After we lost our first baby, Jemima, I wondered if I would ever have children. God gave me a promise in the verse from Isaiah 66:9 (CEV):
“The Lord is the one who makes birth possible and He will see that Zion has many more children. The Lord has spoken.”
I clung to this promise and had complete faith that God would give us a healthy baby and Gemma was a wonderful fulfilment of that promise! But only partially… because the promise said: “many more”!! I knew God would give us another child too. I really wanted Gemma to have a sibling because I’m an older Mum and I don’t want her to be alone when I die. Lol. But it also required faith that I would conceive again as I was 39 years old when we started trying for Reuben. And I know that is considered old fertility wise!! We ended up getting pregnant in our 4thmonth of trying. Ironically, it was actually the month that I gave up trying, ate heaps of chocolate and only managed to have sex once. Lol.
Because Gemma’s birth had been such a positive experience, a nice short 2 hours of labour, I was very keen for another nice short one but I didn’t want to be too cocky! I know how these things are completely out of our control and so I tried to just surrender to whatever was to be while secretly hoping to smash my 2 hour medication free labour record!! Hehe.
Unlike with my pregnancy with Gemma where I had been very active, walking regularly, doing squats and doing my stretches, I went into this birth very unfit! However I had been praying the “Supernatural Childbirth” prayer asking God for baby to get into a good position, for my body to open up fast and for it to be a pain free easy labour. And I did eat 6 dates a day from 36 weeks onwards. At 38 weeks Reuben was 3/5ths engaged and in a great position. My mum arrived and everything was ready for Reuben to make his entrance into the world. But that week Gemma picked up a bug and got really sick (the worst I’ve seen her) with a terrible cough and runny nose. A few days later and we all had it!! Even Grandma. Then to top it off, my cold turned into a sinus infection that I just couldn’t seem to kick. By the time I hit my due date I was sooo ill. My face ached so badly from the infection that I’d resorted to hot showers in the middle of the night to try clear my sinus’s a bit so I could sleep. I tried to stay off Panadol but 2 days in couldn’t handle the pain so began taking it. Every time I had a coughing fit I wet my pants. I was so miserable! I was over being pregnant and over being in so much pain from the sinus infection. My midwife suggested that baby was probably waiting for me to feel better before coming. She encouraged me to see a doctor and get some antibiotics. So on Tuesday (40 weeks + 4 days pregnant) I started on my antibiotics and I finally started feeling better on Thursday evening. I had spent the last 2 weeks sitting around coughing, blowing my nose and not getting much sleep!
My mum had to leave on Friday after being with me for nearly 3 weeks and Peter’s mum arrived that afternoon. One of my worries was leaving Gemma with someone she didn’t really know. But even though we hadn’t seen Nana Kaye in months Gemma quickly warmed to her and even wanted Nana to read her bedtime stories that night.
That morning (Friday November 30) I’d had a scan (routine because I was overdue) and baby was all good in there. My midwife wanted me to come in to the hospital on the Monday to do baby’s heartbeat just to check he was happy and she said we needed to think about when to book an induction as the spots filled up quickly. I REALLY didn’t want to get induced!! Peter and I had been joking for weeks “Nobody wants a December baby” but we were fast running out of November!!
At 8.45pm that evening I thought I was having a contraction, but wasn’t sure as it didn’t really hurt. I told Peter and his Mum and we noted the time. I had another at 9pm but again it didn’t hurt so I wasn’t sure. I had a few more over the next hour but it didn’t seem to be ramping up so we decided to head to bed. By 11pm we were all in bed asleep.
At 12.05 a contraction woke me up. I started clutching at Peter in my sleep it was so painful! I woke Peter to tell him then went to roll over and my water’s broke. A big gush and a damp bed later and I contacted my midwife to let her know. I’m so grateful to Kim who was my midwife with Jemima and Gemma and though she wasn’t rostered on that night, said to contact her so she could be there for this birth. I was having painful contractions that I had to stop and breathe through every 10 mins so we started to get dressed and get our bags out to the car. Then all the commotion woke Gemma. I went in to resettle her but after 2 hurty contractions 5 mins apart I knew I needed to get in the car and get to the Birthing Centre!! We sent Peter’s Mum in and Gemma was not happy. Apparently she ended up sitting in the room and had to sing Baa-Baa Black Sheep 100 times before Gemma went back to sleep.
We had planned to give birth at the Birthing Centre as I was confident I could give birth medication free again. We got there at around 1am. I had been in active labour since 12.30am The Birthing Centre was amazing! They met me at the door with a wheelchair and the bath was already filled when we got to our room. My midwife Kim was so wonderful at showing Peter where the pressure points were on my back to help ease the pain and reminding me to breathe through each contraction. She checked me soon after I arrived and I was only 6cm dilated. My reply: “So still a bit of work to be done?” I started in the bath, which felt amazing. I tried to stay calm and keep my hands loose and visualize my body opening with each contraction. I think this helped as well as Kim’s constant reminders to breathe slowly and deeply. As baby got closer to coming I couldn’t get comfortable so I dried off and got onto the bed. I couldn’t seem to find a comfortable position there either. Near the end I just wanted to hold Peter’s hand and each time a contraction came I would beg him: Please help me! Kim said later that she knew I was getting close because I got cross at Peter, which is what happened when I was giving birth to Gemma. Poor Peter. After an hour or so, Kim checked again and said I was 9cm and that if I felt like pushing I probably could start. I didn’t know if I felt like it or not…? She suggested just giving it a tentative try with the next contraction. I did and it felt good to push. So the next one I pushed a bit harder and felt baby move down. I flipped onto my back and Peter held my hand and with the next contraction I really pushed! Kim said I could reach down to feel baby’s head. Such a weird feeling!! With the next push baby crowned and it hurt! He sat there as I felt the burn while we waited for the next contraction. It took forever!! I kept saying: “It’s hurting! It’s hurting!” But Kim was trying to save me from tearing and told me to just wait! Next contraction came and I pushed his head out and then his shoulders with the following one. Kim lifted him onto me and he opened his mouth and had a cry. He was born at 2.37am (December 1!!) after just over 2 hours of labour. I still can’t get over how perfectly formed they are when they come out. It really blows my mind that all of a sudden here is this perfect little human that my body grew. Reuben slowly opened his eyes and had a look at me and then after taking it all in began searching for boobie and was feeding within the hour. Gemma had a funny little snort when she was a newborn but Reuben did lots of cute squeaks and sighs.
He is my biggest baby at 8 pounds 11 ounces but did the least damage, go figure. I had a small clean tear and had a just a few stitches for it. I can’t say it was a pain free birth but I am thankful it was such a short straightforward labour and that I was able to do it medication free.
We named him Reuben James because Peter really liked the name. It has grown on me. Reuben means: Behold, a son! James is a family middle name in Peter’s family. Gemma is almost 20 months older than Reuben which is the same gap as my younger brother Ben and I.
I love this verse, which sums up for me what God has done for us in blessing us with both Gemma and Reuben.
“Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.” – Isaiah 61:7 (NIV)