Its been 7 years since I found out I was going to be a dad. That experience, whilst interesting, was nothing like the experience I had just 6 weeks ago.
6 weeks ago, little Flynn was born into the world. 6 weeks ago my life changed for the better, forever. Those who know me know that my previous experience relating to pregnancy and a “child” had not been a pleasant one. Not because of the child himself but because of his mother. We’ll leave that story out of this post as this should be a positive experience rather than be salted by the devil.
So, November 2014, we found out we were expecting a baby. I can’t say we were not trying as we kinda were. Even though the relationship was so so fresh. (2 months). Sometimes in life you know things just “should be” and this was one of those times. My partner and I are a great couple and we work well as a team. (When it suits us both right? 😛 ). It was in the morning and we were baby sitting my partners cousin. We had previously done a test with the lines, but my partners ability to pee on one of those sticks straight was a challenge. This provided me with much humour.
After peeing in a cup and doing the first test, the “valid” line came up, however the pregnancy line looked extremely faint.. Was it to early to tell? were the hcg levels just to low???. I was pretty frustrated at this annoying “manual” test. So I went down to the chemist and spent up on these new fandangled digital pregnancy tests. These things were the shiz! (Thanks ClearBlue). You can find out more about those here. “Clearblue Digital”
Sure enough after a few minutes the result came up “1-2 weeks pregnant” which we estimated was about right. We were surprised as we didn’t expect to fall that fast but also happy as it is something we had discussed at length and hoped for.
(will update what happened within the 9 months as well)
So – fast forward 9 months, a few ultrasound scans, few rush trips to the hospital and a weird encounter on Alcatraz in San Francisco and it’s the 3rd of July, 1 day past his due date. I was at work knowing full well baby could turn up at any moment. I had a plan in place. As I was driving a truck, it was going to be difficult if I had to move quick to get home to be there for my partner. So I made sure I stayed local with my loads etc.
About 9:30am after my partner had a midwife appointment (which turned to be a doctor because midwifes were all booked out) my partner messaged me and said “He wants to book us in for a induction”. I’m glad I wasn’t at the appointment because I would have lost my shit. After one day past due date you want to book her in? Give the kid a chance, the whole pregnancy thing really is just a guessing game anyway isn’t it?!.
So with our brief phone call of frustration to eachother my partner deicdes to continue on with her daily activities. One of which was some shopping. around 11am she messages me and – sparing you the detail – basically said she thinks things are happening. Those women out there familiar the the “show” (being the technical term) will know what I mean. I start to realise that perhaps today is the day. In my mind I always had a thought the baby would be born between 6pm-10pm and probably be a weekend. At this point it was 11am on a Friday.. My mindset with this pregnancy was always to think positive so I started to get a little excited without making it known.
By 2pm it was clear that this baby was probably going to make an appearance today, I was able to finish my work and get home, I came home to find my partner in the shower having small contractions about every 12 minutes. As time (1-2 hours) went by these started to speed up and by 5pm it was starting to get serious. In saying this, my partner was AMAZING. She held it all together, worked with her body and so far everything was pretty much as we expected. (Keeping in mind this is her first child/pregnancy).
I contacted our student midwife and said when should we go to the hospital. Whilst we had a plan in the past, nothing in that plan ever seems to go to plan from everyone else’s experience, so I opted for an ad-hoc approach. Our midwife said “when she can’t handle it anymore”. I didn’t tell my partner this, but within 30 minutes (5:30pm) she advised me with this look of “I’ll kill you” that it’s probably time to go.
Being in Perth, many people have different views of hospitals. We had just moved house but didn’t want to change hospitals, so we live in Bassendean W.A but the hospital was Joondalup Health Campus. (30 minute drive in no traffic).
Being 5:30pm on a Friday I knew that this trip was going to be interesting.. Part of an Active Birthing experience is about keeping the mother calm, as content as possible and working through her contractions. A car ride of what I thought would be 1 hour was going to be a challenge. I put the bed blanket in the back of the car and told my partner to get it, don’t worry about the seat-belt and just be comfortable. Knowing traffic was going to be moving fairly slowly I wasn’t worried about the seat-belt and was most definitely ready to have a few words with anyone who wanted to point it out to me. (Police included). (FYI to men – it’s not about you, it’s not about the law, it’s about keeping your partner as comfortable and calm as possible, trust me. It’s worth it).
We arrived at the hospital at 6:21pm, averaging contractions every 3 minutes at this point. When we got up to the delivery suite (just having a contraction before we walked in), the midwife took us straight into a delivery suite but said that wasn’t standard practice, just that there were already 2 people in the examination room. (Turned out to be a good thing!). She also look at my partner and said “You don’t look like you’re in labor, so we’ll check and probably send you home”. In my mind I was thinking “like f*** you will, she’s in labor”.
After doing the check, sure enough she was 5cm. Already over half way there and past that pesky 4cm mark. I was pretty happy. Knowing she’s done this all by herself with little help over the previous 6 hours, it was great news.
Now comes the part where I believe birthing mothers should have much more power.
They have this monitor, it’s a 2 part monitor that they attach to the mother via 2 straps. One part measures baby’s heart rate and the other monitors contractions. At Joondalup hospital they have a rule that you must be on this device for 20 minutes when you first arrive and are confirmed in labor. My partner does NOT like this device and believe’s the devil invented it. It’s not comfortable and becomes very frustrating especially (like my partner) if you’re a wriggler. After 40 minutes, my partners contractions for wreckless and not controlled as they used to be, she had started to lose touch with her contractions/birth process because she was so uncomfortable. In the end we demanded the monitor be taken off and after a senior midwife review of the “patchy” results of the monitor, we were let free.
She then proceeded to the shower. This is where it all changed. my partners heart rate went back to normal and she was back in control of her body and the contractions. Within 5 minutes of being in the shower she was comfortable. She opted to have the “gas” in order to take the edge of the peak of each contraction and this seemed to work quite well. We had opted for a no-intervention, no-drug birth if possible in order to allow both mother and baby to experience it as naturally as possible. So perhaps she cheated a little bit with the gas but it was nothing like what a needle or epidural would be have been like.
Around this time our student midwife arrived. She informed the duty midwife of my partners requests, birth plan and what NOT to do. It was very good, as it meant I could concentrate my focus on my partner and just be there for her. Ultimately as a father, during this time, that’s all you can do is just be there for them. Do what they say, try not to look worried, angry or upset. Calm, content and focused is how you should be.
Within another hour or so the contractions were starting to get more full on, my partners waters also broke (to the disbelief of the duty midwife) and for my partner and I this was the sign we were looking for. At this point she wanted to be examined again but the duty midwife refused and stated she’d be rechecked at about 9:30pm. This frustrated my partner as she just wanted to know how far was left to go, but her body would soon let her know how long was left.
Around 9:30 I had to convince her to come out of the shower and onto the bed to be checked. This was difficult because by this point, she was pretty much out of control of her body. Her mind at taken a back seat and her body was now taking over the process. If you google coma and birth you’ll soon realise just how powerful your body is and how natural birth should be.
Eventually I got her up to the bed (with help of our student midwife) and she was checked. 9cm!. We’re almost there. Back to the shower we went.. Not for long. 10pm came and my partner started advising me that things were changing and she felt like she needed to open her bowls. Not only this but her lower back was starting to bother her. This was a good sign as it meant the baby had moved down further.
We wanted a non-bed, non-back birth. Many reasons but some of the main ones being that on the back is in NO WAY natural. Anyone who says this is kidding themselves and you just have to take a look at nature to realise how wrong being on your back is for birth. Besides being uncomfortable, it’s not helpful to an easy delivery. (problem births/pregnancies aside).
The midwifes advised it was time to come out, my partner didn’t want to and was content to give birth over the gym ball that she was using in the shower, in the shower!. The duty midwife wouldn’t have a bar of this and this frustrated my partner a lot. After some coaching and negotiating we were able to get the mattress from the bed, onto the floor, though still not in the shower.
Things proceeded pretty quickly from here. My partners birth position was lean over the gym ball, on all fours whilst also on the mattress. I think this helped a lot and would suggest considering this position as your birth position. My partners urge to push became much stronger and we were now entering “involuntary pushing” area. This is where your body takes over and requires no coaching from midwifes of doctors. The noise coming from my partners lungs at the point, REALLY took me back. I have never in my life heard lungs on a woman, or man for that fact – like this. I wish I had recorded it because i think there was a world record there for sure.
Within about 10 minutes the babies head was out. Less than a couple of minutes later he was born. Active pushing phase was only 14 minutes.
Hello Flynn, welcome to planet earth. I can’t really describe how I felt. Elated, overjoyed, excited, nervous, scared. All these feelings were there. Then comes the “Is he normal”. You check his toes, hands, feet, arms, legs, boy bits. Everything is there, everything is where it is meant to be. You can breathe a sigh of relief that your birth was a-la-natural and pretty dam quick.
<To be continued>