Wow where do I start? Going from being pregnant to becoming a mum happened so quickly (relatively) after waiting for so long. Thank you all so much for your congratulations. We are completely in love with our newborn, Jake Taiga (aka Dudley - I found myself calling him just that for most of the first week - whoops) and are doing pretty well all things considered. This whole pregnancy, birth, baby experience has proven to me how amazing mother nature really is. By the time you are ready to give birth, you are sick of being pregnant and before you have any time to reflect on how tough labour and delivery really was, mother nature presents you with a little baby that needs all of your attention. Forget having any time to reflect on the pain....except for maybe the day after. I'd really like to share Jake's birth story because I love reading everyone else's birth stories and of course for myself and Jake when he gets older.
So how did Project Dudley come to completion?? Click if you want the gory details.
At one week overdue on Saturday October 20 I woke up at about 5:30 am with a feeling that my water had broken. I wasn't completely sure especially since I wasn't having any contractions but after a trip to the toilet I was pretty certain what had happened. Finally I felt that we had some action I was so excited I started shaking and woke Darin up. I called the clinic and they said to come in to be checked out but since I wasn't having any contractions they said we may have to go home. We called a taxi and headed to our clinic with our big backpack full of supplies. After arriving they put a fetal monitor on me and the baby was doing well but still no contractions. They showed us to a room on the third floor (there are eight rooms in total) and told us to wait in there for two hours to see if contractions would start. We both went to sleep but two hours later still no contractions so the doctor came back and said that we could go home, but to come back the next morning at 8am for another check up.
So we left our big backpack at the clinic and headed home after stuffing down breakfast at McDonalds!! I was in no pain at all at this point but my waters continued to break.....(TMI?) We went about our day as normal but knew that our baby would be here in the next couple of days regardless. The process had begun and we were excited. However I woke up the next morning on Sunday October 21st and still I had no contractions. I felt disappointed and started to worry that I would need to be induced since most doctors won't let you go more than 48 hours after your water has broken. We headed back to the clinic once again and was put on the fetal monitor. It showed that I was having a few very weak contractions but I could barely notice them myself. The doctor said that they may even go away and he asked whether I would like to be induced then and there. I really didn't want to go through labour hooked up to an IV, so we decided to wait another 24 hours and if labour hadn't started by then we would come in to be induced the next morning. I really didn't want to put my baby at risk.
Once again they said we could go home so this time we decided to walk home and be much more proactive about getting our labour going. The walk from the clinic to home takes about 40 minutes, so we decided to pop into Martine's place for coffee and breakfast and to have a break. Little did we know that Martine would capture a large chunk of Jake's birth day on film!!!! Thanks love!
At this point I called my sister and she told me to get serious about getting labour started and she said that walking was good but climbing stairs was even better. At this point I was having really mild contractions - I could barely notice them. So after a lovely breakfast (thanks Martine), we all set off for a walk. Little did we know that Jake would be arriving that night and that I'd be wearing the exact same dress in that photo when delivering.
I walked up and down hills and chanting some rubbish about 'bring on the pain', 'the more pain the better' etc....um little did I know that the pain would soon arrive.
I also climbed the stairs two at a time at Mitakadai station like five times. I told passersby that my baby would be arriving today.
I was determined to go into labour. I seriously didn't want to be induced especially considering there is absolutely no pain relief available at the clinic.
By the time we made it to the park near our house I felt pretty tired and I started to feel myself focus more inwards. We said goodbye to Martine and started the final walk home.
After we got home and I decided to take a long hot shower. After the shower I really didn't feel that great so I called the clinic and they suggested that we have lunch, see how I feel and then come back to the clinic. I didn't feel like eating at all so we called up a taxi and head back to the clinic. It was about 2pm at that point. They showed us to Room 25 and brought me a foot warmer thingy filled with water. We didn't know at that time but the delivery room, which can cater for two women, was full and that four babies would be born that day and there were three born the day before. Then they put the fetal monitor on me and it showed I was having regular contractions. At that point I wasn't in pain but definitely felt myself turn inwards. After this they showed us back to our room and brought Darin and I a variety of props for labour such as pillows, bean bags and an exercise ball. I have no concept of time from this point onwards. All I remember is that at some point it was daylight outside and the next thing I know it's nighttime. Darin says that things seemed to get really painful for me around 4pm. The contractions came in waves with shorter and shorter intervals, but sometimes it felt like there was no interval at all. I remember screaming quite a bit and at some point a midwife came in as she could tell I was getting a little hysterical so she had me refocus on breathing which did help. I had constant back pain and here I have to give a massive shout out to the most amazing husband ever who managed to rub my back for nine hours straight and helped me breathe through every single contraction. I can remember him encouraging me the whole time, telling me that each contraction would bring us closer to meeting our baby.
I remember that it hurt a lot, I remember screaming quite a bit and loudly, but it really is a completely surreal time and I'm having trouble explaining how I felt or how I even remember it. I can remember not wanting to lie down at all, which made my legs really tired. I was either kneeling on the bed over a gigantic bean bag, standing at the side of the bed leaning over the bean bag or on all fours on the floor leaning over the bean bag. So I guess the bean bag played a big role in my labour. I remember being really hot and sweaty even though it was quite a cool night. I remember burying my face in the bean bag and my hair getting all matted....I can only imagine how I looked.
I had some ideas of how I wanted the birth to go, but when push came to shove, I really didn't care about much apart from birthing a healthy baby. I had wanted a water birth but since nearly 48 hours had passed since my water broke that wasn't a possibility and I thought I'd be more disappointed. I thought I would be naked but clothes didn't distract me at all.
So at some point while I was labouring in our room, I felt the urge to use the toilet so Darin got a break and the midwives took me to the loo and it was in there that I made the best progress yet. Ha! I can remember that one of the midwives smelt like cigarette smoke and that kind of grossed me out and I also remember that I thought the air freshener looked particularly phallic. Mind you I was having big contractions at this point and I didn't think I'd ever be able to leave that toilet stall. The midwives eventually convinced me to walk to the delivery room, which was only about 10 metres away, so they could examine me. To my delight and surprise I was fully dilated and it was time to push.
I thought this part might be more enjoyable but when I pushed I got the worst lower back pain immediately afterwards. I was scared to push because of the pain and needed a lot of encouragement at this point. I told the midwife not to leave me and I can remember cracking jokes like 'I guess this is going to take another week' etc. The midwives assured me at this point that I would have my baby in my arms in 45 minutes to an hour. I didn't believe them. So they started me out on my back but I immediately told them that wouldn't work for me so then we tried pushing while leaning over a bean bag. This also wasn't very effective for me so they brought out a birthing stool. This really worked for me and at this point I realized we were close to the end so I really started pushing with all of the energy I had left and was getting two or three really big pushes with each contraction. When we got to two or three pushes before Jake's head crowning they suggested I move back onto the delivery table so they could deal with any possible complications better such as stuck shoulders since he was a big baby. So I hopped back on the table sitting in an upright position and the midwives gathered all of the post delivery equipment and called the doctor to the room. Wow, it really hit us then that the baby was really coming.
I gave it my all in those last couple of pushes. The midwives told me to look forward at them, put my chin down and push as hard as I could without screaming. The most amazing moment of the whole labour was the last push when I totally felt Jake's head and body sliding/being pushed out the birth canal - wow! Once his head had been birthed they told me to stop pushing and put my hands together (not sure why). I was fully shaking at this point and beyond exhaustion. The whole time I could hear Darin cheering me on. At this point the midwife (Watanabe-san) pulled the rest of Jake out of me and he was born.
I thought I would be really emotional considering I cry when I read everyone else's birth stories but to tell you the truth I was too worn out. Darin said he shed a tear and since then I've shed so many tears that I think it makes up for not shedding any at his birth. I feel myself tearing up now though because I'm just so happy that the labour and his birth all went well with no complications. Jake scored 10/10 for his Apgar score at both one minute and five minutes. We were so glad to have a big, strong healthy baby. He has since proven that he has very healthy lungs (cough, cough).
I was so relieved when it was all over that I really couldn't believe it. Jake was born at the stroke of 11 on Sunday the 21st of October and we spent the next hour and a half in the delivery room. I had to be stitched up (he was nearly 10 pounds after all) and the doctor did a great job. I felt nothing at all at this point and even called my sister on the delivery table while being stitched up. I remember asking Darin to bring me chocolate and some water. It seems Jake's placenta was quite big but the umbilical cord was short so they had to cut it so I could breastfeed straight away. I think he stayed on the boob for like 45 minutes. I knew he'd be a good eater.
We spent a total of five nights at the Toyoshima Maternity Clinic, which is the normal length of a stay - you stay longer if you've had a C-section, and it was a wonderful way to start your new life as a family. There are eight private rooms (no shared rooms) at the clinic and they provide sofa beds in the rooms for new dads to sleep on. I was brought three meals a day and this clinic is somewhat rare in that they provide only vegetarian meals - absolutely no meat or fish. I'm not vegetarian but I thought that if someone cooked vegetarian meals for me everyday then I totally could be. On the day after I had no real appetite which was strange but I think my body was in complete shock. Every muscle in my body ached.....literally. It's amazing how quickly the body recovers though and how the mind forgets the true intensity of labour pain. Two weeks later we are so overwhelmed with trying to feed and take care of this small baby that the memory of that day is fading fast. It really is funny how quickly your life can change from enjoying a leisurely two hour pedicure to being so proud of this mini human because he did a gigantic poo.