Labor started happening while Daniel was blissfully asleep.
At 2:20am. – Daniel woken up. Contractions around 5 minutely, assured they were not Braxton Hicks. Someone said “Let’s try and sleep for a bit, you know, get some rest while we can. I can remember a midwife saying this…”
Two idiots lying like adrenalin-filled time bombs, eyes forced shut, for a contraction cycle. A bit hard to relax!
So we got up and started getting things ready. We timed contractions until about 4:00am when they were at 4 minutes and closing. I tried to establish what was the earliest respectable hour I could ring our midwife and our doula, (who also provides physical and emotional support for the mum) without sounding like I’d already been up for hours, anxiously pacing the floor and not really sure I was in control of the situation.
Ambalika and I agreed on 7 o’clock. So I rang them both at 5:45, convincing myself it was very close to 7 anyway, and besides, the contractions were now at 3 minutes. We arranged to meet at the birth centre at 7.
I got the car packed and made a few other preparations, all in 3 minute bursts between ‘helping’ Ambalika get through contractions, then we drove the five minutes to the birth centre. Our midwife already had the centre nice and warm and agreed things were on the way. Sarah arrived and began to run a bath as Ambalika, not really caring what was going on, coped with a few intense moments…
With increasingly closer contractions I had thought things would be over by about midday, that this would be the extent of the labour and we could put the champagne on ice, but alas, ongoing contractions was the order of the day for the next 7 to 8 hours. In fact, Ambalika just continued to have 1 minute contractions every 2 to 3 minutes.
Valerie, our other midwife had arrived about 8:30am and was a great addition and became an integral part of the team. Another birth was due that day and they had rung up earlier to say things had started for them so it was really good having so much experience on hand for all concerned.
By 3pm Ambalika was getting a few urges to push and was trying to let these do some of the work. Basically though it had all been a pretty tiring 13 hours by then so as you’d expect, I was exhausted. And with Ambalika also very tired it seemed things were not quite going to plan, mind you, enthusiasm from all involved never flagged.
Our team was fantastic with encouragement and keeping Ambalika focussed but by 6:00pm she was showing signs of real exhaustion (as against pretend signs) and her pushing did not really seem to be doing the trick other than making her vomit. At this stage yours truly lobbed in a few pearls of wisdom about how to push and hold your breath and really helpful stuff like that…you know, stuff only a bloke would know. This is probably the instant Ambalika realised (during a rare moment of clarity) that she had better take matters into her own hands and, coupled with the midwife’s observations that baby was tiring a bit and if baby did not come out really soon we would have to move operations across to the hospital, she perked up and we attempted all sorts of other birthing positions, resulting in some definite progress… After another series of pushes we could finally see the top of baby’s head. Her heart rate also picked back up and at 6:40pm, even though her contractions had in fact finished some time earlier, Ambalika gave one almighty push and Priya Louise Ferguson (pronounced Pree – yah, one word) put us all out of our suspense as she decided to relinquish all her 7lb 10oz into eagerly awaiting hands.
..For those of us who remember, and to borrow an analogy my brother Andrew suggested, it was like when Julius Sumner Miller (on ABC TV a long time ago, in a lesson to explain the power of atmospheric pressure,) uses a peeled, hard- boiled egg and a pre -heated milk bottle and then says “Watch, watch, egg on top… atmospheric pressure does the work!” whereby the egg is tortuously distorted before being impossibly squeezed in through the neck of a bottle with a resounding pop…
Priya’s head was the shape of the quintessential ‘conehead’. I and the rest of the team confidently assured a disconcerted Ambalika that this was quite ok and certainly (thankfully) things were back in shape within an hour. Enough of the visuals, but lucky the beanie still fitted.
Ambalika had also suffered some collateral damage so our midwife organised a fantastic midwife colleague to come over with his needle and thread. By the time we had cleaned up and settled back it was about 10 pm. Our doula stayed a little longer then went home while the midwives worked until after midnight tidying up after the second baby (who was born at 10.30pm in the other birthing suite.) Then they also went home for some well earned rest.
We all slept perfectly…. naa just kidding, but it was a huge joy to just lay back in awe with a snuffling addition still only a few hours old and getting used to life on the outside.We returned home the next morning and everything was hunky dory..yeah right….
…. Four days later and Ambalika has even got the feeding down pat. Priya is fantastic and has already accepted (along with all other children of the world) the awesome responsibilities of having to fix her problems without even batting an eyelid. And she loves having a bath! Amazing stuff colostrum.
Without our fantastic team’s belief and continual support we would not have had the same experience especially during, and also after the birth with invaluable advice and ongoing support.
The Birth Centre is actually a home done out into two birthing suites, so it’s very relaxed but has all the necessary equipment and most of all the experience and support base of a great team. Being so close to the hospital it has a good backup plan if this is required. For us it was a fantastic birthing experience (so easy for me to say too) and we are really happy that we chose that option. In effect we had a home birth without needing to rearrange our home to accommodate!