A brand new baby: 1 week and 4 days old…. Childbirth and Contractions

We had a baby boy 1 week and 4 days ago! Baby AJ… a bouncing baby boy born 2.42pm on Thursday 18th June 2015, 7lb 7 ounces. We were expecting a girl so this really was a surprise. For those of you asking for the grisly details, see below. For those of you who have given birth before, enjoy reliving the memories. And for those about to give birth you can skip the contractions bit at the end :) This is actually the 4th time I’m writing this post… maybe I should take it as a sign. But I’m doing this for posterity as much as everything else, so.

The order of events:

9.30am contractions start. When I had Lolo these started 3 days before hand so I was totally sceptical. I drive hubby to work as he’s nearby that morning. Contractions continue but get a little more frequent. Me: ‘I’ve had these pre labour contractions post coitus before so I take them with a pinch of salt.’ I have a contraction whilst going through a width restriction, hahahaha, you try concentrating on doing something whilst you’re in pain. I drop hubby off and on my journey back have to pull over during a particularly fun contraction.

10.30am I am home. I have a sudden pang of hunger and stuff all the carbs I can into my stomach, literally handfuls of bagel. I have a feeling I know what’s coming and I know I have totally no appetite during labour. I pace around our living room. Gravity helps. Not to ease the pain, but with the labour. I start taking note of how frequent the contractions are. I start noting them down on my little yellow note pad that looks like a gold bar. This is what I’m focusing on as the pain of the contractions start to ramp up. Hubby has an important meeting at 11.30am so I’m trying not to call him back unless I’m sure.

11am I call the birth centre. I have tried to hold out as long as I can and although I know these are not THEE contractions, I know they’re pretty strong and that most likely these are the ones I’ve been waiting for. Midwives at the birthing centre talk to me, ask questions to find out a bit more about me and ultimately to assess if it sounds like my contractions are strong enough. As it’s baby number 2, contractions are very regular (every 2 mins) and because I was 3 cm dilated already on Monday (3 days previously) they ask me to come in.

11.15am I text hubby. I can’t wait any longer unfortunately. I send hubby a text to ask him to come home so we can drive to the hospital together. He has to grab the bus as there are no taxis but it only takes him 20mins so we’re good. In the mean time I continue to pace. I also pack some food and drink for the hospital and get hubby some shorts, flip flop and t-shirt as it was a particularly hot day. Great for me as I’m still the coldest person I know but not great for the rest of the population. I also pack my Mexican Pink Fleecy Poncho which made an appearance at Lolo’s birth as I went into uncontrollable shivers and shaking. 11.35am Hubby arrives, gets changed and off we go. Thankfully the birthing centre is only a 5 mins drive down the road.

11.45am we arrive at the birthing centre. We park up and I start making the walk to the centre. I have to pause during contractions. Up the stairs we go. We wait for about 20mins  to be seen, I continue to pace. I focus on my breathing. The poor older lass that let us in keeps looking at me and eventually brings in a wheel chair… just in case. The midwife comes in to see me and gives me an examination. My heart sinks, apparently I am STILL only 3cms dilated. WHAAAAT!!!!???  However I am fully effaced which is a very important factor in getting ready to give birth. She gives me another sweep for good measure. ‘Is she always this calm.’ Well thank you Madam midwife, how very complimentary. I’m just focusing on breathing and not screaming like a mofo. She suggests I might go for a walk along the corridors, but I’m at that point where fine yes I’ll do some walking but I want to keep in close proximity to my room.

12.30 noon get to the room. I start pacing my room. I start getting cold again. Poncho on… poncho off, poncho on, poncho off. The pain is starting to get quite intense.

1.45pm I get into the birthing pool. I’m in the water but contractions slow down a little although still strong. I stand up to help keep the contractions ramp up, then sit down for pain management. Then up again. Eventually I stay sit down with my tummy fully emersed and enjoy the pain relief from the warm water.

2.42pm baby was born. Its crazy it took something like 12 pushes in total for baby to pop out: about 6 for the head to come down and come out and then just the one for the body! It was quite funny, the head came out and started bobbing – who knows what for. But out he came and he was passed to the front and ‘It’s a boy!’, next sentence, ‘thank God I don’t have to do this again!’

Contractions. I can’t lie. They hurt (the handles on those tubs are really secure) and the worst bit is you really have no idea how long it will all last. Having said that, from the 2 experiences I have had, the pre-labour (where you’re contracting hard and the midwife’s looking at you saying you’re close but you’re not quite there yet… you can still talk!) seems to be the longest part (for Lolo this was 3 days but for AJ this seems to have taken only about 4 hours). The actual labour (ah yes you’re breathless, speechless and you’re wondering if it’s even fathomable that these can get stronger? Surely not!!! Is the c-section and epidural still an option?) wasn’t that long in either case (Lolo 4 hours, 80mins for AJ). So if you are reading this about to give birth – remember that, I found it gave me hope whilst managing the pain. Speaking of which, how to describe the pain. Contractions come in waves, you feel the start of one and then the pain magnifies and magnifies until it peaks, it’s like a white heat at its strongest. Mine started in my lower back, knowing that they’re opening the womb the pain makes sense as gut’s a wrenching pain. I try to manage the pain by breathing through each one. As they get more intense, I’m still pacing the room. I have to stop at their height and rise up on my tip toes looking for any other sensation that can distract me. I start counting to give me something to focus on and to give me hope frankly, that each one starts and ends in a given time frame. I count slowly to 10 and Elliott counts the actual seconds (about 25). Contractions do not last forever. But they are exhausting. It takes all my energy to work through each one. I try to sit on the bed for a couple but my contractions seem to spread out yet feel more intense- maybe because I have nothing else to focus on. I keep walking because I know gravity is helping. It’s the only situation where I know the greater the pain the better it is for me because it helps me get closer to the end. But the downward pressure on my cervix is a real bugger and maaan does it hurt. They get so strong that you genuinely have no idea how you’re going to carry on. At their peak, I decide to give pushing a go because to be honest, these contractions have got to be leading somewhere! So I push during a contraction once I’m in the pool and at the end I get that odd sensation to push, to bear down. These are the worst contractions now and the worst pain but you know fairly soon you’re about to see your baby. This is what you have been waiting for. So you keep pushing. You think that everything down below is shot and that you’re going to have problems for the rest of your life but you keep pushing. You push with the pain. You can feel something moving inside and then go back in again. Yep it’s the head. You have to push the baby beyond what feels natural and then the head stays, half out, no more disappearing. The midwife tells me to breathe to allow stuff to stretch. The next push we have the head, after that the body.

It’s an unbelievable experience because it is so totally raw. I can’t say I’ve forgotten it or am under any illusion about the pain. But at the end you do have a totally wonderful little human being.

All mine. Welcome AJ. Watch out – here comes the huggin’ and kissin’!

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40 weeks + 2: Babies are like balls

Men’s balls that is, when they cycle. Apparently due to the bashing they get during cycling they tend to go into hibernation only to peek out once the coast is clear of the crazy sadistic saddle. Generating a type of yoyo effect. Well I can report the same of baby number two. Having spoken with the midwife it would seem that actually it can be quite common, she’s even see women come in to the birthing centre with full on contractions and the baby has not dropped yet – but then suddenly it does. Whilst I was pregnant with Lolo, the last 8 weeks of my life were not that much fun. She felt like she was permanently engaged and sitting on the nerve to my bladder. Ouch is all I can say. These last few weeks I’ve been feeling absolutely fine. Since Monday’s sweep I definitely feel like the baby is LOW and about to pop out if I sneeze…. but then it’ll retreat again when I’m busy!

It’s a little bit like your body registers that you’re in the middle of doing stuff and much like men and cycles, decides now is not a good time for baby to come – you’re in the middle of stuff! I’m sure midwives wouldn’t tell us to go walking to help baby come if it did not work, but the body’s response seems a little weird sometimes. Having said that its mainly since Monday that my body has started noticing the change when I walk. Gravity definitely feels like it’s in cahoots with the baby.

My lovely neighbour has had 7 (yep 7) kids. I remember her telling me that all the births were different and that in one case labour started after a full day of running around after the kids (much like the mother in law in fact), in the afternoon which she was preparing afternoon tea. Can’t imagine that was a particularly relaxing time for her (as we are encouraged to relax to let the Oxytocin do its thing and get that cervix open!) and yet there it was. And I wonder if rather than waiting for this baby, much like I have been I just need to crack on with my day, stay active and it will be like ‘surprise’! Again, looks like baby will come when it’s ready.

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40 weeks + 1: Sleep, Sweep & Pressure

I went to my hospital yesterday for a general check up as it was my due date and everything went fine. Baby fine, head down, good blood pressure (me) and heartbeat (baby). At my last appointment my midwife said she would offer me a sweep. Or a ‘stretch and sweep’. Sounds horrible and I can’t say it’s the most pleasant thing but it was ok.

So here’s the dilemma. I am actually the type of person who would rather let nature take it’s course. We all know babies come when they’re ready – so why mess with nature and intervene even at 40 weeks? Well there’s this really odd situation where: a) babies never really arrive on their due date anyway so what’s the rush b) There is massive pressure on you to give birth before 42 weeks especially if you want to go to a birthing centre otherwise you will have to go to the labour ward c) once you go to a labour ward and they start to induce you – you’re more than likely to need assistance in giving birth be that the gels, foreceps, suction cup or a c-section. And I think that’s the scary bit, I would rather try the most natural way of helping the baby along with a stretch and sweep than wait 42 weeks and have to be induced via stronger methods which, as much as giving birth naturally is no breeze, is for me preferential to the alternatives.

Anyway. The stretch and sweep went well. Turns out I was already 3cm dilated (good for someone’s second baby I am told) and the cervix had flattened to a centimetre. All great signs but I am still here on Tuesday afternoon.  She had a great old poke around and said she swept around the baby’s head and pretty much touched the baby’s ears. For baby this must feel like the finger of God – it’s first real connection with the outside world. Today we had lots of show and some fab aches and pains, so it all feels like its heading in the right direction but we may yet have a way to go. With Lolo she was 10 days late and I was in labour for 4 days.

You also have the odd juxtaposition where on one hand you want to stay active (especially walking) to help speed things along… but not too much exercise as you need to keep enough energy for when you need to give birth. The whole thing’s a bit of a bunch of contradictions. But as hubby said quite rightly – ‘sleep when you can as God knows when or how long number 2 will take’. Wise words I feel. Walk Lolo to the childminders, come home, snooze if I need and then crack on with the day. These next few days will continue to be full of walking. Baby already feels pretty low, but it might just stay low for a few more days. It’ll come when it’s ready (arghhhhh)!

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39 weeks + 4: Induction- bring it on! Sex and drugs and rock and roll

When you’ve been abstaining from decent soft cheeses for 9 months, the approach of D-day is a welcome thing. Sadly it won’t be a case that I’ll be in a cheese & wine induced coma once it’s out – but 9 months is a long old time to wait for anything. The one thing I’ve learned from talking to different mums with different numbers of children is that each one is different and will come in their own time and in their own way. But there’s nothing wrong with gently encouraging it.

Sex: yep. The same thing that got you into this mess in the 1st place. If you can have some fun with it – great! The release of oxytocins can help kick start labor. And the prostaglandins in the semen can help ripen that cervix / plug! Double winner. 

Drugs: Ok not quite, more like a hot curry. And to be more accurate again – anything that can get you pooping; curry, bran, beetroot juice etc. I can’t find anything about it on the web – which could say something about whether or not it works! But my midwife explained that the fibers in the bottom and vagina are the same and if you can stimulate one it could kick start the other. Also it helps evacuate the bowels which could mean no pooping during labor. Happy days.

Rock ‘n’ Roll: Or staying active. I’ve felt a lot bouncier with this pregnancy than with Lolo. It might just be psychological. It might be that you don’t get a chance to relax much with a 2 year old so you have to stay more active. Either way, again orders from the midwife: stay active, go on walks, swim if you like etc. I’ve been trying to get more walking in the last few days, hoofing it up and down the massive hill near our house to go drop Lolo off at the childminders in the mornings. Although it’s not thee most comfortable thing, in early labor you’re often told to go for a long walk to help get baby in the right place, let gravity do its job etc so it still makes sense to do that before too.

One that’s not on the list but you’d be surprised how many people say it, Drs and all – a glass of wine in the evening. Its all about the Oxytocins and getting relaxed and comfortable. Not a vat of wine! But a glass seems fine.

Having done this once before, these are the things I’ll be hedging my bets on BUT here are a few more ideas from my blog 2 years ago

 

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I made this

image

image

and it fits too. I know, we’re all shocked. just don’t look at the inside

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The devil in the box

I can’t lie. the TV is my not-so-secret-weapon. I put it on for Lolo when I need to get something done in the house, when I have to take a shower or even when I just want a bit of a break. But it is the devil in the box. It annoys me a bit that whenever she wakes up the first thing she asks for is the TV. That feels like bad parenting on my behalf. Even today, she’s stayed at home because she had a high temperature, what did I do? Put the TV on.

Let’s be realistic, I’m not beating myself up about it totally. Some programs are educational, some tell wonderful and imaginative stories. I love a good movie myself and what do I do pretty much every night of my life? Watch something on the box to get some down time after my long day at work. But its crazy if you think about it – how many hours of our lifetime do we spend in front of the box? Something’s always tempting us to do, well, nothing. Probably could have learned several languages by now and read all those books I’m normally too tired to read.

I guess the thing that scares me a little about little people getting addicted to TV is that constant need for entertainment and stimulation, but in a very passive way. Go learn, play, colour, get muddy, run around, get in to stuff, break things – try things out don’t just sit stare. ‘Chewing gum for the eyes Dougal’. I remember genuinely being surprised at a couple in LA at a restaurant with their 2 kids. Both older parents, twins aged around 7 sat at the same table, both on separate i-pads, both with headphones, neither communicating with anyone. So loads of you are now shouting at me saying: well what if they were playing something educational, what if they’d had a rough day and needed a break, what if the twins were playing something together – the list goes on. I think there will however be another bunch of you saying – you know what, you sit together at mealtimes, you eat and talk – this is normal and the kids should learn, All they’re learning now is it’s ok to not communicate. Personally I also think that rather importantly it’s ok for kids to be bored, I think it helps them understand they do not need to be entertained constantly, it teaches them patience and that they are not the centre of attention.

But back to TV. I wish it wasn’t so easy but all in moderation I guess.

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Who has time to cook? Recipe 4: Flavoursome chicken & potatoes

This literally takes 5 mins to cook, about an hour in the oven and tastes rather good. I remember my mum cooking this when I was younger so it brings back good memories, its also quite cheap but full of goodness.

Mix together: chicken legs & thighs, chop potatoes, onion & mushrooms into large chunks, garlic to taste (you can chuck them in whole or sliced), olive oil and curry powder. Put it in the oven (approx. 200 degrees) for 60mins til chicken is cooked. That’s it!

Tips: up to you how much you want of each, but use the curry powder more as a seasoning rather than full curry flavour. Don’t bother peeling the potatoes.

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