If you told me I would have a three hour labour from start to finish, and be out of the hospital within five hours after having our baby boy. I don't think I would have believed you.
But that's exactly what happened.
No pregnancy is the same, and certainly no birth is the same. And this one, although similar, was not like the birth of my first.
It was such a quick, smooth birth. So quick, given I'd been mentally prepared for it since 37 weeks!
You see, I packed my hospital bag at 35 weeks, because you just never know. And I work with a lot of pregnant women and new mothers and have heard every story under the sun.
Hitting 37 weeks was a relief, purely because then I knew bub was full term and any day was good from then on. Max came at 39+6 weeks, so I don’t really know why I thought our second would come earlier!
So, when we hit 40 weeks, you know that highly anticipated 'due date'; that despite the research showing the likelihood of you having your baby on that date is actually minimal; we all still kind of expect it to be on or close to that date.
Yep, well that day came and went.
So here I was, ready from 37 weeks. I'm talking about sitting on a towel every time I went in the car in case my waters broke, and thinking at night “right if I go into labour tonight we'll call this person to look after our toddler”.
Because when you have a toddler that needs taking care of when you go into hospital to have their baby sibling, back up plans need to be in place.
So at 40+3 weeks pregnant on 26th of November, I woke up still pregnant and slightly disappointed.
You see, it was my husbands birthday that day. From the very first dating scan he joked that the baby would be born on his birthday. I, on the other hand, wasn’t keen to go over the due date, so laughed it off.
But here we were, on his birthday and no signs of labour.
Well to be fair, there was a tiny bit of the mucous plug on my night pad when I woke that morning, but I wasn't 100% sure as it could have just been discharge (sorry for the details!).
So, I had a slight idea something may have happened that day, but didn't want to get my hopes up.
And then, of course as we were eating pancakes for breakfast that morning (I made especially for my husband's birthday), I cried.
Because I had zero plans for his special day. And apart from some jocks and socks, I’d not really gotten him much at all either. I was so focused on the idea that we would be in newborn phase plus he insisted to not get him anything. He wanted zero stress for me and for me to purely focus on the pregnancy and the baby.
And I asked them to mind Max whilst I napped and thank the lord I did! My husband's parents came over for lunch which was lovely, and then as they were leaving I felt some weird feelings in my lower abdomen.
It was Max's nap time, so I put him down and then did my PregActive Birth Ball Exercise Routine, which felt so good. I then tried for a nap and figured I best time these sensations in case they are in fact real contractions.
They were 10 minutes apart, and quickly become more like the contractions I remembered.
Max woke from his nap, I went and got him, put him on the couch with his water bottle and then I had a contraction. In that very moment I decided I could not focus on him and me at the same time and told my husband who was working from home that day to finish up work.
It was Friday afternoon around 3pm, so he set his out of office and took Max.
The ironic thing was both sets of grandparents were ‘on call’ in the weeks leading up, and we’d just seen all of them that day. So, when we called to ask my husband’s parents to pick up Max – we couldn’t get a hold of them.
We eventually did and they came and picked up Max, which was a huge relief. That, to be honest was my biggest worry leading into the birth; what we do with him! So now he was in safe hands we were set and focused.
I had my hydrolyte icy-poles on hand. Backpack at the door ready to go. And as I was in early labour, the focus was to rest, eat, sway and watch a chick flick to get that beautiful oxytocin hormone flooding through my system.
So with a bowl of pasta in hand I'm searching for the one movie that gets my crying Every. Single. Time.
Ladies, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Tissues a-ready for....
And much to my disappointment it wasn't available on our subscription. What?
No time for technical problems. I needed oxytocin feel good and stressing my number one chick flick was not available couldn’t get in the way.
So, I put on some other rubbish movie, but by this time my contractions had moved up the intensity levels and now at about 4-5 minutes apart. It was about 5pm and I contacted my midwife.
TENs machine was on and I thought I’d try again for a lie down. My body had other plans.
At 5.30pm while lying in bed trying to 'nap', out came the mucous plug and my waters broke. Boom, just like that.
I called my midwife and she said it would be a good idea to come into the hospital.
Given I had the third-degree tear in my last birth, it was part of my birth plan to go in early and spend more time with the midwife to help reduce a bad tear again this time.
So off we went, in the car by just after 6pm and on the way to birth this baby!
The contractions slowed down in intensity and were spaced further apart again (more like every 5 mins). My midwife said this could happen, and I'm glad she was right! There was more traffic on the road than my liking, but we made it to the hospital in 40 minutes.
My husband dropped me to the entrance and went to park the car. I walked in, straight up the lifts and had a contraction right as I met my midwife.
I just stopped talking to her, dropped my head, leaned into the wall and swayed my hips as a low groan came out of me.
After that I walked as normal with her into the birthing suite. My husband wasn’t too far behind me.
And there we were, the three of us in this room. It felt so different.
With Max's birth I was in a much deeper state, less alert and the room was darker as it was later in the night.
This time, as soon as the contraction came on, I dropped right into my zone, but between contractions, I felt like I was just having normal conversation.
I was hot. It was a warm day anyway, but I just felt this warmth come over me. I took of my shorts and stayed leaning on the edge of the bed, pressing my hands into my forehead, closing my eyes and swaying when the contraction come over me.
I thought sitting would be a better idea, but it wasn't.
I felt like the baby's head was coming downward and sitting just didn’t feel good. So, it wasn't long before I hopped up on the bed to be in the all-four-kneeling position with my elbows elevated on the inclined bed.
The bath had been run for me, and we planned to use it to relax and help with pain relief, but my midwife said 'sorry Kerryn, I don't think we'll have time for you to get in the bath. We can if you want to, but you are progressing really well'.
I had no attachment to the idea of being in the bath. I knew I wasn’t going to birth our baby in the bath as I needed the warm compress on my perineum to help reduce tearing. So, we let go of the idea of the bath and focused on the bed.
By this stage I was feeling really hot. I took off my top too. TENs machine still on, my husband by my side and my requests becoming more like one word demands: water, face washer; spray.
I had this lovely lavender spray that was blissful on my face. I sipped from my water bottle and every so often a nice cold face washer felt incredible.
The entire time I had by PregActive Birth Prep Spotify Playlist playing my calm relaxing music. The lights were dimmed. We'd created the space to be just what I needed.
As I moved through first stage of labour and into transition it's a bit blurry to me now as to what actually happened. There was never a feeling of defeat. There was never doubt. I knew what I had to do, and I knew that sooner rather than later this baby was coming. If I head back, if I was scared, if I tightened up in resistance, it would have delayed the inevitable.
Just like thousands of mothers before me, I surrendered and allowed my body to birth my baby. I didn’t let me mind get in the way.
My tools were my TENS machine and my breath work. Just as I had with Max's birth, I sounded out the low tone saying 'Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa' 'Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee' 'Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii' 'Ooooooooooooo' 'Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu'.
And I had my husband do these vocal toning sounds with me. I focused on his voice, his sound, his vibration. That's where my focus went, to allow my body to do its thing.
And it worked.
Probably about five minutes before our baby arrived, things got intense. I felt a shift and I said to my midwife, 'I feel the head coming through, can you see the head?
Bless her cotton socks, she paused and said 'I'm sure it's coming!
No she couldn't see the head, and didn't know how long until it was coming.
But soon enough it did.
This was the important part. We needed to focus on slowing down the pushing to give my body time to stretch and open without tearing badly.
So, I hardly pushed. To the point where my midwife said 'right Kerryn, we';ll need to push a little bit more than that."
I found the right balance of how much to push without over doing it. I wasn't scared of the crowning. The intensity. I knew it would be over soon enough, and I knew that pushing my way through it to try to get it over and done with was not the long-term solution I needed.
My pelvic floor would thank me in the long run, and that was worth it.
Slow and steady, I pushed with the contraction and held, breathing when there was no contraction.
This part in Max's birth I was so excited about, because I thought all the hard work was over. But for him, getting his shoulders out (they were big!) was the hardest part.
So, at this point, I knew it wasn't over. I knew I couldn't lose focus.
And then, the incredible words of my midwife as she said 'one more contraction and you'll be meeting your baby”.
Those words. They meant so much. They were that last bit of motivation for me. That last bit of 'I can do this'.
And so, with the contraction, I pushed like I had been doing and out came our baby.
My midwife passed him though my legs and as I held up our baby I said 'he looks like Max'. In that moment I realised I didn't know the sex and sure enough it was confirmed, it WAS a boy. We had another perfect little boy.
So incredible. Such joy. And sharing that right there with my husband. That incredible moment of meeting out baby boy, I can't explain it.
Straight away, he was on my chest. So perfect and small. So gorgeous. Our little boy was here. Max has a brother. And now Max is a big brother.
So different to Max's birth with so many people in the room and what felt like minutes after I birthed I had doctors coming at me trying to get me to theatre to stitch up my third degree tear.
This time it was all about bonding with my baby boy. Right there on my chest. Gosh, I can still remember that exact feeling.
It was perfect.
A doctor did appear soon enough and she confirmed a small 2nd degree tear.
I was actually more nervous about her stitching them up than I was the birth! I’d gone the entire birth with no drugs or interference, but for some reason I was nervous about the stitches!
I was also trembling from the adrenalin rush. So when my midwife offered the gas, I took her up on it! I’d never had it before as I didn't have anything apart from the TENs machine with Max's birth either.
After I was stitched up, I just lay there. Eating and drinking and staring at our beautiful boy. He breast fed easily, and so no need for the syringes of colostrum I had prepared. They came in handy for nights two and three.
After my shower I asked my midwife what the procedures were. She told me and I asked then if we could go home once they were done.
Because of the strict hospital rules, between 8pm and 8am my husband wasn't allowed in the postnatal ward. Not having him stay made me not want to stay either.
Plus, we had no toddler at home and Zac had all his measurements and OBs done. We would then have extra midwife appointments to our home - to be honest, it just felt like the right decision for me, and I'm glad we did.
By 1am we were all packed up and ready to go!
I swear, I could write a novel on the entire fourth trimester that followed too. And who knows maybe one day I will. If it helps another Mama feel confident in her ability to birth and nurture her baby, then I certainly will.
And I just love him. More and more each day. His perfect little sounds and facial expressions. His perfect little fingers and toes. The way he cuddles up to me. And now, as he starts to smile and 'talk' to me. It truly all is such a miracle and I feel very blessed to have two gorgeous boys.