Dexter’s Birth Story
With this pregnancy I had gone through the Midwifery Group Practice Program. I liked the idea of one on one care and since I was working 4 days a week, it was ideal having the midwife, Belinda and her student midwife Rosie come to our house for appointments.
This pregnancy was reasonably uncomplicated apart from severe morning sickness/Hyperemesis again which saw me in hospital on a drip at 16 weeks. I lost 11kg and by the end of the pregnancy I’d put about 9kg back on. I also developed SPD again, this time from 10 weeks, not 30 weeks as with Willow. In hindsight I should have found a good women’s physiotherapist a lot sooner.
I had an appointment with Belinda and Rosie on the due date, Tuesday 2nd of October, but I wasn’t expecting him to arrive by then. Willow was born 4 days after her due date. Everything looked positive for a good birth, he was in a great position, his head was well down in my pelvis. Unfortunately my blood pressure had crept up to 130/90. Ironically when I was working and under a decent amount of stress, (I’d stopped at 38 weeks) my blood pressure was about 110/70 at times.
I had another appointment with the backup midwife on the following Friday. I went into the hospital with Willow – A had gone back to work for the day. He’d started his leave on the 2nd, but with each day passing he’d debated about going back to work to save his leave. When Willow was born he wasn’t working so I’d had unlimited support (time wise) from him.
The backup midwife was lovely. My blood pressure was still 130/90 and she offered to do a VE, but I refused. If she’d broken my waters, I would feel stuck in hospital with Willow. I went home, frustrated. We’d set the cot up sidecar to our bed and every morning that I woke up and saw him not in there was depressing.
Everything was organised for his due date – the pantry and fridge and freezer were stocked, but we’d been eating all that food. A’s mum was coming to stay after, but she had commitments on particular days. I’d organised a support person for Willow, my friend Keren, but she also had commitments, like Uni and her own children.
Belinda and Rosie came on Monday. My blood pressure was high again and I was getting a headache. I put it down to sinusitus as I had a bit of a cold and didn’t want to consider the alternative. I asked her to do a VE as I’d been having proper contractions. I was 3-4cm dilated. I’d had braxton hicks contractions for ages, but these were different. They were not consistent though and would go from minutes to hours apart. I tried getting up and moving some things around, but that didn’t help. I tried lying down for a sleep, but that didn’t help either. It wasn’t until I sat down at night that they came more regularly, but even then the time ranged from 23 minutes to 4 minutes apart.
On Tuesday nothing happened. Irregular contractions again and I still had a head ache. This was beginning to feel like deja vu. With Willow’s birth I’d gone to hospital after a day of contractions and asked for artificial rupture of membranes, basically to have my waters broken. It just didn’t feel like my body knew what to do next. She was born 4 hours after my waters were broken, so once things got going, they were fast and intense.
On Wednesday I’d had enough, I asked Belinda to come around and do a VE, hoping my waters would break then and there. She found that I was 4-5cm dilated now, so the contractions were doing some good. I was reassured. She said that if we got ready and came into hospital she could break my waters. My blood pressure was still high, 150/90 now and I couldn’t put the headache down to a head cold any more. I was so angry with my body for not doing what I wanted it to.
Belinda left, reassuring me that we would all be together as a family in our beautiful bed tonight. A decided it was time to get things ready, so he started packing the important things like the video camera, digital camera and iPod. I had already half heartedly packed a bag, but I didn’t want to finish packing it properly.
I had done a lot of research about home birth and the idea really appealed to me. I knew that my midwife would support me and had all the equipment if I wanted to have this baby at home but A was not at all supportive of the idea. I went to have a sleep while A got ready. I felt so disempowered by my body and I didn’t have the strength to argue with A about having a home birth. Willow was in childcare, but I’d organised a little bag of things for her to do and a support person, my friend Keren. I’d also organised a present of a boy baby born doll from Dexter to her.
I tested my blood pressure on a home machine. Not entirely accurate, but it was 144/103.
Belinda rang wanting to know what we were doing. I said to her that I knew what I wanted to do, but what A wanted to do was different. I said that we’d sit down and have a discussion and call her back. I made a cup of tea for A and I and said that we have two choices. I could go into hospital and have my waters broken, or stay here. I wanted to stay here and I wanted his support. He was not happy initially and felt like I’d made plans without him. We talked some more and he realised how important it was to me. I knew that once things got started again, it would happen quickly. He told me that I had his unconditional support.
He said that he would put the taps on the bath (we have been renovating for a million years) in case I wanted to use it. He also went out to the shed and got some painting drop sheets.
I called Belinda and asked her to come here to break my waters. She said that she would be there soon with Rosie. I suddenly felt a burst of energy. I was going to have my baby today!
I wanted something sweet to eat so I prepared a packet mix of white chocolate fudge brownies. I set the timer for 30 minutes and hoped I would remember to take them out! I took some rescue remedy to help calm me down and lit some candles.
Belinda and Rosie turned up. My blood pressure was now 150/100. I suddenly felt very nervous, I knew that once I started, there was no going back. As it turned out, a birth pool was available, but I declined – it wasn’t what I had pictured in my head for this birth. We had a quick chat then went down to our bedroom. Belinda asked if, since my body was so ripe, could Rosie try to break them. I figured that’s what I had a student midwife for, so allowed her to try. She couldn’t quite get them, so Belinda tried. Apparently the membranes were quite tough, but Belinda finally got them.
I got up, put a maternity pad on and started pottering around while the midwives brought all their gear in. After I called Belinda, I also rang Keren, Willow’s support person. Willow was still at childcare but she needed our car to pick her up. When Keren turned up the contractions had gone from mildly annoying to not being able to talk through them. I had the TENS machine on, but it didn’t feel very effective, more constrictive.
Everyone was sitting down in the living room, but I got up and paced around. A served the brownies, and I had some lemonade as well, but I knew I shouldn’t eat too much more. I started to feel like a caged animal, panicky and anxious. I wondered why on earth I’d done this! Belinda could tell how I was feeling and reassured me. It was a hot day and the waters leaking made me feel grotty so I decided to get into the shower.
Once I was in the shower, the contractions intensified. I sort of stomped, experimented with different positions, from pulling on the soap dish, from kneeling down on a towel over the bath to having one leg up on the bath. The last position was quite painful due to my SPD. Belinda and Rosie were in the bathroom with me, reassuring me. At this point I started vocalising through the contractions and found that to be a welcome distraction.
A came in a few times with ideas for a middle name but he soon realised that it was a bit late for that! I got to the point where I didn’t feel like I could be supported by my legs for much longer so I wrapped myself up in a towel and went down to the bedroom.
Everything was set up, candles, music, drop sheet on the bed. I didn’t want to give birth on my back like I did with Willow, so I lay on my left side. I remember Belinda suggesting it, but really just fell in that position by luck. With each contraction I lifted my right leg up and vocalised! I think towards the end I was pushing against A with my leg.
A started up near my head and I squeezed his strong hands through each contraction. I relaxed at one stage and realised he was holding my hand as tightly as I was holding his! I remember saying something silly like “I can’t do this anymore.” Of course I didn’t have much of a choice!
I vocalised with each contraction and tried to make them long and productive rather than short and panicky. I did some strange things like flapping my hands and at one stage wanted some thing, anything to smash. I actually bit my right wrist, arm and knuckle in an attempt to distract myself. I think I scared the midwife when I bit the skin on my knuckle because my teeth made a snapping sound. At one stage I told A “You are sooo having a vasectomy!”
Soon I felt the contractions cease and the urge to push came over me. The advantage of not using drugs is that I felt like I had control over when I pushed. I could push, then rest, push then rest. With Willow I had gas, pushed too fast and ended up with a second degree tear. This time I was able to get part of his head out and then rest, then keep going. I told myself that his shoulders must be narrower than his head, so this was the easy part. This meant that I only ended up with a graze from a much bigger baby.
My legs and hips were aching by then, I just wanted to roll on my back and flop. I knew that probably wasn’t wise and might change his position.
After getting his head out, I had a rest, then I pushed the rest of his body out. A had changed positions with Belinda, so he got to catch Dexter. I don’t quite think he was prepared for this!
I’d told Belinda that I wanted a physiological third stage, so waited for the placenta to be delivered and the cord to stop pulsing before the cord was cut. I passed two big clots of blood, then finally the placenta. It was a relief to get it out. A cut the cord. I held him close to me with a towel over us, A had the heater on and the room was about 26-27 degrees. He wasn’t as keen on breastfeeding as his sister was – Willow had given me a bruise on the aerola on the delivery table! He eventually had a suckle though.
Time to do the measurements. He didn’t look like a big baby, his arms and legs were on the scrawny side like Willow, so I guessed he was around 3 kg – she had been 2.8kg. We were all surprised to find that he was 3.6kg, nearly a kilogram heavier. His head circumference was 38, 3.5 cm bigger than Willow. He had red hair like me and very blue eyes.
I had no idea of the time. It was 5.51pm when he was born, so birthing him had only taken about 3 hours. I knew that things had happened quickly, but not that quickly.
While I was birthing Dexter, Keren didn’t really know what to do before it was time to pick Willow up so she went to do the dishes. She saw my dogs outside – who were like my children before I had Willow – howling along with my vocalisations. She went to pick up Willow, who apparently was quite upset to see her. She brought her home where she heard the noises I was making and commented. “Mummy’s crying.” Keren distracted her with blowing bubbles outside and later her special bag I’d packed.
Willow was keen to meet the new baby – we’d done a lot to try to prepare her, but there was only so much we could do before he got here. She was thrilled to see him, as proud as if she’d given birth herself. She didn’t seem overly concerned about the blood, she thought Mummy had done poos, but I hadn’t!
Belinda captured some great photos of us as a new family. We thought Willow might be more distressed at me being in pain, but Keren supported her really well.
I had a cup of strong sweet tea in bed before getting up and A made the midwives a coffee each. I had a shower and tried to eat something. Keren’s husband was kind enough to bring food but I couldn’t face it. We all sat down and de-briefed. Willow got her baby born which was a good distraction.
I was on a natural high after wards and couldn’t get to sleep until 2am. I just sat on my couch ad watched him sleep. A had put Willow to bed in her room, so I finally woke him up and we went to bed as new parents again. I am writing this the next day before all the details fade and he’s not even 24 hours old yet. He’s slept for most of the day and had a good go at breastfeeding. He looks like a real old little man – he’s certainly been here before.
My hips and legs are sorer than any other part of my body and I have a small bruise on my wrist where I bit it and I broke the skin on my knuckle! I just weighed myself then and I weigh 6kg less than when I fell pregnant.
Belinda and Rosie came earlier today and checked him out – he’s absolutely perfect. I’ve already decided that it’s harder to change boy nappies! We still haven’t decided on a middle name yet. A is proving to be a fantastic father again. He was the wrapping expert with Willow and he hasn’t lost his touch.
I am so glad that I didn’t go to hospital for Dexter’s birth, I have loved being in my own home, with my own things around me and the people I wanted.
Willow’s perspective, as written by Keren.
Willow saw me at childcare and burst into tears. (It was a little embarrassing!) She was crying for mummy and I told her we were going to go and see mummy – and Dexter, did she want to see Dexter? No, apparently just mummy. Which put me in a quandary cos I knew mummy wasn’t going to be able to see Willow just at that minute! But I didn’t want to lie to her. So I told her exactly what was happening and that mum was busy having the baby and we would have to go home and wait until the baby was here. (I think I might have stunned the childcare workers when I revealed mummy was at home and not in hospital) I distracted her with talk like guessing if the baby would look like Willow … have two eyes just like Willow … would he have one nose, or two?
When we arrived back Willow wanted to see mummy, but yeah, I was right, she was a trifle busy at that stage as it was about 5:40pm so we went outside to blow bubbles. She knew mummy was crying so I just told her that it hurts to have a baby but mummy would feel better soon…but you know aeroplanes flying overhead are just as important! She wasn’t terribly bothered at all! We said hello to the dogs and they were still making some noises of distress. Willow told them to “shush” but I am not convinced it was out of concern for her birthing mother at all, merely a automatic reaction I suspect – was terribly cute though. She did desperately want to see mummy though. I treid to distract her with food, but she wasn’t all that keen. The brownies were brilliant but she just wanted to see mummy and wait … what was that?
“It’s baby.” Her little face just lit up with wonder when we heard him crying. He was born while we were outside blowing bubbles! I couldn’t catch her as she hightailed it out of there – “I see baby!” I think she remembered she was dying to see mummy as well by then and she was clamouring to see mummy and that’s exactly what she did!
She came back out and we did some colouring and I asked her about the baby.
“Has he got two eyes then?”
“And has he got fingers, just like Willow?”
“Yes, got two.” (Don’t worry, he has ten!)
It was just lovely for Willow to be able to go straight in and see her baby brother and not to be in a strange hospital. She was distressed enough at being picked up by someone else and I’m really glad I didn’t have to then take her to a sterile, impersonal hospital and track her mother down all the while hushing her so the other people wouldn’t be bothered. I can only imagine that for a 2.5yo that would be even scarier. As it was, we hung out in her very own loungeroom, colouring in, making as much noise (er, reasonable noise lol) as we wanted and then Dexter came and brought her a present and mummy came and sat on the lounge with her. Once the silly woman who was all thumbs got Willow’s baby out of all the blasted packaging, Willow fed her baby, right there on the couch next to mummy.
It was so beautiful.
I guess I just wanted to tell you from Willow’s perspective. Lots of people worry about how the children will cope and although she wasn’t there for the bit that made the dogs howl, she wasn’t particularly concerned and I think that’s cos she was at home and it was familiar and she wasn’t kept out of the room or away from her mother by policies or more than was necessary. And then it was bedtime and daddy was there to put her to bed, she wasn’t ripped away from her new baby brother, who she clearly adores, and taken away to stay with someone (although she does love my house!) nor did she have to leave a parent behind.
Willow came and kissed his little soft head goodnight and went off to bed. It was another day at her house only now there was a baby to share too. It wasn’t at all scary it was just beautiful.
I think the only scary thing is that Baby Born bottle – those things are lethal. We really need to educate W about breastfeeding.
I don’t know if Willow will remember when her baby brother was born so I wanted to write it down for her. She’s just such a lucky big sister to have such a wonderful experience.
I’m sitting here with my son on my lap. I have a son!
Unsurprisingly, he hasn’t quite worked out the whole night/day thing yet, so at 8am this morning I’d only had 6 hours sleep in 48 hours. A and his mother kept Willow amused so that Dexter and I could sleep and I got another 3 hours sleep. I’d forgotten what real sleep deprivation was like!
A was able to get another week of work which will be lovely, otherwise he would have only had two days at home. For a hypothetical third child, I would ensure that he took time off from the day the baby came!
Belinda has been to check on me everyday since he was born. She estimated that I lost about 400ml of blood, which is pretty good. My blood pressure is almost back to normal, which is a relief. Both my parents died from causes related to high blood pressure, so it is something I am concerned about. Today I found a bruise on my upper right arm where I must have bitten myself.
He received an oral dose of Vitamin K at birth, which was the first of a course. He will be getting the heel prick test blood taken at home and I will breastfeed him through it. We will delay his Hepatitis B immunisations because none of us are in any of the risk groups. He had his first bath and was introduced to the dogs today.
We have established breastfeeding now – he is not as voracious a feeder as his sister was, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it. I fed Willow to 25 months and I anticipate doing the same with Dexter, if not longer.
We have decided on a middle name after much discussion. I was thinking along the lines of a name with the meaning of red, due to his red hair, but we couldn’t agree on anything. Quinn, meaning wise and intelligent, is the name we have chosen.
I am not sure whether his birth should be called a planned or unplanned home birth. On one hand I didn’t sit down and plan this birth from the moment I got a positive pregnancy test, but on the other hand he didn’t just fall out when I was on the toilet either. It was more of a gradual interest in having a home birth that got stronger over time. For the hypothetical third child, I would definitely be planning a home birth from the start. Not that there will be a third child – A is having a vasectomy!
Despite having had intervention in the form of artificial rupture of membranes, I felt that I was in control of this and that it was what my body needed at the time.
I look back now on how I felt about my body and feel a bit silly. My body worked perfectly and did exactly what it was supposed to in the end.