We were so lucky to find out we were pregnant again; I was so excited to be able to experience pregnancy and birthing again and to meet our new little person. We told Madison so early (before almost anyone else knew). She was so excited and was always touching my belly and kissing you. She would talk to you and sing. She was so sweet and excited about you.
You were due on the 8th Feb 2017 and not long after telling people about you, we found out Bec and Mark were also expecting a baby in February. Baby Lily was due in November, so you would have a cousin close to your age too, along with Elliot (Scott and Cora’s new baby). I was so excited to be going through another pregnancy with friends and family.
My pregnancy was another easy one. I loved being pregnant and getting to feel you move inside me. You were always sitting so low that I felt like I was walking around your head in the later months. I put on 21kg while I was pregnant (22kg with Madison), but I was all bump with you. I got really swollen and put on weight with Madison. I ended up with stretch marks all over my tummy after carrying you, but they are a reminder of my sacrifice for you. I will always protect you, no matter the cost on myself. You and Madison are little parts of my heart on the outside and I will always remember when we were one.
On the Monday morning before your birth, I woke up to strong Braxton Hicks contractions. They continued all morning until about 12pm. They were very strong compared to what I had been having throughout the pregnancy, and very regular – about 10 mins apart. I thought it may progress further but it all stopped by lunchtime. I had started losing the mucous plug too, so felt like it wouldn't be long until you arrived. The next morning, I woke to the same Braxton Hicks, again, very strong and only 10 mins apart. I was very uncomfortable this time. There was so much pressure on my cervix and rectum that I was struggling to walk well. It really felt like your head was right there. I rang and spoke to Jasmijn and we decided it was close; I had diarrhoea and the mucous plug was still coming away. Hayley brought Charlie and Lily out for a play over lunch and I made some lactose-fermented beetroot. Madison and Charlie were running around and having a ball, I was glad because I was hoping to wear Madison out for the afternoon. The noise and chaos was horrible though; I was trying to clean my birthing space and focus. Nanny Betty had been so unwell that we all thought you may not arrive in time to meet her. It was a very scary time. Nanny Tam called and said Nanny Betty had taken another bad turn, so I wanted to go and see her. I collected Daddy after work and the three of us headed to the hospital. Nanny Betty was doing okay but she was so pale. While I was sitting there, I got my first real contraction (6pm). The thought crossed my mind that it may still be a strong Braxton Hicks but it was very powerful and had pain in it. I mentioned to Dad that we should get going, and let Nan rest. On the way out of the hospital I told him that I felt sure you would be born that night. He sounded very excited and anxious.
On the way from dropping Dad back to his car, I had another contraction – maybe 40mins from the first. I decided then that I would get take-away for everyone for dinner, to save the cooking and cleaning. I stopped to get Chinese and on the drive home, I had approximately 3-4 more contractions, so didn't feel like eating.
I called Jasmijn at about 8pm to say things were heating up and that the contractions were real and only about 20-30 minutes part. She said she would call Anna and they would both come straight out. While I was waiting for everyone to arrive, I put Madison down to bed upstairs. It was getting late and once everyone arrived she would be too excited to sleep. I was in early labour by that stage, so sitting there with her was fairly uncomfortable. I felt I needed some alone time with her, to soak up those last few moments of having her as my first, precious, only child.
By the time Anna got here (around 9pm), Nanny Tam had arrived to help and Dad was home from work. Jasmijn arrived about 9.30pm. I took up a spot on the birthing ball and was doing slow bounces between the contractions, which were only about 6mins apart. All of us were sitting in the lounge room chatting and laughing. Each contraction, I would need to concentrate and breathe through the pain. After each contraction I was yawning from the effort. I was still thinking that we wouldn't meet you for a few days yet – after Madison’s long birth, it seemed like that was normal.
The lounge room looked beautiful. Your dad had set up all the candles and the lights were off, it was really romantic with some music going. I had the beaded necklace that everyone had given me at the blessingway ceremony, along with the flags, stones and gems we had painted, all set out. We had the incense burning until Dad decided he couldn't breath properly with it going.
By 10pm the contractions started to get closer together – about 3 mins apart, and we decided to run the bath. I was really hoping to have a water birth this time. Each time I was in the bath with Madison, my labour stopped. In hindsight, I think I was in there too early with her and that I should have been walking more at that stage. But her labour was not by the book, no matter what we did. By about 10.30pm I was in the bath and the warmth was really nice. Dad was in there with me and I was laying back on him. Everything was calm and quiet; I felt like everything was happening very quickly but had no idea that I would meet you so soon. In the back of my mind I was thinking I would be able to hold you in a day or so. At about 11.30pm, Nanny told me Anna thought I was in transition and may be able to feel your head if I tried. I was so shocked, especially when I felt your head was only my first finger joint away! I was in such shock about it being nearly all over. I felt pushy a few times, but, again, I was worried pushing last time may have caused more damage, instead of letting the spontaneous birth reflex do its thing. This time I was determined to only push at the very last stage. I still let my body push when it felt like it but I did not engage any extra muscles, nor hold them on for longer than my body wanted.
By 12.15am pushing had truly started. I was starting to crown and needed to bear down to hold your head into position. I had stupidly thought the crowning wouldn’t hurt as much as last time because I had already been through it before. There was a moment at both yours and Madison’s births during the crowning where I had a real battle with myself. This, to me, was the hardest part of both labours. The contractions are painful but you can’t control them, they come in waves and you just hang on and breathe and grip your way through them. When you feel the baby’s head start to crown, and you know it will slip back up so much, it’s easier to let it go back a bit than to confront the pain, to let it inch out rather than push hard because it hurts too much. There was a brief pause both times for me when I realised that birth was so close, and that after the incredible, short burst of pain, it would be over and I could hold my babies.
I so dearly wanted Madison to be there when you were born, and she so wanted to be there too. We had decided prior to the birth that if she were asleep at the time, we would wake her to see you enter our world. Nanny Tam went and got Madison up and brought her into the bathroom. She was so sleepy and took a few minutes to properly wake up. She was holding my hand and talking to me, asking if I was okay. We told her the baby was coming and she was just so excited. Her beautiful little face helped me get through those last few, really tough moments. I could remember holding her for the first time and my heart was just exploding, thinking about our little family and that you were about to join us.
At 12.39am, you were finally ready to enter this world. I was in the bath, on my knees and leaning on the side of the bath. Dad was holding me in the water so you wouldn't touch the air before entering the bath water. You slipped so gently into the world baby boy. I remember sitting back and looking at you through the water, touching you for the first time. Before I lay back, we lifted the cord from around your neck and brought you from the water to my chest (at the time, I thought you were smaller than Madison had been). Your darling little face looking up at me while the candles and dimmed lights set the most perfect mood. You looked so like your big sister at the time, but you felt tiny, a perfect little boy coated in vernix and all wrinkly.
Everyone was so happy to see you healthy and safe. Madison wanted to cuddle you on the couch the minute you were here. She helped keep you warm by tipping warm water over us both. Dad didn’t last long in the bath because of all the blood, but I was so proud of him. He was really worried about being in there, but he did it for us. He is such an amazing man and I am so grateful that he did that to support me. There was Nanny, who had now been there to watch both my beautiful babies brought into this world, as she brought me into this world. It is such a special thing for me to have shared with her. I will always remember her support during the toughest and most proud moments of my life.
I birthed the placenta in the bath and Madison helped daddy cut the cord. We put a cord tie around the cord first. I had made it some weeks before out of blue shades of cotton. This was much nicer than the clamp we used for Madison. We planned on getting the placenta made into capsules for me to take and to plant part of it under a tree like we did with Madison’s.
You wanted to feed about an hour after arriving (1.20am). I was so anxious about feeding you, after having such a difficult and emotional journey feeding Madison. I remember feeling to happy and sad at the same time; it was bittersweet. I feel like I was robbed of the chance to breast feed my baby with Madison, and as you fed you made me feel whole and capable. You looked up at me with your beautiful blue eyes, still so young and yet so knowing. My heart was bursting for my family.
The after pains were ridiculous! I got them after birthing Madison but nowhere near this bad. I felt like I was in labour again each time I got one. I think they lasted about 5 days or so. I needed to take Panadol and Nurofen for them, which I hate taking normally, but I was in such agony. By the time the after pains had subsided slightly, my nipples were very sore. The excitement of feeding you had become a nightmare. I had bleeding nipples, and my breasts were as hard as rocks. I had also started to get a fever. I had ducts that were not emptying and I was in a lot of pain. Each time you woke for a feed, I was so anxious of putting you on to feed, it literally made me leap off the chair and cry. I would have tears streaming down my face and my whole body would go rigid and shake. Nanny Tam left work and took me to the doctor to get checked out, and they sent us straight to hospital. At that stage I was released on oral antibiotics to try and clear the mastitis. Nanny held you and helped lift you once Daddy had gone back to work. I was too feverish to even get out of bed. Poor Madison was worried and didn't understand that she couldn't play with either of us yet.
Nanna and Grandad had arrived from Queensland, which was a gift. Nanny Tam had hurt her back while sitting on the bath through the birth, so wasn't able to help with Madison, and Daddy had gone back to work. Your Grandad helped get wood in and sorted all the outside things, while Nanna did literally everything for us while looking after me, Madison, and you. Nanna cooked and cleaned, waited on me day and night. She got you up when I couldn't get out of bed and cradled you when I was so sick with fever and pain that I could not do it. When I finally went to hospital with you because I could not clear the mastitis, they stayed with Madison through the night and came to visit the next day with her. I was so frightened of leaving Madison for the first time overnight and feared that she would feel sad knowing I had taken her new baby brother and left her. I couldn’t have done it without Nanna and Grandad; they were amazing at a time when I needed them so badly.
Naming you took forever. We had decided to name you Hunter if you were a boy. It was a name we had picked out for Madison, had she been a boy. Your middle name proved to be a 2-3 week decision! In the end we decided Hunter Alexander (because I loved it) Jack (because Dad wanted to name you after Grandad) Reilly. You were born 8lb1oz and 51cm long on the 15th February 2017, in the bath at home at ‘Windrush’, Underwood.
Baby boy, you have taught me so much again. Madison made me a mother for the first time but your journey has been a different one, and I find myself feeling like I did when I first met her, amazed and scared and just so in love. You are such a cute and happy little boy. I am sad that our first weeks were so painful and that it took us a while to find our feet, but find them we did.
You have taken to life with such enthusiasm and love.
I am so proud to have birthed you at our home and with the help of our beautiful family.
Again I find myself getting to know a new little person and also getting to know myself.
Our family dynamic has shifted again and we are all so happy that you are here. Madison is such a wonderful big sister to you and just adores you.
Believe in yourself Hunter; we all do.
Love always, Mummy xxxxx