The Birth Story

There was one massive reason that I was so looking forward to November 18th- it was the day I was supposed to be getting my hair cut and streaked… you know how it is when you’ve let your hair go just a bit longer than you should, and then you’re just desperate for that haircut?

Well, I was timing the hair appointment for two days before my due date since my hairdresser had pointed out that I’d want good hair for all the post-birth pics.  Good point.  I agreed, and booked the appointment especially for that day, fully knowing that I was cutting it really close to the birth.

Well, that haircut never happened because something a little more important came up… or should I say a little someone?

HugoI had been praying that when I went into labour it would start in the morning, not at night, so that I’d be well rested for the adventure.  Looks like my prayers were answered, because on Sunday morning, November 17th, I woke up at 6am with some strange, uncomfortable feelings… kinda like I was getting my period, but quite infrequently.

Not knowing if these were actually contractions or not, I went about my day… Andrew made a special request for pancakes for breakfast, which we hadn’t had in ages, so I got busy concocting those while he kept working on applying for jobs for next year.  (He had just found out that his contract from this year wouldn’t be continuing, so he was working hard on finding a new job).

After the pancakes, the pains were coming a little closer together, but I still didn’t know if they were contractions or not… how are you supposed to know your first time around what they feel like?  I quickly Googled “best contraction timer app” and downloaded one on my phone, just in case they were contractions.  I started timing the pains, but they were about 10-12 minutes apart, so I kept puttering around the house, doing my nesting stuff, and trying not to disturb Andrew’s job search.

I remember pestering him to walk with me to Mooloolaba (a town 20 minutes walk away) to exchange these two t-shirts I’d bought him the day before.  They ended up not fitting him quite right, and were bugging me lying on the kitchen table.  I knew that if we didn’t take care of it soon, I’d have the baby, and the shirts would sit there forever, past the date you could exchange them.  Clutter drives me absolutely crazy, so I was super keen to get rid of them, but Andrew was busy with job applications (how dare he ;))

The pains were coming closer together, like 5 minutes apart at around 3pm, but I still wasn’t sure if they were truly contractions.  My biggest fear was going to the hospital only to be told they weren’t contractions, and to have the midwives think I was a big fat liar, so I decided to call some people who’d had babies before to ask them what contractions felt like.

First up on the call list was my Mom, who was driving up the coast from Sydney with my Dad to come visit us.  Unfortunately, her phone was off, so I left her a vague message, asking her to call me back asap.  Next was my friend Adri, but she’d just moved to the sticks where there’s barely any phone coverage, so I had to leave a cryptic message on her phone too.

By this time, I figured that if these pains were not contractions, then there must be something else majorly wrong since they were getting pretty painful.  I was trying all the tricks I’d read in the Active Birthing Book, which mainly included doing a lot of moving.  I must have looked pretty silly marching around the apartment, doing squats and horsey kicks off the kitchen table.  Good thing Andrew was in the other room, otherwise he’d have had quite a good laugh at me.

Nambour General HospitalFinally, I called the hospital, where the midwife told me to wait until the contractions were consistently 3-4 minutes apart, and then call again.  This happened quite quickly, and by 4:30pm I was calling her again, telling her I needed to come into the hospital NOW.  She said she’d get my room ready and see me soon.

The next half hour was a flurry of activity.  Andrew emailed in his last job application and called church to cancel him playing on worship team that night, I threw the last few things into my hospital suitcase, and Andrew packed his backpack.  I remember being in a lot of pain, Andrew throwing the baby carseat into the car, and then him grabbing me in a big hug in the kitchen and praying for us before getting into the car.

I grabbed my purse, and we headed down the three flights of stairs from our apartment into the car.  By 5:30pm we’d arrived at the hospital, and things were well underway.  The midwife, Alanna, checked me out and told me I was 5cm dilated.  The contractions were coming closer together, which is when I asked Andrew to grab my lime essential oil out of my hospital suitcase, which I thought was beside the bed, so I could use it to calm down and massage my legs.

Andrew was like, “Oh, did you leave your suitcase in the trunk?”  I was like, “You put the suitcase in the trunk?”  He was like, “No, did you?”

At this point, we figured out that we’d forgotten my suitcase at home… I thought I’d asked him to grab it, and he assumed I’d taken it myself, when really it was only my purse that I’d grabbed.  I started freaking out a little, upset that my lime oil was MIA, and sad that we’d have a naked baby since all his cute little outfits, blankets, and diapers were in that suitcase.  Also missing was the carefully typed up and highlighted birth-plan, which I’d worked on for weeks, and which outlined all of Andrew’s and my instructions for the various stages of labour… slightly important.

Andrew offered to drive home to get the suitcase for me, but the round trip would take nearly an hour, at which point the midwife commanded him to just stay put.  She said we wouldn’t need a thing for the next several hours and that the baby could borrow some clothes from the hospital.  So Andrew stayed, and I got over the lime oil thing and hopped in the shower for some water therapy.

What happened from then on in is a bit of a blur.  I remember vomiting, being in and out of the shower, bouncing around on an exercise ball, leaning on Andrew during contractions, and squatting ungracefully on a sparkly purple birthing stool.  A few hours later I was 8cm dilated, but my water still hadn’t broken, so Alanna pulled out these tools that looked like long chopsticks and broke my water for me.  This intensified the contractions, but there was still no baby in sight.  I was in a world of pain, and still had quite a ways to go.

Alanna’s shift was over at 11pm, so she took off and was replaced by not one, but three other midwives, since I was the only one giving birth there that night, and I guess they all wanted in on the action.  Helen was British, Sylvia was German, Stacey was Australian, and we had a Nepalese doctor pop in on us every once in a while.  Talk about an international experience  🙂

Throughout the whole thing I never once had the urge to push, so the midwives had to tell me when exactly I was meant to do that, which was a totally weird sensation.  They put me in a kind of kneeling position on the transformer bed with handles to hold onto up top, and a mirror between my knees down below so I could watch the baby’s head slowly make its appearance with each push, which was a really cool experience.

post-birthMidnight came and went, and finally at 2:22am on November 18th, our little Hugo Martin was born.  Right away the midwives passed him up between my legs to my chest so I could cuddle him to my chest while kneeling there… it was such a surreal moment, mainly because I was so tired and my lady parts had just been stretched to epicly painful proportions.

We hung out like that for a while before they flipped me over onto my back and I cut the umbilical cord.  Andrew wasn’t too keen on doing it, so I figured it would be a memorable life experience for me to do.  In the end, it wasn’t a huge deal- just felt like I was cutting the gristle off a chicken breast in the kitchen.  Speaking of no huge deals, I was completely non-emotional when Hugo came out.  I always figured I’d be bawling my eyes out at the birth of my firstborn child, but that just wasn’t the case for some reason.

After that, they took Hugo over to the little baby station in the room where they weighed him and did whatever other medical stuff they do.  Stacey the midwife asked me to guess how much he weighed… I said 7lbs, and she told me he was actually 7lbs 14oz- so nearly 8lbs.

Next it was placenta time.  They asked me if I’d like the injection to make it come out right away, but since I’d been drug-free up until then, I said I’d rather wait for it to come naturally, which it’s meant to do in about half an hour.  At one hour and 20 minutes, it was still inside me with no signs of exiting, so they gave me the shot and out it came.

Since the placenta had taken so long, they hadn’t had a good look at what damages I’d incurred during the birth, but when they examined me, it turned out I had a hematoma (burst blood vessel) on one side of my perineum that had swollen to the size of an orange, plus a second-degree tear on the other side… I was in rough shape, and was immediately wheeled down to the operating room for surgery.

Compared to giving birth, going for surgery felt like a day at the spa.  It all went well, and I was back up in the maternity ward a couple hours later, feeling much better, but drugged to the hilt.

From there they handed me my sweet baby boy, and life with little Hugo began.

We ended up staying in the hospital for four days, which is a bit longer than the average two days that the other chicks in my room seemed to be being processed through the place, but let’s just say that breastfeeding wasn’t quite as easy as it looked, and I was still healing up from surgery and on a lot of painkillers, so it worked out for the best for us stay in a bit longer.


The Name

We had plenty of girls names up our sleeves, but when we found out it was a boy at our 20-week scan, we were at a total loss for names.  Eventually we gathered a few, but nothing that particularly wowed us.

Then one day I posted my rollerblades for sale online, mainly to clear up precious closet space for the baby, and also because I didn’t think I’d be rollerblading too much throughout my pregnancy and early mom days.  The lady who came to buy them brought her two little girls along, and when I told her we were expecting a boy, she shared her top names for if she’d had boys.  Hugo was one of them, which we hadn’t even thought of before, but grew on us from that day onwards.

When we looked up the meaning, we liked the name even more.  Hugo means “brightness of mind, spirit, and heart,” which we pray will be true for him as he grows up.

His middle name, Martin, is in honour and memory of my little brother who died of cancer when we were young.


ps– A HUGE shout out to my parents who came all the way from Canada to help out after Hugo was born- I seriously could NOT have done it without them.  Meals, laundry, dishes, shopping- nothing was too much for them, and they did it all with great generosity and joy.  Plus they took us to the zoo, the markets, the beach, and heaps of other fun stuff.

heading home

Heading home from the hospital

Also, I have to mention that Andrew has been such a star throughout this whole thing… if I were writing him a report card on the last couple months, I’d give him an “exceeds expectations” in all areas- even the diaper changing  🙂

pps– A massive public thank you to the wonderful midwives at Nambour General Hospital who helped me through the birth: Alanna, Helen, Stacey, and Sylvia, and also the midwives who cared for me afterwards: Haley, Helen, Claudia, Suzie, and Tracey.  I could never in a million years have done it without them, and if/when I have another baby, I would want those exact ladies to be there again- that’s how good they were.

ppps– I got my haircut the next week- all good again.

pppps– please expect NOT to read any more posts on this site for a little while now- just found out we are moving (since Andrew got a new job), plus this post has taken me about 5 weeks to write, typing one-handed while nursing little Hugo.  Insane.


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