Well, we are back in front of the computer again, with the difference that Owen is now on the outside of my belly rather than the inside. He’s full of milk and cuddled up against me in a sling.
Yes, as Kevin has already reported, Owen Thom Flaherty was born just before 6am on the 16th of November, weighing 8lb and 8oz and immediately looking around to see his family and find some healthy refreshments. Of course, we are delighted with him!
Many thanks for all the kind messages of blessing and congratulations that have come via this website, Cryptogon, and email.
I know from all the comments and messages we received before Owen was born that many readers were interested in our plans to have a water birth at the Kaitaia maternity unit (the Municipal Hatchery, as Kevin calls it) under the care of our wonderful midwives, Zoe and Tanja. For those of you not interested in the details, please read no further, but for those who are wondering what happened, here’s a bit more information:
Unfortunately, the Kaitaia facility only caters for “low risk” births. When my waters broke and I did not go into established labour (for more than 36 hours) the birth was no longer considered “low risk.” We were advised to go to the hospital in Whangarei in case labour needed to be induced, and (more especially) because of the risk of infection and delivering a sick baby. Some dear friends of ours had a baby who was born very ill under similar circumstances, so this risk seemed very real to us.
As is often the case with having babies, a lot of things didn’t go as planned:
* Water birth was no longer an option at Whangarei hospital, and I was disappointed to find that the delivery room didn’t even have a shower to use for comfort/ pain relief.
* The obstetrician on duty was a horrible, unenlightened old prat with the bedside manner of the proverbial bush pig. I don’t want to go into the details of how this doctor managed to upset us so badly. Let’s just say that at a certain point I told him he’d better leave the room quickly (I may not have phrased my request quite as delicately as that!). I then told the midwife (in between pushing, I think) that, while I wasn’t yet quite sure how we were going to get this baby out, any method that involved the obstetrician should be considered an absolute last resort.
* The baby was a very tight fit. When he was first born his head was so molded that it looked like he’d been squeezed out of a drainpipe. I imagine the poor little guy might have had quite a headache after all that!
* The midwife started to get quite worried about Owen after I’d been pushing hard for nearly 2 hours. She could see a lot of blood coming before the baby, and was having trouble finding his heartbeat to confirm that he was ok. I was desperate to get our little darling out safely as fast as I could — and hopefully without the “help” of ventouse, forceps, episiotomy, emergency C-section, nasty obstetrician etc.
* Owen’s birth was pretty hard on me at the end. I pushed him out “unassisted” alright, but ended up with bad 3rd degree tearing and significant blood loss — probably 2 litres by the time they got me sutured up in the operating theatre.
Even though a lot of things didn’t go as planned, there were a lot of positive points about this birth:
* The first stage of labour was painless — I would even describe it as beautiful and ecstatic. The midwife said that the vocalisations I was making during the contractions sounded like a birth song to the baby. I never could have imagined that having a baby would feel so beautiful. By the time I started pushing, I was loaded up on enough “happy hormones” (or whatever) to last me through whatever followed. (Even now I’m not sure if I’m still on that high, or whether I’m just insanely happy about this baby!)
* Kevin and I both feel very grateful to the Whangarei hospital midwives, Catherine and Maree. Even though we had never met them before, it was easy to trust them. Maree, who delivered Owen, is a very experienced and gutsy midwife. We were so grateful that she helped us to stay in control of the birth, even when things got difficult. Her strength and wisdom were instrumental in getting Owen out into the light of day without drugs or surgical intervention.
* Apparently we were in good company regarding our dislike of the obstetrician. Certain medical personnel came out and said that we had their full support if we exercised our right not to follow certain of his advice. They were very kind to us, and respectful of our needs and wishes.
* We refused the obstetrician’s advice to hook me up to a drip to induce labour. This turned out to be an excellent decision, as I immediately went into labour on my own, and was able to escape the horrible fate of being all tied up with drips and monitors. Even though things didn’t go as planned, it’s nice that it still worked out to have a natural and unmedicated birth.
* The best thing of all is that Owen finally emerged strong and healthy. It was wonderful to hear his first cry, and to hold his precious little body against my chest immediately after the birth. He lifted his head up to gaze into my eyes, and had already had his first feed before I was wheeled away to the operating theatre. It was much easier to leave him knowing that he was a strong, healthy baby, and seeing him nestled safely against Kevin’s bare chest.
We left Whangarei hospital as soon as I could move, and came back to Kaitaia to recuperate at the maternity unit. What an amazing place. The recovery suites have double beds big enough for Mum, Dad, and baby. There are no visiting hours, and Dads are encouraged to stay. The lights have a dimmer switch which you can reach when you are lying in bed. This place was designed by the people who actually use it, who understand the needs of parents and new babies. And it’s all free of charge. We stayed there for several days while I regained some of my strength.
Two litres of blood is quite a lot of blood to lose, and it pushed my iron levels way down. Still, with Kevin and my parents spoiling me rotten, I already feel that I’m getting back to normal. Every day I feel my injuries less and know that my strength is inching back. It helps that Owen is a pretty easy-going baby and an excellent feeder. He’s been feeding well and thriving since day one, already weighing 9lb 3oz (up from 8lb, 8oz at birth) at his one week checkup, and 10lb at the 2-week checkup..
Kevin and I are up to our armpits in breastmilk and baby poop. . . and we are absolutely loving this delicious baby!
Don’t know how, but I’ve actually found time to start enjoying the garden again over the last few days. The growth is fantastic at this time of year, and I expect to be posting about it very soon.