Firstly, my apologies for the lengthy blogging holiday. I feel like I’ve been writing posts in my head, often as I’m breastfeeding Nicholas in the wee hours, but turns out having three children and having quality time to sit at a computer aren’t always compatible. But hopefully now that I’ve opened the floodgates again and the sleep deprivation eases, it will be easier to post more regularly. Hopefully 😉
I didn’t know exactly where to start in telling Nicholas’ arrival story. I feel as though there are many words swimming in my head to explain the feelings surrounding his birth, so perhaps I should begin at the beginning and tell you how he came into the world…
On Sunday, 18th March, it was Charlie’s 2nd birthday. I was determined to keep this baby baking for at least one more day so that Charlie didn’t have to share his birthday. I felt twinges, so declined any offers for family walks to the creek and planted myself firmly in a chair in the backyard to enjoy the afternoon. At midnight, I breathed a sigh of relief that Baby Love had avoided an entrance on his big brother’s birthday. Phew.
The following afternoon I had an appointment with our OB and, as I waited patiently in the reception area, felt Braxton Hicks contractions about every 20 minutes that continued on and off for the rest of the afternoon. Dr Glenda did a quick ultrasound and offered to do an internal to check on any progress, but as it wasn’t going to result in any definitive answers regarding when this baby was going to arrive, I declined. I had inklings that Baby Love and I were soon going to meet.
My beloved husband arrived home early that evening with a surprise new iPhone for me. Hooray! He suggested I get it all set up straight away, knowing I’d be cranky if we ended up going to hospital that night and my new flashy phone wasn’t ready for action. After the boys were in bed, I pottered around putting final items in the hospital bags, writing a ‘Mum and Dad have gone to the hospital’ letter to Sam and Charlie, getting life in order. Lucky, as it turns out.
At 11.40pm that night I had my first real contraction. After weeks of having Braxton Hicks contractions and wondering whether it might have been the beginning of ‘something’, I felt that first contraction and thought, ‘Ohhh, now I remember. THIS is definitely it.’ At 12.08am, my second contraction hit. Yep, definitely it. I touched Ben on the shoulder and said, ‘My love, we’re having a baby tonight.’ With the first two contractions being about a half hour apart, we discussed logistics and decided perhaps we’d have to head to the hospital in about an hour. And then number three contraction came at 12.22am… orrrrr, maybe we’d be leaving for the hospital within 15 minutes. We agreed to start calling people, putting bags in the car, making things happen.
My lovely sister Rebecca and her husband Joe arrived on the doorstep very promptly (they’d timed it, six minutes from door to door… give or take being, rather inconveniently, stuck behind a truck carrying a house in the middle of the night) and excitedly, if looking a little sleepy from the wakeup. I took a deep breath and tried to relinquish control of my little kingdom so that we could go and have this baby… or maybe I was kicked out the door, I can’t quite remember 😉 Either way, we soon left and began the journey to the hospital.
Despite a few road closures and midnight roadworks, we made it to the hospital relatively quickly. I remember saying to Ben that I knew I was in labour as the contractions were really strong, but I chatted so cheerily between each one that part of me wondered whether I was imagining things. But then another contraction arrived to remind me that, yes, I was really and truly in labour. By the time we arrived in the maternal observation unit at the hospital, I was 6cm dilated and, after monitoring me briefly, we were ushered through to the delivery suite to get down to business. There was no going back now and, while I desperately wanted to meet my baby, the thought of what was still yet to come was not entirely appealing.
We met the midwife who would help us bring our beautiful baby into the world – the lovely Elinor – and she talked us through the birth plan we’d written as though she’d learnt it by heart. As it turned out, Dr Glenda wasn’t on duty that night (and I did have a moment of disappointment at that discovery) but one of the obstetricians in her ‘group’, Dr Fiona, soon arrived to join our birthing crew. The next little bit of the story is a bit of a blur, but I know that the ‘cheery chatting’ in between contractions ceased relatively quickly and I went into what Ben calls my ‘zen mode’ where I closed my eyes, stopped talking and firmly grasped the strong hands of my husband. This time around, I decided not to be stoic and asked for the gas (oh yeah, sweet gas) and I heard Ben’s soothing voice reminding me to relax my shoulders as the contractions came on pretty thick and fast. Soon my body began to push of its own accord, and I remember Elinor telling me not to fight it, to relax into it, to let my baby come. And, within about two pushes, I felt the most incredible release as our baby boy made his way into the world at 2.55am – three hours and 15 minutes from my first contraction.
With such an emotional pregnancy, I honestly thought there’d be tears as we met our baby boy for the first time, but there was just pure joy. As he cuddled into me and I scanned his face for the first time, I silently confirmed from his facial features that he did, in fact, have Down syndrome, but it was simply an acknowledgement, not accompanied by any sadness. We named him Nicholas Fenton Angus Love ~ Fenton after my Pop, my mum’s dad, and Angus after Ben’s stepfather and brothers, whose surname is Angus.
Nicholas and I were able to spend quite a bit of time together after the delivery, skin to skin, breathing each other in. Within 15 minutes we attempted our first breastfeed and discovered our little champion was a natural. So much for expecting a ‘floppy baby’, Nicholas was anything but and we felt incredibly blessed to welcome a very strong and healthy boy. When the staff finally snuck Nicholas away for all the routine checks, he weighed in at 3.8 kilograms (or 8pd4oz – the smallest of all my babies!), 52cm long and with a head circumference of 32cm, and scored 9s on all the apgars.
We didn’t end up leaving the delivery suite for some time due to some minor complications with delivering the placenta. Ben and I debriefed on our newest addition for a little while, and made a few phone calls to grandparents eagerly awaiting the news. Eventually, Daddy fell off the adrenaline rush and tried to rest in the corner of the room while I (still high on hormones) made a few more phone calls and took snapshots of my beautiful boy on the iPhone. The lovely Elinor delivered tea and toast to keep us going and I was allowed to shower and change into my fresh PJs. At about 5.30am, we were wheeled up to the dark and peaceful ward to settle into our room. It had been a long night and we were two very weary parents. We pulled down the blind, tucked in our littlest man and tried to sneak an hour of sleep before we had to face the rest of the world.
After such a long journey, our highly-anticipated, long awaited baby boy had arrived. And now the story of Nicholas can truly begin.