[note: I refer to contractions as “waves” or “rushes” because this is how they felt to me.]
I expected you early and you came oh so late- the day before I was to be induced in fact. Luckily your big brother, who was born 30-something hours after my waters broke, had prepared me for a long wait. I had my first rush at around 9pm on a Saturday, each one was a good 12-15 minutes apart, but I knew from the first that these were no braxton hicks. Your Dada and I watched,Stranger Than Fiction, called the hospital and told them to expect me at some point during the night and then and went to bed. I knew this time it was important to conserve my energy and rest. I was amazed at how deeply I could sleep in between the intensity of my rushes. When one began I would wake up, breathe through it and go right back to sleep. By 6am the next morning I had had enough lying down and was eager to get things going so I suggested that Dada, North and I go for a brisk march along the beach. It was a cool crisp day, but the sun was shining. I stopped every so often through a wave and focused on my breathing and above all else, staying calm and relaxed. When we arrived home the boys headed to the park while I stayed behind in the safety and comfort of our bedroom. I felt sleepy and dopey, so I decided to have a little nap even though I knew this might keep things going slowly. This was the best decision I could have made. I actually listened to my body and what it needed instead of trying to figure out what I should have been doing to help labour to progress. When the boys came home I nibbled on half a sandwich and drank some rasberry leaf tea and hung out in the bedroom for a little while longer. After North’s nap, I decided we’d better go for another walk if I wanted my rushes to get closer together and if I wanted my waters to break any time soon. So we set off to the playground on our last outing as three. Every so often your brother would ask, “What you doing, Mama?” as I leaned over the pram and huffed and puffed. Dada told him you were coming soon and that I was just feeling a little funny in my tummy.
I felt inspired to pick a few flowers on the way, as many wise women had suggested to use them for visualization. I trekked around a footy field a few times gripping onto the little stems for strength and gazing down at the colourful petals. With every wave I imagined my uterus blossoming and growing. At times I truly believed that this technique was working and I could feel myself opening up. When we got home everything felt more intense. The rushes were much closer together, perhaps 5 or 6 minutes. It was now 5pm on Sunday. Dada gave North some dinner and got him ready for bed while I knelt on the floor against the bed slipping and sliding on my knees for the duration of each rush. Long, deep exhales helped me to get through each wave and I often reminded myself to rest in between rushes. I calmly welcomed each contraction with the knowledge that they were bringing you closer to me. At one point I panicked and began to wonder whether I could give birth without an epidural or some form of pain relief and then I remembered Ina May's advice about the power of words. In the privacy of my bedroom as I writhed around the floor I said outloud to myself, “ I can do this, I can do this.” At around 6 o’clock my waters broke. We called Grandma and Papa and told them to hurry. We tucked North in, gave him a big kiss and told him he’d have a special breakfast in the morning with your Grandparents. They walked in as we shut his bedroom door. I slid down against the wall and breathed through another big wave. They were now only minutes away from each other. We got to the hospital in under ten minutes and walked up to the labour ward, it was 6:45pm. The midwives were waiting for me when we arrived, questions were asked and then after what seemed like ages they checked my progress- I was 6 cm dilated and during contractions was stretching as far as 8. I was emotional, moving from calm lucid moments to a wild animal-like state. I tried to ask the midwife how long she thought I had to go, as I was again doubting my ability to go on. She asked me if I had the urge to push and I replied desperately, “Kind of... but I don’t know how.” And right then as another wave took over me I let out a monstrous roar and my whole body took over and I gave a huge push and out popped your entire head! The midwives were now scrambling around trying to prepare everything for your arrival in time. With the next contraction your shoulders came out, and the next your legs and feet. I only pushed three times. You were born one hour after we arrived at the hospital, at 7:55pm.
You rooted your way to my breast right away and suckled for over an hour. I pushed out the placenta with ease and two hours later I had a shower and ate an egg salad sandwich. I had no tears, no stitches and no wires or cords attached to my wrists. I have never felt so alive, I have never felt more proud of myself, and I have never felt more feminine. I felt so connected with our Mother Earth and to every other Mother who has ever given birth. Thank you my daughter. Thank you so much, for giving me this gift. It will stay with me forever- you have taught me a great lesson- to love and trust my body, to listen and learn from it. I truly wish that every Mother could experience childbirth the way I did that evening, because after all is said and done, it really honestly feels so right and so good.