Disclaimer: the following is very detailed and contains entirely too much information about birthing. You have been warned!
Induction night: Part 1: Constant monitoring and Prostiglandin GelSunday:7.30pm.
Lying in hospital bed with a midwife attacking my nether regions. She claims to be putting Prostiglandin Gel on my cervix, but to me it feels like she is tearing a hole in my bajingo. It wasn’t meant to be comfortable. I try my hypnosis and disassociation (disassociating part of my body from the rest! In tis case – pretending I don’t exist below the belly button while my top half reclines on a beach), which takes my mind off the pain, but she keeps talking to me which distracts me from my breathing. After a few minutes it is over, and I have the promise of her returning to check on my throughout the night. She is lovely, but it is hard to like someone who makes it their job to poke you in the nether regions.
I try to sleep (Bed is tiny and Justin went home to prep for the big day tomorrow!). My lovely doctor is coming in at 8am to break my waters. This was not on the birth plan, neither was the prostaglandin gel. In fact, I wanted as little medical intervention as possible, but this is what we have to accept instead. I have a little cry worrying about how it will all go tomorrow. I hadn’t really worried about labour before, but with all these medical personel around it makes it quite ‘real’ and medicalised, which automatically freaks me out. I’m a hippy at heart and would probably feel better birthing at home with no needles or speculums or hospital smelling sheets and curtains.I suck it up and give myself ‘the talk’. Get over it – this is what is happening – deal with it and move on.
I tell myself to shut up because obviously I’m a callous jerk for being so mean to myself at a time like this. I’m allowed to have a cry if I want to.Finally I sleep, excited and anxious about the coming hours. The prostaglandin gel is supposed to start contractions throughout the night. The best I get is a dull ache like a period cramp when I wake up at 3am. I need to pee.
When I get to the bathroom, there is blood. Not, like, litres of blood, but quite a lot (or so I think), and definitely enough to merit a call to the midwife. Midwife checks it and by 3.30am calls the doctor. She says not to worry, but now I have to be monitored.Engage machine number 1.
Baby heartbeat monitor. Strapped one around my lower tummy, one around the other side, and I am attached to a small beeping machine that allows me to hear baby’s heartbeat. It is quietly soothing… until it stops and the machine goes crazy, sending out a series of beeps that scare me thinking the baby’s heart has stopped, or something is horribly, HORRIBLY WRONG!Midwife comes in and presses a button. Heartbeat comes back on. My heartbeat goes back to normal. She explains that the baby decided to move and the monitor couldn’t pick up her heart beat – but she is fine.
Good. That’s good to know. Thanks for telling me this after my heart attack!I soon learn - the monitor goes off around forty times before 6am. I am not exaggerating. FORTY TIMES! By that time I am sleep deprived (already! No baby yet!) and worrying my ass off every time that god-damn monitor beeps! Not a good start to my calm-birth/hypnobirth/waterbirth scenario.
Random doctor on call comes in. He is nice. Explains that because monitor went off so many times (despite EVERYTHING BEING FINE!) and the fact that I had some bleeding, I must now be hooked up to a canulla intra-venous drip.
Engage machine part number 2.I am not actually attached to a drip, but the canulla (drip thingy that goes into the vein) is very painful, and I have a phobia of needles so now I feel like vomiting. This also does not help my hypno-birthing or my calmness. Nevertheless I am adamant that I will continue to try. Still only dull aches in my tummy, nothing that could constitute a proper contraction.
No sleep – monitor is still going off every minute and a half. I ask the midwives how to work it so I can turn it off myself when it beeps like crazy instead of me having to call them every two minutes. They say no. Bum. Instead people keep traipsing in and out of my room, attaching things, pressing buttons, and even tho there is no sign of this baby yet, I already feel like a pincushion.
Note to self: Don’t get induced again.
Part 2: Breaking the Waters
My own doctor comes in at 6.30 looking exhausted. I feel bad for making him come in to break my waters, even though I’m the one with my legs in the air and a crochet-hook looking thing up my bajingo. After a minute of painless prodding, an enormous gush of fluid soaks the bed. It is pink – I thought it was supposed to be clear – is everything okay?! IS SOMETHING BROKEN?!?!They assure me everything is fine. No bleeding etc. Hopefully Prostiglanding Gel + Waters breaking = Proper labour.
Justin comes in around 8.30, which is good, because they are now moving me to the birthing suite. CONTRACTIONS HAVE STARTED! WAHOO! I know it’s strange to be excited about contractions starting, as they signal impending pain, but for me it was a godsend. Who knows what would have happened if they didn’t start. Doc had specified:
Stage 1: Prostiglandin Gel. If that doesn't work;
Stage 2: Waters Broken. If that doesn't work;
Stage 3: IV drip of Sentosin (like oxytocin – makes body go into active labour); and if that still doesn't work;
Stage 4: Caeserean Section.
We were at Stage 2 – so you can understand my joy at not have to go to stage 4!!
It takes several hours. And contractions start to get more uncomfortable – a very good sign! My lovely midwife and husband take turns at keeping me occupied – we chat in between contractions (not too painful yet!)
After several hours of ‘So Calm’ breathing and hypnotherapy (despite being attached to all the cyborg machines) our Doc came to check me out. I didn’t think I’d progressed that much, as the surges were quite manageable, but apparently I was at 5cms dialated. Still 5cm’s to go before baby makes her entrance. Unfortunately for us, my surges started to lessen and instead of getting closer together and longer, they started to drop off in time as well. We took it in our stride, and Doctor B recommended the Sentosin drip. Lucky for me I already had the Canulla right?
Engage machine part number 3: IV of Sentosin
Am surprised they have not yet attached a robot arm to my neck, with all the machinery I am hooked up to. Damn, Damn, Damn! Sentosin was not on my list of preferences. What had happened to my natural labour? Still, I had some things to be proud of – I had so far managed without pain relief (though really, it wasn’t that bad for the first 5cms!!) and I had come to terms with the fact that medical intervention was probably going to be necessary. I still had reservations about a potential C-Section, which our Doc had advised me may need to occur if the Sentosin didn’t work, but is it worth it to have a healthy baby and mum? Of course it is.
So they put me on 1mg of Sentosin and a Saline drip. Nothing changing – perhaps some slightly harsher surges, but still miles apart.An hour later they up me to 2mg of Sentosin. Still no change. Surges have all but stopped. Have resigned myself to a Cesarean section later that day.
At 2.30, in a last ditch effort to get the baby moving out of there, they put me up to 4mg of Sentosin.Holy Mary Mother-of-God did that get things moving.
In the space of five minutes, I went from very mild, spread out surges, to one every two minutes. They became not quite unbearable, but severe to say the least. I managed to keep up my ‘So Calm’ breathing. After 15 minutes, I caved and asked the midwives for the gas pain relief. They hooked it up and I gave it a go – but it made me dizzy and feel out of control, like I couldn’t control what my body was doing. One breath was enough – I gave it back and went back to so-calm breathing. My visualisations were becoming difficult to do at this point. When I could feel a surge coming I rocked from side to side breathing in and out ‘So-Calm’. I am proud to say I didn’t scream, cry or swear an awful lot – it is not like in the movies where the woman clutches the husband’s hand and tells him how much she hates him. In fact, up until now, Justin had been massaging my back and patting me, but I told him to go away because during these surges it became unbearable to have anybody touch me.
At around 2.50 I said to Justin ‘if it’s going to be much longer I’m going to need an epidural’. It had become so unbearable without drugs – and I didn’t’ want pethidine or morphine – that I was planning on caving. The Hypnosis, visualisations and breathing methods had not made the pain disappear, but had certainly made it bearable.
Suddenly, I felt the urge to go to the loo. You know, for number 2’s. (I warned you – TMI!) It had only been around 30 minutes since the doctor had checked me, so we didn’t think much of it, except for I’d already been with my milder contractions earlier on. I felt a little strange, as during my contraction, my body kept involuntarily ‘pushing’. I tried to stop it – and told my midwives that it was happening. Surely I didn’t need to push yet? I was only 5cm’s 30 minutes ago!
At 2.55 our midwives looked at each other and decided to check my cervix to see if I had dilated anymore. As our lovely midwife, Sharon, peeped up my hoo-ha, she exclaimed
‘Oh... well that's unexpected... I can see the head!’
Me: What? WHAT?! YOU CAN SEE THE HEAD?! THE BABY IS COMING?! I”M NOT READY! TAKE IT BACK TAKE IT BACK!
Justin’s reaction was priceless – his face went into a look of shock and suddenly he was dithering about with his phone.
(Didn’t realise at the time – but Justin texted ‘Game On!” to my parents, as he didn’t have time to text anything else)
The midwife told Justin that he needed to call the Cord Blood people (We had decided to do cord blood banking and they were supposed to be called at 7cm’s dilated – which I had not reached at the last check!)
So, apparently the reason I felt like my body was being ripped in two, and that I needed an epidural, was because I was in ‘transition’, and my body was ready to go and birth our baby!
My second reaction was one of immense joy and relief – this labour was going to be over, and I could ACTIVELY do something to work with the surges, rather than simply endure them.
Anyway – this all happened in the space of about 5 minutes. 3.00pm:
- One of our midwives Tracey ran out to get our Doctor, and a minute later ran back in saying he would be unable to attend.
- Tracey (who had been our primary midwife up until now) had to leave at 3pm – thinking we would be in the ‘pushing’ stage (or the ‘breathing down the baby’ stage as I like to call it in line with our Hypnobirthing!) for at least an hour. We said goodbye to Tracey. Or, at least, Justin did. I was in a bit of a state by then.
- Suddenly, without my knowledge, I was holding on to the end of the bed and doing little squats on the floor to relieve the feeling of pressure in my bottom/hoo-ha region. I had no idea why I was squatting, as this was one of the positions of labour I said I would NEVER do. So stupid looking, and really, really, unflattering! … At that point, I didn’t care who saw what.3.01pm: My body continues to involuntarily push the baby down the birth canal. I finally undersand what hypnobirthing means by ‘you don’t need to actively push’. There was no point in this part of my labour where I felt the need to strain or use any force to push – my body did it all naturally.
3.02pm: Pushes start happening one after the other with very small intervals in between. Midwives try to get me onto the bed. I say ‘Hell no. I’m staying here’. Sharon places a mirror underneath where I am standing/squatting, and asks if I would like to watch as the baby’s head comes through the birth canal. I give her a look that could freeze hell. ‘Oh my god, No. I don’t want to see that!’. Having seen babies ‘crown’ in several birthing videos I had watched, I had no need to see that happen to me. I feel it would have scarred me for life. Justin, bless him, stayed as far away as possible from the ‘action’ end, and leaned on the bed, giving me his fingers to squeeze. I really didn’t mean to hurt him, and didn’t try, but like the ‘pushing’, it was kind of involuntary. I am quite glad he didn’t complain, or he might have lost an eye. He was my rock, telling me how well I was doing, even when it felt like each contraction was ripping my body in two, and the pressure was becoming unbearable.
Despite the unbearable pressure, this was my favourite part of the birthing. I know, I’m crazy, but it felt AMAZING to be giving birth to another person. I felt so alive, so healthy, and this part felt the most ‘natural’ of any of the labour so far (even though it was the sentosin that had hurried my contractions to the point of no return. There was NO relief! They came every 30 seconds, for 30 seconds!)
3.03pm: A giant HUMUNGOUS pressure in my bottom – not the va-jay-jay. In birthing classes they had always made it very clear that it was an ‘anal’ sensation when it was time to push, so I was pretty sure the baby was near. Midwives ask me to try to hold it back and not push, as the baby was coming too quickly. Again, I try my best, but nothing but an act of God is going to stop this baby getting out in the next couple of minutes.
3.04pm: BURNING ENSUES!! MY VAGINA IS ON FIRE!
Midwives physically hold baby’s head back in an effort to save my poor perineum. They realise this is not going to happen – that this baby needs to get out quickly.
3.05pm: Finally Sharon gives up on holding her back and says ‘Okay, I want you to give a little push. Just a little one, with the next surge.’
I do so. Not to sound gross, but I swear there was actually a ‘pop’ sensation when our baby’s head pushed out of my body. At this point I was kind of in shock, and couldn’t feel a lot of what was going on. I did not reach down and touch the baby’s head, instead, another contraction came right on top of the last one, and Sharon asked me to push again, even though she needn’t have bothered. My body pushed our baby’s body out in a matter of seconds.
OUR BABY GIRL IS BORN!
Sharon catches the baby and tries to hand her up to me. In my exhaustion, confusion and general elation, I forget the baby is attached via the umbilical cord, and try to turn around to pick her up. Justin reminds me she is attached. I announce to the whole room:
“Holy Crap, I just had a baby!”
And then, as I turn to see the state of the room and hear my baby cry for the first time. I am over the moon to hear that cry which I had unknowingly been waiting for. As I look around, I notice that everything, including our poor midwives, are COVERED in blood. Like, bathed in it.
“That’s a lot of blood…” and suddenly feel dizzy and start to shiver.
3.06pm: They place her on my chest and we move to lie on the bed, though it is quite hard to manoeuvre around the umbilical cord, as it’s not as long as I had expected, and certainly is not extendable. I don’t remember how I got on the bed, or what happened next, but suddenly Justin was holding the baby, the Cord Blood lady was there clamping and taking the cord blood (after it had finished pulsing!! I wanted my baby to get the most benefit from it!), and Doctor B had arrived, literally 2 minutes too late.
I semi-float through the next part, elated on oxytocin (natural this time, I hope!) and dizzy from the blood loss. As I find out later, the rushed birth (due to the Sentosin’s effect on my body!) pushed baby out way too quickly, and gave me a third degree tear (basically Vagina to Rectum - ewwie) in which I lost around 650ml of blood. May I add – I felt NONE of this up until the stitches – The only thing I felt throughout the whole birth was burning and pressure and exhausting contractions in my abdomen – I had no idea I had a tear until they told me, though I had a suspicion at the amount of blood that was on the floor (It looked like a scene from ‘Carrie’ or ‘Hannibal’). Gotta love mother nature!
So, I then get eight local anaesthetic needles in the nether regions so that Doctor B can give me several stitches. The Cord blood lady takes my blood (for the cord-blood people), and Justin has some skin-on-skin time with our newest Bechaz. I wanted to have time with her, but felt so shaky and dizzy after the birth, that I didn’t trust myself to hold her for a few minutes.
3.50pm: Stitches, blood letting and ‘clean up’ are complete. They finally place baby on my chest for real, and she finds the breast straight away and has her first feed. It was amazing – I can’t explain the feeling unless you have done it yourself – utter disbelief and ecstasy at the same time. She was perfect in every way – scoring 9’s in the APGAR tests and crying her lungs out up until the feed. Sharon showed us the placenta and explained what everything was. It looked like a large stomach (the sac taht the baby was in) attached to some kind of livery shaped object (the placenta) which was smooth on one side and bumpy on the other. Weirdest. Thing. Ever. Also, Sharon asked if we wanted to keep it. Justin and I looked at each other and adamantly said 'no thank you'. She looked relieved, probably happy she didn't have to package it up for us. Would you wrap it in newspaper like fish and chips, or a tupperware container? How do you transport a placenta? AND what do you do with it when it has been collected? Grossly, I've heard some cultures make a lasagne or other meal from it and eat it collectively.
No thanks. We're good.
After a quick shower (in a wheelchair and aided by Sharon our midwife… how embarrassing – all my dignity is GONE!) we head back to our room (Well, I’m pushed in the chair) and get tucked up in bed before we have our first visitors at around 4.30pm. All I can do is cuddle my baby and smile.
It took less than half an hour to go from 5cm's dilated to holding our baby. Wow. No wonder we were in shock! But there we were cuddling our beautiful, perfect, tiny baby girl.
Isla Sofia Bechaz
Born 3.05pm, 7th January 2013, weighing 3.725kgs, and 54cms long.
Perfect, gorgeous, adorable, amazing, miracle.
I loved her from the minute I set eyes on her, and who wouldn't with that gorgeous face!
It was the most amazing, traumatic, beautiful experience of my life, and she was worth every second.