Elliot, my baby boy, this is the story of your birth-day. That wonderful winter’s day when you came into our life . . .
I was sure you would arrive in the last week of May. Your big sister was born a week early and I imagined you would be too. I was certain you would come with the full moon and we made sure everything was set up, ready and waiting.
… and wait we did.
I imagined you would arrive in the night. During stormy weather. My winter baby. So every night I lay wide awake imagining signs of your imminent arrival, convinced that every twinge was it.
We were very lucky to have your Nanny (my mum) staying with us. Our very own, live in, natural therapist. We try to coax you out in almost every way possible. Acupressure. Reflexology. Bowen Therapy. Pineapple. Clary Sage. Raspberry Leaf Tea. Hot Curry. Long walks.
“Don’t push the river, it flows by itself” Words pinned to the wall as a constant reminder. . . but I was anxious to meet you. We all were.
Your Nanny and I knitted and sewed the days away. A futile attempt to distract ourselves from the waiting.
Then after three weeks of intense Braxton Hicks, and six days after your due date, I feel that first real contraction. It is 8am on a beautiful crisp blue sky winter’s morning.
I hear your Daddy leaving for work and decide to keep the news of your imminent arrival to myself. The twinges are irregular and not too intense. I get out of bed. Nanny and your big sister, Aila, are up and about, preparing for our weekly swimming session.
Nanny offers to take Aila swimming. I am thankful. I need some time alone to prepare the nest and prepare my mind. I hustle them out the door, not mentioning what is about to unfold. Only the two of us know you are on your way.
I get things organised. Have a shower. Put wood on the fire. Play some tunes. Most of the contractions are subtle, but we need to dance our way through a few. I put on the same dress I wore when I laboured with your sister. (I later discover that your Daddy had on the same t-shirt he wore at your sister’s birth)
At about 10.30am I call your Daddy. He should be the first to know you are coming. I tell him to keep his phone close. Things are happening, but it could still be a while off.
Nanny and Aila arrive home at about 11:15am. I walk outside to greet them. Barely able to keep the grin off my face. I whisper in your sister’s ear and she announces to Nanny “Mum’s got pains in her tummy!”
Nanny bursts into action, just like I knew she would. She’s busy getting organised and calling your Daddy home … then things start to heat up and the contractions become more intense, like my body knows it is ok to get going now that my people are there.
I leave a phone message and text for Serafine, my midwife, saying I “think” that “maybe” something is happening. Still in denial.
I assume my position on the birthing ball. Every time I attempt to move from here the contractions seem less manageable. So there I stay.
The birthing pool is filled up. I remained in denial that this is actually it. Your Daddy scampers here and scampers there. Even more of a ball of energy and busyness than usual.
Aila has her lunch then goes down for a sleep. In a short period of time I go from being ravenously hungry to not able to consider the thought of food. This must be established labour.
Then as if to confirm I am in established labour I throw up.
Your Daddy boils hot towels. Scalding hot. He picks them up with tongs and I grab them with my bare hands and slap them on my belly. Your Nanny strokes my hair.
Serafine calls and says she is on her way. About half an hour away. She arrives at around 1:30pm. At 4cm we decide I am far enough progressed to get into the water.
Relaxing, soothing water. Bliss.
… and now I decide I need cold towels. Ice cold. Can’t get them cold enough.
I moved around trying to find the best position. It ends up being on my knees hanging over the side of the pool. Serafine offers some gentle advice. I concentrate on removing myself from the sensation of the rushes and not fighting them. It helps a lot.
Your sister wakes up. She’s fine with what’s going on, kicking back on a mattress watching the show. But I find that with her there, I can’t concentrate on the job at hand. She goes outside with Nanny to play in the sandpit.
The noises are unexpected. I never imagined I could be so vocal. Moaning and groaning through each contraction. There’s no way I can not make the noises.
Another purge. A big empty out. Transition?
Waters break and some of the pressure eases.
And then not long after this the noises change. Primal noises. This must be pushing. I let my body do what it needs to.
In my mind I recall people saying second baby’s are out in a couple of pushes. But the pushing goes on. And on. I rest my head on the side of the pool between each contraction. The noises grow louder and my body pushes harder.
I reach down and can feel your head. Perhaps you’re not that far away after all.
I cling to your Daddy’s hands and can’t stand it when he’s not there for a contraction. He repeatedly makes references to running marathons. His closest association to what I’m going through. Each time he receives a “sssshhhhh” in response.
Serafine starts to build the “nest” on a mattress on the floor. From somewhere I muster the energy and words to tell her “Not the Laura Ashley sheets. The old sheets in the basket.” I figure that surely I can’t be that close to the end if I’m worried about sheets!
In spite of a whole lot of noise making, I actually feel good and in control. For one contraction I look into your Daddy’s eyes. He looks so helpless and worried for me. Close to tears. I feel the need to assure him that I’m really ok.
I remember some words from a friend. Her baby girl, born in the same pool just months earlier, had birthed quickly after she turned over into a squatting position. My body is telling me that’s what I need to do.
So I roll over and your Daddy holds me from behind under my arms. I have sore armpits for days after. Within a couple of ROARING contractions and some pants I feel the burn, and then the tear, then your head is out. We’re nearly there.
We call your Nanny and sister in from outside. The dog comes in too, wagging his tail, keen to see what all the excitement and noise is about.
One more push and you’re here. “Pick up your baby Rachel” I hear.
Then there you are. The baby boy I always knew you were. Perfect in every way.
Elliot James was born at 3:45pm on 10 June 2010 weighing 9lb 8oz. The third stage was straightforward and effortless. Delayed cord cutting and then a quick trip to the hospital to deal with a third degree tear. Dinner from our favourite burger joint, then home and into our nest in front of the fire, where we spend the next week.