Everything about our second baby’s birth was planned.
We were to be at the hospital at 6.30am on Tuesday 22 July. Once there, Shan would be prepped and was second in line for a planned Cesarean. We’d attended pre-admission appointments at the hospital and were well briefed on how this birth was going to happen.
We knew the when, the how, the who, the where.
Except our baby had other ideas.
On Monday 14 July 2014, I woke up at 4.30am and Shan was laying there wide awake, which is completely unnatural except when she’s heavily pregnant and struggling to sleep comfortably. I asked her if she was ok.
“My waters have broken,” she said.
“Oh, ok. Are you ok?” My 4.30am brain didn’t really know what that meant. Shan’s waters didn’t break with Quin so this was new.
“Yeah I’m fine, no contractions or anything. I will call the hospital at 5 and see what they say. I’ll probably have to go up this morning and get checked.”
During Shan’s pregnancy with Quin we learned that it could be days after your waters break before you actually go into labour, so I said “Ok. So I’ll go to work and you let me know if I need to come home.”
“Sweetie, I really think you should come to the hospital with me. I think our baby is going to come today.”
Now I was awake. “Really?!”
“Yeah, they won’t want me to go into labour and I’ve been having some cramping.”
“Woah, ok. Wow.”
We talked excitedly about our unborn baby until 5am. Shan called the hospital and they said we were to come up and they’d monitor her for a bit and take things from there. Shan texted her mum and asked her to come over when she was awake. She was here within a minute – a new Joma record.
We dressed and gathered the bags Shan would need at the hospital. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was completely all over the shop. A mixture of excitement about potentially meeting our baby before the end of the day, anxiety about all the work I still had to do which I now had to handover via email, and just general confusion that all of this was happening on Monday 14 July and not Tuesday 22 July. Shan was much more collected than I was and got us both out the door.
By 6am we were in the birthing suite and Shan was hooked up to the baby monitor. We spent an hour listening to our baby’s heartbeat and watching the sunrise. At 7am, a doctor younger than both of us checked Shan and said, “Oh, yep, your waters have definitely broken. You’re having a baby today!” She explained shift change happened at 8am so she would handover to the doctors coming on and, once they’d planned surgeries for the morning, we’d be told when we’re going in.
We waited for further instruction and passed time by talking about how crazy it is that you can only ever plan so much when it comes to babies. I was happy this planned birth had turned into a huge surprise. Shan was so happy our baby had chosen their own birthday. And what a birthday to choose – 14-7-14.
We talked once again about the little one we were about to meet. We had both been sure through the entire pregnancy that we were having a boy. I was sure of it for no other reason other than I felt like we were. We had no preference either way but it was a boy, just as I’d been sure Quin was a girl.
I went to get a cup of tea and our midwife called out “we’re on!”
“What? We’re on now?”
“We’re on now. Let’s go!”
I did one of those comical do-I-get-my-tea-or-do-I-go-back-to-Shan dances in the hallway. Tea won – I needed energy. But it was the fastest tea made in the history of tea.
Shan was prepped and we were taken down to the surgery floor. From this time until the surgery felt like years. Every small delay felt like hours. Shan was asked over and over about what she was here for, what she was allergic to, were her teeth real. Finally we were taken into a small room where they administered the Spinal. Shan was given a local anesthetic and then they tried, three times, to get the Spinal in. My brave wife almost hit the roof the first two times. Once in, it started to kick in and Shan lost feeling from her chest to her toes.
We were all settled into the sterile room and the staff talked excitedly about whether we’d have a boy or girl – they hadn’t had a surprise in weeks – and what their name would be. We told them it was four letters starting with A and it was the one name for a boy or girl. Their guesses were fun: Able, Amos, Andy. No one guessed right.
The anesthesiologist made sure the surgeons knew it was a surprise and so bub was pulled out and presented to us Lion King style.
A girl! We had a girl! We were honestly dead-set surprised we’d had a girl. Elated and completely overwhelmed but very, very surprised. The surprise quickly gave way to pure joy and we told her how much she was wanted and how much we’d been waiting for her. Quin had a baby sister. We had girls – plural!
Our healthy and beautiful baby girl was weighed and measured – 7lb8oz (3.4kg) and 49cm long. Her name, Arlo, was shared with the room and only one doctor had heard it before. All agreed it was beautiful.
In recovery, Arlo lunged at Shan like a vampire and fed right away. The midwife said she’d never seen a baby do that before and gave her 10/10 for aim, attachment and general baby-awesomeness.
Shan, once again, was the most incredible mother through the whole day that followed. She was quite sick from the meds but continued to smile with our visitors and fed Arlo all day.
Our exciting day ended with the three of us sitting alone quietly in the hospital room. Quin was introduced to her little sister but the whole thing was a bit overwhelming for her, especially seeing mummy in the hospital bed, and she left early with Joma.
I spent the evening kissing Arlo’s big cheeks and touching her sweet face and generally loving on both Shan and her. We both felt so blessed to be a family – a girl-filled family!