Edith’s birth story ~ written by her gorgeous mumma, Jo
I knew Edith was going to arrive in a hurry. My first labour had been five hours from first twinge to birth, so I was prepared for – and, yes, hoping for – a faster turnaround this time. Even still, when I felt a mild, period-pain like cramp while putting Alfie to bed at 1pm, I didn’t believe that This Was It. When the cramps continued, regularly but not very painful, I decided to phone Jon at work and tell him to stand by. I lay down and the cramps slowed. I stood up and they came thick and fast.
I phoned Jon again. “We’re on.”
Convinced Edith was going to be a week late, I had breezily sent her grandparents off on their bikes, so we had to call in a neighbour to watch the slumbering Alfie while Nanna and Grandad raced home. There really was no time to lose. The cramps had morphed into contractions and were already just a couple of minutes apart. We thanked the heavens we lived six minutes from the hospital and joked about how awful it would be to have to travel any further. This didn’t seem so funny when we found out that if we’d come an hour or two later, we would have been sent to another hospital 30 minutes down the Bruce Highway.
As it was, at Redcliffe hospital, the birth suite was full. For fifteen minutes or so, I leaned on the desk while they figured out where to put us. I kept telling them that it was going to happen very soon. As I was still smiling and laughing at this point, I don’t think they took me very seriously. Eventually, we were taken down to the maternity ward and put in a private room, “for the time being”. Jon and I knew we were going to have the baby here in this room and wanted to get down to the business of an active labour. But first – the ECG. For what seemed an eternity, I lay on my back with the belt around my belly. I was 4cm dilated and my waters were still intact. All I wanted to do was get down on my hands and knees and work through the contractions, but it took a while for my midwife to finish up with another labouring mum. Finally, I was able to get off the bed and let gravity do its work. Lying back on the bed made it feel like every contraction was pushing the baby into my tailbone so it was a huge relief to slump over the sofa in the corner of the room and whack my feet on the ground throughout the contractions. I have a clear memory of thinking how like an animal I was at this point, huddled in a corner and withdrawing into myself to focus on the job at hand. The small room contained the midwife, a student midwife, Jon and our photographer, Jess, who had just arrived. I was aware of everyone in the room, but completely oblivious to them at the same time. I’d made a conscious decision not to watch the clock, but I found out later from Jess that this was about 3.45pm.
Johanna, the midwife, suggested I get onto the bed on my knees, with the front end raised to support my arms. The contractions were intense by now, but they were fast – no more than a minute with only 25 seconds of that climactic, shuts-out-everything-else pain and then an easing. Jon was the perfect partner, offering water between contractions and handing me a polar bear and pilot from Alfie’s Little People set. During contractions, I focused on the different textures of the toys and when that failed, squeezed them so hard that the marks stayed on my hands until long after Edith was born.
Things got a little hectic from there. In my mind, I was thinking that I must be close to transition and expected a nice little rest before the urge to push came, but the contractions were on top of each other and I realised I was having to shout and bellow my way through them. The pressure in my bum was massive. I asked the midwife if I could push and she laughed and said “of course you can, do what your body tells you to do”. I was just thinking that this couldn’t possibly be it when I realised I was pushing. “I’m not ready for this!” I thought, but clearly I was no longer in charge. I screamed like a banshee through the burning and next thing I knew, she was out.
I slumped over the end of the bed, sobbing with relief, completely oblivious to what was going on behind me. I heard the midwife tell Jon to look and heard him cry out,
“It’s a girl! We’ve got a little girl!”
Perched as I was on my knees, I couldn’t really see what was happening, but I became aware that our baby was surrounded by people on a table that had appeared from nowhere and that she was quite purple. Later Jon told me she was “Avatar-blue” when she came out. I didn’t understand why they hadn’t put her to my chest yet and couldn’t work out how to turn myself around so I could take her. She was having trouble breathing and there had been meconium in my waters, which came out immediately before she did. The doctors wanted to take her away and put her in a humidicrib, but I could see that the midwife and Jon were having some kind of silent conversation. Jon asked Johanna for her opinion and together they convinced the doctors to let me hold her for a while to see how she fared. Finally, I had my daughter in my arms and before long, she settled in for a feed and her colour started to look good. The doctors hovered, but they let me keep my baby with me throughout the night, and she has proved to be a little trooper ever since.
Edith Elizabeth was born at 4.21pm on the busiest day Redcliffe maternity had on record. She was 9lbs 4oz and a little bit shocked by the intensity of her birth (as was I!), but she is strong and well. Although I had been hoping for a shorter labour, I’d kind of imagined it would be a brief replica of Alfie’s birth, which, in retrospect, was so calm and controlled. It just goes to show that every birth is unique and unforgettable for its own reasons.
If you are interested in having your birth photographed like Jo did, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org ~ I’d love to talk to you
On Saturday afternoon the 21st of April – 14 babies were born at the local Hospital – (a new record) between 3:45 and 5:00pm this is what I got captured in one of the small private rooms….. you can also view as a lovely slideshow here
Jon & Jon, It was truly honoured to be a part of this momentous occasion – I will treasure it forever! Jess x