I am still in disbelief that I play a part in this incredible story. I was hoping to be there when my niece was born, but I really had no idea how involved I was going to be. It’s a pretty cool story (if you ask me), so I thought I would take the time to document it – just in case any details get hazy.
I should start by saying that from early in the pregnancy, my sister Kat had said that if I wanted to, she would like me to be present at the birth of her third baby. I guess I had slight reservations – no one wants to see their sibling in pain, but from what I had heard from friends and seen on tv/movies, observing new life entering this world is one of the most incredible experiences you can go though, so I said yes.
When her husband was unable to come to her first ultrasound, I was absolutely thrilled when Kat asked me if I wanted to go with her. I have to say – that in itself was pretty amazing. I loved seeing the tiny little 4cm baby – with a spine, arms, hands, legs and she even had organs!! Organs that the technician could measure!! It blew my mind that they could see that much, and that she was already so developed so early on. I literally squealed with delight when I saw her jump. The ultrasound experience was enough for me to rave about it to my friends for weeks.
Several months on they decided to get one of those fancy 3D ultrasounds, which I also got to go to. I still remember it like yesterday - feeling quite emotional about seeing that gorgeous, sweet baby all snuggled up in her mummas womb. I absolutely couldn’t wait to meet her… and at that stage we all knew (unlike her previous pregnancies) that she was having a little girl.
Baby is breech
Although the pregnancy was not too bad, there was a concern I had – every scan revealed that the baby was still in a breech position. Early on it wasn't such a concern, but as the pregnancy developed, the baby seemed to be in no hurry to turn. Kat was keen to have a natural birth like she had with the other two, but if it was born breech it would be considerably more complicated.
After discussions with people about this situation, she decided to try acupuncture and sure enough, the very night after her appointment, the baby turned!
The acupuncturist also told her there was treatment he could give her to help with the labour pains. The extra acupuncture treatments she undertook, may or may not have had an impact on what was to come….
As she has the two other young and impressionable children at home, and knowing (or thinking) that she was very loud and quite vocal during labour, Kat wasn’t keen on them seeing her in pain during the early stages of her labour. She and I had been going through some books and discussing expectations and some different techniques for dealing with pain during the first stages of labour. Our plan was for Kat to come over to my house to go through that first stage, and then when we were going to the hospital, we would ring her husband so that he could get someone to look after the kids and meet us there.
I guess it's good to have plans, but what all this has taught me is to yes definitely plan and be prepared, but to also expect the unexpected!!!
What actually happened
I should start by saying although it will seem like a very quick labour, poor Kat had been suffering for about three weeks prior. She had been kept up some nights with contractions and the baby kicking, she was also getting pains during the day. She had been through the labour process twice before, so although she knew she was experiencing the pain of a contraction, she also knew that it would have to get considerably worse before any action started.
She had also been checked out by midwives and although we knew the birth was imminent, there had been quite a few false starts and I think she may have felt like she didn’t want to bother the medical people unnecessarily again. (this is just my thoughts, I could be wrong, but that’s probably how I would have felt).
1 April 2013
It was Easter Monday and therefore a public holiday so there were not a lot of people rushing to get up. My radio alarm had gone off, but I was still in bed with my eyes closed listening out for the news as I wanted to see if I could pick if they had a far out crazy news story that was in actual fact an April Fools joke.
I got a phone call at about 7am from Kat to see if I would come over and pick her up. She said she’d been having pains since 3am, but had warmed up a heat pack and gone back to bed (as this was the usual routine), but she had now been up since 6am and the pains were starting to heat up so she wanted to get out of the house before the other kids missed her.
I only live about five minutes away so I threw on some trackies and raced over there. When I arrived I could see she was in pain, but from the other birth stories she had told me, I knew it was going to have to get a lot worse. Amy (my three and a half year old niece) was also up by that stage and Kat was managing to breathe through those pains and smile at her eldest. (Kat is a wonder woman I know – but Amy is a very sweet girl). Amy was excited about Easter – she had had a lovely weekend so far and she very kindly placed an Easter egg sticker on the back of my left hand – commenting on how it had all my favourite colours in it. I remember looking at that sticker later that day, still in a bit of a daze about the events that had occured.
The bags were packed and ready to go, so I got busy loading up the car and Kat eventually joined me. On the short ride back to my place she was obviously hurting, and the contractions were very close. I was relieved to pull up into my drive way as it’s not easy driving when your passenger is in a lot of pain. Because I wanted to make sure she could get out of the car ok, I didn’t drive all the way up… I didn’t think it would be too long before we’d be heading off to hospital (which is a 20 minute drive) anyway.
Mum lives in the house in front of mine, so she came over and started stressing at seeing her daughter heavily pregnant and in fact overdue to give birth. She was adamant that we should hop straight in the car and go to the hospital. I gave mum some jobs to keep her busy - make some toast, heat up the heat pack, that sort of thing.
I was rubbing Kat’s lower back while she held onto the bench and swayed and breathed. These are the sorts of things that ‘the book’ suggested to do during this stage. She commented to me then that she wasn’t sure she was going to make it to the hospital. This was a little concerning, but I think I was in denial. In my head at this stage was that it will probably be a while from this point and I wonder if I can have a quick shower and wash my hair?
Poor Kat said she needed to go to the toilet, and what I didn’t know, but what I have since found out, is that she heard a pop when she sat down and her waters broke. She came out from the toilet and said to me – really quite calmly under the circumstances - that the baby's head had started coming out.
My response to that (sister in denial) was “No it’s not, it just feels like it is”. My poor sister had to show me before I believed her and sure enough, there was the top of the baby’s head!! I don’t know what kept my eyes from popping all the way out. I remember saying to her quite franticly “How are we going to get to the hospital?” and she very calmly said “We won’t, you’ll have to call emergency”.
I grabbed her iPhone which I have always struggled to use as anything other than a toy to play games, and I tried to figure out how to get the numbers up to call 000. I got through straight away and they directed my call to the ambulance emergency. The conversation is a bit of a blur, but I now know that it lasted a grand total of only 5 minutes.
Not sure if it’s because I’m kind of a neat freak, but poor Kat was still standing over the toilet (possibly because she didn’t want to make a mess on my floor?!?), but I remember suggesting she may want to get down on her hands and knees, which she obediently did.
Mum raced in with towels and then seemed to race back out again. (I since learnt, that she dialled 000 too, but then when she realised I also had, she jumped off the phone to them and onto Kat’s husband).
My bathroom is about the width of a public toilet stall and the length of two. I managed to squeeze behind Kat so that I could provide an update to 000 on what was happening. I also suggested at some stage that she may need to shuffle out of the room a little so that when the paramedics got there they’d be able to get to her. I do recall the 000 operator saying that they were pretty good at getting into tight spaces, but I didn't bother responding how small the space actually was.
When I gave the first update to the 000 operator, I remember telling them the head was 3cm out. Within about 4 minutes the whole head was out and I was able to see the beautiful serene face of my darling baby niece – this still gives me goose bumps to recall!
The 000 operator suggested that if there was anything covering the nose/eyes/mouth at this stage, I could wipe it gently with a clean towel if available which I did. However I had read that it isn’t until after the baby is out and cord cut that the baby needs these airways clear. (isn’t it funny the things you remember at those stressful times?). The second slight freak out I had was when the operator asked if the cord was around the baby’s neck. I said I couldn’t tell, but I think it drained most of the blood from my head as it was the first time I thought about the possibility of complications.
Kat reckons I also kept telling her she was doing a great job and giving her lots of encouragement the whole time. I don’t recall this, but I do remember thinking how amazing and brave she was, so if I was vocalising this then I’m really not surprised.
Two paramedics (Andrew and Matt I believe) arrived just about then and they were a sight for my sore eyes. It was only once one of them was right there underneath that I was game to take my hands away. The 000 operator said I could hang up as soon as I had told him the paramedics had arrived.
The paramedic asked how long the head had been out and I'm pretty sure it's the stress of the situation, but do you think any of us knew how much time had passed? I said I thought maybe 10-15 minutes. (although we now know from the phone register that the phone call lasted exactly 5 minutes, so the whole head had not been out for more than 1-2mins). It also shows how amazingly fast the paramedics had managed to get there. The Ambulance station is very close to my place, but they said they were already on the road as they were going to go buy a coffee.
Somewhere amongst all this excitement, I rang the midwife who had been on her way to meet us at the hospital, and she said she would turn around and head to my place.
With my terrible timekeeping ability, the Andrew paramedic was possibly concerned that the labour had stalled. He said to Kat “come on, lets get this baby out… bear down”. Kat gave a few pushes and lovely little Mia arrived into the world! My ever thoughtful and organised sister Kat casually checked her watch at this point and announced “Time of birth, 8:15”! Only my superhuman sister could go through all that and still think about calling the time of birth!!!!
The paramedic obviously knew what he was doing, as he was rubbing Mia down to get her circulation going and he cleared her airways with a little sucker thing and put her on a baby oxygen mask for a tiny bit. She wasn’t much of a complainer, and I think in some ways I was holding my breath hoping that all was ok. But she just looked so beautiful and perfect.
Andrew seemed pretty happy that Mia was reacting ok, so he went to hand her over to Kat. All of a sudden I had the thought I should be getting pictures of this, so I grabbed my camera and took a couple. I got the most beautiful shot of my relieved sister holding her precious baby...
|My amazing sister holding her daughter Mia for the first time|
|Mia getting a little help to breathe|
|Paramedic Andrew giving minutes old Mia some attention|
|Paramedic Matt - it was his first birth apparently (pretty cool)|
|Getting loaded into the back of the ambulance. |
My sister doesn't look like someone who has just given birth!!
Mia was handed back and forth and checked over a couple of times by Andrew (Mia like her mum wasn’t much a of a crier or complainer, so this may have concerned him) but it really wasn’t long before they were packing everything up and putting Kat and Mia on the wheelie bed to load them into the ambulance. I took one last action shot of this just as my brother in law pulled up.
He raced over to see his wife and new baby but the ambulance was about ready to head to the hospital so he and I jumped into his car and followed very closely behind. I filled him in on the way to the hospital, and gave as detailed as account as I could manage with events being so fresh (I’m guessing I was a scrambled mess).
Being early morning on a public holiday, there were hardly any cars on the road and no problems with parking at the hospital, and we were over at the ambulance before Kat and Mia had been wheeled out. We followed them up to the maternity ward, and I raced up the stairs and beat them before they emerged from the extremely slow lifts. By the time they had arrived I had given the ward nurse a brief run down of what had happened and she thought it was all very exciting. I was even able to tell the paramedics which room to take them to.
When we got to the room, the paramedics gave the midwife on duty a run down of the events. They later commented to us that the paramedics don’t get to attend nice emergencies like this very often. They are usually the first to arrive to trauma and bad emergencies all the time, so they would have been on a bit of a high after this experience too.
Can I just say here that my sister was absolutely glowing, and she certainly didn’t look like she had just birthed a baby under exceptional circumstances. The hospital staff said that they would check them both over, but if all was well, they’d be able to be released within 6 hours!
I won’t go into detail about all the things they did, but I will give you my niece’s very impressive birth statistics:
Name - Mia Angela (yes, I have a namesake!!!)
DOB - 1 April 2013, 8:15am
Weight - 10lb
Length - 53cm
I know this is a pretty long post, but I wanted to include as much as I could remember.
I guess the other thing to mention is that along with having probably the two best parents in the world, it was my absolute pleasure to be there to see Mia’s big sister and brother meet her for the very first time. They were just so excited, but also so gentle and loving to their precious baby sister. I know that little Mia has a very bright future to have been born into such a wonderful family.
Ok, just one more last thing. I have no doubt that God was also very present during this birth. Just the way both Kat and I managed to stay reasonably calm and not completely freak or flake out is definite proof that our Heavenly Father was in our midst - giving us strength and superhuman power! He is good, and has proven to me that if things are in His perfect timing, then life is very sweet indeed.