I had 6 hours of contractions. We had been shopping for 'last minute' things before Ds's birth. I'd been feeling very crampy all day and finally while waiting in the car (we were in Perth 45 minutes from home!) for Dh to pick up his mobile phone from the store I started to time the contractions (at about 3.30pm). They were 10 minutes apart lasting 30 seconds.
As we got closer to home they became 6 minutes apart! We thought, 'this is it!' When we got home I started preparing for hospital, then I had a shower and a nap because I wanted to be absolutely certain (A nap to see if they would go away).
Finally at 9 pm I called the hospital, but even as I waited on the phone for a midwife the contractions seemed to be rapidly disappearing. I was told to call back in a couple of hours if the contractions got worse. But I never needed to.
June 4th, in the evening.
I had contractions again, they lasted 2 hours and then stopped.
I felt crampy, but had only the odd braxton hicks contraction.
Nothing all day, like the calm before the storm. (It might be noted that this could have been because I sat very still the whole day long. I didn't want him to be born on the 6.6.6 lol I thought 'what if he becomes a priest?' He'll be made a joke of every time some one asks when he was born. 'Father, you were born on the devils day, ha ha ha'. Well mothers think of these things you know ; )
Dh started working at 6pm on the 6th, finishing at 6am on the 7th. At 7am I had a show and what seemed a leaking of fore-waters (?) No contractions however. This was the first labour where I have had a show before having contractions. I called the hospital and was told that if I had a continual leaking over the next few hours to come in. There was no leaking.
I did the dishes, hung the washing out and generally tidied up the house so that Dh would be able to come home and relax later on after the birth. At 10am I decided we should head off to the hospital. We took the children off to a friends house only a few minutes away and then went on to the hospital. Poor Dh had only had two hours sleep, but at least it wasn't peak hour traffic. We must have taken about 45 minutes or less to get there.
I started to have contractions on the way down which I was thankful for as even though I felt strongly that now was the time to go to hospital I felt foolish not having had contractions yet. As we neared the hospital Dh asked for the radio to be turned on. A song came on which will always remind me of Ds4's birth day, it was 'Suddenly' by Angry Anderson, an Australian song from the 80's, one not played very often.
When we arrived we were sent to the antenatal monitoring unit (waiting room). We had to wait for half an hour or more and during this time the contractions started to come every 6 minutes. They weren't painful, just very obviously contractions with my whole tummy and back feeling the contractions coming and going in waves.
Then we were left to wait in an observation room for 20 minutes or so. But instead of checking to see if I was in established labour the nurse came back to send us straight up to the labour ward. We had been a bit surprised when we were sent to the observation unit in the first place but apparently, and I really don't blame the midwife, I hadn't been taken too seriously when I said I wanted to come in, so we had been sent to the unit instead.
Anyway it was 12 noon when we were sent straight to a labour room. There were none of my team midwives available so I had a non team midwife. She was nice though and that to me is the important thing.
An examination was done at about 1 or 1.30pm and it was found that I was only 2 1/2cm's. I thought 'this is it! They are going to send me home', because you usually have to be 3 cm's plus before they let you stay, but surprisingly they said that given my history I could stay.
Prior to this I had been given a meal which I had tried to eat and one of the food service ladies had joked that I couldn't really be in labour if I was eating. Well I hadn't had breakfast and wasn't sure if I'd be getting dinner, so I had eaten for strength and nourishment, not because I felt like it. I wasn't able to eat much though and so Dh who also hadn't had breakfast or lunch ate it instead.
After the internal I had felt under pressure, 'what if I didn't go into labour properly until later that night?!...
So we walked circuits a couple of times around the ward, and the contractions were definitely getting stronger and were 6 minutes apart. After a couple of laps I didn't feel like walking anymore and so we went back to my room. Fortunately Dh suggested the birthing ball, and this in the end is what I believe helped to dilate me quicker. Certainly when I got off it things seemed to slow down.
Dh tried to have a sleep, the midwives set up a mattress in the suites toilet/shower room for him at about 2.30pm (quite a large and dark room, with no distractions), but at 3pm I asked them to wake him as I had a big contraction which I felt meant the birth was close at hand.
The midwife,doctor, and another lady sat and watched as I worked through contractions. At first I didn't pay much attention, but I was very lucid in between contractions and heard them discussing how I was an excellent example of how to cope with labour naturally (I think more than anything it is probably just that they don't as often see an unmedicated birth). At this point I felt shy and awkward at being watched and discussed (as if I wasn't able to hear). I made a joke with them about it and they left the room. It seemed that the contractions were becoming random and varying in intensity anyway, birth didn't seem as immanent. The midwife checked me again before leaving and said I was about 5-6cm's, so at least I felt able to relax, it was definitely Ds's time to arrive.
I tried varying things over the next hour, trying to see what would be a good labour position. Standing up didn't appeal as I felt tired, I had been doing a lot of 'pacing around the room' all day. I lay on my side but the pain seemed worse, and not in a helpful way, also I felt like I had made the path out for Ds smaller and cramped, it just didn't seem right. Sitting on the bed with my knees up didn't seem much different, it felt cramped, I didn't see how he could come out easily. Head down, bottom up didn't feel comfortable, I didn't feel that I could stay that way long. All fours was the same too, tiring. So at last I decided it would be kneeling on the bed with my arms draped over the top of the bed-head (the bed's top part of the mattress being in its highest position at mostly upright). This gave me lots of support but hurt my knees, so I thought, when I feel the birth is close I'll hurry back into that position then. (I can't remember now what I did after this. Maybe I stayed in this position. It was the position I gave birth in).
The midwife asked if Dh wanted to go back and try and sleep but he said no. I asked him too but again he said no need. I was glad because I really felt the need for his support. I had another few contractions where it felt to me that my waters would go soon. The amazing thing was that I felt a small amount of resistance, I would have said perhaps that I was 8cm's. I could feel everything exactly.
I had another contraction which felt a little bit 'pushy'. The midwife suggested I have a bath, perhaps she thought things had slowed down. I started to answer her saying I felt the pushing would soon begin, but stopped talking to her as another contraction began. This time the pushing did begin and my waters burst. He was on his way!
I did lots of loud pushing groans, later my throat was sore, it was the only noise I made during the whole labour. And 4 minutes after pushing began he was born, at 4.16pm. At first I sobbed for a few moments with relief. Relieved that the pregnancy was over and relieved that the birth was over. Then I was a little scared to turn around in case I hurt Ds, but the midwife promised that Ds would be fine.
And there he was, my darling boy, I was so glad to finally see him and to be able to hold him. I had two hospital gowns on so I didn't put him straight skin to skin like the others. I was too tired to take them off and too anxious just to hold him and keep him warm and love him, look at him.
He had lots of black hair (it was so soft!). His face was a bit squashed, especially across the bridge of his nose. He looked like he'd been in a very tight place for quite a while. And after they weighed and measured him I understood why. He was 8lbs. 11oz. and 53cm's long, what a big boy! I had wondered that he might be bigger than the others as he felt higher up in my tummy.
I didn't manage to feed him in that first hour. The others had all started within 15 minutes of birth (lack of immediate skin contact?). Perhaps 20 minutes had passed before I tried to feed him, but I didn't seem to be able to get him to attach, and he didn't seem interested. It wasn't until later when I was taken to my room that I managed to feed him. I remembered something from a book I had read a couple of weeks before, that expressing a little colostrum can help the baby latch on. I'm glad to say it worked because I just didn't seem to be able to get him on any other way. I had to do this for the first couple of days, but even during the day we spent in hospital, he fed well.