I will do the usual warning that this is long, but, it was a long labour! (14 hours ‘established’ labour – although I know that is nothing in comparison to others!)
Okay, it has been a little hard to get around to writing the birth story of my daughter- both time and emotion wise - but here it goes!
I started my pregnancy with a very closed mind… I had set ideas about things without even thinking about them. Yes, I would use disposable nappies, I would use controlled crying, all my family formula fed so I probably would too… and labour… drugs all the way! However, as my pregnancy progressed I started doing some reading about different things and decided that I needed to open my mind a little. I decided I would use cloth nappies for my child (modern cloth rocks!), co-sleep, and did all I could to support learning to breastfeed.
As my belly grew, my amazement at the human body grew also. What a wonderful God to create such an intricate design! I believed that my body was designed to do this, and wanted to birth in a way that followed my body and baby, and used the natural resources of labour to cope with the pain. However, I kept an open mind – If I needed drugs or intervention then I would.
All this was well and good, but I hadn’t foreseen that I would need to do more to ensure that it turned out that way! I told my husband my wishes (my only support person), but that was all. Part of me knew that it depended on the support of the midwife who was looking after me during labour.
On Sunday, 1st October, I was 3 days overdue (although, my early ultrasound due date was the 1st of Oct). All day I was having fairly regular Braxton hicks contractions. They felt like very mild period cramps. I also had a bloody show throughout the day. I was so excited! The rational, logical part of me knew that it could be nothing, but part of me knew that this would be happening in the next couple of days. Monday morning, at about 3am I woke with very mild contractions (well, now I know that they were very mild, lol!), that were 15 mins apart. I couldn’t sleep so I got up and made muffins, came on bubhub and let my husband sleep. Throughout the day, the contractions came closer and closer. DH and I went for a walk around the block in the morning, and then went to the local shopping centre, had lunch and walked, walked, walked! Every 8 mins I would have to stop and lean on DH through a contraction… We pretended to have a ‘cuddle’, but we received a few knowing glances!
As the evening approached things started progressing. By about 7pm the contractions were 4 minutes apart and lasting about 40-50 seconds. I hopped in the bath and it was bliss… I had spent much of my pregnancy at the local pool swimming, and knew that I would like the water in labour. After a few hours in the bath, I gave up.. It was too small and all I could do was lay there. By about 11 the contractions were about 3 minutes apart and lasting 1 minute. Every so often they would come in clusters that were right on top of each other.
At this point I was feeling fantastic. The contractions hurt like hell, but I felt powerful, and in tune with my body. I was coping really well at home, but wanted to go to the hospital because I couldn’t stand the though of sitting in the car through those strong contractions!
I arrived at the hospital at midnight. Turns out I didn’t have any contractions in the car at all… or for 15mins after arriving at the hospital!
The midwife did an internal and I was 5cms dilated! I was so elated, as I expected to be told only about 2 or 3. I could do this.. .my body was working! The midwife said that bub was in a slightly posterior position, so I was encouraged to take up positions during contractions to help her move. As DH filled the spa for me, he spoke to the midwife and told her my desire of a natural birth, and hopefully a water birth. She said flat out that she wouldn’t do a water birth and that ‘in the real world’ people use drugs in labour.
After about 5 hours of fairly intense contractions, many in clusters – right on top of each other and then a break of 3 mins – the midwife did an internal (OMG they hurt sooo much in the middle of a contraction!) only to find that there was no progress from the 5cms, due to the posterior presentation of the baby. I had even gone backwards a little due to swelling. It was then that the midwife said that while she used the Doppler to check the baby’s heart rate that it dropped very low. She said this could be a one off, the monitor or a problem with the baby. So she wanted to put a scalp monitor on the baby. I was so in my own space that I didn’t say anything to her, and DH didn’t know what to do, so he didn’t question it. I could feel the baby kick as the monitor was screwed into her scalp! I also felt the wire scratch me as it was getting put in (just adding to my internal damage). In my research during pregnancy I knew that continual fetal monitoring does not always indicate the health of the baby and often leads to further intervention. (For the rest of the labour the baby’s heart rate was perfect).
It also meant that I would have to be on the bed. The midwife told me I had to lay on my left side to help the baby turn.
So I spent the next 3 hours on the bed in agony – I was so upset that there had been no progression, and I could not deal with the pain they way I had been – you can’t exactly sway your hips when you are laying on your side on a bed with a wire coming out from between your legs! Another internal showed no progression again. The midwife suggested gas (even though I said that I didn’t want to be offered drugs, I wanted to ask for them). I tried it but it was horrible. She said that I should have pethidene as it would help my body relax and may help the baby move. I had said beforehand to DH that I would rather have an epidural than pethidene, but the midwife said that they recommend trying pethidene first, then an epidural as a last resort. I hazily and hesitantly agreed. It made me feel so powerless and out of it. Each time a contraction hit (which seemed like constantly) I was helpless. My mind was felt so drugged up that all I could do was scream out with pain – mind over matter was not even working at this point. The midwife broke my waters and an hour later I felt the baby turn.. it was so excruciatingly painful!
It was shift change now, and I started screaming – absolutely screaming for an epidural. I think I muttered that if there were a balcony I would jump off it. I made my husband go find out what was happening, and I was screaming out ‘why won’t anyone help me?’. DH was sitting beside me and I could see him crying. 1 ½ hours later, after not one midwife coming in, and me screaming the whole time, feeling so alone and helpless, a midwife comes in and says the anesthetist is on his way. In my heart I knew that it didn’t matter, because I could feel the pressure increasing, but I couldn’t say anything. She did an internal to discover that I was almost fully dilated! So that last very agonizing 1 1/2 hours was transition. I should have known after all the birth stories I had read! The new midwife was wonderful, she told me to get on all fours on the bed, and work through each contraction, that my body could do this, this is what is meant to happen. Exactly the things that I wanted to hear. I felt empowered again, and just in time, as soon I needed to start pushing. After half and hour she needed to do another internal and wanted me to lay down on the bed for her to do it. Yay, 10 cms! After she had finished she asked if I wanted to get back on all fours but I was too exhausted to (though now I wish I had of – I did not want to give birth laying on the bed).
I pushed Olivia out in about 5 goes… I think it was more the wanting the pain to be over than wanting to see my baby! I could feel myself tearing, and just kept saying, “Ouch, it hurts, it hurts”. I honestly feel though that it didn’t hurt as much as those 5 hours on the bed where I felt out of control. As soon as she came out I was kinds of laughing and touching her in amazement. The had to rub her down to stimulate her (apparently she was a little shocked at coming out quickly), and then she was placed on my chest. They took her for a second to wrap her (even though I wanted skin to skin contact after birth, but the midwife for the baby said no), and then I requested her to be weighed in an hour or so, after I had a chance to cuddle my beautiful daughter and give her first breastfeed.
They came and weighed and measured her:
Name: Olivia Kathleen
Born: Tuesday 3rd October, 2006. 10:36am
Weight: 8lbs 4oz
Head Circumference: 34.5cms
It then took about 1hr to stitch up all the damage. I had internal/labia tearing and a 2nd degree perineal tear. I later asked the midwife how many stitches I had and she said she didn’t count – but he used 3 rolls of suture material and the internal damage looked like my vagina had been through a grater (I really don’t know why she gave me that mental image… not nice!). I didn’t like the gas in labour, but while I was being stitched I didn’t stock sucking (and still felt it… my toes curl at the thought!)
It was the most amazing thing seeing my little girl for the first time! DH and I were instantly in love with this amazing little person! I am filled with such gushy mummy love, it is unbelievable! She was worth every bit of pain! There are not many things in life that you can say that about, now is there?
4 weeks on and I am still healing, both physically and emotionally. I take heart though that not every labour is the same, and next time I will be doing things differently, either a homebirth or a hospital birth with a doula. But like I said, it is still so worth it.