So I figured what a way to start than with the birth story of Lily Rae Arthur, born 17th July at 10:50am. I was 3 days overdue and had done everything to try and bring our wee girl on before then (which I know is totally not even that late but that will be another blog post because boy was I desperate by that stage).. I’d say this was mostly because every night since 38 weeks at 2am or thereabouts I’d wake up with regular contractions that would disapper after about an hour and I’d just lie there for ages trying to get back to sleep. EVERY NIGHT I thought “THIS IS IT” but alas, it wasn’t to be. I felt like my body was just messing with my head, and being like “HEY you’re not going to sleep for 20 years but I just thought we’d start that early so you can get used to it a bit” ~eye-roll emoji here~
The day before she finally arrived, Jay and I stayed in bed until midday as we knew we realistically had only one or two Saturdays left to ourselves before the nugget arrived. We got up and went to New Brighton to play Pokemon Go, and ran into some friends of mine which wasn’t ideal because I felt like a swollen pimply sweaty whale, nothing fit and I had the fully preggers waddle going on so didn’t really want to see anyone I knew but there we go.
The Pokémon were shit but the company was nice and we both just had this feeling like we had to make the most of this day in case it was the last. I was finally at peace with her being late and just happy to be spending time with my man. After frantically trying EVERYTHING to induce labour early, I was surprisingly all goods and had accepted that baby will come when baby is ready… Yes, that old cliché that every pregnant woman knows but does not wanna hear from ANYONE.
That night Jay was drinking some beers but felt he should leave his third one in case he needed to take us to hospital. Mum was on stand by and she txted me to check that she could have a couple of wines, and we joked that Sunday morning would be a great time to have our wee girl. Turns out we all have super human intuition and should probably open a clairvoyant business for predicting when babies will come, as she came just as instructed the next morning.
At 2:30am on Sunday 17th July I woke up with an intense cramp and a gush of fluid. I smelt it to check if I had maybe just peed myself which was my first thought (I KNOW, kinda gross but hey you do what you gotta do), but it had no determinable smell. About 5 minutes later I had another intense stomach cramp…followed by another, and another. They were all about 5 minutes apart from the get go, and I lay there timing them while Jay slept next to me. I didn’t want to wake him because as I mentioned before, I felt like my body was just taking the piss, and I didn’t want to get excited or wake him up only for it all to stop. I was pretty sure it was different this time and finally the real deal, but I wanted to be sure. I didn’t want to jinx it!!
About 45 minutes later Jay woke up suddenly and sat up and asked if I was okay, as I was on my phone scrolling insta and wide awake. I explained what had happened, and said not to get too excited but I was pretty sure I was in labour. A bit later I called mum to let her know so she could have some much needed coffee and come over for what I was expecting to be the long haul. We put Netflix on (David Attenborough) and I started on my mission of bed making, cleaning, folding washing, etc. (so yeah labour was chill asf at that point – I later learnt it wasn’t ACTUAL labour, it was early labour). They started to get a bit more painful but nothing I couldn’t handle without a wee bum wiggle and some swaying. I could not sit still or sit down – I had to keep moving.
We called Mel, our midwife, at 5:30. I felt SO RUDE calling at that time and I wanted to let her sleep as much as possible in case it was going to be a long labour but I just needed her to know that today was the day.
At 6am contractions were getting stronger, longer and only a couple of minutes apart. When Mel came over at about 6:45am things were really starting to hurt – I couldn’t talk through them anymore. She assessed my cervix and said I was fully effaced and 3-4cm dilated and in established labour, so I got into the bath to relax as I had a bit of a cry at this point, as the reality of what I had to do started to hit home. We lit a candle and I lay in the bath with Jay stroking my forearm while I went into what I can only describe as a trance like state, the deepest meditation I have ever been in.
The warm water felt so sweet, like a soothing blanket surrounding my body and softening the contractions. Jay gentling stroking my forearm was a pleasant distraction to the increasing pain, as I was finding it harder and harder to move my body into a favourable position for each contraction. I had my eyes tightly shut the whole time, focusing on my breath and trying to imagine each contraction bringing my baby closer to me. At 8:30 I suddenly felt overwhelmed and needed some relief, a change in scenery, a break – the pain was becoming all-consuming and taking over my body. I opened my eyes and the sun had come up without me realising.
We quickly got ready to go. Initially Jay was going to drive me but it was better that he was in the back seat with me in mums car which had more room to move around. That drive was intense – every bump and every corner seemed to bring on a contraction, and all I could do was breathe through each one and ride the wave, knowing we’d be there soon. The journey is a blur as I still had my eyes closed the whole time except for a couple of moments – a railway crossing which caused the most painful contraction EVER, getting onto the motorway, driving into Rangiora and finally arriving at the hospital just past 9am.
I had three contractions between the car and the delivery room – which was only about 10 metres, if that. Contractions were so damn intense at this point, and I couldn’t find any position that would ease the pain at all. I just walked around the delivery room groaning and barely getting a break between contractions while the hospital nurse kind of rolled my eyes (keep in mind I had been in “established labour” for just over two hours at this point – turns out I was now in transition). Mel arrived shortly after us and gave me the gas. Although it didn’t really take away the pain, it was good to bite on something and focus on my breathing more. It made my lips numb and I felt a bit stoned which was a nice distraction from the pain, plus I hadn’t had a drink in 9 months so i was having a great time!
I got into the bath about 9:40, and it felt like a dream. It was deep, warm, and between contractions I started to enjoy myself. It was bliss. Jay was supporting me while I was on all fours, leaning on the edge of the bath. I felt like I could just chill out there all day. At 10:05am I felt this pressure that felt like I to poo (lol labour is so ~glam~), and involuntarily pushed a little at the end of a contraction (I was slightly worried I had shat the bath but luckily it was all good – no floaties!! .. yet…). I told Mel who checked me out and told me that Lily was on her way – I was fully dilated and she was coming down the birth canal. NOOOOOOOO!!!! I was not ready for that. I was prepared for a whole damn day of labour and I was so so comfortable in the bath at that point that I refused to get out. I had literally never PLANNED my birth at all because I think birth can just go so many ways and I didn’t want to be disappointed, but I had seen a whole bunch of beautiful water birth videos so I was all OKAY let’s do this – water birth it is.
They took the gas off me which I was not happy about as I was in my blissful stoned zen state and I was shunted into the reality that I now had to actually push this baby out of my vagina. Not to mention I had no idea HOW to push, I’d never really prepared for that part! (HINT: It’s like shitting a pumpkin. Legit just feels like you’re doing the biggest crap of your life). SO after that every contraction that came I pushed and I think I pooped at this point which before birth was my biggest fear but honestly you do not give one single flying fuck in the moment and it’s damn near impossible to push a baby out of your vagina without at least a little nug slipping out ya bum. Despite that I clearly remember yelling at the hospital midwife mid contraction and while pushing I DON’T WANNA KNOW IF I SHAT OK DO NOT TALK ABOUT THAT TO ME. They told me afterwards that I did in fact poop but they fished it out with their little pooper scooper nets before I even realised.
So anyway I had to turn onto my back at some point as we weren’t progressing on all fours and then she was starting to crown but got sucked back up again (like when someone walks in on you mid-poo and it goes back up the little fucker) which was annoying but I was super determined to get her out after that. When she was crowning again I put my hand on her emerging head and touched her and my god that was the weirdest thing to feel – a human head emerging from my vag like honestly I will NEVER forget that feeling. And yes, the ring of fire lives up to its name but honestly it’s so quick and then your babe’s head is out so you can’t be too upset about it!
The contraction passed so with her head born we just sat and waited with her in the water and my mum freaking out that she’s drowning (never seen a water birth before). Just a few minutes later I was holding my little blue cone head alien baby in complete disbelief. I did it! I had a tiny bit of gas but I got my natural, epidural free birth in what they say is technically 4 hours 5 minutes (from water breaking to birth it was 8 hours 20). One of the first thoughts that popped into my mind is that if there is a god out there, they are a woman. I am an atheist through and through, but in that moment I felt this godliness that I can’t put into words. I feel like i’ve joined a club of unstoppable goddesses, who are powerful, loving, soft, and everything they are needed to be – mothers.
She looked up at me with her new eyes and her whole face twitched as she turned from blue to pink. She let out a tiny cry and looked into my eyes as if to say ‘Hey mumma, i’ve been waiting to meet you’. Oh honey, I have waited for you my entire life.
Miss Lily Rae Arthur, you are perfect.