bowels still). And in order to build up my faith, and lessen my tension, there I was, sitting on the loo, in the middle of labour, with my eyes closed and one hand raised to the heavens, and speaking out “God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7) and “Perfect Love casts out all fear” (1 John 4:18) “and God is that perfect Love, and I’ve got God living big inside me – so fear, you have no place in me.”! It probably would have been hilarious to watch!!
So I was on the loo, as this was the most comfortable place to be, and my body started doing quick little pushes at the top end of contractions. I wasn’t sure what my body was trying to push out (as I still had loose bowels), so I had a quick check to see if I could feel bub’s head – but it all felt squishy to me, so I was none the wiser.
My hubby started to run a bath for me, and realised we didn’t have enough hot water (oops!), so he went to put water on the stove to boil! He came back, and heard me pushing, and said “is that the baby? Are you pushing the baby?” I said “I don’t know. Have a look”. So he did and replied “yes, that’s bub. You need to get of the loo now. NOW”. And all I could think was ‘whaaaaat? How on earth am I meant to do that??? I can’t move’ Anyway, he dragged me off! There happened to be a cushion wrapped in a towel in the bathroom already (very convenient!), so I kneeled on that and lent on the edge of the bath (the water was now turned off – figured it was a bit late to fill now!). And then bub was crowning. But I soooooo couldn’t stay in that position, waaaaay too painful!! I felt like I was going to tear front-ways!! So, much to my husbands astonishment, I stood up. Just like that.
So, I was standing there, and with 2 contractions his head was out. In between contractions I told Rob he could ring the ambulance, but he just said “I’m not leaving you”, as he thought what was the point in calling them, as they wouldn’t get there in time anyway (I was meaning so they could talk him through the birth if he wanted). So, after bub’s head was out, I told him that in the bedroom was a booklet I had printed off the internet called ‘Emergency Childbirth’, he could go and grab that, just in case we needed help with bub. I’d printed it off, just in case, coz you never ever know! Anyway, he’d come back to the bathroom, read about half a line, and I called to him “get back… catch bub”. So he did.
5 seconds after Rob had made the catch, Emma knocked on the door! He put bub down on the cushion under me, and my immediate thoughts were (in order) ‘Wow, bub’s purple. Gee they’ve got a weird shaped head! Breathe baby, breathe’ Bub gave a cough, and started breathing. I moved the cord, and yup, it’s a boy! I heard Rob answer the door (after waiting for bub to breathe) and say “We’ve got a baby!” and her reaction – “What? You’re joking?!”
While still in my ‘oh my goodness, we just had a baby daze’ I looked around to see a bathroom with 2 toddlers in it! The 2 year old we were babysitting looked most impressed by the sequence of events, and poor Gabe looked a little concerned – I think that was because he didn’t have his blanket, and Mum and Dad hadn’t been paying any attention to him. So we called him over, and showed him the baby, and he was much happier “Baybeee! Baybeee!”
Emma rang the ambulance for us, who turned up a bit later, and cut the cord. The placenta was delivered in the ambulance.
Once I got to hospital it was determined that I had a 2nd degree tear. By far the most painful part of the whole birth experience was the injection of local anaesthetic to be stitched up. I was sucking on the gas so much my head was spinning something chronic, but it was still insanely painful. Actually reminds me of what labour was like with Gabe!
I feel a bit ripped off that I tore, as I was listening to my body and following it’s lead, so why did it let me tear??!! Hmph!
I spent one night in hospital, and came home the next day. Because I only spent one night there, I didn’t get much of a rest, and things have been all go, since I’ve been home – no rest at all!
Ethan – the 2 year old who witnessed the event, apparently was talking about it all day! “Claire… Big Poo”! And the next day when they came over to visit, Emma said to him “We’re going to visit Gabe and Rob and Claire and the baby” and he very slowly and wisely nodded and said “Poo” as apparently that is what he thought bub was called!
Anyway, a 2 hour labour if you take it from when my waters possibly / probably broke, or, a 20 minute labour if you take it from when the contractions were strong and regular! After my 60 hour labour last time, probably not surprising I had an accidental unassisted homebirth!
So, William Jacob, born 22nd July 2010
3906g (8lb 10oz)
37cm (14.5″) head circ
53cm (20.9″) long
(1kg (over 2lb), 3cm (1.2″)hc, 5cm (2″)L bigger than Gabe!)
And totally gorgeous!
Epilogue: Gabe Looooves his little brother. He wakes up from his nap, and the first thing he wants to do is go and see Will. He’s always giving him hugs and kisses. But he’s having trouble getting to, and staying asleep at night. Not sure if this is teething or Will related. Oh, and my avatar picture was taken 5 hours after Will’s birth.
Will is an excellent little feeder. Haven’t had any pain feeding at all. I was able to walk around while feeding within 24 hours. I wasn’t able to do that with Gabe as he never fully got the gist of it.
Now all we need is sleep. :)