The Birth – Part 2

Well that took me a while! Who’d have thought that having a baby was time consuming? My humble apologies at my delay in blogging of late, things have been a little crazy. My little lovebug is now almost 6 weeks old, and I have no idea where the time went. I’ll post a 1 month update soon, but for now, let’s get through the rest of the birth.

So, when I left you last, I was 5cm dilated and fast tracking my way to delivering my baby. After the doctor had realised how fast my labour was progressing, the midwives very quickly arranged for me to be transferred to the labour ward. It was maybe a 30 metre walk from the room I was in. I had two contractions on the way, both as strong as hell, both causing me to bellow like a cow to get through them. What made this even more elegant was the fact that I was naked from the waist down (they’d wrapped me in a blanket to get to the labour room), and that with each contraction along the way I had nothing to brace myself on. Those two were hard. On the funny side, I had the second contraction right outside the open door of another labour room, with the father-to-be watching me in horror. Poor bastard, I bet he didn’t think it would be that bad!

After what felt like a thousand miles, we were in the labour suite. From that point on, my contractions were back to back. No break. I was not a happy camper. I was “vocalising” through every peak, and when the midwife asked if I wanted any pain relief, I think the next country over heard me scream yes! She set me up with some gas and air, which basically you stick in your mouth and breathe through – in and out, in and out – until the sensation kicks in. My problem was I was using noise to deal with the pain of the contractions, and with the gas nozzle in my mouth I couldn’t get the yelling up like I wanted. After one breath through it, I basically threw it across the room with a “this isn’t working!!!”. Good thing my midwife was the no bullshit type, as she explained to me that it would take a good 10 minutes, and I needed to keep it in my mouth. Turns out she was right. It started to take the edge off the peak of the contractions (still bloody painful though!), but it also made me extremely dizzy, and nauseous. I had to lie down to cope with it, which I really didn’t want to do, as I’d been told that it was the worst way to give birth. Too bad. There wasn’t a chance in hell of getting me off of that bed from that point – the combination of back to back contractions and the dizziness meant that the bed was the only place for me.

After about an hour of this, I suddenly had an urge to push. I’d read multiple stories of how this sensation can feel like a need to go to the toilet, and this must have been in the back of my mind, because at that point I felt the best way to let the midwife know was to yell “I feel like I need to poooooooo!!!”. Lovely. She tried to pull me back a little, saying that I wasn’t ready yet and I needed to keep calm, then decided to check to see if I had progressed any further. At that point, she looked extremely shocked, let us know that “the head is right there!”, and raced around the room getting everything ready for the baby I was about to have!

The midwife, might I mention, was amazing. She cut through all of my fear and brought me back plenty of times when the gas had sort of removed me from the situation – I was quite high on it, not in a happy, “duuuuuude” kind of way, but just not really with it, not really present in what was going on. She now tasked me with panting through the contractions rather than vocalising, and suddenly I realised how close I was to meeting my baby girl. I pulled the gas out of my mouth (can’t pant and suck through that thing), and focused with everything I had. Something about the midwife telling me to pant switched me back on, as I realised I was at the final stage, I was nearly there, and I could do this!

With each contraction the urge to push became stronger. It’s such a hard feeling to describe, as it sort of overtakes your body. I would be panting my way through a contraction, and then this force would take over, completely without me pushing, and drive the head closer and closer. I had to fight each of these to stop myself tearing, but eventually they were just too strong to be able to hold back. I pushed with everything I had (and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just the baby that I pushed out, although Mr Nester swears he didn’t see any, um, waste…), and all of a sudden her head was out. Again, the midwife urged me to pant and not push, but that following contraction felt even stronger, and there was no holding me back. The rest of her slid out of me, feeling as if I was birthing a squid (just as slippery and slimy as it sounds). Then, incomprehensibly, she was there, screaming, and lying on my stomach. My baby girl had rocketed into the world, wide eyed and vocal! I really thought at this moment that I’d be overcome, I’d be emotional and weepy, but I was so shocked that all I could do was stare. As stupid as it sounds, it felt unbelievable that this baby had just been inside of me, and was now in the world.

The midwife rubbed her down, Mr Nester cut the cord, and then there she was, on my chest and already latching on to feed. She stayed on me for quite some time, and then had all her measurements done, and she was wrapped up and put in the crib next to me. Mr Nester went home to get some sleep, the midwife left me alone, and though I knew I needed to sleep, all I could do was stare at my perfect little girl.

So there you have it. My birth story. There are a few more details about the hospital, her first day, etc etc, but this was the most memorable. In all of 3.5 hours, my Birdie arrived into the world.

As for my advice for those nearing labour – certainly prepare yourself: read books, do exercises, think about what your ideal experience would be. But also, let it happen. I didn’t get a chance to do really anything of what I had planned – no birthing ball, no exercises, no visualisations. All I managed was vocalising and a bit of early movement before the labour took over. Also, trust your midwife. If I had fought her, it would have been a much harder experience – being able to trust her instructions meant I could focus much better, and could work my way through whatever was being thrown at me. In all, it was certainly the most pain I have experienced, and at time was the scariest thing I’ve been through. But it was also the most incredible experience – I realised both during and after labour how strong my body was, how strong I was, and what I was capable of. Don’t fear it, embrace it. You’ll get through it just as I did.

Jane xx

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The Birth – Part 1

So, I promised you I would give you a full rundown of the birth, all 3 and a half hours of it. It’s funny, whenever I tell people the length of the labour, I get a resounding “you’re so lucky!”, and then when I try to explain that speed doesn’t necessarily improve the experience, I get a “yeah, but better than a 20 hour labour!”. I feel like I’m being ungrateful for feeling like 3.5 hours was far too much, too fast. It was certainly better than enduring the pain for some horrifically long stretch, but when I mention that I wouldn’t have minded another hour or so, just so I could come to terms with what I was going through at the time, I get scoffs and faces full of disbelief. The only people who have given me sympathetic responses are those that have also been through a similar experience.

Now, don’t get me wrong – everything went according to plan in terms of a normal labour, and my beautiful Birdie was born wide eyed and healthy. I am enormously thankful for that. But I do want to take the shine off the short labour a little, because I was in a panic for much of that time. I didn’t know how far progressed I was, couldn’t tell what stage of labour I was in, and everything was moving so fast my contractions were back to back for most of the labour. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start from the beginning.

On Friday night, at around 10pm, I was hanging some pictures in the nursery when I felt a trickle. Mr Nester had a friend over, and they were happily playing video games in the lounge room. I had a moment where I thought “Ooh. I wonder if that’s anything?”. I headed to the toilet to check, and it was a decent amount of liquid, and had a bit of a funky smell (if you’ve read the books, you’ll know that amniotic fluid apparently smells like semen. I can confirm this. Ick.). I thought I’d wait it out, it could be nothing, and I hadn’t been having any contractions yet. About half an hour later, I had another trickle, this time with a pink tinge. By this point, Mr Nester’s friend had gone home, and he wandered over to see what was happening with me. Our actual conversation was:

Mr Nester: “How are you getting on?”

Me: “Good, I think my water just broke…”

Mr Nester: “nfewghwb uono3iqnojq!!!!!”

And so, he suggested I call the hospital. I explained the situation, and they advised to come in to get checked out, at which point they would likely send me home until I was in active labour.

We already had everything packed, so it was just a case of driving the 15 minutes to the hospital. On the way, I had 2 contractions, about 12 minutes apart. We were told to go to Emergency for our check up, and waited about 15 minutes before we were admitted. I had another 3 contractions in this time, now about 8 minutes apart. They weren’t actually all that bad, just a building pressure and a bit of pain at the peak. My main issue was discomfort – I couldn’t stay sitting down, and so I paced around the waiting area.

Once we were in, I had a check up (blood pressure, pulse etc) and they took a sample to check if it was amniotic fluid I was leaking. While we waited for the results, they put us into a room by ourselves, and said they would check on us soon. By now, my contractions were 5 minutes apart, and by the time we’d been at the hospital for 45 minutes, they were 3 minutes apart. By this stage, I was having a lot of difficulty focusing on anything but the contractions, and the nurses were monitoring me with a band across my stomach. I was watching the feed on the monitor, and seeing the contractions spiking higher and higher, sharper and sharper. I was starting to moan through each contraction, and we were still left to ourselves in the room. I think the nurses had assumed that I would be quite some time before anything kicked off, and had actually told us that they wouldn’t take us across to the labour ward until I’d been in active labour for 4 hours.

At this point, I was panicking. I’d only been in labour for 45 minutes, and already I was feeling like I could barely get through the contractions. They were coming thick and fast, and man I was in pain. I was leaning on the bed through each contraction, while Mr Nester timed them, and let me tell you, 3 minutes apart is not much. I barely had time to catch my breath before the next one hit. At the peak of one contraction, my water properly broke. It gushed down my leg, soaking my clothes. I waddled to the toilet to clean up, and what was pouring out of me was bright red. I thought I might be haemorrhaging, and called Mr Nester to find a nurse. He went running down the hall, practically dragging a nurse back with him. The nurse seemed extremely surprised to see the state I was in, and sent for a doctor to check my progress. Unfortunately, this involves a hand right up, well, you know where, and it happened to occur right between my contractions, in my 2-3 minutes of peace. I was not happy, and still fighting the panic that perhaps I couldn’t do this. The doctor had a good feel around, and told me I was 5 centimetres dilated. Shit! OK, maybe I could do this! It was such a relief to hear that the extreme pain I was feeling was due to a quick dilation, and it wasn’t just me not being able to handle it.

To be honest, that was the hardest part of the labour – not knowing how far along I was, not knowing how long I had left to go, not knowing how much more I could handle (most of the time it felt like I was at my limit).

SO that was the first 5 centimetres. I’ll save the second half of the labour (the other hour and a bit) for the next post.

Jane xx

Breastfeeding 101

I thought I’d give you all a rundown of the easy, straightforward, foolproof advice I’ve received about breastfeeding, so that you too can feed your newborn with ease. I promise if you follow these easy steps, you’ll be a master at breastfeeding in no time.

Here we go – follow these to the letter, make sure you don’t skip any steps:

  • It shouldn’t hurt. If it does, you’re doing it wrong.
  • It will hurt at first. It’s natural, don’t think that it means you’re doing it wrong.
  • Lean over the baby and let the breast fall into their mouth.
  • Don’t lean over the baby, let them find the breast.
  • Sit up straight
  • Lean forward
  • Lean back against a pillow
  • Don’t use a pillow
  • Let them feed for as long as they need.
  • Don’t let them feed for more than 15 minutes.
  • If you’re experiencing cracked or grazed nipples, pump on that breast for a day to let it heal
  • Don’t pump and bottle feed, it can cause nipple confusion
  • Keep pumping to continue the level of milk production
  • Be careful of pumping as it can over-stimulate milk production.
  • Pumping has no effect on milk production.
  • Have a hot shower prior to feeding to soften your breasts
  • Don’t use a shower or heat packs – they stimulate more milk production.
  • Always offer both breasts when feeding
  • Offer the same breast twice to make sure your baby gets the hind milk
  • Don’t wake a baby for feeds – they’ll wake if they’re hungry
  • Make sure you feed every 6 hours. Wake the baby if you need to.
  • Feed every 4 hours
  • Feed every 3 hours
  • It’s easy once you get the hang of it…

Let me just say, every one of these pieces of advice came from the midwives at the hospital, or well researched books. These are not just well meaning opinions from the general public.

I want to be truthful here for a minute – breastfeeding is hard. It may be a natural thing, but that doesn’t mean it comes naturally. There is a beautiful connection between you and your child when breastfeeding, and I love being able to provide for Birdie in that way. However, you have to fight your way through the advice, the pain, the doubt, and the 3am desperation to get there. It’s certainly worth it, but give yourself a break if you’re not the instant earth mother that so many people think you’ll be. You’ll get there – with Birdie at 11 days old, I’m only just starting to heal enough to not wince in pain every time she latches on, which is every 3-4 hours. It’s tough. Get someone to give you a big hug, often, just for giving it a go.

Jane xx

Introducing…

This post should have been my 40 week pregnancy update, but I didn’t quite get there in time! At 39 weeks and 5 days, my water broke. Early the next morning, my little girl arrived into the world! I’ll cover the details of the birth in a separate post, but suffice to say it was fast and furious, with a total of 3.5hrs from start to finish!

We’re now at day 5 of our little Baby Bird’s life (I’ll call her Birdie on this blog) and what a week it’s been! I had two full days in hospital, where Birdie learnt how to feed and sleep, and I learnt how to eat while holding a baby, pee as quickly as possible, and how to survive on quick chunks of sleep in the small hours. Birdie passed all of her checks with flying colours, and so after the two days had past we were allowed to go home, this time as a family of 3.

This week has been a bit of a whirlwind, but Birdie’s been incredible throughout. We’re now on Day 5, and she feeds amazingly well, sleeps for long stretches, and is a delight 24/7.

The only issue I’ve had has been some soreness in recovering from the birth, and some issues with breastfeeding. I’ve been getting quite frustrated at the “if it hurts, you’re doing it wrong” line that so many books and guides parrot. Every midwife and nurse has said how well Birdie is latching, and that it looks exactly as it should. And yet, I have grazed, cracked nipples that cause a substantial amount of pain when Birdie feeds. I put it down to two things: on Birdie’s first night, she cluster fed back to back from 10pm until 5am, without a break. Regardless of how well she latches, the intensity of usage on my poor nipples left its mark. Secondly, the milk came in two days ago, and my god did it come in! My boobs were like boulders, and felt like they’d been hit by them as well. They were so swollen, Birdie struggled to latch on properly, and so my tender nipples worsened. Thankfully, one is recovering well, while the other is getting a day’s break, thanks to a breast pump. For those of you reading this, dreading the same outcome, I can tell you that it is improving, and it’s so worth it. I’ve been using a range of products and techniques to help with the healing, and if you’re interested, they are:

  • Lansinoh ointment – a lanolin gel that coats the nipple and protects it, while also helping it heal. This stuff is awesome. Buy big tubes of it
  • Multi Mums compresses – expensive, but fantastic. Soothing, cool and a great barrier between sore nipples and clothes
  • Hand expressing – just to relieve the pressure. Feels weird, but it works
  • Warm showers – just because. They help to reduce the pain and swelling prior to feeding

There are a few more things I’ve been doing, but those have had the most impact.

Anyway, I’m getting lost in the details of breastfeeding, when this post was meant to be an introduction to my gorgeous girl. She really is perfect, in my eyes, and all I want to do each day is make sure she’s ok.

This is Birdie and I, in her first week in the world. I couldn’t love her more.

Week 1
Jane xx

Pregnancy Week 39

Week: 39

Baby: A leek – not as skinny (although that would be helpful for labour…), but certainly as long! Grub is very nearly full size now, and is busy making herself as fat as possible for delivery day.

What I’m cooking: A baby with an operational digestive system, and white rather than pink skin! She’s pretty much done, and is welcome to make an appearance any time now!

Main symptom: Aches, pains, Braxton Hicks (pretty much constant period-like cramps), and general uncomfortableness. Also, a massive case of the grumps. I’m reaching teenager levels of hormonal behaviour now, so watch out!

What’s on this week: More maternity leave, and the wait for labour. Each day is a potential for the “oooh! This is it!” moment, and yet, still nothing. Not frustrating. At all.

Week 39 comp

So as you can see, I’m just loving late pregnancy! I am the crankiest I’ve been in years, not aided by the hot weather (32˚C today, or 90˚F), my enormous girth, or the fact that each day the number of phone calls and texts asking if I’ve had the baby increases. NO. NO I HAVEN’T HAD THE BLOODY BABY. Did I text you? Did I send you a picture of a scrunched up newborn and a tired me? No? Well then. I haven’t had the F**KING baby! Seriously. Every message and phone call is “any news?” or “had the baby yet?” – what do they expect the answer to be?

“Oh, yeah! Ooops! Forgot to mention it!”???

I know. I know. It’s lovely that people care, and are excited for the new arrival. What’s unfortunate is I feel exactly the same way they do, except times a million, and I’m trying very hard to not think about it while I lie exhausted on the couch, unable to do anything except moan (once again, lucky Mr Nester!). Every time I get a text or a phone call, it just reminds me of how freaking pregnant I am, and how my body hasn’t kicked into gear yet. For fuck’s sake, I’m not even due yet! I feel like a failure already because my labour isn’t punctual. Again, I know all of this is somewhat over the top, but emotions are running high at this point in the pregnancy, and I really, really, REALLY would like to meet my baby now!

On the plus side, all this frustration at still being pregnant has meant that my fear of labour is diminishing by the day. Pain? Bring it. I can handle that. It’s the day after day of being uncomfortable, irritable, and having to wait patiently that I can’t stand at the moment. At least the pain means I’m close to meeting my little Grub. Come on baby, it’s time to see the world!

Otherwise, in grosser news, I’ve started losing my mucous plug. For those not in the know about this lovely little item, your body basically creates a seal at the cervix that lasts throughout the pregnancy, and you guessed it, it’s made of mucous. Once the cervix starts softening and dilating, this plug starts breaking apart and, well, coming out. It can also be called a bloody show, as it can have blood in it from the cervical blood vessels rupturing as it dilates. It basically looks like snot. Lovely. So for the last week, each time I visit the loo I get another “gift” from my cervix. It can mean that labour is on the way, it can mean nothing at all. I mentioned it at my midwife appointment this week, and her response was “I don’t want to say we disregard it completely, but…”. So it seems I’m not necessarily at the precipice of contractions then. She also mentioned that Grub is still 3/5 engaged, and my sigh of frustration seemed to surprise her – she said that there’s nothing wrong with that at all, and that she could drop the rest of the way right as labour starts. It’s more important that she’s engaged at all, rather than to what extent.

So there you have it. Still playing the waiting game, and I have the stretch and sweep next week if nothing happens between now and then. My due date is fast approaching, and I can only hope Grub wants to make her grand entrance close to that date, because another 2 weeks of waiting and I may just go insane.

See you at the (hopefully) last week!

Jane xx

 

Pregnancy Week 38

Week: 38

Baby: A pumpkin – the biggest one you can find. Quite apt since we’ve just had Halloween, although I’m not really up for a ghoul or vampire baby – just a normal human one would be great.

What I’m cooking: Same again for Grub – she’s still gaining fat, growing fingernails, and processing meconium for that first poo. Yuck.

Main symptom: I actually had some Braxton Hicks this week! I’ve been trying a few labour-inducing exercises (more on that later), and I think some of them are doing something – two nights ago I had pulses of pain across my lower abdomen, like cramps but stronger, about once every 30 minutes or so. They subsided overnight, but it’s good to know my body’s getting ready!

What’s on this week: Maternity leave! Ohhh hell yes! Also, another midwife appointment. Other than waiting for the big event, that’s pretty much it!

Week 38 comp

Ahhhh maternity leave, how sweet you are. It’s been so lovely to be able to slow down, and actually rest! I’m mid way through the first week of leave, and so far there’s been no sign that Grub wants to make an appearance, which to be honest has been fine with me. It’s been fantastic to be able to move at my own pace, and just start getting everything finalised for bringing her home.

Also, is it just me or does my figure look strange in this week’s progress shot? Something is looking odd with my length or something – both my butt and the underside of my bump look quite different to last week’s picture. Not sure what’s happening there, but according to the midwife this week not much has changed drop-wise – she’s still sitting at 3/5 engaged, although my fundal height has caught up to my week progress – at 36 weeks I was measuring 34.5cm, but this week at 38 I’m bang on 38cm. Looks like she’s got her size figured out! Speaking of the midwife appointment, she told me this week to go ahead and start trying to bring on labour! Basically, if I hit 40 weeks they’ll do a stretch and sweep, then let me run on to 41 weeks, at which point they’ll induce. I really, really don’t want to be induced, so it’s all systems go for Operation: Bring on the Baby! I’m slightly torn though, because it’s my birthday early next week, and I’d really like to keep the day to myself! Whatever happens, happens though. I’ll deal.

In terms of trying to bring on labour, here’s what I’m trying:

  • hand expressing – this is the only trick that has any scientific backing, according to Expecting Better, so I’ve been giving this a red-hot go. I’m actually producing some colostrum, which was a bit of a shock!
  • Long walks/climbing stairs – this one is not much fun with the belly size I’m currently packing, but I can certainly feel the effect after walking up a big hill or a set of stairs. Hopefully this encourages Grub to get further into my pelvis.
  • Fit ball bouncing – same reasons as the walking, but this one I can do in front of the TV, so it’s been a hit over the last few days!
  • Raspberry leaf tea – apparently you need to drink a lot of this to have any effect, but it’s worth a shot!
  • Spicy food – cooking up a nice curry tonight in the hopes that helps things along, although the heartburn side effect isn’t the greatest…

So far that’s it – there are a couple more options to try out, but I might save them for next week if there’s still no action. I still have a few more things I want to cross off the list before the day hits, so I’m not too worried if there’s no result for a few more days yet.

Otherwise, I’m now onto weekly hospital appointments until either I go into labour, or they decide to induce me, and I’m trying to catch up with friends while I’m home and relaxed, just in case I don’t see them for a couple of weeks!

I’ll let you know if anything happens, we’re on the waiting game now!

Jane xx

Pregnancy Week 37

Week: 37

Baby: Celery – how healthy. This is what I need to be eating a lot of once Grub pops out, so get back to my svelte (ha!) pre-baby figure.

What I’m cooking: There’s not a lot of changes between now and birth for little Grub, she’s just stewing happily in there until she decides it’s her birthday.

Main symptom: Still achiness, along with the inability to put socks on. I’ve finally reached the stage where my feet are a bridge too far. The biggest inconvenience with this is sitting and leaning forward, where I instantly crush my already squished stomach, and feel like I’m going to vomit. Fancy.

What’s on this week: The last week of work! Tying up all the loose ends, and finalising everything for my classes so others can take over, then it’s home for good! It seems completely surreal.

Week 37 comp

I made it! I can’t believe I actually survived to the end of 37 weeks, and the end of my working stint. When I originally organised to work until 38 weeks, my thought process was along the lines of “how hard can it be? I just have to take it easier for a bit!”. Stupid, stupid Jane! Thank goodness my bump has still been pretty manageable, because I was on the verge of throwing in the towel this week, and that was with only 3 days of work (we got an extra long weekend due to Melbourne Cup). I think the biggest barrier for me was an all-encompassing desire to be home. I didn’t want to leave in the morning, and all I could think about during the day was what I wanted to be organising in the house. Call it nesting, whatever, but it has been such a strong urge this week. I feel like I can relax at home, and I can also move at my snail’s pace without being late for anything.

So I lasted through my last week, and work was wonderful – my students threw me a party and gave me presents, my colleagues took me out for dinner, and I cried on the last day knowing I’d be leaving it all for quite some time. I do tend to bitch and whinge about work quite a lot, but I work with some amazing people, and I teach some amazing kids. I’ll miss them all a lot.

Now I’m home, it all feels quite surreal – like I’m skiving off work and someone’s going to catch me out. I’ve tried to get quite a bit done this weekend in terms of going out and buying the last few bits and pieces, just in case Grub decides earlier is better and makes a hasty appearance. It also means I don’t have to go anywhere if I don’t want to – I ducked into the library on the weekend and picked up some books to keep me occupied, as well as the local craft store for some material for nappy liners and some wool in case the knitting mood strikes. That, along with all the tidying up our house needs, should keep me very busy for the next couple of weeks!

Otherwise, in baby news, I’m pretty sure Grub has officially dropped. Looking at last week’s progress shot (here) compared to this week seems to show a more gentle slope of the top of my belly, and I’m certainly breathing better. The other indicator is a lovely sensation of Grub grinding her head into my bladder, at the most inopportune moments. Luckily, this hasn’t resulted in me wetting myself (yet!), but it’s certainly not a sensation I am enjoying.

Next week we have another midwife appointment, and week 1 of maternity leave! Let’s see if I actually get anything done, or if instead I blob on the couch catching up on Netflix…only time will tell!

Jane xx