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The Birth of Lia Rose

Lia Rose 1 week

Nine months ago Lia was born and it now seems like an eternity ago. I can’t believe it has taken me this long to get around to writing Lia’s birth story. Life is very full and there never seems enough time.

My pregnancy was very much wanted and it took me a long time to conceive. When I managed to fall pregnant, it was during the most stressful period of my life. This was punctuated with horrible morning sickness. I can remember having to drag myself off the lounge to go and do pre and postnatal visits, all the time trying to keep the pregnancy a secret in case I miscarried again. Thankfully the sickness passed at the magical 13-week mark.

This pregnancy, like my last, was complicated by a very unstable pelvis that caused me a lot of pain. By the end of the pregnancy I was almost immobile and nearly had to resort to a walking frame to get around. This was not the joyous pregnancy I had hoped for. At 36 weeks, sensing my mood, my close friends got together at my blessing way. This was a wonderful turning point. I felt loved and nurtured. The energy from the blessing way carried through with me till after the birth. I cannot thank those that came enough.

The night before my due date I couldn’t get comfortable, painful Braxton Hicks contractions kept coming every 5 to 10 minutes and weren’t letting up. I chose to ignore them as I had been plagued by painful Braxton Hicks contractions for the last five weeks. At some point I decided to go to bed in the hope that they would go away. But of course it wasn’t to be, they kept coming and were getting more painful, although I was still denying that this might actually be the start of labour.

By 1am I gave in and decided that perhaps this could be it. I decided to let Frank sleep. I got up and went to the dark and quiet lounge room. It was exciting, as I knew that baby would be here sometime soon and I treasured this quiet time alone. I put on music and danced around the house with the contractions. The contractions were irregular in length and spacing but coming four times every ten minutes.

As the contractions became more painful – I decided I needed the birth pool. So went in and woke Frank. Poor Frank couldn’t set up the pool quick enough, I was unreasonably angry that he wasn’t going faster. All I wanted was to submerge myself in deep warm water. I called in Denise a doula friend, whom had been an excellent emotionally support during my pregnancy. Denise tended to my every need. As the labour progressed it felt odd – some contractions I would need to push and others were very mild. I tried to go with the flow.

I then called in my midwives, one by one (all three were present at the birth). I was worried during the pregnancy that too many people would be distracting. But I loved having them all there when I was in labour. I began to fell nauseous and threw up – my waters broke at the same time. I spent what felt like a lot of time in the pool (it is all a blur now). I vocalised loudly through contractions as this helped. It seemed so much more painful than last time. I needed to dip into every possible resource at my disposal. The pressure in my bottom grew very strong during contractions, so much so I started to push. It didn’t feel right, so I checked my own progress – to my devastation I was 3cm dilated. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t even vocalise what I had found to those around me. I then checked again, just to make sure and sure enough it was 3cm. But just then I got a contraction and the cervix almost disappeared. I’d had enough; I felt I couldn’t go on. Denise said something (I can’t even remember what it was now) – but it helped me in just letting the contractions wash over me and I didn’t vocalise or do anything. I can remember the tremendous energy this took – my whole body shook with the effort.

Around three contractions later – I felt something shift. So I decided to push again (I haven’t in past births experienced any urge to push). To my surprise the baby’s head descended fast. Two pushes and her head was out. I really wanted to birth this baby myself (my last baby’s shoulders got stuck). I was kneeling (one knee down and one up) with my hands on my baby’s head waiting for that next contraction. When the contraction came – I couldn’t free the baby. I flipped over and asked for assistance from one of the midwives. Myra reached over just after I changed position and said later that the baby came free without her assistance.

Words cannot describe the relief and the elation I felt, even more so when I discovered the baby was a girl (I have two boys and had convinced myself this baby was also a boy). Lia gave a cry and the boys joined us (they had been in and out of the birthing room during my labour).

Shortly after the birth I was wondering why Lia looked so pale, when I discovered that she was not attached to an umbilical cord. After some slight panic on my part, Lia’s cord was clamped and she was warmed and given oxygen. It turns out Lia’s cord was extremely short and the cord snapped at the birth. This, most likely, is what held her birth up once her head was out. Lia quickly recovered, although remained pale for quite a while as she made up for her blood loss during the birth.

The birth was short – around three hours. But it was wonderful. Though during the labour I kept thinking I am never doing this again and I am still sticking by that thought. Three is enough for me.

Written January 2004

Jane Palmer is a mother, birth activist and midwife in private practice located in Sydney, Australia. With additional qualifications as a childbirth educator and lactation consultant, Jane works to improve pregnancy, birth and parenting options for families.

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