Rory and I headed to Albany on Monday 21st September to start my 'countdown' (five days before my due date). Having been induced on my due date with Rory, I had no idea whether the baby would be early or late. I was leaning towards late and therefore was a bit laissez-faire about heading down too early. I didn't want to be sitting around in my parents' house for up to two weeks. My doctor insisted she would like me down at least five days before, so I complied.
On Tuesday 22nd September, Rory and I were meant to be meeting up with a friend and her son at the beach for coffee, but she messaged me that morning to say she was sick and couldn't make it. I took Rory for a play at another playground instead (enduring a lot of stares from people at the cafe nearby). At 39 weeks and three days pregnant, taking a toddler to the park feels like a major gym workout, but we had a lot of fun.
That afternoon, I went to lie down while Rory was napping, but I couldn't sleep. I started to feel quite nauseous. Eventually it passed.
In the evening, I sat down to watch the new Aussie drama 800 Words when what felt like contractions started. I brushed them off as Braxton Hicks, but they kept going. I gritted my teeth through it, kept quiet so as not to alarm my parents unnecessarily, and timed the contractions. They were roughly 10 minutes apart and lasted for about 45 seconds each.
By the time I went to bed, they were about five minutes apart and intensifying. I couldn't sleep and was thrashing around in bed with the pain, trying not to wake Rory with my moaning. I seriously don't know how Scientologists expect women to be quiet in labour. Obviously a man must have made up that rule!
At 12:30am, I let my parents know I thought I was in labour and rang the hospital for advice. I didn't want to ring Duncan unless I was definitely in labour. A midwife advised me to wait a bit and see if the contractions got closer together. The only thing I could think of to help with the pain was a bath. I knew I wasn't going to be allowed to have a water birth at the hospital because I'd had a c-section with Rory, and they need to monitor me with a CTG belt. Warm baths and showers have helped with my arthritis in the past, but, this time, the bath was no help at all. I got out after about 10 minutes, in more pain than ever, with contractions now only a couple of minutes apart. The pain was so bad I couldn't possibly keep quiet. My dad rang the hospital and they advised me to come in. He then rang Duncan who immediately begun the one and a half hour drive from the farm to Albany.
Fortunately my parents live about two minutes drive from the hospital. They grabbed my suitcase and shoved it in the car. I got a little bit short with my dad for taking a while to get dressed and ready. Hurry up, I'm in agony here! I was taken from emergency up to the maternity ward in a wheelchair to be greeted by a nurse who immediately recognised my dad...and then me. That's the downside about choosing to give birth in your hometown - there's bound to be someone who knows you and now I wasn't sure I wanted to be 'known' in such a vulnerable state. I went to primary school and high school with this nurse's son. She's a lovely person though and informed us that all of the birthing suites were full (it turned out every pregnant woman in the district had decided to give birth that week and the hospital was stretched to capacity). I was taken to an ordinary room and was in so much pain, I couldn't lie still. I rushed to the ensuite to vomit, but was only dry-retching. A midwife examined me and told me I was 3-4cm dilated. They were waiting for a birthing suite to become free. I begged for pain relief and they brought me some gas. It really didn't make a difference with the pain though, I just felt kinda out of it. My doctor was already at the hospital with another patient and when she was free, she came to see me. She thought my belly had changed shape since she saw me last (I had noticed that too and other friends had commented on it), so she did an ultrasound and discovered the bubba was posterior and had not engaged. I had been determined to try for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean) and my doctor was very supportive of this. I'd been told beforehand that if I went into labour on my own, it would enhance my chances of a successful VBAC. This had happened, but now other odds were stacked against me. I felt so much relief when Duncan walked through the door. The midwife gave me an injection of morphine and I was hopeful that this would make a dent in the pain.
Eventually I was taken into a birthing suite, sucking madly on the gas, even though it still felt like it was doing nothing. I was so dizzy, it was like I was drunk, and I was guzzling water because my mouth was so dry from the gas. The hours sped by. I asked for an epidural and it was so hard to be still while it was done. With Rory, I was given the epidural before I was induced, so it was no problem to sit still. However, the epidural did nothing! It didn't make even the slightest difference and had to be removed. It was like I was immune to all forms of pain relief. Eventually my doctor had to gently break it to me that due to the bubba's position, the labour was not progressing well. I had got to 6cm dilated. I was given the options of continuing on or having a c-section, but it was likely I would labour for hours and still end up having a c-section anyway. My doctor assured me she would support me either way. I opted for the c-section and Duncan was behind me all the way. The thought of hours more of pain for the same result filled me with dread. All through my pregnancy I had prepared myself that I might need another c-section. This time I wasn't afraid. I had had one with Rory and survived and healed. The staff started to get me ready for surgery and that meant taking the gas away. I didn't think it would make much of a difference anyway, but, boy, was I mistaken. The pain was now excruciating, so the gas must have been helping a little bit. Then they couldn't do the spinal block. My back must be so munted from scoliosis and arthritis that they couldn't get it in the right place. I was told that I'd need a general anaesthetic and this was a tremendous relief. All I wanted was to go to sleep and the pain to end.
When I came to, it was the most pleasant feeling, like waking from a beautiful, refreshing sleep. My throat felt very dry though. Suddenly I remembered where I was and what had happened. I'd had a baby! I asked the midwife if it was a boy or a girl, and she told me I'd had a boy. I was so excited to meet him and was surprised to see that he had red hair (which comes from family on both sides). He'd spent close to an hour having skin-to-skin bonding time with his Daddy and was getting most frustrated that man boobs don't have milk. The downside of having a general anaesthetic is that Duncan wasn't allowed into the operating theatre, so he'd had to wait outside.
We'd had three boys names on standby and I asked Duncan which one he wanted as I was happy with any of them. He said that since the bubba had red hair we should choose Flynn after the fire engine on Thomas and Friends (Rory's favourite show, which first made me think of the name).