This is the story of the birth of our second daughter, at St. Johns Hospital, Livingston, in April 2015.
The day started unexpectedly, with a change of hospital for our induction. It was an unexpected and not entirely desired induction at 41 weeks so a change knocked off the plan.
Having adapted, and found the new location excellent, waters were broken and we walked for two hours, with no sign of action or contraction.
At 1600, we decided to take the offered syntocin drip to accelerate Labour, and also decided to document key moments of the labour with pictures.
This is the first. The resignation of having to go for the drip, and cede control of being able to walk about unencumbered and to use the water bath.
Rule one. Make a birth plan. Then break it knowing what the choices are when each thing becomes impossible. Let it go, focus on the prize and be in the moment. The whole time is a succession of individual moments, some hard, some joyous, some painful, but all transient.
Fifteen minutes after the drip connected, the first hint of a contraction shows on the trace. It’s a welcome sight after hours waiting.
We decide to reminisce about the birth of our first daughter, remembering the surges of emotion and the sense of teamwork and togetherness we felt. We hope that this will make the oxytocin flow. We’d discuss using visualisation and picked out pictures.
Looking through early photos of daughter number one leads to high emotion, and shortly afterwards and upturn in contraction intensity. Standing, walking as much as the drip will allow and beating the bed enable E to go pain relief free for nearly three hours…the midwife is impressed…but suggests gas and air.
Having tried standing, once again E finds the most comfortable position is lying down, even though we made plans for balls, pools and walking.
We discard plans to listen to music, and to do mindfulness tracks because E finds that she is best able to manage the pain by focusing inward. We use an app to time contractions and spacing, which allows us to predict patterns. Even the midwives are sent out to confer quietly elsewhere.
E asks if the gas and air is vanilla flavoured
Uses the bed to brace against during pain
And switches the TENS to full time boost.
I’m taking lots of pictures as during contractions my input isn’t needed. The best thing I can do is process my feelings in image. It’s hard to see your partner in pain, especially when what they need is not your default offer…of contact and talk. As a partner you become (or should become) an instrument of whatever need the person doing the actual work needs.
Rhythmic percussive slapping of the bed or chair was a great way of E telling me when a contraction was active..i.e. when to shut up completely. When the tapping stops I stop the app timer. We see that contractions are speeding up dramatically and lasting longer. The exact same pattern of emotions comes during transition. We know this baby is imminent. We say that from this feeling to delivery took five minutes last time.
Once again there is disbelief and the midwives have to be convinced until a quick exam confirms that the feeling of pushing is…well pushing.
At that point I put the cameras down. There’s more a more important role to play.
At 1940 SK is born, and as last time, I am able to capture the moment of recognition and relief on E’s face. SK looks more glaikit than MJ, but perfect.
We’re waiting for the cord to stop doing its thing. A quick picture whilst they hand me the shears.
And it’s all done. A small hat has appeared, but her head is a bit large for it.
She’s a great weight, two pounds heavier than her sister. In this hospital they are obsessed with keeping the babies warm, so she has been cleaned and given a bigger hat.
Once we’ve had toast and said hello, she is straight on, having been rooting from the first moment. With number one being tiny feeding was far harder. At this point it was already a talisman that it might be easier to feed this time.
Here’s granny getting the news.
And Auntie K, from whom SK’s middle name is taken. Facetime and a portable wifi dongle transformed our ability to share the moment with distant relatives.
I put down the camera, and E picks it up. SK is dressed by now…none of the nervousness about fragile newborns that there was with MJ.
E felt so good I was instructed to take this and use it. Oxytocin at its best. Birth was a new PB time wise and everything seems fine.
Here is SK, safe and sleeping in the post-natal ward as I leave.