I apologist in advance for those of you that don’t want to hear about birth stories. Believe me, this isn’t the story I thought I would be telling either. I need to tell this to get it off my chest, out of my head, whatever. Because despite my logical mind telling me everything happens for a reason, etc etc, a small part of me still feels like a bit of a failure.
Despite the amount of research and preparation I did during this pregnancy, this was the extent of my birth plan:
- Go into labour
- Stay home as long as possible
- Go to hospital, have natural vaginal birth, with as little amount of drugs as possible
- Go home
I was sure that between my yoga, meditation, acupuncture, aromatherapy etc, I was totally all over it. How arrogant.
I went into labour on the day I was due (I was pretty proud of that!) I spent the day with intermittent lower back pain, nothing major. I knew I was close, as I had lost my mucus plug three days earlier, and had been even more tired than usual since then. I didn’t have much of an appetite that day either. In the afternoon, I felt proper contractions start, 45 seconds long and 10 minutes apart. I called my midwife who reassured me and told me to call back if my waters broke, or the contractions became closer together. Virgo man and I had dinner, watched tv and decided to go to bed to get some rest. The contractions were still bearable at this stage, just like mum had assured me – just a bad period!
As we prepared for bed, Virgo man suggested he thought my contractions were getting closer together. We were timing them on my phone app, but I wasn’t really paying attention. We realised the contractions were now a minute long, and three minutes apart, and the pain was starting to increase. We called the midwife again, who was already at the hospital with another woman from my antenatal group, and we headed in. My bag which had been packed for two months already (he is so organised!) had been living by the door since the weekend. I left messages on my parents phones to let them know I was in labour and to get on the next plane in the morning.
We get to birth suite, and our midwife examined me. Only two centimetres dilated. I couldn’t believe it. She offered we could go home with a codeine based pain reliever, or stay and have morphine. I don’t react well to codeine, so we stayed and tried the morphine. I’ve never had morphine before. Goddamn its good! Maybe I’ll become a heroin addict when I grow up. It took the edge off the contractions and let me feel like I was getting some rest in my three minute breaks. I encouraged Virgo man to sleep on the hospital bed with me, he needed the rest and I knew I would need him later.
By morning, I was still only two centimetres dilated, but still having regular strong contractions. I was moved to a private room to wait it out. I spent the time alternating between the birth ball, and being on all fours on the bed. My parents arrived around lunchtime, and it was so special to have these three people, the most important people in the world to me, supporting me. My mum rubbed my back, my dad massaged my feet, and my boyfriend held my hand.
By mid afternoon, the pain was starting to get more intense. The midwife examined me and decided I was about 6 centimetres, and could therefore head back into the birth suite. I was able to lie in a bathtub and my boyfriend sat beside me, holding my hand. He and mum and dad alternated going to get food and drinks. In the bath tub, my contractions intensified, and I was now having continuous contractions – one big contraction, then a little one, and so on, with next to no break. I tried the gas which helped for a while. I lost track of time at this stage.
When the gas stopped being effective, the midwife examined me again, and I was still only about 6 centimetres. I had now been having contractions for 24 hours. I gave in, I was so tired, I asked for an epidural. This was one thing I had always been absolutely against and was very vocal about never ever having one. I had heard too many horror stories about epidurals that go wrong. So I was really upset at this stage as I’m sure you can imagine. Virgo man held my hand as the anaesthetist did his thing. The decision was made to also use Syntocin, to try to speed up dilation. At first, the rest it gave me was miraculous.. I was able to eat dinner, some of the only food I’d had all day. However, I still didn’t dilate any further. The epidural started to wear off, and while I couldn’t feel the contractions, they were making the muscles in my back spasm, and I was levitating off the table exorcist style. I had to get Virgo man to tell me when the contractions were over and physically force myself to lie back down on the bed. We discovered that bub was fast asleep according to the heart rate monitor, and he only woke up when someone did a vaginal examination! He still loves his head being massaged. Virgo man was getting really distressed by now, and still maintains that every hospital employee that night had their hand up my vagina.
It is now midnight. I start getting a fever from being in labour so long. I was fading in and out of consciousness, just through sheer exhaustion. I would come around and ask Virgo man what was happening, as he sat beside me holding my hand the whole time. An obstetrician comes in and examines me, and informs me I am still only 7cm, despite the midwife suggesting I was at least 9cm. Knowing I was really attached to a vaginal birth, he offered I could try pushing and he would use forceps and venteuse to get the baby out. I cried. I didn’t have the strength to even lie in the bed anymore, let alone try to push, and the idea of dragging the baby out with forceps sounded horrible. I was so over the whole situation, I barely even cared that there was a baby involved anymore. I made the decision to have a caesarean, which I knew the doctors were pushing me toward, just none of them wanted to be the one to say it.
By this stage, I was nearly hysterical. I felt like a complete failure. I couldn’t even birth my child. If an epidural wasn’t on my to do list, a caesarean was the absolute last scenario I had even considered. I asked if I could still have immediate skin to skin contact, and delayed cord cutting, and the answer was no and no. There was now meconium, and with my fever spiking, they weren’t going to risk anything. Meanwhile, the midwife was trying to find a vein and punctured me four times before they found an appropriate cannula site. I HATE needles. That’s the first time I screamed, was getting the needles. My parents went out to the waiting room, and my boyfriend followed us into the surgery. I had him sitting by my left shoulder and our student midwife sitting on my right. They were trying to subtly hold me down, as I was so hysterical I was moving too much. Every nurse or member of staff who came over to talk to me patted or held my wrist, right over the cannula site, which made me scream even more. I take a while for drugs to kick in, so as they were testing to make sure the spinal block was working, I was told if it didn’t kick in soon, they were giving me a general. Thank god I finally stopped feeling at that point, I’m sure just through fear.
When you know a lot about anatomy, I think it makes the caesarean even worse. It’s true, you feel everything. I cried the whole time. Then, within 5 minutes, I felt a great relief, and suddenly there was my baby, being held up over the curtain. My crying changed then, to relief. He was perfect. They whisked him away to check his health and started stitching me up. I could relax. We took selfies of the three of us, much to the amusement of the surgical staff. Finally they brought him back in and Virgo man went to meet him. Apparently he also accidently saw my abdomen, I can’t believe he didn’t pass out. They were taken to recovery as I was finished off. Finally, an hour later, I finally met my little boy. They put him on my chest and he fed straight away. I can’t articulate the relief I felt, that despite everything, he and I bonded. The surgeon came in and told me that he had not only been asleep, but he had his head turned sideways and tilted back, essentially the opposite of what he was supposed to be. I felt a bit better after that, knowing that it wasn’t all my fault.
An hour later, I was in a room, and able to introduce him to my parents. They went home with Virgo man after that, it was after 4am by this stage and we had all been up for over a day, or two days in my case. A midwife put him skin to skin on my chest for me, and he and I lay there like that until breakfast. And I discovered how much love a person can possess.
I don’t feel like a failure anymore. I accept that there are many things we have no control over. I tried my hardest, and in the end, I have a beautiful, healthy boy. And that’s really all that matters.