Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Evie’s Birth Story

Like most of the stages and milestones of pregnancy, I was initially unsure if what I was experiencing leading up to Evie’s birth was in fact pre- labour symptoms. All week, in the evening, when I dragged myself to bed, I would feel cramps or discomfort down low in my tummy. Several times, I got a clock, pen and paper, and timed the ‘contractions’. They never got stronger or regulated, and though I was disenheartened by this, I also knew that rationally, things were happening and that within three weeks at the most, our baby would be with us.

Every time I went to the toilet from around 37 weeks, I would be extremely disappointed to see that there was no pinkish tinge to my discharge or blood on my undies. I wanted to see my ‘show’ so I could know that things were happening and that my cervix was thinning. So you can imagine my delight when on Friday the 9th of March, after feeling mild cramps from around 7am, I went to the toilet and wiped away a smear of blood. I was convinced that this was it- two days before her due date!

I excitedly ran down the hall to Dean. ‘I think we might have a baby today!’ I said cryptically. ‘What’s going on?’ he asked in reply. I don’t think he actually believed me. All week I had been making jokes about the baby coming, but I had also been complaining about cramps and they hadn’t eventuated into anything, so I suppose he just thought it was another case of wishful thinking on my behalf. Also, the due date was another two days away and I had been saying that I thought I would go later than that.
‘I’ve been getting cramps and they’re regular. See’. I gave him my list of times and he saw that they were around 10 minutes apart. ‘I’ve lost a bit of blood, too’. A smile appeared on his face, and he gave me a cuddle and a back rub. ‘Let’s hope so’, he said excitedly.

I had a shower and continued to lose more blood. I showed Dean and when he actually saw that, I think he really realised that we were in business. ‘I’ll just ring school and tell them that I don’t think I will be in for a full day today’, he said, and went to make the call. We agreed that he should go into work for 1st period and prepare work for the rest of the day, then come home to be with me. We didn’t think that the baby would come that day, but we knew it would be soon.

After he left I rested in bed, watching the clock to ensure that the contractions were still coming and were still regular. At 9.30am I rang a girlfriend to tell her the exciting news. Surprisingly, just as I was about to leave a message on her machine, there was a knock at the door. ‘Rach, are you asleep?’, she called out, knowing that my bedroom was the first room and that I was usually resting at that time of the morning.

‘No, I’m timing contractions,’ I yelled out, realising it was Jess, and jumped up to answer the door. She couldn’t believe it. ‘Do you want me to go?’ she asked. ‘No, no no, come in and have a cuppa’. We sat and chatted for around an hour, with me stopping conversation to breath through the pains, which still came regularly. Jess has had three kids and observed that it was promising that the contractions hadn’t stopped after she came. She thought that they might have eased off, as I wasn’t lying in bed concentrating on them. She also said that she thought it was the ‘very’ early stage and that I would have the baby much later that night, even early the next day. That was fine with me! Just to know that it was happening, after spending so long thinking about it was an overwhelmingly exciting felling. Soon we would have our baby. It was amazing!

Jess left around 10.30 and I rang the hospital. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have, but I had tested positive for Group Strep B and was anxious about getting the cannular in for the antibiotics I needed. I didn’t want to leave it too late. The midwife said to come in around 1pm if my waters didn’t break beforehand.

I also rang mum. She was asleep from working night-duty the night before. ‘Mama, I think today’s the day’, I said reluctantly, knowing that she would be upset to miss the birth. She was due to arrive in Broken Hill in 2 days time. I filled her in on the nature of my contractions then went back to bed to rest.

Dean arrived home and hopped into bed with me, writing down the time and duration of the contractions. We stopped after an hour or so, knowing they were very regular, around 6-10 minutes apart and lasting for around 45-60 seconds. Then I got a few things organised and at 12.30 we headed up to the hospital. ‘Should we take the bags?’ I asked Dean.
‘Na, I’m sure they’ll just put the cannular in and send us home’. I agreed, thinking we were way too early to be up at the hospital.

It’s hard to remember how painful the contractions were, but when we were walking from the car into the hospital, I did have to stop walking to concentrate on breathing through them, so they were definitely obvious contractions that were more than period like cramps.

I wasn’t feeling any apprehensiveness or fear. I was really, really excited. So I suppose my relaxed state deceived the midwife into thinking I wasn’t far along. She organised for the cannular to be put in and told us we had to stay now that it was in. Dean went home to get the bags, some food, the chess set, a deck of cards and some books and I got comfortable on the bed. She put me on the ECG for ½ an hour to see that the baby was coping with the contractions. She said that the contractions should go up to around 30 on the monitor, and mine only went to 25-26, (not that I know what the numbers meant) so I guess they weren’t too strong. Also, she kept asking me if I was still getting the pains, so I think she might have thought I was in the very early stages. After it was confirmed that the baby was fine, they moved me into another room to settle in for the afternoon. I rang mum and dad to let them know I was at the hospital and staying there from then on.

From 1pm to 3.30pm, the contractions got fairly strong. I remember being irritable and a little bit scared. I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to do this for another 10 hours or so. I shed a few tears and expressed my fear to Dean. ‘If they hurt this much now, how will I cope with them later?’ I asked fearfully.
“You’ll do it, babe. You’ll be fine’. I reiterated my plans for a drug-free birth and continued to breath through the contractions. We tried the birthing ball, walking around outside, lying down and kneeling on the bed. I was finding it hard to get comfortable. ‘Surely they shouldn’t be coming this close together and hurting this much’ I asked him.
‘No, I think this is right’, he said.
‘Why hasn’t anyone been to see me yet?’ I asked angrily. I felt like I had been shoved into a room and forgotten about. ‘I’m ringing the bell’ I said stubbornly, and did just that.

A midwife named Faye came in. I was up on the bed on my knees, resting forward on a pile of pillows. ‘How are we going here?’ she asked.
‘I think they are getting a lot stronger and closer together’, I said. ‘Can you check to see how I am going?’

‘Hasn’t anyone checked you yet?’ she asked, surprised. ‘Have you had any pethidine?’

‘No, but that’s OK. I don’t want any. They put us in here at around 1pm and no-one has been in since.’

Faye went to get some things to do an internal. While she was gone I thought about what I would do if she found I was only a couple of centimetres. I was so nervous that she would say I was only 2 or 3 cm. I desperately wanted to be 4cm or more. If I was, I would be happy and I felt I could maintain control if I was that far along.

‘Well, you are doing well’, Faye exclaimed. I noticed the surprise in her voice. ‘You’ve got a nice bulge of membrane and you’re about…’. She pulled her hand out and showed me the length I was dilated.

‘Four?’ I asked hopefully. Both her and Dean laughed.

‘You’re a least five, and when you contract, it moves out to about 7cm’. We need to get you into the delivery room.’

I can’t describe how happy I was. It was really empowering to know that I had progressed that far on my own, but more than that, I felt completely in control. I was coping very well and I just felt like I could do it. I was really going to do it!

I was eventually wheel-chaired around to the delivery room, after they had moved a few patients around to make room for me. As we were going down the corridor, Faye said to another nurse, ‘Almost 7 cm!’. The nurse raised her eyebrows and smiled. We were in action!
I got in to the delivery room and Faye asked if I wanted my membranes broken. At that point I said no. She also set up the gas and encouraged me to try it. She said it took around ½ and hour for the machine to really work well, so thought I should start using it now. I also said I didn’t want that, but she left it by my bed in case. I put it out of my mind that it was there, completely convinced that I wouldn’t have it. Once I had made the decision, the thought of pain relief medication did not even enter my mind.

Faye said she would check on me in another hour, so from 4.10-5.30 we worked through the contractions. I found that rhythmically pushing Dean’s arms away from me and pulling them towards me helped work through the contractions. I really needed to hold both of his hands, and having this routine really helped.

Faye checked me again at 5.30pm and found I was 8-9cm. We decided to break my waters to help things along, so with a little pressure from her in the middle of a contraction, my waters broke. Oh my god! What a relief! It was an amazingly relieving sensation and completely changed the nature of the contractions. The felt more powerful, but in a good way. They became more purposeful. Rather than just pain, it really felt like they were doing something more.

Not long after that, I just wanted to push. And poo. It was an overwhelming feeling. Faye said that I wasn’t fully ready but that a few little pushes might help to finally dilate that last bit. Also, I had a lip left on one side so I rolled onto that side to put pressure on it to move it away.

Things were getting painful. I wanted to push so much, but also feared I wasn’t ready. I kind of grunted my way through a few contractions, then said I couldn’t fight it anymore. I was pushing. Sometimes the contractions came upon me and I felt like I was possessed. I grunted and growled- a deep, guttural sound- completely primitive. It was so hard to get that second breath during the contraction to continue pushing. I was exhausted. I barely had the energy to hold my legs back as I was pushing.

I didn’t feel like I was being very productive. I wasn’t directing the push in the right spot and I wasn’t pushing for long enough. On three separate occasions, the pain was so great that I almost took myself away from it, away from my body. It’s hard to explain, but it is as if my mind took me somewhere else to cope with the pain. Faye’s voice went into the distance and I got a wave of clamminess all over my body. I expressed this to Faye and Dean after it happened and she said I really needed to listen to her. I needed to let her guide me. Up until that point I don’t think I had been listening to her, but I knew that I wasn’t in control. I worked really hard through the next contractions, getting my second breath and directing my push right to where I should have, but again the pain got so great and half-way through the next contraction, I went to take my second breath, but it was like the contraction disappeared. I knew I was ruining it. I was talking myself out of it. Lots of people say that the urge to birth the baby becomes so great that it overwhelms everything else, but at that point, I didn’t care when the baby came. I was soooo tired. I was almost asleep in the breaks between contractions. Faye suggested to the nursing student that my body was really trying to help me rest and regain strength.

‘Right Rachael, up you get’, Faye instructed, realising that she needed to take action then and there. She made me stand at the end of the bed and I had 2 more contractions there, but I felt I needed to kneel. I hated standing. My legs felt so weak and I just wasn’t comfortable. I clambered up onto the bed and had a really, really strong contraction. I pushed for what felt like ages and really moved the baby down. I could feel the baby- it was almost crowning but moved back up after the contraction. Faye said she could see it and Dean had a look too. I remember being surprised that we were that close. I really didn’t expect to be there so soon.

In the next contraction I crowned. The stinging was definitely there, but again, that fact that that meant the baby was coming out was an amazing feeling. I panted through that contraction, slowly birthing the head. Faye encouraged me by letting me know that the forehead was out, the eyebrows, the eyes, the nose, and the whole head! The other midwife commented on what a cute face the baby had and what a massive crop of hair. This was all so encouraging. Faye instructed me not to push and I assured her that there was no way I was going to- I was too bloody tired! After a minute or two, she said I needed to push slowly. I could really feel her stretching my skin around the baby. The baby didn’t turn as it should have, as it’s arm was up near it’s shoulder, so Faye had to help it out. With the baby came a big gush of fluid and another relieving sensation. Then, the sound I have dreamt about a million times; a big, lusty cry from our little baby!

Evelyn Grace Richardson 09.03.07. 7lbs 15oz. 7.10pm

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