September 17, 2013 by Dadinator
This is the story of the birth of The Lass. It is a LONG post, I apologise, but it’s hard to contain the experience to a short post. I may be a shade rambling, sorry for that too, but even remembering the experience tends to short out my eloquence circuits. I don’t claim to be an expert, and I don’t claim to offer answers or advice. This is just a recount of my experience. Make of it what you will, take from it what you need.
Through my various theatre-esque escapades I became familiar with a concept known as the “Second night blues”. The basic idea behind this phenomenon is that the second night of a show (any kind of show) would be the worst. The adrenaline and thrill of the first night had worn off, while the cast and crew still had not really hit their stride yet.
I was scared it would be the same with the second birth. I was anxious that the repetition would make it less intense and less meaningful, this sat alongside my lingering fear that I might not love The Lass the same way I loved The Lad. That the bond might not be as real or as special somehow.
I used to tell The Lad when he was smaller and I held him that I had a hole in my arm my whole life that I never knew was there. I discovered it the first time I held him in my arms and he filled it.
Cut to 2013.
Yeah… I’m a sap.
So. Second time second time through. Here’s what happened.
The Mamanator started to feel movement at the station on Monday evening September 9th at around 5pm. This was a day after The Lass’s estimated due date, so she was on track to arrive any day. She had had Braxton Hicks contractions for a few weeks, and had noticed they had been a lot stronger this pregnancy. This made her a shade suss that this was another false alarm, although she noted these were stronger and more regular than previously. She told me about them and I dutifully installed a “contraction timer” app onto my phone (Childbirth, there’s an app for that). Given that they were weak, far apart and inconsistent we made the only reasonable decision we could. we went to the pub. For dinner, that is…. Knowing how labour works she decided to walk down to the pub while the rest of us drove.
BUT WAIT! HOW COULD YOU LET YOUR WIFE WALK TO THE PUB IN HER STATE? You may ask…
Because gentle exercise can help establish and strengthen labour, and (based on previous experience) the most uncomfortable place for her to be during a contraction is a car seat. So she walked a block to the pub in the light rain, while I drove The Lad down because the sky was threatening to rain on us.
We supped on parmas, Osso Bucco and pasta while The Mamanator sat and mentally noted how strong/frequent her contractions were. After dinner she walked home while I settled the bill and The Lad was plonked in the car for the drive home. Important to note that we had help, he didn’t drive himself. I think he’s pretty clever, but he’s not quite up to driving yet. Instead “Auntie E” was down for the week; she had arrived on Sunday (The Lass’ due date) and was going to stay with us either until the end of the week or until the baby was born, whichever came first. So she drove the boy home to get him out of the pub and ready for the bath, while I waited for our lovely (although sometimes scattered) publican to take our money. I had to wait a while. Whenever you’re in a rush is when things slow down. So I jogged home in the end, just in case the baby was born in the 15 minutes I waited to settle up for our meals. She wasn’t born in that time, which was very considerate of her.
I got home. I had one objective: Take care of The Lad, and get bedtime out of the way. The Mamanator had set up camp in our bed. I wanted to call it “Labour Camp”, but thought the better of it. So, The Lad. Bath, TV, Bed. And you know what? It ran like clockwork. He was out by 7:45, about half an hour earlier than usual. With fatherhood duties done, I was free to activate “Birth Partner Mode!”. Which I did.
Birth partnering at this stage of labour is boring. Actually initially it is a shade frenetic. Once it was clear that this was the real deal I started timing contractions, using that app on my phone. I also double-checked bags, loaded the car, made sure the birth plan was packed, checked the bags again for the last time. The standard pattern was this
Her: “Dadinator, can you make sure X, Y and Z are done?”
I would go out and do X and Y, but forget Z. Come back in the room. Stare blankly at the wall for 10 seconds concentrating…
Me: “Oh, I forgot Z, I’ll go do Z.”
Her: “Can you do A and B while you’re out there too?”
Out I would go, do Z and B but forget A. Come back into the room, stare blankly at the…..
I’m sure you get the idea.
So I did that. And then started waiting. The Mamanator was listening to the meditations on her Calm Birth CD and breathing through contractions. By 9:07 I had used up all my lives on Candy Crush Saga, so I started playing Angry Birds instead. I kept waiting. At 9:10 she reminded me to shut up the chooks, which I did post-haste. At 9:15 I tried to use acupressure massage techniques I had found on the internet to help with labour. Not sure if they help or not, but I like to feel useful, and a bit like a kung fu master. Then I got a food order, English Muffins and Jam, easy, this I could do. Finally at 10:25 we called the hospital and off we went. We left earlier than we ‘needed’ to, contractions were about 7 minutes apart at this stage, but our logic was simple: contractions in the car are very uncomfortable. If they are further apart there are less of them. The hospital is 15 minutes away. Therefore, let’s leave now and have 2 contractions rather than wait and have 5 contractions in the car. The hospital (bless them) were fine with it. At the very last second I remembered to give Auntie E keys for the other car. If I had forgotten that it would have been a minor calamity.
The drive went well. Almost took a wrong turn, labour excitement does make one a bit stupid. But we arrived in one piece. The Mamanator was assisted onto the ward by a nice paramedic whose ambulance was parked at the hospital when we arrived. I parked the car, got the bags and dashed in after her as fast as I could. It was around 11pm when we went in the room.
In hospital we quickly settled in, updated the midwife, got ourselves sorted and I set about marking out the room as our territory. This does not mean that I urinated on everything. I set up our music player, got a lamp, set up an oil burner and filled it with an oil blend we had made up at home. We did our best to make The Mamanator comfortable. She was feeling nauseous, which culminated in an 11:44 power-chuck. Dinner didn’t stay down :(. This was new, it hadn’t happened the first time at all.
Our doctor was already at the hospital, attending another 2 births. This is CRAZY busy for Castlemaine hospital by the way, it is rare for them to have more than one at a time in the Maternity section. Because there were so many women so close together The Mamanator consented to an internal examination to see how far along she was so they could plan the allocation of resources. Turns out she was not too far along at all, which was what she expected.
The Mamanator was in the habit of taking a nap with The Lad during these last weeks of pregnancy. Mondays were the one day she didn’t get the chance. Monday was the day she went into labour. Typical of kids. So inconsiderate. She was tired. Tired and not too far along. She’d been in this boat before with The Lad, where she hadn’t slept in about 30 hours by the time she was in hospital. On that occasion she was given a shot of Pethadine that helped her sleep and got her labour established and progressing. She asked for the same thing this time, and she had a couple of hours kip. During that time I was with her and tried to get some sleep myself. She slept from around 12am to 2am. I heard the baby in the room next door being born. I also heard The Mamanator’s breath and later moans showing that the contractions getting stronger and more frequent.
From about 2am it all happened. The Mamanator was awake. She was breathing deeply, she was kind of ‘singing’ through contractions, letting out not a scream or a grunt, but a long note. It worked well for her, kept her breath open and controlled. She got up on all fours. The doctor and midwife came in and kept an eye on things, and she just carried on. She let go of the gas, completely free of pain-relief by this stage, doing it all on her own.
I got a shade concerned a couple of times. The Midwife talked about preparing “Narcan” for the baby, just in case they were groggy from the Pethadine earlier, the thought of that scared me for some reason. They also had some trouble finding the heart beat of the baby once or twice. But my biggest concern was The Mamantor herself. She was making such an effort, and I could hear how much pain she was in from the noises she was making. It is hard to accept that someone you love is suffering and there’s very little you can do to help. I held onto her, rubbed her arms and back, told her how well she was doing and tried to remain calm. I felt helpless in the face of it all. So I gave her the help I could, but was careful not to badger her, not to get in the way. So were the staff, the midwife and doctor just stood back and let her take control of the situation and control of her birth, which is exactly what she did. She moved herself around, got into a (relatively) comfortable position and worked through the contractions in her own way.
It was about 2:30am when the doctor declared she could see some hair, the baby was coming. I didn’t know the time when I was watching it all, but it seemed awfully quick…. And if I thought that was quick, well The Lass was out 9 minutes later. The Mamanator thought she was still in Second Stage or transition as the baby came out. She didn’t cry straight away, but her eyes and mouth were wide open and she was moving around. “It’s okay, she’s just not crying but her eyes are open and she’s moving, I can see her!” I said frantically to The Mamanator, who looked at me quixotically wondering what I was harping on about. She then realised what it meant, it was over. Well not entirely over, unlike last time The Mamanator wanted to birth the placenta naturally, so we had to wait for that. But it came, that big slimy bloody sack that no one tells you about in birth-education. I cut the cord, The Lass was placed on her mum and all was well.
I got my first hold an hour or so later while The Mamanator had a shower. And it felt sublimely wonderful to hold a new baby again.
The Lass was born at 2:39pm. 3.645kg (8lbs), a healthy happy little girl with a full head of black hair.
So, what was different second time through?
Well, it was all a lot faster. Active labour took about 30 minutes this time around, about 8 hours all together. It also felt a lot less frenetic, there was much less interfering with The Mamanator, much less “how are you feeling?” “Would you like us to….. for you?” “How about you lie this way?” etc. etc. etc… I think I also felt more at ease with my role as a birth partner. I talked a lot less this time, didn’t feel the need to, and I think that helped keep The Mamanator calmer. I suppose all up it was less of a big deal, after all birth is just one day while parenthood is the rest of your life. We had a better appreciation of that this time around.
I was worried it wouldn’t be as amazing or as special as the first time, or that it wouldn’t be as intense an experience. I had nothing to worry about. It was just as beautiful, just as wonderful, just as smelly, just as tear-jerking and the end result was just as special. The main thing is that I was a whole lot calmer, a whole lot more focussed and a whole lot more prepared.
So, now that’s over the real work begins. Stay tuned as The Dadinator becomes a level 2 parent (parent of 2).
Thanks for reading!