The Newborn Haze

Somehow I blinked and Claire hit three weeks old and counting. That's almost a month old.


Whaaaat? I swear I was just walking in to the hospital for my induction yesterday.. and now it's nearly November.

Just look how much she's grown!
The last few weeks have been a blur. A happy blur, emotional blur, exhausted blur, full of surprises blur.
Flailing hands and fumbling breastfeeds.
Plenty of snuggles and sniffing that sweet newborn scent in her hair.
Heart exploding moments watching these two girls get to know each other.
Sobbing moments in the wee hours of the morning, trying to re-learn how this all works.
Face twitches and cheeky smiles while she drifts off to sleep.
Hours spent memorising her face, taking in every feature of this new little person, who is so different to what I imagined, but so exactly what I had been dreaming of for the longest time.
I have so much to say, and no energy to say it all.
Let me just tell you this right now: I've never been so tired, or so happy, in my entire life.. and I'm loving it.
These moments are worth all of the heartache and the disappointment and the frustration. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Claire's Birth - part iv {birth and post-birth}

The pushing stage felt weirdly good - weird, because it still hurt like hell, but good because it gave me something to focus on.

I remember sobbing and begging my doctor to 'not let me tear!' and 'please don't let her get stuck!' - both of which were my biggest fears about the labour itself, aside from the baby being okay. We had discussed both of these at length in prior appointments, which is why my OB gave me the option of having the epidural at the beginning of the induction - but it was too late now, and my doctor just kept guiding me through it. Jase was alongside me holding my hand because I was a nervous wreck, so he didn't get to witness the whole experience first-hand like he did with Georgia's birth.

Having the baby without an epidural felt so, so different. It was hard and it was painful, but it felt really amazing at the same time - even though I was so terrified of the aftermath. I just wanted our little baby out and safely out; the rest didn't matter. After a few pushes, her head was born - and she'd managed to turn herself during the labour to present face-down, thank goodness! Not long after, the rest of her followed. I heard my doctor exclaim that she was indeed 'a good size!'

(Random gas-induced hallucination for good measure: have you ever watched an episode of One Born Every Minute? Well, it's been a ritual for me during both pregnancies to go on a binge-watching spree in the third trimester, perhaps to mentally prepare myself for my labours? When a baby is about to be born, there's this music that plays - just an instrumental sound really - well, as I was pushing the baby out, that music was going through my head, as if I were a Mum featured on the show.)

They placed her up onto my chest immediately, and wrapped her in a towel - and the first thing I saw was her dark, dark hair. We were expecting another brunette like Georgia - but our newest little lady had a crop of pitch black hair that was twice as thick as what her sister's was. Since her birth, it's the first thing that people have commented on - so much hair!

This is my 'I just pushed this kid out with no epidural' stunned face. Also featuring: my trusty gas nozzle.

I was still half anticipating someone to have to take her away from me, that she'd end up in Special Care, so when they told me I could enjoy some skin to skin time and just soak it all up, I wasn't quite sure what to do. I snuggled that sweet baby girl fiercely, let me tell you! Hubby got to cut her cord {again, something he missed out on doing last time} and then we just sat together and soaked it all in.

The doctor checked everything out downstairs, and gave me some good news - I didn't tear! I was so relieved, I could have cried. He said he'd check again once the placenta was delivered {which was pretty uncomfortable, and which I was glad to still have the gas & air tube for} - and when he did, he said that all looked very well, and that there was a slight internal graze that would heal on its own; no stitches required. I couldn't believe it!

They don't generally weigh the babies right there in delivery suite, preferring to do it in the nursery for their initial checks - but the OB was curious to see her weight. We were all guessing the high 3's - so somewhere around 3.8 or 3.9kg. The scales in the room showed her as 4.070kg. I grew a 4kg+ baby in there - oh my gosh. Lots of 'ooohs' and 'aaahs' and I was pretty damn relieved that I had trusted my OB's intuition and had the induction based on her size, because she would have been a very large baby if we'd left it another 2-3 weeks for spontaneous delivery. He then bid us goodbye, and headed back to his office.

(I found out later from another Mum who was waiting in his rooms for her 11am appointment, that my OB had literally sprinted out of his office and down the hallway after receiving a phone call - she commented that she had never seen him move that fast before. That was just before 11am... and I delivered the baby at 11:04am. Thank goodness his rooms are located across the road from the hospital!)

Our little girl - Claire - was amazing. Ten fingers, ten toes, smooshy cheeks and rolls for days. She latched on and breastfed within the first few minutes. Nobody rushed us, which I'm grateful for. I got up to shower and hubby had some skin to skin time with Claire in the recliner, and then we bid farewell to the delivery suite and headed to the ward. First stop: the nursery!

They organised her official weight and measurement check here, and on their scales, Claire weighed 4.140kg. Even bigger than we had thought! She was 49cm long and a gorgeous dark pink/red colour. All checks aside, they let us wander down to our room - our room! We had a baby in our room!

That afternoon, Georgia got to visit her baby sister - and my heart just about exploded with happiness.

How could we be this lucky? After all the heartache, all the scares this pregnancy, the bedrest, the anxiety, the fear... I got to witness my daughter becoming a big sister. Everything was worth it for this moment alone.
We had an uneventful first few days together, but then Claire's jaundice levels started rising, and on Day 3 she was admitted to Special Care for time under the bilirubin lights. It was really upsetting for me, after the tease of her being in the room with us.. but she was such a content little baby, and she spent the entire two days snoring peacefully with her little sunglasses on. We stayed an extra night in hospital afterwards to ensure her feeding continued to take off {as she'd needed to supplement with formula while in the SCN, as extra hydration kicks the jaundice faster} and then we were released home.

Home! With my daughters - DAUGHTERS! Oh, man. Is this real?

So there you have it: a successful induction, a two-hour labour with no time for pain relief apart from gas and air, a good sized and healthy baby girl - and finally, a family of four.
It feels like she's been here all along.

Missed part of Claire's birth story? 

Our Rainbow

October 15th is a special day for us.

It is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day - a time to honour all those wee ones who have passed during pregnancy or shortly after birth.

Not only is Claire our rainbow baby - a baby that is born following a miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss - her official due date was today, October 15th. If that wasn't a sign of a rainbow coming after the storm, I'm not sure what else would have been.

I'm so glad she's here with us safely, after many months of sadness & wondering if we would ever have another person to add to our family. She was worth the wait.

Sending thoughts to my fellow mamas who are missing their small ones, and to my own three lost littlies - without them,we wouldn't be here. I'll be snuggling my two beautiful girls extra tight today.

Noah - August 2014
Baby #3 - October 2014
Baby #4 - October 2015

Claire's Birth - part iii {labour takes off}

Where we last left off, the syntocinon drip had just started. Hubby was hanging out in the recliner and checking his phone, while I was sitting up in the bed with my music on, already starting to feel the contractions taking off. I still had the CTG belt on, so I was watching the monitor to see if the contractions were strong enough to register on the chart - and they were! I laid there fascinated for a little while, watching them rise and fall in tune with the pains.

I remember remarking to Jase that I had forgotten just how uncomfortable contractions actually were, and then soon after, that they felt very close together. I assumed it was because they were being artificially induced, and so I was getting the full hit of them all at once, rather than building up gradually. With that said, the midwives came in at around 9.30am, confirmed that baby's heart rate was much better now, and that she was tolerating the drip just fine so far - and they notched it up a dash.

She then showed me how to unhook the drip, so that I could go to the bathroom and walk around if I wanted to. As soon as I stood up off the bed, I had a contraction that was sharp enough to need hubby's help to stand through - it was so intense it almost took my breath away. It took me at least fifteen minutes to get to the loo, because I was having them pretty close together. I'd sit down, have one. Reach for the toilet paper, have another one. Stand up to finish, have one more. As we headed back into the room, I asked if I could have a fitness ball to sit on, as I really didn't want to be lying down.

After I was situated on the ball, I had the midwife lower the bed down, so that I could lean forward on it with my arms during the stronger contraction. This was about the point where I told hubby that either I am a massive wimp whose pain threshold has marginally lowered since the last birth, or that they felt completely different this time around. He rubbed my back for me while I did figure 8 hip rolls on the ball, leaning forward and breathing through each contraction. I was still aware enough to want to use my phone, but there was zero signal in the delivery suite, so I stuck to just playing music instead.

I'd read a hypnobirthing book in the weeks before, hoping to take some strategies on board with this particular labour. One of my biggest regrets last time was that I got all the way to the end before having the epidural; I was hoping to get through without it, but simply wasn't able to because of the length of labour & the eventual use of the drip to finish things off. That said, I was under no illusions; if things got too intense, I'd definitely be okay with asking for one again this time, should I feel I needed it. Things were different, after all: an induced labour, a larger baby, and the drip from the get-go. For now though, I stuck to the breathing exercises I'd practiced and hoped for the best.

Those contractions - wow. They were hard and fast, and breathing through them took every bit of effort. I'd have one, take a breath and relax, and then feel another one coming not even a minute later. Worst of all, because of my position on the birthing ball and the constant hip rolling that was helping me cope with the pain, the CTG monitor wasn't registering the contractions on the screen - so the midwives weren't actually able to see what was going on from their external monitoring. I worried they wouldn't realise how strong they were, so we buzzed them in & asked for some gas and air.

Jase mentioned how fast they were coming along, and the midwife sat and monitored me first hand. She said that she didn't need the monitor anymore, and that she could tell by my breathing that things looked like they were progressing well. She hooked up the gas and air, and left us once again.

The contractions continued hitting hard and fast, and I felt like I couldn't keep up with them. The idea with the gas is that you inhale as they start to build, so the actual effect is already taking place by the time the contraction reaches its peak, and then let it go as the wave settles down. Well, I was barely feeling the effects before another one would hit, and I was struggling big time. I felt really helpless; was I really this bad at labour? I'd only just started for goodness sake - how was I meant to get to the end without an epidural if I couldn't even last half an hour with the gas alone?

As well as the constant contractions, I'd started having a gush of fluid with every one - to the point where I was leaking all over the fitness ball and the floor. It felt good to let it come out, so I didn't stop it, but it did make me wonder just how much fluid I'd had in there altogether. {Seriously, if you added the amount I'd lost a the initial rupture of the membranes, plus the constant gushes with each contraction, it must have been pretty epic.} The fluid leaking out seemed to make the contractions feel more intense again, so I told Jase that I thought it was time to start organising the epidural - I was done. The control I'd been hoping for was going, and I was getting a bit panicked.

Hubby called the midwife back in again, who told me that in order to get the anaesthetist organised, they'd need to do an internal and make note of what my progress was. It was about 10.30am at that point, and it had only been about an hour and a half since the drip had started - so I was nervous it was too soon, and that I wouldn't have dilated much further than that initial 3cm. That said, I was contracting so strongly, that she thought it was worth checking. It took me at least ten minutes to get myself positioned on the bed, and ready for the cervix check.

It was about this point that I started making this guttural groaning sound - it's not a sound I remember ever using before, so it must come from somewhere pretty deep. I don't know why, but it helped me get through each contraction, and I remember the sound of it well (though I doubt I could replicate it now.) Internal exams while in labour are the worst, and even though my midwife was gentle, I was so preoccupied with worrying that I'd still be stuck at 3cm, I felt every single stretch and movement.

She announced that I was around 6-7cm, and then as I had another fierce contraction {while she was still in the middle of the check!} my cervix decided to open to 8cm, with baby's head right there. I watched the midwife yank her gloves off and immediately call my OB from the phone in the room. She came back to my bedside, and told me it was too late for an epidural, and that I'd be just fine - Jase was holding my hands and trying to get me to calm down and breathe. For some reason, gas and air makes time seem to slow down & makes me get a little bit loopy, so I wasn't quite sure if I'd heard her right. Did she say 3cm? Hubby told me that no, she said 8cm, and I couldn't believe it.

Honestly though, it was all I could do to groan my way through each contraction at that point. Things stayed slightly fuzzy from that moment on, but I remember the midwife telling me to listen to her, listen to my husband, and to push if I felt like pushing. She then rang the OB once again - so she must have realised things weren't far off happening. Not long afterwards, I looked up and saw my doctor running through the door. It was time!

Claire's Birth - part ii {the induction}

We arrived at the hospital and headed straight for the birth unit. It felt so surreal walking into the hospital NOT in labour!

The nerves had well and truly set in by now, and I was full of anxious anticipation. When we arrived, we were shown into our room. One of the midwives offered me a hospital gown, but I was really hot, and preferred to just stick to a singlet. I hate hospital gowns, and wearing one while almost 38 weeks pregnant is akin to a circus tent, so I'm glad I could skip it.

They popped me up on the bed and put the baby on a trace, and this is where things got a little crazy. My pulse was racing, and baby's heartbeat was fast. Like... really fast. It was not a typical reading for me, and they were concerned that she might have been in distress - so they monitored it for a good half an hour to see whether she would calm down when I did. It stayed high for a while, and one of the midwives started talking c-section with me, which resulted in my pulse racing even faster. Hubby suggested listening to some music and trying to relax before my OB arrived, so I did that. It helped, and baby started calming down too, though still not regular enough for their liking.

They decided to give me some IV fluids to see if it helped hydrate both me & baby, and in preparation for the syntocinon drip. Unfortunately, my veins picked that morning to shut up shop, and the midwives had loads of trouble finding a vein. They called in one lady who butchered my left arm {seriously, the bruise has only just started fading now, 11 days later} and left me slightly traumatised. They were about to 'have a go' on my other hand, when my doctor made his appearance and took over - thank goodness for his timing, as he got it placed first go - wish they'd spared me the first trauma!

He wasn't concerned about the baby's heart rate at all, and that was reassuring enough to calm me down too. It was almost 9am at this point, and we went over the plan for the day and discussed pain relief. I'd decided the night before to just start out with nothing and go from there, with every intention of getting an epidural later in the game if I felt I was done. My OB left it up to me, and we decided to crack on with things.

The internal showed I was still 3cm dilated, and it was easy for him to rupture my membranes. I forgot how odd that felt {though I was in transition last time, so slightly distracted!} and man, it gushed. And gushed. And gushed. If my waters had gone at home, it would have made a right mess. The fluid was clear, which was reassuring - and as the midwife was changing the bed sheets, it tipped all over the floor and splashed everywhere. Awkward!

They decided to attach an internal monitor to the baby, so that I could be up and about during labour. This was slightly fiddly and uncomfortable, but it was way more preferable to being cooped up in the bed the entire time.

Once that was done, my OB switched on the syntocinon drip & left us to it, disappearing to his regular appointments and promising to check back soon. I'm not kidding you; within five minutes of that drip starting, I was having my first contractions. And they weren't gentle ones; they were hard and firm and required breathing from the get-go. Unlike my labour with Georgia, these ones didn't have much of a break in between. My labour had officially begun.

Claire's Birth - part i {decision time}

This time a week ago, I was sitting at home on the couch full of nervous anticipation for the following day. Why? Because we had made the decision to go ahead with an induction - and the date was set!

My doctor and I had been going back and forth over my options for the past few weeks, though we both still assumed that my body would make that final decision for us because of all the cervical issues and signs of pre-term labour. All that said, with each weekly appointment that we checked off, it appeared that everything was somehow holding steady. Once we passed the magical 37-week mark, I couldn't quite believe it - how did we get here?

The one thing that stayed constant was the fact that baby girl was measuring ahead - and as the weeks progressed, we kept a close eye on her size. Size alone isn't often a good enough reason to induce, but when combined with the anxiety of reduced movements thanks to my anterior placenta & the stress of the past few months of resting, it was an option I was interested in hearing about. My OB left the decision totally up to me, which was both reassuring but difficult. Georgia's birth was spontaneous, she came when she was ready; but it resulted in a LONG labour and a special care stay. My 'plan' for this baby was to try for a vaginal birth, because the thought of a c-section genuinely scared the heck out of me; but that was about it.

It became clear that we had two choices:

  • Let nature take its course and wait, with the risk of an extremely large sized baby at the time of birth. This wasn't a guarantee of course (ultrasound isn't 100% accurate) however we had seen consistent growth, both baby and my bely measured at full term size already, and I had a history of birthing large babies.
  • Go ahead with an induction at 38 weeks - keeping in mind the risk of potentially needing other interventions to assist with the delivery and to ensure the safe arrival of our little one. My OB told me that conditions were favorable for a successful induction in my case; I'd had a previous vaginal delivery, my cervix was ideal, baby's position was great {apart from a posterior presentation} - but of course, there were never any guarantees.
I spent a long time researching the pros and cons of both, but in the end my anxiety won. I didn't want to spend another fortnight worrying about the baby, about whether she would be okay in there, whether her size would hinder the delivery we wanted, whether the risk of having a stillborn was worth the risks of inducing a baby that wasn't ready to be born. Hubby & I both agreed that if things still looked the same at my 37.5 weeks appointment, we'd confirm and be good to go.
At that appointment, baby's growth was off the charts. She was head down, engaged and healthy, but measuring ahead as usual. We did a manual exam and my cervix had shifted to 3cm dilated, and my doctor was able to perform a stretch and sweep at the same time. It was uncomfortable, but not unbearable.

We discussed what the induction would look like; the plan was to skip the cervical ripening stage, as mine was already good to go. He would break my waters, pop me on the drip, and just let it go from there. I was concerned about being on a strict timeline for delivery or being rushed into a c-section if progress was slow, but he assured me that second births are generally faster than the first ones, and that my body would remember what it needed to do. He was very pro-epidural, even encouraging me to have one before the drip even started - and we had a lengthy chat about what I wanted. I was mostly worried about being stuck confined to the hospital bed if we did the epidural immediately, as I wanted to be up and around if possible. He was warning me of it being a fast labour, and that if I waited for pain relief, I might not have time to get it. I promised to think about the options and see how we felt on the day, as my gut was telling me to just take it one step at a time.

This all happened on the Wednesday; the induction date was set for that coming Friday morning. I think we all still assumed that the baby might just come on her own accord before then, particularly as the membrane sweep and dilation were pretty easy to do. Over the next few days, I lost my mucus plug and had a small show.

The night before the induction, I started having pains, but while they were uncomfortable, they were also very inconsistent. I tucked Georgia into bed that night and tried to watch a show with my Mum {who was staying over to help the next day} but I couldn't concentrate and ended up going to bed early myself. Part of me wondered whether I might have been going into early labour, but the next morning, I was still pregnant! 
It was time to grab our stuff, head to the hospital and get this show on the road. :) 
The last belly shot of this pregnancy - 37 weeks + 6 days. :) 

Missed part of Claire's birth story? 

She's Here!

Welcome to the family, Claire Elise
Born September 30th, 2016. We are all so in love!

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