Length of Labours…
#1 Zach - 13 hours in hospital - Posterior
#2 Oscar - 6 hours in hospital
#3 Lexi - 45 minutes in hospital
#4 Noah - 2 hours in hospital
#5 Finn - 2.5 hours in hospital
I had no idea how to start this story. I'm definitely not a writer, but after feeling very anxious about this pregnancy and birth, actually being scared to go into labour, I ended up having a very positive experience and felt I wanted to share the love.
We had been going back and forth trying to decide whether or not to have another baby. 4 kids is busy, 5 would be crazy we thought. I knew I wasn’t done though, I would still get clucky when I met friends newbies, and would be very jealous when I saw pregnant bellies out and about.
We had built a 5 bedroom house with the thought of having a spare bedroom when we moved in as we just had the 3 kids. Then a year and a half after living in the house, along came Noah who filled that spare room. All 4 kids had their own room, and we still had the seperate study. We discussed the boys sharing, or if we were to have a 5th and it was a girl, Lexi and the new baby could eventually share. We already had a 7 seater car, so there was no issue there. What was stopping us? Nothing!
On June 16th 2018, on Zach’s 8th birthday we found out we were expecting number 5! We were so excited. I would have only been 3/4 weeks and usually we wouldn't have told the kids just yet, just in case, but we couldn't wait - the boys promised they wouldn't tell anyone at school - and as far as we know, they kept that promise. When we did announce it, Zach’s beautiful Grade 2 teacher wrote us a note saying she couldn't believe that he was able to keep it a secret for 3 months! So, that study would soon be filled with Nursery furniture!!
I flew out to Paris for work on June 19th and it was all I could think about. What if I miscarried while I was away for 2 weeks?? How would I deal with it, being alone in a foreign country?? I had lost two babies between Oscar and Lexi, so I felt very vulnerable but I knew I had to stay positive, our bodies are amazing and they sense how we feel.
I felt fine for the 5 days I was in Paris, no pregnancy symptoms had kicked in just yet. I went straight to a chemist and bought some Folate tablets and some pregnancy tests to watch that line get darker and darker by the day. I also couldn't help myself and bought a digital one so I could see in French that we were expecting. The first shop I went into in Paris had a gorgeous key ring with a dummy on it - I had to have it! It was a sign to me that all was going to be just fine. Before I left Paris I also bought some unisex clothes cause, you know, baby HAD to have something from Paris!!
After shooting away at Paris Fashion week, I caught the train to London. I LOVED London - I would go back there in a heartbeat. Paris, not so much, but we’ll move on.
I spent a beautiful week in London, still taking my folate tablets and wanting to buy allllll the baby clothes I saw. Instead I bought babe a Paddington Bear book and booties to go with a beanie I already had at home.
I arrived back in Australia on a Sunday and the following day the nausea kicked in - its like my body knew I needed that two weeks to explore and then I could come home and it could hit me hard - and hard it did.
I had to do the school runs every morning for Oscar and Zach, and given I am not a morning person, sticking horrid nausea on top of that was not much fun. Add in bleeding gums, headaches and a 2 year old and 4 year old at home every day and I was in first trimester hell!!
I had my first appointment with a Dr at Casey Hospital clinic to “assess my suitability” for Caseload midwife care (Caseload care is seeing the same midwife throughout the pregnancy, not someone different each time) I had normal midwife care with Lexi and Noah and this time it was not what I wanted. Lexi was a small baby (2.8kgs) and by hospital “protocols” she was considered IUGR - small. For those that know me, I am not a giant. I don’t think my body is even built to carry big babies. During Noah’s pregnancy, seeing a different midwife every single appointment could not have been more frustrating.. starting every single appointment with “oh, you have a history of small babies” - was the most annoying thing. I was there about Noah’s pregnancy, who, was growing fine with zero complications and in the end he was my biggest of the 4 babies. I just wanted to enjoy his pregnancy (because I thought it was my last) but every 2 weeks, we were back at “small babies” - “history of small babies” - then they would measure Noah and my fundal height and the “feeling” of baby always showed them Noah was bigger than Lexi.
Anyhoo, back to 5th pregnancy.. I went and saw the Dr. The first thing she said (quite rudely I might add) “You do not qualify for caseload care because you have a history of small babies” - UGH! here we go again. I cried. I just burst straight into tears and told her to move on with what she was saying. I got really defensive, told her that since Lexi (who was sitting next to me in all her cute little petite littleness!!) I had given birth to Noah who was a very healthy 3.5kgs. Finally she moved on and said she would discuss with the midwives and see what came of that. All I heard was “hospital protocol, hospital protocol” - I get it, I do get that they have protocols in place, but could they also not just look at each individual case?
To add to my frustration, the Dr also said that given I was turning 39 this year, I was considered “Advanced Maternal Age” (AMA) which also did not qualify me for Caseload care. I would need 3 scans towards the end of pregnancy to ensure baby was not small (or big). Those considered AMA are 37 and over.. I was 37 when I gave birth to Noah, but none of this was discussed during his pregnancy.
Anyway, I left that appointment feeling really deflated. I wanted to enjoy this pregnancy, I wanted to see the same midwife each appointment!
When I got to my next app I didn’t know what I was in for. I walked in and met Meg, one of the caseload midwives. Meg assured me I was fine to stay in caseload care and that Trish would be my ongoing midwife from my next app - amazing! Meg was wonderful, she was very supportive of my concerns about always being reminded of my small baby (just FYI, Lexi was a very healthy newbie and still is a healthy girl with no birth complications given her petite size) Meg mentioned that they had a meeting and given I had birthed a 3.5kg babe after Lexi, I was no longer considered “at risk” of IUGR. The 3 scans were still to go ahead to check on the baby, which was fine by me - more sneak peeks in to what babe would look like.
Meg also advised I be prepared for a home birth, with Lexi and Noah both being precipitous births, the concern was this babe may arrive very quickly. I was not keen on a home birth - I have always had the mindset of babies should be born in a hospital - of course each to their own, a home birth was just not for me.
The next 6 months actually flew by - actually I lie.. the next 5 months and 2 weeks flew by, from 38 weeks it felt like the pregnancy was never going to end - how we all feel right?!?
We had gotten to week 38 and I was getting cranky at home, super cranky - at everything, everyone. My poor family. I would go to bed and cry, I would cry because I knew i’d been unreasonable with either the kids or Matt. I felt horrible, and I would cry a gazillion tears into my pillow and no one knew. One night Lexi came in and saw me and told Matt I was crying. He had no idea why - I couldn’t even tell him why - I was just upset. Upset because I was so over being pregnant, I was so over being angry all the time, I had ZERO patience left for anyone and anything.
I had an appointment with Trish and I was hoping for a stretch and sweep - when I walked in and she wasn’t there I was shattered - a young (lovely) midwife had taken her spot while Trish was delivering a babe at hospital. I asked her for an S&S and she did one - she said that my cervix was posterior, but soft.. Soft was good and I knew it would be as I had been using Evening Primrose Oil (EPO) for a week prior. EPO is said to help “ripen” the cervix before labour. I used it with Lexi and swear it helped with her 45 minute labour in hospital. (that and her teeny tiny size!)
Anyhoo, I left that appointment in the hope that it would kickstart labour in the next 48 hours… nothing.. not even a twinge. That’s ok though, my body and baby just weren't ready yet.
Week 39 appointment and off I went to see Trish - hoping for another stretch and sweep.. I walk in and again, Trish is off delivering a babe and the same young midwife takes my appointment. This time we talk about possible induction. I also forgot to mention, the DR I saw at the start of my pregnancy also said that we would not wait for baby, given my age, I would be induced. Um, no! I had heard many horror stories about induction and it just wasn’t for me. I know for some women, an induction is the only option they have and I respect that, but I wanted to wait and see what my body and baby wanted to do.
I left my 39 week appointment with no S&S and a possible “controlled waters break” induction 3 days later, oh and a 40 week appointment to boot! I was sure I wouldn't make that appointment. As soon as I got home, I started to have negative feelings towards being induced.. why would I rush baby along? Baby will come when they are ready? Let my body do what it knows it can do.
I ended up texting Trish with my concerns about induction and she offered for me to go in and see her that day and have a chat - She was also not keen on me being induced. Yay for a supportive midwife!! Trish cancelled my “induction” and instead did a stretch for me. I have had at least 2 S&S with each pregnancy, but this one was next level!! As soon as I’d left the hospital, I was getting constant tightenings - no pain. Just tightening after tightening. I got home and started bouncing on my ball to try and get babe to move down and put pressure on the cervix. Sure enough, about 5-6 hours later contractions started to kick in. I wanted to labour at home until they really kicked in, but given my 2 previous quick ones, Trish text me saying “don’t leave it too long!”
We got to hospital around 1.30am - contractions were painful, but bearable. I was getting what felt like 10 mins between each one and I was sleepy… I honestly felt like I could rest and lie down between them. I asked Trish if I could go without the cervix check, I didn’t want to be told I was 3cm as I’d feel deflated. So with no check, not knowing how I was progressing was surprisingly relaxing. I knew the stronger the contractions were getting, that my body was doing what it needed to.
I stood during the whole labour - hanging onto the end of the bed rocking (Trish said I looked like I was running on the spot) through each contraction. After about an hour or so, I asked for gas - they were intensifying and I just needed something to take the edge off. Matt was taking plenty of photos for us to look back on, mainly for him to laugh at. He even set up the phone to video a contraction and gave a thumbs up during it. (this will not be shared -ha!)
Another hour passed and I could feel I was going through transition - the stage from around 8cms to fully dilated. It was intense - it was painful. I needed Matt to gently rub my lower back during each one while I groaned, moaned and growled through each one. The pressure was strong and Trish said it would be my waters so I asked her to break them - I knew once they broke, my baby would not be far from my arms. Just as Trish and Matt were getting the bed ready for me to have them broken, I had an almighty contraction and as I squatted down, they broke! The relief…. albeit 2 minutes….
13 minutes later, Finn was born! during that 13 minutes, all I remember was pushing, the stinging, Trish saying “push through the sting” and then turning to cuddle my baby. (I had him on the floor, on all fours) As soon as I was cuddling him, I looked at Trish and said “Sorry for all the yelling” This was by far, my most relaxed birth. I am thankful to Finn for the rest between each contraction - it was, if you believe me, an enjoyable birth. One I’d do over and over again.
Finn gave a good cry when he was finally earth side and I had my beautiful 4th baby boy in my arms. We slowly moved to up on the bed in readiness for the placenta to be birthed. The pain was constant, I tried to cuddle Finn whilst waiting for the placenta, but it was hard. It was so different to my other births, there was no relief from pain once I got up on that bed - the pressure from the placenta was intense. Finn’s cord had stopped pulsating and turned white, so I opted to have it cut so that the midwives could assist.
Trish went to hand Matt the scissors but he said I could do it - that was a special moment. I cut the cord and handed Finn over to Matt to cuddle whilst I birthed the placenta. For those that know me, know I HATE needles, I had to hold my breath for the injection to assist the placenta. It stung, but hey, it aint no crowning sting!!
Within a minute or two of the injection, the placenta emerged and all was fine. I was really scared of the after pains, because following Lexi and Noah, the pains were horrid. Surprisingly this time, they weren’t! Maybe Finn knew how anxious I was about his birth that he let me rest during labour and was kind to me with after pains.
I got up to shower about an hour after birth and we moved onto the ward. Finn slept soundly, Matt slept soundly and I just lied there staring at our 5th gorgeous mini human.
We had done it, the final piece of our puzzle was here. He was perfect, all 3.4kgs and 51cm of him. His blue eyes, light brown hair, 10 fingers, 10 toes and gorgeous little dimples. Finn is the perfect full stop to our family.
The first 2 weeks have been full on - establishing breastfeeding with Finn, handling the kids around him who just adore him and who race to the sanitiser just so they can touch his hands. All 4 of our older mini’s love him, I constantly hear “mum, can I hold him” - “Where’s Finny?” (when he’s sleeping) Lexi is always singing to him - its beautiful to watch.
Life as a family of 7 is now in full swing. I am back to school drop offs with all 5 kids in tow, getting them all ready in the mornings before school / kinder and off to drop off. Back home for feeds and cuddles with Finn, playing cars with Noah and then back in the car for pick up.
Life is hectic, but I love it - Matt has been a god send with making their lunches the nights before. Annoyingly I decided to introduce bento style lunches for the kids this year, so there’s no such thing as making a few sandwiches and chucking in an apple, chips and a muesli bar - lunches now consist of cut up Kabana, cheese, strawberries, crackers and dip as well as sandwiches. But the kids love it.
So my pregnancy journey is over - 5 beautiful babies in 9 years. No more belly bumps, no more wriggles when I try to sleep and doing 3 point turns just to roll over in bed. I will miss it, but I will enjoy watching these mini humans we created grow into beautiful kids, teenagers (I hope) and adults that we will forever be proud of.