the birth of indigo
It wasn't a big decision for us to have a fourth child. We had planned on trying to get pregnant after we returned from my sister's wedding in Bali. Fortunately I was lucky enough to fall pregnant the first month.
It was a fairly uneventful pregnancy other than extremely low ferretin levels making me feel pretty tired, losing my Grandma whom I was very close to when I was around 20 weeks pregnant was emotionally very hard for me as well. I had expected to go later than 40 weeks as I had with my three older children. We planned on this being our last baby so we decided we wouldn't be finding out the sex as we had with our other children. My husband was really looking forward to that exciting moment of surprise at birth.
The weeks flew by and towards the end of my pregnancy I became that textbook hugely pregnant uncomfortable mum having a baby in the height of summer. At almost 39 weeks my two year old was hospitalised with severe pneumonia. It's the first time I've ever been grateful for my babies arriving after 40 weeks. I was nervous about going into labour whilst my little girl was so unwell, but I trusted my body and I knew deep down there wasn't a real chance this baby would arrive whilst my toddler needed all of me. That week was a huge week for all of us, my older two children had just started back at school after summer and my little boy was starting full time school for the first time. I really needed to be there for my kids and I knew deep down that I would have to get these things out of the way before meeting our newest family member.
A week later and only two days before my due date I arrived home from hospital with my little girl who was on the road to recovery. I set about getting the final things organised before we met our new baby. As I anticipated my due date came and went with no signs of impending labour. At 40+1 weeks I had a routine appointment with my midwife and everything was looking great, however my baby was still very high in my pelvis and she said she would probably see me at next week's appointment. I didn't worry too much about this as I know that baby being 'high' doesn't mean too much in subsequent pregnancies. I had arrived at hospital in labour with my third child to be told she was 'still very high' only for her to be born less than an hour later.
Three days after my due date I woke in the night to go to the toilet. I felt slightly crampy as I stood up from toilet and I felt a little excited that something might be happening in the next couple of days, however it was the middle of the night and I went back to bed.
I woke up at about 7am and started getting the kids ready for school, my husband was getting ready to go to work and was already running very late. He told me he really couldn't be bothered going to work today, it was going to be a really hot day and could we just have this baby instead please? I was now conscious of the very small irregular waves that had started coming and told him he could stay home if he wanted to. Truth be told I really needed to catch up on some washing, it had been a chaotic week and I was feeling quite disorganised. Having my husband home to play with our our toddler would enable me to get all the things I needed to be done ticked off the list. I certainly did not think we would be meeting our new babe today.
My previous two children had been born one and a half hours after the very first 'niggle' and my labours were extremely fast and intense from the get go. For this reason I had somewhat anticipated another rapid labour. We had discussed and made plans about what we would need to do to be prepared for this scenario. My Mum was on standby having taken annual leave from work to look after our kids and my sister was eagerly awaiting our phone call as she would be coming to the birth. Our neighbor was also on alert in case we needed to leave the kids at home very quickly before anyone arrived to watch them.
However this time things actually felt quite different. The waves felt so mild I was sure that this was in fact pre labour or baby moving deeper into my pelvis. After my husband had taken our older kids to school, I decided to call my Mum. I asked her to take our toddler with her for the morning so I could get some rest. I knew she had made arrangements for the day and in the event that something was happening, this would be easier than calling her to drive all the way back. I told my husband we should go for a walk because if this was possibly something, I wanted to get it moving! We probably made it about 300m down the walkway beside our house before I was sweating profusely (it was already 38 degrees at 9am) and I said we should just go home where our air conditioning was waiting. The waves continued to come every 5-10 mins lasting just under a minute or so but they were so mild I didn't even need to breathe through them yet. I was starting to feel quite sure that this was nothing but prodromal labour. I spent the next couple of hours bouncing on the fit ball folding all the kids clean clothes.
By lunch time the mild waves were coming every 5-10 mins and I began to realise they were becoming slightly stronger, though they still weren't regular. I decided I would like to go to the hospital. I had originally wanted to birth at home through the community midwifery program, however I didn't meet their guidelines so a water birth at the local hospital (which had only opened that week) was next on the list. I was very conscious of not wanting to make the car trip in advanced labour. I had done that trip with my previous child and being confined in the car unable to move around and stay upright isn't ideal. Knowing that my other children had arrived so quickly, I also wanted enough time to fill the birthing pool.
We arrived at the hospital and my waves basically stopped. At this point I spoke to my midwife and I said that it must have been a false alarm and I think I'm just going to go home. She suggested not leaving but rather going for a walk instead. I think my midwife knew that things were progressing even if I didn't believe it myself.
We walked down to the lake next to the hospital and I called my sister whom arrived pretty quickly. She was excited to be attending the birth and we were grateful she would be able to capture some photos for us. It was such a hot day but we sat by that lake talking and making jokes for over an hour until she stated that it was ridiculously hot and we should go and get a drink. I had been so distracted with the waves that were again coming every 5-10 minutes and the all the talking and banter with my husband and sister that I didn't even realise how hot it actually was, 42 degrees and we were sitting in the direct sun, whoops!
We started walking the 200m back to the hospital and I suddenly had to stop for a stronger surge and lean on a tree. It finally dawned on me that I would be meeting our baby today. After a few stop and start moments, including being in an elevator with ten random strangers all looking terrified I would give birth on the spot, we made it back up to the birthing suite at 1.45pm.
I was directed to a room and met the midwife who had been assigned to me. I hadn't met her before and without looking at my notes she asked me what I wanted to do for pain relief. I told her I wanted to use the bath. She stated she couldn't do that because she wasn't water birth certified. She was also looking after another labouring woman and went to check on her.
To be brutally honest, things in my mind went a little south at this point, if only for a short moment. I have laboured in water for three of my four children and I know it works well for me. To be told in what I now realise was transition that I wasn't able to get in that bath was a very big problem for me, in fact it was the only fear I had going into this birth. Fortunately it's something I had thought about prior to the day and I had imagined a few alternative plans should this occur. But, in that moment, the solution in my mind was quite simple, 'I'm not staying here if I can't use their bath when I have a bath at home'. My husband wasn't overly keen when I expressed this idea. He suggested waiting until the midwife came back and discussing our other options with her.
I needn't have worried because it wasn't long before another midwife walked in the door and told us she would now be our midwife, not only was she water birth competent, but she told me these were her favourite type of births to attend. We instantly 'clicked' and she was amazing. After a quick look through my notes and birth plan she told me she would go and start filling the tub which was down the hall, and to let her know when I was ready to get in.
After a few more surges which were now requiring a bit more of my focus, I made my way down the hall and got into the water. The relief was nothing short of amazing. I was instantly relaxed and able to get into a comfortable position. My sister and I could now joke about the situation with the bath whilst my husband just looked relieved not to be driving me home to birth this baby in our bath tub.
I had three intense and very long surges in the water before I felt an overwhelming pressure in my pelvis and I knew my babe was getting close. My midwife reminded me that my waters were still intact and this could be the reason I was feeling so much pressure. With my other children, my waters didn't break until they were being born and again, I was reminded that the time was almost here. Sure enough I felt down and my bag of waters was bulging outside of my body, as I touched the sac, it burst bringing instant relief, this didn't last long as I felt the peachy fuzz of my baby's head right behind it.
I roared and with two big pushes, less than an hour after arriving into the birthing suite my baby was born into the water. I immediately picked her and pulled her to my chest. Relief and euphoria swept over me. I lifted our baby up to check between the legs and saw that we had another beautiful little girl. My husband was slightly shocked as he had been so certain we were having a baby boy. She was so quiet and content and remained that way for a very long while. She looked so different to what I had imagined and she was just so tiny.
It took her a very long while to open her eyes, in the warm water it seemed like she didn't even realise she had been born. Once she finally opened her eyes I breastfed her and waited for the placenta to arrive without the aid of a managed third stage. I waited and waited and waited and after over an hour in the pool I was starting to get cold and felt the need to get out to birth the placenta. My husband cut the cord which had stopped pulsating quite some time ago and enjoyed some skin to skin with our new baby girl. I hopped out and into the warm bed. Another half an hour later the placenta finally arrived ... the relief was amazing! The surges whilst waiting for the placenta had in fact been somewhat stronger than those to bring my baby, a sign that my body was working very hard to do what it needed to do.
Soon, my parents and our older kids arrived. We hadn't told them over the phone whether they had a new brother or sister. They were so excited when they arrived and I told them they could unwrap their new sibling to find out for themselves that they had a sister!
Our little Indigo Isabel weighed in at 9lb 4oz, not quite as big as her siblings but not as tiny as she had looked to me. All in all it was a very easy birth and though it wasn't as speedy as my previous births, I can honestly say it was by far the easiest. It was only those final three surges that convinced me my baby was close.
It is such a transforming moment becoming a mother. Even the fourth time around, meeting your baby after the long months of waiting is so euphoric. To achieve the birth you have desired and planned for only adds to this euphoria. The ability to look back on a positive birth experience gives a sense of accomplishment like no other ... it certainly makes it difficult to stop having babies x