Baylee Grace’s beautiful birth story…
The Beginning -
Without having anything to compare with, I’d say we had a pretty good pregnancy. Sure, I had bad morning sickness (I vomited at least once a day from weeks 6 to 26, and it restarted again near the end!), back pain, lots of tiredness and all that jazz, but really, it was nothing I wouldn’t face again. I think my biggest worry with being pregnant was actually becoming pregnant, and even that was nothing too exciting! We started trying in about August or September 2007, and I was holding a positive pregnancy test in May 2008, and our due date was predicted to be the 7th of January 2009.
Approximately 36 weeks pregnant.
Baylee had other ideas, and decided to come into the world a little early. Luckily I had already started my maternity leave and we were pretty much “ready” for her.
Sunday 7th December - Morning - I went to the toilet to discover my mucous plug had passed, which basically meant I was greeted by a glob of clear, snot-like stuff. I was due to go to my Dad’s family Christmas party that afternoon, but rang the midwives to check and see what I should do next - I‘d been seeing a private GP-Obstetrician but was booked in to give birth at a local hospital. The midwife I spoke to was lovely and very reassuring that the plug was normal and labour could still be weeks away. I rang Mum and Dad (who insisted on picking me up, lest I go into labour while driving to my Aunty and Uncle’s house!) and we still went to the Christmas party, although my parents kept whispering to me to see if I was okay and not in labour yet!!
Monday 8th December - Morning - I started getting a very wet, clear, unfamiliar discharge which I began to assume must have been my broken waters. I rang the midwives again who (to my shock!) said I should come in to the hospital ASAP so they could have a look. I started getting mild period-pain cramps, so I quickly rang Anthony and my Mum, who met us at the hospital.
Afternoon - After a LOOONG day at the hospital (and Anthony leaving work to drive me there) it was established (after literally having a torch shone up my va-jay-jay!) that my waters were very much un-broken, and my cervix was very very closed. I felt pretty dumb, like the girl who cried labour or something, but everyone was very understanding!
Tuesday 9th December - I had my 36 week appointment with Dr Charry (my GP-Obstetrician) and I mentioned the plug to her. She asked if there was any blood in it. Nope. “That’s boring!” she replied. I told her abut my “broken waters” and hospital visit, and she said if I suspect my waters have broken to put on a pad - if it is soaked within an hour then you can be pretty sure that the waters are broken.
Thursday 11th December - from memory it was quite a warm day - Yes! I know it was because I struggled like hell to shave my legs. I was so over being pregnant by this point, which was made so much worse by spending nearly five hours shopping that afternoon (about 3 hours with Vanessa - one of my best friends and Baylee’s God Mother - and then another couple with Anthony) and evening.
I had to stop by my parents’ house on my way home and I remember nearly crying as I walked through their door, so tired, so sore and so ready to just have the baby NOW to get it out of me, meet her and stop being pregnant! I was also a bit teary thinking that I potentially still had about 6 weeks to go, if I went over my due date. My Mum later told me that it was weird, that night when she saw me she said I suddenly looked VERY pregnant, it was as if she hadn’t seen me for ages and it was very obvious now, where to her I hadn’t looked too different yet.
I fell into bed that night, un-aware that it would be my last good sleep for quite some time!!
Friday 12th December - I woke up kind of early for me, at 7:25 I rolled up to get up and go to the toilet. As I sat up I felt what HAD to be my waters flood out of me. Anthony was outside, and I staggered out to find him, with the warm waters trickling down my leg with every step. I told him and he ended up grabbing me a towel to shove between my legs so the amniotic fluid wouldn‘t drip all over the carpet. I remembered Dr Charry’s advice and put a pad on. It was soaked in less than ten minutes.
By this time it was about 8am, and Anthony had to decide whether to go to work or to stay home with me and see what happened.
For the third time, I rang the midwives who said I had better get to the hospital again, as now the baby was at risk of infection if I didn’t go into labour soon.
I remember feeling oddly calm. I made myself breakfast and ate it slowly while pretending to watch whatever was on TV. Anthony decided to ring his boss so he could have another day off and we drove to the hospital, giddy that it was happening - our baby was going to be here, soon! I rang my Mum (who was my second support person for labour) and she and my Dad (who happened to be home sick that day) met us there.
-- I should now explain that Anthony had only just transferred to a new job within his company, with a new boss and store etc, so it really wasn’t a great first impression to be having lots of days off work! --
Once we were at the hospital I was hooked up to a monitor which checked the baby’s heartbeat, and also told if I was having contractions. Baylee’s heartbeat was fantastic, but I wasn’t having any contractions yet.
It turned out I’d picked a bad day to have my waters break - they were very busy, so I ended up being asked to wait in the visitor’s waiting room until a room was ready for me. It was all good though, with my family there to keep me company and occupied. I started to get some more light period-pain like cramping, which my Dad ended up timing and we kept track of for a while (at this stage they were light and only lasting anywhere from ten seconds to one minute, but coming about every five minutes.)
By that afternoon I was admitted to hospital and on antibiotics, after they confirmed (once again with the torch!) that my waters had definitely broken. The room I was in could only be described as a “holding pen” for patients who aren’t quite ready for the delivery rooms - it was down the end of a very long hallway, as far away from the nurses station as possible, and from the new mums and their new babies. I was hooked up to a monitor which denied that I was having contractions, and it was “rest time” in the ward so Anthony, my Mum and Dad were all sent home by a VERY rude nurse (the first of many), which resulted in me bursting into tears. I ended up being comforted by another nurse who assured me that she was there for me seconds before she left the room and I can’t remember if I saw her again!
After I calmed down a bit I spent some time unpacking my stuff and sent some text messages to friends to spread the word that something was happening. I also messaged Melanie, a student-midwife who had been coming to various appointments and was hopefully going to deliver our little one. She was the daughter of a lady I work with, and almost finished her second year of Uni. At first I was a little apprehensive about the idea of her being there, being “just a student” but after meeting her and hearing her talk about midwifery and stuff, it was pretty clear she knew and was very passionate about her stuff!
Anthony, Mum and Dad returned that night (hospital visiting hours were 2:30-4:30 and 7-8pm) and Anthony had spent the afternoon uploading songs onto my ipod (a device which I will always be grateful to, for the fact that it helped me stay sane during these few days).
They left at 8pm and I was left to watch TV, read and try and get some sleep in this unfamiliar environment. I had a roommate who I learned (by listening in to conversations, we hardly spoke to each other) had pre-eclampsia and was being induced the following afternoon. I could have been more friendly to her, but I wasn’t really in the mood to try and make friends so I simply kept the curtains drawn around my bed and tried to make it feel like I had some privacy.
Sleep wasn’t happening, so I found some escape and solitude in my ipod. I’ll never forget listening to music that night, some of the songs became a soundtrack for my labour. I want to write a letter of thanks to Brooke Fraser (a New Zealand born artist, maybe comparable to Delta Goodrem - but way better!) for some of her songs and their lyrics which just seemed to fit and sum up how I was feeling in those hours.
Arithmetic - Brooke Fraser
I've been staring at the sky tonight
Marvelling and passing time
Wondering what to do with daylight
Until I can make you mine
You are the one I want, you are the one I want
I've been thinking of changing my mind
It never stays the same for long
But of all the things I know for sure
You're the only certain one
You are the one I want, you are the one I want
When the years are showing on my face
And my strongest days are gone
When my heart and flesh depart this place
From a life that sung your song
You'll still be the one I want
You'll still be the one I want
You'll still be the one I want
You'll still be the one I want
Seeds - Brooke Fraser
Field of stars above us
You pick one
We frame it with our fingers intertwined
Seeds of every generation
Between our hands
And the promise to teach you the little I have learned
What will you live to do?
What have I left for you?
What will we leave behind?
Learning as you're growing
Not yet knowing
The world isn't always quite as beautiful
As it is now
Field of stars above us
I pick one and name it for you
And all who are to come
Saturday 13th December - Saturday started early, as hospital life tends to. I was woken at about 6am (after finding sleep just hours before) to take my antibiotics, and it seemed easier to stay awake and be tired than try and go back to sleep. I rang Anthony and updated him on my night, and he headed off to work promising to be at the hospital by 7pm.
Mid morning I was visited by two doctors, one named Andy who was quite young and now holds the title of The Hottest Guy I Have Ever Met. He asked me what had been happening and why I was in hospital (I’m sure there’s a reason why they seem to ask you the same things a hundred times!), and they left saying that I needed to stay in hospital on antibiotics until I either went into labour or I would be induced on Tuesday. I had mentioned the pains I was getting, that they were now starting to “peak“, and mentioned the intervals I was having them. On a scale of one to ten, ten being high, these were rated as about a 9 or 10 of “the worst period pain I‘d ever had“. “It doesn’t sound like contractions” one of them replied, contradicting everything I knew about contractions, “If you were in labour you’d know it and be in much more pain.”
That afternoon my parents and Alicia (my older sister) came to visit me, and the “not labour pains” were at the point that I couldn’t talk through them - I had to stop and breathe through them, or at least pay attention to them!
I also kept having the sensation of really needing to go to the toilet, and when I did either absolutely nothing would happen, or I’d have diarrhoea, or I’d do the tiniest drop of wee.
Mum, Dad and Alicia left just as they where wheeling my roommate off to be induced, and I got a few hours of total privacy, accept for the occasional nurse coming to check my obs.
When Anthony arrived that evening he helped me through some of the pains by rubbing my back, “I can feel it pulsating!” he declared through one of them. I’d been writing down the time and duration of each contraction-that-wasn’t for a good two hours by now, and when a nurse next came to check up on me I told her about the pains getting worse, that they built up and then went down and they were definitely regular. By this stage I described them as being the WORST period pain I’d ever had, and then some, at least fifteen out of ten. She sat through me through one of the pains and put her finger-tips on the top of my bump as if she were reading a crystal ball. “Are you getting one now?” she asked just as the pain began to start. I nodded, unable to talk. It peaked and I breathed through it. Once it was over I showed her my records of when I’d had the pains. “Oh don’t bother writing them down!” she practically laughed, “If you do that then you’ll focus too much on them! I don’t think you’re in labour, they aren’t intense enough.”
Anthony broke the hospital rules that night and managed to stay with me until about 10pm, when a ditzy older nurse came into my room and gave me a cocktail of pills to take, which included two Panadeine Forte (I’m not supposed to take Codeine mind you) and two sleeping pills which the nurse claimed would knock me out in ten or twenty minutes.
Anthony left, thinking I’d be asleep soon, and I read a little until my eyes got too blurry and I thought sleep was coming.
Sunday 14th December -
At midnight I was still wide awake, and now listening to my new roommate being set up next to me (my curtains were still drawn). She sounded about my age and was pregnant for the first time, about 30 weeks into it, and suffering from severe dizziness.
I’d started to need to moan through my contractions which were still coming at least every five minutes. I flagged down my nurse when she came in to check on my roommate and told her how bad the pains were. “Get some sleep.” was her response as she walked away.
At 2am, I’d been moaning and crying for what felt like an eternity. The Panadeine had done nothing, and I was still no closer to sleep. I buzzed the nurse determined to get some kind of response from her, or at least get her to listen to me. She huffed into my room and sat through me through yet another pain which I breathed and moaned through as I had been. I told her that now, compared to any period pain I‘d ever had - and I‘ve had some pretty ferocious period pain in my life - this was now about a hundred times stronger. “I hate to tell you this but it’s going to get a lot worse than what it is now - you aren’t even in a fraction of the amount of pain you will be when you go into labour. I suggest you get up and go for a walk to tire yourself out and get to sleep.”
Stupidly, even though I knew how much agony I was in when I walked (as I learned from staggering back and forth to the toilet), I forced myself out of bed - the pressure inside my pelvis was now simular to how you feel when you are DESPERATE to do a poo! I made my way into the dimly lit hallway, and I slowly stumbled along it a few times, stopping regularly to breathe through the pains and to lean on and grip onto the wooden handle bar as the pains peaked and eventually subsided enough for me to take some more steps. I heard the cries of the newborn babies and wondered if I was really going to have to wait until Tuesday to hear my own little one.
After maybe three more contractions I waddled slowly back into my room and apologised to my new roommate for groaning and making noise. “That’s okay, I couldn’t sleep now anyway. You must be in so much pain.” she replied sympathetically. We exchanged a few details (names - she was called Hannah - and why we were in hospital, that it was both our first babies etc) and she ended up basically coaching me through many of the contractions which followed - I can still hear her voice calmly saying “It‘s okay, you are doing so well, just keep breathing, it will be over soon.” She was an absolute angel, so sweet and caring, and she really helped me get through one of the worst, loneliest times of my life. By about 4am Hannah fell asleep, and I listened to my ipod some more, prayed a lot and kept trying to breathe and get myself through it.
You are the one I want, you are the one I want…
At 6am Anthony rang me and he listened to me groaning through a few contractions as we spoke. “Why haven’t they done any internals to see if you’re dilated?” Anthony asked, mirroring my own thoughts and frustrations. I had no idea.
At 7:30am a doctor came and checked up on me. She sat through some contractions and did the same crystal ball hand thing as the nurses had been doing. “I’m not going to do an internal because the risk of infection is now too great. However, my colleagues will be around some time later on, and they may choose to do one.”
I rang Anthony who was now getting ready for work. He ended up ringing the nurse that was looking after me and got “permission” to come and see me outside their visiting hours so I didn’t have to be alone. I was hanging to see him and have his support, but seeing as I “wasn’t in labour yet” I convinced him to go to work, and I got my parents to come in instead. I promised to call him as soon as I had any news or the other doctors had seen me.
I then rang my parents and spoke to my Dad. I didn’t need to ask twice but I pretty much begged them to come in and just be with me and help me through the pain if nothing else. He promised to wake my mother and they would be there as soon as they could.
They arrived at about 9am, and I gripped my Mum’s hand through a few contractions before Dr Andy, The Hottest Guy I Have Ever Met, stuck his head through my curtain and asked me how I’d been. I told him about the night, the pains, the groaning and as my parents left the cubicle he sat down next to me and felt my belly. He checked the baby’s position (her head had been in the “right spot” for weeks and he said she was getting ready) and sat through a couple of contractions, timed them and then stood up.
“I think you’re in early labour, I’m going to get you set up for an internal.” These were the words I’d been hanging for.
Within five minutes a nurse had set me up for Andy to “have a look”. He and the nurse - who was now a nice, older lady - whispered a little between themselves as I lay there in all my glory waiting for answers. I couldn’t read their faces, though golly, did I try!
“Well,” Andy began looking me in the eyes as I held my breath. “You’re about four centimetres dilated and I can see the head.”
I think I squealed a bit before asking “Does she have hair?!” (In our last ultrasound the sonographer could see hair - no idea why but this was so exciting for me!) Andy looked at me as if I was nuts, but smiled and replied, “Yeah, I can see a little bit of dark hair.”
I lost it, “Oh my God, you have no idea, that is the best news I’ve ever had, I want to marry you, you have no idea how happy I am now!” I blubbered on like that to Andy for what felt like five minutes, he and the nurse laughed and said I would now - FINALLY - be taken to a delivery room.
My parents heard all this from behind the curtain and came back in as Andy left, I rang Anthony and the nurse quickly helped us pack up my things. She then got a wheelchair and I said goodbye and wished Hannah all the best. “You too, how exciting, you get to meet your baby soon!” she replied.
Within what felt like five minutes - but was probably closer to forty - Anthony was at the hospital, I had left a voicemail message for Melanie to come to the hospital ASAP if she was able to help us deliver and I was being set up in a delivery room. I got changed into an old nightie and Anthony took a couple of photos of me and the last of my bump. We were then introduced to my first Midwife - a beautiful lady named Anika, who wore a head scarf.
Andy came and did a “proper” internal (the earlier one he had just looked, this time he had a feel) and said I was actually 5cms dilated.
At this point I began asking Anika about pain relief - the nurses that thought my pain would get much worse has scared me into wanting an epidural, but Anika calmly convinced me to try out the gas first. “The first seven centimetres are the worst, you have done the first five all by yourself, I think if you want a natural birth you will do it on your own.”
“How much longer do you think I’ll be in labour?” I asked as she examined me.
“Honestly, I think you will have your baby by 4pm, and it will happen quickly.” She replied, exciting and terrifying me at the same time - this was IT!
It was about 11am when I decided I wanted to try the gas, so Anika set me up with a mouthpiece and explained to me how to use it. I had naturally started breathing in long and very deep through my nose and out through my mouth - and had been since 2pm the previous afternoon. After just three puffs of the gas I decided it was messing up my breathing too much and was more of an annoyance than a help.
I remember feeling very thirsty, and Anthony and my parents getting me water to sip, and me holding whoever’s hands were closest and breathing and moaning louder with each wave that hit me.
After the gas I felt very sleepy all of a sudden, and I remember suddenly understanding how people reported sleeping through part of their labour. I had no such luck, but tried to cat-nap as best as I could.
By about midday I started to feel a bit delirious - I remember suddenly moaning to Anika that I needed to poo and BAD! She and Anthony helped me to the toilet where Lord, did I have a dilemma. I had the sensation of wanting to poo, yet I was then so scared I would accidentally have my baby in the toilet.
I remember Anika waiting at the door for me and asking how I was going (no dignity at this point whatsoever!) and me crying that I wanted to push but didn’t want to be the lady who had her baby in the toilet. “Just try sweetheart, you won’t push the baby out, I promise.” She tried to reassure me.
Try I did, and absolutely nothing happened.
I waddled back out of the toilet in agony and Anthony helped me back onto the bed.
Within one minute I was crying to Anika that I needed to poo, and all I remember for the next hour was getting up and down off the bed and going to the bathroom but not wanting to push but wanting nothing but to be able to push. “Not yet sweetie,” Anika told me when I begged her to let me get the baby out NOW.
At around 1pm I was on the bed and I grabbed Anika’s hand and looked her square in the eye, “It’s taking every fibre of my being not to push.” I told her.
She did another examination and told me again that it was not far away - my baby would be here soon. “I need to push,” I kept saying.
“Okay,” Anika said at about 1:15pm, “give us a tiny little push.”
“Really?” I replied, stunned.
“Just a little one, and when I say so, stop.”
My mind boggled - how do you define a tiny push, when all you want to do is push for your life? I gave the littlest push I could, feeling like I was trying to stop a an overflowing damn from busting.
“Okay, stop. Does that feel a bit better?”
“I want to keep pushing.”
“Not just yet, it won’t be long.”
“I need to go to the toilet again.” This was, no kidding, about the 30th time I “had to go”.
“Ok, but I’m going to stay by the door in case you need me.”
As I sat I felt another immense wave of a contraction, after I got through it I opened my eyes and there was another midwife standing talking to Anika - she was maybe forty years old and had blond hair.
She introduced herself to me (while I was still on the toilet mind you!) as Theresa - it was 1:30, time for Anika to go home and she would now be my Midwife.
I forced myself off the toilet and within seconds another contraction hit as I collapsed onto Anthony. He caught me and held me, talked me through it. As it was ending Theresa came over to us and put her hand on my arm and helped me to breathe.
I remember wearily looking into her eyes and murmuring “I need to do a poo.”
She cracked up laughing, “Oh honey, you don’t need to poo, you need to have a baby! It’s time.”
“Are you sure?” I asked, scared she would change her mind.
“I am very sure. I’ve been doing this for over twenty years. I just need you to give me a few minutes to set up.”
A few minutes sounded like a few hours, but soon enough she had wheeled in the baby resuscitation trolley (standard, nothing to worry about I had learnt during a hospital tour) and was getting whatever she needed organised.
In the nick of time Melanie arrived - I remember smiling and saying to her I didn’t know she wore glasses; I remember seeing her in her Kmart uniform and Theresa telling her to put on an apron. I then heard Theresa asking Melanie a series of questions, I guess sizing up her experience - I was relieved when I heard Melanie answer everything with ease and confidence.
The next forty or so minutes are a bit of a blur, but also a time I will never forget.
I remember Theresa asking who was staying in the room. I didn’t want anyone to leave - I felt safe having both my parents there, as well as Anthony, so they all stayed. Anthony was on my right hand side, his hand gripped mine throughout it all, and he whispered words of encouragement to me like an angel, and seemed to just know when I needed another sip of water.
Mum was on my left, holding my other hand, and Dad was sitting to Mum’s side.
Melanie was at my right leg, and Theresa was at the left. Theresa instructed me to lift both my legs up, bent at the knee so she and Melanie could each brace one as I was allowed to push, small at first.
I remember the relief sweeping over me as finally I could push like my instincts had wanted me to for what felt like hours. The relief was then overtaken by the unbelievable feeling of the baby slowly, slowly starting to emerge. “Push with the contractions” I remember Theresa instructing me. “I don’t know when they are,” I wailed. Melanie took the incentive to place her hand on my belly and tell me when to push. I remember focusing on her eyes and her calm voice telling me to push and breathe and relax.
I remember the burning feeling as my body began to stretch as the baby’s head came down.
I remember Theresa grabbing mine and Anthony’s hands and letting us feel the crowning, it was all wet and felt surreal to think I had our babies head right there. She then grabbed a mirror and told me to have a look - I opened my eyes for a few seconds and I remember feeling crushed that I could only just see the head starting to show - I felt like I had been pushing so hard and for so long that the baby must be at least halfway out by now (hehe how naïve I was I soon discovered!).
I remember being told to really push, long and hard, and I can hear myself grunting and making noises, animal-like that I couldn’t make again now if I tried.
I remember my Mum bursting into tears and my Dad and everyone coaching me, keeping me focused and talking me through it all.
I remember begging for someone to count as I was pushing - I had suddenly got a flash of when I used to use the cross-trainer at the gym, and how I used to get through it was to tell myself “there’s only x amount of seconds” - and I needed a goal like this to keep me focused and feel like I knew what I was doing.
I remember everyone laughed and said that was very “American” of me, to need the counting, but whatever worked!
I remember the incredible feeling of empowerment I got when the baby’s head was out, and gearing up to do just a few more pushes before we could meet her.
At 2:17pm as I grunted through the final few pushes I felt an incredible gush of a baby coming out, and fluid, and noise of cheers and happiness.
I threw my head forward with relief and my eyes opened; I caught a glimpse of this purple little body between my legs, naked and wet and covered in its inside world.
As I blinked Theresa scooped the baby up and I held her to me, I remember cradling her little wet bum in my hand and babbling to everyone it was all squishy, and feeling the white vernix on her skin and being terrified that she was so purple.
“Is she a girl?” I asked in my delirium.
“Larissa, why don’t you tell us?” Melanie smiled at me as I moved the thick, twisted umbilical cord out between the baby’s legs.
“Oh my god, it IS a girl!” I cried, being hit with another wave of relief - we had so many pink clothes!
Anthony cut the cord, and Theresa then had to take her and she was examined by the waiting doctor. Theresa brought our little girl back to us, and told me to give her a quick kiss, as she needed to go to the Special Care Nursery - a standard procedure for babies born before 37 weeks (we were 36 weeks and 4 days). The baby’s measurements were: 2.390kgs, 45cms long and her head circumference was 32cms.
Baylee in the Special Care Nursery - about 10 minutes old.
Baylee Grace (as we named her later that day) was kept in the Special Care Nursery for two weeks. She needed help learning to feed and had to put on a bit of weight before she was allowed home. I had a second degree tear which needed four stitches, but other than that I was up and bouncing, on such a high after the birth.
Anthony & I, the day after Baylee was born.
I would describe birth as like trying to poo a St Bernard out of your vagina - but in all honesty I would do it all again in a heartbeat. It was easily the most incredible thing I have ever done.
Baylee is now nearly ten weeks old, and is getting more beautiful every time I look at her. She has so much character and personality, I cannot wait to see what she will be like as she grows up. I’m addicted to my little girl and in love with our new family.
Baylee - 8 weeks old and thriving