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This is the birth story of our second child and son, Benjamin John, who arrived at 39+3 weeks gestation on the 21st August 2012 at 1.10am.
Once again I suffered from terrible morning sickness throughout this pregnancy, which, combined with trying to take care of a toddler (who was 19 months old when his brother arrived) made for a fairly stressful 9 months. At 28 weeks I also injured my back lifting Jacob (my toddler), so when I started to have contractions on and off at 37 weeks, I felt like I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel!
At 38 weeks along, I realised that the following day (Sunday) was going to be the last day it would be just my husband, myself and our son, as we had visitors with us from that Monday onwards, until after the baby would be arriving. I felt very emotional about it, even more so when my Mum and sister rang to say they would be visiting that Sunday. After a tearful, sleepless night, I rang them back to ask them not to come and had a good bawl on the phone to my Mum... luckily she understood and they cancelled their planned visit. Joseph, Jacob and I had a lovely day relaxing in the garden, baking muffins and bread, and generally just enjoying our last day alone as a family of three.
Ten days later, on Monday 20th August, Joseph came home from work exhausted and told me I wasn't to have the baby that night as he was so tired and needed a good night sleep. As soon as he said it, I knew he'd just jinxed it and our baby boy would be arriving very soon! We all headed to bed at 8pm that night so we could get as much sleep as possible!
I felt very restless that night so listened to some Hypnobirthing CD's and relaxing music, but was still unable to get to sleep. By 10pm I was still awake and I started to feel mild period-like-pain every 5-10 minutes, but each surge was only lasting 15 seconds or so. For the next hour I was able to stay in bed most of the time, lying on my side, listening to my CD's and practicing my breathing. I had to get up a couple of times to use the toilet as my body started to clear itself out, I knew tonight was going to be the night!
By 11pm the surges were lasting a bit longer and coming every 4-5 minutes but still easily manageable so I left Joseph asleep and started taking Rescue Remedy at the start of each surge. I noticed a tiny bit of blood on the toilet paper, but wasn't concerned as the same thing happened in Jacob's labour and my midwife had assured me that this was totally normal.
I found sitting on the toilet the most comfortable position to be in, as well as the fact my body was still clearing itself out, however I kept trying to move back to lying on the bed between surges as I knew I had to rest as well. However my body was telling me to stay upright during a surge, so I kept getting up as each one started. For a while, when I was sitting on the toilet, the neighbours cat was sitting outside the window, chatting away to me... I thought it was very sweet the cat was wanting to keep me company while I was labouring by myself!
By 12pm I decided I needed the heat pack so went into the kitchen to heat it up in the microwave and also got the birthing ball to take back to the bedroom. As I moved the ball into our room, Joseph finally woke up and sleepily asked me what I was doing. I told him the baby was coming which woke him up pretty fast! I went back to sitting on the toilet and Joseph started trying to talk me into ringing the midwife while he put a tarp and some blankets down on the floor in our bedroom. As it was the middle of the night, I wasn't sure if I wanted to ring her yet, however Joseph told me he was NOT delivering the baby himself and he wanted me to make the call NOW! It was then I noticed a small amount of my mucus plug on the toilet paper, so decided it was time to call her.
I rang Anne (midwife) to let her know what was going on, and she asked if I wanted her to come over yet (she only lives 5 minutes down the road from us) but I told her I was happy to continue labouring by myself for a while. She decided to get dressed and have a cup of tea, and asked me to call her back in half an hour to let her know how I was going.
I literally hung up the phone and within in a minute things suddenly picked up... I just knew things were going to happen very quickly, as they did with Jacob, so gave the phone to Joseph who rang Anne back and asked her to come straight away!
In my maternity notes, Anne wrote that she arrived at 12.30am to me having contractions that were lasting 40 seconds, coming every 3 minutes and that I was complaining of feeling very nauseated. Literally within minutes of her arriving, the pain was constant, with 'peaks' coming every few minutes. I began to feel very shaky and knew I was going to be sick. Joseph had put a bucket next to me and I vomited up everything I had eaten that evening. In hinesight, I was hitting transition now, and it was at this point I can remember realising i was becoming a little more vocal - my instincts were telling me I was getting close.
At this point I was kneeing on the floor with my arms and head resting on the bed, moaning through each 'peak' and reminding myself to 'relax' and 'open'. Although I was in transition, I still felt fairly in control and able to think rationally. It was almost like there was a little voice in the back of my mind, calmly telling me what my body was doing - it was wonderful being able to let my instincts take over like that, it was so reassuring!
Anne asked if I wanted to be checked before I got in the bath, so I agreed to be, although remember thinking 'oh god, please let me be over half way... what if I'm only 2 cm's, she's going to think I'm such a drama queen!' Anne put some plastic sheets on the bed and asked me to lie on them, however it took a while for me to be able to do so, as I felt I needed to be on my hands and knees for each 'peak' of the surge. Every time I tried to lie down, a peak would hit and I'd have to flip off the bed onto the floor again. Also, at each 'peak' I felt a need to pee, so would start crawling towards the toilet before changing my mind and crawling back to the bed! The baby must have been pushing against my bladder.
Finally I was able to lie on the bed long enough for Anne to check me - 7cm, dilating to an 8 at each surge! YES! Giving birth is so easy! I was so happy to hear I was progressing quickly and still felt that I was coping so well! I asked Anne if I could get in the bath, and she said yes, so after another two or three 'peaks', I manged to walk down the hallway with support from Joseph (maternity notes say this was at 12.50am).
My first thought when I got into the bath was that I didn't want to be in the water, but within a few seconds of being in the bath tub, the contractions started to feel much more 'pushy' - noone could have moved me at that point! Anne decided to ring the secondary midwife while encouraging me to 'breath' through the urge to push. I was on my knees in the bath, while Joseph was still trying to get the bath water deep enough and Anne asked me to flip over into a semi-reclined position so she could see what was going on (Jacob had arrived so fast that I tore very badly, so we had agreed that Anne would encourage me to be in whatever position she felt was best to prevent me from tearing). My maternity notes say '1.05am - attempted to call Jane but baby on its way so Jane not able to make it!' The head was right there and our second son was so close to arriving!
This is the only part of the labour I remember thinking 'never, ever again'! Pushing this little guy out was so much harder than it was with Jacob! After each push, I could feel him sliding back in again which was very discouraging (and oh god, THAT is what they mean by the 'ring of fire'!!). I can remember thinking my hands, legs and feet had pins and needles in them and had gone numb, I guess from the blood all moving away from those areas of my body, to my uterus... it was a bizarre feeling.
Anne was amazing at this point, she literally didn't even touch me, just talked me though each contraction, telling me to push slower or faster, or to just breath through the urge to push... all to prevent me from tearing. It took 10 minutes, but slowly our baby boy emerged into the world.
Once his head was out, Anne could see his cord was wrapped tightly around his neck and she was unable to remove it, but luckily his body followed very quickly. He was lifted straight onto my chest and he looked so huge! My first thought was 'Is this the right kid? He's got black hair?!' Followed by 'he's so fat!' He had big fat cheeks and rolls down his back, so different from Jacob who was such a skinny newborn.
He just gurgled for 5 minutes or so as Anne rubbed him down with a towel, then after 5 minutes he let out a little cry. Joseph realised we didn't have the camera, so he ran down to the bedroom and grabbed it so we could get our first photos and Anne continued to fill the bath up (it still wasn't deep enough to cover the baby). We didn't have the light on in the bathroom and the baby didn't like the flash so most of hte photos we got were pretty dark. Joseph then asked me if I wanted my Mum in there, and I said yes, so he went and got her from the spare bedroom down the hall so she could met her second wee grandson.
My maternity notes say that it was 20 minutes later that the placenta arrived. Baby was handed to Daddy as I was asked to stand up to deliver it and I was so surprised at how big it was! It was put into an ice cream container and accidentally left on the kitchen bench for my Mum to find in the morning - gross! I didn't have any more contractions to deliver it, but it came out on it's own.
As I got out of the bath, I could hear the springs of a mattress from next door and realised that Jacob had woken up and was bouncing in his cot and chatting away to himself (something he does every morning when he wakes up). We all had a good giggle as he obviously thought it was morning and time to get up! My Mum went into his room to settle him again.
Anne then helped me to the shower in our ensuite, were I cleaned myself up. She then asked me to try to pee, which I did with no problem, she was very impressed and told me I was doing everything right! By the time I came out of the bathroom, she had put down some plastic sheets and pads on the bed, so I was able to hop straight back into bed and our wee bub was placed on my chest to breastfeed (oh how wonderful it was to get into my own bed, with my husband - so different from giving birth in the middle of the night in hospital and him being told to go home as I was taken to the maternity ward). It took a while to get bubs to latch on, but once he was on, he had a good feed then peed and pooed all over me!
Time for measurements - 8 Ibs, 4 oz's - what a big boy! A huge shock when his 'big' brother was only 6 lbs, 5 oz! No wonder he was so much harder to push out! 49.5 cm's long and a head circumference of 36 cm's. Anne did a check over him, and as everything looked perfect, he was handed back to us and we snuggled in bed while Anne filled out our maternity notes. Finally at 3.15am, she decided to head home.
We had a few names picked out as options for the baby but had decided to pick a name once we saw him. I asked Joseph if he felt any name stood out more than the rest and he said that he felt he looked like a 'Ben' when he first saw him being placed into my arms in the bath. As we wanted his middle name to be 'John' after his Granddad, we decided 'Benjamin' flowed better, so our second baby boy was officially named 'Benjamin John Oxford'!
Wee Ben decided to let us sleep for a whole 4 hours before he woke up demanding to be fed! He was very sleepy for the first 24 hours of his life, so I was able to rest a lot. The morning following the birth I felt very nauseous as the last of the pregnancy hormones left my system (9 months of morning sickness, won't miss that at all!!), but I was able to keep my breakfast down... just! I was also very shaky and weak, so after getting up to shower again and put on some clean clothes, I got back into bed and didn't get up until lunch time.
That morning, Mum brought Jacob in to meet his baby brother. I put Ben down the end of the bed so I'd have both arms free to give my big boy a huge hug! Jacob seemed fascinated by Ben and wanted to touch his fingers and toes, but didn't want to hold him at all and kept pushing him away whenever we tried to put Ben on his knee. Plenty of time for cuddles in the future though
Mum made me a huge cooked lunch before Ben's Great-Grandparents came to visit their newest baby Grandson.
An absolutely awesome experience and I am so happy I was able to have the wonderful home birth that I had pictured in my mind, especially as we won't be having any more children. I could not have imagined a more perfect way to met my son for the first time - this is exactly how a baby should be born!