Monday, June 11, 2012

The time I delivered a baby…

Early last year, my beautiful oldest sister told me she was going to have a baby. Actually, she shoved a pee stick in front of my face that proudly displayed two little lines. I was pretty excited. I love love LOVE babies a (hence me becoming a midwife) and love love LOVE being an aunty. Zoey asked me if, when the time came, I would want to be a support person for her during labour and if I would be this baby’s godmother. I answered both questions with a resounding YES!
And then.
A few weeks later Zoey & Pete came to our place for the weekend. Sunday morning Zoey came to my room with tears in her eyes and simply said ‘I’m bleeding. Pretty badly'.’ My heart sank. I told her that she needed to go to the hospital and she did just that as the rest of us headed off to church. I just happened to be leading worship that Sunday which is no doubt one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Lead people into a place of worship when all the while worried sick about my sister and my future nephew/niece. One of the songs I’d chosen to do that morning contained the following words: In all things, we know that we are more than conquerors, you keep us by your love. I sang those words and burst into tears right there on the stage, in front of my entire church family who had no idea what was going on. I stood there emotional and vulnerable for the rest of the worship already grieving to God for what I just knew was happening at that hospital. During the service Zoey text from the hospital. I’ve lost the baby. My entire family were messes. We’re super close and everyone felt the loss.
And then.
Several months later Zoey showed me about five pee sticks all proudly displaying those two lovely lines. I remember going with Zoey to her first trimester ultrasound and how she scared she was that the baby wouldn’t be okay. But as soon as we saw that heartbeat we just knew that everything was going to be okay. Her pregnancy seemed to fly by and before I knew it she was 8 months pregnant and we were making labour plans. She was due early May and the plan was that I would take time off work and stay with her the week she was due to make sure I was there when she went into labour.
On the 19th April my mother woke me up pretty early by bursting into my bedroom and exclaiming ‘You need to get up. Zoey thinks she might be in labour!’. Now I was pretty tired that morning due to the fact that I’d only gotten home sometime in the wee hours of the morning after spending the evening in Brisbane at a One Direction totally non-embarrassing concert. But I sat bolt upright, rubbed my eyes and asked mum for all the details she knew. Could it really be happening I wondered, it is three weeks before he’s due! Mum stated that Zoey’d had a ‘show’ and was feeling some contractions but was going to wait and see if they became a bit more regular before she established whether or not she was, in fact, in labour. I got up, had a shower and leisurely started packing my bag awaiting Zoey to call for me to start the drive (I live about an hour and a half away from Zoey & Pete). Just after 8.30am I decided to give her a quick call to see how she was going. She told me that she was doing okay. Contractions were starting to become more regular but she would call me when she thought I should come. Thinking I had a bit more time I decided I could relax for a bit and so abandoned packing in favour of a bit of TV. Literally 10 minutes later Zoey called. I think you should come now. I quickly threw together the rest of my packing and jumped in my car.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t speed. It is an actual miracle that I got there 1. Safe and 2. Free of speeding fines. When I was about 30 minutes out of Maryborough Zoey rang and said that contractions were getting very strong and close together and she was heading to the hospital in Hervey Bay (about 30 mins from Maryborough) because any longer and she didn’t think she’d be able to handle the car ride. I told her I’d meet her there and putting my foot down just a little bit more… Hello 15km over the limit…
I arrived at the hospital about 15 minutes after Zoey did, around 11am, and labour was definitely in full swing. I have to say that she was an absolute trooper. Nothing like the stories my mum (who’d supported Zoey during Mayana’s delivery) had told me about Zoey’s first labour! Clearly she was much better behaved second time round! Not once did she ask for pain relief and she barely made any noise, right up until the end anyway. She moved between leaning over the bed and hoping into the shower where she requested the water be so hot that her back had great red welts all over it. She really only stayed on the bed for dilation checks and the actual pushing business.
I kept myself busy by shovelling handfuls of ice chips into Zoey’s mouth whenever she requested and by letting her crush the crap out of my hands (Pete’s hands were busy massaging her back) as she contracted away.The first time Zoey was checked for dilation, which I think was about 20 minutes after I got there, she was 7 centimetres dilated! And by the second check baby’s head had descended enough that she was ready to have her waters broken. And then things really got moving.
When Zoey started feeling the pushing urge I asked her if it’d be okay for me to let go of her hand and go stand down near the ‘business end’ to watch the show. The midwife, whose name was Heather, casually mentioned that if Zoey was okay with it I could deliver the baby (we’d previously told her that I was studying nursing and planning to be a midwife)! I think I mumbled something stupid like Uhhh ummm really? Can I? Zoey, mid contraction, just nodded and said of course I could. Heather asked if I had delivered any babies before to which I replied No… Is that okay? Heather assured me it was fine because she’d tell me what to do! I remember scrambling to put gloves on my shaking hands and taking my place and the end of the bed. During pushing Zoey was, understandably, quite vocal but I was pretty much focussing 100% on the fact that in mere moments I’d be not only meeting my nephew… but delivering him.
His head started to crown and before I could blink his little head was out. I kept thinking over and over Surely that is not all of his head… It’s so tiny… There has to be more to his head than that! But his whole head it was and I reached out and touched it. Heather grabbed my hands and used them to feel around his neck for the umbilical cord. It was wrapped around his neck once and she just grabbed my finger, and using it, pried the cord from around his neck. With the next contraction I remember Heather, with her hands covering mine, making me pull at his neck (or as she called it, guiding) enough to make me worried I was going to hurt him. As soon as he started to slide on out Heather let go of my hands leaving me free to catch him and lift him up high and place him on Zoey’s chest. Zoey asked if he was a boy and Pete and I both assured her that he most definitely was!
And so at 1pm on the 19th April 2012 – Reuben John Alexander Friend was born. Weighing in at just 5lbs, 11oz and measuring a tiny 43cm. My darling little boy. My sweetest little godson. I didn’t actually know that one of his middle names was going to be named after me until Pete announced his name for all to hear. I was completely and utterly touched. And I felt like crying… but can you blame me really!?
We spent the hour of skin-to-skin time just staring at him and recounting the labour. My parents arrived a short time after and met their grandson. Somewhere in the next few hours – Reuben had his connection to the mother ship severed, Zoey got her small tear stitched up, Mayana met her baby brother and I finally ate some food & announced the safe arrival of my nephew via twitter and facebook (and got a crazy 43 likes & 14 comments – the most action my FB page has ever had I’m sure!) :
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He is so super gorgeous and the time between visits feels like forever! He’s only seven weeks old and I feel like I've already missed so much of his life.
The whole experience was completely surreal and for the most part it felt like I was watching myself deliver him, as opposed to actually doing it! If I had any doubts whatsoever that I had chosen the right career path.. I certainly have none now.
I literally cannot wait until delivering babies is my everyday job.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful overview Tante Kerry xxoo

Lou said...

Ah tears! It's so cool to hear this story from your perspective Alexie! You are going to be a great midwife one day... Now I'm just jealous that you've got to meet baby Reuben and I sadly, have not :(


Talia said...

So beautiful. And lucky you- delivering a baby is on my bucket list! Not sure how I'll manage it though!
Love hearing this story from another perspective!

Susie said...

This is GREaT! Thanks for the insight into aged care. Doing my prac very very soon. Just finished first semester YaY.. Susannah

Jeff said...

Hi Alexie,

I was wondering if you accepted any guest posting on your site. I couldn’t manage to find your email on the site. If you could get a hold of me at, I would greatly appreciate it!


Heather said...

Hi Alexie! I wanted to know if you could answer my question regarding your blog! My name is Heather and my email is Lifesabanquet1(at)gmail(dot)com :-)


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