Birth stories can be kind of crazy, graphic and sometimes push certain birthing/parenting philosophies. This is not that kind of story. While there will be some mention of birth and other related moments (due to it being a birth story), I am telling this for a few reasons, and pushing an agenda is not one of them.
Reasons for Writing
1. To record what was a particularly crazy moment in life
2. To fill in those friends/family who may have only caught snippets of the story
3. To share with Pippa one day when I am too old and forgetful to remember the details
We found out that we were pregnant the day that we moved house, about 20 minutes before a bunch of (wonderful) friends were arriving to help us out. It was quite simply a matter of, “Oh my goodness! Quick! Hide the test before people get here!” and then the day carried on. We were very excited, and despite a difficult time of morning sickness for the first few months, my health and Baby Squishy’s health was fine.
The Last Few Days
Due date came and went with not a lot of action. The midwife at my check up did a ‘Stretch and Sweep’ (aka S&S) – which as much as Paul called it a ‘Scratch and Sniff’ is not what it was). It was quite painful, but she was fairly confident that it would get things happening. It basically helps the body to get ready for labour. The midwife actually thought I might be back in after a few hours. I was enthusiastic, but not too worried about things either.
The Build Up
Thursday night I had contractions. The midwife was right in that things got going, but wrong in that it wasn’t as quickly as she thought. Paul and I sat and enjoyed some episodes of ‘The Office’ (American version), while every now and then I was quiet and shifting in my seat with some nice little contractions. It also meant that I didn’t get a good night of sleep, but thankfully the contractions didn’t go on all night. Paul also didn’t get much sleep, which was quite unusual for him.
Quite early on Friday morning I realised that Paul wasn’t feeling well. I thought he hadn’t slept well because I had been up to pee about 356 times, he had actually had a really bad headache all night. So at about 7am we got in touch with Paul’s parents and asked if they were able to come down for the day to help out. They live a bit more than an hour away, so we were keen to check their availability early, and thankfully they were free. So I got up when Heidi woke around 8 while Paul stayed in bed with a headache.
The day continued fairly normally, and I began to have contractions again. They were inconsistently persistent. There was no pattern, rhyme or reason, but there they were, over and over again throughout the day. Ron and Mary (in-law’s) arrived around 9am and helped with Heidi during the day. Paul stayed in bed for the whole day, and I ended up having a few hours to sit on my own with nothing to do – Heidi was out with R & M, Paul was in bed, and there I was, twiddling my thumbs and waiting! I still kind of thought my contractions with die down again, and that nothing would happen over the weekend…
The Evening Before It All Happened
It was probably around 6pm when we started to really worry about Paul. He had taken some medication but still wasn’t feeling any better. He had a migraine, was unable to move his head or cope with light because of the pain, and we decided to try and get him to see a Doctor somehow. After a few fruitless phone calls, we realised we could call a locum service, where the Doctor would come and visit Paul at home.
It was probably 9pm when Dr Martinova arrived. She had this thick, Russian accent, like she had just stepped off the set of a James Bond movie. But she was very good and thorough. I liked her. Up until the point when she said to Paul, “You probably had viral meningitis. You have to go to hospital straight away in an ambulance.” I grimaced through another contraction and thought to myself, “As soon as she leaves we will just drive to the hospital ourselves. I’ll need to go soon anyway.” But she was insistent. We needed to give her a phone. I had to speak to the ambulance officer. And then I had to sit on the couch and cry.
My contractions were getting stronger, and I was a little bit past the thought that they might just disappear. So I sat down and cried. If Mary was going to go to hospital with Paul, and Ron was going to stay home with Heidi (who thankfully slept through all of the drama), then who was going to take me to the hospital? And what about Paul? I didn’t know if he was going to be OK or not. After thinking about who I should get in touch with, I decided to call my friend from church, Merrilyn. She also happened to be a midwife. Only I didn’t actually call her myself because I was too upset to speak. But she could be over in about half an hour. And she was.
It was about 10pm when Merrilyn arrived (I think). By that stage it was time to get the heat pack out, as the contractions were getting quite strong, and closer together, but I was still able to kind of breathe through them. They were still quite irregular though. Probably because I wasn’t particularly focused on what I was doing. And also because I didn’t really want to go and have this little baby right now because Paul was so sick! But I couldn’t quite convince those contractions to go away.
Probably at about 10:30pm Merrilyn decided it was probably time to go to the hospital. So I called the birth suites, they asked me a few questions, and said that I could go in if I liked. The nurse on the phone asked me, “Would you like to come in?” And I remember wondering why she was asking me. I thought she was the one who knew! Anyway, after that we moved my bag from our car into Merrilyn’s car, and then I said a quick, quiet and teary goodbye to Paul. As we were pulling out of the driveway, we had to wait for the Ambulance to move. Paul was literally about to leave in the Ambulance as we were leaving for the hospital. This is a true story. Unbelievable yet true.
The Morning She Arrived
The drive from home to the hospital might have only been 15 minutes, but contractions while driving are definitely not fun. After arriving at the hospital and being shown through to the birthing suites the contractions seemed to step up a notch in intensity. Merrilyn was a great support, and I had a lovely midwife called Robyn who was just what I needed: Encouraging, positive and gentle.
When Robyn managed to check how far along things were – after not quite long enough gaps between a number of contractions – I was already about 8cm dilated. I was very glad to hear that! So physically things were moving along quite quickly, but mentally I was struggling. It was just so much harder without Paul being there. I didn’t have that same concentration, focus and determination that I had like I did with Heidi’s birth.
I tried some gas twice. Laughing gas is meant to help you to relax, focus and help to dim the pain. I tried it and felt like I was going to pass out. My face flopped onto the bed and I couldn’t move it again. It was not a nice sensation! I was very, very close to asking for more drugs, but in the end I didn’t.
I really felt like I couldn’t keep going. My mental resolve was absent. As each contraction began I would whine “No!!!!” as if I could actually stop it. I wanted to stop it. I got very close to begging for a Caesar, but managed to keep those thoughts in my head and not voice them. Although apparently that is very common!
After an episiotomy, some loud noises, pushing, and waters breaking, Pippa Violet was born at 2:03am on October 27th, 2012. Paul was able to share the moment in a distant way. He was on the phone (Merrilyn had put me on speaker phone) as Pippa cried her first cry, and as I said, “It’s a girl!” and then tentatively said, “I think this is Pippa Violet…?”. But he was unable to hear much more than that, and definitely didn’t say much. He was dopey on some drugs that he had been given for the pain.
Those First Moments
Pippa was so bright, quiet and alert from when she was first born. It was lovely. And she had so much dark hair! I didn’t expect that! But new life is a joy, a blessing and an absolute gift from God. I was sad that Paul wasn’t there to meet his new baby girl, and to celebrate together with me. But I was thankful for a healthy baby, and SO glad that the birth was over!!
The Next Few Days
Paul did have viral meningitis. I had to be put in an isolation room with Pippa just in case either of us had it. We couldn’t see Paul for 3 days. But in the end we were all healthy and well. While I wouldn’t have planned it that way, we are all OK now. And it’s a pretty good story too!