Date: 13th June 2006
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Had cramps all day long - which wasn't too unusual - they had been going on for a few weeks, but today seemed a bit stronger and more regular - nothing I could time though.
DH stayed home from work with a cold, and I was really glad to have him home. I felt safe and happy and loved. DD, DH and I went for a drive out to Piha. The weather was stormy - windy and wet. We drove over all the bumps in the road, and all the judder bars and speed bumps down at Piha - which gave us a laugh, and I could definitely feel it doing 'something'.
This afternoon we had an appointment with G (our midwife). She did a stretch and sweep - and said things were looking more progressed since our last appointment 4 days ago. A good sign! Lost a bit of the mucous plug and had a light pinky discharge, with some clear mucus throughout the evening. Took some caullophylum around dinner time. Did some nipple stimulation after putting DD to bed. Lots of walking around and keeping distracted.
At 9.45pm I started to notice I was leaking fluid!! How exciting! Not too much at first, but lots more of the bloody show too. Around 10.30pm had a big gush of fluid. Folllowed about every 20 mins by another big gush. We've been giggling and running around with towels, mopping up puddles.
It's now 1.06am - I'm having somewhat regular contractions now. About 5 minutes apart, but only lasting for around 30 seconds. I can still talk through them, and I'm finding being on my feet and rocking or swaying is helping.
DH has got a few things organised, including the plastic sheet on the bed, after my second huge gush in bed, hehe. I'm walking around the house and trying to distract myself, while he is having a bit of a sleep. There is nothing he can do as of yet to help me - and I will certainly wake him up when I need him - but since he has a cold and is feeling pretty yuck, I figure he can do with the sleep!
I'm going back to bed in a min to lay down again for more rest - but here's hoping today will be our baby's birthday!
This first part above, I actually wrote while I was in labour - I was in the kitchen standing up against the bench and rocking my hips through the contractions and typing away while the others slept!
I continued having reasonably strong contractions for the next couple of hours - I read my book, walked around, had a shower, sat on our swivel chair and rocked my hips some more (for some reason it really helped!). I didn't manage to get much of a lie down because of the pelvic nerve pain I had been having all through the pregnancy, I was far too uncomfortable, and the fluid just kept gushing out!
I was going to wake DH up at 3am, I had decided, because I felt like I'd prefer some company - but at 5 mins to 3, he opened his eyes on his own, hehe. Good timing! He helped me mop up some of the puddles I had made on the floor (I had given up bending down to clean up!), and helped me change my knickers and pad for about the 10th time of the night!
He stoked the fire, chucked some more wood on, and we settled down in the lounge with 'Love Actually' playing - while I had more contractions, and we talked excitedly about how our baby might be here soon.
With DD's birth at this stage the contractions were quite mild, but during this labour I was having to breathe through them, and move around to try and get some relief. I felt like maybe I was further along than I actually was, because everything was already more intense.
I decided I wanted a bath, so DH ran one, and what a relief that was from the pain! Not just the contraction pain, but my whole body was aching and sore from just being pregnant. I lay on my stomach (floating, not resting on it), and rested my head on the bath pillow - and I think I even fell asleep for a while.
I kept thinking I should ring my Mum, but in the end we waited till around 6am to let her know I was in labour -so I was glad that she had got some sleep!
Mum and my sister B arrived at around 6.30am - and by this stage my contractions were stronger again, and I was really having to concentrate on breathing through each one to get me through it. I was also really conscious of not waking DD - otherwise I probably would have been moaning my way through these contractions. At this point they were about 2-3 minutes apart and lasting from 30-60 seconds.
I kept trying to be mobile and walk around more, to help with dilation. I alternated between sitting on the side of the bed, and sitting on the loo. I got up to the toilet and asked Joseph to leave me alone for a few minutes as I needed to be sick. My Mum came in when she heard me being sick, and helped me get cleaned up. Ugh, horrible.
We decided to ring G at 7am, because I really felt like things might be getting stronger, although I was starting to get a bit freaked because the contractions were hurting a hell of a lot, but they weren't feeling really 'strong' yet. It's hard to explain what I mean, but I knew they weren't yet as strong as the ones that I had at the end with DD. (edited to add - I understand now that this was due to her being posterior)
G came at about 8am, and by now I really was having to moan out load with each contraction just to cope. She asked me all sorts of questions and felt my stomach, and then examined me. (I'm using her notes to figure out the times that all of this happened, because it just feels like a blur to me). She found that I was 3cm dilated, and could stretch the cervix to 4cm - and the cervix was almost fully effaced. She could feel the baby's head, and it was nicely engaged and low.
I was a little bit disheartened that I wasn't actually further along, but at least now I knew where I was at, and how much work I still had to do. G could see I was pretty tired at this stage, so she told me to lay down for an hour or so, try and sleep, and take some panadol. She went off to do some home visits and told us she would come back later on, or when we needed her.
A (my sister) arrived at around this stage, as did DH's parents - so we had a little house full of people which was great, as I could hear DD playing and having a great time, which was reassuring. I took the panadol, and had a 'power rest' (this was at the stage when I updated my blog, for those of you who read it). I had a bit of a cry, as the contractions were getting stronger, and lying down meant I could feel the whole contraction wash over me, and I didn't feel like I was in control of anything. Mum and DH kept popping in to see me, but I did manage to get some sleep.
After about an hour, I got up and went back to the bathroom to have another shower and some more contractions in there. I was still having to moan to get through each contraction, and I was mindful of making the noise nice and low, rather than high pitched (which made me feel stressed and panicked - when I kept it low, I felt in control).
At about 1130 I felt like I wanted G back, because the contractions were so strong and painful, and I really wanted to know where I was at. I was sure that I would have had my baby by now!! I couldn't believe I had got to lunchtime - I thought second labours were supposed to be faster!
G examined me again at around 12, and found I was 5cm dilated (WTF only 5 - I thought!), and that the cervix was fully effaced. Her notes say that the head comes down and rests on the cervix during each contraction. The only thing that kept me from losing it completely here, was the fact that all these contractions HAD been doing something, but I really was finding it harder to cope with the pain. I think the thing that was scaring me, was that I knew it needed to get worse, and stronger, so I could get the baby out, and I was trying really hard to go with the contractions, and welcome them, instead of fighting them.
From now until about 2pm, G's notes are saying that I was working really hard with the contractions, and basically that they continued to get stronger, and that the baby's heart rate continued to be lovely and strong and regular. I think the contractions were about a minute apart, and lasting around a minute to a minute and a half.
I love the way G works - her notes at this point say "All set up and ready for this gorgeous baby" - she's just so nice, and she really helped me stay calm and not fight against the pain. Mum and DH were there and being fantastic too, but one thing G kept saying was really helpful - she kept saying "Trust your body Kate, this is all normal" - and that REALLY helped me relax and go with each wave of pain.
She called the other midwife at about 2pm, as I was beginning to feel like I might be ready to start pushing. K (back up) arrived, and G examined me again at about 2.30pm, and I was 8-9cms dilated. Oh how I wanted her to say 10!! I was starting to feel like I just couldn't cope any more, and I had completely had enough. The midwives got me to get up and have a few more contractions standing up, and on the toilet, to try and help the last of the dilation. I nearly burst into tears (actually, maybe I did), because I was just SO fed up and it bloody hurt, and I knew that sitting on the loo set off the WORST contractions. I really didn't want to do it, but I did, because I knew it would help.
At around 3pm, they got me to do some more nipple stimulation, because the contractions had petered off a bit. Everything with the baby looked great - they continued to check her heart beat about every 15 mins or so. I was taking big gulps of water in between each contraction, and was starting to feel really hot and sweaty, and a bit out of it. G suggested starting some IV fluids as I was looking dehydrated. I readily agreed because I felt SO dry. I started to fall asleep in between contractions, and nearly fell off the loo!! They tried 3 times to get an IV in, but I was so dehydrated that my veins just kept blowing (I still have huge bruises on my hands!). Luckily I don't mind needles, as they were using bloody huge ones, lol.
It was about 3.45pm by now, and I had completely had it. I think I had tears pouring down my face, and I was so completely drained. My contractions had pretty much stopped, and I knew I might need to go to hospital, which I think took my last bit of energy to admit. I knew before they suggested it. I felt lower than low, like I just couldn't take it anymore, and I couldn't figure out why my body wasn't doing what it was supposed to. At this stage, I didn't really even mind going to hospital - it was the trip there I wanted to avoid, and also the medical intervention I was likely to need once I got there. I had this huge sense of helplessness and despair at this point, because I knew I just needed to do what needed to be done to get this baby out.
When I read back over this it doesn't sound like I was in labour for that long, but with all the weeks before hand of false contractions - and basically having contractions ALL of the day and night before 'proper' labour started, I really felt exhausted.
I think my Mum was beginning to panic, and realised at the same time I did, that hospital might be the way to go. The midwives suggested that I go back to my bed and they examine me again, and decided about hospital from there.
So the examination showed that I was STILL 8-9cm, but my cervix had started to swell. I knew at this stage there was no denying that I needed a bit of help - so I agreed to be transferred to hospital.
This all happened so fast. G rang an ambulance, DH, Mum, and my mother in law rushed around getting stuff together to take, and I put on my dressing gown (lol, which we had to throw out after the birth!!), and by 4pm the ambulance was in our driveway.
I felt so incredibly sad and tired and let down as I climbed into the ambulance, not to mention scared. I imagined all the neighbours looking out their windows at me, and my family all in the lounge looking out at us - and I was hoping like hell DD wasn't watching!
DH and G came in the ambulance with me, and Mum drove behind, as did DH's parents. The ambulance men were really lovely, and helped me onto the stretcher - which by the way was suprisingly SO comfy!! I just lay there wanting to cry, and I remember saying to G, that when we got to the hospital, I was going to need some pain relief because I just couldn't do it anymore. I felt so sad admitting that too, because it REALLY wasn't what I had planned or wanted at all. I felt broken. I kept imagining that I would need a caesarean, because I couldn't imagine going through any more contractions - let alone coping on the IV medication they were going to give me to speed up and strengthen the contractions!
The ambulance pulled out of our driveway with a big bump.. and that was it - it set off mighty contraction after mighty contraction. I had never in my life felt so much pain. They just rolled one after another, each one stronger. DH was holding my hand, and I'm not sure if I was screaming, but I sure felt like I had completely lost control and I was going to die. (Sorry you girls who are yet to go through this). G explained later that the endorphins from early labour had worn off, and that is probably why I was not coping as well with the pain.
I tried some entonox gas (laughing gas), in the ambulance, and I tell you - it did shit all. I could taste it, but it made me cough, and didn't touch the pain, not even remotely - so I threw the mouth piece away.
I started to wonder if maybe I could push now.. so I gave it a little try, and found that I could feel the baby move a bit, which was great - because I had tried at home a few times and nothing was happening. G had joked before hand that we could have the baby in the ambulance, so I knew she was prepared.
I told G I might be feeling the head moving down, and she told the ambulance drivers she might need them to pull over soon. I started thinking "What?!! Aren't we going to make it to the hospital?!!" LOL. I started to get strong urges to push with the next contraction - and G was fantastic - not once did she make me feel like I should try and hold on or anything.. she just calmly called out to the ambulance drivers to please pull over.. and she kept encouraging me the whole way, lots of "good girl, good girl". I think I was gripping DH's hand at this stage. The pain was incredible. All I could think about was getting it all over and done! It never felt this bad with DD - mostly because she moved down slower, with this birth her head went from cervix to crowning in about one or two pushes. My Mum suddenly appeared beside me (she'd seen the ambulance pull over and knocked on the window to be let in, lol), although I think I had my eyes closed at this stage, and had no idea where we were! G told me she could see lots of black hair - and I remember saying "That's good", and with another push or two our baby was out! This was about 4.20pm.
DH caught her as she was born, with the help of G. The gave her a quick dry off with a towel and put her on my chest. I cannot reiterate enough the relief I felt at this point, both physically and emotionally. Her birth was SO much more painful than DD's! I was so shocked by this, and I think it was the thing that left me feeling the most shaken up at the end of the day. I really didn't expect it to all hurt more! G explained that our baby's head didn't have time to mould (squish up to make birth much easier). Usually baby's heads get kinda pointy, to get through the birth canal better, but hers wasn't. Ouch!
G gave me an injection in my thigh to help the placenta along (we had already discussed this in the weeks before the birth because DD's placenta took a long time to be born, and also due to having a long labour and being tired she was worried about me haemorrhaging). I didn't feel it at all! She asked me to try and push the placenta out, and I did, but didn't really have the strength in me to give a good push - so she asked the ambulance drivers to just continue on to the hospital.
So we drove the 3 more minutes up the road to the hospital, with poor DH looking the most pale I've ever seen him, and me just staring in wonder at this gorgeous wee girl in my arms! I tried to get her to latch on for a feed, but she was too busy crying.
It was quite scary at her birth because she was born purple. It gave us a fright, even though it's quite normal, and we knew that, DD was lovely and pink when she was born, and there is quite a difference between a purple baby and a pink one! She pinked up quickly as she started crying though. DH didn't get to cut the cord this time as they didn't have the right cord scissors and G had to do it in the ambulance with a scalpel.
When we got to the hospital the head midwife was waiting at the door for us, and they wheeled us into one of the birthing suites. DH's parents had no idea that she had already been born, and they were walking in behind the stretcher with DH, when he told them - and I don't think they really believed him, lol!
We got into the room and they helped me onto a proper bed, and G got me to push again to get the placenta out. Ouch. Lol - it sucks that when you have finished giving birth there is still more to do! It doesn't hurt like giving birth, but it's not very comfortable or pleasant. This was about 4.30pm.
The placenta was very interesting, and had what is called a velamentous insertion - where the 3 vessels of the cord all have separate entries into the placenta, instead of one entry, like normal. We have photos if anyone is interested. They are pretty gory though! Within a few minutes we had medical students and midwifery students wanting to have a look at it, hehe.
My Mum and DH's parents were in the room at this stage, and I think my Dad arrived around now too. G made me some toast and a cup of milo, and I latched the baby on for a feed.
G did my last (hurrrah!!) vaginal examination, to check for tears etc. Luckily, I just had a small graze, which I was amazed by because I was sure I was ripping in two when she was born. No stitches again - wooohooo!
At about 5.30pm G did the baby's newborn check - weighed her, checked reflexes and all of that stuff, and DH dressed her. The grandparents then got to pass her around amongst themselves while DH helped me up to the bathroom for my first proper pee in months (man that felt good!), and for a shower. I was feeling pretty wobbly and had that strange empty belly feeling, but was so on top of the world - no longer pregnant - woohoo!
We were allowed to go home at around 7.30pm, once we were sure she was warm enough (the ambulance birth, and being wheeled from the ambulance to the hospital dropped her temperature a wee bit), and that I wasn't bleeding too much.
G came home with us and packed up all her stuff etc, and had a glass of champagne with our parents (none of the rest of us felt like any!). And we got to introduce the new baby to DD, and the rest of the family.
So was I disappointed not to get my home birth? Yes and no. Yes because that was the ideal birth I had in mind, and still is - but no because I managed to avoid a medicalised birth anyway, and to be honest, the hospital wasn't too bad once I got there. It's not the hospital as such that I hate, it's what it represents, and the way birth gets taken over and medicalised that I object to. I was pretty happy with the fact that even though we were in hospital, I was only cared for or seen by G, and we had no medical intervention - so essentially, I got the birth I wanted.
And do I think I shouldn't have tried for a home birth? Absolutely not! I've had a few people say that I must have been put off having a home birth again. Hehe, no way! I believe that if I was in hospital and the same thing had happened, I would have been put on the syntocin drip faster, and would have had a higher chance of needing even more medical intervention.
I'm really happy with the outcome. Not only did I get another beautiful daughter, I also got to experience something different, and it helped to challenge my ideas around labour and birth - something which is always healthy I think.
Welcome to the world, beautiful Natalia Raine. Weighing 9lb 4oz. Born 13th June 2006 at 4.20pm, on her due date. Apgars were 9 and then 10.
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