Jacob Rex Kehoe – born Saturday 10th Dec 2016 at 9:55pm, weighing 4.3kg/9lb 4oz, 57cm long and 38cm head circumference.
In the last few weeks of my pregnancy I started to get quite nervous about the impending labour. People only tell you about their horror stories so it was inevitable that I was going to be scared. Leading up to week 40 I started reading blogs and watching positive birth story videos on YouTube to give me an idea of what was to come. C-sections, vaginal births, water births, episiotomies, gas, epidurals – you name it, I’d seen it. For some reason I thought that if I knew what to expect then it would make labour easier and if there was an emergency, then perhaps I would be better informed to make a decision based on the knowledge that I had learnt. Believe me, researching helped ALOT because it made me feel like I was in control and it calmed my nerves even when I wasn’t. So for any mothers-to-be out there, here is my birth story. Its beauty and gore all wrapped up in a nice warm swaddle. I didn’t have the easiest birth and I’m not going to lie, at the time it was fucking hard. But I’ve come out (or Jacob has lol) the other end thankful that littlejay was born safe and healthy. So here goes. Warning, move along if you can’t handle TMI.
EARLY STAGES OF LABOUR
It was a Thursday night and as per usual I tucked my heavily pregnant self into bed preparing for a long 8 hour sleep (ha those were the days!). My mind was racing with thoughts about labour, babies and sleep, or lack thereof, and at around 4am the next morning I posted something on Instagram about pregnancy insomnia and then fell into a deep slumber. Two hours later I woke up to a soaked pad and for a second there I thought it was pee. Fuck did I seriously just piss myself? I was one week overdue and for the past month I had been looking for even the smallest sign that I was in pre-labour, and now that it was here I had no clue. I thought I knew what to look for because Mr Google said that amniotic fluid is clear and smells sickly sweet, but the problem was that mine didn’t smell sweet at all and I thought it smelt like a potent cleaning product.
The midwife from our antenatal classes stressed to us to try to stay home as long as we could before going to the hospital, simply because it would be more comfortable for the mother during those early stages. At this point I hadn’t had any contractions so I didn’t want to make a fuss about the whole thing and I really didn’t want to be that sooky girl who wasted the midwives time. Sean INSISTED that I call the midwifery clinic for advice, so hesitantly I picked up the phone and dialled…suddenly shit got real. Out of nowhere I felt this surge of fear go through me, my hands started shaking and my voice began to crack. I tried to pretend like everything was cool as a cucumber, but inside I was shitting bricks. Right then and there I told myself that I’m not going to break, I’m going to be strong, I’m going to stay positive and give myself over to this experience.
After a trip to the hospital and confirmation that my waters was leaking, I was sent home to wait for labour to kick in…joy. Finding out that my waters had broken was such a huge relief because I knew that very soon I would be meeting my little man! I was feeling really good and so decided to chill out at home anyway and potter around the house getting the nursery prepared for the baby, MY BABY!!!! I kept complaining to Sean that I had this odd ache in my lower back and in hindsight contractions must have started, but they were barely noticeable. So while I’m having these minor contractions, Sean goes off to Bunnings to find parts to make a DIY bbq for Christmas lol…what is it with men and Bunnings anyway? Soon enough 4pm rolled round and I was suddenly hit with really painful contractions, tolerable but painful, kind of like period pain. They just seemed to come out of nowhere and by this point I knew without a doubt that THIS WAS IT! I went from being able to talk through the contractions, to having to distract myself by walking around the block and bouncing on a cushion (note to self: get a swiss ball!). At around 7pm contractions were still 4 minutes apart and lasting up to a minute, so we decided to go back into hospital to get checked out. I wasn’t surprised at all when the midwives turned us away, even though I was in a lot of pain I just wasn’t anywhere near the point of pushing. So off we went back home AGAIN with a deadline of 6am Saturday morning to prepare to be induced if things weren’t progressing. I counted the hours remaining till 6am on my fingers and my heart sank, I knew this was going to be a LONG night. I swear, that night was worse than the birth itself. I spent the next 10 or so hours in the bathtub (note to self: build a bath) whilst Sean and my sister Ashlee (she flew in from NZ that evening and for the sake of this post, lets call her Aunty Doula) took shifts sleeping, timing the contractions and refilling the bath. The hot water was so soothing and a really good distraction from the pain. Thomas our puppy was super cute too and he kept coming into the bathroom to lick the water and to check if we were okay. I was running on 2 hours sleep, sleeping in between contractions and feeling like it was never going to end. I kept telling myself that women have been birthing babies for thousands of years and I just needed to remain calm and keep my mind still. Whatever I was doing, it was working.
AT THE HOSPITAL
Finally 6am rolled round and we were on our way to the hospital. As I waddled down the front steps of our house a thought ran through my head – shit, when I come back home I’m going to have a baby in my arms! I was actually a bit scared of being stuck in the car for the 15 minute drive because I found it really uncomfortable sitting (plus I could barely fit through the car door), but I just stayed quiet sitting in the back seat next to our empty capsule. The thing that I found so strange was the fact that in between the contractions you’re completely fine, talking, walking, cracking jokes like normal. Then the contractions hit and you’re in excruciating pain. By this point contractions would have been 3 minutes apart and I was obviously in a lot of physical pain, very silent and keeling over with each contraction. Once we arrived I basically threw myself through those birthing ward doors!
Finally we moved into our own birthing room, we met our midwife, chucked on some reggae and it was all go from there. The midwife placed a fetal heartrate monitor on my belly and wrapped big strips of blue elastic around my torso to keep it in place. I started off on a swiss ball (note to self: seriously, get a fucking swiss ball!) and bounced through the pain for about 8 hours whilst Sean and Aunty Doula massaged my lower back. We didn’t have any massage oil so we got desperate and started using my coconut body cream, even though it hurt I needed anything and everything to distract me from the pain. I actually remember getting really frustrated whenever Aunty Doula stopped massaging and I would snatch her hands and place them on my back. Eek sorry sis, but labour turns you into a total bitch!
It was 2pm and for the last four hours I STILL had a dilation of 6cm and my contractions were getting further and further apart, so they decided to give me synthetic oxytocin to help move things along. I was a bit hesitant at first because it wouldn’t be 100 percent “natural”, but realistically I needed to get this baby out and my body was not letting him go! Before I could take the oxytocin, I had to down a jug of water and it came straight back up again. The nausea was super intense and with no food or drinks in my system, I was exhausted but still soldiering on. After some fluids I was hooked up to a drip which meant I was no longer as mobile as I wanted to be and every time I went to the bathroom I had to take the stupid pole with me. Contractions and pushing kind of feel like you’re doing a poo and theres so much pressure down there. I really needed to do a poo anyway and I was petrified that he was going to flop out into the toilet bowl (Is that a head or a poo!?), so I made sure I had Aunty Doula with me to catch him just incase. Sorry sis…again. As I was less mobile I moved into a kneeling position on the bed, the head of the bed was raised and my arms dangled over the top of it with my chin resting on the edge. I was butt naked (literally) and all I had that could save my modesty were the blue elastic bands and my bra.
The contractions were coming in hard and fast and things seemed to be moving along really well with the synthetic oxytocin. By this point the pain was excruciating and I needed something to take the edge off, so I asked the midwife “when do I get offered pain relief?” and she responded with “I was waiting for you to ask?”. Well lady, I would have asked a long time ago if I had known that haha!!!!! So she gives me a low dosage of gas and I swear, it was the BEST decision I ever made and I regretted not having it sooner. How it works is when you feel a contraction coming you start inhaling and exhaling, basically breathing through the hose and for a moment you feel “high”, and then it immediately leaves your system. Inhale, exhale, high, repeat…for another 6 hours. In that time I had the blue strapping on my belly removed, an internal FHM stuck to Jacob’s head which was linked to a machine, I was introduced to my third midwife and I had shat myself at least 20 times. To be honest it was initially a little embarrassing, especially when the midwives were joking about cleaning it up but in the end I didn’t care. I had lost all of my inhibitions as soon as I walked through those doors.
Not only was I exhausted, but my support people were too and I could see the fatigue in their eyes. I was glad they had each other because they could take shifts getting coffees, resting their aching massaging fingers and putting their feet up on the couch. At one point Sean accidentally fell asleep on the couch and was snoring SO LOUD! I could feel my focus waning so I screamed at Aunty Doula to get him out of the room so he could power nap outside. This is one of those moments where I was glad that I had two support people because I would not have coped if I was in the room on my own. Looking back I feel absolutely awful for being such a bitch, I even snapped at my dad for calling to see if we were okay! In the early stages I was doing anything to distract myself, but now I was really trying to bring my whole mind and body into each contraction so at this point anything that distracted my focus had to be removed.
It was 8pm and I was told it was time to push. I looked on as the midwife pulled down the change-table with the heated light and out of nowhere I burst into tears. This was the first time I had shown any emotion through the whole process and I was just so overwhelmed and relieved that I would meet my little boy very soon. Oh, the feels you guys.
I had Sean on my right feeding me gas and Aunty Doula was on my left giving me water and applying lip balm. The contractions were one on top the other and I wasn’t coping very well. I was so exhausted that I was sleeping in between pushing, which was pretty ridiculous considering there wasn’t even a lot of time to sleep (30 seconds?). After what seemed like an eternity of pushing, I could see the midwives doing a shift handover and suddenly there were like 10 people in the room. I was so out of it I didn’t know or even care what was going on around me, I was just so focussed on the pushing. Then suddenly a woman standing next to me on her mobile said abruptly “we might have to do a c-section here” and I don’t know if that was a scare tactic but it definitely didn’t work. Going into it I never wanted a c-section but at that point I didn’t care, all I wanted was for it to end. Weirdly enough it wasn’t the pain that got to me, but it was more the frustration that he hadn’t come out yet…I honestly just wanted to shut my eyes and sleep. They asked me if I wanted a c-section and I said I would prefer not to, so they decided to do an episiotomy and started on sedating the area.
On and on I pushed. Then out of nowhere, the mobile lady (who I’ve come to learn was the head midwife) growls at me and says “Now Tracy, I’m getting sick of this, you have to get this baby out NOW!” and all of a sudden the aura in the room changed and I felt a sense of urgency. In my head I’m thinking, who the fuck is this lady and why is she screaming at me like a child!? I didn’t know this at the time but Jacob’s heart rate was dropping rapidly because he was stuck against my pelvic bone. Then I hear Sean whisper into my left ear “push, Tracy, push, you can do it” and I pushed so hard like I was doing the biggest shit in my whole entire life. I pushed and pushed and pushed until I had no breathe left in me. And as I took my last push, I watched as the midwife’s raised arm came down and slashed three times with the scalpel. Blood splattered everywhere. The thought I had when he came out was literally “that’s not going to look pretty, but thank fuck thats over”. I looked up at Sean and Aunty Doula and they were both sobbing, I didn’t realise at the time but it must have been such a scary experience for the both of them. At 9:55pm, Jacob was finally born.
Immediately Jacob was placed on my chest and the connection was instant. We were meeting for the first time, but I had this natural urge to love and protect him. I ended up having a third degree tear and lost nearly 2 litres of blood. I looked at Jacob and thought “I don’t care if I bleed out on this table right now, as long as I know you’re safe then I’m happy”. My eyes were barely open and I was too exhausted to show any emotion whatsoever, but inside I was in eutopia. I laid on the bed for an hour waiting to go into surgery and I watched Sean dress Jacob into his first onesie. I yearned to be standing there helping, but I was so happy watching Sean bond with Jacob. He looked like such a proud dad and this was their memory that they could share forever. In that moment I felt so much love in that room and I felt so blessed to have my little family.
In a time where I could have totally lost it, I was so chill and relaxed which I think helped me mentally cope with the pain. Aunty Doula said I made it look “easy” and I honestly put that down to the fact that I was open to everything and stayed calm, quiet and positive the whole way through. We pretty much spent the whole labour listening to reggae and cracking jokes, so there was such good vibes in our birthing room. I am so proud of myself for getting through labour and pushing out a bloody big 9 pounder baby, because fuck, that was hard! I actually just want to give myself and every other mum out there a big high-fucking-five for being such powerful and strong women! (Damn I feel empowered right now! Who run the world!?) Would I do it again? Yes, I’d 110% do it again!!! Being a mother is such a blessing and I am just oozing with adoration for my little boy. He is literally the best thing that has ever happened to us.
Things to note: Get a swiss ball, personal masseuse, drink holder, lip balm applier, shit picker upperer and build a bath. No seriously, if you can, I would highly recommend getting two support people. Sean keeps saying he doesn’t know what he would have done without Aunty Doula. Your support person needs a support person and they can also takes shifts at doing x,y and z too. Winning!
Remember every birth is completely different and this was my experience, so it will obviously be completely different for you. In some way or another I hope this helped at least one mummy-to-be out there. Thanks for reading and keep positive. xx