If you know me, you will know I am a lover of birth stories and enjoy hearing alllllll the details. So it's only fair that I deliver (pun intended) what I would be expecting (again, pun intended) to hear, right?!? So - disclaimer - I haven't held a lot back.
I'll hark right back to the beginning. Baby H was conceived (see, I told you) on a slightly drunken night, celebrating the purchase of our new home. We had been gifted a bottle of Verve by the real estate agent, and let's just say the method of contraception we were using failed us that night. In the words of the Family Planning consultant I have since seen to get some real contraception sorted, "the withdrawal method is NOT a form of contraception". My bad. Or rather, my husband's bad. So, we would be welcoming our new baby on December 28th 2017....perfect timing....
I appreciate we are insanely lucky to get pregnant so easily, and all jokes aside, the next nine months made us realise how much we already loved and desperately wanted our precious new baby. Without getting into too much detail about my entire pregnancy, it was pretty exhausting. Bleeding, reduced movement scares, concerns around baby's size and my placenta function, the discovery of a dilated kidney (baby's) and multiple hospital visits for ultrasounds and CTG monitoring; made for a fairly stressful nine months. In the end, due to ongoing concerns around Baby H's growth, it was decided I would be induced at 38.2 weeks. By this stage we just wanted our baby earth-side safe and sound. We wanted to be able to hold him (or her) in our arms and were completely happy to follow the professionals' lead.
So, on Tuesday 19 December I gave myself a fake tan and blow-waved my hair (second baby, so I had an inkling it would be a looooooog time before I got to do either of those things again) and we headed into Auckland Hospital for me to be induced. After having a spontaneous birth with O Boy, it was quite a surreal feeling, walking into the hospital with zero pain, knowing that we would be walking out of there with a new baby.
I had an epidural with O Boy and it worked really well - so well in fact, that I couldn't feel a thing and was completely bed bound. I liked the not feeling a thing part, but I got a really sore and numb butt and I didn't like being tied to the bed - I felt almost claustrophobic. So, if I could, I wanted to avoid having an epidural this time around. I had heard lots of women have a really positive experience with Hypnobirthing so I thought I'd give that a go. I read the book and Ben and I attended a one-on-one session with a Hypnobirthing expert. I planned on having a serene natural birth, calmly breathing my baby into this world.
The hospital birthing unit was pretty busy the day we arrived, with a number of urgent cases taking priority over mine. However, after a day spent waiting, we were seen by a doctor who determined that yes, we should go ahead with the induction. First up - a stretch and sweep. Never had one of those before. And it wasn't pleasant, but when you know what is to come, it seemed like a walk in the park. According to the nurse who performed it, I was "like a carrot" - I think meaning that my cervix wasn't very soft, so no way near going into spontaneous labour.
Next up, insertion of the balloon. Yes, you read that right. The. Balloon. Balloon induction is when they insert a soft plastic tube into your cervix and inflate a tiny balloon. This balloon puts pressure on your cervix in the same way a baby's head would, so it is actually a much slower and more 'natural' process. Some women are able to go home for up to 24 hours to early labour at home, but due to concerns around Baby H's size etc. I remained in hospital to be monitored. I enjoyed my first experience of gas while having the balloon inserted and for a tiny moment I thought that maybe, just maybe, gas would be what was going to get me through labour and birth (along with my breathing techniques, of course). Ha.
The balloon was inserted at 4pm on the afternoon of 19th and I started getting mild contractions around midnight. Not super bad, but enough to disturb my sleep. Ben came back to the hospital the following morning as we were unsure when things would start to really get going. The nurses continued to monitor the baby on regular intervals and thankfully he (we didn't know he was a he at that point) was doing well. The balloon was removed at 4pm and my mild contractions really started to ramp up. Unfortunately by this stage we knew that my midwife wouldn't be at the birth and one of her colleagues (who I had never met) would be there instead.
Finally, at around 6pm, I was escorted to a birthing room. By that point, I was begging anyone who would listen for an epidural. My husband's encouragement "you can do it", was met by a half screamed "you have NO IDEA". Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, I was 9cm dilated by that point and had reached the point of no return.
I was desperate for a water birth and insisted on jumping into the half filled pool - the water only came up to my calves. I laboured in the pool for around an hour, somehow managing to breath through the contractions. Our little one would come down with each contraction and push, but then pop back up again, so we decided to it was time to try something different. So, I clambered up on to the bed, on my hands and knees and pushed that little sucker out. Actually, I pushed so hard he shot right out, tore me up, and burst blood vessels in his eyes. Apparently the midwife was telling me to slow down, but I couldn't hear her over my blood curdling screams. I think I nailed Hypobirthing.
Our Christmas baby was born on 20th December at 8.20pm. Welcome to the world Baby H - a perfect bundle of goodness weighing in at 2.8kgs (just over 6 pounds), the exact same weight at birth as his big bro. Turns out I grow small, but perfectly healthy babies.