On March the 18th 2016, I gave birth to my third baby – a beautiful little GIRL who we named
Vienna Stevie Jean.
My labour was pretty intense and felt very fast but I ended up with a pink, healthy, perfect little girl at the end of it all and couldn’t be happier.
Leading up to her birth I had been having very strong practice contractions. A lot of them seemed to happen at night and some were pretty painful but when I went to sleep they disappeared. I felt like the real deal wasn’t far off though.
Even though I knew labour wasn’t far off, there were a few things I had been doing in the lead up to the big day to help prepare my body (and mind!) for it all. I read a few birth books, my favourite being the Water Birth Book by Janet Balaskas. I was curious about giving birth in water and was preparing myself for the possibility of giving birth without any pain relief – my biggest reason being I wanted to have an active labour, use water and be able to move around into positions that felt comfortable for my body to help it do its thang.
I had also been having regular chiro sessions each week for a couple of months before giving birth to help alleviate my back/hip pain and to keep my pelvis properly aligned for giving birth. I also gave acupuncture a go! I only had two sessions before going into labour but it’s recommended you can have it from 36 weeks if your intention is to help prepare your body for labour (it’s not recommended earlier than this).
On the Thursday before I had Vienna, I was 40+5 weeks (according to the hospital’s dates) and had an acupuncture session in the morning. When I met my wonderful acupuncturist, she said to me ‘right, let’s crank this up!’ and during my session I had a TENS machine hooked up to each needle on each pressure point. This made it feel like the needles were vibrating and is a better option than an acupuncturist standing there and manually twiddling each one (I think that’s what they do when they need to ‘crank up’ a needle session!)
Later on in the afternoon I had my last appointment at the hospital with one of the doctors there. They discussed induction options with me and also offered me a stretch and sweep which I declined as I wanted to see if the acupuncture worked first. I’ve also never had a stretch and sweep before so wasn’t so sure about this anyway! I reallllly wanted my body to go into labour naturally. The doctor booked in an induction for me for Sunday 20th in case I hadn’t gone into labour by then but I secretly felt (and hoped) that I would.
My parents had just arrived from the UK the day before and we went out for a spot of late night shopping after collecting my eldest two kids from school. I started having some really strong painful contractions walking around the mall and was wondering if it would progress, especially because of the acupuncture earlier. A few of the contractions made me stop to catch my breath but when we got home I was able to go to sleep and they seemed to go away.
Let the show begin…
(No pun intended – I actually didn’t have a show prior to labour!)
So after going to bed, I woke up at 3am. This had become pretty common towards the end of my pregnancy to wake a few times for the toilet but this time I noticed that I had some contractions again. I laid in bed, kind of half asleep, waiting to see if they went away but I had a feeling they weren’t going to go as I’d never had practice contractions at this time of the night. Sure enough, they came and went in dull waves every 15 minutes or so. They were a bit uncomfortable and a bit painful and after awhile I decided to get up and walk around to see if it would help. I moved to the lounge room and still tried to close my eyes and rest (sitting up on the couch) but it was too hard with the regular wave of contractions. I started to time them to see how close together they were and couldn’t believe that they were coming together much closer and faster. Timing them helped me monitor them and because it was so early in the morning the only person I alerted was my sister who I knew would be awake on the other side of the world (she lives in Edinburgh!)
Sending my sister a message when I went into labour
And letting her know how painful my contractions were already! Haha
Timing my contractions once they started at 3am
I woke Paul up around 5.00am because after two hours I knew my labour was getting more and more established. My contractions were getting closer together and more painful and they didn’t seem to be letting up. He was excited and I felt excited too except I was increasingly in a lot of pain. Indi and Jaxon woke up around 6am (I think they could sense the excitement in the air) and I told them that I was in labour which we had discussed throughout my pregnancy. I also let them watch ‘One Born Every Minute’ with me so they knew that when the Mums were howling before giving birth that they were in labour (I wasn’t howling but I was visibly in a lot of discomfort every time I had a contraction. I’m glad my kids were old enough to understand that I was ok and it was all a normal part of the process!)
Paul kept everything as normal for them getting ready for school but we did have to do an ’emergency’ before school care drop off about 7.30am which we hadn’t booked in. The kids were so excited and the biggest blabber mouths, telling everyone and anyone that their Mum was in labour and was going to have a baby that day!
I had a hot shower at one point because I wanted to feel fresh for the hospital and also because I wanted some relief from my contractions. I held off running a bath because I’d read that it was preferable to get in a hot bath to help with labour when you were about 5-6cm dialated. I had no idea though how far along I was and I just assumed that I still had a few hours of labour.
The last bump photo! There’s always time for a selfie while you’re in labour!
I wanted to stay and labour at home as much as possible. After Paul had dropped the kids off to school I got him to phone the hospital to let them know that I’d be coming in later. The midwife asked if I wanted to use their birthing bath and I said yes! and to just let her know when we were on our way because the bath would take up to 45 minutes to fill.
My contractions were so sharp and painful but I managed to breathe through each one and tolerate them. I tried to watch some morning TV with Paul while rocking on all fours on the floor in the lounge room but the pain was getting harder and harder to rock through. I was very mentally focused on getting through each contraction and not complaining much out loud to Paul so I don’t think he had any clue at this point as to how painful they were!
When I felt like I wasn’t having much of a pause between contractions and the pain was eventually causing me to cry (Paul definitely knew how much pain I was in by then!) I said I wanted him to take me to the hospital. Our hospital was only 5 minutes away but the drive there was hard (going over bumps). When we got to the hospital my contractions felt almost unbearable. I got out of the car and had to pause at the gate when a huge contraction came. I was acutely aware of randoms passing by (which I hated!) and openly crying which I couldn’t help and this lovely lady walking past asked Paul if I was ok and if she could help as she had just finished her shift at the hospital. Paul told her I was in labour and she said she’d go and get me a wheelchair because she could see I was having trouble walking.
Once that first contraction eased off, I tried to walk with Paul towards the emergency department where the lady had gone to get me a wheelchair. I had another contraction before the emergency department and again I was crying (which I hated!) and keeping my eyes squeezed tightly shut because I didn’t want to be aware of all the strangers looking at me when I felt so out of control of my body and vulnerable. A new Mum happened to be walking past this time, I’m assuming she was leaving the hospital with her new baby, and she stopped to put her arm around me and to tell me it would be alright. I didn’t get to thank her properly but it was such a simple, kind gesture from one Mum to another. I love moments like this between women. By now, a wheelchair had arrived and this other lovely man (who also worked at the hospital) said he’d whisk me up to the maternity unit while Paul carried my bag(s!) up to the ward. I had another big contraction in the wheelchair and this man must have sensed the urgency because he pretty much ran the whole way to the maternity ward. I thought we must have looked a sight – me in the chair crying and contracting and Paul trailing behind with all our stuff (it was like we were moving into the hospital! I had my hospital bag, a nappy bag for Vienna, my nursing pillow and our camera bag!).
My lovely midwife was waiting for us and took us down to the birthing room. She had the bath running which wasn’t ready yet and all the blinds were drawn in the room. I immediately felt at peace getting in there and loved how calm and relaxed my midwife was. It made me feel more at ease even though I was in so much pain. She talked me through my contractions while she was in the room as I was getting a little bit overwhelmed by the pain yet amazingly I didn’t even think to ask for pain relief (which I was honestly not against at all!) I just wanted to get through the whole affair.
While I waited for the bath to fill, I found an innocent water bottle on the window sill which I squeezed to death every time I had a contraction. I was dropping f-bombs like a trucker and was definitely more vocal with how much pain I was in. When the bath was ready I climbed in wearing my undies and a bra. My midwife laughed and said ‘you might need to take your knickers off!’ to which I obviously did but I was so clueless as to how far along I was in my labour. I heard the midwife say to Paul that we were just waiting for my waters to break as I’d be pushing a baby out in no time and she momentarily left the room as she needed to insert a canula in my hand for a course of antibiotics (as I tested positive for GBS).
While she was out of the room I felt a huge POP under water and got really panicky! I said to Paul “something’s happened, something’s happened! I think my waters burst!” I also started to feel like I needed to push. My midwife came back in and after she’d inserted the canula (which was a right mess because she was doing it on a heavily labouring pregnant woman!) she ran out to get two other midwives to assist her with the birth, one of whom was a student midwife.
Each contraction at this point made me feel like I needed to push and I was leaning over the bath. After two pushes in this position, my midwife asked me to turn around for the final pushes. It only took 2-3 more big pushes and little Vienna was born! I was SO loud while I was pushing her out – I actually felt sorry for any other Mum in the ward. I was making the most guttural, animalistic cave woman sounds but it was like my body took over and I had to completely let go and trust it. This final stage of labour felt so quick, I wasn’t expecting it to go so fast and didn’t feel like I had time to process it. When she was crowning I was told to slow down and try to breathe her out but it was so, so, so hard. I did end up having a minor tear (I have done with each of my births) but wasn’t too worried as I’ve never had any issues with this in the past and haven’t so far with this post birth period either (no incontinence, no out of the ordinary pain, etc.)
When Vienna was placed on my chest I was just in awe and slightly shell shocked – I think she was too! Both Paul and I couldn’t believe she was here after months of excitedly waiting for her to join our family. She was so loved already.
I was left in the birthing suite for a good 1-2 hours after giving birth without anyone bothering us apart from minimal check ups. Paul texted my parents (and actually texted my Mum when we got to the hospital as I wanted her to be with me while I gave birth but she didn’t make it in time).
All in all, I had such a great birth. I went into labour at 3am and had Vienna by 11am the same morning. Introducing her to my parents and Indi and Jaxon for the first time was so special. She’s the perfect addition to our little tribe.
I’m one lucky Mummy.