BIG WARNING: This is long. Seriously long. Remember how long Ianto's story was? This is longer. It also has the same level of detail.
Let’s go right back to before any of this began. A year and twelve days in fact. The day her brother died while inside me. The moment we found out, I had what I now know to be an uncommon reaction – “let’s try again straight away.”
So we did. For three and a half months, we tried. It doesn’t sound like long, and I’m so grateful it wasn’t, but it felt like forever. I was just so impatient! (That continued throughout, as you’ll see…) While it felt like we were speeding away from Ianto having died and been born, it felt like forever in terms of trying to conceive a sibling for him!
On June 17 2010, I had an ultrasound to find out if I had polycystic ovaries. It turned out I did, but the doctor refused to give me any kind of fertility treatment unless I got to December without falling pregnant on my own. As I threw a tantrum at home about it, little did I know that my body was preparing to release the egg that would become part of my beautiful daughter.
A week or so later, Scott and I were preparing for a two-week holiday to Queensland. I posted a thread on BB asking if I would be okay to go on the rides at the theme parks – I was scared that if I managed to ovulate, the egg might not survive. I knew it was a silly question, but I didn’t want to take any chances. Turned out I didn’t need to ask, I was too chicken to go on anything scary anyway!
Monday July 12th, and according to fertility friend I was 12 days past ovulation. We were going to wait until we were back in Melbourne to test, but I was impatient. After nagging Scott for a while, I went and bought a pregnancy test to take the next morning. Nope, that wasn’t soon enough either – I snuck away and peed on that stick about an hour after we got back to his mum’s place. No second line came up… until I’d wiped the tears away.
Was that a line? I stared for a while… I couldn’t tell… I walked back to the room we’d been sleeping in – “Scott? Does that look like a second line to you?” – He just gaped at me. He stared, I stared… and I made a decision. “I’m pregnant again, aren’t I?”
I was. The cheap eBay tests I took when we came home said otherwise, but a blood test confirmed it. An ultrasound gave me an EDD of March 21, and we were off! After initial disappointment that there was only one baby in there (I was so sure I was having twins!) I settled in to my pregnancy with “Cookie.” I was convinced “s/he” was a she, and around the house would refer to the baby as such. We planned on a home birth, but that idea quickly fell through as we realised we couldn't afford it. Then the birth centre we wanted turned me down and I had little choice. So the Royal Women's Hospital it was.
My Nan knew about Cookie. We were going to wait until our wedding anniversary in September to tell everyone, but I had to tell the more important people in my life. I’m so glad I was able to tell her – she had already begun buying clothes for her next “little treasure” before… well, you know. Our plan to wait until our anniversary was thrown away, and we announced my pregnancy shortly before Nan’s funeral.
My only real goal in the beginning was to get to 20 weeks. It sounds silly, but I had been through one stillbirth so I felt that I’d be able to handle another far better than a miscarriage. At that point, I wasn’t actually afraid of losing the baby. Some part of me just assumed I would, and I found it so hard to bond with this little person growing inside me. I just wanted to get to 20 weeks so I could once again have solid, real proof that I had had another baby. After that, it was 32 weeks. Then I would fully relax and believe I was taking the baby home. Or, that was the plan at least.
At our 18-week ultrasound, we hit the first real scare. Cookie had a cyst on her brain. I didn’t tell anyone, but I was terrified. Even after finding out it was probably nothing (it was), I was finally properly scared of losing another baby. After that, I found it so much easier to bond and really care about the baby. I filmed my belly jumping around, I stared lovingly at my ultrasound pictures… I finally let myself love. If I was going to lose this one, I would at least make sure he or she was loved.
The time passed quickly and slowly at the same time, and I found myself once again at 32 weeks. This time nothing was wrong in the pregnancy, but the doctor wanted to induce at 38 weeks. I was furious – I wasn’t going to force my baby out before she was ready! I ranted and raved at home (and online) and a few weeks later smugly told the doctor no. (Oh, how guilty I feel now…) He said okay, but only if I agreed to weekly fluid and heartbeat checks. I was perfectly fine with that! We were over 32 weeks; I knew there was nothing wrong now.
At 37 weeks, on Ianto's birthday, we were hit with another surprise. Somehow, our little gymnast had flipped into a breech position in the space of two days. I would have to have an “elective” caesarean (which I was too tired and “over it” to fight them over), or they would externally try to manoeuvre the baby around into the proper position. If the latter failed, I would still need a caesarean anyway, so we went for it. I prepared myself as best I could for the worst-case scenario – caesarean – by asking for advice and stories.
On the third of March, I went in and Cookie was flipped back around easily. In what would become my ultimate “words to bite me on the bum,” I told Scott while waiting that I would far rather a caesarean than another induction. HA! Four days later, I found myself once again telling a doctor I didn’t want an induction… only to come back to her less than an hour later and tell her I did. It was part “I need to know the baby’s going to be okay” and part “I’m f**king over this, just get the baby out of me!” – I hated myself. Both were such selfish reasons, and still I felt I was letting myself down. I had wanted a completely natural birth so much, and here I was agreeing to an induction. I hoped I would begin to labour on my own before my appointment.
Labour and Birth
Alas, on Wednesday the ninth of March, I showed up for my induction appointment having had no signs of going into labour naturally. I was disappointed in my body as well as myself for having agreed to the induction, but there was no backing out now. I was going to have this baby! The admission forms were filled out (eventually – I didn’t realise there was a line so a heap of people got in before me) and we headed up to Pregnancy Day Care, my heart thumping. OhmygodI’mhavingababytoday!
Comfy chairs. Oh how I love the comfy chairs in Day Care. I also love that it’s called Day Care, it makes me giggle. We kicked back in the comfy chairs for a while, waiting for a cubicle thingy to open up so I could have the gel inserted. Messaged Mum and Lily (my doula and friend) to let them know they weren’t needed just yet, but to be prepared since the gel was going in soon. Lily wanted to come in anyway, so I said okay.
Once the gel was in (and eww, it was just as disgusting as I remembered from Ianto), we had to wait an hour before I could get up. I had the CTG strapped to my tummy, and a good book to read, so the time passed quite quickly. I was calmed by the thumping heartbeat sound resounding in the cubicle – I didn’t mind that the belt was a little uncomfortable. It’s only an hour, right?
Eventually, we were allowed to roam around the hospital while we waited for the gel to kick in and start working. We decided to go down and get some lunch, at which point Lily joined us and started her “doula duties” –making sure I was happy and entertained was the main goal then – and we were off. Went back up to Day Care around 12:30 because that’s when they said I had to be back by.
My contractions properly started around 1:30pm in Day Care’s waiting room. You’d think that would make them get a move on, but nope. They didn’t have a cubicle to put me in until about 4-ish. By that time, my mum had shown up and watched me pace through a few contractions. They were pretty manageable at that point, they seemed to make me restless rather than in pain. I was checked, and I was “only” a centimetre dilated – more gel! Yippee! Yet another hour’s wait with the CTG thumping away.
It was at this point things started to go a little... off-course. They were having a busy day, you see, and couldn’t fit me in a birthing suite just yet. Would I mind being taken to a room on the postnatal ward to labour for a while? “Not at all! Just get me off this bed and I’ll be fine.” I smiled... and was promptly left to wonder when they were taking me up. We were still in that cubicle around 5 o’clock, when finally someone came to take me to my “labour room” on postnatal.
Ooh, nice big room down the end, I thought as we approached it. Lovely, I can make lots of noise without disturbing people... Ha! We walked in and I was stopped in my tracks. “You’ve got to be KIDDING ME.” I said aloud before my brain could catch up. There was another woman in there. I thought for a brief moment that she was like me, waiting for a birth room. Then I noticed the sleeping baby next to her. They’d put me in a room with a new mum so I could labour in there. Even funnier, I hadn’t even considered that because I’d mixed up the words “antenatal ward” and “postnatal ward”. How on Earth am I supposed to labour properly, noisily, with her in here? I wondered. I’d had enough. I was already annoyed that it was taking so long to get me on the right ward, and this just compounded things. I walked over to the corner of the room, smacked my head against the wall, and bawled my eyes out for a lengthy period of time. I only stopped to breathe through my contractions, which had ramped up significantly.
When I stopped crying, I was just blank. I couldn’t deal with this crap, I was in pain and I couldn’t even grunt for fear of waking this woman and her baby. We’d been told I’d only be in there for a couple of hours – I think it was 8:00 that they said they’d be coming back to take me to a proper room? – So I focussed on that. Eventually I reconciled myself with the idea of labouring in that room, and we got down to the fun bit. Distraction and jokes. Oh, and some dinner. I strongly recall cracking the shits with my dinner and throwing a dim sim at my mum, then cracking it even more because I really wanted that dim sim!
Throughout that part of my labour, I kept my sense of humour about how silly I was acting. I knew it was ridiculous that I was upset about a dim sim, and I laughed at myself straight after. There was also my terrible bear impression. I can’t even remember what brought it about, but I tried to growl and bare my “claws” but it came out as this pitiful little whine instead. Although I didn’t have much “back labour” I figured out quite quickly that a bit of heat and counter-pressure on my back helped, so at many points I was hunched over the bed with a heat pack on my tummy and lower back, with one of my “assistants” pressing on my back. We have some video of it, it is utterly hilarious!
Time got a little lost as the hours wore on. I know I kept checking the clock but I can’t remember the times – or the order – that things happened. We did go for a walk up and down the corridors of the ward, with me stopping every couple of minutes to lean on a handrail and grunt at Scott to press on my back. I’m sure that happened quite early on, but it doesn’t match up with something else I know happened around the midpoint of being in that room – Lily falling over.
I think she was taking a phone call, or making one, and went outside to do so. The hospital has a lovely little garden on the same floor as the postnatal ward for the new mums to get some fresh air, and that’s where Lily went. Apparently there was a bird, she tried to get a photo of it (correct me if I’m wrong!), it flew at her, and she slipped on a wet patch. Have I mentioned Lily was 26 weeks pregnant? Yeah. When she came back and told me what had happened, I was concerned, but she assured me everything was okay except for a bit of groin pain. This got a lot worse as the hours dragged on... and on... and on... (By the way, Lily's bub was fine, she's almost a month old now.)
By the time 8:00 rolled around, I was so ready to be in that birth room. I wanted to be in the bath. I wanted to be able to moan and yell through contractions. I wanted to be able to move around a bigger space, get into strange positions as my body dictated. It was not to be. I was told I’d have to wait a little longer. Now the estimate was “maybe around ten o’clock? Eleven at the latest?”
We got to the birth suite at midnight. Around 11:30 I noted that the baby would definitely be born on the 10th, exactly three months before “its” mum and four before “its” dad. There was no way I would give birth in that room, and it was becoming apparent I wasn’t leaving it just yet. Oh, what a relief when we were told I was finally moving! Scott had fallen asleep against the wall, which had been quietly ****ing me off since I’d noticed, so when we were told we could move, I threw a pillow as hard as I could at his face. Sweet satisfaction when it hit dead-on. I elected to go up in a wheelchair (because, seriously, who would use their legs when they can be pushed in a chair?) and we were off... again.
I was halfway through a looong contraction as we went through the doors, so I have no idea of what number room I was in.
Room Five. In any case, the room had a bath! I danced a little dance and let out a mighty roar that I’d been swallowing for the past few hours – damn it felt good! However, the next few contractions didn’t, and my anger had built to such a point I couldn’t deal properly. I started yelling that I wanted “this thing” out of me, I didn’t care how.
I wanted to jump in the water right then and there, but I knew I’d have to have a heart rate monitor on for a little bit (twenty minutes maybe?) before I could. If I’d known what was coming, I would’ve done what I wanted and gone for it. The midwife came in and strapped the CTG belt onto me... Little did I know my plans were crashing around me. I didn’t leave that bed again until Amelia was two hours old.
First, the CTG was very touchy. One little movement – or contraction! – set the alarm off as it lost the heartbeat. The noise was so damn annoying, and sometime around 4 we finally worked out how to set it to silent. The midwife kept adjusting it, trying to get a constant reading, but shockingly, I wasn’t able to stay perfectly still through contractions. Who’d have thought?
Second, the lovely intermittent monitoring I’d asked about down in Day Care? The ****ing midwife laughed when we asked about that. No, I had to stay on the monitor through my whole labour and birth because I was being induced; I wasn’t allowed to go away from it! Silly me...
This leads into point three: No bath. No ****ing bath. No warm water as pain relief, which I’d been absolutely dying for since before I was even in labour. We asked about a monitor that could be used in the bath, but apparently that’s a ridiculous idea too, since they only have a couple of those kind of monitors, and she was sure someone else was using them. And the fact I was being induced, that played against me again too. Shit.
I snapped. I truly cannot remember much of the next eight and a half hours, aside from little moments here and there. Screaming through each contraction, trying to stay still because the monitor kept going off. Being told not to scream because people could hear me (maybe they could have tried closing the fricking door?!) and then trying not to scream at the midwife who told me that. Making the decision to ask for an epidural, but not being able to say the words. I started sobbing (through the bits where I wasn’t yelling) and telling Scott, Mum, and Lily that they knew what I wanted, could they please tell someone? While I appreciate how much they tried to stick with my rule of NO EPIDURAL, I was so angry with them for trying to talk me out of it.
I was convinced to try some gas first, because that was enough with Ianto, but I’d already made up my mind. While the gas did help slightly, all I could think while sucking on that tube was “when will they give me my epidural?” – although it wasn’t quite as articulate aloud. I believe I started yelling, “Where’s the ****ing doctor?” with every contraction. I’m not proud. That was about the point I was told I had to be a little quieter, they were getting the doctor, he was just with someone else. I couldn’t give a rat’s arse; he was supposed to be there by then!
The only staff member I really liked by then was the obstetrician who had been tasked with checking my dilation. They’d managed to find another weakness of mine – Irish accents. I didn’t stand a chance; I would’ve gone along with anything that man said, so long as he said it in that beautiful Irish lilt. I didn’t like him so much when he was fumbling to break my waters though – owwwwiiiieeee!
I hate myself for even thinking this next line, let alone typing it, but... Like an angel, the anaesthetist appeared to insert the epidural. I sat up (oh sweet relief just in the action of sitting up and getting off my back!), leaned over my pillow and told not to move. As if I would – I was zonked out on the gas, but I was still aware and afraid of what was going to happen! I sucked hard on the gas, to the point where I’m sure I passed out. The stupid midwife kept telling me not to move, or to take a big breath and hold it, but I was so high from the gas the words were reaching me through a fog. Apparently I was answering about ten seconds late! If I could’ve just done that through the whole labour, I would’ve been fine and dandy.
Epidural in, and even more holes appear in my memory. Instant relief though. I was able to sleep between contractions, and it just felt so good to be calm again. I once again felt I could do it. Lily was dozing too, but I wasn’t mad at her. She was still a bit sore from falling over, and I know how much being pregnant takes energy from you. We looked at the time at some point and noted it was getting close to Ianto’s birth time of 8:52am. We joked that they would be born at the same time. I got the shakes quite badly from the epidural, which was equal parts scary and hilarious to me. I had a little bit of control over them in that when I really focussed I could almost choose which part of my body was shaking; I didn't do this often though because I wanted to focus on getting the baby out.
Around 8ish, I was given a one-hour deadline until they would “have to” give me a caesarean. Luckily, I could still feel some contraction pain through the epidural – in my leg, strangely – so once I could push, I used that to my advantage. I pushed with everything I had. There was a midwife there trying to coach me through the pushing, but for the most part I ignored her and just pushed when I thought I should – plus ten seconds extra. For some inexplicable reason I agreed to let them hold my legs as I pushed. Kinda the worst position to do so, but “eh.” I didn't care much at that point, so long as the baby was going to come out.
Finally, FINALLY, I felt the head moving down, and was told the baby was crowning. Did I want to feel its head? **** yeah, I did! I reached down and... Oh my god. So soft! And... hair? I didn’t expect that, I was born pretty much bald, Ianto was the same. But this baby had a lot of hair, and I could feel it right there under my fingertips! Ohmygawd!
I was determined. I was getting that baby out by myself. I was happy again. A few more big pushes and the head was out! I felt like leaping for joy. Except for, you know, the whole strapped-to-the-bed thing. I took a couple of minutes to collect myself before more pushing and that wonderful slippery feeling as the shoulders and body followed. Hell. YEAH! After a second or two of listening to the little wet thing crying, “it” was handed to me and we were introduced. I cuddled her to my chest and we stared into each other’s eyes, me telling her who I was and her taking it all in in silence. We'd beaten the caesarean "deadline" by eight minutes, though we didn't know it yet.
A few minutes later Scott cut the cord and was asked if he could tell me the sex. I wasn’t concerned with whether we had a boy or a girl past asking, “was I right?” – I was. He told me “we have a girl” and we told her what her name was. Amelia Tenielle Margaret Reid. Our Milly. Mum had to leave the room then, as she had forgotten our chosen girls’ name included Nan’s name as a middle. She was so happy about that. Then we thought to ask what her birth time was, and we were all floored to find it was the exact same as Ianto - 8:52am. We just laughed out of sheer amazement.
I’d torn a little as she came out, so I had to have my legs up in stirrups (ugh) as they sewed me back up. I didn’t mind, since I couldn’t feel it anyway and I had the best distraction in the world – my daughter! However, hard as I tried, it was very hard to keep my eyes open – the combination of the epidural and exhaustion meant that I kept falling asleep for the next hour or so. When they finally finished stitching me up, I was helped to roll over onto my side, Amelia was laid next to me, and they helped her latch on for her very first feed – incorrectly. I had a little bit of pain when I feed from that side until about a month ago.
I’d been asked if we wanted to have her Hep B and Vitamin K injections soon after her birth, and id said no. Too bad no one told the person who swooped in and gave them to her as she was being weighed! Through my haze, I was furious, but didn’t have the energy to even point it out to anyone. They even had the gall to say she’s a “good bleeder” because her poor little leg was pissing blood from the needles! A much nicer compliment came once we were heading to postnatal (the same room I laboured in) – “she’s got a perfect shaped head!”
So there we have it. I think I'll be rewriting this quite a few times, debrief how i feel about it all... One thing’s for certain – my next birth will NOT be induced, and if it’s not a homebirth, it’ll be in a birth centre.
Amelia Tenielle Margaret Reid
Born 10th March 2011, at 8:52am
Weight: 3.39kg (7 ½ lb)
PS - She smelled like freshly baked cookies when she was born!