Welcome Coco – My Fourth Baby’s Birth Story
Coco’s Arrival – An Empowered Birth + A Fourth Baby’s Birth Story
*disclaimer – I wrote this a while ago, 6 months ago I think when Coco was around 3 months old – where has the time gone!!!*
I’ve been wanting to talk about my birth story for a while. Coco was born 11 weeks ago now and it’s just been a blur since she was born. Life with four kids has been really busy, but it’s also been really manageable.
We’re doing really well. I think she’s the easiest baby we’ve had so far. She’s very calm. She’s very chilled out. She only cries if she really needs something. In that respect, we’ve been really lucky with her. The other kids just adore her, which is really wonderful. And now that we’ve had her, we couldn’t imagine life without her.
I have to say, I was very scared when I found out I was pregnant with Coco, we already had three little kids, how would we cope?
Having a fourth baby felt like life was going to become just super, super, super busy. I wasn’t sure how things would go.
I had a rough time with this pregnancy. Being a bit older, having had three kids already, I think my body was a bit worn out, to be honest. I found it harder than I did before, with my other pregnancies. I also suffered very badly with perinatal depression and anxiety, which is where you get depression and anxiety during pregnancy, not after. It made things a lot harder as I was worn out physically and not coping mentally.
Coco’s birth was exactly the birth that I wanted to have. I’d had the previous three children at a private hospital and this time we didn’t have private health insurance, so I was having her at the public hospital. And honestly, I couldn’t fault the care that we received.
Since we were at a public hospital, I wanted to be able to go home straight away. We had the three little kids at home already and I didn’t want an extended hospital stay. I can actually see the hospital from my front steps at home, so I also didn’t really want to be so close to home and be forced to stay.
My birth plan going into the birth was to have a natural birth, with little to no intervention and be able to go home within the six hours that is allowed in the public system.
I have had two natural births with epidurals and now I’ve had two natural births drug free. I can hand on heart say that no way is better than the other – the only thing that matters is you doing it the way you want to, what other people think doesn’t matter.
Don’t ever listen to any birth shamers, or anyone who tries to make you feel less about how you gave birth. You are a birthing Goddess if you have given birth – full stop.
The reason I didn’t want to have an epidural this time was simply so I could come home within the six hours of giving birth instead of needing to stay longer at the hospital.
I did get to have a natural birth and I’ll go into more detail about Coco’s birth story in a bit further down, but it was still very traumatic. I just think, even though I got what I wanted from birth, it’s still incredibly painful. 11 weeks on, I’m still having flashbacks to the birth. And I think that’s probably normal.
It’s not as traumatic as some births, I know. And I’ve read about truly traumatic births that people need and should seek counselling for (if you do need some help processing a traumatic birth – check out the Australian Birth Trauma Association). But for me, even though I got the birth that I wanted, I still did find it quite a traumatic experience.
I guess for most things, you wouldn’t usually go through that amount of pain, without some form of pain relief. And I know it was my choice not to have the pain relief. I know it was available to me, but I still think that it was a traumatic experience no matter how you do it, but that is just my personal opinion.
Coco’s Birth Story
I had a midwife appointment in the morning where I’d booked to have a stretch-and-sweep. I was 38 weeks and I was thinking that if I had a stretch-and-sweep, I might go into labour in a couple of days, by the time I was 39 weeks, at least. But anyway, I went in for my stretch-and-sweep and I got there, and they told me that I’d missed my appointment. I said, “What?” and they’d changed the appointment on me.
I had had to book this appointment 10 weeks in advance, that’s how busy the birth team were at the Royal. So the chance of me rebooking? Like zero.
My next appointment was for 41 weeks – that was 3 weeks away. Given how much I was struggling and how deconditioned I was, there was no way I could wait another 3 weeks for an appointment.
It turned out they had sent me a text, but I hadn’t read the text because I thought it was a reminder for the appointment that I had the next day. Not that it was ‘your appointment has changed text’.
I was standing at the counter holding back tears when the really lovely administration lady there ran in to talk to the obstetrician to see if they were still available and if I could be seen by somebody.
Thankfully, I did get seen by the obstetrician, there was one still there, which I thought was really, really wonderful because they were due on their lunch break and could easily have said ‘no’.
And we went through everything and then he didn’t want to do a stretch-and-sweep (I feel like it was an OB who didn’t like vaginas) but he went and got a midwife to do a stretch-and-sweep for me. Which I actually think was better because I wanted someone to do it who is going to do a good job of it. If they are going to go in there and do that you want it to be worth it, right? You don’t want someone to do a halfhearted job of it. It is not a comfortable procedure.
What happened next
Afterwards, I walked over to Downey Park which is a playground about 500m from the hospital, my daughter and my mum were waiting there because it was school holidays. And on the way there I thought, I’m starting to feel a few little twinges. I didn’t know if they were Braxton Hicks or if they were actual contractions, but I thought walking would probably help.
Anyway, it was my son’s birthday the next day, and of course, I hadn’t bought him presents any presents yet. The plan had been to go quickly go to a toy store, buy him some presents and bring them home before I had to pick the other kids up from daycare.
Halfway to the toy shop, my daughter vomited all over the backseat of the car. Now we had been making cakes for her brother in the morning and she had eaten too much icing. Then at the playground, she had gone on the roundabout numerous times and it just turned out to be too much. Because the cake had been iced with green icing, she threw up this green slime all through the backseat of the car. We had to pull over and try and clean her up. And then I had to quickly run in and try and find presents for our turning four-year-old son.
You couldn’t make this stuff up. #mumlife
Now, as I was walking around the toy store, I thought, I’m still feeling these twinges, they’re still here, but I tend to get really bad Braxton Hicks towards the end of pregnancy. I thought maybe it’s just Braxton Hicks.
I finally got all the presents, got everything in the car. On our way home, my oldest daughter had cheered up considerably after her vomit and seemed to be fine, and luckily my mum was driving, because on the way home I had one really, very painful contraction.
I thought, actually, I think this might be it. They’re not usually that painful.
So I called my husband and asked him to come home. It was almost five o’clock in the afternoon and I bounced around on the fit ball for a while and nothing else happened.
And then I thought, maybe it was a bit of a false alarm. I was still getting painful contractions, but they weren’t regular, they were just every now and then. But after another hour of a few more painful contractions and given that I had a history of very quick births, once they got going, we called the hospital and they told us to come in.
We didn’t really think that we would be going in to have the baby, luckily I packed a bag. I thought it was a good chance, but I thought I might get sent home as well. Once we got there, they took us straight into a birth suite.
We had a really lovely midwife on our room and we just clicked with her instantly. When she checked me, I was four centimeters dilated.
It turns out things were actually happening.
That was about six o’clock. She asked while she was checking my dilation if I wanted my water’s broken, but I was feeling a bit scared about what might happen, I said I wanted to think about it.
(Plus it’s a little hard to make decisions when you are being checked for dilation – you know what I’m saying?)
While I was lying down, the contractions that I was having slowed down and I wasn’t getting as many. When I hopped up walked around, I was getting more. Now the pain was cope-able with, at this stage. They weren’t one on top of the other, but they were painful. I needed to focus on them, as I was going through them.
Dan and I talked about it and then we decided that, and especially since it was 6:00 PM on the 12th and it was Xaviers birthday on the 13th, that I really wanted to have the baby before Xavier’s birthday, so they’d be born on different days.
I only had six hours to get her out, if I wanted that to happen.
We decided that when the midwife came back, I would have my waters broken.
So that was exciting and kind of scary all at once. The midwife did say that the reason my contractions were slowing and changing was because I’ve had three babies before and my pelvis was ‘roomier’, so the baby didn’t sink down and engage her head. She was bouncing around in there because there was more space. But once the waters were broken, that would stop, that would make her engage and would really get things going. So that was one of the reasons we decided to go ahead with it too.
Once my waters were broken, I think that was about half past seven or quarter to eight, and things went really fast from there. My contractions got more and more intense, they got closer together and within 40 minutes, 30 minutes, I felt like I needed to push. I’d also refused a couple of offers for any pain relief because I did want to go natural.
By the time I felt like I needed to push, I also had started to feel that real pressure that I needed to push. I was at the point where I felt like I couldn’t keep going – which is when you know the baby is close.
Now, I know a lot of women like to give birth standing up, but I feel more comfortable on the bed. Especially because I have actually torn every time before and the midwife told me that she’d be able to help me control the tearing if I was up on the bed and she could see what was happening.
Time to Push!
I was happy to be up there. I also decided to use some gas and air, which I’d never done before and that made a big difference for me. And made it a lot easier to give birth naturally.
When I started on the gas everything kind of just went a bit cloudy for me. Unfortunately, when they got me on the bed and even though I was feeling this urge to push, I actually wasn’t 10 centimetres yet. I was nine centimetres. I don’t know how you tell the difference between nine and 10 because there’s not very much. They told me I shouldn’t push. I insisted that I needed to push and they told me to wait, which I did do with the help of the gas and I was able to hold off on pushing.
Then on the gas and air, I actually thought I had pushed Coco’s head out and I was very distressed to find out that I hadn’t come anywhere near pushing her head out. Everything kind of went fuzzy. I don’t know, it was just like I was surrounded by snow and that everything was fine. However, I could still focus on what everyone was telling me.
The real traumatic thing was though, when you do get to pushing, which did come along very quickly, they want you to go OFF the gas and air.
Just when you’re going through the most horrific, painful part, ‘feel the pressure’, they say, ‘don’t keep breathing through it because you need to push’. And to push they want you to hold your breath a bear down with everything you’ve got.
But I guess, at least you’re very motivated! You push pretty hard to get that baby out because you want it to be over.
There was one thing that I kept telling myself when it just felt like it was not possible to push this baby out. Just when I asked them to kill me instead, I told myself that I’m not going to remember exactly what this feels like.
Because I knew from birthing Archie, who’d I’d had naturally, because he came so fast, that I wouldn’t remember exactly how the pain felt. All I had to do is get through at this time and then, I’d forget. I know it was painful and even now I can’t remember. I knew that I would remember that it was painful, but that I wouldn’t be able to remember exactly how painful it was. Thankfully, I only had to push for about 10 minutes and she was here.
I also knew I was never going to have to go through this again.
She was born roughly an hour after my waters were broken. And I only had a slight, a small second-degree tear, almost like a graze, that needed stitching up. But otherwise, that was it. The only complication was after all of that, they gave me a shot, I think to help deliver the placenta, but also had a side effect of increasing my blood pressure.
I wasn’t able to go home straight away because my blood pressure was too high and they wanted to monitor it. But that was really it. We got to hang out in the birth suite for the next few hours with our beautiful baby. It was really wonderful to have her here. She was healthy. She was happy. The birth was over.
Yeah. It was everything we could have wanted. And I’ll write the blog post about how life with four kids is going, but do you know? It’s not been too bad. You can read about it here
If you’re thinking about having a fourth, go for it.