She’s here! After 38 long weeks, Seanna Hope arrived safe and well on August 15. The last two weeks of pregnancy were a strange mix of terror and excitement. Unlike Levi’s pregnancy, I did believe she would be born alive so I was excited to meet our little bub, but there was of course an element of fear because I knew that nothing was guaranteed. After having a rather large emotional meltdown at the start of that last week, I booked myself a pregnancy massage in order to have something to look forward to before the induction date: August 15. Although I had hoped to go into labour naturally, it wasn’t to be and on the morning of August 15 Marcus, Levi and I headed into the hospital’s Birth Centre for what turned out to be quite a long day.
We arrived at 8am for my midwife (Julie) to break my waters. I was 3cm dilated despite not having had any contractions, so we hoped that having my waters broken would be enough to start labour without the need for further interventions. Seanna’s head was so well engaged that breaking my waters proved difficult, but after a few tries it worked and the waiting game began. My best friend Annika arrived soon after – she was there to help look after Levi and support me through labour. Not much happened for a few hours, contractions did begin but they weren’t very strong at all nor were they regular. I lost count of how many laps I did of the hospital room, corridors and stairs! But no amount of walking made any change. After lunch, an internal exam showed no change at all: four hours of irregular contractions had made no difference and the decision was made to start me on the syntocin drip.
I had been on the drip during Levi’s labour and had really wanted to avoid it this time. It meant I had to move from the Birth Centre into the labour ward and I didn’t like how quickly the contractions became intense; I hadn’t felt like I was able to stay in control. I did NOT want a repeat of that. I had a water birth with Ariella and it was a wonderful experience, so much easier than birthing on a bed like I did for Levi. While I could have had a water birth with Levi, being on the drip had exhausted me too much that I hadn’t felt able to hop in the bath. I thought the same thing was happening this time and I was quite upset to have to let go of the birth I had wanted. After a good cry on Marcus’ shoulder, we packed up our things and moved to the labour ward. Unfortunately the ward was quite busy that day and all the rooms with baths were taken. I would have access to a shower but a water birth was now out of the question. Since I’d had my cry, I decided to move past the disappointment and get on with the job of labour and birth. Julie started me on the drip and we waited. And waited. And waited. While contractions did begin, they didn’t feel all that strong to me and I was able to keep chatting with Marcus and Annika during them. I had a student midwife with me and she would check on my frequently, but otherwise we were mostly left to ourselves. Marcus and Annika took turns entertaining Levi and sitting with me, and the syntocin was increased every 30 minutes until the contractions became regular and strong. It was about 1:30pm when the drip was started and by 5pm the contractions still didn’t feel that strong. I must admit, I had hoped to have had the baby in my arms by that time! We had all expected things to happen much quicker than they did and I was finding it hard to not get discouraged. The first time I had a contraction that hurt, I actually said “yay”! Not something many labouring women say to the pain, but for me it meant that it was finally starting to happen. I was convinced it would be at least a few hours of painful contractions so I was grateful they had begun.
Around 5:30 things started to get more intense. I could no longer talk during a contraction and I needed to be purposeful in focusing to get through the pain. Just before 6pm, Julie had some wonderful news: a room with a bath had become free and would I like to move? Absolutely! I was thrilled to know that I might get a water birth after all. Annika and Marcus packed up our things (again!) and as a contraction ended, I raced/waddled down the hall to the new room. I just made it in before another contraction started! Julie had been running the bath so it was just about ready for me. After the next contraction I was able to hop in and it felt wonderful. The water provided the relief I remembered from Ariella’s labour and over the next 45 minutes labour progressed well. Things were feeling more and more intense but I would not allow myself to believe that the birth would happen soon. During Levi’s labour, there was a point when I was sure birth would happen soon, only for it to still be a couple of hours away. I didn’t want that disappointment this time, so I wouldn’t let myself think about it. One contraction at a time. That’s all I could think about. I found out later that Julie was positive that the birth wasn’t far off and that she’d set everything up as soon as we got to the new room. She was right.
About 45 minutes after hoping in the bath, I felt the baby drop and I knew it was time to push. The syntocin drip was disconnected and the external monitoring taken off. It was the best feeling! Because I hadn’t allowed myself to think past each contraction, it came as a surprise to realise that our baby was ready to be born. I had done it: I’d made it through labour and now it was time to meet our baby (and find out whether we were having a boy or a girl). Ten short minutes later, at 6:57pm, she was born. A girl. Alive! The relief and joy we felt was evident on all of our faces and we all got teary. Except Levi – he just seemed fascinated and a little (or a lot!) tired.
After the cord stopped pulsing, Marcus cut it and got to have a cuddle with Seanna while I moved to a bed. I then got to have a few hours of uninterrupted cuddles with our baby girl, before she was checked by the paediatricians and we packed up our things to again move rooms, this time back to the Birth Centre. We wanted to come home as soon as we could, so after the hospital’s minimum of four hours had passed we hopped in the car and brought Levi and Seanna home. It had been a long day for sure, but nothing could beat spending Seanna’s first night earthside at home as a family.
Seanna’s name is significant for us. Her full name is Seanna Hope – Seanna means ‘God is gracious’ and that to us sums up God’s character and the precious gift He has given us in Seanna. Although the pregnancy was stressful, He graciously provided moments of joy and excitement to sustain us until her birth. Her middle name is Hope because we believe that no matter what happens in life, there is always hope. Even after Ariella’s death, we had the sure hope of seeing her again in Heaven. Despite life’s ups and downs, hope is always there to be found in God’s grace.
When Ariella was born, the birth itself went exactly as I had hoped for except for the bad ending. With Levi, I got the happy ending but the labour and birth were nothing like I had wanted. This time was different. I was able to have the water birth I wanted and I also got the happy ending. The whole experience was so healing for me; I know now that I can have daughters who live and that Ariella’s death doesn’t mean every subsequent labour has to be more medicalised than I’d like.
Seanna Hope: our third child, second daughter and a very precious gift.