I figured the best place to start sharing my motherhood journey with you is with the story of the birth of my son, Kai. Sort of in a “let’s start at the very beginning…” type of way.
The first due date the doctor gave us for him was actually in late July. I’m a superstitious person and believe that numbers are powerful and can hold a lot of meaning, so when the doctor said he was due 19th July, I told my hubby, yup this if definitely our kid! The number 19 means a lot to us as it’s our anniversary and also a part of the address of our wedding venue. Little did we know that his due date would keep changing. It’s not really an exact science.
I worked up until a week and a half before my scheduled c-section. I wanted to use as much of my maternity leave time after my baby was born rather than some whilst I was still preggers. Those last two weeks of pregnancy were some of the toughest. By then, I was over it. I could barely walk, I felt like my bladder was constantly playing pranks on me and the exhaustion was relentless. Oh and the Braxton Hicks. Those were lovely. I finished work on a Friday, my mom was flying in the following Friday and the Caesarean was the following Tuesday. So when I finished work, I was looking forward to a whole 10 days of ‘relaxing’ before Baby O. was due. I spent that weekend finalising my hospital bag, as my doctor had warned “any day now!” For the rest of the week, it was all about last minute nesting, organising and ticking things off the to-do list. I had been pretty on the ball throughout my pregnancy so by then his room was ready, his clothes were all washed and arranged. On Thursday, I began making the last thing on my to-do list; his mobile. I propped myself up on the couch and got to work whilst the TV kept me company. I was expecting my mom the next day so I wanted to try get the most of it done before her arrival. I got to about 60% of the way before we had dinner and I conked out in our room. My husband, Kevin, was next to me watching a football match on the laptop.
About an hour later, I woke up with some more Braxton Hicks. I’d been getting them almost every other day for about a week. I did what I usually did and took a Panado and tried to sleep it off. But they weren’t going away. So hubby drew me a bath, they usually helped. His task since I was about 7 months along was to help me get into and out of the bath tub, so he did so. And then he propped a chair next to me so he could continue to watch the football in our room, through the open bathroom door. I’m not one for violence but if I could have reached him I’d have punched him! Let’s just say my words had the same effect and he quickly put the stuff away. About a minute or so in, I was beginning to writhe in pain. This felt different. I’d told him to download a contractions app to time mine, you know, just in case. I kept breathing the best way I knew how. We didn’t go to antenatal classes because we were too late to sign up. And we were know-it-alls thinking I wouldn’t need to know breathing techniques since I was having a Caesarean anyways. But boy did I soon regret that. After a few minutes, I could tell the contractions were getting closer and the app confirmed it. They were less than 10 minutes apart. I think this is when Kev realised that I could actually be in labour. And he went blank.
Him: Who should I call?
Me: Umm, the hospital, the doctor, I don’t care, CALL SOMEONE!
After chatting to a nurse in maternity, he hung up and confirmed I may be in labour and we needed to get to the hospital now. Thank God my bag was packed! Hubby quickly helped me get dressed, packed mine and baby’s things and we left. I managed to grab my wig on our way out, lol. On the road, my contractions were coming hard and fast. In between them, I was fine and quite chatty but during…I had to channel some made up breathing techniques. I had to keep reminding myself that they were going to end. This is when things started to feel like in the movies. As my contractions got worse, Kev drove faster and crazier trying to get me to the hospital. He became that dad-to-be. It was 10.45pm and thankfully not many cars were on the road and we managed to get there safely. When I arrived, the hospital staff were so blasé about me. I guess they see women in labour all of the time!
Nurse: Oh, what’s the problem, what brings you here?
Me (in a wheelchair panting and clutching my tummy): I…think…I might be…in…labour.
Nurse: Ok, let’s get your details and have a look.
It was late and quiet in the hospital. I think they thought I was just being a paranoid mom-to-be and that they’d soon send me on my way. Another nurse came in to examine me. In between my contractions, she told me to get onto the bed. I have no idea how I did this, on my own (my husband had quickly dropped me off in emergency and was parking and unloading the car and filling out forms). Anyways, the nurse examined me and that’s when her face turned from a blasé look to one of urgency. She told me I was in labour. No duh. “This baby is coming tonight!” she told my husband as he walked in. We just looked at each other like, okay. Okay. He called our family to let them know. His side came through and waited in the waiting area. Mine waited on their phones (my family all live abroad). My doctor was called and I was prepped for theatre. My doctor’s the coolest guy, who has a very dry sense of humour and remains cool as a cucumber. So when he arrived, my reasons to be calm were confirmed, I was in good hands. It was too late to give me pain meds to help me with the contractions since I was going to have an epidural soon. They told me I’ll be holding my baby in less than 30 minutes. I said a prayer, but I wasn’t scared at all. I knew God was with me and my baby. Kev had changed and came in to theatre with me.
By then, the contractions were excruciating. My doctor, in his nonchalant way asked as they wheeled me in “so, how are you enjoying labour?” to which I screamed “it’s like cramps ON STEROIDS!” he laughed and reassured me it’ll be over soon, even though he claimed I’d only felt about 30% of it. The anaesthesiologist (who was clearly grumpy about being called out to the hospital at past midnight) administered the epidural, which I had braced myself for after hearing and reading other birth stories about how painful they are. But I found it ok. It wasn’t even half as bad as the contractions. The rest happened quite quickly. I felt the surgery happening but I couldn’t feel the pain. It was a bit uncomfortable and could feel a lot of pressure but then all of a sudden, I felt as though a weight was lifted from me. Then a shriek.
And there he was. The most wonderful scrunched up little face I’d ever seen, with a full head of jet black hair and big dark eyes staring right back at me. My boy. As soon as I saw him, I wept. It was the rawest cry I’d ever let out. Wailing. The build up; almost 10 months of anxiety, worry, frustration, tiredness, excitement. Then I saw him and I felt something new. A completely new emotion. One that even today, I haven’t found the word for. I know it’s something I won’t ever feel again, until I have another child. And that’s the best way I can describe it. I barely slept that night, as exhausted as I was, I just wanted to see him, touch him, smell him. We both couldn’t take our eyes off of him. He was finally here.
Suffice to say, Kai wasn’t born on the 19th. But his birthday is now the most special day in our lives. I honestly have never felt closer to God than when I was having my son. The lead up to birth was hard. The toughest time of my life, and I was convinced I wouldn’t want to do it all again. But then that feeling, that feeling when I finally met him was more than euphoria. And all that I’d gone through to carry him and safely bring him into this world was justified. It’s a weirdly almost addictive feeling, like a high you want to experience again. Saying it’s worth it in the end is an understatement.
What’s your birth story? What did you feel when you had your child(ren)?