The day I sat down to write my last blog, four days passed my due date, turned out to be the day our baby would begin to arrive. That evening, Baby Parsons seemed to sense the husband was deeply entranced in the golf Open Championship and considerably waited until Ernie Els lifted the trophy before deciding to get things moving.
At 9.30pm we headed to bed for an early night, only for me to feel a strong sensation take hold in my lower belly the moment I lay down. I knew it was different from the twinges I had had over the last week and sensed that perhaps it could be showtime. As promised, so begins my personal tale of the birth of Molly Jean Parsons and my amazing, intense journey into motherhood.
After a few more definite waves of contractions, I rang my doula, Carol. A doula is someone who provides support throughout your labour, and we had met with Carol many times to help us prepare for this very day. By 1.30am in the morning, with the sensations appearing to come more closely together and a bout of sickness – a sign labour could be pretty established, Carol made her way to our home. Justin and I already had the candles lit and my yoga birthing playlist on – little did we know just how many times that list of music would loop!
At 3.30am we headed to the hospital, Justin clocking up two speeding tickets en route, while I sat in the back leaning into the passenger seat. The contractions were coming in waves about 5 minutes apart. Emotionally, I wasn’t scared, more focused on the task ahead and excited that things were finally happening. I felt my mind moved into a deep very meditative, groove, with no concept of time passing, even though I’d been in labour for nearly six hours already. So far the sensations were strong but bearable – a deep feeling in my lower abdomen, like a strong period pain. Each time I could feel one building to a crescendo, I concentrated on breathing deeply, which helped me tremendously at that stage to ride each one through.
My labour progressed steadily over the next hour or two in the hospital, and when the midwives checked, I was over 5 cm dilated – nearly half way there. This gave me confidence as the sensations continued to get stronger – I felt that our baby was coming closer. Carol and Justin were amazing support. I would hang on to Justin each time a wave came, while at other times Carol massaged me or pressed my hips together to help ease the pain.
As the hours passed, it became a highly emotional time in which I cried many times, not through pain, but just at the sheer intensity and emotion of what was happening. I remember glancing at the clock to see it was already the following afternoon and I had been in labour for over 16 hours, but again I had no concept of these hours passing. As I progressed into the late stages of labour, the sickness returned, and while I was sipping water and juice for energy, even these sips were not staying down. I was ill a number of times, something that later robbed my body of the energy I would need for the final stage.
I remember coming to a crossroads at around 4pm. I was told I was already fully dilated and ready to push, but my body was starting to protest. By now I had been in labour for 18 hours, with no food and little fluid, and I could feel that my body was weak. Mother Nature, perhaps sensing my weakness, began to slow my labour, so instead of the contractions coming harder and faster in preparation for the final push, they began to space out. It was at that point that I knew if Baby Parsons was to arrive safely, I would need some help.
After much deliberation with my wonderful doctor, Dr. Raj, help came in the form of an epidural. It is not very common for one to be administered when someone has reached full dilation, but because my labour had slowed down, the doctor knew there was time for it to take effect. I remember apologising profusely to the midwife, to Justin, to Carol, feeling that perhaps I had let them down by not having the strength to finish. But as things started to take effect, I was able to rest and rehydrate, and I knew with absolute certainty that I had made the right decision. Throughout the entire labour, my baby’s heart-beat had remained strong and steady, clearly unfazed by my lengthy efforts to bring them into the world.
After a little guided pushing from Dr. Raj and her gentle use of a vacuum to guide my baby out, at 6.32pm on 23rd July 2012, Molly Jean Parsons was born – all 4.8kgs and 58 cms of her! (Perhaps those twin comments were justified after all.) That feeling of having your baby placed on your chest is something that I struggle to place into words. The very thought of that moment, even as I write, brings me to tears. It is the most AMAZING, BEAUTIFUL, INTENSE moment I have ever experienced and one that I will never forget. It is a moment that makes everything – all the hard work – totally worth it.
I am eternally grateful for the love and support of my wonderful husband, who held me up when the going got tough and who didn’t leave my side throughout. For Carol, my doula and Claire my midwife who were two angels during those 22 hours. And to Dr. Raj, who had the patience, understanding and skill to help me have the birth that I had wanted in the end, despite Molly’s size and my many hours of labour. I am also grateful for my yoga, for the strength my hours of practice gave me and for the acceptance and surrender it has taught me, that in the end helped me to know what was right for my body. And to all the mammas to be who may be reading my tale, I just want to say that you will know what is right for YOU when the time comes. Every birthing experience is unique, trust in your body – it knows exactly what it needs to do.
Finally, a big welcome to little Molly Jean Parsons. We are truly blessed to have you share our world.