Well, I'm super proud to announce that after 40 weeks and 4 days Fudge finally made her grand entrance on Sunday the 25th of October at 8:11am! She weighed in at a very respectable 3.55kg.
Now that Fudge is earth side we can also reveal her name, Noah. It’s a name Jack and I decided on before we even became pregnant. Partly because it was the only name we could agree on but also partly because the Old Testament story from which we got the name is fitting for a young girl in this modern world. For those that are interested, the passage in the Bible is found in Numbers Chapter 27. For those that don't want to read it, the short summary: Noah is essentially one of the OG badass feminists.
On the note of female empowerment and strength...I promised you a birth story so here it is...
I’ll be honest from the get go, I haven’t written the below to pretend like childbirth was a blissful and magical experience. It hurt, a lot. If you don’t want to read my experience, I won’t take it personally.
To the women who are able to do this painlessly, I salute and bow down to you.
As some of you may have read, when I went in for my 39 week scan the doctor realised my amniotic fluid levels had dropped not to the point of concern but to the point where I would not be able to carry Noah beyond 41 weeks. We scheduled a membrane sweep for my due date in the hopes that the sweep would naturally bring about labour. If the sweep didn’t work I’d have to go in to be induced at 40 weeks and 3 days.
Although Noah seemed somewhat disturbed by the sweep (she was very very active the rest of the day) she didn’t feel any desire to leave her warm and comfy environment. This meant we had to check into Gleneagles Hospital at 7am on Saturday the 24th. The next 25 hours were a whirlwind of emotions. They were the most physically and mentally demanding hours I’ve ever endured...I think a timeline might be easier to follow here (it's certainly easier to write):
- 7am: Arrive at the hospital and check in.
- 7:15 - 7:45am: Fetal heart rate and movement monitoring.
- 8:45am: Dr. Chor arrives to induce labour.
- 9am - 2pm: Chill out time, we basically just hang around to see if anything happens. Jack and I have a coffee date at Pacific Coffee, we rewatched an episode of The Crown, we watched some Japanese Football on TV (one of the only channels available), and just hung around.
- 2:30pm: Super mild contractions start.
- 3:45pm: The contractions are still manageable but my lower back starts to seize and we are moved to the delivery room.
- 3:54pm: My waters are artificially broken and I’m warned labour will intensify from here.
- 3:54pm - 8:13pm: The pain is real. I basically went from no contractions to a having 60-90s contractions every 30-40s. To make things worse, Noah was facing the wrong way (upwards towards my belly instead of down towards my spine) which I was told is a very painful way to labour. I had constant pressure on my spine and my lower back was constantly seizing. I experienced full body convulsions with every contraction and between contractions my lower back seized up which prevented me from being able to move at all. The pain caused nausea and the constant reminder to drink water was not helpful!
The birth ball helped somewhat and the birth breathing class definitely helped me get through the contractions but I’m not going to lie, I spent this entire period trying to find a way out. I tried to reimagine the pain, I tried to think of the end goal, but nothing worked. I was mentally and physically pushed to a limit I could never have imagined. I couldn't think straight and, at times, it was difficult to breathe. I felt like Noah was trying to enter the world from in between my vertebrae.
At around 7pm I made the decision to try the Enotox/Gas and Air/Laughing Gas approach to pain management. I reacted horribly. I became super delirious, very disoriented, very lightheaded (I may have inhaled too deeply...), and it did absolutely nothing for the pain. 10min later I called for the epidural. By this stage I was only 5cm dilated and knew I wasn’t going to make it to 10cm without passing out.
The anaesthetist arrived 20min later, I then went through the even more painful experience of being pinned down by 3 midwives who were trying to expose my spine whilst I was contracting and convulsing in pain so that the doctor could administer the epidural.
- 8:13pm: Epidurals are AMAZING! Life is wonderful. Why didn't I do this earlier...The pain went from 100% to 20% within minutes. I was a completely different person. I was talking, I was laughing, I could move, I was joking around, and I was even hungry enough to eat a few bites of food (Dr. Chor suggested I eat a bit). The nurses hardly recognised me. Jack definitely breathed a huge sigh of relief too.
- 8:13pm - 1am: I slept.
- 1am: I hit 10cm dilation and we assume it’s go time. Then, all contractions stop dead. Out of nowhere. Noah doesn't descend and my body seems to basically say "ok, time to rest".
- 2am: A top off of the epidural is administered and I’m told to nap because at this stage we won’t start pushing until the morning and I'm clearly already physically wiped.
- 4am: The doctor prescribes oxytocin to induce contractions. The epidural is still working though so I remain asleep.
- 6am: The midwives come in to wake me up and announce I’m going to start pushing at 6:30.
- 6:20am: The midwives give me a quick lesson in "this is how you push".
- 6:30am: The fun begins. The oxytocin isn’t strong enough to overcome the tail end of the epidural top up so I still can’t feel any contractions which makes pushing somewhat difficult. I also have no idea how to push. I basically rely solely on Jack who is watching the monitor to tell me when I’m supposedly contracting. We spend one hour playing this weird game where he tells me I’m supposedly contracting and I then attempt to birth a human.
- 7:30am: Dr. Chor arrives to deliver Noah.
- 8:11am: With a bit of help with an episiotomy and a very reluctant use of a vacuum on the final push (Dr. Chor really didn’t want to but could also tell I was running out of steam and was aware I wasn’t actually feeling the contractions) - Noah enters the world.
The sensation of birthing a human is one that is completely indescribable. Not in a life is beautiful kind of way, in a “this is WEIRD” kind of way. It feels like an organ is falling out of you (which I suppose it kind of is). I wasn’t really aware of what was happening because I was draped in so many towels and sheets, there were so many beeping machines, people were all over the place doing various things, and I was exhausted. But the next thing I knew Jack yelled “oh my god she’s here!”, then a very warm, very small body was seemingly thrown onto my chest. Jack was then a complete wreck and I was too emotional to do anything but start talking (standard).
The next hour was a complete blur. Jack was in tears, people were talking to me about various things (none of which I retained), they were congratulating us, Noah was screaming, Dr. Chor birthed my placenta (which felt even weirder than birthing a human), I was stitched up, I was unhooked from various monitors and machines, and I think a million other things happened. I didn’t process any of it though. I was enamoured and obsessed with being united with this tiny human who had spent 9 months squirming, hiccuping, kicking, and growing inside of me. Our tiny human. I didn’t care what was happening around me.
- Some time around 9:30am: Noah and I get wheeled into the nursery/maternity ward. She gets taken away for assessment and I get moved back to my maternity room.
- Some time around 12pm: We get the news that Noah has slight fever, has contracted a minor bacterial infection, and has a very minor bout of pneumonia as a result. She’ll therefore have to spend most of the next few hours in on oxygen and in an incubator to regulate her vitals. Not going to lie, this was tougher to deal with than the labour. We were reassured it was a very very minor infection and no cause for concern whatsoever though.
We were approached by the incredible Gleneagles nursing staff and were told that Noah does need to eat something in the next few hours but because she has to be in the incubator I won't be able to direct breastfeed. Luckily the nursing team were very supportive of my request to exclusively breastfeed so they sent the lactation consultant to me and she hand expressed some colostrum to syringe feed Noah.
Later on we get a visit from the paediatrician and get the news that Noah would have to stay admitted to hospital for a full week so she could finish a course of antibiotics. This would mean that following my discharge on Wednesday, if I wanted to exclusively breastfeed I’d have to come back to the hospital every 3 hours to feed her. Obviously inconvenient. Our clinic and hospital negotiated to let me stay admitted to Gleneagles for as long as Noah was here. Although this was not wholly ideal on a personal level (I’m not a fan of hospitals, who is?) it certainly beat travelling to and from home every 3 hours and it also meant that Noah would have her people around her at a time when she needed them the most.
Fast Forward to Sunday 1 November
We were all discharged this morning safe and sound and we’re finally back home after a long 8 days in hospital for me and 7 days in hospital for Noah. As unideal of a first week as it was I really can't complain. The staff at Gleneagles, our medical team at OT&P, and our incredible support system of my parents, our siblings, and our friends, we were pampered and well taken care of. Most importantly, Noah had not only successfully fought off the infection by Thursday but had also started gaining weight by then too! From Thursday until Saturday she needed to stay admitted to receive twice daily injections, have her vitals monitored, and have one last chest x-ray to ensure the pneumonia was gone.
Aka My rock, my person, and already the best father. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that women go through hell and back during labour. There’s also no doubt that there is no greater reward for the pain and suffering. However, not enough credit is given to the birth partners who have to helplessly stand by and watch their loved ones struggle without being able to do more than offer a hand or an arm to squeeze.
Although I spent 25 hours on the craziest trip of my life, Jack spent 25 hours watching without being able to do anything. It was mentally and physically exhausting for me but it was emotionally exhausting for him. He stood right by my side through it all and watched as I descended from sanity into insanity.
He watched me writhe, he watched my convulse, he watched me struggle, then he watched me birth a child (which is definitely not something I would have been able to watch), and at the end of it all it was Noah and me that got all the credit and attention.
Jack, you did an amazing job. I wouldn't have been able to do it without you. Granted, I wouldn't have been put into this position without you either...
2. My parents and our siblings
Not only were they the first to meet Noah (and a very fresh 10 hours old) but they spent a whole week going out of their way to come visit twice a day, bring us food and drink, sit and chat, and remind us that there is fresh air and an outside world waiting for us. The week would have been a lot more difficult without you 4, you're all amazing, we love you almost as much as we love Noah.
3. Friends and family from all over the world
At the announcement of Noah's birth we were overwhelmed with messages of love from friends and family from all corners of the world. Those friends and family continue to send at least once daily messages asking mostly for photos, but also for updates on the little one and on me. We love you all and we can't wait for you to meet her :D
4. The staff of Gleneagles and our medical team at OT&P
For helping us deliver the cutest little kid I've certainly ever seen.
With that, all I can say is. What. A. Week.
Jack, we done did it.