Wednesday 20th of February 2013 was the day our world changed. In fact, it was the day two and a cat became so much more than that.
I talked briefly in my last post about how I was having issues with my blood pressure and swelling. Towards the end of my pregnancy, both had been getting progressively worse and I was being watched for a nasty condition called pre-eclampsia. If a pregnant woman develops this, it can be very dangerous for both Mum and Bub. The only cure is delivery of the baby.
On the afternoon of Tuesday 19th February 2013, Adam and I randomly sat down and watched a movie together. It was something we hadn't done in a long while and it was nice quality time for the two of us. Before heading to bed at 930pm I checked my blood pressure - it was right up and over the limits the doctors had given me. I waited a little. Checked it again. It was even higher. Bugger. No bed for me, time to go to the hospital to get checked out. When we got there, the damn thing was even higher. I was given a 'stretch-and-sweep', which - be warned - was extremely uncomfortable and somewhat painful. It is essentially a stretching of your cervix and a sweeping of your membranes in an attempt to bring on labour, usually within the week. It felt like a fist was being shoved right up my clacker, which I guess is actually what was happening. I was admitted, and at 130-ish in the morning Adam went home. Overnight my blood pressure skyrocketed to 170/110. Anyone who knows blood pressures, knows that number is not good. Not good at all.
At 7am Adam called to tell me that he was only just going to bed. You see - he had gone home, taken off his shoes and went upstairs to wind down. When he ventured back downstairs, he found his shoes floating. Our entire bedroom was flooded. I'm talking about the bedroom in my parents house - we still hadn't finished our reno's, we were living at Mum and Dad's. So as I slept soundly in the delivery suite of the hospital, Adam, my Mum, my Dad, and two of my brothers Nick and Jo spent the entire night bucketing water out from our room and under the house. Our waters had broken, just not the pregnancy related ones.
Adam went to sleep at 7am, and at 8am I had my obstetric review. Before the obstetric team came into the room my midwife informed me that the doctors were outside discussing me and that I was actually only early 37 weeks and that they will try medicating me for my blood pressure and possibly send me home. I asked her to tell them to re-check the chart, I was definitely 38 weeks and 1 day. Only a few minutes later, I had a team of doctors at the foot of my bed and they had changed their approach and decided I would be given a medication that evening to ripen my cervix and have my waters broken the next morning. They did an internal examination, and as this was happening I was asked a few questions. At one point the consultant (yes - still with her hand fair up my hoo-hoo) says 'actually you're already 2-3 centimetres dilated, what has your blood pressure been?'. 'It got up to 170/110 last night.''How long has it been that high? That's not ok '. Next thing I see is someone cracking open a crochet hook. 'Are you going to break my waters now?' Yes they were. 'Did I just wee myself?' No, that was my waters breaking artificially. In the space of 5 minutes I went from being told I would be going home, to having my membranes ruptured. With that I climbed out of bed, washed my feet and called my husband. No sleep for him today, we were having our baby!
While I waited for Adams arrival, our midwife (who was amazing btw), hooked me up to a syntocinon drip to slowly get my contractions happening. I was also required to be attached to a monitor to keep an eye on bub's heart rate. Adam rocked up, closely followed by my Mum. Myself and my awesome support team, weren't properly packed and prepared so they had been running around collecting stuff at home. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall then. Even with all my blood pressure issues - I'd managed to convince myself that I would go past my due date. After all, most first time mum's do. Adam had managed to put together an awesome playlist to play during our labour. I spent some time bouncing on an exercise ball. My contractions had only just started and weren't very painful. While I was still smiling and bouncing away, feeling pretty excited to meet our little one, I encouraged Adam to get some rest.
I was going to need his energy, strength and support - so I let him have my bed whilst I happily continued to bounce away. In the afternoon, as the drip was increased my contractions slowly got stronger.
People often ask about your birth-plan. My hopes were that I would be able to give birth naturally with gas only as pain relief. My Mum had done it 5 times that way, and I wanted to give it a good crack myself. As I said - they were my hopes, but I was realistic and open to whatever needed to be done - depending on the circumstance. I had given up my ball and we were trying different labour positions to help get us through and get baby out. For a while there, Adam was literally holding me up through my contractions.
Together we had picked out a Mickey Mouse sleep shirt as my labouring attire. It was a tribute to our Japan holiday that had made this miracle possible. I was pretty out of it by the time this photo was taken. If I was asked any questions, the answer was often 'I don't know' because I didn't feel I could string any other sentence together. I just wanted to zone out. At one point I may have zoned out a little too much. I was later told by Mum that I had scared Adam a bit when I stopped responding to him. Apparently, I kinda passed out a little. You know how people always talk about women abusing their husbands during labour... The whole 'you bastard you did this to me' thing. Adam never once copped a spray from me. In fact, it was the entire opposite. I just kept telling him how handsome he was - 'You're so handsome' was on constant repeat from my mouth.
Distraction therapy. That's a selfie Adam snapped of us between contractions. Nice.
Just because you are contracting doesn't mean that you are in what they call established labour. I still wasn't technically established when at 4pm one of the obstetricians decided I needed an internal examination. My midwife was not happy with this, which was understandable - real progress is only made when labour is properly in swing. But the boss had requested it, so the registrar did it. She said that I was still only 3cm dilated (thats your cervix opening - you need to get to 10cm before you can push). She also said that it was going to be a very long labour 'You will be here until morning. You should have an epidural.'
I was thrown. That was such a wrong thing to say to a labouring woman. My midwife was very unimpressed with the doctor, and the awesome headspace I had been in before was definitely tampered with. We continued on, ignoring the doctors recommendations.
45 minutes later I was having the overwhelming desire to push. It was not possible that I needed to push. That was ridiculous. I can't be fully dilated yet, I'm going to tear myself in two. It turns out, that if the baby is positioned posterior (their back on your back) the labouring woman can often feel the urge to push even when they're not fully dilated. It was thought that perhaps that was happening with me, and with this in mind, I was trying not to push but it was impossible. I got a little distressed at that point, and told Mum that I thought I was going to need an epidural. With the obstetrician's words ringing in my ears, I was thinking there was no way on earth I could hold this urge back for the next 12 hours. Mum told me we would talk about it after the next contraction. Instead of an epidural, we tried a new position and got me some gas for pain relief. I only had maybe 3 contractions with the gas, as I cried out that I still needed to push. With that our midwife did an internal examination. I was fully dilated. It was time to push. I went from 3 centimetres dilated to fully dilated and pushing in the space of 45 minutes - which is just insane. Next thing I know I was kneeling, hanging over the upright head-end of the bed with my back to everyone - pushing.
Adam was no longer by my side, he was down the end of the bed preparing to catch our baby. I had spoken to Adam earlier about how there is plenty of time to get hold of the baby before it comes out. He knew that the way it works is that the baby's head comes out first, then you wait until the next contraction for the shoulders and the rest of the baby to come out. I had been pushing for a little while when unbeknownst to me, everyone behind me had gone quiet and looks had been exchanged. They had lost the heart beat on our baby and all that could be found was a question mark. Adam told me later that he thought at that moment, we would be taking home a tiny coffin instead of a baby. It was then that my midwife and my Mum told me that the baby wasn't doing so good, we need to get them out NOW. The next contraction came, and I dug deep and using power that I'm sure came from the terrifying thought of losing my baby - I gave the biggest push I could possibly muster. BOOM! Head, shoulders, everything. All at once our baby came out, and Adam literally had to dive forward to catch them.
As I said before, I was positioned with my back to everyone so, having delivered our baby I turned around to see them. Saying repetitively 'is it a Vincent or a Violet? Is it a Vincent or a Violet??!!'. We had decided not to find out the sex of our baby until they were born. There he was, in Adam's hands the most fantastic thing I had ever seen - Adam crying 'It's a boy. It's a boy'. I was told to take my Mickey Mouse top off before holding the baby, for some skin-to-skin time. I've never got my gear off so quick. Adam was very good at listening to anything I told him about this whole process - including that sometimes people mistake girls as boys because their little girly bits can be swollen. So after saying 'It's a boy' five or so times Adam handed him to me and said 'Is it a boy?'... which still makes me laugh.
We don't know what song was playing on our play list at 5 o'clock that afternoon, the moment that Vincent was born. We were too enthralled in the event to notice. I remember hearing Dire Straits - Romeo and Juliet while I was pushing, and Adam remembers hearing David Bowie's Heroes right after... but we have no idea what it was when he arrived. After a lot of skin-to-skin time, and our first attempt at breast-feeding, it was time to weigh in. That meant Dad (that's Adam - he is a Dad...yay!!) got to have his second cuddle and hold Vincent's hand as he had his injections.
As you can see, Mini Vinnie weighed in at only 2785grams. That's 6 pounds 2 ounces. He still had a good length though and massive hands and feet. He was the most beautiful skinny, little old man I had ever seen. I was later told that it is not unusual for high blood pressure Mum's to have super quick labours and skinny babies. I had proved that theory correct on both counts.
I went to have a shower, where my Mum washed my hair. God it felt good. Whilst I was cleaning up, at the suggestion of our midwife Adam enjoyed some skin-on-skin time of his own, cuddling Vincent and then put on his first ever nappy. Vincent's first was also Adam's first. My brother Tim was snapping photo's so I didn't miss out. Our midwife told us a story of another Dad who was having skin-to-skin time, the midwife went to help the mother in the shower, and when she had returned to the Dad he said 'Is this supposed to happen?' - and the baby had attached to the Dad's nipple... hehehe.
We spent a lot of time examining our little miracle. So much to look at. So much to take in. Of course, I am biased - but he is pure awesome.
Our close family members came to visit, to meet the new little member and sometime late in the night, everyone had been and gone and it was just the three of us. Our very own little family. Right at that moment the most appropriate song came onto the playlist.
Vincent Hiro Pommer - truly the best thing to ever happen to Adam and I.
Our little miracle. Safe and sound and in our arms.
All my dreams came true that day.
- of the birth story :)
My life as a Mum is only just beginning.