I blogged the birth after a few days as a reminder to myself and Anna herself in years to come. Unfortunately I wasn't a blogger back when I had the others - though maybe soon I should note those down as best I can remember them too before time takes its toll...
The last month has been hard. Because of the size of Baked as we'd all come to know her, I reached breaking point physically about the end of November. I was still working and just reaching my laptop was sore. I was exhausted but needed to finish two months work in one to allow myself to go on maternity leave on 11 December. Working from home with no childcare for a two year old means working when no kids are about. Thomas was working with New Zealand which was helpful because it meant he could take off mornings and work till late in the evening. That allowed me to work mornings and after Marcel went to bed at 10pm. Working till midnight or one every day for the last month is not to be recommended but needs must.
When I visited the hospital on December 2, it was insinuated that they planned to induce me on December 30, so I fixed that goal in my mind.
By Christmas walking around a supermarket had become too painful with such a big baby. Eating wasn't fun, sleeping impossible. For the first time in all my pregnancies I was finding it hard to stay positive.
When nothing happened at the end of December and they threatened to leave me till the 23rd of January before inducing me I was really depressed. Eventually I simply became resigned and set my focus further in the future to get through.
Labour started and stopped on New Year's Day and after that I lay awake most nights exhausting myself unnecessarily.
Finally on 10-1-10, I went to hunt out the dreaded Southern in preparation for my hospital transfer. I sat up late that night on the computer blogging, editing photos, reading news and went to bed around 1am.
At 4 I woke up with a contraction. There was nothing new there as this had happened most nights for a month. Once again I knew I would sit and time potential twinges for an hour or two, then go to sleep once I had established there was no pattern. I had a contraction again at 4-15 and one at 4-30. They then went to ten minute intervals... I was following the pattern of January 1st all over again.
When they were still doing this at 5, I decided to waken Thomas who contacted mum and dad to babysit the other four. The only request they'd made was that I shouldn't get them up at 4am - oops.
I rang triage and no one answered for ages. Had the hospital shut two days early? Eventually a yawning man said Hellllllooooo? I was almost convinced I had rung a private house but I guess they just weren't busy because he seemed to know what I was talking about.
Driving in at 6-30am before rush hour took just 16 minutes - in which time I had six contractions. Whoever put speed bumps around the car park of a maternity hospital has never been in labour!
We parked at the door and it took another two contractions to get into reception. Triage, which had been a disaster last time round (and hadn't existed for my first three) was a delight. There was no insistence on monitoring and given my previous history, the friendly nurse simply sent me straight to delivery after ascertaining I was already 3-4cm.
Unfortunately she told me I had to have this put in my hand as I was at a great risk of losing too much blood. This was to become the most unpleasant part of the next 24 hours.
I walked up to deliveries and met a middle-aged Irish midwife who took down all my details but was going off duty at 7am. She handed over to a younger Chinese midwife who was introduced to me as 'Hughie'. Despite my pain, I had to laugh and think of what my old Gramps might have said had he lived to hear the story of Shug the Chinese midwife! (It turned out to be Hiu-ying, by the way!)
I was told the registrar would have to be present at my birth because of "the high risk of caesarean, shoulder dystocia or severe bleeding". Funny all these high risks that seemed to be stamped on my notes but which had never been mentioned to me!
If truth be told, I have over the years heard many stories along the lines - I was told my baby was going to be 9lbs but it turned out to be 7lbs etc. I really didn't want a caesarean so refused it, but deep down I was also convinced they were probably wrong about the baby I was carrying. Yes, I could feel it was big but not drastically bigger than usual, not 25% bigger. I had already mentally written the blog rant about their threats of a near ten pounder being complete nonsense once the baby had weighed in at 8lb 4! I was wondering where all these potential high risk stories in my notes were coming from.
From 7 to 8 I tried kneeling and using gas and air. After 8 I tried standing by the bed but didn't last too long. Thomas was wonderful as he was last time. Having had the girls with his support, I wonder now how I ever got through birth alone, as André was never present at the births claiming to be too squeamish to cope. I had no idea how much the support of a loved one can help get you through even the worst pain.
By 8-30 I was back on the bed and sitting, becoming less and less aware of my surroundings. I heard 'Shug' mention something about expecting the baby to arrive within the hour. I forced my eyes open and glanced at the clock: 8-45am. I could hear Hughie and Thomas chatting but I wasn't there any more, trying simply to breathe through each contraction. Hughie asked if she could break my waters as they hadn't gone naturally. I was beyond caring. She told me I was now 7cm dilated. She also asked if a student doctor could come in as he was sitting his finals soon - by that point in labour they could invite in the whole bus queue from outside the hospital - you really don't care!
As soon as she broke my waters dead on 9am, I needed to push, despite not being 10cm. Within 3 minutes her very big head was out. Unlike Anna though, she stopped at this point and didn't shoot past the midwife. Maybe she was slightly bigger than Anna (who had been 3.4kg/7lb8) but one more push and she was out all the same. My blog rant was reappearing in my head as I managed to give birth in just 5 hours without drugs to the baby who needed a caesarean 2 weeks earlier. They weighed her... 4.35kg/9lb10! Jesus! They were actually right! Shit! Would I have signed up to that drug-free had I known??? Probably, because I am a stubborn cow, but wow - I felt like superwoman!
As I came round, a young man, the medical student stood looking almost as gobsmacked as a first time dad - I hope he doesn't think that is the norm when it comes to childbirth! I was awake enough to watch Thomas cut the cord and hand me Baked, the still nameless child. For the next half hour the midwife tried to deliver the placenta which was proving much trickier than the baby and I was more than relieved when it finally came away. Baked was covered in meconium, which made me worry a bit, as I'd heard horror stories of babies inhaling meconium during birth but no one around me seemed to be panicking.
I went for my last bath in the post delivery bathroom in the QMH and felt vaguely sad knowing that no matter what the future holds, I will never be back there again and then joined Thomas in an attempt to finally whittle down the long-standing shortlist of names for the Baked Bean.