Dave and I loved Big Day Out and it was totally our thing. In fact I went to 14 in a row and Dave went to 17.. and the day before my due date on Friday 31 Jan 2014, it was the last one before it was cancelled. So it was the perfect date for our little Tom to arrive, and probably the only thing that could have stopped us going!
I woke up at around 6am after having the best sleep, and started to feel some mild contractions. I was pretty sure this was it, and I was beyond excited. Dave went to work to finish off a couple of things while I hung out in the kitchen pottering around and timing contractions.
When he came back home (after we spoke on the phone a million times) the contractions were starting to get closer together and much more intense. Obviously being my first I had no idea what they were supposed to feel like so it was all pretty full on. It was a really hot day.. like over 40 degrees, so I was focussing on staying cool and distracting myself from the contractions.
We started to build slowly into our Birth Skills (Juju Sundin) techniques – Dave would time my contraction, and my down time, and then he would prep me for each one. We had a little rhythm going on when they were lasting 60 seconds. I would slowly take a step every second from my bedroom into the lounge room while it built up for the first 30 seconds, then at the peak I would stand in front of the blaring air conditioner for 20 seconds, then walk back to the bedroom in the last 10 seconds and collapse on the bed for my 4 minute break, then do it all again.. for about 2 hours. We were working so well as a team – Dave had his notebook and stop watch and was being so supportive and upbeat.
We spoke to the hospital at around 11am and as contractions were getting to under 3 minutes apart we went in. We parked the car in the backstreets and in a complete blur walked to the hospital, while I leaned against random trees while I had a contraction. When we got in there, the waiting room was full. It was so ridiculous – there were about 30 people watching me while I was trying to breathe through each contraction!! I ended up going into the corridor because it was just so overwhelming, but the problem was that the birthing suites were all full so there wasn’t anywhere for me to go.
I eventually was called in to an assessment room where I was sadly told I was only 4cm dilated and that I would need to go home for a few hours. It was probably the weakest point for me – I had honestly thought I was getting close to the end and had no idea how I was going to go home and continue in this pain. Somehow though, we got home (I can barely remember this part), I jumped in the shower for a while and then, magically, went into the most powerful part of the entire labour – a hypnotic state, where I basically slept through about 3 hours of contractions. I lay on my bed on this particular pillow that for some reason felt like heaven. The body is a truly incredible thing.
At about 3pm we went back to the hospital and had a similar experience with the waiting room. For some reason everyone was having their baby that day!! I saw about 3 midwives nosily poking their heads out to gauge how close I was and they managed to get me into a private waiting room while we waited for the next birthing suite to become available. Looking back it was completely ridiculous! But it was all part of the story and funny when we told people about it later. I pulled out the Birth Skills techniques again here where I focused on breathing towards a tiny spot on the tiles through each excruciating contraction. Dave was so supportive and was completely in the moment with me. It was so intense and powerful feeling like I was sharing it with him. I can only imagine what the people in the waiting room were thinking while they all listened to me making some pretty crazy primitive noises!!
We FINALLY got into a birthing suite at about 4.30pm and I was straight into the shower to relieve some of the pain. Strangely I liked the water during the break but couldn’t have it on me during the actual contraction. My midwife Holly was amazing and just let us have our space – she came in every 15 minutes or so and told me I was doing much better than what I probably thought and to trust her to know when I was at my limit. She refused to check how dilated I was, and although this was so frustrating, it was definitely for the best as it allowed me to stay in my zone. My waters finally broke in the shower and I began to feel an overwhelming sense to start pushing. Holly told me to try with all my might to not push but it was so so soooooo hard. I felt like all my organs were about to fall out!! But I think I got through 3 or 4 contractions before she told me to come and lay down so she could see how far I was. Amazingly I was 10cm dilated and we were ready to go.
All of a sudden a sense of ease entered the room. I felt completely in control and so excited. I chose to lay on the bed to push which just felt natural at the time. I asked for a mirror so I could watch myself push - I was feeling like a god damn superhero. My contractions slowed down and my body was just doing what it was meant to do. Dave and I were so fucking happy – we got to have a little loved up moment in between each contraction and after 3 pushes our little Thomas Joseph Harper Menner entered the world at 5.50pm.
He didn’t make a peep but was completely awake and alert. They put him on my chest and it was the most incredible moment of my entire life, while we both just stared into each others eyes. Dave and I were both crying as this tiny little creature slowly made his way to feed for the first time.
I cant explain the happiness in that room. The midwives loved us and our birth and we were all buzzing and laughing and it was just the most incredible day ever!! As Arcade Fire was about to start at Big Day Out we put it on and all just celebrated our little Tom. I was on cloud 9 for days, in what I can only describe as the body’s natural ecstasy. What a way to enter motherhood.. Im not sure ill ever feel anything like this again.