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The story of Liam's birth

It begins...

The baby was due on 3rd July but held out an extra week just to make me anxious and cranky!! The labour started with a round of Braxton Hicks contractions on the morning of the 8th July and accompanied by a backache. I was supposed to go out shopping with Esther to help with her wedding preparations but I didn't feel up to walking about the city and so I rang her to cancel our outing. Instead I spent the day playing on the computer and doing the grocery shopping but I felt awful all day. At about 9pm that night the contractions started to worsen. They were pretty painful but were still about 15 mins apart and irregular. I had a long hot bath to try to ease the pain and then decided to go to bed and get some rest because at this stage I thought that I might be experiencing false labour. I didn't last long in bed because I found that I couldn't lie down as the pain was much worse when I did. So I moved into the lounge room and turned on the stereo and listened to The Jam. The contractions were now between 5 and 10 minutes apart and so Anthony rang the labour ward for some advice. They asked to speak to me and told me that I was in pre labour and it sounded as thought the baby was in a posterior position and to have a shower and to stay at home.

Camping out

It was now about 1am and Anthony set up the campbed in the lounge room so that he could get some sleep and still be with me. The contractions stopped for about 2-3 hours and I was able to get some sleep sitting semi-upright on the lounge but then they started up at about 3am and were much worse. I moved to the floor where I knelt leaning over some pillows piled on the footstool. As it was the middle of winter we had turned on the heater and so the room was bathed in an eerie red glow with Paul Weller singing in the background. This whole chain of events had spooked Kaboobie (the cat) and she decided to attack me which I didn't appreciate! As the contractions got closer together we rang the labour ward twice more but each time the midwife on the phone reassured me that the baby wasn't about to pop out and that we would be better off at home. As I hadn't been able to lie down in all of this time by 8am I was quite fatigued and decided to try lying in a vertical position recommended for posterior labours but this just made things worse and resulted in my yelling at Anthony to lift me up as I was stuck! It just so happened that at this precise moment he was talking to the labour ward again and this time they told us to come in so they could examine me and check the baby's heartbeat - perhaps the midwife could hear the sounds of desperation in my voice.

Peak hour

It was now 9am on a Friday morning - right smack in the middle of Sydney's peak hour traffic. We had joked for weeks that the trip to the hospital would be okay so long as it wasn't during peak hour but just in case we had determined the best route so we wouldn't get stuck in a traffic jam and need to stop and hail an ambulance! Luckily the traffic flowed and we cheated by using the T3 lane - but we had a legitimate excuse, after all at the end of the day there would be three people! It was, however, the most uncomfortable car ride that I have ever had because it really hurt to sit because of the positioning of the baby.

Checking in for the long wait

We arrived at King George V Hospital at 10am and parked in the emergency parking space. After checking in at the front desk where they gave us ID tags for myself andthe baby we took the lift up to the labour ward. Once there, the midwife cautioned us that she was going to check on my progress and if the labour wasn't fully established then I would be sent home with a sleeping pill - this horrified me as I couldn't bear the thought of another car trip. But after an examination she established that I was actually in labour and already dilated to 3cm. I was hooked up to a machine that determined that the contractions were about 3-5 minutes apart and that the baby's heartbeat was strong and regular. Anthony went to park the car and we were shown to the first stage room where another couple (along with her mum and another guy!) were also waiting. A nurse visited us to ask if we would donate the baby's cord blood which we agreed to do.

A nice cup of tea

After a while we were assigned a room which overlooked Missenden Rd and St Andrews College. It was strange to see a little cot complete with baby clothes and blanket positioned next to the bed as it made me realise that this was it - when I left this room it would be with a baby! As I was dehydrated the midwife insisted that I drink hot sweet tea and encouraged me to walk the corridors to help turn the baby's head. For the next few hours I drank tea and ate ice chips in between contractions and spent the rest of the time leaning over pillows on the bed. Luckily the end of the bed could be lowered so it was much more comfortable than kneeling on the floor. One of the midwives showed me the laughing gas pipe but I didn't use it for the first few hours. After this time, however, it quickly became my best friend and dulled the pain enough to allow me to rest between contractions. By early afternoon the contractions had settled into a predictable pattern and so while I was concentrating on them Anthony was able to take a short nap.

Hooked on gas and showered with massages

At about 6pm the midwife checked on my progress but I had only dilated to 4cm which was frustrating as we had now been in the hospital for six hours. So she broke the waters and I was somehow automatically dilated to 6cm. From then on things got pretty painful and hurried along. I took a long hot shower to try and ease the pain of the contractions which were now intense and more frequent. The baby's head still needed to turn before it could be delivered and so the midwife said that I would need to rock my hips to help turn the head. This was not as easy as it sounds and I needed help first from Anthony and then from another midwife who suggested that I sit over the back of a chair for some support. She also massaged my tailbone to ease the pain of the pressure of the baby's head on my spine.

Turning heads

In all of this time I hadn't had any pain relief except for the gas which I was basically sucking on for about 8 hours!! I was really scared about having an epidural - it sounds silly but the thought of that fat needle in my spine scared me more than labour itself!! However, by about 8pm the gas was no longer very effective and I finally asked for an epidural but when the midwife checked me she said it was too late and that I was fully dilated and that I would have a baby by 10pm (her signing off time). Almost immediately I started to push and caught them a bit by surprise which meant the midwife was running about organising things in between my pushes! It was a busy night in the labour ward with 5 babies born within an hour and so Anthony assisted the midwife by offering his hips as a leaning post. The baby's head still had a couple of centimetres left to turn before it could come out and so while I pushed the midwife turned the head into the correct position.

And it's a...


The midwives were taking bets on the sex of the baby and its haircolour (which they were sure was going to be red) and so they were somewhat surprised to see the mass of dark hair as the head started to crown. When the baby's head emerged he gave a little cry and I reached down to stroke his cheek. One of the midwives said that it was going to be a girl but with the next push the rest of the body was delivered and we came face to face with our little boy "bumpy" at 907pm. Immediately he started wailing and was loosely wrapped in a blanket and placed in my arms. The placenta was delivered and the midwife made Anthony cut the cord.

Bumpy in the flesh

Although we had several names chosen for the baby we immediately decided that he was definitely going to be Liam Oliver. While one midwife repaired the tearing and completed the formalities another helped me to feed Liam for the first time. The baby was then weighed and measured and dressed in a nightie and nappy and wrapped up securely. They placed hot blankets on my body and I was then allowed to eat for the first time in over 24 hours but as it was now late at night all that was available was some tea and toast and one of Anthony's muesli bars but it tasted like heaven! After this feast I left the baby with Anthony and went down the hall to have a nice hot shower and put on some fresh clothes before we were escorted down to the maternity ward.

Liam's official hospital portrait
11 July 1999 - two days old

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Last updated: early 2000
© Andrea Curr 2000
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