I knew the kind of birth I wanted. People would ask if I had a birth plan. I didn’t even really know what a birth plan is, so I would just say no, but I did know a few things that I wanted surrounding birth. I knew I wanted a natural birth. I definitely didn’t want a c-section, and I didn’t want to use any pain relief. I wanted to labour at home for as long as possible and then head to the hospital. I wanted to use natural pain relief methods such as bath, shower, moving around, etc. I wanted delayed cord cutting so baby gets that extra bit of blood, and I thought about delivering the placenta physiologically but Paul voted against that so I agreed. In the early days I even tossed up the idea of a home birth. I researched ways to reduce tearing, and decided that I would try and give birth without pushing. At first I took the approach of just not thinking about birth and just dealing with it when it comes, so I wouldn’t scare myself. But as I neared the end of my pregnancy the reality of birth was unavoidable and I got a bit scared. But I made my peace with that and began to feel more comfortable about facing it all. I was even a bit intrigued to find out what the fuss was all about, so to speak, and how painful it actually was. When it came to 37 weeks, I was officially technically considered “full term”, and so the waiting began. I hated not knowing when it was all going to happen (control freak) and living in constant anticipation of knowing that it could happen at any given moment. Having had a pregnancy that mirrored my mum’s for the most part, I thought I would probably go early since she was early with all five of us. So we all made our guesses of when the baby would come and I cringed whenever anyone guessed I would go over. But alas, my due date rolled around (25/02) and still no baby. It was my 21st birthday on the 28th and I really didn’t want to share a birthday so I began to get anxious when he still hadn’t come by my birthday. But, my birthday came and went with no baby, and with that we passed from February to March, and from Summer to Autumn. With each day grew greater anticipation. We couldn’t really make plans because we just didn’t know if we would be having the baby then or not. So we lived in limbo. I got sick of all the well meaning “still no baby?” questions and became a hermit. Talk of induction started happening and my anxiety soared. Everyone threw in their two cents about how to get the baby moving, and we tried a few things, but nothing worked. As the days progressed it became quite clear that this baby did not want to come, much to my dismay.
So on Monday (06/03) afternoon we went into the hospital for an examination to work out the best way to approach the induction that was to happen the next morning. They were super busy so we had to wait there for a few hours before the doctor could see us. Ahh, the anticipation. To say I was nervous about the thought of someone’s hand going up there is a bit of an understatement. But it happened. And it wasn’t quite so terrible. Turns out I was already 3cm dilated. While she was up there the doctor decided to do a sweep as well (which was painful but not quite as much as I imagined), which brought me to 4cm. I didn’t need the gel thankfully, and was told that they wouldn’t be surprised if I went into labour by myself that night. We booked in to come in at 6am the next morning to have my waters broken, and headed home.
In the car on the way home I started having contractions. They were just mild and not too close together, but over the next couple of hours they progressed in intensity and frequency but still not enough to head to hospital. But they were too painful to sleep so I ended up taking the panadeine forte the hospital sent me home with and managed a few hours of light, broken sleep before needing to go in and have the baby. Eventually it rolled around to morning and we got ready to head to the hospital.
Here’s my last bump photo, taken at 5.57am, just before we left home. By this time the contractions were still happening, but they were quite dull due to the pain relief. When we got to hospital they hooked me up to the tracing machine (which showed that yep, I was having contractions), measured and found that I was still only 4cm, and then broke my waters. Not quite the experience I imagined as there was no big gush of fluid but more of a slow trickle. And oddly enough, as I was laying on the bed waiting for them to come break my waters I’d actually already started leaking. They had advised me that I’d stay on the tracing machine for a few more minutes and then I would have to go down to one of the normal hospital rooms until my labour had progressed enough to come back to the birthing suite. They broke my waters at around 6.30am, and I had until 11am to go into labour before they put me on the drip to induce me. Well, let’s just say that I didn’t make it down to the other hospital room and I definitely did not need that drip. Within minutes after breaking my waters, my contractions started coming hard and fast. When they came back in to check on me I begged them to let me get off the bed to try and alleviate the pain a little. So I stood next to the bed, swaying and whatnot. Then I vomited all over the floor (poor doctor had to clean it up). All the while, still hooked up to the machine and very eager to be able to go in the shower to help out with my ever-increasing contractions. But they were having a hard time getting a good read on baby’s heart rate, so I had to stay hooked up. I tried sitting on the exercise ball to help, since I couldn’t really move around, but it made it even more difficult to get a read on baby’s heart rate so that was short lived. They tried putting me on the wireless tracing machine so I could go in the shower, but it was proving too hard to find baby’s heart rate so that was a no go. I got to use a heat pack for about a minute but there was no one who could hold it there and I was in too much pain to do so. All the while my contractions were becoming unbearable and all I could do was stand beside the bed swaying while Paul fanned me with a book because there was no air flow in that room (he quickly made a mental note to bring a little pedestal fan next time). And all the while they still couldn’t really get a good read on baby’s heart rate, but from what they could tell it appeared as though his heart rate was dropping with each contraction. So they put me back on the bed (much to my dismay) and put a little monitor on the baby’s head so they could get a clear reading. This confirmed their suspicions about his heart rate dropping, and from there things began to move very quickly. They hadn’t really told us much, but Paul and I had picked up that there was something wrong and intervention was very likely. By that time I think I was transitioning because I said to Paul that I didn’t even care if I had a c-section; I just wanted it to be over. The pain is so intense and unbearable that I just felt like I couldn’t possibly take any more. So they explained the situation to us: baby’s heart rate was dropping quite low with each contraction and it was likely that the cord was wrapped around him and was getting squished with each contraction, cutting off his flow of oxygen. From there, they explained that since I was already 8cm they would try and get him out with the vacuum/suction cup thing but if that didn’t work we would need an emergency c-section. Another doctor came in and quickly explained all the risks involved with epidurals and c-sections and whatnot, and on the bed I went again as they started wheeling me away. I remember having a contraction as they first started pushing the bed and writhing in pain, and then only moments later being handed a pen to sign a consent form which I just quickly scribbled on as they wheeled me up to theatre. It was all a bit blurry. On the way there I started feeling the urge to push and went with it as I knew I needed to get this baby out ASAP. Paul went off to get changed into scrubs while I went into theatre and got transferred onto an operating table, my feet put in stirrups, surrounded by a bunch of doctors and nurses poised and ready to cut me open. The pushing urge continued, and I began to push with each contraction. I was surprised to find that at this stage the contractions went for longer, but relieved to have a little break between each one. By the next contraction I was pushing his head out (with the help of the vacuum/suction cup thing), then one more and out came his body. Ahh, the sweet relief and satisfaction of feeling the baby slide out; it’s something that can only be experienced. What happened next was very much a blur. I feel as though I blinked and the baby was out and on my chest, the cord was cut, someone was stabbing me in the leg with a needle, the placenta was out and on a table next to me, and I was being cleaned and stitched up. I then spent the next hour thereabouts holding my baby while being stitched up after having second degree tearing and an episiotomy. I didn’t have any pain relief because I didn’t want the gas as it generally makes people nauseous, but I did have my sweet newborn and my husband and that was enough.
So after they stitched me up and started taking me back down stairs, I actually began to shake uncontrollably. At first they thought it was just shock or something but then they took my temperature and I had quite a fever. So then they thought I might have an infection which means baby could have it too, so we both had to have blood tests and be on antibiotics (poor little guy). This also meant spending extra time in hospital, but we were finally allowed home Thursday evening, and it was like a breath of fresh air.
So there you have it. Certainly not the birth I imagined, but you get what you’re given and I know it was much better than it could’ve been. My waters were broken around 6.30am, and he was born at 8.54am. As much as I didn’t want to be induced, in retrospect I am thankful for it. I think about what if my waters just broke at home and I had such a rapid labour and I wasn’t on the tracing machine and so nobody knew that baby was in danger and we weren’t able to get him out in time… For this same reason I feel like I could never have a home birth, but I suppose we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Looking back now, although going through labour/giving birth was definitely the most painful and craziest experience of my life, in part I’m looking forward to doing it again when the time comes. I look forward to hopefully being able to do it differently like I always wanted, and having a more positive birthing experience. I didn’t even have time to use natural pain relief, so my experience was harder than it could’ve been. In a way, I feel privileged to have partaken in such an experience that women have endured through the ages; it is such a unique experience and each birth is as different as the people involved.
I will make a few extra notes:
The cord ended up being on his shoulder and under his arm, and I’m very thankful it wasn’t around his neck.
I did actually have some pre-labour/false contractions, or whatever you’d like to call it, the two nights prior to having my examination, and I think that must’ve helped me get to 3cm and be very ready to have the baby.
I do wonder if I had’ve waited an extra day after the examination if my waters would’ve broken on their own, but in saying that I believe that my placenta had already started to calcify and also considering the risks associated with my birth with having his heart rate drop etc., I don’t wish that I had waited any longer.
We didn’t end up having an infection. They think perhaps the high temperature was a side effect of something they gave me.
So there’s my story. I love that each experience is so unique, and I would love to hear yours if you ever want to share! Although my birth didn’t end up quite how I imagined, in a way I think it helped not really having a birth plan since I was pretty open to just going with the flow and didn’t really get stressed when intervention was required. Despite having quite a few battle wounds, I was surprised how quickly I recovered – although it did take a while to feel completely back to my normal self. I don’t really view my birth as a negative experience, and I don’t really feel scarred by it at all. If anything, it just makes me look forward to hopefully having a more positive birth experience when the next time comes.
I also thought I’d just tag onto this post a list of things we packed in the hospital bag, what we actually ended up using, and things we needed that we didn’t have.
- Pillow (glad to have my own since I had to spend two nights in hospital)
- Bathers (didn’t get to use them as I didn’t get to go in bath or shower)
- Maternity pads x 2 (you can never have too many)
- Breast pads x 15 pairs (I just brought this many because that’s all that I had…I maybe used one pair since you don’t really leak much until your milk comes in…I made my own using this pattern)
- Nipple cream (didn’t actually use this. Used it once or twice once I was home)
- Clothes (these came in handy since we were there longer than expected…make sure they’re really comfy)
- Socks/slippers (didn’t use)
- Dressing gown (didn’t use)
- Labour clothes (didn’t have time to get changed into these…)
- Toiletries (obviously needed these)
- Nursing bras x 4 (Bonds crop…I think I only used one)
- Undies x 5 (didn’t need this many…only used one per day)
- Sleep mask (didn’t use…didn’t really sleep. Haha)
- Ural (didn’t use, but good to have on hand anyway)
- Cardi (used to leave hospital)
- PJ’s (didn’t use…just wore my clothes)
- Toilet paper (was glad to have brought my own)
- Tissues (didn’t use)
- Thongs (used)