The waiting is over. She's here.
One week old today and this little girl - Miss Ada Violet Wiggins - has completely burst our hearts open again with love.
I wanted to jot down some thoughts on Ada's entry into the world while they are still hot in my memory because I know all too soon little bits of these precious times melt away. Buckle up if you like a birth story!
If you've been reading along, you'll know that my birth experience with Levi left me with a lot of fear about how this time around would go. One of the steps to working through that and building up confidence in myself, the process and my body was to spend some time with our friend and hypnobirthing practitioner Hollie. I can't tell you how valuable that time was and how much of what we talked about and learned from her empowered us.
One of the hardest things about birth (and pregnancy and life in general, I suppose) is letting go of control. The not knowing when things would start or how was playing with my mind but I had come to a place of peace with it and spent Wednesday last week having a long bath, watching Birth Story (all about Ina May Gaskin & the Farm Midwives of the 70's - incredible documentary, incredible women!) and on a big fundraiser walk around the local lakes. Business as usual. I wanted to avoid induction of labour so much with Ada, to the point where I was ready to defer the induction date against hospital policy. I really felt like my body was able to do this on it's own when it was good and ready, despite the agony of waiting for that to come. I was due to go to the hospital last Friday to discuss my deferment with the consultant...
So, you can imagine my relief and surprise when in the early hours of Thursday morning I woke up with some regular cramping. So regular that I decided to download a contraction timer to see how frequent they were and then continued using the hypnobirthing breathing techniques and visualised the baby getting ready to make its way. I didn't bother waking Dave until 6am when they were about 4 minutes apart and the app was blinking at me to *GO TO THE HOSPITAL OR CALL AN AMBULANCE!!* Talk about a culture of fear...! I threw some last minute stuff in my hospital bag, woke my mum to tell her we were going to go over to get checked so she knew to get up with Levi and we headed over to Maternity admissions not sure what to expect but ready to go back home if necessary.
Once there, we waited a fair bit to be seen and so I walked around the hospital halls, stopping to breathe through each surge, Dave's hand firmly on my back through each one. When we did get seen, I could have kissed the midwife who was able to tell me that I was already 4cm dilated and would be going straight to delivery suite! My body was doing it - it was such a high (and two fingers up to the system that wanted to rush me)!
In the delivery suite, we met our lovely midwife Laura, who assured us she had read our preferences and was happy to allow us lots of space to have a calm and peaceful labour. Having our baby in the labour & delivery ward of the hospital (instead of the Midwifery Led Unit - which is the mecca for natural births but because I had a previous section wasn't able to deliver there) was never going to be completely free from monitoring and the obligatory bits of medical stuff but we felt like we knew where our boundaries were in terms of balancing the natural and the medical. I asked about the birthing pool and Laura saw to it that it was available for me.
We made our way to the pool and got settled in. Laura was busy doing her paperwork in a sectioned off part of the room and Dave and I were left alone to relax and listen to music as I laboured in the water. It was all a bit zen, I had my eyes closed most of the time just concentrating on my breath, ready to meet each surge.
It had been 4 hours since my initial examination so after 2 hours in the pool, Laura wanted to check me again. To her surprise, I was 9cm, my waters broke as she examined me and I was quickly up to 10cm. Truth be told, Laura later confessed that she thought there wasn't much going on while I was in the water because we were so relaxed and was considering the option of putting a drip up to 'speed things along'.
Once I hit 10cm the surges came fast and before long our Ada was here. In the midst of it all a doctor was brought in; there was talk of the baby being tired, of giving me a few more minutes before considering a vacuum or forceps but my willpower and grit kicked up a notch on hearing that and I was able to deliver her myself.
It was by no means pain-free (although I was so in the zone I didn't end up having any pain relief at all - bonkers - I was quite looking forward to a bit of the old gas and air, too) and my body is still recovering in many ways but it feels like such a feat. Such a high.
I know it sounds dramatic but I would say that the whole experience has been redemptive for me. All of the things that I lamented over with Levi's birth were made right in this one and I'm so grateful.
In the later stages of labour we were listening to one of our favourite albums - Iain Archer's 'To The Pine Roots' and we kept coming back to the track 'Everest', playing it over and over. It feels like one of those moment-in-time songs now that will always bring me back to this experience... I'll leave you with some of the lyrics, now a sonnet to our baby girl:
All your hope is my hope, all of your joy, my joy All your tears are my tears, all your loss, my void I will tether your fear, if you fall, I fall Though our days get lost afar There’s an anchor in my heart that keeps me hanging on Hanging on in my own sweet time.
Hold my hand and don’t go looking back. Hold my hand, don’t look back. I know the way to find an open track. Hold my hand, don’t look back.
Now, back to the fog of a nocturnal baby, a busy four year old and a super-husband holding down the fort.