My second birth was the polar opposite of my first; an exhilarating and crazy story to tell.
My first birth with my daughter, Addison, was one of the most standard birth stories. I ticked all the boxes of a textbook first birth. I was 3 days overdue and had no signs leading up to the day. I lost my mucus plug in the middle of the night; light contractions began, and I laboured at home for approximately 19 hours before heading into the hospital. I gave birth naturally 5 hours after arriving. Having done a Calm Birth class with my husband, I was calm and had no interventions/drugs and felt most relaxed in the shower. I found the pushing part to be the most strenuous and exhausting part as it took me nearly 3 hours to push Addi out. It was an empowering birth, and I felt confident heading into my next pregnancy that I would have a very similar, positive experience the second time around.
My second pregnancy came around, and I wanted to have a home birth this time. After much deliberation, we decided that financially it wasn’t the right time and instead, opted to book a private midwife through a private midwifery and birth hub where I did my Calm Birth classes. My amazing midwife did all my prenatal appointments, although I planned to birth at the public hospital when the day came. I did a Calm Birth refresher at around 35 weeks, and my instructor informed me that baby was in the right position to go. I remember her telling me that my birth would most likely be quicker this time around and I laughed it off thinking that I was likely to be in for the long haul again - I definitely couldn’t imagine it going quickly. I was so incredibly wrong about that! This pregnancy, I was extremely physically exhausted pretty much the whole way through. Chasing after a 2 year-old didn’t help, but I just felt like it was a totally different pregnancy to my first.
At 36 weeks, I started to notice small waves of ‘pressure’ in my pelvis and back. I always just put it down to physical exhaustion and didn’t realise that it was probably early labour signs. At 37 weeks, the ‘pressure’ waves became more regular, and I was starting to feel them randomly on a day to day basis. I always turned a blind eye because I had it in my head that I still had so long to go. I then caught a very severe case of gastro, where I basically lived on the bathroom floor for a couple of days and struggled to keep water down. This ruined me, but I soon recovered, and before I knew it, I was 38 weeks.
When I finally felt human again after the gastro, I thought it would be smart to get my baby capsule installed in our car. This meant a trip on a Saturday out to my sister’s house to see her friend who has a business in installing the seats. We got the seat installed around lunchtime, and the friend who installed the seat is actually a midwife at the hospital I was to birth at! I remember her telling me that she was on a night shift that same night and I joked to her that I would see her in there.
About 3 pm that day, we were still at my sister’s house, and I started to notice the pressure waves coming back. This time it increasingly got a bit stronger, and I was able to time them. They were lasting maybe 15-30 seconds at a time. They were very inconsistent and felt nothing like what I remember contractions to feel like with Addi’s birth, so I just kept brushing it off and saying that it was nothing and that it would probably go away later when I went to bed. It got to about 5 pm, and I started to feel quite irritated from the noise of the kids running around, so I decided to go home, have dinner and go to bed. Thankfully, my sister offered to keep Addi at her house for the night so that I could get a good rest.
The drive back to our house was about 25 minutes, and towards the end of the drive, I said to my husband, Daniel, that I thought I was actually in labour now. I felt really uncomfortable sitting in the car and noticed that I had to start doing some breathing through the ‘waves’. We made a plan to go home and have dinner, and then I would jump in the bath to relax - expecting I still had a while to go and that I wouldn’t be in proper labour until the early hours of the morning.
Well, from the time we arrived home at 5:30, things turned hectic - quickly. Our neighbours were at our door because our dog had escaped the yard from our broken side gate [of course!]. Daniel ushered me inside and said he would deal with it, so I ran a bath and started packing a hospital bag between the now consistent waves. After running the bath, I decided that I felt like getting in the shower instead, and it was when I was in the shower that I started to feel the impact of the waves/contractions.
I also noticed I had a bit of pressure in my bum. Funnily enough, I just thought that this could be from having gastro during the week - I had also been on the toilet quite a bit that day (another labour sign missed haha). I yelled out to Daniel, who was trying to fix the gate, to call the hospital and let them know the details and that I was getting consistent contractions. The midwife on the phone advised us to make our way into the hospital soon. Here I was, naively still thinking that I had many hours of labouring to go. So I got out of the shower and continued to have contractions while finalising my bag, getting dressed and forcing down some toast [because I knew I would need energy for my long labour haha].
About an hour had passed from the time we got home, and I was now at the point where I was only able to be on all fours and had to focus all my attention on breathing through the contractions. I told Daniel that I definitely wouldn’t be able to sit in the front seat on the way to the hospital so he raced outside and pulled out Addi’s car seat so he could put the back seats down and I could be on all fours in the boot.
He came back inside, and by this stage, I couldn’t even leave our bedroom floor. I started to get nauseous with each contraction, so I had my head in a bucket. I knew I had to get myself out to the car but felt like I wasn’t capable of walking as there didn’t seem to be enough time between contractions to catch a break. I crawled to the hallway when Daniel ran back in and yelled at me, out of panic, to hurry and get up. I, of course, yelled at him back and told him I couldn’t go to the hospital and that I had to stay right there on the hallway floor. He wasn’t having that at all, so he helped me get up and walk to the car. It took me a spew in the bucket before I could climb into the back of the car.
We were ready for take-off at around 7 pm, with me on all fours clinging onto the baby capsule handle. We had about a 15-20 minute drive to the hospital, but we were just around the corner from our house when I felt the urge to start pushing. Daniel told me not to push yet, as he knew how far we were from the hospital. It wasn’t something I could control, and the urge to push came hard and fast. He rang the hospital whilst driving and told them we were on the way and to have someone waiting out the front of the birth suite entrance as I was already starting to push.
After some very fast driving and bumpy back roads, my waters broke - it was a massive gush of water that went everywhere so between the bumps I tried, and failed, to get my underwear off. I popped my hand down below - I could feel the baby’s head! Poor Daniel nearly had a heart attack when I told him this. He kept telling me to stop pushing and wait a bit longer, but my body was telling me otherwise, so I ignored his wishes haha. He put his hazard lights on and started overtaking cars and going through several red lights to try and get there quicker.
We finally made it to the hospital entrance, pulling up to the ambulance parking area where 2 midwives were waiting with a wheelchair. He opened his window and yelled out to them to hurry over; I think they thought he was just a crazy dad overreacting because he said they seemed way too calm for his liking.
As soon as they opened up the boot of our car [where I was still on all fours], they knew our baby was about to come. One of them rushed inside to grab some towels, and I remember her telling me that our baby will be born right there in the boot - I wasn’t going anywhere. Despite the excitement around me, I was relatively calm the whole way through. I was just focused on my breathing and was oblivious to my surroundings. I remember the midwife asking me if I was okay and in between breaths, I asked her to cut my underwear off so I could get my legs in a more comfortable position.
Approximately 2-3 minutes later, and more controlled and slower, small pushes our baby boy Rudy was born - I was able to reach through and bring him into my arms at 7:20 pm [20 minutes after we had left our house and 4-5 hours after my first “waves” of pressure that afternoon]. We had a precious and emotional moment of discovering he was a boy and cursing in disbelief about his entrance and what had just happened.
I was then very quick to tell the midwives I needed to get out of the back of the car as I was very uncomfortable. I climbed out and into the wheelchair with Rudy still attached to me and got pushed into the hospital past people who were casually walking out - I received some interesting looks as their eyes went from me to the fresh baby in my arms. The midwives wheeled us to the birthing suite, where I was able to birth the placenta and start breastfeeding. Daniel and I were in quite a bit of shock for the first hour or so and I have a bit of a blurred memory of what happened next; lots of photos, my sister racing in, and calling our family to let them know our baby had been born very quickly. Everything after that continued to be quite easy, and we were just so happy that we had a beautiful, healthy boy in our arms.
As luck would have it, the friend/midwife who installed my car seat started her shift and got assigned as my next midwife. She couldn’t believe it when she walked in the room seeing me sitting there with a baby. It was lovely to have someone familiar to do all of our checks, but once they were completed, I was ready to go home [something I had decided I wanted to do if baby and I were all okay]. The hospital let us go about 5 hours later, and we got to spend our first night at home in our own bed with our baby boy.
I’m not sure if Daniel has entirely recovered from the ordeal - he was super stressed the whole time and was very worried about me. He said he was just so nervous I was going to give birth while he was driving, but he did such a great job racing around like a headless chook organising everything for us to leave. It was such a different experience for him because with Addi’s birth he was right there beside me through every contraction, but this time around I think the only time he was close to me was during the final stages of pushing.
As for me, I was very calm and focused, and I believe that helped me get through the craziness of it all. As I mentioned before, my first birth was a positive experience, and I think this, combined with my birth classes, enabled me to feel empowered and made me realise that my body was strong and capable of anything. It was such an amazing experience, and I can’t wait to tell Rudy all about it when he’s older. He will forever have the nickname ‘Rudy Boot.’