In late January, my second baby came bawling into the world and I am still on cloud nine! A second daughter – Arabella Grace – who has not stopped bringing joy and sleep deprivation since she arrived. We didn’t find out what we were having and I am utterly thrilled to be a Mama to two healthy, gorgeous girls. My sisters are my closest allies (we don’t have any brothers) and my husband has two sisters/no brothers, so it wasn’t a huge surprise to add to the female force and I’m darn pleased we’ve done so! (My poor husband never stood a chance; he realises this and claims that it was always his “destiny” to have daughters. Bless him!)
I was booked in for an elective C section at 40 weeks, bang on my due date, after having an emergency C section with Rose, my eldest. Rose’s labour was dramatic and colourful – much like her character – and she arrived on my 33rd birthday. Because of the complications from my first labour, I was really anxious about doing it all again. I knew that I wanted more children, but I was terrified at having another emergency situation and couldn’t bear the thought of having to stay away from Rose for any great length of time. So, with this in mind, I decided to arm myself with as much prep as possible for both outcomes: a vaginal and caesarean delivery. The consultant offered me a C section at 39 weeks but I declined, because I felt that I wanted to wait it out until my due date to see what happened.
That last month was really tough. We’d ‘pulled up the drawbridge’ for Christmas (which was genius of us, in retrospect) and I’d been suffering from really debilitating Braxton Hicks contractions for the last six weeks of pregnancy. Everything that you read online says that they don’t hurt but mine sure did! I couldn’t lift my toddler; I was finding it increasingly hard to drive and was wishing we’d bought a bungalow, not a house with four flights of stairs. I was so lucky that my Mother in Law and Mum stepped in to help with Rose on the days that she wasn’t in nursery; they took a few days a week each and it made the world of difference because it meant that I could nap. Oh my word, the naps! Never underestimate those bad boys, they are HEAVEN! Looking back, I think the rest that I got in the last few weeks really set me up for a positive outcome so, if you’re in a similar position, I really would recommend doing everything you can to find some time to relax as much as possible. I know that it’s almost a cliché but it works.
I found a book that I loved and got stuck into it (‘The Essex Serpent’ by Sarah Perry – highly recommend it) and spent my time bouncing on the birth ball and reading that in the calm of my living room. My husband finished work on the Friday and the C section was set for the Monday, all nice and organised. Then my contractions started at 10:30pm on that Friday night. It was as if Mother Nature knew that my body was relaxed and that everything was in place! It soon became apparent that they weren’t Braxton Hicks (there was just no let up) and so, at 2:30am I woke my husband. My Mum was booked to come and look after Rose when I had the C section and she lives 3 hours away so I was adamant that I wasn’t going to get her to come down if it was a false alarm but, at 4:30am, I text her and told her it was the real deal. She replied straight away and arrived by 8:30am with my step-dad; the legends!
I went into hospital in the early afternoon of Saturday and Arabella was born naturally on Sunday morning. We had our own room on delivery suite and were pretty much left to our own devices. I’d feared the constant monitoring and being tied to the bed with the bands on, but the midwives were wonderful and fully supported our wishes to let things progress naturally and only monitored me when they needed to. Luckily, unlike the first time, all was well and so we spent Saturday night listening to a lot of Fleetwood Mac and dancing about, to try and ease through the contractions. I had liquid Morphine (which made me sick) and Pethidine (which gave us an hour’s break) until Sunday morning when the change of staffing shift happened. The night team said that I might still need to be sent home because things weren’t progressing, but I could tell that things very much were progressing, and then at 8am in waltzed the most amazing midwife I’ve ever met, who just took control of the whole situation and allowed me to have the birth that I’d so longed for. I asked for an epidural (probably demanded it, to be fair!) and she replied “Tali, you don’t need one, you can have gas and air because this baby is coming!” and so that’s what I did! My husband has since told me that, when she said that, he thought I was going to go crazy at her and he couldn’t believe how I just accepted what she said, but I think her calm, yet authoritative, manner was just what I needed after a long labour. Strangely, I felt that I could trust her implicitly and so I did! It’s amazing what takes over in those situations; you really cannot plan for everything but you do find trust in the people around you and that’s what gets you through.
Arabella arrived at 11:41am to Fleetwood Mac blasting out of the speakers and the winter Sunday sunshine streaming in through the window, and I haven’t come down from that high yet.