Tuesday, 13 August 2013

:: he's here with us! :: théo's story ::

These past 10 days have been the most beautiful of my life (alongside those when our girls came,  equal in joy and awe, but minus the anxiety of that time!). Our little man is here, on the outside, and I'm still in awe of the reality, even though it feels like a dream :o)

The timing of everything was amazing. God is so good like that! I should never need to worry, as I do too often. Because His timing has always been spot on. I was quite anxious about when everything would kick off with the birth, having my parents-in-law staying right with us. I'm a quite a modest person at the best of times (!), and the thought of going into labour (and the pressure to do so before they returned home) was sometimes overwhelming. But, as both of my midwives reminded me...God knows and His timing would be best. And, in hindsight, the timing was very good. His French grandparents had a week of enjoying cuddles and peeks at their beautiful little grandson.

I had a lovely midwife, Deb, throughout the pregnancy. I had originally hoped to have another in their team of three, with whom my sister, Beth, had done a large practical part of her midwifery training. But with the timing of my due date and Irene's holidays booked just beforehand, I went with Deb. Who was also wonderful! However, Deb got engaged and her wedding date was booked for 5 days after my due date, and her leave would begin a few days before that date. So it was going to depend on whether the little man decided to come early or late! I reached Deb's last day of work and had my first appointment with Irene...not knowing at the time that in a little over 24 hours later it would be all go!

Last Saturday, the 3rd, I woke early in the morning with terrible stomach cramps. It reminded me very much of a bout with food poisoning that I had while living in Lausanne when the girls were in Neonatal. I had an anxious few moments wondering if food poisoning would affect the baby, so there was a flurry of early morning texts to family and a call to Irene. As long as I could feel baby moving, and I wasn't getting worse, there was little I could do but wait. So much of the day was spent in bed, forcing myself to nibble on crackers, and sip from a variety of drinks that were accumulating around the bed! I eventually asked Eti to go and get some Coke. I don't normally go anywhere near Coke, but I remembered that last time it seemed to have helped...and at that point I was ready to try anything and seriously considering asking for a caesarian if labour started because I had absolutely no energy!
Thankfully, probably with a combination of prayer and Coke (!) the cramps disappeared and I could rest up to try and get some more energy. My sister had said that some labours start this way, so I was semi-preparing myself in my weakened state of mind! But also was secretly 'sure' that it didn't feel anything like the beginning of labour.

In the early evening I realised time had passed quickly and I hadn't noticed any obvious movements from the baby, which I needed to at least every two hours. As the evening progressed I still wasn't convinced I was feeling much, compared to the usual activity that I'd feel each evening. I had been lying down all day with no energy, so I thought that it was probably also due to that. I wasn't too worried because every so often I felt a possible flicker of movement, but I wasn't convinced or reassured at the same time! So after a few phone calls and an hour of drinking more Coke, playing loud music and trying to encourage movements, we decided to play it safe and go over to Middlemore Hospital to be monitored. I felt more guilty at having woken Irene at 5.30 that morning, then calling her into the hospital at 10.30pm at night! But I had to kick myself into reality that this is her job, and the baby's safety was much more important!

The monitor instantly picked up a strong heartbeat. It also noted the light, painless contractions that I'd felt pick up sometime during the evening. Because the baby's heartbeat descended sometimes with the contractions the doctor wanted to keep me in overnight to just check how things would go. Also, because I had had a previous caesarian and was planning on going for a VBAC (i.e. birthing naturally). Irene went home "to get some sleep" but said that it could still be a few more days. Eti also went home shortly afterwards because the chairs in the small room were not quite accommodating enough to ensure a comfortable sleep for him! I was left feeling fine and prepared for a night of waiting, so I tried to get as much sleep as I could.

About two hours later, as I slept, I felt the strangest sensation - as though someone punched me with an audible "pop!" and all of a sudden I found my bed drenched! I gasped with the sudden shock! The lovely midwife who responded to my bell exclaimed "Oh good!!!" when I showed her that my waters had just broken! After a quick shower and change into a hospital gown (I had nothing else with me!) I started feeling stronger, regular contractions. It was semi-dawning on me that this is it! I called Eti back in, and Irene arrived an hour or two afterwards, saying that she wasn't surprised :o) The contractions were reasonably strong and a little painful but not overwhelming and completely manageable, although my intentions to relax my body weren't entirely successful!

Eventually we were transferred to the birthing room. Everything seemed to be progressing quite quickly. I had heard that time often feels like it passes quickly when in labour. It looked like a long time ahead, but in hindsight it really was flying by. And there were several expectations I had held that I didn't really experience, which was reassuring! While there was a moment of deciding three children would be enough, it was never really overwhelming...on the contrary, the moments I had expected to be the hardest almost passed by without my noticing. I had intended to be upright and moving around as much as possible, but because of my dehydration and lack of energy I found it so much easier to lie on my side...and thankfully, it didn't seem to hinder the progression at all. An IV line was put in to hydrate me and soon I felt like I had enough energy to keep going, at least for a little longer :o) Eti did a wonderful job, and Irene was amazing with her direction and her ability to involve Eti. I was offered gas, which I tried half-heartedly, but more with the intention to have something to hold onto rather than to take away the feelings. They kept saying "You need to suck more often to get the effects!" and I would reply "I don't care...it's just to give me something to do!" The transition phase passed like that, and soon came that irrepressible urge to push. Because he was turned slightly the wrong way it took quite a while to get him out. Nearer the end he was starting to stress a little, and I was beginning to feel pain from my caesarian scar, so I was given an epsiotomy to make it easier. And we did it! At 10.35am on Sunday morning Théo Victor came out with a beautiful cry, and we cuddled for the next hour or more. A beautiful, healthy, 3.47kg, 52cm long little boy joined our family. It was so surreal that I'm not sure I realised much of the reality of all that had just happened until the following day...and am probably still waking up to reality. What a beautiful reality it is!

I spent three nights in a maternity home, which was really helpful in the transition to going home. I was asked a few times if Théo was our first child. I replied saying "No, we have twins, but they came so early that yes, he is like our first!" I have much to learn about how to start from the very beginning :o) The staff were lovely, and patient with all the calls and questions! They were committed to helping us get the feeding thing going well, which is great. It was a surreal little world to be apart of for those four days. Everyone had a new baby and exchanged stories over dinner in the dining room, shuffling around and learning how to take care of our precious little people. Our girls visited every day, running in with flowers and drawings for "baby Théo" The months of talking about his coming had prepared them well and they love to shower him with kisses, cuddles and get anything he might need, like a hat or blanket if it's cool! They spent almost a week staying with my parents, who did a wonderful job taking care of them, and returned back to us a couple of days after we had come home.

And, so we are five. Life with three children is a real gift, but will take some adjusting to. I've had a few moments in tears knowing I'm failing to meet all three needs at once, and still recovering from the birth. But, as mum reminded me this morning, it's not about being a perfect mum and getting it all right at once. It may take 6 weeks, but we'll get there and we'll be just fine. She's right, and it's a good opportunity to let go of some of these perfectionist tendencies and just enjoy the moments with our three, as they show me so well how to do so. Beds are unmade, toys are scattered everywhere, piles of clothes sit on couches and chairs to go away, washing to be done...but we're doing just fine :o) And that's all that really matters. My parents are an absolute gift in doing many of these jobs for us and helping out at the busiest times of the day. We're in very good hands :o)


  1. Congratulations!! Such wonderful wonderful news! God is good, and children are a miracle and a gift - enjoy this precious time. Adjusting to life takes time but you get there - enjoy the journey xx

  2. Beautiful! Isn't his timing so great! And awesome that your parents got cuddles! Congrats again, I hope you're all doing really well xxx

  3. Lovely, lovely birth story. I got such a sense of God's hand at work throughout Theo's entry to the world. He is just delicious and I hope that you may really treasure these early weeks xx

  4. Thanks so much for taking the time to record this beautiful story. You are amazing ... and I am so glad you are now five! :)

  5. He is gorgeous! Congratulations again xxx

  6. Such beautiful photos and a beautiful story of his birth too Remaliah! Congratulations. A perfect little man! I quite welled up when I read it!!

  7. The other day I remembered to come back and check your blog again to see if your baby boy had arrived, and he had! :o) Now, a few days later, I have time to actually leave a comment! (you might remember I visited a couple of months ago and found your very timely post on 'overcoming fear')

    Congratulations, he is gorgeous! And I love the name you chose for him. So glad his grandparents were able to meet him before they went home again! I am happy to hear that the birth went well - what a contrast to when your daughters were born! Hope you are all doing well as you settle into life as a family of five.