This birth story starts in March 2008 when my DS started getting ear infections. One of the things said repeatedly to me during his ear problems was that the one thing I could have done differently to help his ears would have been to BF him for longer.
I promised myself that with any subsequent children I had I would do my utmost to maximize the chance of BF success.
To my horror, I discovered that one of the best ways to maximise BF success was to have a natural labour and birth.
I reluctantly decided to aim for a natural birth with any subsequent children. I had never really contemplated natural birth before – I was too much of a sook and I had no problem with drugs whatsoever. So I thought.
Fast forward to January 2009.
I woke up at 1am on 30 January 2009 (due date and my birthday) needing to wee. I went to the toilet and went back to bed. I noticed I was having very slight period pains. I didn't think much of the pains as I had been having them for a few weeks on and off during the night.
At about 2am I felt a bit damp downstairs and thought (or actually I think I said out loud) "that’s just not right". I went to the toilet and noticed I was damp so I put on a pad and went back to bed and read my book.
At 3am I checked my pad and saw it was very wet and pink tinged so I called the hospital who told me to come in immediately.
Well I didn't want to – so I waited a while. I called my friend who was to come and care for Hugo and DH had to do some emails to work. DH then went and got our friend and she arrived with her little girl at about 4.30am.
We got to the hospital at 5am. My contractions were coming and going about every 3 minutes but then I’d have a break of up to 10 minutes so I thought I was a long way off. I really didn’t want to be at the hospital, as I wanted to labour at home for as long as I could and only arrive at the hospital for the pointy end.
However I was a bit concerned about the colour of the waters and wanted it checked. When I got in, my midwife Julie tested my pad, and said that it was my waters and I wasn’t going home that day. The pink tinge was just show and waters mixed.
Julie and I then we went over my birth plan in some detail. My obstetrician had agreed to my plan so Julie familiarized herself with the plan.
Julie checked both mine and my babe's heart rate and we were both tachycardic so, although I didn‘t want extensive foetal monitoring, I agreed to a few minutes of monitoring to check on the babe.
She confirmed my contractions and checked on the babe and after about 20 minutes I was up and about and moving around. My contractions were still irregular and short.
I didn't feel uncomfortable at all. DH put the TENS machine on me and I got that going.
After about half an hour, I agreed to a VE to check for dilation and Julie told me I was 6cms. That actually gave me a lot of heart and perked me up.
I spent some time bouncing on the fitball with the TENS on. I was very comfortable, breathing through contractions like this for about 3 hours. In this time, my midwife Julie was replaced by Anne, who was also lovely and very pro-natural birth like Julie was.
I felt my waters go completely at about 9am and the pain started to ramp up so I went into the shower while Anne went to run the bath for me. I still felt pretty comfortable at this stage.
I’m not sure if it was the water but in about a 10 minute period I lost the plot – I suddenly found the contractions hard to bear and started muttering about an epidural. Anne came in and said if I was asking for drugs it was too late.
She wanted to know if I felt any pressure in my bottom and I said I did so she got me out of the shower and asked if she could do a VE to checked my dilation. She said I was fully dilated and it was time to start pushing - but only when I felt the urge.
I said I didn’t care for that idea and wanted to go home.
I asked for gas and was given the mouth piece. I hated the gas though as it made me feel like I couldn’t breathe so I just chewed on the mouth piece and had 2 sucks of gas.
I started pushing but I was scared of the pain and of pooping so I was fighting against the pain and the contractions, tensing up and not going with it.
My midwife said I needed to poo (!) to get over the paranoia of pooping (yeah like I had a choice, how undignified) but I still spent a good 10 minutes yelling out “I don’t want to poo" and tensing against the pain and screaming.
Well embarrassing as it was, Anne was right and the poop that escaped broke my fear. I got on all fours then and started to push.
My OB wasn’t going to make it in time as he was in theatre, and Anne suggested she grab the stand in OB to assist with delivery.
Very embarrassingly I was on the bed on all fours, yelling out “No, I don’t want *****” (***** would not let me have a natural third stage so I didn’t want him at the delivery). Of course he was in the hallway at the time and, yep, he heard it.
I asked Anne to protect my perineum as I tore badly last time so she got me to lay on my left side with my leg up and supported whilst she applied warmth and support to my perineum. She then gently stretched the skin out.
Suddenly in that position I was able to push effectively and in 3 pushes, baby was out and on my chest, still attached to her cord. Ouchy - ring of fire indeed.
I lifted baby in the air and looked at my DH and said “It’s a girl, I can’t believe we had a girl!”
We laughed and looked her and decided that she looked like an Olive - so we named her Olive Anne.
The rest of the delivery was more unpleasant than Olive’s birth – I felt the placenta shear away and the gush of blood that comes with this. However I kept bleeding.
It was at this stage that my obstetrician arrived. The cord was clamped and cut and he had a look at my loss. He commented that I was bleeding a lot but we’d wait and see how I went with the delivery of the placenta as I wanted a natural third stage.
After about 10 minutes I asked how the bleeding was and he said it was heavy but he wasn’t concerned.
I was concerned however and asked for the synto to be administered. It was and the placenta came out quickly. I then had to have another medication administered to halt the bleed. In all I lost about 700ml of blood which wasn’t too bad.
I had one little stitch where the edge of the tear from DS’s birth opened up a little. However I didn’t even notice the pain of that and the stitch has caused me no pain at all.
In all it was the most empowering experience of my life. I never really believed that I could have a natural birth – and I almost did except for the 2 puffs of gas and the synto at the end.
What followed was far worse than labour – a BF nightmare that ended up with cracked nipples, a topical thrush infection and a staph infection in my breast tissue. I am still BF though and after a few days of formula top ups (I think in all it was 4 top ups of 10 mls each), Olive is now 100% BF even though it’s with the aid of a shield.
Here's me with Olive after she's been fed and weighed (3.55kgs, 51.5cms long, HC 33.5cms):
And Olive at home on day 4: