"I was expecting his head, followed by an anterior shoulder, then a rotational movement for the next shoulder, followed by the body – but no, it was none of that – he just shot out."
My first pregnancy was fairly uneventful. I gained 9kg all told, had no morning sickness, but was really tired. In fact I was shattered during the first trimester and work was busy. I went to antenatal swimming classes where most of the other mums already had children and gave me some great advice. One of the most important things they told me was about using positive affirmations during pregnancy and birth. Your body knows what to do. Go with your natural instincts.
I stepped out of the shower, whinging to myself because Glenn (my husband) had left his towels on the bathroom floor.
Then it was, "Oh my God, my waters have broken".There was clear liquor (the medical name for the fluid pronounced li-kwar) all over the floor.
It’s the most bizarre thing, and it stinks! You think you are going rotten inside. Fortunately I was aware of this from talking to other mothers. No books tell you that kind of thing – about the stench – it can be quite disgusting and smelly, I guess not the sort of thing people generally care to mention in passing.
Liquor is a pale, straw-coloured fluid in which the foetus floats in the amniotic sac. When your waters break, it can be a trickle or a gush and can be as much as 1500 ml. Mine gushed out onto the bathroom floor. Luckily my husband had left his towels on the floor…
So I had another shower then hopped back into bed for a while. I called my husband and he came home immediately. We called my GP and then the hospital to let them know I was on my way.
I put the washing out, had a quick chat to the neighbour, then we went to hospital. I was aware that after your waters break there is a risk of ascending infection.
By the time we got to the hospital, I was already 8cm dilated. I was over the moon. I was almost ready to push and didn’t even know it.
I had this feeling of, ‘I can deal with anything’. I walked up and down the corridor just to keep moving. I needed to keep active. Within two hours I was fully dilated and was on the bed on my back, pushing.
After such an easy first stage, the second stage, which is normally about an hour, took a little longer – it was almost prolonged.
In the end the doctor advised trying a birthing stool. My perineum wasn’t stretching.
My usual GP was skiing at the time and I had a locum GP who was due to catch a plane to South Africa in two hours’ time. I was anxious for him to get his plane. With hindsight this was a stress I could have done without but one I had put upon myself.
The birthing stool, similar to a three-legged stool that one would use to milk a cow, allowed my pelvis to open. It worked. Alex literally shot out.
I was virtually standing and it was an almighty push – first his head came out, then boom, out he flew. They caught him on a pillow.
It was so fast.
I was expecting his head, followed by an anterior shoulder, then a rotational movement for the next shoulder, followed by the body – but no, it was none of that – he just shot out.
I thought, ‘Oh My God, it’s a baby’.
It was all over, just like that, but wonderful. It was seconds later that I asked if it was a boy or girl. I didn’t care either way – all I wanted was a healthy baby. They handed him to me and I got on the bed and held him for a while before handing him to Glenn.
Then I think I went into shock. I had torn, but I was pleased I had avoided an episiotomy. I was shaking, bleeding, frozen, my blood pressure was low, I needed to be stitched together – and the doctor had to catch a plane…
Once we got to the ward, they bathed Alex. I tried to feed him, but I was getting stressed, so they showed me how to latch him on.
It was this most incredible but awkward feeling. I remember thinking ‘this is bizarre’.
I honestly felt as though I had run a marathon. I had pulled my muscles in my neck and back from pushing and straining my head forward. I was so, so sore. The next day, Glenn massaged me and I fell asleep immediately.
On day three my milk came in and my boobs became engorged and ridiculously large. I could see them expanding minute by minute! I thought they were going to burst.
The nurse told me to have a warm shower then the kitchen delivered fresh cabbages and offered to make a coleslaw-like mix to place on my breasts.
Cabbage apparently releases an enzyme that helps relieve inflammation and engorgement. But it stinks – as you can imagine.
Alex was born on 27 September 1991 and weighed 7.7 lb.
Linda & Bryce
We got to the hospital at 8.30am and twenty minutes later Bryce was in my arms.
I realise now that I was actually in labour the night before. I had been watching television and chatting with my neighbour quite late into the night and had a bit of a stomach ache. I slept on the sofa and slept so well.
Both my labours began in the morning after having a fantastic night’s sleep.
With Bryce, I knew I was in labour the next morning when I arranged for Alex to go to the neighbours’ house. Suddenly I just couldn’t cope with him, which is highly unusual. He was only two years old at the time.
I had a tweak at 7am and an hour later I said I think I am in labour. Glenn was home and said, "Let’s go".
We got to the hospital at 8.30am and twenty minutes later Bryce was in my arms.
When I arrived at the hospital there was a woman screaming in the bed next door about to go for an emergency Caesarean.
I walked in and announced "I think I’m in labour" and promptly gave birth.
My waters broke at the height of a contraction and I sprayed the wall. The hospital staff jumped out of the way and Glenn spent the next ten minutes laughing.
I was on the bed and within two pushes, Bryce had crowned. My perineum was burning. I remember gasping, "It’s hurting".
The hospital staff replied, "Take a look in the mirror".
I saw his head then somehow I bent down and eased him out. I delivered him myself!
It was awesome. I just held him, snuggled him for ages. I felt great, so well. I wasn’t in shock this time. It had been such a different birth.
Glenn cut the cord. The placenta, however, took a little while. It was painful and had to be encouraged. There was slight traction on the cord then it came out. It was a large blob. They offered it to me but it was last thing I wanted.
I had a shower, ate two huge breakfasts then fed Bryce straight away. He latched on like he wanted steak and eggs and didn’t stop sucking…
The worst part was the afterpain. It was shocking. I guess it’s nature’s way of clamping down your bulky uterus and preventing haemorrhage. These pains are likened to painful periods but for me they were worse than the delivery. Truly wicked. I had to take panadols and voltarin to control the pain. They lasted a week, and were so much worse in the morning. Friends would arrive and I’d be rolling around on the floor in pain. Ironic really
– I had two births with no pain relief then I had pain relief for the after pains.
Bryce was born on 27 February 1994 and weighed 8.4 lb.
A subsequent baby
"I used to watch the clock at night and get so tied up with all the details".
The most wonderful opportunity of having a second child is that you don’t allow yourself to get tied up with all the timing. With my first baby I was so particular on how often I would feed and for how long – particularly during in the night. I’d stare at the watch hanging on the bassinet, watching the seconds go by. In the middle of the night, three minutes felt like 20.
Alex was 2 years five months to the day and still having an afternoon nap. In fact the age difference was perfect. Alex was already a happy and independent child.
Alex was such a planned pregnancy. I had finished the contraceptive pill a year before and had stopped drinking tea, coffee and alcohol. I got pregnant within the first month of trying. It was like; shall we have a baby? Ok then. Gosh, I missed a period.
The hot issue at the time was Listeria – I didn’t know about folic acid then.
Working as a nurse gave me an insight but when it came to folding nappies or breastfeeding, I was a complete beginner. I had to learn like everyone else.
I am a competent, confident accident and emergency nurse yet I had this baby and I hadn’t a clue.
I guess too, as a professional person, I had high expectations of myself. I had even delivered babies throughout my career. But when it came to breastfeeding, it was not as easy as it looked.
I breastfed Alex for 16 months and Bryce for 2 years 3 months. I tried to wean Bryce around 18 months but he cried for a week. So I decided to resume breastfeeding, more as an opportunity to maintain a level of closeness with Bryce because Alex, now a toddler, was naturally demanding a lot of attention.
Breastfeeding is great as a comforting, nurturing thing. It’s so convenient I can’t believe anyone would bother with a bottle. I demand-fed. I had a front pack and would carry my baby around the market breastfeeding.
Bryce gave Alex a little present when he was born – a "Hi Big Brother" gift – to define their relationship as something of their own. They’ve been great friends ever since and quite different personalities. Alex has always liked being around people, particularly older people. Bryce is incredible independent, strong and spends a lot of time alone.
Bryce rolled over at a week old. If the plunket nurse hadn’t have been there to see, she wouldn’t have believed it. Even when he was in my womb, he kicked ferociously. At one stage he cracked my bottom rib.