Waiting for The Banana Babe
I’m a terrible waiter. Not a terrible waitress – I think I was actually pretty good at that – but waiting, no medals for me. It’s funny because I love surprises but only if I don’t know they’re on the way, which is exactly the nature of a surprise, right?
My “due date” right the way through pregnancy was 14 October. I know due dates have bugger all affect on delivery dates except when hospitals want to start talking about induction, so I didn’t expect to have to wait for that day specifically. I thought this one might come early (Poppy was 5 days over), and was secretly (and foolishly) hoping for a 10/10 arrival to match her 9/9 birthday. I even booked an induction massage for 10am on the 10th, and I’m not even a little bit Woo Woo. I’d had one the day before I had Poppy and felt like it might have helped. The 10th came and went, the massage was nice, but there were no signs that Baby was on his way.
We didn’t wait to find out genders for our two babies. To me, it’s still one of Life’s Great Surprises no matter when you hear the words “It’s a ___!” Knowing before the birth has helped me prepare materialistically and mentally – the best part being half the names to brainstorm. And wasn’t that a tough nut to crack this time around! I found boy names so much harder than girl’s. But that’s a whole other story, for another time. I also liked the idea of knowing who was in there, in case the worst should happen. I lost my first pregnancy to miscarriage and I never knew if that baby was a boy or a girl, which I found hard. I would have liked to know who I was saying goodbye to.
So back to the waiting. With Poppy, it wasn’t a Big Deal. She was overdue but I didn’t have anywhere else to be. This time, with a toddler needing minding, going into labour without some backup in place was logistically frightening. We didn’t have local grandparents to call in the middle of the night or even the middle of the day, and few people Poppy would be comfortable waking up to in the morning if we were missing. With a bit of luck, her sibling would make their entrance while she was at daycare but there was only a 9.5% chance of that happening and sure enough, it didn’t.
We arranged to have my Mum come and stay for eight days around the due date, and crossed our fingers things would happen while she was here. At the end of that week, I realised it was Friday 13th and figured the baby would come that day, in a dramatic fashion befitting the superstitious nature of the date. Nothing.
The 14th came and went, and no baby. Mum was due to head home in 3 days and neither of us wanted her to leave without having met her second grandchild. I didn’t want her to leave EVER. She decided to stay until the following Saturday, giving Baby a few extra days.
The morning of Tuesday 17 October was a pleasant one, weather-wise, so I decided to make the most of my favourite induction technique and walk as much as possible. Mum and I put Poppy in the pram to head up to daycare, about 25 mins walk on a regular day or 40 minutes when you’re 40 weeks pregnant. The very slight incline felt like a mountainous hike but I just wanted to keep moving. Poppy was born after a long walk around Princes Park and I was trying to replicate everything that lead to her birth, whether it was going to help this one or not.
The only thing that was definantly getting me closer to labour was the passing of time. So rather than sit around and listen to the clock tick, we went out to get a few jobs ticked off at our Airbnb apartment. I ate a Vietnamese pork roll with chilli for lunch, was talked into a nap in the afternoon, followed by more furniture shopping. Poppy came home, we had BBQ chops for dinner and then it was time for her bath. I’m sure none of these details contributed to the hastened onset of labour or are remotely interesting to you, dear reader.
I’d been having Braxton Hicks contractions, very noticeable tightenings across my whole belly, for a few weeks. They weren’t painful, but they were uncomfortable and I was getting sick of them not being The Real Deal. As I sat beside the bathtub, I noticed one or two slightly more uncomfortable tightenings. As Simon got Poppy into bed, I lay on the couch and felt the first real pain in my lower back. Curious, I looked at the clock and noted the time. A few minutes later, I felt another and opened up my contraction timer app. Six minutes after that I said to Mum, who was playing Scrabble on her iPad, “Don’t be alarmed but I think it’s finally started.”
The early contractions were bearable but they grew stronger with each one and over the next half an hour, quickened to 2 or 3 minutes apart. Just as I had with Poppy, I had to use the toilet a few times, my body preparing for the task ahead. I asked Mum to switch with Simon. “It’s happening now and it’s happening fast,” I said when he appeared. We called the hospital and the triage nurse told me to trust my body. She asked if my waters had broken (they hadn’t) and told me I’d know better than anybody when to come in. I knew then that I had to go in.
The ride to the hospital with Poppy’s labour was excruciating, so I decided to make the trip before things got to that stage. I threw a few last minute items into my bag and put a towel on the seat in case of a gush of waters. Thankfully that didn’t happen but the car ride was still horrible – sitting down just made everything worse. We arrived at emergency and I was relieved to be on my feet again. The admissions clerk took one look at me and didn’t even ask why I was there – she just handed the forms to Simon to complete.
We waited maybe 15 minutes to be seen at Emergency, which was surprising given there was only one other patient there. I was bent over a chair in the waiting room, breathing through each contraction and whispering to myself “open and down, open and down,” with each one. I’m not really sure where that came from – I’m not Woo Woo and I’m not a mantra/chanting kind of person either, but I figured it was as good a message as any to be sending to my body and the baby. The breaks between contractions were as long as the contractions themselves and I felt ripped off that I wasn’t getting much rest in between. Each one felt like a wave, with a build-up, an intense peak and a gradual fade out. That fade out was the best part.
After what felt like an eternity we were called through and taken to the Assessment area for – ahem – assessment. Simon decided to go and move the car from Emergency and the midwife decided to perform an internal exam. I had to lie down, which I wasn’t a fan of, so we waited until the next contraction had finished. With the speed of some serious experience, Glenda did her thing and suddenly looked a bit panicked. She called for a delivery room and a wheelchair. I asked about her conclusions from the internal exam and she muttered something about 9-10cm and getting me up to Delivery, ASAP. If she’s only asked, I could have told her I was ready and saved us both the embarassment.
Not wanting to sit down on the wheelchair, I opted for a rear-facing, kneeling position (unorthodox but favourable). “Hold on tight!” advised Glenda, and I closed my eyes as they hurried me down some halls and into an elevator towards the Delivery Suite. That bit was probably the most movie-like part, with the ceiling lights flashing overhead and faces coming in and out of view. The eyes-closed bit was not out of fear for Glenda’s wheelchair driving abilities, but for pain management. We arrived and I announced to everyone that I’d be standing up to deliver. I hoped Simon would return soon as I was beginning to feel like pushing. The midwives introduced themselves and told me to keep breathing, not to push and just give my body time to adjust to the imminent delivery. There wasn’t any time for pain relief and to be honest, I didn’t feel I needed it. I knew it wouldn’t be long but I could see how enticing drugs would be for someone experiencing a longer, slower labour.
Simon still wasn’t back and I remembered I’d left my shoes down at Assessment. Just as I felt I couldn’t hold off much longer, Glenda reappeared with my shoes and Simon appeared with our bags. He’d been searching for a park and was vying for a spot with another driver, who let him take it when he pulled out the Wife In Labour card.
With the go-ahead to push, I got to work moving the baby down as best I could, leaning over the bed just like last time because GRAVITY. I was #blessed with a couple of longer rests and used the opportunity to ask Simon to get the camera out, so I could set it up for the lighting conditions. I wasn’t on drugs, I just really wanted a few photos. My Kodak moment came 3-4 contractions into pushing – baby’s head was out and the midwives excitedly informed us that the waters were still intact and the baby was en caul, a 1 in 80,000 occurrence. Urban legend says the baby will be a good swimmer, have clairvoyant powers or at the very least, something fun to mention at parties. Simon did a brilliant job of capturing a very unflattering photo of me but an incredible photo of our baby’s head veiled in the membrane.
And no, I’m not posting that one here.
A couple more contractions and the rest of baby was out, along with a gush of water and a bit of a mess. He cried and cried and cried, which you’d expect having come from a very cramped, dark space and into the big, wide world. Three hours after it all began, it was (mostly) over. He was given his name, Otto, which felt very nice being said out loud. The midwives waited until the umbilical cord had stopped pulsing before cutting and I enjoyed two and a half hours of skin-to-skin while I delivered the placenta and endured some necessary stitches. As with my first birth, I found the stitches more uncomfortable than the pushing. You’re all too aware of what’s happening when labour is over, but at least there’s a cute baby on your chest to distract you.
I feel it worthwhile to mention here that I was not overcome with emotion at this point. I didn’t cry tears of joy and I didn’t experience a “love at first sight” moment. I didn’t feel the opposite either, mostly just relief that he was here safely, that the hard work of labour was over. I suppose I felt proud of myself for getting through a very physically intense process, and a little bit of wonder at the creation of human life. I was pleased with it all, just not at a Hollywood-type level.
At around 1am, I enjoyed one of the best showers of my life. Do not be fooled when you read that you should take your own towels to the hospital for this part. There is still a lot of blood involved and I’d much rather deal with that with hospital property than my own fluffy linen. Despite the blood, I felt like a million bucks after that shower and it was nice for Simon to finally get a cuddle with Otto. He was weighed and checked and then we were left alone for an hour or so to process the arrival of our son while the midwives went off to process some paperwork.
So that’s pretty much my Birth Story. I stayed in the hospital for just 21 hours in total, eager to get out of my shared room and back home to my own space. Simon, Mum and Poppy came to visit in the morning and I sat in bed for the rest of the day on my own, sending announcement messages and trying not to listen to the medical details of the lady on the other side of the curtain. I filled in a form for my lunch order but I think I got whatever the person before me ordered, which was atrocious, and I cursed myself for not packing some snacks. Simon returned at the end of the day to pick us up, and we arrived home to begin life as a family of four. A midwife came to visit the following two days, to check up on both Otto and myself, ask how many wet and dirty nappies he had and if I’d used my bowels yet. The poo talk is unavoidable. Everyone is always asking about poo. She also talked about feeding and milk supply and weighed him again. He met the usual expectations and we were left to our own devices amongst a flurry of educational brochures.
All was good in the Dyer household.