Friday, February 08, 2008
Ben Julian's birth
I was 12 days overdue and was booked in to be induced 2 weeks past my due date. I’d been to the hospital twice for foetal monitoring to ensure that the heart beat was strong and everything was ok with baby. I’d had the foetal monitoring the day before and hadn’t been sleeping very well for a few days. I was so uncomfortable and my heartburn was making it nearly impossible to sleep with no less than 3 pillows propping me up.
The night before I’d had about 5 hours sleep which was considered a good nights sleep so I felt well rested. I was awake at 5am and started to get period pains at 7am. I’d had this before but they has always gone away, however this time they continued and by 9am I was pretty sure that I was experiencing the beginnings of labour. My husband was ready for work but I suggested he wait and see what was happening and if it ended up not being anything then he could go to work late rather than go to work and then have to leave, especially as it was an hour each way. At 9.30am I rang my Mum at work and told her I believed I was in the early stages of labour. We started timing the contractions and they were lasting about 30 seconds and coming every 7 minutes or so.
I finished packing my bag and tidying the house and preparing for the possibility that I wouldn’t be home for a few days. When I had a contraction I would walk around and chant encouraging words which I’d read in Birth Skills by Juju Sundin & Sarah Murdoch, like ‘baby down, baby down’ or ‘baby’s coming, baby’s coming’. It was helpful to remind me of what the end result was going to be. For someone who never really gets bad period pain, I couldn’t imagine it would get worse than that although I knew it would get worse.
I rang the hospital at 1pm, 6 hrs after the first pain and they advised I stay home for as long as possible as it was my first baby and that I would be a very long way off. They would listen to me have a contraction while I was on the phone and judge from there as to how far along they thought I was. As I could talk through it (with a bit of heavy breathing) the midwife suggested I leave before peak hour as it was about a half hour drive away to the hospital so suggested in another 3 hrs to leave and to call them if anything had changed or if my waters broke in the meantime. They kept asking me if my waters had broke and I kept replying that I wasn’t sure as I was always going to the toilet to wee anyway….little did I know that when they did break there would be no mistaking it for a little trickly wee!!!
About an hour later I rang the hospital again. This time I wanted a change of scenery, I wanted to get out of the house and have some professionals look at me and tell me how far I had progressed. I was scared of the car trip and peak hour. This time I had a different midwife and again she suggested I stay home for as long as possible and that I would be a long time before having the baby. She suggested I try the bath, shower and wheat bag for relief. I’d already had a fairly long shower so then jumped into the bath for about an hour before I had had enough of that. I then lay on the couch while my husband and I watched TV with the wheat bag on my abdomen for about another hour. It was about 3pm at this stage so it was 8 hours after the first pain and my husband made the decision that we were going to go to the hospital. My contractions were about 4 minutes apart by this stage so we packed up the car and headed off around 4pm getting to the hospital at about 5pm by the time we ‘checked in’ etc. The car trip was pretty bad. I remember punching the roof of the car to distract myself from the pain and when we went down the main road from my house to the highway I had 3 contractions and I remember looking at the drivers of the cars next to me thinking there is a woman in labour in this car and you have no idea. Looking back now (nearly 4 months later) it is all very surreal. That was the worst part of the drive apart from one moment when I thought I wanted to get out of the car and walk around during a contraction.
The midwife (the 2nd one I spoke to on the phone from home) came to collect me from reception and she said to me “couldn’t you handle it anymore” and the way she looked at me was as though I wasn’t really far along and was wasting her time coming to the hospital so early. That was just the feeling I got from her. The midwives contacted my obstetrician and said he would be in to see me at about 8pm which was about 3 hrs away. That was ok but that meant that the midwives wouldn’t examine me to see how far I was along so I was still a bit in the dark as to if I had got anywhere. When I had been to see my doctor for the last time he did a stretch and sweep and estimated that I was about 3 cm dilated so I was thinking I would be at least 7cm or so by the time I got to the hospital. We turned the TV on and paced around when I was offered gas. Because I was so far overdue I hadn’t really read up on pain relief and drugs. I’d gone in to labour with the attitude that I would have whatever I needed to get through it and to even be prepared to have a caesarean as I believed that this was something that I would not be able to control and who knew what would happen and how I would cope or manage with the pain. To me it was totally the unknown so I was prepared to do and have whatever it took to get me through.
I decided to use the gas and the midwife established that I was a good candidate for pethidine which I wasn’t immediately administered with. The midwife came in and said I should lie down and that I would not be able to handle the pace of walking around and standing as I had been for the duration. She put me lying on my side with 2 pillows in between my knees and 2 pillows between my ankles. I felt this was very restrictive but I went along with it. Not long after that I heard a loud ‘pop’ and just felt this huge and magnificent release of fluid gush out. “My waters just broke” I just screamed out to my husband. “Go and tell them”. I knew this was big…this was what they wanted from me. The midwife came back and they completely stripped me of my clothes then and said that they might now examine me before my doctor arrived. Finally I thought!!!! All of this work since seven o’clock this morning, now I would finally know where I was at. The midwife estimated me to be at 7 cm dilated which I was very happy with and not long after that my doctor arrived. “Finally my doctor is here” I was thinking, but again I was so far gone by this stage that I didn’t even care when he arrived. He told me later that he thought he would be back at 1 or 2 in the morning but that once he’d seen me he knew he’d be staying to deliver my baby. He then examined me and said I was about 6 cm. I didn’t understand how the midwife could say I was 7 but he thought I was 6, was it possible to go backwards?
Now it’s about 8.30pm and my doctor administered me with pethidine and something for nausea that can be a side effect of the pethidine. I never once felt ‘sick’ during my labour…never queasy or nauseous which was good. I didn’t think that the pethidine did much but my husband said that I was a bit more sleepy during contractions after the injection so who knows. I was obviously too far gone to notice any difference in pain by this stage. I’m not sure how long had passed by this time but it didn’t feel like it was very long but I felt a strong feeling of pressure in my bowel. I had had this feeling for quite a lot of the later labour and when I mentioned it to the midwife earlier she said that was the baby’s head and that was it. This time when I said it she said that I needed to push. I still thought I was only 7 cm and that it would be a few more hours before I needed to push and I sort of felt that mentally I wasn’t ready to push and I didn’t know how. They told me to push but without really giving me any instructions how to do it…it was a strange sensation. They kept telling me to stop using my energy through my voice on the push which was just so absurd to me as the pain I was in required me to verbalise and I didn’t understand what they meant about me using energy through screaming when I needed to use it on the push. After about half an hour of pushing they asked if I would like a mirror. I remembered a friend saying how much that helped her so I said to go for it. It was such a big help as I could see my baby’s head and the opening stretching with each push. I could put more energy into the actual push, it was great. After about 45 minutes the head was completely out and everyone was yelling at me to look at it in the mirror but I had nothing left. I couldn’t lift my head to see and I didn’t really want to either. It was nearly a feeling of nothing else when the whole body came out and they put my baby boy on my chest. All I could do was look at him and think “Thank God that’s over” when I asked my husband what did we have and he told me a boy. I had 3 stitches from a tear and my baby boy weighed 4 kilos or 8 pounds and 13 ounces and he was 52 cm in length with a head of black hair.
We named him Ben Julian and he is now 4 months old. He is the image of his Dad, nothing at all like me and he is a wonderful baby. He was sleeping through the night at 4 weeks old and he’s the best thing I have ever done. I look at him and I feel so proud of myself. I’m proud that my body made such a perfect thing and so proud of myself of the birth.