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Toby’s Birth at Elizabeth R

By Nicola Jones

Finding out I was pregnant was the most beautiful moment of my life. The sort when time seems to sit still for a moment, just for you. People say that sometimes you have an inkling that you are pregnant, before you even get it confirmed by a missed period, and I certainly felt that way. Our good news wasn’t without a tinge of anxiety though: we had suffered a miscarriage four months before and a part of me thought, “Please don’t let that happen again”.

The first 14 weeks of my pregnancy saw me visiting the bathroom most mornings, with morning sickness. I tried every old wives tale under the sun, to help the nausea and vomiting, but not much helped until the 14th week ticked over and then it was truly like a switch being turned off! I just felt great, the healthiest I had ever felt in my life, and getting through to that magic third month also eased the anxiety of miscarriage.

I just adored being pregnant and experiencing the growth and development of our special little person in my tummy. The 10 months that it takes to create a human being is nothing short of a miracle, and Scott and I just marvelled at what was taking place before our eyes. I think that time of waiting, growing and preparing yourself for the birth is an important part of making that leap into parenthood. But by the time we had reached 38 weeks we were definitely impatient and very excited to be meeting our baby soon. We were ready! This impatience was increased by the fact that every night for about a week before Toby was born I would have about four practice contractions, during our nightly walk up the road, and then stop!

Like many first time Mums before me, I began to stay pretty close to home, the prospect of going into labour in the supermarket or while walking down Devon Street did not appeal! But anyway, by the time my due date rolled around I was so bored of cleaning and cooking and waiting that I threw caution to the wind and went to New Plymouth for the day to do some Christmas shopping. I had a great day waddling around and made note of the fact that this would probably be the last time I would go shopping with just myself to worry about - next time there would be a capsule, buggy and, of course, a baby to organise too!

I went off to bed that night feeling very calm and serene…as well as a little tired from my day out!

It was midnight that night that I went into labour. I woke up from a huge cramp that saw me sit bolt upright in bed. I still tease Scott about his initial lack of reaction: for the weeks leading up to our birth I only had to roll over, or cough, and he would be hovering over me checking if everything was o.k. and ‘was this it?’, but not this time! I went to the toilet and discovered a bloody show and leaky waters, went back to the bedroom and then had to shake him to tell him the news!

My midwife Mary had said to me that in the initial stages of labour I should try to go back to bed and sleep if I could - but I couldn’t. I was so excited and the contractions were 10 minutes apart from the word go. So, I would just get snuggled down and then have to get up and walk about! I still had a few last minute items to pack into the famous labour bag (the one that sat in the corner looking pretty and not much else during the labour), so I pottered doing that while Scott jumped in the shower.

At 1am I rang Mary to tell her that we were all go and we arranged to meet down at Elizabeth R maternity in Stratford, in the next half hour. Hearing Mary’s calm voice, that sounded no different than any other time we spoke, despite the fact that it was the middle of the night and I had just woken her up, was wonderful and very reassuring. I remember having little nervous butterflies and feeling so excited that we were going to meet our baby soon!

By the time we got into the car my contractions were five minutes apart. I remember looking at the clock each time, 1:30am, 1:35am, 1:40am, 1:45am! To the minute - I couldn’t believe it. I think I told Scott to slow down several times and he later told me that he was only going 50km! But any little bump (there are always plenty of those on country roads) seemed to magnify the contractions.

The lights in the window of Elizabeth R were a welcome sight, and we managed to get out of the car and into the delivery room before the next contraction came. Mary put the monitor on, the contractions were 3-4 minutes apart at this stage and my waters were gushing with each one.

I remembered my Mother’s words at this point: “Hang your pride at the door when you go into delivery dear, and pick it up on the way out”. Very true, I thought, as I gazed down at my wet track pants and my special little waterproof sheet as I waddled into the lounge to watch the netball. There was really no point in getting all embarrassed, my body had begun its journey towards birthing our baby and I was more than prepared to follow its lead.

New Zealand creamed the Aussies at netball, and it was on that note that I decided to jump in the spa bath at about 3am. Everything had slowed down a bit, but when the contractions did come they had a bit of a sting in them, so the bath was a welcome distraction. Oh, that lovely warm water and feeling of weightlessness was fantastic. Moving into comfortable positions was a breeze and the rescue remedy was brilliant. Time seemed to have no meaning once I got in the bath; I just worked from contraction to contraction. It took all my concentration to focus on my breathing and then relaxing in between. The time and how long things were taking was really irrelevant to me at that point.

Looking back at the birth I know when I reached transition, because I told Mary and Scott that I didn’t think I could do it! They had told us about this stage in antenatal class, so Scott gave the standard “yes you can” line and onward we went. It was 5am and I was ready to push - yep, this was the pain that I had imagined. I tried to push in the bath for the next hour but it was ineffective, so I eventually got out and had a whopper of a contraction and big push on the step of the bath!

Up onto the bed I got and by 6:30am the baby’s head had crowned. I seemed to enter sort of an auto pilot mode at this stage and just went with what my body was telling me to do. Once the baby’s head was out the job was basically done and out slithered the body, so by 6:50am we were the proud parents of a healthy baby boy.

Toby Scott Jones was born on the 17th of November 2004, weighing 7lbs 15ozs. A loud cry erupted from his small body, which was the best sound ever! Scott cut the cord and our wet brand new bundle was laid on my tummy - lots of hugs and kisses with Scott and our wonderful midwife Mary. We had done it!

That instant after our baby was born was such a moment of relief, a sense of being utterly overwhelmed, of happiness, exhaustion and pride, that can’t properly be justified by words. I was so pleased that the labour was over and to hold Toby for the first time was wonderful and felt so right. I felt like I had arrived in a place that was perfect for me to be and inside me, deep down inside my heart, began the stirrings of mother’s love.

I was so proud and satisfied that I had delivered our baby with no pain relief. For me, it was a team effort of my mother, a supportive husband, and a midwife I trusted completely. We were both so thankful that we had been blessed with a straightforward and normal delivery and, above all, a healthy baby. It had taken nowhere near as long as I had thought (7 hours from start to baby) and, apart from a few stitches, I felt fantastic. What a wonderful first experience with natural birth!

Nicola and Scott have been in Taranaki for the last eight years, and they live in Kaimata which is just out of Inglewood. In her past life before motherhood, Nicola was a primary school teacher. She is now studying extramurally to be a homeopath. Scott is a diesel mechanic in Inglewood, and a superb hands-on Dad.