Written by Jess Raubenheimer-Free
I woke up early filled with energy, and I had a feeling that today was the day. So much so that I messaged my mum saying "I think this baby is coming today!" It was my second day of maternity leave, and I'd spent the previous day curled up on the couch watching Netflix.
Around 10.15am my waters broke. It wasn't the big gush I was expecting after years of films depicting it happening this way. Just a constant trickle. I texted my midwife and she was calm, telling me to let her know how I get on and if I haven't started contracting by this evening.
Things ramped up pretty quickly, and I started feeling the "period like cramps" I'd heard about at antenatal classes. My husband started timing them, and before long I decided to hop in the bath to help with the pain.
By 4pm I was starting to get a little anxious being at home, so we headed to the hospital to meet my midwife. She checked my cervix, and I was only 2cm but making good progress. We decided to go home, with a stop at McDonald's on the way for a seriously hungry mama!
At home, bouncing on my swiss ball while eating my McChicken, things started getting pretty intense. The pain was indescribable, but I knew there was more to come. I got into the bath again, determined to let the water help me manage the contractions. When my husband came in and said "Hey you're swearing a lot, might be time to go back to hospital?" I was relieved. It was go time.
We headed back to the hospital, me screeching as we went over what seemed like thousands of bumps in the road.
I'd always wanted to have a water birth and in the spirit of those hopes I hopped into the birthing pool when I got there. I'll admit the water didn't relieve the pain as much as I thought it would, but it was soothing to be in the pool. Around an hour later, I remember feeling overwhelmed and incapable.
I CAN'T DO THIS! I bellowed.
I wanted an epidural and I wanted it NOW. Looking back, I should have realised I was in transition. For those who don't know much about birth, transition is the final stage of labour before it's time to push and get that baby out! It's notorious for being the most painful part of labour, and many women become completely different people during this period.
My midwife (bless her) humoured me despite having an inkling that I was in transition, and put a cannula in my hand to draw blood to prepare for an epidural. When I got up on the bed for her to check how dilated I was, I got the shock of my life when she informed me there was, in fact, no time for an epidural and it was nearly time to meet my baby.
Nobody tells you how unnatural it is to push a baby out of your body.
You assume you'll just know what to do, where to direct the pressure and your energy. NOPE. I had no clue what I was doing and probably wasted a fair amount of time trying to figure it out. Once I got the hang of it though, I could feel my baby getting closer and closer to the world. That moment when they placed her on my chest I could hardly believe I'd done it.
I'd never really thought about what happens AFTER your baby is out. I'd always just imagined wonderful skin time and the first breastfeed. And that did happen, but only for a short time.
Before I knew it I was huffing away on the laughing gas getting stitched up. My god I wasn't expecting that. I knew tearing was a possibility, but an hour and a half of stitching is pretty intense. Plus you can't hold your baby. The positive was that hubby got some quality skin time and bonding in with our daughter right after she was born.
So that's it really! All in all an uncomplicated, natural birth. It was the hardest thing I've ever done, but also the most rewarding.