· By Tiny Hearts Education
I always wanted 4 babies. We had toyed with the idea but, for the most part, decided that 3 babies were enough. When we found out about this pregnancy, we weren't happy, we were stressed. Nervous. I had just started a new job that I absolutely loved. Things were going well for us financially, and I felt very content at the place we were in life. I didn't want a single thing to change. Not yet, anyway.
The whole pregnancy, I found it difficult to talk about. I didn't connect to him. People constantly asked me if I was excited. Talked about my giant belly; it was basically the talking point of most of my superficial conversations. I laughed it off, would say something about the chaos that would unfold with so many children. Later feeling guilty that I couldn't just pretend to be positive about it. The comments about having a big family pissed me off. The "haven't you worked out how it happens yet" or "don't you own a tv" made me feel irresponsible. The "you don't look old enough to have 4 children!" Made me feel incompetent and doubt whether I would manage. I have said before my favourite part of pregnancy is the last few weeks. The anticipation of waiting for labour to begin. This time felt different. I felt nervous that I wouldn't love him. Nervous that I wouldn't bond, and I would feel burdened and drained, and that another baby would ruin the life we had created. Sad that Elsie wouldn't be the baby long enough, and she didn't get enough of me. I love pregnancy, I love growing babies, but this time I didn't connect. And I felt horrible for it.
Friday night, the end of the week. We usually have takeaway because we can't be bothered by the end of the week. We had red rooster for dinner and watched boss baby with the kids. They were relaxed, they didn't fight. Which is rare. At around 8pm, they settled into bed. I'd been messaging Steph about "signs of labour" and joking that I wished my waters would just break, so I KNEW it was time. You'd think by the 4th baby, I'd know when it's the "real thing", but it's a mind game, and it's so hard to tell. Elsie woke up at 12:30 screaming for absolutely no reason. She just wouldn't settle in her bed. Jake and I took turns laying her back down and consoling her. This went on until around 3:30am when she finally closed her eyes and settled to sleep. Finally, I climbed into bed, making all sorts of gorgeous sounds. I arranged my pillows to get comfortable. I fell asleep straight away. At 3:50, I woke up to an incredibly strong contraction and felt a warm gush. I got up to go to the toilet, hoping the small leak would become a definitive large gush so I "knew". It didn't. I thought my bladder was probably full and was causing the intense contraction. I wondered if maybe the small leak was just pee. As I sat on the toilet, I had another contraction. It was strong and intense. Breathing through it, I knew it was time. I put some fresh clothes on from my very limited wardrobe, trying to find something that would cover my belly. It came close, but my singlet was still too short. Jake woke up when I turned on the bathroom light. He asked me if I was okay. I told him, yes, and I said I was in labour. He said he could tell by the expression on my face. As I collected my last few things to take with me, I began to worry if I would love the baby. Worried that I would struggle giving birth this time because I felt such a disconnect. I timed my contractions. The first one was 8 minutes apart, I thought to myself I had plenty of time. I walked around the house, and looked at my sleeping babies' faces. I leaned over the bunk in the girls' room, the red light and white noise washed over me. I would have been happy to stay in that space. I felt calm. In control. The next few contractions were 2 minutes apart. my contraction timer told me it was time to go to the hospital. I sent a screenshot to Steph, giggling that I knew what I was doing and that it was stupid and premature. Oh, how wrong I was. I moved the washing from the washing machine into the dryer. I filled my drink bottle and put my phone charger in my bag. Jake let the chickens and ducks out and started to wake the babies. Excitement on their faces when they woke up, confused that it was still dark. Timing my contraction still, they were now 1 minute apart. I figured it was only because I had swapped the washing over squatting.
3 babies & doggo were loaded into the car. I climbed in, struggling to get comfortable as I sat. During the drive to drop off the big kids, my contractions were so powerful, I started to doubt that I would cope like I did with previous labours. I laughed to Jake that contractions are so much more painful sitting down when I couldn't sway through them. I tried to keep an upbeat mindset and not let the worry or doubt take my thoughts. I always doubt myself on the car rides in labour. For me, the pain is much less manageable without the freedom to move. We dropped off the kids, the car seat and the doggo. Zahlee got upset. I gave them all a kiss and a cuddle. Lingering with my last cuddle from my baby, Elsie. I squeezed her feeling emotional that she would look significantly bigger the next time I saw her. We'll see you soon, I said. Knowing Zahlee would settle once we left. I called the hospital to tell them we were on our way. The woman on the phone was very blunt. She asked me a ton of questions about my contractions. I could tell she thought we didn't need to come in yet. I had a contraction into the phone, asking her for a minute as I breathed through it. Assuming they were busy. She asked me if the baby had moved since my contractions started. I said I wasn't sure. She responded with a mild attitude, "oh well, I can hear you're in the car. Are you already on your way anyway?" I told her we were, and she said, "right, we'll see you when you get here then." She hung up. We met Steph at the hospital at 5:15 am. I had a contraction as soon as I got out of the car. Hugging my silk pillow, I breathed through it. We walked towards the door, and I had another contraction as I crossed the road. I hugged my pillow again. Swaying as I walked. Jake told me we could stop walking if I wanted. I felt like we should keep walking. We approached the main entrance, and I had another contraction out the front of the hospital. Before we made it to the staircase, I had another contraction. I stopped this time, knowing I wouldn't make it up the stairs If I had one on the stairs. Steph and Jake joked to be careful going up the stairs. I giggled that they could catch me if I fell. I powered up the stairs, just making it to the top. Rocking side to side through another contraction as I pressed the buzzer to maternity. Greeted at maternity reception, I was told I could sit down and wait for a midwife. I said I'm more comfortable standing. I swayed and breathed through another contraction. Another midwife came out to ask if we had been seen, the one I spoke to on the phone. I breathed through another contraction. Jake answered that we had seen someone. I asked if I could go to the toilet after the contraction subsided. She laughed and said, "as long as you don't feel like pushing!" Relieved that she could tell I wasn't wasting her time on the phone. I know I shouldn't care, but I do care.
I walked to the bathroom. I had another 2 contractions in the bathroom. I leaned over the sink and rocked my hips from side to side. I came out and they had an examination room for us. Jake said they told Steph she couldn't come into the examination room because it was too small. The midwife greeted us and began to ask a few questions. She said she would put the monitors on my belly when she came back and that I would have to lie down. I could stand once the monitors were on. The thought of lying down stressed me out. I was much more comfortable standing. She told Jake to press the buzzer if we needed anything and that she would be back soon. I asked Jake to put the bed up so I could lean over it. I told him I felt like I wasn't getting much of a break between contractions. I was anxious about how intense it would get if this was only just over an hour into contractions. I leaned over the bed and asked Jake to press my hips through the contractions. The relief was incredible. Another contraction began almost immediately after. I felt my body begin to push at the end of the contraction. Thinking surely not. It's too early to be pushing!
Another contraction. The urge became stronger. I told Jake I was pushing, and he pressed the buzzer for the nurse. She came back quickly, and he told her I was pushing. She laughed and said, "alrighty, let's just go to a labour room then!" The walk to the labour room felt like eternity. It was maybe 30m away. I had another contraction on the way into the room, resisting the urge to push and not allowing myself to stop as we walked. We got into the room, and I abruptly asked them to put the bed up so I could lean, feeling an urgency to get comfortable in my new space. I took my pants off. Jake messaged Steph to hurry to the labour room because I was pushing. The nurses muttered something about RAT and PCR tests needing to be done by us all. I tried to ignore them. They asked Jake to do one, but the next contraction came. I abruptly told him I needed him to press my hips again. They put the tests down and didn't mention them again. I thought to myself that I sounded rude, but I didn't feel I had the time to say more. I needed the relief his pressure provided. The urge to push was no longer in my control. I felt the baby moving down. I knew he would be here soon. I asked Jake to take my underwear off. Relieved that the intensity of my contractions was relevant and that it wouldn't be much longer until he was born. I could feel the trust in my body return. I felt confident. Steph rushed into the room. I knew she could tell she didn't have much time. None of us aware that she would actually only have 4 minutes until he was born. She very quietly got her camera set up. I felt I would have more control if I knelt, so I asked them to put the bed down so I could lean while I knelt. I had another contraction as I knelt, and I could feel the baby drop down further. The midwife attempted to assess me and I asked her not to touch me. She apologised. I felt distracted, annoyed that she had pulled me from my headspace. I brushed it off. She asked if I could move to the same position onto the bed so they could see. I climbed into the bed, very clear with where I needed the bed head to get comfortable. I felt I had complete control. Confident that my body would guide him out. I placed my hand to feel his head, and I could feel his hair. I'd always wanted to feel one of my babies making their entrance, but I never felt confident enough to take my focus from my position or focus on pushing previously.
I could feel the burn. I knew that the widest part of his head was passing through. I put focus on slowing my breathing, and I stopped pushing. I placed my hand on his head, breathing the rest of his head out. One more push and the rest of his body was earth-side. I heard a brief noise and then silence. The midwives reassured me he was just a little stunned. They called for the resuscitation team and to press the buzzer. They cut the cord and began to rub him with the towel. I turned to sit. I didn't feel worried. It didn't take long for his lungs to fill the room, that glorious first cry. It was so loud and strong. Jake and I looked at each other, both giggling that it sounded like his sister. They passed him to me, and all of my worries washed away. This strong, delicious baby gave me an immediate sense of purpose and intention. He was supposed to be here. His siblings are going to love him, and he has completed our family. I laughed at myself and felt silly, unsure what I was worried about my entire pregnancy. Relief washed over me as I soaked up this fresh life. The room filled with giggles and warmth, all of us shocked at what had just happened.
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