After a while I started to get some feeling back in my left hip. It was a dull ache, like the period pain again. The midwife wasn't too worried about it, she said if it was my hip then it wasn't related to the epidural or anything, that it was probably normal. It scared me though - I was worried the epidural was wearing off. Sure enough it got stronger and stronger, and it started to feel way too much like it had the past week. It was spreading down into my leg again. The midwife didn't really know what to do, she said the only thing they could do was get the anaesthetist back to readminister the epidural but that would mean taking it out and doing it all over again. I didn't want that, as I wasn't prepared to go through the induced contractions without an epidural, and I doubted I could stay still for him to readminister it. So I just left it as it got stronger and stronger. Then there was a change of shift and another midwife came to look after me. After talking with her she concluded that it was probably nerve-related. That area had gotten such a beating over the past week, and it was all because of the baby being posterior. She was pressing on a nerve which was why I'd had all the pain in my lower back and thighs instead of in the front, and why the epidural didn't numb it, and probably why my labour was so slow to progress. The entire time, I never felt a thing in the front. I'm sure there was pain there, but the back pain was so intense that it was all I could focus on. The same doctor from the previous day came back in eventually, this was at about 11pm, and when he checked me he said I was about 8cm dilated. Great, we thought. Then he said "So I'll come back in about three hours". I said "You'll come back when?" Everyone's mouth dropped. He repeated, three hours. That's how long he thought it would take me to reach 10cm. We were devastated when he left - DH looked like death after not sleeping for so long, he could barely function. Mum was a wreck. The midwife really felt for us and she asked if she could examine me herself - she thought for sure he was wrong and that I would have been fully dilated by then. She said he had a caesarean to do upstairs in theatre so he wouldn't be available for another three hours anyway, regardless of what happened with me. I gave her permission to check and sure enough, straight away she said I was fully dilated and could start pushing. She asked if I had any energy and I said "I can find energy". Mum and DH's mouths just dropped, DH said he didn't know how I was doing it - but what choice did I have? What else could I have done, said "No sorry I don't think I can push." That baby had to come out, it had been a week of labour (I don't care what any doctor said about 2cm not being labour, if only he'd had to go through what I did he would have felt differently!). The only problem was trying to find a position that didn't aggravate my leg too much. They started by attaching a frame to the top of the bed, and I would put my legs against it while I pushed. It took a while to get the hang of pushing, but they told me I was doing a good job. Then my leg just started to hurt too much. With each contraction I'd need someone to rub my leg like crazy to ease the pain so I could focus on pushing. I had two midwives there, one on either side of the frame, Mum on one side holding one hand and DH holding the other hand. Before long it was too much, the pain in my leg was unbearable and I couldn't push through it. I tried a few more positions but nothing worked. I was screaming again, the pain was so bad. I barely remember it but apparently this went on for three hours, which is the maximum amount of time they let you push. I was done, I just didn't have any more left in me. I felt awful, I felt like I'd failed. I couldn't do it, I couldn't push my baby out. The doctor came back and said he'd have to take me upstairs to theatre, readminister my epidural and help DD out with the ventouse. I was so, so scared. The midwives looked really frustrated. Mum and DH were really upset. For a week they'd done nothing, just let me labour on in pain to try and avoid having an induction or assisted delivery, only to let me go so long that I needed an induction AND an assisted delivery. Only one person could come with me and DH was on his last legs. He could barely even get up out of the chair. I asked him did he want Mum to come with me and he started crying and said No, he'd been through this much, he had to see her born. i don't know where he got the energy from but somehow he found it.
So then they stopped the epidural while we waited for the orderly to come and take me up to theatre. I started to feel everything. DD was RIGHT THERE, ready to come out, I literally felt like she was going to come out at any second. I didn't know what to do with each contraction, did I still push? They told me not to - the midwife was so upset telling me not to push after having pushed like crazy for three hours. I can't explain how it felt having DD try and get out and I just had to try and not do anything. It was the most painful, traumatic thing I've ever been through. I just grabbed the nearest hand and screamed like crazy. The orderly took forever, I can't even begin to describe how long it felt like i was lying there going through that. Then they wheeled me up to theatre and started the epidural again. I didn't know what was going on. There were people everywhere and I was just screaming for someone to help me while each contraction came. DH had to sit in a corner so he couldn't do anything and it must have been horrible for him. I didn't know I was capable of screaming that loud, but it just came out. Finally they finished prepping me, the epidural still didn't fully take affect in my left leg but they couldn't leave me any longer. They wheeled me into theatre and DH sat next to me. They tied my legs up in stirrups so they were up in the air. The doctor said something like "You've gotta work hard for me, this is still you doing this. I'm here to help but it's going to be 60% you, 40% me." And from then on, everything went OK. He told me when to push and I pushed. He told me how many pushes, when to back off, when to give a little push and when to give a big push. DH was right there with me telling me what a great job I was doing. When they were confident they could get DD out the nurses told DH to come and look, to see her being born. She turned right at the end, with help from the ventouse. She still wasn't going to come out so he had to give me an episiotomy. I barely felt it and didn't care at the time. They told me when her head was out, and that the cord was wrapped around her neck twice, but they didn't seem worried about it. And then before I knew it, she was out, DH cut the cord and they put her on my chest. I'm crying now but I didn't really cry at the time, I was too shocked and overwhelmed. DH was crying. It was 3:37am on Friday 6th July. She had a big bruise on her head from the ventouse and it was all misshapen. Then the nurses took her back to clean her up and everything, and DH went with them. I could just see if I turned my head enough. They let him take lots of photos. I'd forgotten about the pain at that point. The doctors and the nurses delivered the placenta and stitched me up which took a while, I felt it but I didn't feel it if you know what I mean. I just couldn't believe it was over and there was our baby. I felt my tummy and it was totally flat again, it felt so weird. I was just so overwhelmed that it was finally, finally, finally over. DH got to take her downstairs while I had to go to recovery. The nurse told me to sleep, while she unhooked me and took out all the various needles and things. I think I actually did sleep a little bit, although all I wanted to do was get back downstairs. I was sad that I couldn't be there while DH showed her to Mum for the first time, but I didn't let it get to me too much, I just didn't have the emotional energy. I was just glad she was OK.
So that's my story. In the days that followed I definitely suffered a bit of post-traumatic stress. I was Ok when I had people around me but when I was left alone with DD and it was all quiet, my eyes would go really wide like I was stunned and I felt really panicky. My hospital stay afterwards was horrible. I couldn't breastfeed - maybe with more help I could have but given everything I had been through I just couldn't cope with it. My nipples were bruised and bleeding after the first day, DD was just wasn't latching on properly and I didn't know what to do to help her. Every midwife would tell me something different...hold her this way, hold her that way, try skin to skin, don't try skin to skin...then as soon as she was on they'd just leave me alone. Inevitably she'd fall off and I didn't know how to get her back on. She'd scream while I buzzed the midwives and waited forever until one turned up. I kept trying and she kept screaming until about the fourth day when I cracked and said I didn't think I could do it anymore. I switched to formula, DD sucked the bottle dry and slept for six hours. She's been a great sleeper ever since and is thriving. I do still have pangs of guilt about not BFing but bottle feeding is what has worked for us. Trying to BF after everything I'd been through, it wasn't working and I was breaking down. Bottle feeding went so well, I was a happy mama for the first time, and DD was a happy bubba. She has been ever since.
I still think about DD's birth every day. I just can't seem to get past it, but I am really trying. I feel so angry about what the hospital put me through, then I wonder, is there anything they could have done? Was I really just in pre-labour or was it their ridiculous rule that you're not in labour until you're 3cm that just let me down? I hated how no one really paid any attention to me. I was at the mercy of whichever midwife was on at the time. You'd try and explain your situation but they hadn't been there the whole time and they just weren't sympathetic. I feel like someone at some point should have been able to tell me that DD was facing the wrong way. And once that was determined, shouldn't they have done something about it? Was she ever going to turn by herself at that point?
To this day I still can't drive past the hospital. I get panic attacks and go all dizzy. I've spoken to a counsellor about what I went through, but maybe not to the extent I should have done as I still struggle. My DD is perfect and beautiful. She's the happiest baby I've ever known. She sleeps through the night, is a great feeder, and has big smiles for everyone she meets. But each day with her is tainted when memories of her birth inevitably creep back into my mind. I'm trying really hard to put it behind me, hopefully one day I will get there. I'm just thankful that it was me who went through the trauma and not her. I got a happy, healthy baby and as a parent that is all you ever want