Meeting Harriet Anne
Written by Teigan Mckinnon
So the nine-month haul of pregnancy had started, and I was extremely excited to have this little person growing inside of me, and to be honest, I was more excited to have a beautiful baby bump. But to my surprise, these baby bumps actually take a while to grow (duh). I was slightly gutted when people couldn’t notice that I was pregnant and that they keep saying how small I actually was. During those nine months, I guess you could say I was blessed with an easier pregnancy - I didn’t experience any morning sickness, I didn’t have any weird cravings, I didn’t get any swelling or fluid, and I stayed relatively small until the third trimester (then I finally popped).
Our baby was growing and meeting all of the developmental stages that she needed to, and our Obstetrician was pleased with how everything was going. I remember those first few ultrasounds where we got to hear our baby’s heartbeat; it was like music to our ears, the first time we saw our babies' face and small body was mind-blowing. To think that Alex and I had created this tiny little human was just indescribable. We were always asking each other who we thought she was going to look like or sound like, we couldn’t wait to meet our little girl.
Nearing the end of my pregnancy, I was told that I would probably come early, so I ended up taking my maternity leave 2 weeks before my due date of the 8th of October (mine and Alex’s first wedding anniversary). I was impatiently waiting and waiting and waiting. I was consistently messaging back everyone saying that “no the baby still hadn’t come yet” which is an excellent way to remind yourself every day that you are in fact still pregnant.
It came to our last appointment seeing our obstetrician, and I was so excited because my friends who had babies previously told me that they would probably perform a stretch and sweep to get things moving and see how my cervix was. I now know that I was very unprepared for what a stretch and sweep entailed, I got up on the bed and spread my legs to then have what felt like a whole arm inside of me trying to stretch out my cervix, my obstetrician was calming telling me to breathe and focus on something else. But it was extremely hard to focus on anything else. I continued to tell Alex after that it was one of the most uncomfortable things I have been through and to top it off my cervix was closed but a tiny bit soft meaning this baby wasn’t coming anytime soon.
The next five days consisted of me eagerly waiting for this baby to come. Every morning I would hope to wake up to a baby, and every night I was hoping that it was my last with a baby growing in me. It was a lot like the feeling you get before Christmas. I was weirdly excited about my labour. I have a fascination with pregnancy and birth and how a female's body can go through such a thing, I had even said to Alex that I wanted to have a mirror down the end for me to see what was happening. I continued to have Braxton hicks’ contractions most days which would last an hour, I often thought about how I would know that I was going into labour? How are the contractions going to be different from the Braxton hicks? But let me assure you, you just know!
Sunday 7th of October, at 3 am I was woken by intense pain in my belly. It lasted about one minute and came again after a break of 10 minutes. This was the day that daylight savings had kicked in and Alex and I had stupidly set the clocks wrong, so I was thinking it was 2 am. I was frantically trying to work out what time it was on my phone as I didn’t want to wake Alex if it was that early. I waited for about an hour, and my contractions were still lasting for one minute but now about five minutes apart, so I woke Alex and said that I think I’m in labour.
I still remember his eyes just popping open and him saying “really!? Are you sure? Have you rung the hospital? Do we need to go?” I rang the hospital, and they had told me to wait a bit longer until the contractions were around three minutes apart. They weren’t too bad in pain more just uncomfortable, and I felt instant relief once that minute was up, so I felt like I could get through them easily at that point. I got up and had a shower, washed my hair and shaved my legs because I thought who knows when I’m going to get that chance to do this again. It was about 8 am, I told Alex to get a wriggle on and let’s start to get ready to head up to the hospital as the pain had definitely kicked up a notch and the contractions were now two minutes apart. After speaking to the midwife she told us to come up but have some breakfast before we come as the breakfast trolley had already been past, I thought what does one have for breakfast before having a baby?
We got up to the hospital only to find out that our obstetrician wasn’t working this weekend, so we had another lady who we hadn’t met before, luckily she was lovely and seemed to know what she was doing. All my contractions were coming through the front of my belly which is a lot better I’m told that back contractions. I didn’t really have a birth plan as such but I wanted to see how far I could go without pain relief and I really didn’t want to have an epidural as I have a fear of needles (which has now subsided after having what seemed like 1000 blood tests during pregnancy). I used the bath as my pain relief and stayed in there right up until it was time to push. I had to get my waters broken while at the hospital which took me from 5cm dilated to 7cm. I stayed in the bath breathing through each contraction, feeling Alex looking at me in helplessness and worry.
At about 1 pm on Sunday, I felt this weird sensation of needing to push, it just came out of nowhere, and I couldn’t explain to anyone how it felt I could only start to push. I hopped back on the bed where the obstetrician checked me, and I was 9cm, so I was put on my side to help stretch out my cervix to 10cm.
Once I was there it was game on! I had one practice push, and I was ready to go, with every push I did I was so exhausted, I quickly started to think that I wasn’t going to be able to push this baby out, I felt like I wasn’t doing the right thing. I wasn’t pushing in the right way. Like how far is it from where the baby is to where it needs to go? I remember the midwife saying she could see some hair and it was like I got this burst of energy I knew the end was near. Alex yelled “Teigan, Teigan look! It's her head!” and sure enough this little squished face had popped out, from there I was able to pull our baby up on to my chest. RELIEF! I was able to breathe again. I was able to relax, our baby was here, and we were absolutely in love!
It was a strange feeling having this tiny little human on your chest, she quickly found her way over to my breast and started to suck straight away. The midwife was crazily taking photos of our first moments with Harriet, and I am so grateful she did. The moment was such a blur, and it is amazing to be able to look back at those photos and remember. I ended up labouring from 3 am until 1 pm and pushed for 30 minutes to get our baby girl out who was 6 pound 15 ounces and 49cm long. The recovery after having Harriet was straight forward again, I guess you could say, I only had to get two stitches after giving birth, so that wasn’t too much to deal with. It was a bit stingy at first, but you get used to them, it was the bruising that really surprised me, I was so bruised down there and on my inner thighs from actually pushing Harriet out.
The first night was a bit of blur, and I don’t think I got much sleep between cluster feeding, changing tar like poo nappies and burping - I might have sat down on the bed for 10 minutes in total. The cluster feeding was intense. Someone latched on to you sucking what felt like 24/7 was hard, and it was hard on the nipples as well those poor suckers were sore. We stayed in the hospital for four days, and it was great constant help, advice, consistent food coming, a clean room and bathroom and your loved ones coming in to congratulate you and your new bundle of joy.
Being pregnant and giving birth is one of the most amazing experiences I have had to date and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.