Last week, on Wednesday, 19 October 2005 at 7:01pm, I gave birth for the third time. It hurt like hell and according to the surgeon who stiched me up, I have a “battleground of scar tissue” to prove it.
The Monday preceding the Wednesday was marked by semi-regular early labour pains – the irritating period pain ones which grip your lower gut and back like a vice at regular intervals to remind you that you are a woman incase there was any early-onset alzeihmers. They were about every 10 minutes from 5am to 9pm-ish. They – naturally for me – went nowhere.
The Tuesday saw them go on a picnic or something.
The Wednesday in question came along and was marked by a return of the pains and just some weird ‘sense’ that something was different. Of course I paid little attention to this as I think such women’s intuition is a load of crap and had resigned myself to the fact the kid wouldn’t come out until the needle was in my vein and the drugs on their merry way.
My only acknowledgment of these pains was that of course they would ‘do’ something on that day as I had booked in to get my hair cut and – well – considering the last cut and colour had been when I was about 5-6 weeks pregnant, you get that me at the hairdressers is a really.big.deal. It’s also something I spare no expense on – hence the very long lead times in between visits.
I sat there getting my hair cut by the biggest straight spunk in Sydney – Toby – at his tres funky salon Mantelpiece and thought – I look different today. Again, a weird ‘feeling’ type moment. The pains were also there and getting quite annoying.
Anyway, with my spiffy new cut and way-cool colour(s) I was heading home with enough time before collecting children to stop at the fishmongers for some bream fillets and the supermarket for some veggies for dinner. At home I put together some afternoon tea bundles for the boys as I was collecting them then heading down to Chef’s work to pick him up. This is one of those weird logistic things we do in that he works a split shift on Wednesday so me picking him up means he gets a break and gets to take the car back for the evening shift. (I hope you are all as riveted by the minutae of my life as I am.)
So – I go to the toilet before leaving to pick up the boys and man, it feels ‘heavy’ down there. But, no heavier than it has felt in the past. I go out to the car, get in, and gooosh. Part of me felt like calling “there she blows” but the other part went “is that wee?” Of course I knew it wasn’t but once you are officially the size of a whale, such indiscretiosns as wetting yourself are not taht hard to realise. Anyway, my next thought was – get out of the car. So then I just stood in our driveway wondering what to do as amniotic fluid flowed down my legs.
About 10 calls to Chef later, I finally got him on the line. I was sitting on the toilet and resorted to calling the work landline as for the first time EVER he wasn’t answering his mobile. One of the waitresses who answered asked if I was OK and after I said yes, she said she thought I might be having a baby. When I answered in the affirmative the squealing? You could hear it across town.
Anyway, I still had the reality that a) Chef was 30 minutes away without a car, b) Mum was at an inservice (ie not at the school where she teaches and Felix attends) and c) it was now 2.50pm and two little boys were expecting their mum to pick them up from school.
I got changed, completely forgot towels, got Chef to ring the schools and arrange for someone bring the boys to me in the car rather than me to them at the gate/classroom, and rang the hospital to tell them I was on my way. Felix’s first comment to me was “are we going to have the baby today?” and then “I can’t believe it, the baby’s going to come today.” By Oscar’s school the I had three quite intense contractions that scared me a little – not that the baby would come before the hospital but on my ability to drive all the way there (its 20 minutes in the middle of the night and anywhere up to 45 in traffic – of which, at 3.30pm was already very much an issue).
I got back on the phone to Chef (thank GOD for mobiles) and arranged to meet at a certain point. At this time I’d like to thank Cam, a regular at Chef’s restaurant who offered to drive him. God knows what they were doing because they took too long and after waiting for about 20 seconds and seeing the three lanes of solid traffic, decided to keep going. Somewhere in here I got stuck behind a tabletop truck, crane and tree-lopping truck all going 60 along the Wakehurst Parkway, where the speed limit is 80.
Between that, the traffic, the slow husband, the kids asking if the baby was coming now? now? what about now? and the fairly continual gushing of amniotic fluid onto the car seat and indeed, over the front of the seat onto the floor (I’m serious, I can produce amniotic fluid faster than Jesus turned water to wine) and the sheer adrenalin of the knowledge you’re about to have a baby and exhileration that my body finally did what it was meant to for once meant I was in a bit of a state at this stage.
So, after weaving through traffic to impress the keenest WRX drivers out there, we arrive at the hospital. I park in a 15 minute spot (where the car stays for the next 7 hours), find a pashmina in the boot and wrap it around myself, not before scaring the bejesus out of an old dude walking past. Felix climbs out over my seat, giddy in excitement he got to touch “the wet seat” and Oscar has a fuss that I won’t take his superlegs off in the car.
I squelch through the hospital, watching the last shreds of dignity dripping off with each wet footprint. Felix was so cute, encouraging Oscar along “Oscar, you have to RUN, Mummy’s having the baby”. We go up to the delivery floor and are encouraged in the right direction by the first of FOUR people to comment “wow, someone’s waters have broken”. No shit sherlock.
Anyway, Holly is my midwife and we’re taken into our room. Felix is obsessed with all the machinery, in particular the thermometer mounted on the end of the baby cradle that has a little flippy lid that opens and shuts. Oscar has this look he gets when he’s in hospitals – the one just before he goes pale, sweaty, indicated he’s going to vomit and/or poo. Chef arrives about 10 minutes later and we discover that Mum had beaten us all there, being the leadfoot that she is.
The contractions are there but similar pain level and not overly regular. We agree to do the drip at 7pm if labour doesn’t kick in. Its about 4.30 when that decision is made. Chef’s parents arrive to collect the boys. Everyone has a grand old time and then they depart.
Around 5.30 I get up to walk around as they’re getting a bit more pesky. They’re every 2-6 minutes and lasting 45 seconds to a minute somewhere around this time – it’s getting harder, but I can still talk throught them. Mum is sitting on the delightful little lounge reading the SMH’s domain and showing me 10 million dollar properties on waterfront in Mosman. This is so typical of her – you may be in a labour but life goes on, what about this one. Chef found it highly annoying, I found it quite a good distraction.
At around 6-6.15 they came every 2-3 minutes and lasted about a minute and talking was not an option. Chef was awesome at pressure points on my back at this time. Legend. Then, they just rolled on top of each other. Later, I’m told this lasted about 15 minutes. And I don’t doubt them for a minute.
Holly did an internal, just as another contraction rolled in. That had to be the singular worst pain of my life – someone’s hand up my fanny, a full flight contraction and something wanting to come out as well. This was now about 6.25 – I was 5cm. And I was cranky. It wasn’t good enough. I wanted to be at least 7cm and I.want.drugs. This, I announce to everyone, will be over by 8. I’m not doing it beyond 8.
I get gas for three contractions. Gas is j.o.k.e. It does nothing for the pain but gives you something else to focus on. It does make you feel completely drug-fucked, which was nice, but nothing, I repeat n.o.t.h.i.n.g. for the pain. Maybe it works if you labour for hours, but that is a hypothesis I obviously will never be able to shed light on.
The second contraction on gas Holly leaves. She is not allowed to leave, she needs to be here I inform the world.
The third contraction on gas, and I can feel Jasper’s head s.c.r.a.p.i.n.g. down the birth canal. I am not exagerating, I could feel him just pummelling the hell out of there, it felt like my someone had my pelvis in their hands and were splitting it in two like you would if you were butterflying a chicken. There was a lot of earth woman gutteral yelling at this point.
I was so off my nut on gas I wasn’t really paying attention to contractions, as Holly had told me to suck on it at the first sign of a contraction, and because they were so hard and fast I had no idea if it was the end or beginning or middle of one, so just sucked on it for life. His head, his 37.5cm head, took FOREVER to come out. Of course, it was more like 5 minutes, but that’s as good as forever for me.
The next contraction took way too long as I was all ‘just get it out’ but finally those shoulders came through and there he was. 7:01pm. According to Holly, labour was officially 35minutes. I think that is a cruel joke of midwives, that you have to be in agony before they classify it as real, but hey, it means I broke Felix’s 45minute labour record.
My second degree tear (ie front and back and everything in between) is healing very slowly and makes me walk even more weirdly than I was in the final days of pregnancy.
After Oscar and Felix I was all ‘let’s do that again”, but this one I was more of the mind “I’m not sure I can go through that again” (yes, I’m ‘one of those’ that would love to have four kids…) and the relief on Chef’s face was palbable. Ironically, now the little man is here, Chef is so smitten you can see he could entertain another one…down.a.very.long.track…
So now, my sucky little guy (who fed at 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 tonight) who has decided maybe the bath isn’t worth screaming the house down is here. My stomach is huge, with my normal wobbly belt of fat that used to sit a bit higher hanging way too low, my boobs must weigh about 3kilos each, my womens bits really h.u.r.t.i.n.g. and my new spiffy haircut has yet to be realised. But you know, as you drive along with three little men in the backseat, as Felix and Oscar get home and rush to see him, as Felix gets teary telling me he can’t stand to think of Jasper on his own, none of that matters one little bit.