Written in March 2005
After 8 days, here is my baby's birth story:
Monday, 7 March, + 8:00 am show of "old blood".
Nothing much happened all day, except a few Braxton Hicks contractions. I couldn't focus on getting much done, and tried to rest as much as I could "in case".
About 7:30 pm I discovered more of a discharge, so I realised I was losing the mucous plug.
I had a few strong contractions while watching TV in the evening and decided to go to bed and see whether they'd fade out, or if this was the beginning of true labour.
From 10:30 pm I was woken about every 15 minutes by a strong contraction, so at 12:00 I got up. I went down to the kitchen, washed dishes that weren't done and did some ironing, while watching the clock to time the contractions. They were quite irregular and varied in strength.
By 3:00am I decided to go back to bed again and although I was again woken every 15 minutes at first, I managed to sleep until about 4:45am when a strong contraction again awoke me.
I got up once again and walked around, sent a few emails and kept timing the contractions. Still every 10 minutes or so. At 6:20 I was sleepy again and got back into bed and slept until 7:00 - again a contraction woke me. By now I realised that this was true labour and I thought that within a few hours my baby would be born, but I was wrong.
The contractions continued like this all morning, varying between 5 - 15 minutes apart, some long and strong and some "quickies".
I found this to be the hardest of the 4 labours I have experienced. Although I embrace labour as it is what I look forward to - the reward of the pregnancy - and although I have read and understood Childbirth without Fear ... I found that the majority of my contractions were more than pressure, or discomfort. I have to call it pain.
Possibly, I felt more pain as I was "sleepy tired" and not as physically fit as previously.
I found that whenever I lay down a bit, the contractions would be further apart and then more painful when they did occur. By lunchtime, I was getting frustrated and tired, not knowing how much longer this could go on.
Riaan (my husband) was very supportive and reassured me that it wouldn't be long.
"How do YOU know?"I asked him. "I can tell by the degree of your pain, I remember from last time," he answered.
Well, by about 1:00 pm I sent a text message to a few friends in my church: "I have been in labour since last night. Please pray that everything will go quickly and smoothly. It is so frustrating."
Almost immediately the contractions started coming faster, about 5 minutes apart and much stronger.
I was labouring in our bedroom which leads to an en-suite bathroom. I was reaching the stage where I didn't want my husband to leave the room. There was something reassuring knowing that he was with me. I don't doubt that I could birth solo if I needed to, but for some reason I didn't want to be alone.
By now, although I had been in and out the bath tub during the course of the morning, I decided rather to use the shower - the warm water on my lower back was soothing during the intense contractions. In between, I'd switch off the water and sit squatting in the corner of the shower, resting my head and dozing until the next contraction. Sometimes I sat on my knees too. We placed two folded up towels under my legs to make it more comfortable for me.
It was here that I sensed the baby starting to descend down the birth canal and soon my water broke with a pop during one of the contractions. I would close my eyes in a daze for a short while after each contraction, then perk up just before the next one began. There was a stage when I was upright and I remember Riaan asking if I was feeling alright as he said I was quite pale in the face - obviously my blood supply was concentrated around my uterus.
After my water broke, I felt encouraged as I knew it would not be long before the head followed. I needed to use the toilet and sat down there for a while - this was another place I had found comfortable to be during contractions throughout the morning.
By now, I was starting to have an uncontrollable urge to push with some, but not every contraction.
Riaan urged me to focus on breathing and relaxing so as not to push prematurely. After a couple more contractions there was nothing I could do to resist the involuntary urge to push. I was now standing upright. As I felt the head descending, I kept my palm pressing against my perineum to prevent tearing.
Riaan was crouching down in front of me to watch the progress. He told me to remove my hand and then he carefully helped manipulate the skin over the baby's head…now I think that is impressive ...there are not too many guys who'd do that!!
"Just don't let me tear!" I told him. When he said "Ok, the head is out," my response was, "The whole head?"
Then the drowsiness overwhelmed me again. I felt like sitting down again, but of course I could not, so with his consent I leaned forward and put my head on Riaan's back - he was still crouched down by baby's head. It must have been quite a sight. Within a few seconds another contraction came and the rest of the body was birthed and the baby started crying immediately. It was about 3:15pm.
We decided to fill up the bath while waiting for the placenta, as baby was getting cold, even though I was holding him against me. His feet looked bluish.
We have a corner bath with a small seat in the corner, so I sat there holding a bowl in which I caught the placenta as it plopped out just minutes after. Then we placed the bowl on the seat to keep it elevated and I got into the tub and held baby down in the warm water. He immediately stopped crying and pinked up - like he was back where he belonged!
He was streaked with blood and mucous so I rinsed him clean and when the cord went limp Riaan tied it and cut it.
Then after removing the bowl with the placenta and cleaning the blood spots on the tiles, he called the other children to meet their brother. He wanted me and the baby to stay in the warm water. Finally, when it got a bit cooler we got out the bath and he dressed baby while I dressed myself. We weighed him on our bathroom scale - about 3.9kg, 54 cm in length - a good size!
I swallowed a sliver of placenta to help reduce post-partum bleeding and then also got Riaan to bring me some hot water with a teaspoon of cayenne pepper added. (Yuck)
We then all lay on the bed admiring our newborn and sent text messages to all our friends and family!
It was about an hour after the birth that baby first nursed. By then I had completely soaked a maternity pad, so before Riaan went and buried the placenta, I had another piece. Each time I did this I shuddered as I swallowed it down with water, but I did not want to lose too much blood. Well, that and the combination of nursing did the trick and the bleeding slowed down remarkably.
A while later baby spat up some brown-coloured mucous. I don't recall this ever happening with my other babies, but I realised it could only be mucous that he must have ingested in the birthing process, as it was the same as the discharge that I had had and that had been on him after the birth. (The amniotic fluid was clear when it broke.)
The family then left baby and me to get some rest. Later Riaan took them to a pizza restaurant for supper and afterwards his parents came to visit their newest grandson. By the time they left I was exhausted again.
Our first night's sleep was not a good one as baby squeaked in his sleep, but now he seems to have stopped that and I sleep pretty well. He sleeps with us, so he has no need to cry when he needs to feed.
He only yells his lungs out when he feels the cold when I change his diaper or bath him.
He is now 8 days old and growing more beautiful by the day.
Quite a few have asked how my youngest, Kayleigh, age 2, has taken to her baby brother. Not once has she showed any signs of jealousy or demanded my attention in any way...and (forgive me if I am on my soap box), but I put this down to the fact that because we homeschool, we are always together, so she does not need to demand time or attention from me, and secondly, she is not an only child, so she does not expect my undivided attention.
She keeps telling me "I am so glad I have got a baby brother" ... and "I love my baby" and all the children fuss around him, argue about whose turn it is to hold him and kiss his forehead a dozen times a day. He is one loved baby!
I think that is the story.
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