Life and my new universe.
I have sat down to write this blog numerous times over the last month. I have been interrupted and called away every single time, resulting in nothing of substance or one occasion a long, boring catalogue of events, which would send anyone to sleep.
So now I have a few minutes, I am going to try again!
4 weeks ago, at 4.54am on Monday 26 September our son, Archer, was born. It was a marathon labour that lasted 32 hours.
It all kicked off on Saturday night, just after dinner, 7 days past my due date. While I awaited the promised nesting feelings that would signify imminent labour (which never came), SNH in contrast was in nesting overdrive.
After suffering sympathy pains during my pregnancy, poor SNH was also experiencing nesting transference. Having decided midweek that the backyard (or dog-made dust bowl) needed re-turfing, he and our neighbour/gardener performed a miracle in 3 days and the backyard looks amazing. Then come Saturday morning SNH decided to fix the tap for the hand held shower that had languished broken and unused for about a year. And just for the heck of it – why not change all the other taps in the bathroom while he’s at it? Turning off all the water in the house, SNH spent the day working furiously on installing new spindles and handles (even going so far as turning new parts on the metal lathe). Not content with these activities he also cleaned out his shed, cleaned the bedroom and cooked several meals to put in the freezer.
I, in contrast, spent the day finishing off my quilt and making sure my clients had everything they needed.
One hour after the water was turned back on, I had my ‘show’ . Talk about timing! And two hours later I was in full active labour.
With SNH and Knuckles (our big girl dog) looking after me, I laboured at home all night. Then come morning, deciding I couldn’t do this at home anymore, we jumped in the car and headed for the RPA birth centre.
The plan for the birth was to have a natural, drug-free birth in the birth centre, which is set up like a bedroom and is a lot less hospital-like than the labour ward. I wanted to try a water birth, but I was flexible and ultimately just wanted to have a healthy delivery.
Lucky I was flexible, as 24 hours after I in labour and I was getting very tired and was in a huge amount of pain. Having already tired the bath, heat packs, a little bit of morphine and the (laughing) gas – which was horrible! – to no avail, the lovely midwife suggested it may be time for stronger measures. This was after I had told the midwife the morphine was wearing off, 15 minutes after it had been administered. Upon which, I am told, she and SNH shared a look as I swayed in my poppy-haze, eyes blinking separately.
It was put to me that my labour could be going for who knows how long and my contractions weren’t consistent enough and even though it was not something the birth centre really advocated, it was probably the best thing for me and bub that I be induced.
A few of my friends have had their labours induced and stated that induced contractions were 100 times more painful than regular contractions. Already suffering from terrible back pain (bub’s head was wedged up against my spine) and getting too tired to take the pain, I realised if I was going to be induced, I was going to need an epidural.
Two things I had told SNH I didn’t want: 1. to be induced, 2. an epidural. And it came down that I needed both. In the end, after being wheeled across the hall into the labour ward and being put into the care of another lovely midwife, I just wanted to have the darned baby.
While the rigmarole of getting the epidural was taxing (being stabbed in the arm multiple times by a doctor trying to insert a drip in my hard to find veins; waiting for what seemed eons for the anaesthetist; having to hold incredibly still during horrible contractions while the epidural needle is insert into my spine; having a catheter – ew!) the relief from pain and the couple of hours sleep I gained from it, was incredible.
Both SNH and I were able to get some rest after almost 30 hours of being awake. And when the midwife woke me a few hours later, I felt relaxed, happy and ready.
Thanks to my midwife’s coaching and the huge mirror they wheeled in so I could see what was going on down there, I was able to push baby out on my own (without intervention of forceps or vacuum, which is an increased risk with epidural because you can’t feel anything) and 1 hour after I started, I was holding my little smooshied baby on my chest.
We stayed in hospital for 5 days, while I recovered and while we learnt from the midwives how to care for our bub. I was shocked at how terrible I felt after the birth. My body was so battered and bruised. And my feet and ankles swelled up like the Elephant Man, making it even harder to walk around. It took me many days to feel slightly human and once we got home I started to panic.
My life as I knew it was changed forever.
Sure, it sounds like a stupid thing to think, surely I must have thought about that during the pregnancy. But only when you come home and realise that your sleep is not your own and you now have a new lord and master – all hail baby! – does it become reality.
Thankfully, I have incredible people around me. SNH and my mother have seen me through the last few weeks. With SNH is working 4 days a week until Xmas (giving us a 3 day weekend together). And mum comes around 3 days a week, to help with house work, cuddle baby, keep me company and give me time to have a shower!
We also have an amazingly supportive group of friends, without whom I would feel very alienated. From playmates with other rad mums with little kids, to the occasional phone call to check how I am, I feel connected and like a functioning human.
It also helps that I am getting out of house at least once a day, even if it is just to go for a walk with bub in the stroller. Or up the shops for milk and a wander.
And what of baby? Well I am happy to report that he is the most amazing, dear little soul. Both SNH and I are completely smitten. He has my eyes and his dad’s nose and lips. Along with a full head of hair and hairy ‘werewolf’ ears. He sleeps well at night but only catnaps during the day.
Excitingly we are starting to see the beginnings of a smile during playtime and he is so aware. Looking at everything and taking it all in.
So despite the pain and struggle to get him out and getting used being a new parent, I am in love. And adore my little family.