Now this is a special week! No need for the fruit analogy on size because on the 8th Feb at 5:11am – two days before the due date, our beautiful baby boy arrived into our arms. He weighed in at 3.192kg and 50.5cm in length but before I go into lengthy details about the birth, I’ll fill you in on some events that preceded it.
Overall it was a good week. I went for swims, had massages, drank raspberry leaf tea, ate pineapple and spicy foods and had a fairly comfortable week. With the baby dropping lower into my pelvis, I found it easier to breathe which made sleeping a bit more comfortable too. I didn’t experience any other symptoms other than increased discharge this week but no significant ‘show’ as such. On Wed 4th, we made our way back to Melbourne via Kai’s swimming lessons in Geelong. That night we picked up my mother-in-law Leena who had made the long trip out from Finland to be here to welcome her second grandchild and also to help keep Kai entertained. I had a visit with my obstetrician the next day on the 5th and he did his routine checks of blood pressure and an ultrasound. Our baby’s vital signs all in good order. The only different check this week was that he did an internal examination to see if my cervix had started to soften – which it had, very slightly. That day, I had a meeting with my management group and finished my outing in the city with a hair cut. I spent the night splashing in the pool with Kai and relaxing with family…trying to stay patient, present and calm. I can’t describe the feeling, but I sensed our baby was very close now.
The next day was quite a hot day, so with two grandmas in tow, we decided to take a little excursion with Kai to the South Melbourne Market and the community park on the Albert Park F1 track. There we met with my brothers and their wives and children for a bit of a play date. I probably should have stayed at home floating in the pool, but I felt the need to be out and about as do many other women close to their due dates. My mother for one was hanging out of her house washing windows the day she went into labour! I guess we all need a way to cope with the excitement and anticipation of childbirth and all the unknowns that go along with it.
On Saturday and with two grandmas entertaining Kai, Lauri and I headed to the comfort of the air conditioned local mall for a few last minute items and a foot massage. I’m not usually keen on shopping malls and they usually stress me out, but it was nice to cruise around, not necessarily needing anything in particular. That night after a game of scrabble and with Kai in bed, mum and I were clearing the kitchen when I said ‘I just need to go to the bathroom and then I’ll help you load the dishwasher’. As I went to the bathroom, I felt this strange pop and water began gushing out. Quite a lot of water and a little pink in colour. At first I got a shock, but then, as I processed what was going on, I just sat there thinking ‘ok, don’t panic, it’s time’. I gingerly called out… ‘Um honey???……my waters just broke’ which was followed by a silent pause from the kitchen. Lauri and Mum also needed their time to process the information, both responding with ‘ok, don’t panic’. In a way, I was a little disappointed my waters broke because I new I needed to head straight into hospital because I was GBS positive which requires you to get antibiotics. I would have liked to stay at home and labour there a little longer. None the less, I didn’t panic or rush. With a towel between my legs, I made my way over to the shower, giving final instructions to Lauri for items I wanted packed into the car.
Whilst in the shower, I got Mum to get the hospital on speaker phone. They asked me to come in as soon as possible and that I most likely would be induced of which I firmly replied ‘Ah, no thanks. I’ll go into labour on my very own thank you’. By that stage, I could already feel the signs of early labour. The tightening of my uterus coming in waves.
After a good 10min soak in the shower I got dressed into my new pj’s I had bought for the hospital and we climbed into the car armed with a maternity pad and towels for the 30min car ride. 30 minutes was the perfect amount of time to listen to a Calmbirth track to help me and Lauri get into the zone and keep us nice and relaxed. At one point I glanced at the speedometer and told Lauri to back off. There was no need to speed. There was no rush.
We arrived at the hospital but I insisted on staying in the car for the last 5 minutes of the Calmbirth track before getting out. By this stage, my new pyjama shorts were completely soaked through as I continued to leak throughout the journey. I waddled into the admission area as Lauri pulled up the rear with our bags. We waited in what was like a holding room with two other women who were also in labour. There the baby and I were monitored and given a dose of antibiotics and I continued to labour until they found a room for us. My contractions were coming in stronger and stronger now – even more reason to reject any offer of an induction of labour! I was already in labour! I used my breathing and leaned over the bed with my elbows on my foam roller throughout the contractions. I also got out the tense machine which I found really helped. At this point they weren’t very long – maybe 30-40seconds, but were coming every few minutes. In between contractions I did some yoga stretches and kept my body and pelvis loose.
After about an hour, they moved us into a suite in the post natal ward. I requested a fit ball and mentioned I did the Calmbirth course and requested a midwife that would be on the same page as me. In no time, we met Sara (an angel in disguise) who was ready to help us bring our baby into the world naturally and as calmly as possible. We also set up the room with battery operated candles,turned the lights off and put on some soft music. It was lovely. We continued to labour in the post natal ward as the contractions increased in intensity and duration. The most comfortable position for me was on the floor, kneeling on a pillow and leaning on my elbows over the fit ball. As the contraction surged, I breathed in long and deep and on the exhale sank backwards, repeating this rocking motion -like riding up and over the waves. As I sank backwards, I had Lauri press down on my sacrum which seemed to provide nice traction on my back. In between contractions, I rested with my chest on the ball, in a dreamy state. After about 2hrs, it was time to move down to the birthing suite. My contractions were strong and consistent. We took what we needed – the candles, the music and my tense machine.
By this stage, all I wanted to do was get into the water so we started to fill the bath. In the meantime Sara checked my blood pressure and the baby’s heart rate and I began to shake. She told me that was adrenaline and we didn’t want adrenaline, we wanted oxytocin, “the hormone of love”. Oxytocin was what we needed to bring our baby closer to us, so I went back to my breathing and began sending love to our baby. I then sent love to Lauri and Sara and the staff at the hospital. I sent love to Kai waiting for us at home and I sent love to all the other labouring women in the world. I imagined a safe passage for our baby. The shaking stopped.
While the bath was filling I placed a soft mat on the floor of the shower and continued labouring over the fit ball. At this point the tense machine was replaced by warm water massaging my back. Lauri placed warm towels over my back too which felt nice. The sensations were getting more and more intense as I transitioned into the second stage of labour. I hopped into the bath once it was filled and continued through a few contractions there, but I found I couldn’t get comfortable so I went back onto the mat in the shower. During this phase there were times where I wanted to escape my body as our baby’s head made it’s way down through my cervix. Given I had completely different birth experience with Kai, I hadn’t felt these sensations before. I remember asking Sara several times, ‘What is happening now? How will I know when to push?’ She fixated her eyes onto mine and she explained calmly what I already knew intellectually. ‘Your baby is making its way down through your cervix, one wave at a time. You will know when it’s time to push because you won’t be able to breathe through the wave’. At that point I flicked a switch. I stopped thinking and surrendered to what was happening. Trusting my body knew what to do. Talking to myself, absorbing messages from Lauri and Sara. Visualising myself softening and opening.
Not once did we talk about how many centimetres I had dilated. Not once did a doctor enter the room. Not once did we talk about pain medication. It was calm. It wasn’t pretty….but it was beautiful. I felt myself turn into a different person. Primal. Wild. Alive. Present. I shrieked. I screamed. I put on my warrior face. I bit Lauri. I pooped ….on Lauri I had no sense of time… it didn’t matter. Then finally, I understood what Sara was talking about. I felt the urge to push. Through a mirror in the candle lit room under flowing warm water, she could see the head emerging. At that point she guided me through each contraction and instructed me on how hard to push. This was a tough stage and it’s hard to sum up what I was feeling at that point. In a nutshell, there’s lot of pressure and stinging sensations as the vagina and perineum stretch to make passage for the baby’s head. On the next wave, Sara asked me to pant the head out slowly in little pushes, protecting my perineum from tearing and on the next wave, I pushed the head out. We were on the home stretch. On the next wave and in a final push, out came our baby. We did it!
Our small team birthed a baby who was placed straight into my arms. I held him tight and after a few moments I lifted him up to see that he indeed was a boy. A healthy boy, still covered in creamy vernix. Relief and joy filled the room and we made our way from the shower floor to a bed in the next room. The umbilical cord was still attached and we waited until it had stopped pulsating before it was cut so that our baby could continue benefitting from oxygenated blood and stem cells from my placenta. All this time, our baby boy was on my chest. Warm and slimy with his eyes wide open, fully alert. Soon after and on another wave, Sara pulled on the umbilical cord and out came the placenta.
The birth was complete. It was amazing from start to finish. A total of 6 hours from my waters breaking. After a short while, our baby started feeding. He didn’t need any help from me and it was like he knew exactly what he was doing. So incredibly instinctive.
And that was our birth experience. Completely natural and intervention free which was what I hoped and prepared so hard for. It was a challenge and there were moments of fear and thoughts of not being able to continue, like I wanted to escape, but with Lauri, Sara and our baby boy with me every step of the way, we made it to the finish line together, fully present and in the moment. Incredible.
After a few quiet hours in the hospital staring blissfully and completely in love all over again, we named our baby boy Alek Andreas Lassila. Little brother to Kai who showered Alek in kisses and cuddles. Life is truly a gift. xxxx