Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Birth Story - Part 2

My goodness looking after a baby eats up time! Princess has had a couple of very gassy days (normal, apparently) and she has been fussing from one 3-hourly hour-long feed to the next, leaving me with no time to make myself a sandwich, never mind anything else! Milord comes home to a haggard wife who hands him a squalling child and then runs around trying to do stuff in the time between the evening cluster feeds (Princess likes to feed for an hour every 2 hours in the evening)!

Thank heavens Princess is brilliant at feeding lying down, because then at least I can nap during the night feeds. Milord is still doing the nappy changes before the night feeds, which helps too.

Today is going well, however. Princess has been asleep more than she's been awake and I've managed to catch up on a few things. We even went out with the pram to do a little shopping and visit the post office. Princess seems to like her pram and the bumpier the ride the deeper she sleeps! I'll be adding that to my arsenal of settling techniques...

So, back to our birth story -

It was now about 3:30am in the delivery room, and my blood pressure was high. Not dangerously so, but too high to send me home. The midwife told me that my obstetrician would be doing his rounds at 7am and to get some sleep. Milord stretched out on a sleeper couch and I lay in the hospital bed and we tried to rest. I could feel my contractions getting stronger and we attempted to time them - about one every 5 minutes, lasting for 30 seconds, but not particularly painful. After 6am they got less painful and less regular and pretty much faded away...

My doctor breezed in at about 7am. He glanced at my contraction trace, checked my blood pressure, did an internal exam (2cm dilated) and told me that he wanted to induce labour as my body obviously wasn't in the mood and I was now at risk.

Damn. I'd heard horror stories about labour brought on by chemical induction. They say it can be very intense and agonising, more so than normal labour.

"Um. I was wanting an epidural anyway, do you think I could have that first...?"
"Oh excellent, a mum who knows what she wants! That will bring down your blood pressure too."

So at 9am (after his morning swim in the sea) the anaesthetist turned up to give me an epidural. I'll admit - I was terrified. He rattled off the risks and asked me if I wanted to go ahead... and I said yes. So he did. Now, I know I'm a wuss, but having the epidural put in hurt. A lot. I was crying out in pain and gripping Milord's hands so tight that he lost feeling! They say that after a period of labour a woman hardly feels the epidural going in because compared to labour it's nothing... and maybe that's why I've never heard that having one takes ages and hurts. That was a bit of a shock, but I didn't move and it went in ok and then they started the sintocin drip to kick off my labour.

Over the next while my tummy, bum and legs slowly went numb and I lost control of my legs. I could still feel pressure if Milord rubbed my feet, but that was all. Oh, and I got really really itchy - a common side effect of the epidural anaesthetic - which lasted until the epidural stopped 15 hours later! Having an epidural lowers your blood pressure, so they ran a few bags of saline into me to keep it up. This has the stunning effect of making you swell up - I didn't realise just how much until I saw photos later! Gah. Oh, and you have a catheter in your bladder because you can't control that either, and you certainly can't get to a toilet.

At midday my body was in proper labour. I only know this because it showed on the monitor - I couldn't feel a thing! Every hour or so a midwife (we went through 4 shifts) would come in and roll me over (I couldn't move below the waist), empty my urine bag (nice) and check my blood pressure (still high). We got meals at mealtimes (a random selection) and every so often Milord would take a walk to the coffee shop for coffees. We set up the laptop and listened to music and read books and sent text messages to friends and family. It was extemely chilled out, and in the background we could hear the beating of the baby's heart falling and rising with the contractions.

At some point in the late afternoon we were startled to hear the baby's heartrate falter. She wasn't recovering properly after each contraction, and it was decided to stop the induction drip for a while - perhaps the contractions were too strong on the sintocin and my body would do better alone. My body had other ideas, and while the contractions continued they weren't nearly as strong as they needed to be and I was only at 4cm dilated.

"You'd better start getting used to the idea of a c-section if nothing improves."

Shit. DO. NOT. WANT. This was turning into a classic cascade of intervention. But it was too late now, right? They told me that by the next morning we'd know one way or the other, fed us a random dinner and turned out the lights.

During the night they started the sintocin drip again as the baby was ok (I was at 5cm at 8pm), and I watched the numbers on the monitors glow in the dark while Milord snored softly on the other side of the room. Contraction numbers would rise and the baby heartrate would fall, then the contraction would fall and the baby heartrate would race then settle. Come on body. Hang in there baby. I'm doing everything I can to get you out safely!

At 10pm I was suddenly aware of a change in my contractions. I could feel them for the first time, and it was like a wave pushing down my body and I felt like I should be pushing with it. I called a midwife and told her, but she said it was just my body finally getting with the program and we had a long way to go. She gave me a topup of anaesthetic as I was getting uncomfortable, and slipped away again. An hour later, at about 11pm, she came back and did an internal exam to see how dilated I was.

"I can't actually tell how dilated you are, because your baby's head is in the way! She's on her way out - let's have a go at pushing!"

Suddenly all the lights were on, Milord had folded his bed away and was bracing one of my legs, the midwife was bracing the other, and I was gripping under my thighs and pushing with the contractions until I saw spots and had to gasp for breath. I could feel enough of the contraction to know when to push, and I had no trouble with my pushing muscles. I could feel the baby moving along with the pushes - like the biggest poo imaginable! We got the baby to where she was crowning, and then we stopped and waited for the obstetrician who was there shortly.

Now my obstetrician had my right leg braced and Milord had my left leg braced, while the midwife handled everything else. When I felt a contraction I'd warn everyone and then push like crazy. That's as far as I was aware of things, but Milord had a ringside view so I'll tell you what he told me...

The baby was crowning and the obstetrician was lubing around the opening to help her come through. We were taking it slow to let me stretch. Suddenly the baby's heartbeat went quiet, even though Milord could see where the monitor was still firmly attached to her scalp. The obstetrician reached in and found the cord around her neck. He tried to pull it over her head but it snapped back. He tried again. And again. Then he picked up a pair of scissors and cut my perineum - only the scissors were blunt and nothing happened! He grabbed another pair, cut me, (by this time Milord was sitting on the floor so we're not sure of the sequence of events) cut/released the cord and pulled the baby out.

Princess was delivered warm and slimy onto my chest. The midwife was towelling her roughly saying "Come on, cry for me" and then she did and I fell in love in a way that cannot be described. By this time Milord was back on his feet and we were beside ourselves in wonder.

It was 00:25 on the 1st September 2009. The first day of Spring in the Southern hemisphere.

- that's our birth story! I will discuss how my hospital bag list panned out shortly, post pictures of Princess growing like a weed, and be blogging my post-pregnancy body recovery... when the baby lets me, that is!

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Oh wow. I am quite gob smacked as to how much your writing reminds me that 7 years down the line, I remember so much and remember so little. Xxxxxx