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Precipitate birth

After going into labour, some women get to watch a sunrise. Some watch a movie or do seriously silly things like baking a birthday cake – on a real birth day. Some get to light a zillion candles or even get some sleep while they wait. Some get to have an epidural. Awesome.

Well, as mentioned in my birth story’s ‘main act’ (as per my previous post), I got to reach the hospital. In time to deliver baby. The end.

I suppose it doesn’t happen all the time that someone books an elective c-sec for her firstborn only to end up with two vaginal births, without as much as an epidural??

From what I’ve read, only about 2% of women get to experience ‘precipitate labour’, which means baby appears less than 2 hours after the contractions started.

At the risk of sounding ungrateful, I must say that this was a rather intense experience. If something that normally takes many hours to get done is crammed into 2 hours, it has its downside. It actually carries much more risk to mom and to baby than a ‘normal’ birth.

I was fortunate to only have a grade 1 tear (the same as with my girl’s delivery, whose birth story is here), but I doubt that my pelvic floor will ever regain its former glory. I’ve actually made an appointment with a gynae as I don’t feel fully recovered after the birth yet – and we’re nearly at the 4-month mark. I’m already back at my normal weight, so surely all should have been fine by now?

After my little girl’s birth, I could immediately get up and walk (as in even before the retained placenta was surgically removed). This time however, it took me hours to summon the strength to go take a shower. I was really sore for at least 2 weeks. I also had really hectic after pains.

After the delivery, the gynae mentioned that a colleague did a photography course 3 years earlier and that he used to say he wanted to be notified if anyone attended an exceptionally bloody birth. I didn’t ask why that thought popped into his head, but I can just imagine.

No-one is really sure why some women get to have such fast and furious births. In my case, maybe my ability to put my elbows on the floor like so might have something to do with it, yes?

Beautiful baby boy

As I waited outside the Clicks Clinic for my 2-week old boy to be weighed, I listened to the song playing in the store. “I’m falling in love all over again,” someone sang. How wonderfully appropriate it was I thought, as I sat there with my heart lying swaddled in a blue blankie on my lap.

When I compared baby photos, it was amazing to see how similar my girl looked as a baby. Here they are as newborns:

One of the delightful things about babies is that they can’t run and they can’t hide. Therefore, my little boy is such a sitting duck for all those kisses I love to plant on those chubby baby cheeks. 🙂

And so, this is where the story book would say: “Then they all lived happily ever after.”

On Monday 27 February, my little girl woke me during the early morning hours. She settled back to sleep again at 4 am. As was often the case after those nighttime interruptions during the pregnancy, I couldn’t find my own way back to dreamland.

I was 38 weeks and 6 days pregnant. I lay in the darkness thinking how much I needed my little boy to arrive on that very day (as per my previous post).

After a while, Braxton Hicks contractions (I thought) started. I didn’t take much notice initially as I had had similar ‘cramping’ during the prior two weeks. After the cramps intensified, I woke DH (it was 5:45 am) so we could start timing things. The contractions were 6 minutes apart and each lasted for about a minute! I realized our boy was probably on his way out!

I told DH I was going to take a shower and wash my hair. He called the labour ward. However, by the time I hopped into the shower, the contractions became excruciating. I realized I didn’t have time to wash my hair after all.

I did last minute packing while DH woke my mother-in-law (MIL) and father-in-law (FIL), as well as my little girl. I loathed the idea of being doubled-over with contractions in front of MIL and FIL (in front of anyone, actually), so I ducked into my room whenever another wave surged.

DH packed the car in what felt like sloooow moooootioooon to me.. He told me later on that as my waters didn’t break this time, he thought it was probably a false alarm!

I kissed my little girl goodbye and told her I’m going away for a bit, but that ‘Ouma Els’ would look after her. She simply said ‘no’ and didn’t want to let me go. It was so sweet and I regret having had to rush that last precious moment as mommy to her exclusively. In all truth, I still felt so unprepared to become a mommy again.

The car rolled out of the garage at about 6:30 am. The contractions were no longer a joke. Neither was Monday morning rush hour traffic. I kept telling DH that the baby was in a hurry. A BIG flippen hurry!

I got started on the moaning and screaming part of labour. Between two contractions, I called the maternity ward again and told them they’d better be ready to deliver my hasty little dude once we get there. Provided he didn’t make his grand entrance in the car, of course! DH became paler by the minute.

And that is how my dear, law-abiding DH (somewhat irritatingly so, really) ended up speeding along in the yellow, left-hand lane of Cape Town’s N1 through the Monday morning rush hour chaos. (I doubt my DH has ever as much as skipped a STOP sign in his life, so when I recounted this bit of the tale to my parents later on they nearly killed themselves laughing.)

All in all, it was a rather embarrassing trip. Not only did I wonder whether my DH might end up killing us all by crashing into one of the (angry-looking) motorists along the way, but watching him weave through the traffic was painful on many levels. Geez, he was such a complete rookie at hell driving! But that’s my man, alright! :p

We arrived at the hospital at about 7:00 am. DH parked in a loading zone in front of the hospital entrance and said he’d go park the car while I walk / waddle / crawl to the labour ward – as we had discussed earlier on. However, I was suddenly gripped by fear and begged him to just abandon the car and come with me.

On our way to the labour ward, we had to stop two or three times as contractions wracked my body. I felt somewhat embarrassed although there were fortunately not many onlookers. This preggo lady was obviously busy popping!

At the labour ward, I was instantly ushered into a delivery room. I hastily threw on the gown and provided a urine sample as requested. I kept on insisting they’d better call the gynae that very moment.

Soon as I was on the bed, they checked my cervix. Yip, fully dilated. (TOLD you so..!) They instantly called the gynae (WHAT? You haven’t called him yet?!), assuring me that he lived very close by and would be there in minutes.

Every new contraction was by now starting before the previous one had even ended. At 7:11 my waters broke in a huge wave that went splashing onto the floor. There was meconium in the water (I didn’t realize it at the time, but the gynae mentioned it afterwards).

Unlike during my girl’s birth (which you can read about here), the nursing staff were great. They kept saying that I was doing a great job. It was so nice to hear, although I knew they’d have said it no matter what, considering the circumstances.. They also told me not to push. But my body was saying, “Like hell I won’t push! Just watch me now..”

By then I was precariously floundering rather close to the edge of the bed. I was lying on my side and I remember looking down towards the floor, wondering whether I was going to go crashing down onto it before long. The nurses tried getting me to move to the center of the bed, but I could do little but cling to the side of the bed for dear life while my body had its way with me.

Shame, from what I remember poor DH was pretty pale through all the drama.

At about 7:20, just as I asked whether the gynae still hadn’t arrived, I heard the doc’s voice. I told him it was just my luck to be missing out on an epidural yet again!

During the following contraction he told me that the baby would be there in another push or so. “Yeah right!”, I thought. I told him that the last time a gynae said that to me, it was another 2 hours before baby arrived.

Then suddenly, during the very next contraction I felt my boy’s head slip out. His body followed during the subsequent contraction. (My little girl slipped out all at once, so I remember feeling slightly surprised at this.)

At 7:23 am, less than 2 hours after my contractions started, I became the mommy of my baby boy.

I asked whether he was beautiful and was told that he was very beautiful. I can’t remember whether he cried, but the gynae suctioned him and someone put him on my breast. His fingers and toes were incredibly blue, but the gynae said he was doing great. His Apgars were 8 / 9 / 10.

And so, all of a sudden he was there! I was holding my baby boy. I looked at his shoulders, his arms, his legs and they were the most adorable, chubby little limbs ever.

The nurse asked whether she could take him to be weighed and checked, but everything inside me said, “No! I’m not letting him go.” My arms tightened around him as I jokingly spoke those words out loud before reluctantly handing him back.

Whereas my little girl was a wee, gaunt little fairy at birth (at 49 cm and 2.7 kg), my little boy was a padded little cherub weighing 3.4 kg for his length of 51 cm.

Unlike last time, the placenta delivered without further ado (about 15 minutes later) – which was a big relief. It meant I got to spend magic hour with my boy this time round.

After congratulations from everyone around, the gynae asked whether it really took 2 hours last time. Haha, I admitted that I had exaggerated a bit. With my girl’s birth, an hour and a bit passed between the gynae’s declaration that baby would be there in one or two pushes and my little girl’s arrival.

Before he left, the gynae said he was really impressed as it was pretty usual to be called out to a patient who came in fully dilated and to then find her dressed in a hospital gown. At that point the nurse asked about the urine sample. When I told her I had left it on the toilet, the gynae shook his head seemingly in disbelief and said, “You’ve managed a urine sample too!?” Haha! The things you feel proud of in the labour room.. Must be all those hormones. 🙂

I feel guilty when I recollect how unprepared I felt to be my beautiful boy’s mother as I held him for the first time. I kept thinking how my little girl’s arrival had totally rocked my world. Holding her for the first time was maybe the most overpowering moment of my life. This time round I felt dazed, to be honest, as well as scared of how the new baby might impact on the relationship I had with my girl.

Yet there in my arms was a wondrous little boy who was, just like my little girl 20 months earlier, in desperate need of all the love my heart could give.

My boy nestled against me and he was so small and so vulnerable. I lay there thinking what a good little boy he was. The month we decided (filled with trepidation) that we had better get our ttc #2 journey on the road, this sweet boy decided that he would be our second little miracle. When I told him that I needed him to arrive on Monday the 27th of February, he did just that.

He found my breast and started sucking with so much enthusiasm that I wondered whether he might suck my nipple right off my breast. He kept at it for what seemed like ages before he fell asleep contentedly.

A new life ahead

Last November, my DH accepted a job offer in Pietersburg/Polokwane. I was 6 months pregnant and we were living in Cape Town – about 1,800 km from DH’s new office. DH was due to start early in January. My little boy was due on 6 March. Can you believe such horrible timing?!

I decided to stay behind in Cape Town until the arrival of my boy as it seemed unwise to move to a new city / new gynae / new world in the last trimester.

On being a ‘single’, working, very pregnant mommy

The month of January passed me by in a blur of heat waves and exhaustion.

My little girl became (rather abruptly) heart-breakingly unhappy at daycare and was sobbing quietly in the mornings as dropped her off. I got the impression that her daymother was leaving her in her cot for hours. (The woman increased the number of babies in her care that month from 4 to 7 with no prior notice. Argh, I still feel furious about that!)

My little girl craved lots of attention every late afternoon/evening. She (and therefore I) was often awake for two or three hours at night. I remember one night she managed to switch on the light (using the remote control) and started pushing her doll’s pram around the house – at 4:30 am!

A logistic nightmare

At my 34-week gynae appointment in late January, there were signs that my little boy might come early (just like his sister) and I had steroid injections to mature his lungs – just in case he decided to show up that very same week. At the time, the thought of having a prem baby to added the mix of challenges was pretty scary.

DH could take 2 weeks of leave to come to Cape Town for the birth. But when should DH have scheduled those leave days in order to be present at the birth?? DH was guaranteed to miss the whole thing if I went into premature labour and the gynae seriously doubted we’d make it to my due date (6 March). DH decided to come in mid February (at 37 and a half weeks).

We also had to make arrangements with the removal company in order to get our stuff moved to Polokwane and for our house to be let once we left. Not knowing when baby would have wanted to come to party made the scheduling a nightmare!

An elective c-sec or induction at 39 weeks were options I was less keen on (provided baby and I made it that far!), since I’ve had such an uncomplicated labour (as labours go..) with my little girl. If I were expecting another girl, I would have been less reluctant to go for one of these options, since baby girls do better when they’re ‘evicted’ (as opposed to being allowed to pick their own birth date).

Getting closer..

My baby – good little boy! – hanged on in there till his daddy arrived in Cape Town in mid February.

My sweet mother-in-law (MIL) came and stayed with me after that scary 34-week gynae appointment. I remain very indebted to her for coming to help out at the time. It also meant that my little girl no longer had to attend daycare. Yay, yay! She instantly started sleeping better, if not well.

We decided that my little girl and I would go stay with my MIL and FIL after baby’s birth. We’d join DH in Polokwane as soon as the little dude was a bit bigger and stronger.

The perfect date

Beforehand, I mentioned to my mother that the perfect date for the birth would be Monday the 27th of Feb. It was the one day that truly fitted our schedule! On that specific day:

  • Baby was almost 39 weeks along and doing well.
  • My DH was in Cape Town (for only 5 more days mind you).
  • I was officially on maternity leave, having completed all the major things I wanted to finish off at work. Must say, it took much longer than I had hoped to reach that point – my brain was seriously uncooperative when I tried to do anything that challenged the grey matter.
  • I was packed and ready to go live with my MIL after the birth.
  • The moving company was due to start packing our stuff in boxes on that day. I wasn’t too keen on hanging around in that kind of mess while I felt hot (not in the sexy way) and about to pop.
  • If baby didn’t arrive within the next two days, I’d have had to consider the c-sec or induction route. Also, we’d have had to move out of our house and go live.., hum, I didn’t actually know. My SIL? A friend? In a B&B? DH and I couldn’t come to an agreement on this.

Shame, I felt so sorry for my boy. After telling him for weeks to please hang on, I suddenly needed him to snap into action. Instead of being a time of joyful anticipation, the last days of my pregnancy was rather tense, although I did my best to take things one day at a time.


June 2012