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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.

Note: I’m (yet again) cheating by updating my blog retrospectively!

My little man arrived this morning and he is healthy and strong, weighing in at 3.4 kg. He did so well – made it to 38w6d and waited for daddy to come home before making his appearance.

As with my LG’s birth (her birth story is here), there was no time for an epidural or any painkillers.

If my DH (law abiding citizen to the point of usually being irritating in this regard!) didn’t speed along in the yellow lane with his hazards on through Monday morning rush traffic, I doubt we’d have made it to the hospital on time. Baby was born about an hour and half after I first mentioned to DH that I think he might be on his way.

In fact, if baby came a few minutes earlier, the gynae would have missed the birth! (Hmm, do they still charge you when they totally miss the birth? Maybe we can save a buck if we’re ever blessed with another little one! 😉 )

I’m a very lucky mommy of a perfect little man.

Before we knew it, she was here! Too quick for nonsense, c-secs, epidurals or episiotomies.

My baby angel was born 12:14 pm today (at 36w 0d) and she’s strong and beautiful.

PS: Weighed 2.7 and drinks like a milk-seeking missile.

At yesterday’s scan, our ‘Babaliefie’ weighed 1.47 kg. She is growing beautifully along the 50th percentile line, except for her tummy which is on the 90th percentile.

Sounds as if she’s looking a bit like mommy then! My bump has by now totally popped out and I’d be a prime suspect if anyone asked “Who ate the soccer ball?”

As for my birth plan, having perused everything I could find on birth outcomes, I told the gynae that vaginal birth sounds like a good option to me only if it doesn’t involve forceps, hoovers or an emergency c-sec.

The risks associated with an elective c-sec is much more acceptable to me than the risks (to both baby and me) associated with these less than ideal ‘natural birth’ outcomes – even if c-sec recovery would be a lot less convenient for me. All things considered and looking at my risks for having a not so uncomplicated vaginal birth, we’re therefore thinking along the lines of an elective c-sec after 39 weeks at the moment.

I’m also doing very well, although I’m (I guess understandably) a lot more tired lately. I’m constantly at war with heartburn, reflux and nausea, although I still feel much better than in the horrible 1st trimester. With my favourite pregnancy reflux drug, Cimetidine, out of stock in the Western Cape (DH says it’s cause I bought it all), I switched to Ranitidine which seems to be less effective for me.

Highlight at the moment: When I snuggle close to DH at night and hold him tight (“lepel-lê”), our LG loves kicking her daddy in the back/buttocks. It’s the first game that LG plays with her daddy and DH so loves this.

When people ask whether I’m going to give birth ‘naturally’, I have to wonder: What could possibly be natural about pushing your first child out of your (beloved, nice and tight) vajayjay a month before turning 36?!

If Mother Nature had her way, this would surely have been number 10 or number 15, right? Unless of course I died giving birth to one of the previous little tykes. After all, what could be more natural than dying during child birth – an option that was apparently taken by up to a third of women before the dawn of medical science?

If I compare my life to that of Mrs Flintstone, I frankly don’t think I’ve ever done anything that could be labelled ‘100% natural’. Except maybe for getting conceived naturally by my super fertile parents (as opposed to my own artificially conceived little angel), albeit in a bed rather than on a cave floor and possibly involving props and outfits that would have puzzled Mrs Flintstone.

And thanks, but I enjoy modern life. One look at myself in the mirror first thing in the morning makes it perfectly clear that Mother Nature has some pretty cruel intentions.

As for experiencing ‘natural birth’: When I want to feel like a woman, I like to slip on something tiny made of satin, go shopping, or outshine my male colleagues in a male dominated industry. I doubt that crawling around moaning and screaming on the floor during a ‘wonderfully natural’ home birth would make me feel more feminine. (Yes, yes, an epidural and all – but surely you then miss out on the whole primeval ‘natural birth’ experience in any case?).

So could we please stick to the term ‘vaginal birth’ rather than ‘natural birth’? Especially for an elderly prima gravida like myself (a term used by doctors to indicate that you’re having your first kid once you’re way past your prima).

Last point, having looked at studies on the safety of vaginal births when compared to caesars, I’m shocked to see how flawed their methodology is in general. Obviously there are no double-blind random studies, but how could anyone with a brain simply lump all women who had successful vaginal births together and compare this with all women who had caesars and then declare vaginal births the winner? What about those failed traumatic vaginal births that ended in emergency caesars and the high risk pregnancies that necessitated caesars? Also, why are many of these still referenced studies 20 years old?

So am I keen on having a c-sec? Actually, nope.

“Sorry, unfortunately I’m not crazy about the c-sec idea either, Doc. I realize it’s got its own set of drawbacks. Don’t you have any other options that are maybe a bit more ‘Beam me out, Scotty’?”


August 2020