We had our pigeon pair and that was going to be it as far as procreation goes and since I didn’t like what the pill did to my body, we adopted the Rhythm Method and it worked perfectly well … until that one time that it didn’t.
We were enjoying the adventure of Darwin at the time. The Princess was well over three and perfectly precocious. The Master was about nine months old and just starting to develop a sense of humour after a rough first six months of crying unless he was strapped to me via sling. Life was slowly becoming more manageable.
Then FoMDT was sent off on exercise for a month before coming home for a mere week before another assignment that would be three months long. We behaved like teenagers, and despite the fact that I was still breastfeeding and my chart CLEARLY SHOWED it was a designated safe time to indulge, life (as the famous line goes) found a way. After the initial shock, we were fine with it. We already had two kids – how hard could a third one be? My confidence in my abilities was absurdly high … and I’d forgotten to take into account that every kid is different – as is every pregnancy and labour.
It’s funny that you should find yourself questioning whether you’re in actual labour or not with your third child but I didn’t find it so amusing at the time. We were staying with my Mum and Dad, awaiting FoMDT’s marching-out day (aka resignation from the Army life) and the birth of number three before heading off to a new life and promise of work in the mines in WA.
I had contractions that were on-again, off-again for two days, leading us to head into the hospital on the Thursday night, only to be sent home again a few hours later. I was so embarrassed – how could I not know if it was for real or not?
I remember being so bloody miserable the next morning, standing at the big glass windows in the back living room of the house, rotating hips to ease the tightening of Braxton-Hicks whilst gazing out at the beautiful vista of the misty valley below through my tears. I was huge, tired, miserable and just wanted it all over.
My Mum was leaving that Friday morning for Hobart for a meeting and I was under strict instructions not to have baby until she was back on Sunday … so off she went to the airport; off Dad went to the office and after seeing how distraught I was, FoMDT took me off to the beach for a walk.
I love the beach. It’s not just the simple act of walking along enjoying the view, breathing in the fresh, salty air and being lulled by the rhythmic sound of the crashing waves – scientifically speaking, the negative ions created by the movement of the water have been shown to boost your mood and energy levels.
But as we walked, I increasingly found it necessary to stop for a minute to let the contractions have their way. Unfortunately, as had been the pattern for the last few days, as soon as I stopped moving and sat down in the car, everything else stopped. To say I chucked a bit of a tanty is mild – I raged about how much I hated effing pregnancy and effing contractions and effing babies all the 10 minute drive home.
It was around 11 am and obviously someone needed a nap. I headed to bed and dropped off almost immediately to sleep but found myself waking up about every 15-20 minutes to contractions before dropping back off to la-la land again. At about 12.30 pm I came to on all fours on the bed, panting and in pain.
Since the hot water trick had worked so well with pain management for the last one, I thought I’d try it out again and hopped into the bath about 1pm. I could feel the tightening sensation but pain was minimal. In fact, I was so comfortable that I really wasn’t paying much attention to timing … until I realised that they were getting much closer together – like 2-3 minutes between each one.
It was around 2.15 pm when I called out to FoMDT that we might have to go soon … then stood up. BAM. A wave of immense pain hit me and I do believe my voice hit an octave that made any dogs in the area wince as I yelled “Ok, we have to go NOW.”
We called Dad to meet us at the hospital to take the kids then bundled everyone in the car for the 15 minute trip into town. I yelled through gritted teeth for FoMDT to slow down as we drove down the windy road and he hissed back that he was only doing 40ks an hour and did I really want to have this baby in the bloody car? What can I say – gravity and contractions do not go well together.
We made it to the hospital carpark and while FoMDT transferred the kids and seats into Dad’s car, my darling father took my arm and walked me into the hospital foyer. I had to stop for a minute and pant just outside reception and I could see the girls on the front counter looking out at me with rueful smiles on their faces.
“Don’t you dare bloody laugh,” I said as we slowly made our way inside.
“Oh no, sweetheart. We’re not laughing,” said one of the girls with obvious sympathy as she gave directions to the birthing unit.
One of the midwives on duty was a close family friend of FoMDT’s – a down-to-earth, practical lady that I would have loved even if she was a stranger, as she examined me and exclaimed “Nice – 8 cm. This won’t take long.” Magic words to any labouring womans’ ear.
Not long after, I was hunched over the pillows and holding on to the bars at the head of the bed when the most extraordinary thing happened. With previous labours, they’d had to break my waters – apparently my body makes a good strong membrane sac that don’t bust easily. But this time, it popped by itself.
Wait .. did I say ‘pop’? More like exploded.
A huge “bang” then a gush of water, like a water balloon squarely hitting a target, causing the midwife and FoMDT to jump back from the bed simultaneously. “I think your waters just broke” was quite possibly the understatement of the year.
Not long after, bustling was happening behind me and FoMDT said “Ooh, they’re gloving up! You’re nearly there, darl!”. After a few pushes, the Dr asked me to try turning over to face her and lifting up my hips. Next push and literally, out he popped!
Our beautiful third baby and second son was born at 3.35pm Friday 22nd March 1996 – in the record time (once he made up his mind) of 4.5 hours, with no stitches or grazes or tediously long second stage. I mentally high-fived myself on having finally ‘perfected’ childbirth – and a good thing too, because I wasn’t going back for a fourth go.
He was plopped up on my chest and went straight for the boob … and there he would have dangled for the next year if I’d have let him. Once again, I sniffed that delicious newborn baby smell – but this time knowing it wasn’t something he’d been bathed in.
We rang Dad at the office – barely 45 minutes after he’d walked me in the door – and gave him the good news. Unbeknown to us, The Princess was listening in on the phone line in the other room. She had been counting – nay, insisting – on a baby sister, going to far as to tell the GP in all seriousness that if it was a boy, she was sending it back.
Apparently upon hearing the news, she hung up the phone with a devastated look on her face, turned to Dad and said “I don’t think I can handle another brother.”
But handle him she did. The Master, on the other hand, took the attitude of “If I ignore it, it will go away”. To be fair, the poor little bugger was only 19 months old himself and still a baby in so many ways. After a week, he resigned himself to the fact the little bundle wasn’t going away so he may as well acknowledge the newest addition.
I was lucky enough to be let out of hospital by 11am the day after The Baby was born – with the midwives questioning my sanity all the while. “Wouldn’t you rather stay? Don’t you have two little ones at home already?”
Yes, I did and yes they were loud and demanding … but they were mine and I missed them. I also hated hospitals (still am not a fan) and never felt comfortable or that the baby was ‘mine’ until I was home.
We drove out to pick up Mum at the airport on Sunday with baby in tow. Thankfully she forgave me for not crossing my legs and waiting for her!