As if you were
the moon lives
in the lining
of your skin.
Wednesday 31 January
It was 10 days past the day the medical professionals had decided was your due date and the pressure to induce labour was steadily increasing. Our original induction date had been set for seven days past your due date but your dad and I strongly felt that you weren’t ready to be born then so we had begun the process of negotiating another date. This negotiation was somewhat complicated by the fact the hospital’s induction schedule was completely full for the week, with the next available slot putting us at 42 weeks and 1 day. Neither we nor Pete – our obstetrician – were comfortable waiting that long but your dad and I were equally uncomfortable inducing after only seven days. We agreed to hold off, with the hope an induction slot would open up later in the week.
Throughout the week we had monitoring to check you had enough amniotic fluid and that you weren’t in any distress. At the end of each session we were told what we already knew: you were perfectly healthy and happy in there. These appointments reconfirmed that we were making the right choice to hold of inducing labour.
Although it was stressful negotiating the hospital’s policy of inducing after seven days, I had a feeling all along that you wouldn’t need to be induced and that you were waiting for the super blue blood moon to make your arrival. You needed the powerful energy of the moon to call your soul down to Earth.
All day I had been experiencing light cramping on and off, and I felt called to rest. I decided to get a pedicure done, figuring it would be the last time for a while I would have time for such luxuries. After whipping up a batch of muffins and smudging our home with palo santo to make way for your arrival, I laid down for what turned into a two-hour nap.
At 5:45pm, Pete called to let us know an induction spot had opened up the following afternoon, so we locked that in and decided to go out for one last date as a twosome. I had just changed into a dress and was sitting on the toilet when my waters broke suddenly and rather dramatically. Given that only 15% of labours start with the Hollywood-style breakage of waters, it took me a while to work out what was happening. I had assumed my waters would break some time after labour commenced, or that they would have to be broken for me, so I hadn’t considered that it could happen at home, heralding the start of labour. When the penny finally dropped I called out to your dad, “My waters have broken! This is not a drill!” My heart was racing with excitement as I knew it wouldn’t be much longer until we met you.
We called the hospital and they advised us to come in so I jumped in the shower while your dad packed the car and made us both a salad roll to eat on the drive in. So much for our dinner date!
I strapped on the TENS machine and hopped in the car. Almost immediately, the surges picked up in intensity and frequency, and were soon coming every two to three minutes, lasting 30 to 40 seconds. I focused on my breath and soon got into a rhythm of feeling a surge start, and pressing start on the TENS machine and a timer on my phone.
We arrived at the hospital at about 8pm and got set up in the birthing suite. Your dad put on the playlist I had made earlier in the week, set up the crystals that were charged with loving energy from my mother blessing and energetically cleared the room using the Australian Bush Flower Essences Space Clearing Mist because, #hippyforlyf.
Pete soon arrived and after checking my cervix he told us I was 2cm dilated and that he would come back in the morning to check my progress. After he left, we called Bree – our doula – and asked her to come to the hospital.
I laboured through the night, under the light of the moon. Chris and Bree made the most amazing support team, helping me through each surge. While intense, it was a magical night with just the three of us in a darkened room for most of the time. I felt like I was in between worlds, coaxing your soul down to Earth.
Thursday 1st February
At 7am, Pete came back to another check and found that despite 12 hours of labour my cervix hadn’t dilated any further. You were also still only partially engaged. Pete suggested that I start a drip of syntocinon (synthetic oxytocin) in the hope that stronger surges would push you further into my pelvis and stimulate dilation. After a lengthy discussion, I decided to wait another few hours to see if I could get things moving by changing to a more upright position during contractions and doing some exercises designed to get your head into an optimal position to engage.
After completing the exercises, my contractions became much stronger, lasting 50 to 60 seconds, but they were coming less frequently now at six minutes apart.
We were 16 hours into the journey when Pete came to check my cervix again. 3cm. I decided to start the syntocinon drip, because I was starting to get weary and the thought of potentially another 24 hours of labour was overwhelming.
As soon as the drip was hooked up, my surges got much stronger and more consistent but after 30 minutes they became irregular again so the dosage was turned up. Again, the surges got stronger and more consistent but then destabilised again. You were starting to get annoyed with syntocinon and your heart rate was going up and down so the drip was switched off (which I didn’t realise until later). My surges remained really intense but another cervix check showed dilation still wasn’t happening.
At this point I finally paid attention to what my intuition had been telling me for weeks – that you weren’t in the best position and that you weren’t going to be birthed without some more help. Once I allowed myself to accept that, I quickly became frustrated with each surge and struggled to maintain my focus throughout them because I knew they were unproductive.
At this point I asked for an epidural. During my pregnancy I had done extensive research on every intervention (which I’m sure doesn’t surprise anyone reading this who knows me) so I was already clear on the pros and cons of an epidural, and had decided that I would only use if I needed to rest rather than for pain relief. I also knew it could be used to anesthetise me should I need a caesarean.
The anaesthesiologist arrived and explained the procedure. At the Royal Women’s hospital, they use a new(ish) technique called a Walking Epidural. It blocks out the pain from the surges but doesn’t numb your legs at all. He quickly administered it and I felt relief almost immediately.
Once the anaesthesiologist left we discussed our options with Pete, the first of which being to hook up the syntocinon drip again and continuing to labour with the hope that things would start progressing faster. The risk was that your heart rate would again start to accelerate and decelerate, and then we would have to remove the drip and be back to square one. I also knew that you still hadn’t engaged, so even if the drip helped me to fully dilate the risk of a high forceps delivery was playing on my mind. I voiced my concerns to Pete and he agreed that a high forceps delivery was risky for both you and me, and could very well end up in an emergency caesarean.
My intuition was telling me loudly and clearly now that you needed the help of a caesarean to be born so I let Pete know that’s what I wanted to do. This felt like the best option for us both. Pete explained how the procedure would work and said that it was hospital policy to separate mum and baby while mum was in recovery – a policy he doesn’t agree with. I knew the importance of those first couple of hours post birth for establishing breast feeding, so I pleaded with him to ask if they could make an exception. He wasn’t confident they would but he returned after a few minutes with a huge smile to tell us that for the first time ever, they had agreed.
I also knew it was against hospital policy for more than one extra person to be present in theatre but I really wanted Bree to be present for your birth, given she had played such an important role in getting us to this point, and Pete agreed that Bree could attend.
Things moved really quickly from there. As I was prepped for theatre, your dad and Bree packed up the birth suite and changed into scrubs.
I was wheeled into theatre where the anaesthesiologist turned up the epidural. For some reason I needed heaps of anaesthetic in order for the area to be numbed, so this process took a while but finally we were ready to go. We were just waiting for Chris and Bree to arrive.
There was a team of about 12 people in theatre and they were amazing; it was clear they had worked with each other for years and had great respect for each other. The room was full of lively energy as they joked with one another. I felt completely at peace with everything and was excited to finally be meeting you.
When Pete made the incision, he saw your little face, eyes wide open, looking up at him. The medical term for the position you were in is left occiput transverse, asynclitic deflexed. In other words, you were lying on your side, with your head tilted towards your shoulder. Your positioning was what had stopped you from being able to drop down into my pelvis.
After a bit of pushing and pulling, at 5:41pm, after 22 hours of labour, you were gently lifted out of me and held up so that we could see you.
My little spark of infinite light, my darling moon baby, seeing you for the first time was unlike anything I have ever experienced. My heart swelled with a love so intense it took my breath away.
In a single instant, in the afterglow of the full moon, you changed our world forever and we could not be more grateful that you chose us to be your mum and dad.