It is Saturday morning. My two boys wake up early and play happily in their room, while my husband and I sleep in.
It is a nice slow start to an easy morning. We all have eggs and toast for breakfast, then I sit in the garden, sip a cup of tea and read a book.
I have a phone conversation with an aunt – no, no signs of labour yet. After 40 weeks of waiting, I have given up expecting signs.
11:45am – I suddenly feel a little twinge in my abdomen. It is unlike any other twinge I have felt in the past weeks. It is like a light squeezing in my stomach. It goes away, then it comes back again a few minutes later.
12:00pm – I start to track the twinges. They come every 5 minutes, so I casually mention this to my husband. He starts to pack the car and get the boys ready to go. We make a few phone calls to my mother and the hospital. I move around and gather all my things and re-pack my bag. The twinges don’t hurt at all.
1:00pm – We drive to the hospital. My husband drops me off, then drives to my mother’s house to drop the boys off. I chat happily to the receptionist, and I get the impression that she doesn’t believe I am in labour. To be honest, it doesn’t really feel like I am.
1:30pm – I am taken to a birthing suite, and introduced to a midwife. She spends a considerable amount of time fussing around with her preparations – shuffling paperwork, laying out implements, making sure various machines work, opening packets of this and that. I sit on a chair and watch her.
My contractions are so mild that once again, I’m happily chatting away about the cute little garden courtyard outside the birthing suite.
The midwife hands me a few bits of paper for me to look at. They turn out to be the hospital food menus! She wants me to choose what I’m going to be eating for the next few days! There is no sense of urgency.
Shall I choose the vegetable lasagna or the… oh wait I’m having a contraction… or the assorted sandwiches?
2:00pm – The midwife does an internal examination, to see how far my cervix has opened up (dilated) . She is pretty surprised – it is already 7cm! Since we only need to have 10 centimeters to get baby out, this is pretty advanced.
The midwife now believes that I am very close to having a baby! She calls the doctor, who says he is coming right in. Suddenly, things are happening. I really AM having a baby!
2:15pm – The midwife wants to establish a baseline for my contractions and baby’s heart rate, while things are “quiet during the labour”. She straps a little metal disc to my belly and shows me how the monitor works. My contractions are still really mild. I’m absolutely fascinated by the machine, and spend ages watching the graph rise and fall with each contraction.
My husband arrives and makes a joke about hoping to have missed the baby arriving. With nothing to do, he looks at the food menu. We both think it’s hilarious that I’m HAVING A BABY and the hospital staff want me to decide on what food I want to eat. It doesn’t seem real.
2:30pm –The doctor arrives. He is wearing sandals, board shorts and a very loud floral print shirt. But hey, this is Australia, and it is the weekend after all. He says I don’t look like I am having a baby, and we banter about how convenient it is to have a baby on a Saturday afternoon (as opposed to a midweek 4am delivery). I don’t make any jokes about his shirt.
3:00pm – They take me off the monitor, and I pace up and down the birth suite to try and get things going. I occasionally sit on a large rubber ball thing to relieve the weight on my legs and back.
Pfffft, third time around is too easy! Let’s have a fourth!
My contractions still feel like a mild period pain. The doctor asks whether I want to have my “waters broken” – referring to the membrane that holds the fluids and baby within the cervix. This will quickly progress the labour. I say YES! The doctor uses a special little tool to break my waters.
3:30pm – About half an hour after having my waters broken, the contractions are finally starting to hurt. They feel like very strong abdominal cramps now, lasting a minute. I focus on steady and deep breathing through each contraction, which help me significantly.
4.00pm – My cervix is almost fully dilated to 10cm. Each contraction is becoming stronger and stronger, so that I can’t talk. Each contraction is pushing my baby’s head down into my cervix.
4.20pm – The contractions are now so strong that I can’t stand up. I crawl onto the bed, and trying sitting and lying in different positions.
I suddenly feel the urge to push. The doctor checks me, I’m fully dilated.
And just like in the movies, everyone in the room seems to shout out “PUSH!”
I push as hard as I can, and it feels like I am trying to do a VERY large poo.
Each contraction is excruciatingly painful. And pushing is extremely hard work. No wonder they call it LABOUR.
Because I wasn’t completely exhausted by the early part of labour, I am extremely alert and aware of everything that is happening.
The doctor and midwife are with me all the way, encouraging me, and reassuring me that I’m doing a great job and that my baby is okay.
In a room full of experts, my husband has nothing to do, and just watches. At one moment during a push, I catch sight of his face, and it is like he is watching a horror movie. I try to imagine what he is seeing! An entire human being squeezed out of another human being’s bottom!
The pain is so bad that I am screaming out.
4.41pm – I summon one more agonizing push – I feel like I am going to tear myself into two – and the baby’s head pops out. But I can’t sustain the push and his shoulders get stuck.
A few minutes later, I push baby out into the safe hands of the doctor. Within seconds, the doctor puts my baby into my arms.
As I see Liam’s face for the first time, I am overwhelmed, and I cry from joy and exhaustion. It is already worth it, a million times over.
Liam snuffles and grunts, and takes his first breath. Six billion people on the planet have been born like this, but it still seems like magic to me.
My beautiful little boy.
Click here to see the whole story of Making Baby 3.