26 March 2010
Ellis and I woke up at 6:30am. I noticed that I was (yet again) feeling something resembling contractions. They had been on and off for a few weeks and were becoming a daily ritual. I did think it was odd they were happening in the morning, as the normally punctuated my evenings.
Kev woke up at about 7:30 and we debated about whether this was 'it' and if he should go to work. I really didn't want to get my hopes up. I was SOOO fed up with this pregnancy and there had been so many false starts. Plus with Ellis' previous arrival at 35 weeks, the last 5 weeks of this 40 week pregnancy had felt especially long. With everyone I spoke to that morning, I kept saying, "I don't think this is it" as a way of managing my own expectations and for fear I still might be pregnant at the end of the day.
At about 8:30am, I phoned my midwife, A, to inform her what was going on. I knew she was going to be nearby anyway, and wanted to make sure if this was it that she had everything she needed without having to make a trip back to Glasgow.
Over the course of the morning, I realised that these contractions were different than those that had happened previously. They were more co-ordinated and moved from my back around to the front. Although still very irregular, they began to have a more wave-like feel-- with a steady build-up, a peak and then a gradual tapering off. The contractions were irregular for most of the morning...ranging from one every five minutes to every fifteen. They took a bit of concentration to get through them, but so did all of the other sessions of 'false' labour. As the morning progressed, I did start to get more hopeful. It was following a similar pattern to Ellis' birth and I had hoped throughout this pregnancy that I would labour during the day. It would make any childcare arrangements easier if any emergency situation happened and it meant I could labour upstairs in my bedroom, something I wouldn't have felt comfortable doing in the middle of the night with my neighbours asleep through the wall.
Eventually, I asked Kevin not to go to work, as I felt if this WAS false labour again, I would probably need some company to cheer me up in the afternoon. At that point, the boys headed out on the bike to pick up some provisions and give me a bit of space.
After seeing another client, my midwife, A, texted to say she was reluctant to go back to Glasgow and was going to come by after a visit in Falkirk. Kevin arrived home at about 12. Kev called Tantie to say maybe she should make her way as the contractions were getting a bit more frequent and sore.
When A arrived at 1230, I was having 1 contraction every five minutes. I had asked to be left alone as much as possible in labour, so A just hung out downstairs and Kev made her lunch. As soon as A arrived, I began to find the contractions becoming more frequent. I had been timing them, but stopped at this stage.
After about 40 minutes, A came upstairs, did a very quick round of observations of a foetal heart rate, a quick palpation to feel where baby was (4/5th engaged), pulse, temp and blood pressure. Baby had not been engaged the day before and A felt that the morning's contractions were probably just focusing on working her down. (I had declined all vaginal examinations unless medically indicated or I requested them in labour. There was no need and none were done throughout my labour and delivery).
A asked if I wanted she and Kevin to go down stairs. I told her that I was beginning to get a bit panicky during contractions and that I would prefer if she and Kevin would stay up with me. Kevin went downstairs to put a movie on for Ellis (He later said that he picked the Wizard of Oz as it would be a better story to re-tell than if he'd put on Fireman Sam).
Up until this point, I had felt quite normal in-between contractions. The pain was generally manageable, though I was beginning to have "What was I thinking having this baby at home without pain relief?" thoughts. I had tried a few positions, but generally felt most comfortable on my knees leaning on my birth ball or on the bed. I had wanted to try water for pain relief (we didn't have a birth pool as the house is too small), so I asked Kev to help me in the shower.
I am pretty certain I hit transition as I was in the shower. I panicked almost immediately as I couldn't get into a comfortable position. It was about 1350. I dried off and came back into the bedroom and was leaning at the side of the bed through the contractions. Dealing with each one took all of my concentration. I had trouble controlling my breathing and began to worry about my ability to cope.
As I was leaning over the bed, there was a bit of a break in the frequency of the contractions. At this stage, A called the second midwife. As the pains started back up, the ctx were getting more sore and intense, but shorter in length. I told A that I was "feeling pushy".
A set up her gases and other equipment. I began asking for gas and air. I had tried to use it with Ellis, but ended up just biting the mouthpiece. Realising I was quite close, A was tried to delay giving me the pain relief, but after assuring her I REALLY wanted it, I was handed the mouthpiece. Once again, however, I ended up mostly biting down through the pains (biting definitely helped).
It was a strange sort of time. The contractions took all that I had to concentrate on them, but there was another voice at the back of my mind telling me... "A is looking for the blue line" "And this is transition" "And that is the baby in the pelvis".
I began to feel the baby move through my pelvis. At about 1400, A tried to listen to the foetal heart tones, but couldn't find them because of my position. Later she said that she was pretty certain at the time that it was because of how low Georgia was and how I was hunched over the bed. However, she did bring the oxygen over as a precaution.
At that moment, I felt very calm and thought to myself that if there was something wrong with the baby, there was no other way to get her out. We'd deal with any potentially 'bad' situations then.
I could feel Georgia moving through and down. Ellis had been so quick and I was so full of adrenaline, I didn't have to push at all. For Georgia, I would say the pushing stage lasted 5-6 contractions and it felt more like pushing, though still uncontrollable. She crowned for 2, with Kevin and A waiting at the business end (and all that entailed...ahem). Her crowning was much more painful than I remembered Ellis'. She was almost 2lbs heavier, but I also think that without the adrenaline and shock of having the early baby, I was just able to feel what was going on more. Plus, I didn't have to focus on barking orders to midwives who had no knowledge of our wishes with regards to the birth.
At 1415, baby arrived. Kevin caught her with a bit of help from A. She let out a huge old cry and I knew she was OK. It took Kev a minute to tell us all the sex of the baby. Before he could tell us, Kev had made a reference to 'him'. I had 'known' throughout the pregnancy it was a girl and my initial reaction was that there was no way I'd just had a boy. Kevin then announced that she WAS a she.
I'd had dreams of having a baby girl named Georgia Grace throughout my pregnancy, so there was no other choice for a name, even if I am slightly worried about people assuming we are fanatical Beatles fans (For those of you who may not know, the children have both of our surnames, Harrison-Goldin).
After a few moments, she was handed through my legs and I got to look at my lovely baby girl. Kev went and got Ellis. Wee man ran up the stairs to say hello to his baby sister. After a moment's excitement, he went back to watch his film. I was shaking quite badly at this stage and had to lay down on the bed with her. Her cord stopped pulsing after a few minutes and Kev cut it.
I had a natural 3rd stage, about half an hour after she was born. As with Ellis, I went into mild shock after the birth, with a lot of shaking and nausea. The after pains were truly horrendous. In many ways they were worse than the labour and I was in a huge amount of pain for a number of days.
After a wee while, we weighed her. Everyone had been expecting a huge baby and by the look of her at birth, we thought that is what we'd got (those cheeks!!). However, she was a rather petite 7lbs 7oz. I had a small tear and a graze, but didn't require any stitches.
Tatie arrived just after she was born and got to have one of the first cuddles whilst I took a bath and Kevin phoned family. Ellis has been absolutely delighted with his baby sister and as a family we could not be happier.
I have found the physical recovery harder this time around. Probably because I was able to rest more with Ellis and I was so focussed on him and his health. However, I had suffered on and off with pelvic pain throughout this pregnancy, due to the loosening of the ligaments. Georgia's quick descent through my pelvis meant that the SPD/PGP flared up quite badly after her birth. I couldn't sit up for a couple of days, but by Sunday I was generally OK. I still have a few problems walking for long distances and sitting for any length of time two weeks later.
Baby girl has taken to nursing like a dream and I can not believe she has only been here for 13 days. It feels like she has been with us forever. She fits in perfectly and I never knew I could love three people as much as I love this little family of ours.
When people have asked how everything went, all I can say is that overall, it was remarkably unremarkable. I was fed up with being pregnant, it was sore and then she arrived. No drama. No carnage. No one telling me how or when to push or coming to the rescue. Just your run of the mill, everyday miracle.
Having her at home was great, but not at all a transcendental experience. I spent various amounts of time in labour fantasising about having an epidural and I liked my bit of gas and air. For me, a home birth is something I wanted for a whole range of very good and well researched reasons, but fundamentally it was because I wanted my family involved, I wanted to be in control and I wanted the least amount of intervention possible.
We also felt it was hugely important for us to have a trusted, named caregiver for our arrival. Someone who is a friend and views labour and birth based on evidence, not litigation and normality, not danger. Therefore, we chose to go down the route of an independent midwife to ensure this was the case. And while the choice had financial implications, I feel whole heartedly it was the best decision for us a family.
So while I did love having her at home, drinking my own tea, snuggling up in my own bed with my family, the best bit of the home birth experience was actually an unexpected bonus. For all of the thinking I had done about the benefits of a home birth for the baby and I, I had failed to consider the difference it would make for Kevin. With Ellis, Kev stood idly by the side of the bed. He was unsure what to do. He was made to feel he was in the way. He had to go home that night to an empty house, while Ellis and I cried in hospital.
With Georgia's birth, his role was clear. He was the host, making sure everyone was fed and entertained. He was my support when the contractions got too hard. And he was the first set of hands that got to hold his baby girl. He was there to support and take care of all of us that first night and the days after. Essentially, he was integral to birthing his daughter. As it should be.
Like I said, remarkably unremarkable.