Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The birth of Oscar

I am a private person and have been debating whether to post this or not. In the end, my love of reading other people's birth stories won me over. I decided that if I enjoy reading everyone elses, then I should give something back. Here is Oscar's birth story, two years after he was born.

When I woke, the day after Oscar was officially due, I felt strange pains straight away, but chose to ignore them. I'd heard that first babies are notoriously late and in my head I still had another week, maybe two before he would be born.

The weather was cold and a little wet. Rodge walked and I waddled down to a local café to meet my sister's boyfriend, Joe for coffee. I realised I was having mild contractions, but decided to keep them to myself.

Rodge and Joe headed off – to inspect a car that Joe wanted to buy. I wandered home, pausing every now and then for a contraction. They were not too painful and didn't really bother me. I decided I had better take it easy, as I figured I'd be having a baby soon. By soon, I was still thinking maybe in a day or two – I'd heard pre-labour pains can occur for awhile. It never occurred to me that I may be in labour!

I can not remember what I did that day. I think I did some washing. Maybe I read a book or watched a dvd. I know I spent the entire day just pottering about our apartment, pausing here and there for a contraction.

Sometime early afternoon the contractions seemed to get stronger – I tried to call Rodge, but he'd gone to his candombe drumming and I knew he wouldn't hear the phone anyway.

When Rodge arrived home, I let him know that we'd probably have to go to the hospital some time. He decided to do a bit of grocery shopping, so we could have a lovely last pre-baby dinner. He cooked some pork ribs in five spice and made a delicious salad. As we ate, I had to pause regularly for contractions. I remember saying to Rodge that I couldn't be in true labour yet as the midwife at our natural birth classes had informed us that when in labour you loose all your appetite. I was starving and ate a good sized portion!

After dinner Rodge called the midwife who told him to start timing contractions, and to call back when either my water broke or my contractions were 5 minutes apart, lasting for a minute each and like that regularly for an hour. My contractions were fairly irregular, between 6 and 10 minutes apart and rather short, lasting between 30 and 45 seconds. Sometimes I had difficulty telling Rodge exactly when the contraction started or ended, as they had a wave-like quality to them.

Rodge started running round the apartment, organising bags and bits, charging the camera battery, tiding. At one stage he ducked down to the 7-11 to buy himself some V for energy and a bottle of apple juice for me.

I started to watch the first ever episode of Offspring, which I thought was fitting, as it was about a midwife. Sometime while I was watching Offspring, I said to Rodge, I think I might lie down and headed into the bedroom. Just as I sat down on our bed, I thought, actually, I think I might go do a poo. So I went to the toilet and did a poo. As I stood up from the toilet, I felt a bit shaky. I promptly lay down on the bathroom floor. Rodge tried to convince me to move somewhere more comfy or hop in the shower. When that didn't work he rushed off to get some blankets to make me a little nest. I asked Rodge to turn off all the lights. I wanted quiet. I wanted dark.

I think by this stage Rodge called the midwife again, who asked to speak to me. Later I was told that because I could hold a coherent conversation and I wasn't screaming, they didn't think I'd be having the baby anytime soon. I told them that I felt this immense amount of pressure on the lower back and in my bottom and that the contractions really hurt. The midwife said I should hop in the shower. I chose not to.

Just after Rodge hung up, in the middle of a contraction, I felt a pop and the pressure decreased. My water broke. He called the midwife back, let her know the water was clear. She told us to stay put for a bit longer. That the contractions weren't long enough and that as it was my first baby, it could be much longer.

On the next contraction, I told Rodge that I could feel the baby coming out. He asked if he could turn on the light and have a look. I actually hesitated here, as we had agreed that he didn't need to look down that end ... but the light went on and he looked. He didn't say anything to me, but grabbed his phone and called the midwife straight back. I heard him say to her, ummmm, am I supposed to see movement down there? He told her that he could see hair on the inside. She first assured him that this was completely normal, then told him to hang up and call 000 immediately.

It happened very quickly from there, I think Oscar was born 3 or 4 short, intense contractions afterwards. Rodge was on the phone to the 000 lady the entire time. I heard Rodge say, she isn't pushing. I never had to push. I never felt that urge to push that everyone talks about. Oscar just came out with the strength of the contractions. The lady tried to make me lie on my back to slow the labour – so uncomfortable. And she told Rodge to put his hand down there and apply slight pressure to slow the head coming out. That was when I started yelling – I did not want Rodge to touch me!

Between all of this Rodge had to let the two ambulance men in. We live in a security apartment, so first they had to ring via intercom twice, then Rodge had to duck outside to press the button on the lift. All the while juggling the 000 lady on the phone. He made it back in time to catch Oscar. I love that he was the first person to hold our son. He remembers feeling relieved to hear him cry.

When the ambulance men (whose names I swore I would remember, but have long since forgotten) came in, they unwrapped the cord from round Oscar's shoulder and handed him to me. It all felt unreal. I will admit that the love didn't overwhelm me then, but came later. He was small and red and squishy. He had short, wrinkly fingers with very long fingernails. His face was round like the moon.

The second ambulance officer was very excited. It was his first birth. He asked if we had a camera. Rodge ran off to find it, but apparently the death stare I gave them stopped them all in their tracks. What can I say? I was lying in a t-shirt on the bathroom floor, just having gone through labour, with two strange men looking at my nether regions. The last thing I wanted was a photograph. Now I wish we had had one. A visual record of an amazing moment.

They bundled us all into the ambulance and gave me a drip (which the midwife tut-tutted when we arrived at the hospital and promptly removed). Rodge got to hold Oscar the whole way to the hospital. He says he feels very, very lucky for that precious time with his newborn son. I birthed the placenta just before we arrived.

At the hospital we were admitted to the birth centre, where we were able to spend the rest of the night. Rodge's mum and Abuela came by, emotional and excited to meet Oscar. I had a shower and received a few stitches for a second degree tear. In my memory those stitches were far more painful than the labour.

Our first night as a family of three. When Oscar was on me he would not let go, he would latch on to my nipple and suck strongly. Eventually we all slept restlessly, fretfully, for two or three hours, together on the same bed. 

Even now Rodge and I occasionally look at each other, then start giggling. A little bit surprised that our beautiful little boy was accidently born at home.

With our day old Oscar at RPA hospital. Photo by my sister Aym.


  1. Oh Imogen, I loved reading this... every birth story moves me, just how sacred and different they are for each mama and each baby. My brother was born accidentally at home too in a very similar manner to you, except that the ambulance men came too late to help! I love that photo of the three of you... makes me remember those first hours/days with my alex and reuben - such overwhelming love xx

    1. I find it amazing how different everyone's births are.

      Those first days are so blurry now, a lifetime ago.

      I'm glad I triggered some lovely memories for you.

  2. Gee I love your blog Imogen, so glad I found it.
    Oscar's birth story is beautiful, unique and moving, thanks for sharing it.
    I had a very different experience when my girls were born. One day, I might share my story too.

    1. Thank you. I look forward to hearing your birth stories.

  3. What beautiful memories. An amazing experience that is usually difficult to explain but you did it so eloquently. Thank you for sharing. I didn't think I would (prior to my own labour), but I really love hearing and sharing birth stories. Your right, every experience is completely different. xo

  4. Thanks for sharing this. I love a good birth story and this one is rather special!


  5. Oh. My. God. What an extraordinary story! I had to hold my breath when Roger had to go out and let the ambulance officers in just as you were about to give birth. I bet Oscar will love hearing this story as he grows older.

  6. Goodness...what a surprise it must of been for you and Rodge! What an amazing birth :) Thanks so much for sharing. xx

  7. Wow, what an extraordinary entrance into the world! Well done lady! Kellie xx

  8. Such a wonderful story Imogen, so well told. I am very glad you decided to share it here. Many parts of your story made me smile. I think it is so funny how many women when the first twangs of labor begin we think to ourselves 'oh, no that's not labor. I'll go out for coffee or I'll go and look at a car!' Or in my case with my second babe i thought 'oh, no that's not labor. I'll get down on my hands and knees and scrub the kitchen floor!' Mine turned out to be a very active, very fast labor and like yours an unplanned and wonderful homebirth. I too have been thinking about sharing my birth stories on my blog, I'm half way through writing one. I think sharing birth stories is important, particularly in these times when there is so much intervention in pregnancy and birth and with that for many women comes a lot of fear around the whole experience. To read positive and empowering experiences is surely a good thing. Happy belated birthday Oscar and well done mum and dad. x

    1. Thank you. So true – I was definitely in denial about being in labour. I look forward to reading your birth stories. Certainly sounds like they were eventful (but then what birth isn't?) It is important to break down the fear and anxiety surrounding the uncertainties of birth.

  9. Such a great tale! Amazing stuff xx

  10. oh I love birth stories, thank you for sharing! I really should be brave & share mine too :)

  11. Oh wow, what an absolutely amazing birth story! Thanks so much for sharing. (I have a friend who's son was also nearly born at home. She got sent home from the hospital because she was too calm, and nearly delivered in her bathroom too!) Colleen PS Found your blog via Binds you to me

  12. Wonderful! I always love reading birth stories, (especially homebirths :-)

  13. Great birth story so beautifully written. You made me cry.