I wasn't worried about giving birth, even after the post partum issues I had with Eliza. For some reason I just knew that I could birth this baby with no problems and no help. I had been attending pre-natal yoga for a few months, and I learnt how to breathe.
Yes, I learnt how to breathe. Who would have thought that I needed lessons in breathing? Well, it was the most beneficial thing I could have done. I was (and still am) blessed to have an amazingly spiritual and knowledgeable yoga teacher who instilled confidence in me.
"Exhalation is the antidote to pain"
So I started labouring at home after a long day of trying to bring it on. The only thing that was stressing me out was care arrangements for Eliza, and how she would get to the hospital after the birth to meet her new sibling. I felt better once I realised that the baby would be born late at night, and that she would stay all cosy in bed.
The contractions became pretty strong on the way to the hospital and Craig kept looking at me nervously at the red lights he always seemed to be stopping at. The conversation was light hearted but a little strained. Not in an uncomfortable way, but in a "lets not poke the bear" way.
I beat my midwife Sue to the birthing suite. Sue is another amazing person I am so lucky to have in my life. I knew I was in competent experienced hands, and that we shared the same birth ideals. I was looking forward to sharing this experience with her. Our student midwife Tanya arrived and then Sue. I had to lie on the bed for a bit while a fetal monitor was fitted. Once it was obvious that there were no problems, I was able to get up and walk around, which was much better. I don't know how women can stand lying down whilst in labour. To me, it feels so wrong. When you are upright, gravity is working for you also!
From memory, it is hospital policy to be hooked up to a fetal monitor when admitted. In my humble opinion, this is stupid. They are restrictive and uncomfortable. And also very distracting. And they don't even stay on properly so it's quite easy to think that something is wrong, leading to unnecessary stress and intervention.
For the next however long (I was in a time vortex), I wandered and rocked. Each contraction came stronger than the last. I found my rhythm. As I felt the first tightenings of a contraction coming, I would focus on my breathing. Big, slow deep breaths. Breathe in for 6 seconds, breathe out for 8 seconds...forget the pain, just breathe. Sounds around me became muffled. My husband remained quiet and still throughout the contractions, recognising that I didn't need any help, didn't want any touch or sound. It was just me and my breathing preparing my body and baby for the inevitable.
I suddenly felt dizzy and nauseous. Tanya helped me to the bed. Although I didn't want to get up on the horrid thing, I had no choice as I was sure I would otherwise vomit or pass out. As soon as I lied down, the next contraction felt different. It felt more urgent, my breathing wasn't as effective. I mumbled that I think I would be having a baby soon. Sue smiled at me and said something like "that's the plan". Everyone was acting in the same calm manner and I remember thinking, "what's wrong with you people? Don't you understand? I'm about to have a baby! Quick, put on your gloves, get the camera ready, this is serious people!". Another contraction came. More pressure down there, less composure up here. Again voiced my opinion that I was about to have a baby. This time I was taken a bit more seriously and Sue helped me get undressed. But we only got the bottom half off (which is the important half I guess) before I was in full-on labour.
As any woman who has had a baby knows, the feeling of bearing down is indescribable. It felt so uncomfortable but so right at the same time. So painful, but so final. My whole attitude changed. I looked up at Craig and whimpered that I would like some gas now (bit late for that), I crossed my legs and willed the baby back up. Sue was telling me that my baby was there, the head was there but I didn't believe her. She told me to feel the head and that all I needed to do was push but I resisted, knowing that the end bit would hurt the most. But of course you can't stop nature taking its course and with one push, out she slipped. She was placed on my chest straight away and there were silly loved up grins all around. It took a minute to remember to find out the sex, and when I saw she was a girl, I thought to myself, I knew that.
Really, it should end there, shouldn't it? Finish on a high. But no, then there is the not so pleasant business. The stitches, the checking for other tears, the mess. Luckily, having a totally brand new, home grown human being in your arms detracts from all that other stuff going on. The oxytocin running through my veins gave me a high that I didn't get to experience with Eliza. I was just so happy. As simple as that.
Ruby found her way to her first meal within 20 minutes. She did what she was supposed to do. Instinct is an amazing thing and she latched and fed really well. Little did we know that this was to be her first and only proper feed for 10 whole days.
So there is the story of Ruby's arrival. She was born on 1st August 2010 at ten past midnight. She weighed 3.14kg. Her birth was drug and intervention free, not even an internal exam in sight! Stage 2 lasted a whole 9 minutes even with my legs crossed. Less than 24 hours later, we were separated as she was transported to the Grace Ward for Newborn Care at Westmead Children's Hospital. But that's a whole other story again for another time. This story is a happy one, let's keep it at that.