Sunday, June 26, 2016

Alexander's Birth Story - Dad's perspective


Alexander James Blake. Not yet 8lb, 8oz. Not yet 51cm long. Not yet had the first breath of life past between his lips. Neither of us knew it yet, but he was about to contribute (in quite a large way) to the most intense experience of my 37 and ½ year life.

Barbara and I had always thought the birth of our second child was going to come fairly quickly once labour started (with Hudson taking 8 hours and 45 minutes from start to finish), however only in the deepest reaches of our most scariest of thoughts did we ever anticipate what was about to happen.

Barbara had often come to me over the final stages of the pregnancy with things she thought, or hoped, would shortly mean the onset of labour. A tightness in the stomach. High blood pressure. A feeling that today would be the day. A desire for our baby to be born on a certain day of the week. So when at around 10PM on Sunday night she told me that she’d just been to the toilet, and that what had happened there (… diarrhea) could mean the onset of labour wasn’t far away, I didn’t immediately run to pack the car for the drive to the hospital. As it turns out, that’s exactly what I should have done.

Pregnancy is an interesting thing from the Dad’s side of the fence. You know that it’s going to happen, but you never know exactly when, it could be today, tomorrow, or 2 weeks from now, so subconsciously I think the male mind/body (or at least mine anyway) doesn’t tend to spend a whole lot of energy getting nervous or excited in preparation for the birth.  We’ve dealt with all the issues that come along with pregnancy (at least as far as we can from our side of the equation) but not from the perspective of actually having a human life growing inside of us for the past ~40 weeks, so for us, our life doesn’t change a whole lot until the actual day of the birth.

Anyway, back to 10PM Sunday night.

My thought was, that if tonight was going to be the night, we should both get as much sleep as possible prior to the moment labour kicked in. I went to bed at about 11PM, and was woken up about an hour later by Barbara sneaking into the room (she was sleeping in the Guest Bedroom so she could stretch out in bed all she wanted during the final several weeks of pregnancy) to tell me she ‘thought’ her water had broken. Not a whole lot of sleep stored up at this point. We went, as we often do in times of need for information, to Dr. Google.

If her water had actually broken, and it hadn’t brought on the onset of labour, we had 24-48 hours before we were guaranteed to have a baby (as labour would have to be induced at this point to avoid infection complications to the unborn baby and Mum). By the time we’d read through a few articles, it was about 12:30AM Monday morning. We decided that as long as contractions hadn’t commenced, we should still try and get some sleep (well, I remember suggesting this and not being contradicted, so I assume Barbara agreed). I’d just drifted off again, when the bathroom light turned on, and Babs got in the shower. For whatever reason, my initial thought wasn’t of labour. My first thought was annoyance that I’d been woken up (on what potentially could be the final night of half decent sleep I was going to have for a while), my second thought was that Babs had decided to have a shower after reading in bed, prior to going to sleep for the night (as she likes to shower before bed). I did not think of labour. Time check, 12:40AM.

Three minutes into the shower, Babs calls out. I drag myself out of a warm and cozy bed. She tells me that we should start to pack and move the cars, as she thinks she’s going into labour. I tell her I’ll call Chelsea and get her to come up to watch Hudson, which she doesn’t immediately agree with, but I do it anyway. At this point, I wasn’t aware that she had even had any contractions (I think she may have had 1-2 smallish ones at this point). She’d probably been in the shower for 10 minutes, and we’d timed a couple of contractions on the phone. I was concerned that she’d end up running out of hot water, so suggested she get out of the shower and get dressed. The shower goes off, and then a large contraction hits her. I’m no help at all, as I stumble for a story to take her mind of it (settling on Hudson learning how to fix his Lego motorbikes onto his little trailer). Not my finest moment, and I’m fairly certain at this point Babs wants to kill me, and can’t believe she’s looking at several hours of contraction pain with my bumbling storytelling support. I start racking my brain for interesting or funny stories to share during subsequent contractions and come up with donuts. Shit.

Contractions are coming quickly, and lasting for a long time at this point. I haven’t done any recent preparation on contraction timing, but know that this is not good. Babs is wrapped in a towel, dripping wet, and is unable to move. I don’t remember why or how, but she decides to go and sit on the toilet. I decide now is the time to call the midwife number. Babs tells me through screaming contractions that the book with the phone number is in her handbag, and that there’s some blood in the toilet. I return with the book, and her phone, and tell her she needs to call them (so they can hear her voice, and tell more accurately what’s going on). Babs gives me a few choice words about that idea, and I make the call. After a 1-minute conversation, the midwife tells me to call the ambulance immediately.

I call 000. At this point the situation is getting real, real bloody fast. It’s about 1AM. Contractions have been going for about 20 minutes at this point. It takes probably 1 minute to go through all the emergency call details… police, fire or ambulance, what town and state, what do you need an ambulance for, what’s your address, is this the first or second pregnancy, does your wife feel like pushing…it feels like a lifetime before she tells me an ambulance is on the way. Like I’m sure everyone else in that situation, all I want is an ambulance immediately, not 20 questions.

During the call, I can’t remember if it was before or after she told me the ambulance was on the way, she tells me to see if I can see the baby (at this point Babs is squatting over the toilet in pain). I don’t see anything, thank goodness. A minute later she asks me the same question. I look again – things have changed drastically. I see something. I’m not sure what it is at first. Then…oh shit, that’s the top of a baby’s head. She tells me to put some slight pressure on the baby’s head to prevent a quick birth, and that Barbara needs to get onto the ground immediately, I also need to get blankets and clean towels for the baby. I do as instructed – I’m touching the top of my baby’s head with the palm of my hand. This is insane. I then run frantically to the bedroom, grab two pillows, consider briefly then immediately discard the idea of grabbing the doona too, and settle on grabbing the blanket and sheet instead. I set all of this up on the bathroom floor. I don’t have time for towels. I tell the operator that my wife is still on the toilet. She says it’s very important that she move. Babs seems to in between contractions, so I grab the moment and drag her onto the ground, lowering her down as gently as possible. I look down and the baby’s head is half out. I’m down on my hands and knees, phone on the floor near the shower on speaker-phone explaining this to the 000 operator. I can’t believe this is happening. She tells me that when the baby comes out I need to support the baby’s head, and don’t drop the baby. Not words I was expecting to hear even 30 minutes ago.

It’s at this point that I realise the front door is locked. How is the ambulance going to get inside? I bolt out of the room, unlock the door, and run back. As I’m halfway back I hear Barbara shout out…”oh god, something just came out”. Shit. I look, and thankfully it’s just the baby’s head, it is now almost all the way out. It came out looking down at the floor at the start, but has now turned to look into the shower area. I put my left hand under the baby’s head. The 000 operator is telling me to tell Barbara to push. I do as instructed. I tell Barbara she is going a great job, and to keep going. One push it all it takes. The baby comes shooting into my hands, left hand under the head, right had under the hips. One quick cough from the baby, and then it goes limp. The operator asks me if the baby is breathing. No, it’s not. I have images of doctors from the olden days lifting babies up by their feet. Is this what I have to do, what do I have to do to get my baby to breath!? The operator tells me to clear the baby’s airway, there is nothing in the mouth, and the nose and mouth look clear to me. I wipe the face anyway just in case. 10 seconds pass. Then another cough, followed by a big cry. What a huge relief. I try desperately to follow the instructions to clean and wrap the baby. I have nothing but the blanket Barbara is lying on, and do the best I can to clean and wrap the baby. This tiny little purple baby that has come screaming their way into this world.

It’s then that I notice the bleeding. Barbara is bleeding quite a lot. It seems to me to be pouring out. I freak out and tell the 000 operator. I look up at Barbara’s face, she is calm and relaxed. I can’t believe it. The operator tells me I need to try to get the baby onto Barbara’s chest without stretching the umbilical cord. I don’t know if I can do it, as there doesn’t seem to be enough cord. What do I do if I can’t get the baby onto Barbara!? It’s around this time that I notice that it’s a baby boy and tell Barbara. Probably the least of our concerns at this point, but I guess I wanted her to know.

I lift the baby up, the cord reaches! I then wrap baby and Mum as much as possible in the blanket. I hear the ambulance pull up…what a relief! Then I hear Hudson crying from his room. It’s amazing that he’s only just woken up, I thank the world for small favours, as I don’t know how the birth would have unfolded with Hudson standing there screaming along with everything else.

The ambulance guys walk in. I can’t believe we’ve done it. Alexander James Blake was born at 1:10AM on Monday, June 13th 2016, about 30 minutes after Babs got in the shower. Ambulance arrived at 1:15AM. They bring with them clean towels, bubble wrap, knowledge and experience. Everything needed to make sure nothing goes wrong from this point. I’m so grateful.

I move out of the bathroom, and go and get Hudson. He has come out of his room, and is standing in the hallway in his sleep bag crying. I scoop him up, give him some comfort, and go and show him Mum and his new baby brother. He stops crying, and points to his baby brother. “Baby brother or sister” is what he says. “This is your new baby brother Hudson, can you believe it?”

This was the most incredible of experiences. To deliver your own son into the world is something that I’m not ever going to forget. I’m just so thankful to the universe, and everything in it, that nothing went wrong. Barbara was absolutely incredible throughout the whole experience, the 000 operator was amazing (as soon as the ambulance arrived, she moved on with praise and thanks, probably to another emergency that night…amazing people), the ambulance guys were truly impressive, and Hudson was so great at keeping himself together and letting everyone do what needed to be done. He even earned himself a ride in the ambulance down the driveway, and hardly cried at all.

Chelsea arrived just as the ambulance was about to leave. I’d called her at some point after the birth to let her know what had happened. She got to meet Alexander just before he left for the hospital with Barbara, which I was really happy about. She cleaned up while I comforted Hudson, even putting a load of washing on. Quite an amazing sister I have. We then chatted about the whole experience, I read Hudson a book and put him back to bed, then packed the car and left for the hospital at about 3AM.

When I got to the hospital and walked into the delivery room, Barbara had little Alexander on her chest, fast asleep. She looked so beautiful, so radiant, and so relaxed. What an incredible person she is.

So that’s it, the recollection of a father 60 hours after the birth. I’m sure I’m missing some things, but I hope I’ve managed to capture the essence of what happened, and some of the thoughts running through my head as it did. I still can’t believe this actually happened. I’m so thankful that everything worked out, and I came out of this experience with a healthy new baby boy, and a new-found respect and admiration for my amazing wife. Wow!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Welcome to the world, Alexander James!

Born at 1:10am on 13 June 2013
Weight - 8 pounds 8 ounces
Height - 51 cms/  20 inches
Original due date - 11 June
Official due date - 15 June

(birth story was written on 18 June)

It’s almost 5days to the hour that Alexander was born, and here is how I remember the details of that crazy, amazing night. 

We spent the day at Sedgwick with family (and stealing tools from Grandpa), and got home around 4:30. I was craving eggplant parm, and took Hudson to the grocery store for supplies. I joked to Gabe that eggplant parm can make you go into labour. Dinner was delicious, except the garlic bread – that sucked (shouldn’t have tried a new brand). 

9:39 – I sent a text to Aunt Chelsea – “I think everyone in Victoria may decide to celebrate my baby’s birthday. No real news, just feeling like maybe it will happen tonight/tomorrow”. I felt a bit more pressure.

10:30 – We headed to bed. I was in the guest room because of all the tossing, turning and toilet runs. I read in bed for awhile.

11:50 – Felt a little twinge. Went to the bedroom to see if Gabe was up, but he wasn’t and didn’t think it was anything significant enough to wake him.

12:00 – Went to the toilet. Was stretching with my arms above my head and my head looking up and I heard a pop then felt the baby move. I thought “Oh my God, did my water just break”, but then I didn’t feel anything gush out. I stood up and walked out of the bathroom and in the hallway I felt some liquid. Then I freaked a bit and went to wake Gabe up. He was a bit shocked and was like “what do we do”, and I told him to google water breaking. He did and it said labour usually starts in 24-48 hours, so he suggested we get some sleep while we could (easy for him to say!). 

12:30ish – I head back to the guest room. I lay down and I feel two little contractions, and remember a friend saying don’t lay down because it can disguise how much you are progressing. I decide to get in the shower. In the shower I wonder what Gabe is thinking when he hears the shower turn on (he later tells me that he was thinking – what the heck is she doing, didn’t she have a shower earlier). I feel two more contractions and call out to Gabe (I’m thinking that I am definitely going to need an epidural!) He comes in and I tell him to start getting things ready – like moving the car. He suggests calling Chelsea. I say just get stuff together. He starts to pack things up and then I have another contraction and he says he’s calling Chelsea. 

12:55 – Gabe called Chelsea to have her come stay with Hudson. We did not feel any real rush at this point.

Before 1 – I turned the shower off and had an intense contraction and asked Gabe to tell me a story to distract me. He says “Uhhh, I can’t” and at that point I was so mad because it was his job to distract me with stories and he was failing on the first request! He then starts talking about Hudson.

1:00 – I head to the toilet. At this point Gabe is freaking out and saying we need to call the midwife. He goes to grab the number and my phone. He’s struggling with my phone and telling me I have to talk to her (because they say they prefer to have the women call so they can tell how bad it is). I am having a few intense contractions now.

1:02 – He calls the hospital and talks to them for a minute, because I sit up a bit and see blood in the toilet. The midwife says it’s a bright show and to call 000 for an ambulance. 

1:03 – Gabe calls 000. She asks if I feel the urge to push. I say yes while pushing. She asks if he can see anything. He says no and then yes he thinks he sees the head. She tells him to get clean blankets on the floor and get me off the toilet. I did not want to get off the toilet, but I reluctantly did.

1:05 – I get on the floor and push. Gabe rushes to open the door for the ambulance drivers. Then I push and feel the relief of Alexander sliding out – born at approximately 1:10am. I feel euphoric at this point. But Gabe is stressing about getting the baby to breathe and then we hear him and he’s put on my chest. Then I hear Gabe say that I have a fair bit of bleeding. Gabe also tells me that we have another baby boy!

1:13 – The ambulance drivers arrive and Gabe gets off the phone. Hudson wakes up at this point. Gabe brings him into the bathroom to meet his brother. After a few minutes, I walk to the ambulance. Aunt Chelsea arrives and pops into the ambulance to say hi (she happens to know one of the ambulance drivers). Then we drive off. It was a rough ride. I felt more contractions and pain, but didn’t deliver the placenta until we got to the hospital.

At the hospital they tell me that I’m the second home delivery that night, which is unusual. They weigh Alexander – 4.07/8 pounds 8 ounces and 51 cm. I deliver the placenta. The midwife shows it to me – it is a pretty amazing organ. She says it looks healthy. She checks me and says there is a small tear. Finally Gabe arrives and eventually the doctor comes in stitch the tear. I am given gas and feel high as a kite. Eventually we are transferred to a room and Gabe heads home for a bit of sleep. 

He stole his red hair and his middle name from his Uncle Nic! Both our boys stole their middle names from their Uncles, and our hope is that Hudson and Xander will create the amazing memories we were able to with our brothers.

Off to cuddle Xander,


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Thirty Nine Weeks - Baby # 2

Weight gained: 15 pounds

Workouts: Squats feel super weird so they are gone, but still trying to get my steps in (averaging about 60,000 per wk)
Labor Signs: None
Symptoms: Still waddling. Feeling like I am going to explode - there is seriously no room left. The eviction notice has been drafted and will be sent once I finish my last day of work tomorrow. 
Movement: Same 
Food Aversions: Nothing at the moment.

Food Cravings: Bagels, bagels and more bagels.

Sleep: Waking up 3-5 times a night.

Stretch marks? They came with vengeance. I have a patch on on side of my belly button. I'll survive. 
Miss Anything? Still stomach sleeping the most.
Fun and/or Interesting Things from the last few Weeks: Celebrated my niece's 2nd birthday and had a weekend sans the toddler - it was lovely. You forget how life is when you can eat a meal without worrying about a little person. Plus I think it's so important to make time to just be a couple. Granted, it doesn't happen often on this end, but it was great to just spend time with the Hubs. 

Belly Button in or out? Still freaky popped a bit.
Wedding rings on or off? Off. 

Happy or moody most of the time: Really happy but also nervous of the whole labour thing!
New Baby Items: I'm obsessed with ergoPouch organic sleepbags. Also, bought some organic bamboo bassinet sheets. Hudson 'bought' the baby an adorable Jellycat bunny. This baby may not get a lot of new stuff, but what we do buy is the best. Haha.