We arrived at the hospital at 8.00 am. I had no idea what to expect, I was unprepared for labour but didnt care. We had no bags, I thought I'd be going home that night. I dont know why I thought that.
The midwives welcomed us with warmth and empathy. We were shown to the same room that we had been in the night before. It was far away from the other birthing suites, but not far enough away to not be able to hear the first cries of live newborns being birthed. Each time I heard one, I stiffened. It was a beautiful sound. But like a knife in my gut.
I am not sure I had fully yet come to terms with what was about to happen. I felt removed from the whole situation, like it was happening to someone else, and I was watching.
The doctor came in and explained the process. She would check my cervix to gauge dilation. She assured me I would not yet be dilated. I disagreed. I knew I was. She laughed softly, as if she didnt believe me. She continued to explain that they would give me something to open the cervix, then they would break the waters. After the waters were broken, they would administer cytocin (is that how you spell it?) to induce the labour. The entire process would take at least a day. 12 hours alone, just to get the cervix open. I shrugged with ambivalence. It'd be open, already. Sure enough, the doctor checked and with a surprised look and expression announced that the cervix was open and they'd go straight to breaking the waters. That experience was horrible. I did not like it at all. Even though I knew it was totally necessary, I felt completely "invaded," but not through any fault of the doctor. I just cant explain it. It was as if the whole process had begun, and it was real and there was no turning back. The next time I would leave the hospital I would no longer be pregnant, nor would I have a baby with me. So rupturing the waters symbolised that heartbreak.
The doctor on duty was one of the most caring, sympathetic, nurturing women I have ever met. I cannot commend her enough. She saw me through from beginning to end with respect and sincerity at every turn.
From that point, I started contracting straight away. It was about 9.00 am at this stage. Again, I was told to expect that he labour, being my first actual labour, would be hours and hours. However, again, I disagreed. "She'll be born before the sun goes down" I said to Kelvin. "We'll see this day out together."
As we waited for the cytocin drip to be administered, I forgot why we were there. Kelvin and I joked and laughed. We joked with the midwife on duty, Deb, about The Wiggles and how I couldnt stand them. I told my brother, who was there for support for the early part, about how I commented on his Facebook status update a week ago, and I was half asleep when I did it, which is why it didnt make sense. We had a good laugh about that.
I began to get rather nervous at that stage. I hadnt been induced yet, but the contractions were getting stronger anyway! I asked for some pain relief and was given a miniscule amount of morphine. It did not dull the pain, however. It mainly made me sleepy and less nervous. By the time they started the drip, it had worn off.
Labour began with a vengeance once the cytocin was in. Full on, no breaks, 50 seconds between contractions within two hours. I was told to move around, stand up, let gravity work for me. But moving made the pain worse, and all I wanted to do was curl up and hibernate on the bed. So that's what I did, and it worked for me.
Deb was the midwife who had began her shift with me as her patient. Deb was kind, patient and nurturing. She looked like Toni Collette and as I moaned in pain and she wiped my brow, I was murmuring "thank you Toni." She was softly spoken and listened to me with her full attention. She asked me to try the gas, and respected me when I said it made me feel out of control. My other midwife, Vanessa, was the polar opposite. Down to earth, pragmatic, straight to the point. At first we were intimidated by her "tough" veneer, but as time went on and labour progressed, she showed herself to be encouraging, supportive and completely knowledgable in what she was doing. I appreciated how straight to the point she was, because even though it sounds "unfeeling," the truth is, she was the most sincere, respectful midwife ever. She looked straight in my eyes and told me how well I was doing. She listened to me when I said I needed to push and coached me brilliantly. I had Deb stroking me, holding my hand and speaking softly, and I had Vanessa as the strong, take charge leader, whose honesty and sincerity was incredible.
After Fluffy Midwife from the night before, I realised that I had been given the perfect balance of soft and strong from these incredible women. And I think Sybella picked them for me. She chose the two most experienced midwives, the two that I could relate to the most, and the two whose combined expertise and personality were exactly right for me. I hope I have made it clear how in love I am with these midwives!
Deb was due to finish at 3.00 pm. At 2.50 pm, I went into transition. The labour amped up, and I basically was having one long contraction for the next hour. Because I went into transition at that time, Deb, although it was a Saturday and she had two little boys at home, stayed until Sybella was born an hour later.
Kelvin, too, was a Godsend. He was supportive, encouraging and just brilliant. It must have taken indescribable strength to watch his wife in such physical and emotional pain and be my rock, when he was obviously experiencing his own private pain. But he was just there, for me, putting himself aside for the duration. I was so proud of him. At one point, Vanessa exclaimed "the head is right there!" Sybella was ready to be born. I was coached through the pushing and Sybella, all 5 pounds and 12 ounces of her, slipped out silently at 4.01 pm. Kelvin looked at her, then smiled and looked at me, a silent acknowledgement that she looked okay. I had relayed to him earlier that I was scared of what Sybella would look like, having been dead for three days. But my little girl looked perfect. She was handed to me and I looked at her in amazement. She looked like Kelvin. She was beautiful. At 5 pounds, she was big for her gestation of 34 weeks, but not beefy, just long. She had long, spindly arms and legs, tiny little blonde eyelashes and dark curly hair. Her hands and feet were gorgeous. Long nail beds and delicate fingers and toes. Tiny little creases on her palms. Her lips were ruby red and so were her nails. I think it is because when a baby dies in utero, blood pools in those areas.
I watched her and marvelled. My daughter. I felt such peace. It was her peace, emanating from her soul, which was still in the room.
I knew she would be born today, as I looked out the window and watched the sun go down.
The weather outside had been sunny all day. Now it had started to rain, as I held Sybella and stroked her face.
The Earth was crying for her.