Then There Were Four

Guys, I had another baby! And my heart is so full – I have two beautiful little girls. I am so happy, that amazing, peaceful, contented kind of happy.

If you don’t like birth stories, look away now. I promise to try not to make it too graphic.

On Wednesday morning, we visited the midwife for a check up, and ended up having a Stretch and Sweep. For 3 weeks now, the fundus (basically my baby-carrying sack) hadn’t grown, and Karen was worried that baby was running out of room. So, stretch and sweep time (and let’s-move-baby’s-arm-from-its-head-internally time – that was comfortable!).

We went home for the rest of the day to wait for (hopefully) labour to kick in. Poor Pete – he was so impatient to meet his child, he couldn’t sit still. In hindsight, I should’ve sent him to the pub.

My mum also came straight back from my sister’s on hearing about the ‘sweep’ – I really needed this baby to come today, otherwise everyone’s hopes would be up high for nothing!

Thankfully, like clockwork, my labour started as I fed Stevie her bedtime booby (nipple stimulation, especially towards the end, I known for releasing oxytocin – the labour hormone. Interestingly, oxytocin is released 3 times naturally in a woman – during orgasm, during labour, and during breastfeeding. The human body is fascinating – it’s all connected to making babies!). Quarter past 8, I was feeling intense pressure and let Karen know.

Luckily for me, my doula was Karen’s daughter-in-law, Bianca – I have a history of short labour, and this meant they could get to me, together, nice and quickly.

And of course, my history of fast labour repeated itself. Karen and Bianca got to the house (and assisted Pete with the birthing pool) just in time for my contractions to start with a real bang – I was told the day after, that on my first check after arrival I was between 5 and 6cm dilated already.

When watching period dramas involving labour, I always wondered about the towels and pots of boiling water that they ask the husband for every time – it turns out, keeping a birthing pool hot is hard work! I don’t think Pete has boiled so much water in his life – because of course the geyser ran out after a while!

Anyway – the pool was run in perfect time and in I hopped (I did not hop anywhere, of course – hopping whilst 39 weeks pregnant and in labour is not an option). Water birth was the best decision I ever made. I went from 5-6cm to the full 10cm in about 40 minutes, so I have very intense labours and the water really helped with supporting me. It was still bloody sore, but I didn’t worry so much about finding the perfect position, as the water balanced my body.

Active labour started at round about 9pm. Karen kept me informed all the way through that my waters still hadn’t broken, and that she was reluctant to break them for me while I was progressing nicely – which I was thankful for. En caul births are rare – so of course I wanted one!

In the end, my water sack actually broke shortly after contact with the water. I got to feel it though, which was different. It felt like a very rough, papery water balloon. Then came the head, and a strange, primal moment where I tuned out everybody in the room and pushed – Karen said she even saw the change. My body, knowing what to do from last time, took over of its own accord. I tilted my pelvis, let out some kind of weird noise and the biggest push I have ever known had her out, pretty much in one fluid movement.

Looking down into the pool and seeing this little, tiny creature floating in the water will go down as one of the most surreal, and amazing, moments of my life.

But wait – what I haven’t even mentioned yet is that Stevie was in the room for half of the process, and got to physically see her little sister being born! My mum brought her through and talked her through the entire thing, and she thought it was fascinating. As I lifted our new baby onto my chest, Karen called Stevie over and asked her to to be the first to see what sex her new sibling was. It was such a special moment.

I know, I my new-mum, baby-brain muddle I will have missed something out of this birth story – probably something really vital, like how Pete was with me in the pool the whole time, or how important perineal massage is. But this is just how I remember it now, 3 days after the event. Birth is beautiful, and painful, and overwhelming, and the best thing I have ever done now – twice! Even if there was a small moment on the last contraction before her head crowned where I wondered why I’d ever put myself through this again.

Home birth isn’t for everyone – as stated, I have a history of quick labour, I had a textbook, complication-free pregnancy, and I don’t like hospitals, so home birth with a midwife was ideal for me. If you feel as though this sounds like you, and something you’d like to do, then I highly recommend it. I got to labour and birth in the comfort of my own home – I got to use my own towels, tandem feed my kids for the first time in my own bed, and wash off in my own bathtub. Plus, I now know how to clean off a murder scene – always handy, no?

My midwife was Karen van der Merwe, who also works as a private midwife at Genesis Clinic in Rosebank, if the whole home birth thing seems a bit much. To contact her re a home birth: karenvdm61@gmail.com

0823357731

My doula was Bianca van der Merwe. A doula is a birth assistant, who can be hired for both natural and assisted births, and also c-section. Bianca also offers pregnancy massage and reflexology.

https://www.facebook.com/SimplyBinx/

binxycastle@gmail.com

0615467020

Little rant…

I'm thinking of numbering these rants – what with all the pregnancy hormones whizzing around my body, there'll be a few…

Here's the latest:

The Pigeon Pair

I understand that, 50 plus years ago, having a boy was important to the family. It was pivotal that the family name was passed on. And, because you had to wish for a boy, there was the wish for the girl afterwards, so a parent could 'experience both.'

But this is the 21st century. If Princess Charlotte had been born before Prince George, she would've been queen of England before he was king. So why is everyone still so obsessed with whether another family then their own is having a boy to go with their girl, the 'perfect pigeon pair?'

I grew up the eldest of three sisters. Due to complications in childbirth with me, which resulted in an emergency section, my mum had scheduled Caesers with my sisters. When the surgeon delivered my youngest sister, he apologised, as he handed her to him, for her lack of penis. I paraphrase, as it's just from memory, but it was something along the lines of
"I'm terribly sorry, Mr. Holmes, but you've got another girl…"
My dad always said that he had to work not to injure the poor man, for apologising for a healthy child. He asked to see her ten fingers and ten toes, and said he didn't care because he had three perfect (yes, the man was nuts) healthy children – and we all just happen to be female.

The primary question, when we tell someone we're expecting our second, has been
"Oh, you must be dying for a boy!"
Well no, actually, I'm not. I would be so genuinely, genuinely happy with either sex. I have my reasons for being excited for either, but I don't feel I have to justify them to anybody. Men, generally, say to Pete that he must be keen to pass on the family name. Cue eye roll. Women, with sons or without, tell me I just must experience a son's love for his mother. Well, as one of three girls, I can tell you, is be surprised if any boys love their mother than we girls love ours.

But what really gets my goat, really gets on my nerves, is people who don't believe Pete or I when we tell them, honestly, that we don't give a s**t.

We do not live in the dark ages any more. The sex of my baby (which we don't know, by the way, and won't until he or she comes to greet us) is none of anybody else's concern. But even if someone did have a deep, vested personal interest, it is awful to think that our friends would be less excited for us because our baby doesn't match THEIR own expectations.

So, when someone tells you they're expecting a child, don't ask them the gender straight away. Congratulate them, tell them you hope everything goes well, wish them luck, and, if it means that much to you, lament their lack of a pigeon pair in your own time…