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Thread: The Birth of Molly Jones (now 3)

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    Default The Birth of Molly Jones (now 3)

    Hi all,

    I've been reading through all of these birth stories, and it has made me realise two things:
    1. I have never posted Molly's birth story (who is now 3), and;
    2. I haven't even written Olivia's!
    So, here is Molly's story, written five weeks after she was born, and I will hopefully have time to write Olivia's in the next fortnight, before too many more memories fade from my mind...(Olivia is 1).



    The Birth of Molly Jones

    We discovered we were pregnant about three months before our wedding.

    That was a surprise.

    In hindsight, I have always maintained that it was a pleasant surprise, and it was. We had always planned to start a family as soon as we were married; in essence, the unexpected plans of our first daughter only brought our timetable forward by a few months. They would prove to be a busy few months, however; Victoria was in the process of putting the finishing touches on her dream wedding, and I was in the process of watching bemusedly while Victoria put the finishing touches on her dream wedding.

    The week leading up to our pleasant surprise perhaps should have given us some clues. For instance, Victoria was feeling tired, more tired than normal; she started to feel a little bit unwell; she had very sore breasts; and finally, she started craving salad. And from a sausages-and-chips sort of girl, this was something of a revelation.

    We were out picking up the tickets for our honeymoon and were walking past the supermarket when Victoria suggested we pop in. We made our way to the pregnancy test kits (located conveniently close to both the pregnancy multivitamins and the condoms – I guess if you don’t need one, you’ll be needing the other), and Victoria looked up, narrowed her eyes, and said “I think we’d better get one of these.”

    I was expecting a burst of fear – like most couples, there had been the odd occasion before where we’d thought “I wonder…” and then realised that we could stop wondering and breathe a sigh of relief. But this time, though, there was something else. Perhaps I was a bit clucky, a necessary side effect of being a children’s nurse. Perhaps I was just ready, perhaps my biological clock had finally begun to tick – after all, I was 26 and settling down with an adorable woman who was soon to be my beautiful wife. For whatever reason, instead of that burst of fear, there was a thrill of anticipation.

    The rest of the trip was a blur of check-out, car-park, and traffic lights, and then we were home. And waiting for Victoria to go to the toilet. Never has a wee been so keenly anticipated in our household! Finally, the time came…the stick was dipped…and it sat on our bathroom counter, covered by a piece of toilet paper, for what was the longest sixty seconds of my life.

    Victoria later confided in me that she had peeked, at the thirty second mark, while I wasn’t looking – and the test was already positive. She assures me she spent the next thirty seconds silently begging it to change back. And so, when the sixty seconds was finally up, I was the one who flipped the toilet paper over with a flourish, goggled at the two pink lines, and trying to sound as convincing as possible, said “Darling – we’re pregnant” – with, it must be said, a big stupid grin on my face. Inside, I was scared stiff. We were having a baby! We were so young, we had the wedding coming up; just a week ago, Victoria had made the comment that she would stop asking for a baby because if we got pregnant now, we wouldn’t fit into the wedding dress.

    My god, the wedding dress…

    But over and above this turmoil, there was still that thrill of anticipation. And as the turmoil faded, it grew. So – we were going to have a baby. That wasn’t so bad. In fact, it was great! We’d always planned to have babies as soon as we got married. We’d only just finished seeing an obstetrician for Victoria’s painful periods, who had suggested that she might have polycystic ovaries, and that having babies would be ideal sooner rather than later – if, indeed, we would ever be able to have them at all. This was wonderful news.

    And as my brain pulled the fastest and most violent about-turn of its life, Victoria started crying, and didn’t stop for half an hour.

    The emotional turmoil persisted for the rest of the week as we both came to terms with the news in our own way. I alternated between periods of elation and concern, while Victoria gradually adjusted to the idea of having a baby – not just at some time in the future, but in eight months! The next hurdle would be telling our parents, another agonising decision. I was pretty sure my parents would handle the news well – they were certainly keen to have grandchildren – and in true fashion, my mother danced around the kitchen when she found out, with my father congratulating me, quiet pride evident in his voice. Victoria’s parents were weren’t so sure about. After debating whether to break the news over the phone, we decided against it, and waited the extra two weeks until we could arrange some time off to drive home.

    Sure enough, it was a slow torture, the drive there, making small talk, trying to force dinner down with a mouth too dry to chew as we waited for our opportunity. And when we broke the news, it turned into a fast torture, as they reacted predictably – Victoria’s father bemoaning it as “bad luck” and “bad news”, and Victoria’s mother doing us the honour of informing us how “stupid” we were, how terrible the timing was, and how we would simply have to “do our best”. Victoria was shattered; I was incensed, and it became the first, and at the time of writing, the only time I have raised my voice at Victoria’s mother. Well may it be the last.

    This hurdle over, we pushed on, as wedding preparations gathered momentum. The first few months of the pregnancy saw Victoria endure almost constant “morning” sickness, vomiting as regularly as clockwork in her morning and evening shower. She lost weight, and began sleeping more and more as the “minor complaints of pregnancy” took their toll. She cut back on shift-work, taking on more hours nannying as she could take longer breaks, and even sometimes sleep when she got the opportunity.

    In the final weeks before the wedding, we had an ultrasound to make sure the pregnancy was progressing normally before we travelled overseas for our honeymoon. It was, and as the ultrasonographer turned the monitor to face us, we could see a tiny little smudge on the screen, bouncing up and down madly. It was our baby – our “Bouncy”.

    Faster than we anticipated, the day of the wedding arrived. Our blessed bundle of joy saw fit to extend to Victoria a reprieve from the constant nausea for the week leading up to the wedding, and so she was lucky enough to enjoy her day sickness free. The wedding dress even fit well over the almost imperceptible baby bump. It was a wonderful, long, and exhausting day, especially so as our pregnancy remained a secret except to close family and friends. We celebrated for the next week, staying at Sails Resort, in Port Macquarie, before making the long drive back to Sydney in preparation for our honeymoon.

    Oh, the honeymoon!

    After a long and stressful lead-up to the wedding, filled with a cast complete with arguing wedding coordinators, over-charging ceremony venues, uncooperative bridal parties, and difficult parents, the honeymoon had become a major focus for us. Every last cent – including quite a few cents we didn’t have – had gone towards our cruise around Noumea. So it was with great anticipation we boarded our cruise liner and celebrated as we slowly pulled out of harbour, around the heads, and into the Pacific Ocean.

    Four days of vomiting later, we gave up, leaving the ship and flying home from Noumea. Never have you seen two more disappointed honeymooners, and I suspect never have two desperate honeymooners been so relieved to touch the Australian shores! After weeks and weeks of trying to eat healthily to nurture the baby that had been our secret, Victoria voraciously dug into McDonalds chicken nuggets and chips at the airport, the first food she’d been able to tolerate in nearly a week.

    It took us a little while to recover from this debacle, and to help us with our recovery, we maxed out our credit card on a second attempt at a honeymoon – this time to the Gold Coast, on land that stood very, very still. We relaxed, swum in the holiday village pool, and celebrated by swimming with dolphins. Molly was just 15 weeks gestation as we floated in the warm water of the dolphin lagoon at Seaworld and played with these magical creatures.

    From that point on, our lives became a fascinating mixture of work, play, and preparation for baby. That we were having a homebirth was an easy decision. Why? Well, Victoria was a midwife, and she knew what happened in hospital when babies were born. And I was a nurse, a specialist nurse, so I was immersed in the system every day, I knew how the system worked, and I knew its shortcomings, and there was no way I wanted to trust the life of my wife and our unborn baby to that system. It may have seemed cynical, and it was. But it was also true. We began to look forward to regular meetings with our midwives, Robyn Dempsey and Myra Parsons. We began buying the odd thing for the baby, able to enjoy it now that that magical twelve-week mark had passed. As Victoria grew more pregnant, she blossomed, becoming calm and serene and more beautiful and sexy with every passing minute and every glorious extra inch of baby-belly. We bought our pram and rocking-chair at the Parents, Children and Babies Exposition at Olympic Park, Sydney – they were so big Victoria had to drive home by herself, leaving me to take the train! We hunted high and low for a cot that was exactly right – wood, not too dark, not too light, with thick slats, not dowels, and metal cot-rails, not a mechanism, and solid ends, but not sleigh ends.

    Amazingly enough, we eventually found it as well.

    I bought a cradle for our baby to sleep in our room with us when it was born, rushing home to have it put up before I left for work to surprise Victoria when she got home. We decorated the nursery together, fighting over paint colours, until eventually Victoria gave up and just chose them herself.

    She was right. They looked beautiful.

    I found the curtains and put them up. The change table was installed – an easy home assembly gone very, very bad. We waited so long for the photo frames, lamp, and other matching pieces of décor that we feared our bundle would be born before they arrived! But they did arrive, and took their place in the newest room of our house. The last addition was the cot-veil, and the nursery was complete. We searched high and low for a birthing pool that had to match specifications that were almost as exacting as those of the cot. Eventually, we found what we wanted, at Clark Rubber. The salesman almost fainted when he discovered what we would be using it for.

    We argued about names. We had originally decided on Olivia for a girl, and Samuel for a boy. But by the time Molly was getting ready to arrive, Victoria had gravitated towards Molly. The only problem being, we had a cousin called Mollie Jones – in England. How could we possibly have two Molly Joneses in the family? But over time, I grew to like the name as well – it helped that cousin Mollie was a very, very cute young girl. And eventually, with the blessing of both Mollie’s parents and Mollie herself, it was decided.

    If it was pink, it would be Molly. Blue, and it would be Sam.

    The baby turned breech, all of a sudden, at our 28 week visit. We were distraught; it would be almost impossible to have a breech baby at home, and both of our midwives cautioned against it. But Victoria would not be swayed so easily, and one evening, after ringing me at work and looking up the internet, she tried one of the suggestions to turn a breech baby - lying with her head down, reclined on an ironing board. The only problem was, the internet had no information on how to get off said ironing board when you were 30 weeks pregnant.

    The web-site suggested 15 minutes at a time. I’d say she had been on the board for about an hour when I finally got home.

    We started acupuncture, and it was through Myra that we were introduced to our acupuncturist – Karen, her daughter. We got on well, and when we found out she was also a photographer, it seemed natural to ask her to come for the birth and take some photos for us.

    At 32 weeks, an obstetrician friend performed an ultrasound for us. “Bouncy” was head down and well engaged.

    We travelled to Canberra for a hypnobirthing course. Victoria had seen it performed by a woman birthing her baby at Westmead Private Hospital, and had been amazed that this woman had experienced no pain whatsoever. We laughed at the quaint terminology that was used in the workshop – the “pre-born”, feeling “surges” instead of contractions – and we faithfully followed the self-hypnosis and relaxation exercises. We drove back to Sydney refreshed and full of excitement.

    Everybody says the final weeks are the longest of the pregnancy, and they are correct. Victoria had finished work two months before our due date; I had six weeks of leave generously booked for me by my manager, starting the week that Molly was due. Victoria spent the first month of her time off getting the house in order and working through the long list of jobs that just never, ever get done. The final month was spent relaxing and slowly going crazy with boredom.

    I, on the other hand, spent that last two months at work, waiting impatiently. I was ready for this to happen – I was so excited that I could barely concentrate on anything else. As the due date crept closer and closer, I began carrying my mobile phone with me at work, waiting for the call. In the final weeks, Victoria began having regular bouts of contractions, but they always stopped. Even though “Bouncy” had recently turned head-down, our baby was still posterior. Perhaps he or she was just trying to settle into position. We were never sure, but Victoria could feel an enormous pressure in her pelvis. Our baby was definitely getting ready. Each phone call at work brought that little thrill of anticipation. All of my colleagues were full of helpful advice, such as “Your life will never be the same again!”

    Somehow I knew they didn’t mean that in a good way…

    My last day at work arrived, with still no sign of our baby. Despondently, I agreed to work a day-by-day roster until the baby was born and start my annual leave from that day, rather than waste one or two weeks of my time off before our recalcitrant baby even showed it’s face! I was working this roster for one and a half weeks until I got the call.

    You know – the call.

    Some people might have said “Come home, the baby’s coming!” Some might even have said “I think the baby’s on its way.” No, not this lady. Victoria’s words were – “Are you up to date with your work? Because I think I might be calling you later on.” Yes, my wife gave me a courtesy call.

    I pride myself on remaining calm after that. Despite all of the nurses around me saying more helpful things, like: “Are you sure you shouldn’t go home?” “I’d kill my husband if he didn’t come home right away,” and “What if she needs to go to the hospital?”

    Little did they know.

    I reassured them that Victoria would ring me if she needed me, that I would just get in the way anyway if I went home straight away, and that she had friends that could drive her to hospital in an emergency (because some people just don’t get it…) and finished my shift. I took a thirty minute early mark in honour of the momentous occasion, and I hoped fervently as I left that I would not be required to return the next day.

    Victoria was watching television when I got home, and she just sighed when I walked through the door with a hopeful look on her face. The contractions had died down again, as they had done many times previously. There were still occasional niggles, but nothing strong.

    Disappointed, we took ourselves to bed, hoping that something would happen overnight. It did – I stirred at about three in the morning, and remember Victoria getting out of bed, but being a typical man, deduced that she would get me if she needed me, turned over, and kept on sleeping. It was seven o’clock by the time I awoke, to Victoria slipping back into bed.

    “Is anything happening?” I asked sleepily.

    She nodded. “I’ve been having contractions all morning. They’re settling down now. Go back to sleep.”

    And that I did.

    We awoke later that morning to stronger contractions again. This time, it seemed like it was for real – never before had the contractions lasted so long. We got out of bed, tidied up, and settled down to watch some television. At this stage of the morning, Victoria was still coping well, but the contractions were picking up in intensity. She asked me to time them, and I began documenting the times between each “surge” on a notepad.

    I still have the pages.

    As the morning wore on, we decided to inflate the birthing pool. In hindsight, we should have hired an electric pump – I had no idea how difficult it would be with a hand-pump. But an hour later, with blisters on both hands, we had our pool inflated and ready to go. Of course, it didn’t quite fit in the space we’d intended, but some minor furniture removals rapidly saw to that problem.

    With that last job done, it seemed like we were ready for things to happen. We had a little lunch, and I watched and waited as the contractions continued to grow in intensity. By now, they had Victoria standing bent over the couch and swaying through each one. I heated up a couple of hot packs and with one on her back, one on her front, the rocking, the swaying, and some back-rubbing, we seemed to be doing well. As minutes spun away into hours, we seemed to drift into a surreal world – all thoughts of work, of life outside of this room and the people striving within it, faded away.

    We were dragged out of our reverie by the ringing of the phone. It was Myra, ringing to check up on us. By now, Victoria was moaning and sweating through each contraction. I thought we were reasonable in asking her to come out and see us – the way things were going, I thought we might have a baby that night.

    It took Myra an hour to arrive, and by the end of that hour, I was anxiously looking out of the front window for the reassuring sight of her car pulling into the driveway. The contractions had become seriously painful now, and Victoria was moaning and shouting through each one. This had to be it. Something was definitely happening. Even Myra, as she walked through the front door, commented. “That sounds good,” she said, and we assisted Victoria into our bedroom to be examined.

    I don’t think Victoria could see Myra’s face as the midwife examined her; at least, I hope she couldn’t, because at least then she would have been spared seeing the look of dismay on her face, as I did. But I think Victoria knew, anyway.

    “I’m going nowhere, aren’t I?” she asked plaintively, obviously a great deal wiser than I was. Myra replied in the affirmative.

    “It’s one centimetre and very posterior,” Myra replied, still examining my wife. Victoria began to cry. Myra sighed.

    “I’m just going to try and bring it forward a little,” Myra told Victoria, and I could see Victoria jump as Myra applied pressure to the cervix. Then, it was over, and she took her fingers out. Victoria started crying again.

    “You’re working too hard,” Myra told her, gently. “Why don’t we try a bath and see if we can’t calm things down?”

    I ran the bath – it’s nice to be useful – and we both helped Victoria ease her way into it between contractions. She sloshed around in it for a moment, trying to get comfortable, before moaning with the onset of the next contraction.

    Myra offered her a homeopathic remedy in an attempt to slow things down and give her a chance to recover her strength. “This is going to take a while,” she cajoled us. “The baby is posterior. It’s going to be a long labour. Try and stay lying down, take the weight off your cervix. Eat something and try and get some sleep. You’ll probably have a baby at lunch-time tomorrow.”

    With that she left. It was the first time fear set in. I had promised myself I would be calm throughout our labour – so many friends had husbands who had panicked, or been next-to-useless during their time of need. I had vowed to myself that I wouldn’t be like that – but no baby until lunch-time tomorrow? For the first time, I developed an understanding of exactly why so many women chose to have their babies in hospital. I began to understand why the lure of the gas, the opioid, the epidural, the caesarean, was so strong. I honestly didn’t think Victoria could cope with this for another eighteen hours. How could the body possibly cope under such immense strain?

    Luckily, Victoria’s body knew exactly what to do.

    In times such as this, it is natural to turn to others for help, especially when they offer the panacea of the knife. “Just a needle. It’s just an operation. You’ll feel no pain, and then your baby will be born.” Such alluring words when you are struggling and heaving and trying to push a life into the world, and your world has narrowed down to nothing but the pain of childbirth. We both knew the dangers of an epidural, of a hospital birth, the risks to both mother and child associated with a caesarean – even the risks they didn’t normally tell you about.

    But for the first time, I wondered whether we might end up on that road after all.

    Victoria’s parents rang for an update about then. I couldn’t talk to them – they didn’t know we had planned a homebirth, and more at this time than any other I didn’t know if I could cope if they asked me whether we were going to hospital. Victoria talked to them for a while, reassured them, and then put the phone down.

    I swallowed. I knew that Victoria looked to me in times of stress. So many times before, she had said to me, “I only really worry if you start to worry.” She was grimly hanging on to her goal of birthing her baby at home, but I suspected it wouldn’t take much to shatter her resolve. I gritted my teeth. For her sake, I couldn’t let my worries on to her.

    We called our friend and birth assistant, Stacey, who came over to stay with Victoria while I ate some dinner. I forced the food down a dry throat – if this was going to go all night, who knew when I would have a chance to eat again? After dinner, I cleaned up – I didn’t want a dirty kitchen distracting Victoria from the task at hand – and returned to the bathroom.

    Victoria was just getting out of the bath. The contractions were intensifying again, and she had an urge to get up and move around that she could not ignore. Despite my imploring suggestion that she should stay in the bath and try and calm the labour down, as Myra had recommended, she was working to a timetable of her own. She laboured on the bed for a while, writhing with each contraction, occasionally crying. Stacey returned home to see to her own family, leaving us alone together.

    The contractions were coming on more strongly now, and once more Victoria had to move around. I encouraged her to stay lying, but the contractions hurt so much more lying down. She was only comfortable on her hands and knees. Finally, it was too much. She headed for the shower, in the desperate hope that running water might ease the pain. Here, she found a plateau upon which she could rest, running the hand-held shower over her belly during each contraction, on her back in between, squatting and leaning against the walls. She was beginning to bleed more now, streaks of bloody show coming out with each contraction. I remember at this point, saying as calmly as possible:

    “What do you think all of that show means, my darling?”

    Her reply, bitten out through gritted teeth:

    “It usually means you’re ****ing progressing!”

    Okay, time to stop that line of questioning. “I think I’m going to need an epidural,” she moaned, and I felt another stab of fear. There was no way her body could withstand this for another fifteen or sixteen hours. But I was heartened by the fact that she never, ever said “I want an epidural – take me, now.” She only ever spoke of her fears – she never gave in to them.

    I think the pivotal moment was that point. Moments later, she yelled. “Call Myra! I don’t care if I’m only one centimetre, call Myra! You need to do something, I can’t do this!”

    I walked slowly out of the room, and then almost ran to the phone, and dialled Myra’s number with shaky fingers.

    “We need you here, Myra – she’s not coping.” I don’t remember the rest of the conversation. I remember Myra saying she’d pack some things and come out. I don’t know if I was imagining it, but I thought I could hear an edge in her voice, a reticence. Concern? Disappointment? Worry? Or maybe I was just transferring my own turbulent feelings onto her. I’ve never been sure.

    The time to Myra’s arrival seemed like hours, although it wasn’t. Outside, the rain that had been threatening all day had begun to fall heavily. As the hour drew to a close, I heard Victoria make little grunting sound towards the end of each contraction. It was new, Victoria hadn’t done it before, and my somewhat limited experience with birth drew a very stark picture in my mind.

    “Er…Victoria…are you pushing a bit at the end of those contractions?”

    She groaned. “I can’t help it,” she snapped, as another contraction took hold of her. We were both still in the one-centimetre mind-set. I knew that there was no way she should be pushing on a one-centimetre cervix. This situation seemed to be going from bad to worse. I helped her out of the shower, and we moved to the lounge-room. She tried to lie on the lounge, but lunged forward with each contraction, landing on all fours and following an instinct she couldn’t deny.

    The light of Myra’s headlights through the teeming rain was a relief, and she let herself in, and watched Victoria through the peak of a contraction. When it was over, she knelt down beside us.

    “How are you going, Victoria?” she asked quietly.

    “I can’t do it, Myra, they’re too strong,” Victoria replied. I’m not sure if she was still crying by this time, or if her tears were spent and she had devoted that energy to what was happening within her. As she said this, there was another knock on the door. Stacey had returned. After some brief introductions, Myra looked at Victoria again.

    “Do you want me to examine you?” Myra asked us, and Victoria nodded. “I’ll try between contractions,” Myra agreed. “After the next one.”

    The next contraction came, and Myra watched with the calm air of experience as Victoria writhed and moaned, reaching in and rubbing her back through the peak of it. As it subsided, she withdrew to put on her gloves and cream on her hands; as it finished, she began her examination. Victoria remained on her hands and knees leaning into our lounge, me on the lounge on one side, Stacey on the other, and Myra behind her, slowly examining her. I couldn’t look at Victoria. My gaze was fixed on Myra’s face as she probed.

    The look of absolute delight on her face will never leave me. It is one of the most vivid memories of the entire birth experience. She withdrew her fingers.

    “Victoria Jones! You are six centimetres. You have progressed beautifully in the last few hours. The cervix feels good, but there’s still an anterior lip. You need to try not to push. But if you keep going at this rate, you could have a baby tonight.”

    A baby tonight … a baby tonight. I have never felt such relief, it was as if I had been lost and Myra’s words had rescued me. I felt tears fill my eyes and choked back a sob. It was the first time I had cried. I remember Stacey’s hand reaching over and squeezing mine.

    “Are you alright?” she whispered. I beamed, and nodded.

    To try and reduce the urge to push, we moved Victoria off the lounge, onto all-fours, with her head down near the floor, and coached her to pant through the contractions. We both panted with her, as I held my head next to hers. We had gone through about four more contractions when Victoria turned to me, hair over her face.

    “Stop panting in my ****ing face!”

    I withdrew, gently and quietly, and continued to verbally encourage her through each contraction. I saw both Myra and Stacey look up at me again, and again Stacey whispered. “Are you going okay?” she asked.

    I almost laughed. Being sworn at during labour was the very least I was prepared for. A few minutes later, she snapped again, when I asked her if she wanted a drink: “I don’t want your ****ing drink, and I don’t want you! You did this to me!”

    If that was all the night held, then I stood in good stead. And considering what we had been through up until that point, I didn’t care if Victoria cursed like a sailor. She’d earned it.

    We continued in that position for a few more contractions, with Victoria grunting, gasping, and trying to suppress the urge to push at the end of each contraction. They were coming fast, too. Myra asked for the oxygen cylinder. After the next contraction, I raced out into the garage and grabbed it. I got back just in time for the next contraction, and held Victoria’s hand through the peak of it. I think Myra nearly fainted on the spot when she noticed the tank had no regulator on it. That was okay, though - the regulator was in the study – it was our own, for when Victoria herself had assisted in a friend’s homebirth previously. After the next contraction, I slipped into the study, grabbed the regulator and tubing, and returned to the lounge to fit it. Heave as we might, we could not get the tank open. Another contraction came, and I leapt to Victoria’s side, holding her hand once more as she panted through it. As soon as it subsided, I jumped up again, and ran out to the garage once more to fetch some tools to open the tank. A minute later, I was back with a pair of pliers and a shifter, which had the tank open and working in short order.

    Victoria would later tell me that she thought I was coming back with tools to take the baby out.

    Things seemed to be progressing pretty fast, but looking to Myra for clues as to the progress was fruitless. I guess it’s an understanding that women develop faster than men. Men need a progress gauge. I’m the kind of man who always resets the odometer to each road-sign on long trips, so I know exactly how far it is to the destination. I sit there, driving, doing the calculations in my head as to how long, and what time we can expect to arrive. Unfortunately, there were no road-signs for this labour.

    Finally, figuring it was now or never, I leaned over. I didn’t want to distract Victoria from her labour, or worse, upset her – the video camera was still on its tripod in the study, unused because I was scared it might upset her to be taped – after all, this labour had not quite progressed the way we had planned! But there was one thing I knew she would not want to miss out on.

    “Darling … do you still want to try and birth in the water?”

    Panting in the lead-up to another contraction, she was only able to reply with one word – “Yes.”

    Stacey ran out as I sat with her to turn on the hoses we had attached to the laundry taps. Warm water began flooding into the pool. I had always been worried about the hot-water system in the house – it was old, and it did well for two or three people to have showers at night, but filling an entire birthing pool? Stacey jumped up after each contraction to check on the pool, racing back each time to be with Victoria as the next begun. Five or six contractions later, I leaned over and asked her how the pool was going.

    “Good,” she replied. “I like the system you’ve set up with the hoses.”

    One contraction later, and the water was ice-cold.

    The hot water tank had run out during the contraction, and as hot water systems do, when it ran out of hot, it began pumping cold. The water was freezing. Stacey’s face was stricken as she came back.

    The urn was set up in good order, the kettle put on to boil, and every pan we had set to heat on our stove-top. By this time, Victoria had the urge to push coming even more strongly, and wanted to move. A little at a time, we adjourned to the kitchen.

    Myra had rung Robyn, the second midwife, and she was on her way. The kitchen and back room, where the pool was set up, descended into organised chaos as Victoria grasped the corner of the bench-top with white-knuckled fingers, squatted, and began pushing in earnest. With each contraction she’d reach out, grab the fabric of my tracksuit wherever she could find it – whether it be legs, hips, or groin – and squeeze and twist. Myra began to help her by reaching around and holding the sides of her hips, pushing them together, before squatting back and watching from behind. I stood beside Victoria, rubbing her back, whispering encouragements. Stacey maintained a steady flow of boiling water from stove-top, kettle, and urn, to the pool.

    Victoria continued to have bright red shows as the labour progressed rapidly. The pool was only lukewarm when Victoria felt the first stretch; we upped the pace as much as we could with the hot water, but we were limited by how fast we could boil water with the stove burners on full. The pool continued to warm, and was almost at bath temperature when Myra leaned forward, at the end of a contraction.

    “Reach down, Victoria – you can feel the baby’s head!”

    Victoria reached down, and laughed and cried at the same time. As she did so, there was a little sound – like ripping open an orange peel for the first time – and the waters flowed out onto the towels beneath us.

    “Oh God,” Victoria quavered. “It’s mec-stained!”

    Myra rubbed her shoulder reassuringly. “Remember what we talked about?” she reminded Victoria gently. “That’s old mec. The baby’s fine.”

    There was no more time for talking, as the next contraction arrived, seizing Victoria in its embrace. She moaned, screamed, and yelled, digging her fingers into the kitchen bench. After it passed, I managed to duck into the bedroom long enough to change into swimmers. And by the time I got back, it was time.

    By now, the head was beginning to crown. Victoria could hardly move to get into the pool; out of desperation, though, she almost dived in. I followed her, and as she squatted on the bottom, surrounded by warm water, I felt her throw her arms around me as another contraction surged through her. She reached one hand down to her emerging baby.

    “Can I feel the head?” I asked breathlessly. She nodded wordlessly. I reached down, and with ginger fingers, felt between her thighs. The folds and creases of her vulva and vagina were so stretched they were flat, and I could feel the hard head of our baby right at the entrance. It had hair! I could feel it, damp, matted curls of hair.

    Another contraction came on, and Victoria leaned forward into me, pushing, yelling and shouting. As the contraction reached its peak, she screamed “It’s burning! It’s stinging!” Our baby’s head was crowning.

    Some time, unheeded by us all, Robyn had slipped into the house, and had seated herself by the pool as we turned around. I smiled at her; Victoria turned, looked over her shoulder, and said “Hi, Robyn”, just as another contraction hit. Victoria leaned into me, throwing her arms around me, and let out a ululating scream as the contraction hit its peak. Myra, kneeling by the pool beside her, leaned forward.

    “The head is out!”

    Victoria panted like mad, shivering and occasionally grimacing. She was still leaning forward, one hand down between her legs, feeling the hard, round head of our baby, our beautiful “Bouncy”, just one contraction away from being born.

    One more contraction. One more scream. I almost felt the pop myself as the first shoulder was born, and Victoria guided my hands down to meet our new little angel. A second pop, and the second shoulder was out, and our new baby slipped gently into the warm waters of our birthing pool – into my hands. It was 10:31 in the evening, on the 20th of October, 2004.

    I will never forget the feel of her. Her tiny, warm body, as I encircled her trunk with both hands, feeling the tiny creases around her mid-section as she flexed, all of a sudden free after hours of squeezing. The texture of her skin under the water – almost powdery, even though she was immersed, slippery – almost as if she was coated in Vaseline and powder. Feeling her little arms flailing. Victoria wanted her brought to the surface immediately – after all of the preparations for a water birth, all of the videos we watched of newborn babies drifting serenely in the birthing water, when push came to shove (and push she had!) we wanted our baby out of the water and into our arms. Victoria cuddled her little form into her own body, skin to skin, warmth to warmth.

    Our baby didn’t cry – it just gazed at us both. And we gazed back. We shed enough tears for it, in those first seconds. The baby’s arms and legs were still pretty blue, but the body was pink, and grew pinker by the minute. We laughed; we cried; we kissed each other over the body of our newborn baby as the cord finished pulsating.

    It was a minute or so before we even thought to check whether we had a boy or a girl. It was a little girl. A little pink one. A little Molly. Molly Ann Jones. Victoria cut the cord – I had no desire to, although I understand many men do, what with it being symbolic. I’ve never understood the urge. All I wanted to do was stare at the life that we had created, and that Victoria had nurtured for nine months.

    The rest of the night was a blur. Robyn and Myra, completing the paperwork. Stacey, beginning the clean-up. Wrapping up Victoria and Molly for warmth and getting out of the pool. Taking Molly for the first time while Victoria delivered the placenta. Staring into her beautiful eyes. Talking to Victoria’s mother on the phone while the midwives examined her for tears. Talking to my parents on the phone. Weighing Molly. Dressing her for the first time. Victoria, taking a shower, with the assistance of the midwives. Ringing work, talking to everyone on the night shift on speaker-phone. And finally, everybody leaving, after cups of tea and repeated assurances that we would be okay.

    I couldn’t leave the house as it was. The pool needed to be drained, which would take hours, so I siphoned it off and started it draining so it could be done by the morning. The house was a scene of carefully crafted chaos, the kind of disaster area that only someone who has birthed a baby at home can comprehend. Our beautiful polished wooden floors, which we had taken such pains to keep clean since we had moved into the house, were water-marked; there were a few small drops of blood in the bathroom and in the kitchen; four un-boiled pans still stood upon the stove. It would be almost an hour until I finished restoring the house to a pale semblance of order, and fell, exhausted, into the shower.

    Our first night as a family. Michael, Victoria, and Molly Jones.

    Molly is now five weeks old. I’m not sure what to write about her at this point; the one lesson five weeks has drummed into us is that she is subject to change without notice. I could say she is a good sleeper, which she is, most of the time. She doesn’t like the car very much, but hopefully that is one thing that will change. I’ve been lucky enough to be home for her first smile; I go back to work a week after writing this, so it is with disappointment I acknowledge that there are many other “firsts” that I will miss. I’ve changed many nappies. I’ve bathed her once, although babies and water cause me undue amounts of stress, so that has to a certain extent become Victoria’s job. I’ve been both poo’d and wee’d on, so I guess you could say that Molly has welcomed me into the family in her own special way. I’ve rocked her to sleep and felt her tiny chest rising and falling as she lies on mine.

    We’ve had our first outing – when Molly was three days old, to a Thai restaurant, for Victoria’s birthday. We’ve taken her shopping. We’ve taken her home to see our parents, a four-and-a-half hour drive that she coped with better than we could have hoped. She’s had her first doctor’s appointment. Victoria’s coped with sore nipples. We’ve both coped with lack of sleep. We are slowly growing accustomed to the idea that we may never eat together or have sex together again. After the birth, I think Victoria may be happy about the second part. We have settled into a sort of routine which will become disrupted in a major way when I return to work. Molly has met her Grandma and Granddad Hadfield, and her Nana and Poppy Jones. She’s met her Uncle Matthew, her Uncle Robert, and her Uncle Paul. She has yet to meet her Uncle Andrew. She’s been bathed in the sink. She’s had a shower with us – which she seems to quite like. And she grows more beautiful with every passing day.

    Would I do all of this again? Absolutely, although possibly not tomorrow. Would I have another home-birth? I can answer that with an unequivocal yes, and I feel extremely lucky to not have ever had to endure the hospital system. My gorgeous wife birthed an eight-pound baby, naturally, with no pain relief (incidentally, the hypnobirthing idea left the room sometime around when Myra arrived, but we hope to try it again next time), only a small graze, and has successfully breastfed despite extremely sore nipples. I suspect not one of those things would have transpired had Victoria birthed her baby in the confines of a hospital. And Molly grows bigger and more alert every day.

    I am so incredibly proud of them both.

    We are a family.


    Michael Jones
    Proud Husband of Victoria.
    Proud father of Molly.
    Proud owner of Georgia, Benny, and Bjorn, one dog and two cats (who are feeling very neglected at this point in time).

    26th November 2004

  2. #2

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    WOW!! what a fabulous birth story - well worth the 3 year wait - they should make husbands like you and bottle them everyday - what a proud dad and what a lucky family you have.

    Can't wait to read birth story no.2

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    Wow Michael, that's one of the best birth stories I've ever read! I wonder if maybe men remember better, since they are not as focused on the contractions as the women. So much detail! Thanks for posting it, and I can't wait to read Olivia's!

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    Wow what a fantastic story and so well written.

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    Well, I'm impressed!! Lovely story & beautifully expressed. Can't wait to read the next one!

  6. #6

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    What a wonderful story Micheal!Thanku for sharing it
    I had to giggle when u told how Victoria swore at u,i can totally empathise with that.I neve actually swore at my husband but i think the filthy looks & sarcasticc comments through gritted teeth were enough
    It was really great to read a birth story from the mans point of view.Congratulations on ur beautiful family.I look forward to reading about Olivia's birth.I love that name by the way ,it's on the top of my list for girls

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    It's great to get a partner's perspective. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to reading Olivia's.

  8. #8
    paradise lost Guest

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    I really enjoyed that Michael thanks! It's so funny, my birth was a homebirth too but it's crazy how different they were. Like we had NO mess, i am not joking, NONE. I never really had a bloody show, and all the birthing "mess" was caught on 4 incontinence mats which were underneath me when she emerged. And i seriously didn't even THINK mean words at anyone, on the contrary, i remember feeling in love with everyone there, even the midwife i'd never met before, even at the agonising peak of the body-says-push-but-you-must-NOT-push contractions, must have been all the pain endorphins! LOL! One thing which struck a chord was the transition words yelled from the bath "i'm NOT COPING!!!" Ahhhh I'd do it again right now.

    Bx

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    So would we, Hoobley. In fact, we did! I was actually surprised that, for someone who normally has no problem swearing and does not hold back with me, how reserved Victoria was...

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    Wow Michael that was an amazing birth story!

    I laughed and cried at the same time!
    Wonderful stuff and well done to Victoria! What a champ

  11. #11

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    Oh Michael, that was so beautiful. I have laughed and cried the whole way through it. Lucky neither of my boys woke up because I wouldn't have been able to stop reading! It is the most beautiful birth story and was so well written - I think you could make a living out of writing. I really can't wait to read Olivia's!

  12. #12

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    What a truely amazing story... well done!

  13. #13

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    Michael - that was incredible. I agree that it's wonderful to get the perspective of a partner - I wonder what mine would write. He was as equally as supportive as you were - we had similar goals as you but a very very different outcome. Not for want of trying mind you but it wasn't meant to happen.

    I think you are an amazing partner and dad and am glad that you have a wonderful family to enjoy - you truly deserve it!

  14. #14

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    What an amazing story to read. It's truly a treasure to find a story written from a father's perspective. I'm not saying that there's anything less worthy from the mother's perspective, I just found it to be a captivating read.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story.

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