“In the end, the only thing you truly feel is infinite, incredible love”
I’ve debated with myself all week on whether or not I would write (and post) Violet’s birth story. But today, a week after her birth, it just feels right. If birth stories aren’t really your thing you can stop reading now, I promise I won’t be offended, and nor will Violet.
I guess with these things you should start with the beginning, but to be totally honest, if you’ve been keeping up with my Bump Updates, you’d know I really can’t pinpoint exactly when it began. Violet joined us at 37+5 weeks gestation, but I’d had ‘pre-labour’ symptoms from about 34-35 weeks, things like losing my mucus plug, lightning crotch, more intense Braxton Hicks contractions, you know… all the things I had been complaining about.
The whole week before labour I definitely felt like something was building up, I was sleeping ALL THE TIME, I was having nights of constant Braxton Hicks (confusing me as to whether it was real labour or not) and to be honest with you, I was losing my mind. I had no way of knowing if the things I had been experiencing were actually a sign labour was near, or if I’d be experiencing these things for the next 2-4 weeks.
I guess if I could choose myself a point to say “thats when I knew” I’d probably say about 8pm on Saturday the 4th of February. Cooking chicken Parmy (classic aussie) with Dan in the kitchen, I had the biggest contraction I’d ever felt, not just a slight pain, a breath taking, eye watering contraction. I had to grab Dan to stay upright. Afterward though I definitely played it down, both in my head and to Dan. As we were eating dinner I remember saying, “yeah it really hurt, but like, I still don’t really know… you know?”. We finished dinner and went to bed, only for me to wake up to awful back pain at around 2am. I rang my mum at around 3:30, crying. Crying because I was in pain, crying because I wasn’t sure if it was actually labour, and crying because if it wasn’t labour I couldn’t deal with it for the next few weeks. She calmed me, told me to take some panadol, try to sleep and to ring her when I woke up- from there we’d figure out if it was labour and whether or not she needed to fly down.
“And when I say my waters broke… I can tell you they really damn broke. Like a bloody waterfall”
Well I didn’t need to wait long to know if she really needed to come down and if it really was labour, because the next morning about half an hour after I had woken up my waters broke. And when I say my waters broke… I can tell you they really damn broke. Like a bloody waterfall, all over the brand new mattress (lucky we’d thought ahead and made sure to have a mattress protector on the bed). One second I was lying there laughing at a dumb video on Facebook with Dan and the next second I was a human fire hose. When I told him my waters broke he asked me if I was sure, and I laughed at him as I whipped the sheets down and showed him the pool of fluid I was practically swimming in. Right. Ring mum. She needs to get here. Ring the midwife. We’re having a damn baby.
The next couple of hours were super nerve wracking, contractions hadn’t really kicked in but I was having regular tightenings, and I was also pretty worried about whether my mum would make it in time. We went into hospital at around 9:30am for a quick foetal monitoring and to check if it was my waters that had gone. Laughs, especially considering I needed two towels to get to the damn hospital. It was my waters, and everything was completely normal with baby. Ring mum. She’s got a flight for 12noon. Go home. Rest. Come back when contractions are painful and less than 5 minutes apart.
“They were getting more intense for sure, the kind of intense that makes you contemplate strangling small animals”
The next 10 hours were pretty uneventful, tightenings were becoming more regular but they were still just that- tightenings, not real contractions. Mum arrived around 2, Relief. Only at around 6pm did we really start to measure things and much to our frustrations they were all over the place. 5 minutes apart, 4 minutes apart, 4 minutes apart, 7 minutes apart, 5 minutes apart, 15 minutes apart… They were getting more intense for sure, the kind of intense that makes you contemplate strangling small animals. But they weren’t close enough together. So we waited and waited and waited until I decided they were painful enough to warrant going into hospital at 11:30pm. Arrive at hospital. Foetal monitoring for half an hour. All normal. Zero centimetres Dilated. ZERO CENTIMETRES DILATED. Tears. Home. Sleep.
We got home at around 2am, said our goodnights and went to bed. The midwife had given me some sleeping pills to get some sleep, that lasted all of about an hour before I was woken up by definitely stronger, more painful contractions. I couldn’t stay lying down through them, for a few contractions I stayed in bed, sitting up for each contraction and then lying back down and trying to fall back to sleep. Impossible. By 3:30am I was up, I decided to use this time to labour on my own, I needed the time to focus on letting my body do what it needed to do. I hopped in the shower for about 10 minutes. the hot water helped, but then I felt like I needed to walk through the contractions, so I got out and paced the kitchen for what felt like hours, stopping to breathe through every contraction like I’d ran a marathon, this woke my mum up. By this time it was around 4:15am. Mum helped me through the contractions, encouraged me to sit when I could to save energy, but the problem was, when I sat and a contraction came on I felt pressure in my bottom (If you’ve had a baby you know pressure in your bottom gives you the urge to push, and being still at home I DID NOT WANT THIS). 4:45am Back in the shower. Breathe through contractions. Getting stronger. 5am Dan wakes up helps me through contractions. 5:30am still in the shower. Getting a LOT stronger. Call the midwife. 6:30am leave for hospital.
I can still pinpoint the two exact places I had contractions in the car on the way to the hospital on the 7 minute drive, it felt like 7 hours. Our hospital has it’s birth centre on the second story and an awfully slow elevator so the stairs were our best option. I cried at the bottom of the stairs mid contraction, because it hurt, because I really didn’t want to walk up the stairs but mostly because I knew that the next time I’d be walking these stairs I would have a baby in my arms. Dan held my hand, mum rubbed my back and we got up them.
Once we got up into a birthing suite I was sat on the bed for more monitoring, all was normal and contractions were strong and regular, yes. But sitting on that bed for contractions was not where I wanted to be, advice: move through contractions! I couldn’t at this time as I needed antibiotics, just because my water had been broken for more than 18 hrs (normal standard procedure for such occasions), and they gave me them via drip. After the drip was finished I was given an internal: 5cm dilated. I wasn’t disappointed nor optimistic. I was focused. Move me to the shower. Knees on the ground. Leaning on exercise ball. Hot water on back. Perfect. Exactly where I felt I needed to be.
By the time I was in the shower it was nearing 8am, mum had called the rest of the birth team and told them I was 5cm, so we could expect a baby by lunch time, but maybe later. So they went and got some breakfast and made their way over. Contractions were intense, very intense, but I didn’t want to move from where I was. Not for gas and air, not for any other form of pain relief. The hot water was doing everything it needed to do for me. Dan kept the water on my back the whole hour, and slowly but surely contractions got closer and closer together. Around 8:45 I started to panic a little, I felt a very very intense need to push, and I was panicking because not even 2 hours before I was only 5cm, so I can’t be ready to push, can I? The midwife reassured me that if I felt like I needed to push then I could. So I did. Contractions weren’t contractions anymore, it was one long single contraction and it wasn’t ending. Dan, let go of her hand you need to help catch your daughter. Mum, hold my hand. I can’t do this. Yes you can. We can see her head, Emily. Touch it. You can do this. Yes, I can. I’m doing this.
“I’m told I pushed for around 15 minutes, but I can tell you now, it felt like eternity and at the same time it felt like seconds”
I’m told I pushed for around 15 minutes, but I can tell you now, it felt like eternity and at the same time it felt like seconds. Absolutely nothing compares to those last few pushes. The last few seconds of being just me, Em, before I became a mother. The amount of love you feel through every second of the pain is indescribable. And the massive feeling of release when your child enters the world and is brought up into your arms is utterly incredible. At 9:12am on February 6th 2017, Daniel caught his daughter and helped scoop her down through my legs and onto my chest. And we all cried. She was here. She was healthy. She was all ours. And about a minute later my mum held my face and said to me “Can you just tell us one thing? What is her name?” and Dan and I replied together, with the most love either of us have ever felt