This is a story of how babywearing helped us cope with a sticky situation, in this case an unplanned birth…
A year ago yesterday, my wife Mel was 37 week pregnant with our third son. Our two older boys (then-5-year-old Sam and then-22-month-old Isaac) were born exactly on the due date, so we thought that this baby would follow in the footsteps of his brothers. We were planning to have this baby at home with the help of our lovely midwife, who helped us birth Isaac in the Birth Centre. My mother-in-law, who lives overseas, was planning to be here a week before the due date so she can help out with the older boys just like she did when Isaac was born in the middle of the night (Sam was fast asleep then). She had called earlier in the week to ask if she should come earlier, but we confidently said this baby is staying put for a few more weeks. Little did we know…
I was in the office at 1pm when my phone rang. Mel was on the other line, and she sounded calm but I could sense worry in her voice. She told me that she just woke up from a brief nap with Isaac (she had put Isaac to sleep on her back in a woven wrap as per usual and fell asleep after she put him down on the bed) when she felt a gush of liquid between her legs. She thought her water had broken but when she looked it was blood, and quite a lot of it. It reminded her of the bleeding episode she had at 12 weeks. She was also having some contraction pain. I told her to call the midwife and rushed home. When I got home, I found Mel squatting at the foot of our bed. She was clearly in pain but was calmly breathing through what she felt were regular contractions. The bleeding was still continuing. Not long after I arrived Isaac woke up from his nap. He was a bit cranky and wanted to be carried. I grabbed a nearby ring sling and popped him in a hip carry so I can attend to Mel. He instantly calmed down in the sling.
Our midwife came soon after and did a check of the blood and said that she was not comfortable with the amount of blood loss so far (definitely more than a bloody show) and that something could be happening with the placenta. She gave us a choice: we could wait and see how it would progress at home, or we could go to the Birth Centre so if something else more urgent were to happen there was already help standing by (the Birth Centre is right next to the maternity unit inside the Royal Brisbane Hospital). We decided that the latter was the best thing to do under the circumstances, so I popped Isaac on my back in a Mei Tai so I could have my hands free to quickly pack our bags. By this time the contractions were stronger and Mel was clearly in a lot of pain. We left home just before 2:30pm. Mel was squatting on the back seat and Isaac was in the car seat next to her, watching quietly as his mum let out screams of pain every few minutes and his dad driving like a maniac through Brisbane afternoon traffic. We arrived at the hospital 20 minutes later (though it seemed more like forever to me!). I parked at the emergency space in front of the hospital, quickly threw Isaac on my back in the Mei Tai (in probably my fastest-ever back carry as Mel was yelling at me to open the back door because of child-lock!), and helped Mel up to the fifth-floor Birth Centre unit. It was an interesting experience seeing the reaction of an elevator full of people to a pajama-wearing, bath-towel-toting woman in obvious labour pain, who was trying her best not to scream in front of strangers and clutching the arm of a man wearing a toddler on his back. 🙂 And of course the damn elevator had to stop at every.single.floor all the way up to level 5! I felt like yelling, “Yes people, she IS in labour! Now move out of the frickin’ way!!”
When we got to the Birth Centre our midwife had already set up the bean bag and mats on the floor just like the way Mel preferred it when she gave birth to Isaac. She had also started filling the birthing tub as we had also planned for a waterbirth. But when Mel dropped on her knees everything suddenly progressed very quickly (and blood was still coming out of her in gushes) and suddenly the head was crowning! Isaac witnessed the whole commotion from my back in the Mei Tai and got very excited when he saw the baby’s head and wanted to get down so he could see it up close. I didn’t think that was a good idea so I just turned around to give him a better view. The midwife asked if I wanted to catch the baby like last time, but I didn’t want to risk having an extra pair of little hands helping out. 🙂 With one final push, our third son Efram slid out onto the midwife’s hands and his loud cry immediately accompanied our tears of joy. That was 3:10pm, only 20 minutes after we had arrived at the hospital. He latched on to his mum like a pro and breastfed for a long time afterwards while the three of us quietly marvelled at this little creature who clearly wanted to make a grand entrance into this world. I continued wearing Isaac on my back for about an hour after the birth as he became a little distraught when he saw the new little person in the room. It was only when his brother Sam joined us after school that he was happy to go down. Sam was completely surprised to see his new baby brother who was still in mummy’s tummy in the morning, and was a bit disappointed as he had been looking forward to participating in the whole birth experience at home but just missed out.
After carrying a 12kg toddler for a few action-packed hours, my body was very relieved when it only had to wear a 2.75kg newborn. After a big feed, Efram slept blissfully in the sling for 3 hours until we all went home early that evening.
An examination of the placenta afterwards revealed a small rupture, which was probably what caused the bleeding and triggered the labour. It was a rollercoaster of an afternoon for sure, and while we didn’t get the calm homebirth we were hoping for, in the end we got the same desired outcome: a healthy mum, a healthy baby, and a relatively fast labour (plus a happy toddler and a slightly tired dad). Babywearing certainly made handling a toddler during the whole ordeal a lot easier, at least for me.
Has babywearing ever gotten you out of a sticky situation? Share your experience in the comments below!
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