WARNING: While not all that graphic, this is a blog-as-I-went post about the labour. So if you don’t “do” labour stories, you might want to move along…

BACKGROUND
My hind waters broke on Friday afternoon and we were told to take our sweet time to report to the hospital for a routine check. So we mosied in at half past five that evening, fully expecting to return home straight after… except I was already contracting 9 minutes apart. Bags were already packed in the car, so we went out for a late dinner – Indian – and checked in at 9:30pm. This is our story.

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11:17pm

A baby’s wailing in the next room and my man has managed to fall fast asleep in a recliner that doesn’t lock, and looks very likely to fold in on itself when we least expect it. Tony and all.

I’m not altogether sure what I was expecting for my labour, but this is what we’re getting so far: a private room with a SINGLE bed, contractions 9 minutes apart that I cannot feel, 1 caustic, pregnant midwife who was indisposed when they were handing out the Happy Hormones, and the promise of antibiotics by drip at the crack of dawn.

I am keeping an open mind.

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4:50am

Word to the wise: when given the option of staying in hospital to sleep for 6 hours or going home to get 4… choose home. You may be housed in the private ward but sound travels and they let babies cry a whole lot through the night in the public wards, I can tell you that.

Newbie babies are angry babies.

My new midwife is a peach. Also, the cheerful interim one after the Snide Bear. That’s one good thing about a rotational system, I suppose. Don’t like who you got, wait 10 minutes. Kinda like Melbourne weather. Of course, I could get a grumpy one back later…

Ooh. Forgot to mention this last night, but the reason Tony scored a dodgy recliner rather than a mattress and we landed arguably the Private Ward Most Resembling a Formule One Motel? Canberra has run out of beds. Seriously. They are flat chat at the mo; last night alone saw 4 births in the hospital I’m at. Trust our daughter to want to be in on the action.

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7:17am

Two goes at getting the antibiotic in two hours late. One rather butchered arm later, and they give up and GIVE ME A TABLET.

Occam’s Razor, anyone?

Cramping in the lower abdomen has started. My midwife is pleased but it seems I’ll have to be brought to the birth suite after breakfast to kick start the process proper, as it’s been almost 24 hours since Blobette unplugged her own heated swimming pool.

Meanwhile, Juju Sundin sits bookmarked at page 73 out of 281. I ask Tony to inhale the book and its contents with his big brain, but we know it’s a lost cause.

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8:53am

Have been contracting about 12 times in the last hour. The latest midwife – also a darling – had a feel while I was contracting, and pronounced it moderate. Which is encouraging, except I’ve heard so much about women contracting for aeons, only to have the doctor cheerfully tell her that she’s dilated all of 1cm.

Anyhoo, after my lovely breakfast of lukewarm tea and indifferent toast, we took a leisurely stroll down to the birth suite in my jammies and my Bunny Slippers of Ill Repute:

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Can’t really believe we’re in the birth suite now, although the first thing I did was to have a contraction, and then waddle over to the ensuite to check out the bath tub. Which is HUGE; a jacuzzi minus the jets. Big enough to bathe an elephant. Almost.

“Wow…” enthused Tony. “It’s almost like a holiday!”

A holiday of PAIN.

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9:40am

Doctor’s here. I’m 2cm dilated and am now a human pin cushion. My arms look distinctly Frankensteinesque. Everyone is rather impressed with my iPhone app – the one that times my contractions.

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3:59pm

Oh my word, we’re parents!

After determining that I’m 2cm along, the midwife told us that first time mothers usually dilate a centimetre an hour.

Which meant potentially 8 more hours of writhing in pain before a potential 2 hours of actually pushing.

Forget that. As if raising a red flag to a bull, the contractions started in earnest after the 2cm announcement, and I learnt how to howl the place down. Syntocin is NOT fun.

After doing without pain relief for 2 hours because we actually forgot about panadol (!), I opted for the gas, which was a good reminder to breathe through the pain, but which SO did not “take the edge off”. I vaguely recall flinging the equipment in disgust at some point, after being told for the umpteenth time to breathe slowly with it. Tony was a wall of strength – literally. If I wasn’t clinging onto him in mid-contraction, he was mopping my brow with a cool, damp cloth and reminding me to breathe.

Breathing is not an automatic thing when your body is racked with gobsmacking pain.

1:00pm – dilated at 4cm. Gas wasn’t impressing me at all. By now, my eyes were pretty much sealed shut in agony. I’d fall into a deep meditative sleep in between the yelling. All that choir training came in useful for pitching low, using the diaphragm, and bellowing like a wounded bull. Knowing that I had theoretically at least 6 more hours to go was the most depressing bit.

Which might explain why I ended up dilating 5cm in half an hour. I think my body just went, “Nup. Enough faffing around. Let’s FINISH THIS.”

The midwife kept saying I wasn’t ready to push yet, but for the very first time, all that natter about “listening to my body” came together, and suddenly my brain and body got prepared.

1:35pm – midwife returns with the needle for my morphine shot – even though she told me she was going to give me pathedeine. I’m past caring, but suddenly she takes one good look at me, gives me a check and realises I’ve dilated 9cm. So. No painkillers for me.

1:45pm, and I’ve fully dilated and learning to push. There is no time or energy left to get into some fancy-schmancy calmbirth position. I’m on the bed. I’m on my back. Thundercats are go. Everyone’s telling me what a good job I’m doing, which perplexes me because it’s like praising a cow for chewing grass. I’m doing the only thing I CAN do, as far as I’m concerned. Which is push like the dickens.

Tony mops my brow and tells me she has my hair. My eyes are still sealed shut. I’ve stopped yelling. I’m definitely in some kind of zone now.

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2:16pm

I’m a mommy. Tony’s a daddy. Our girl has my hair, eyes and nose, poor thing. But she has Tony’s complexion, chin and mouth. And so tiny!

She smells awesome.

9 days early, Arddun Rei Hibberd came into this world and lit up our lives in a way only babies know how. 47cm. 6 pounds 8 ounces. Ravishing and complete.

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