My baby was due on the 2nd of July, which was a Friday. I was absolutely huge by this stage - so much so that people stopped me in the street and asked if I was having twins. (Yeah thanks for that by the way!).
In the 8 days that I was overdue, I was so grumpy and tearful and really ready to give birth. I think I had a cold this week, and I was scared that I would have the baby while I had a cold and was feeling miserable anyway - but everyone assured me that my body wouldn't let that happen as it needed all it's energy for the birth.. and they were right. I remember feeling really itchy this week. All over. I was constantly wanting to scratch, although there was no rash or anything - my midwife sent me for a blood test to check if my liver was functioning ok (it was) - as the itching can be a symptom of your liver starting to protest about the pregnancy.
I had an appointment with Glenda (our midwife) on the Wednesday after I was due - and while I was at that appointment Glenda offered to try and attempt a 'stretch and sweep' to try and kickstart labour. Although this didn't sound like much fun, I was keen to try something to get things moving. Well... OUCH. It really hurt and basically my cervix wasn't dilated enough to be able to do much at this stage, but after this - and for the next few days, I had a 'show'. It felt like the worst period pain I've ever had (during the stretch), and continued to be a bit crampy through that day. We went off to have lunch with Joseph's parents that day, and I was excited thinking that labour could possibly start some time today.
Well, it didn't.
I got hardly any sleep on the Wednesday night - honestly there needs to be a better word than uncomfortable to describe the last few days of being pregnant. Nothing is comfortable. We waited through Thursday, and still nothing. On Thursday night I still couldn't sleep and I felt really strange.. really heavy and really huge. I got up in the middle of the night and read as many birth stories online as what I could manage (I had already read hundreds of them - literally) - and I chatted to my best friend on MSN through the night (she was living in London). I finally got to bed around 4 or 5am, and fell asleep.
On Friday, I woke up around 8am with a funny wet feeling, and mild period like cramps. I went to the loo and thought that my waters may have broken. Nothing like the big gush on tv (that came later, lol). I put a pad on, like the midwife had told us to, and basically waited. I hopped back into bed and told Joseph I thought I might be going into labour. When we got up I rang my Mum to let her know, as the cramps were continuing - and at this stage they still felt like period pains. My waters kept leaking, and we had been told to ring the midwife if they looked green at all - and I wasn't sure. It wasn't obviously green, but there was some doubt in my mind so I rang her anyway. I knew this was really important because if the amniotic fluid is green, it can be a sign that the baby has passed meconium (the first poo), and may be distressed.
Glenda came around and looked at my pad, and decided that things were ok, but told us if I wasn't in active labour in 24 hrs, then I would need to go to hospital to have IV antibiotics - because of the risk of infection as the waters had already broken. I was quite determined that I wasn't setting foot in a hospital unless I really had to.
By this stage Mum was over at our place and it was around 11am. I was having regular contractions around every 10 mins. These felt like bad period pains.. the worst I'd ever had, and I used to have quite bad ones when I was younger. I took 2 panadol at some stage during the day, I can't remember.. but they didn't touch the sides at all. It was my first medication of any sort throughout the pregnancy, and my last. I was able to cope with these contractions quite well. We played board games , and talked excitedly about what the baby might be like. I remember I wasn't that hungry but I ate an orange. Mum had brought around some food and her and Joseph had some lunch. I was rather too busy to eat. I was still able to talk and laugh at this stage. I kept saying to Mum "I don't like this, it hurts", and she was laughing at me!
Glenda had the weekend off so we were going to have to ring her backup (who we had met and really liked), Louise, if labour progressed. At around 4 pm Glenda rang to see how things were going, and suggested we went for a walk to try and get things moving along a bit faster. So very reluctantly I let Joseph take me for a walk, with our dog - we went around the block and I was feeling really uncomfortable, and heavy and sore. The contractions continued while we were walking, but I didn't have to stop for them.
At around 5pm Glenda dropped in on her way home to check how we were. She offered to do another stretch and sweep to see if that would help things too.
I got up from the bed after the sweep and had a gush of blood, and then waddled into the lounge and sat on the bed we had set up in there (I had planned to give birth in the lounge). While I was sitting there, Glenda was explaining what would happen next, and when to ring Louise for support. I had a huge gush of water.. and I couldn't stop laughing. It felt like a bucketful of liquid! My waters had finally broken properly! I waddled off to get changed, and Glenda left and Mum left to go and get some dinner and sort things out at home - she told us she'd be back in an hour or two.
About 10 mins after they both left I had my first intense contraction. I was kneeling backwards on the armchair and trying to breathe through it, and moaning a little. Joseph looked at me in fright.. this was different! The contractions came faster and harder after this. Afterwards I learnt that this was because my waters had broken properly, it had sped labour up hugely. The contractions went from period pains every 10 mins lasting for about 20-30 seconds.. to intense pain every 3 or so mins lasting for a minute each.We rang my Mum to come back to the house. While we were waiting for Mum Joseph rang Louise our backup midwife (who was actually having dinner at Glenda's house 5 mins up the road!) - and told her what was going on. She told us to ring back when we needed her support. I had read so many birth stories where the midwife came and found that the birth was still hours away so I didn't want her to come too early. When Mum arrived back with my sisters she took one look at me, and listened to my groaning and asked Joseph to ring Louise straight back.
Louise came down quite quickly and started setting up all her gear. It must have been around 7.45pm at this stage. I really had no concept of time, I was just concentrating on getting to the next breather in between the contractions. She checked the baby's heartbeat and everything was fine.
For the next little while I alternated between sitting on the toilet (was surprisingly comfy, and it helps to dilate the cervix further, and helps the baby to descend), and sitting or lying down in the lounge. Mum and Joseph were great support - Mum was rubbing my back and they were just being present for me, which really helped.
At around 8.30pm I needed to vomit - and basically only just managed to say to Joseph "I'm gonna be sick", and then promptly spewed. Hehe, luckily I had only eaten an orange so it was mostly liquid. All I could think about was how I'd never been sick in front of Joseph before and how embarrassed I was - luckily he was really reassuring.
Arie (Joseph's best friend) arrived at around this time, and Joseph and I were in the bathroom still - he shouted through the door "Love you guys", and that really was what the atmosphere was like for me. Surrounded by love and support.
Spent some time in the shower after this - which was a nice change of scenery. During all this time the contractions were still coming every 2 mins or so and lasting for a good minute and a half. They were incredibly painful and I really felt like I was in a different world most of the time. The only thing that was keeping me present, was the voices I could hear chattering away, and the smell of my Mum's perfume.. the jingle of her bracelets, the smell of Joseph, and the cool feeling of resting my forehead on his t-shirt. Those things stopped me from freaking out and panicking. Louise was checking the baby's heartbeat every 15 mins or so - and everytime she did, another contraction would start, so I really started to dread seeing her face poke around the corner, as lovely as she was! Her notes say that my moaning was sounding more 'grunty' at around 10pm, which is a sign that things were progressing. I have little to no recollection of these hours. Just intense pain, a floaty out of this world feeling, and incredible fatigue.
Just before midnight Louise did another internal examination which found that I was 8 cm dilated, and she stretched my cervix again to help things along. This time with the contraction already being so strong, it was no where near as bad as the first two stretches.
I went into transition after this - the contractions intensified in a way I could never have imagined. They were now coming one on top of the other. I would have less than 5 seconds inbetween each contraction, sometimes for 3 or more in a row, and they lasted closer to 2 mins now. This was the hardest bit ever. I thought I would die. I thought I couldn't keep going. I never imagined labour would ever be this sore. It was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. I got to one point where I grabbed the facecloth off my forehead and started to bite down on it, in a panic.. and luckily Mum took it off me and focussed me on doing loud deep grunts and groans instead, and it really kept me calm. If she hadn't helped me through that bit then I think I would have started screaming, and I really believe that staying calm was the key to not let the pain engulf me fully. I kept some control, and that was really empowering. Apparently when there was a gap of a min or two between contractions I was snoring!! I don't remember that! I just remember the blessed relief of one finishing, and this blackness pulling me under.
At around 1.30am I was really really fed up. I felt like I couldn't do it a second longer and I desperately needed it to be over. Louise checked me a few contractions later and I was almost fully dilated, with just a lip of the cervix in the way, which she pushed aside.
At 2.10 am I got up to try and push - and Louise suggested I go to the toilet to try because this was great for helping the baby descend and it's a more natural feeling to push on the loo. What fantastic relief! As soon as I was able to start pushing the contractions faded into the background and felt more like the early ones. I was human again!! I could laugh and talk and joke. I only had to push two or three times before I felt the head starting to be born! Louise came in to see how we were going, and I remember saying to her "I can feel the head" - and she went to have a feel / look - and said "Right, back to bed now!" (I had decided part way through labour that instead of birthing in the lounge, I really wanted to be in our room, on our bed). I remember giggling as I waddled down the hall with a really odd sensation of having a head right between my legs. I think I remember walking past the lounge and saying "The baby is nearly here!!"
Louise quickly called Glenda who came right away. As Glenda was walking in the front door Louise told her to get her gloves on "we're delivering now". While Amelia's head was crowning, Louise kept telling me not to push, just pant gently and let the head ease out. It stung a bit when her head was crowning. I remember saying "Ow, ow, ow, ow".
At 02.45am Amelia was born! After her head was born Amelia cried - so incredibly surreal.. and then her body just slipped out easily with another push. Joseph and Louise caught her and lifted her up onto my chest. It was the most intense experience of my life - seeing my baby's face for the first time - looking up at me with bewilderment. I can't remember if she was crying or not. Joseph was, and I just couldn't believe that I had just had a baby! We have a photo of me looking so surprised, it's really funny!
Our midwives are very much into keeping things as natural as possible so they put a warm towel around Amelia and I held her close to me for the body temperature. I offered her the breast and she latched on straight away and fed for about 15 minutes. What a clever baby!
I can't remember when the cord was cut - sometime around now - Joseph cut it :-)
About half an hour after she was born, the placenta was passed. The midwives inspected me, and I had a second degree tear, but the edges of the wound sat close together so I decided I didn't want stitches, even though they thought they would put some in. No thanks! Been through enough down there!
Joseph had some skin on skin time after her first feed (she was laid on his naked chest, which helps bonding). I went off for a shower, with Mum helping me. Joseph got Amelia dressed into her first warm clothes and a nice warm hat, and everyone got a quick cuddle before she came back to me for another feed.
Now to round up some details:
* Only Louise, Glenda, Joseph, Mum and I were in the room as Amelia was born. The second the others heard her cry they came rushing to the door, and they got to see Amelia in her first few seconds on this earth. (Amie, Arie and Becky - my sisters and Joseph's best friend).
* While I was in labour they had all kept the fire going, cooked food, done dishes, played board games, watched movies, done washing, chatted online. Hehe, I had no idea!!
* Arie did most of the washing, even the stuff I bled and spewed on. He is a true friend to Joseph, myself and Amelia!
* I always get asked if I had any pain relief. I had those two panadol at the beginning and that was it. It was a decision I made when I decided to have Amelia at home. Because of the risks involved in any of the pain relief options, they are not offered at a home birth. Even though it hurt, I don't regret for one second that I did it with nothing. I truly believed I could get through it without the drugs, and I did. Afterall, that baby is coming whether you have the meds or not!
* As soon as Amelia was 'out' I was astounded to feel like I could breathe again!! I hadn't realised how much she was squishing my diaphragm and lungs!
* The first shower was a bit scary... felt dizzy, but exhilarated and estatic to finally have my baby!
* I hopped straight back into a nice clean fresh bed (my own!), with my beautiful little baby, a plate of toast, and a nice hot milo. Bliss!
* Everyone left at around 5-5.30am - and then Joseph and I were parents!! By ourselves! We were in charge! Incredible feeling. We sat in bed marvelling at this gorgeous girl we had created and brought into the world.
* It took a good 5 mins after she was born for us to think and check if she was a boy or girl. A girl!! Just as I had suspected! Welcome to the world Amelia Paige! She was nice and healthy - her Apgar scores were 10/10 both and birth, and five minutes later. She weighed 9lb 13.5oz.