Not for the squeamish—birth story of Elva Mae

Disclaimer: don't read if you're grossed out by body stuff. There is no bike or coffee stuff in this post.

Saturday was a great day. I had picked myself up from earlier in the week, where Thursday had me seriously considering myself depressed and questioning my identity and what the hell I was doing having a baby shortly. Surely it was a hormonal sign… I literally couldn’t pull myself together all day.

Slightly better on Friday, and on Saturday Aiden and I had a really awesome day. We mooched around the house for the rainy morning, Aido did some work and he fixed my singlespeed to be ready for my ‘comeback’, having rebuilt a sweet Lefty Max with DLR internals, converted to a 29er for the Niner. It used to be called Stash, but after that crazy mish-mash of a fork I have changed it’s name to ‘Frankenstein’ (Frank).

Anyway, there was a short break in the weather and I too Frank for a burl around the bikepath. Very uncomfortable as the front end is really low. Plus we got rained on.

That night we went to the Powerhouse, watched Charlie Pickering perform as a part of Brisbane Comedy Festival. These big belly laughs were followed by a curry, some pineapple, clary-sage backrub and sexytime (sorry ‘bout that)—purely to give Mayhem a little nudge in the right direction with these natural induction methods.

We have a lazy Sunday morning and are contemplating where we go for a ride, when I get up to get into my kit and suddenly my legs are all wet, but I am not peeing. Aido checks and confirms that it appears my membranes had ruptured.

We get checked out at the hospital, and basically because I screened positive for a transient microflora that around 30% women have living in their lady bits when I had a labour scare at 32 weeks, so they weren’t very happy to give my the usual 72hrs at home to allow labour to happen naturally due to the risk of infection to me and bub.

I bargained 24hrs, having to reassess the next day should nothing eventuate.

We went home, baked some fabulous cookies and waited.

Nothing happened—I had a terrible night sleep.

Induction loomed and I was a little teary at the hospital, knowing I would be with the Birth Centre midwives but labouring in the Birth Suite instead.

Anyway, after two doctors flailing around trying to get a 16G cannula in my hand, we were off and walked through the doors to the birth suite.

Initial obs, the drips were set up and I was stuck on the CTG. Luckily it was one of the only telemetry-based ones, so at least I could walk around with my dicky IV pole. If you haven’t tried it before, it sucks. All shopping trolley wheels and very difficult to manouver.

Aido and I walked around the corridor, bounced on a fit ball and read Cycle Sport magazine. We spent about three hours and the Syntocin (induction drug) was being titrated up and up due to the lack of labour-type activity going on. We even had a nap.

Anyway, midwife was puzzled and a few hours in decided to do an internal. The forewaters hadn’t broken, just the hindwaters. So with a bit of a ‘pop’ she ruptured the forwaters and confirmed that the baby had heaps of hair. Hearing that was a highlight!
That’s when the fun began…

The very next contraction was uncomfortable. Aido and I walked up and down the corridor again in an effort to speed things along and within 20mins I was back in the room on the fit-ball, pale as a ghost, wondering if I could get through this without drugs. From the beginning contractions were relentless—about 40sec on and 40sec off, no time for recovery.

Different from the 40sec–1min on, 2min off that I was expecting during the toughest part of labour—transition. I gritted my teeth, but eventually through all the pale sweaty clamminess and moaning and nausea I said I needed something. Anne, our midwife, stripped me off and put me in the shower to use the heat for pain relief, Aido was holding two shower heads on my back and abdomen. It was only about 40mins after the examination and the water was either too hot or too cold. Never just right.

I soon started making some pretty freaky animal noises and asked to get Anne—the sensation has changed. I was worried I would poop—there was something down low. I had a couple of contractions with the Nitrous Oxide but due to the really short interval between them it just made me fuzzy, it didn’t take the pain away. I can’t really remember that bit, just heaving away on that nozzle and semi squatting in the shower.

I called Anne once again and said I was feeling weird, that I couldn’t do this, that I wanted drugs. I said I needed to poop and she asked ‘big poop or little poop’ before I answered I was in the throes of another contraction.

She stalled me, knowing my intention of not using drugs. But a few contractions later I was politely demanding them, and she said ‘alright but first I have to examine you for the doctor’.

I hop on the bed, not really aware of what’s going on or how I got there from the shower. And the next couple of contractions, between her examining me, were probably the worst—not being able to move at all is definitely not cool in labour!

I bellowed some jungle animal sound about needing drugs again, and she said ‘don’t worry about drugs, you’re fully dilated, you’re having a baby instead’. It was about an hour after the first contraction.

In hindsight, I think it changed when the animal sounds came into it, I think I may have been fully dilated from then, and more than likely I was in ‘transition’ when pale and clammy and nauseous on the fit ball.

She popped me on my knees with the head of the bed up and my upper body and arms draped over it. I didn’t care who was in the room looking at me nude. She mentioned that there would be another midwife present at the time of delivery, but I didn’t see her at all.

Aido was at the head of the bed feeding me orange powerade between contractions.

I didn’t really get the ‘urge to push’ that you hear about, just the same contractions but lower. I was instructed to push when I had one—it was a weird sensation. The bellowing continued, I would hate to hear what it sounded like—pretty otherworldly I’m sure—but Anne was getting me to focus on pushing rather than using energy for my voice. I suppose it seemed like a long time I was there.

Did I want to touch the head? Hell no, I wanted the baby out now! I remember asking several times how long it would take. I am glad I had strong pelvic floor and ab muscles, because it was about half an hour of pushing all up and I’m glad it wasn’t any longer. I was fortunate to not have her ‘crowning’ between contractions. One moment there was a bit of furry head seen, the next contraction she was out, and Aido caught her—the slimy little white and red and pink baby, with a bluey cord.

Somehow I managed to turn over. My whole body was shaking throughout the whole pushing process and I continued to shake, holding her, for about an hour.

Aido was crying (typical, such a dad!), but I was just stunned at what the hell had just come out of me. It’s pretty evident in the photos, I don’t think I smiled at all—I was just shocked.

Fresh, wet and slimy Elva.
I'm not sure what to think. I am not sure i'm thinking here at all.
Eventually the placenta came out (very cool, I would put a pic up but it tends to gross people out) and I was much more comfortable. After inspection, no tears, just a graze. I got out of the whole fiasco well.

Mum and dad were up the coast, coming home at around 4pm—we had expected not to have a baby till the middle of the night or wee hours of the morning so told them not to worry coming till we called them. Elva was born at 4.37pm—after 1hr37mins of actual labour—and Aido just texted ‘Baby born, come to hospital’.

Eventually we went upstairs to the ward, and Aido stayed as long as he could. It was a 4-bed room and it was the only negative thing I could say about the whole experience; shared maternity wards suck!

That night I couldn’t sleep, I was still processing it all as it happened so fast and with such intensity. I guess it was that night I decided that Elva Mae was actually pretty cool, staring at her in her little see-through crib next to the bed, checking she was still breathing every now and then.

I went home the next day, totally nonplussed with ward life, and had a terrible night at home. My milk was coming in super fast too (this baby is ALL kinds of fast!) and I was a mess. But we got through it.

The next few days my quads felt like I had done a thousand Coot-tha strength efforts, and my coccyx felt pretty violated too. But other than that I was ok, we managed a walk on day three and I’m trying to do that every day until I feel up to riding, hopefully next week.

And we continue to get through it, sleep is overrated, right?