5 November 2012

Catching up; A birth story...6 months on



Last week my little* baby boy turned 6 months' old so I thought it was high time I get my act together and finally finish [and post] our birth story... before all memories of it fade into mama-hood oblivion.

I can hardly believe that six months ago I was hulking**, butt-naked and dripping with blood, out of a hospital bathroom. This must have been a pretty daunting sight for the other ladies sat, patiently waiting in ward B10, to be induced. These ladies sat unified in the most surreal of environments, keeping their bubbling anxiety at bay, were suddenly faced with a scene that could have only looked like something from a zombie movie [so my husband tells me].

This scenario sounds pretty dramatic, and I may have hammed it up a bit, but I was only trying to quickly scuttle [yes.. butt naked and covered in blood..] to the delivery suite after hearing the words, "You're 6cm, you can go round to delivery suite now".

A little while after giving birth, I had time to evaluate the situation and realised that if you read between the lines, what the midwife was actually saying was, "Holy shit! She's fully dilated, this baby is coming...arghghh..." Or words to that effect.

But I already knew this. I tried to tell the staff at the hospital this since I hobbled through the door, heavily contracting, a couple of hours earlier. But my voice wasn't heard, or wasn't loud enough, and I think I was immediately categorised as a 'first-time-dramatic-mom' who was no where near delivery.

Wrong.

But let's start at the beginning.....

***

It was a miserable, soaking wet April day and I was two days past my due date. I'd had a feeling that things were about to commence for around a week but no obvious physical signals had surfaced. So, at around 11pm, I toddled off to bed thinking I was probably safe for another day.

Wrong.

As I laid in bed, catching up with the day's activities in blogland, I suddenly felt a rush of warm liquid. I froze and quietly called out to my husband;

"Bubba....my waters have just broke". No response....

"BUBBA...."......

"..what?"

"My waters have just broke."

What followed was a rather clueless conversation about 'are you sure' and 'what do we do now'...and in the end we called the hospital, like well-behaved-first-timers, and toddled in to 'make sure it's your waters'. Durrr.

The hospital confirmed my waters had broke and that there was no meconium present. Yay.

I started to get excited waiting for the onset of my contractions and could feel my water birth getting closer and closer until...BAM! The midwife informs me that they want me to come in at 10am the next morning to be induced.

WHAT THE?

I was totally bewildered, I was lucky enough to enjoy a completely complication-free pregnancy, I was low risk, my waters had broke - I was going into labour naturally. So, huh??

But woe-betide any woman who begins the process by nature's accord. Our hospital's policy dictated that, once a woman's waters have broken, she must deliver within 72 hours. Confused, I asked;

"So I have a bit of time to get things going myself then? I was hoping to have a water birth."

To which I was told;

"You can't have a water birth if you've been induced. Come in tomorrow morning at 10am."

WTF?


I was slayed and very confused. I could not comprehend why the hospital wanted to rush my baby out of my body when he had already started the process himself. Disappointed I went home to sleep on it - it just did not feel right. So, in the morning, I betrayed the hospital's request and went to see my midwife instead. I explained the situation to her and she called the hospital to try and buy me a little more time. After her discussion with the hospital she instructed me to call the hospital later in the afternoon (4pm), to go home and try and bring my labour on by having sex. Eh?! The whole argument to delivery my baby so quickly was due to the risk of infection, now that baby's barrier to the outside world had been broken - but it was ok to put THAT in there? UM?!

So I opted for their second suggestion. Ironing.

I ironed for four hours straight - I've never had such well laundered bed linen - and with each stroke of the iron I felt my contractions get stronger and stronger. Things were progressing well and after timing my contractions until they were 2-3 minutes apart, it was time to call the hospital back. Things were really beginning to happen and I was thrilled that my body was cracking-on with the job. I was beginning to feel hopeful that the hospital might relinquish their threat of an induction. I mean, why induce a lady who is close to established labour. Right? I was feeling positive and the chance of a water birth was creeping back into being a possibility again. After a quick call to the hospital I was told to come into hospital at 6pm.

Great! Even more time to get things going...

6pm arrived and we drove casually up to the hospital, feeling a little anxious, but calm. And ready. I was told to get comfortable in my poky little bay and wait for someone to come and see me.

My midwife arrived a few minutes later and I was excited to see she that she was pregnant - so she'd understand my situation. Right? She'd empathise with my birthing desires. And to her credit she did. She knew all about my desire to have a drug-free water birth and that I wanted to avoid being induced at all reasonable costs. She knew that really all I wanted, was to be left to my own devices, as long as it was safe to do so. She got it, she was on my side. Phew. What a relief.

Belly-button!!



But hospital protocol came first and I was promptly hooked up to a fetal heart rate monitor and left, marooned on a hospital bed, for what felt like an eternity. We lay there, as instructed, watching each contraction pass by on the monitor. A quick check by the midwife after the first hour confirmed I was contracting about 3 times every 10 minutes. Good progress..I would be examined after an hour to see how many cm dilated I was....

During this time the midwives changed shift and I was presented with a new midwife; a young lady who appeared to have immediately labelled me a 'drama queen' very quickly. She wasn't interested in my birthing desires, she didn't even ask about them, and she definitely didn't believe me when I was saying that with each extra minute I laid on that bed my contractions were slowing down. In her mind I was not in labour - I was there to be induced.

After the second hour on the monitor had nearly passed I decided I couldn't cope with lying there any more. My bladder was full to the brim and was being squeezed to within an inch of its life with each new contraction. My bladder was literally about to pop. So, dutifully, my husband set off to tell the midwives I was going to the toilet - whether they liked it or not.

The moment my feet touched the floor - BANG - it all hit me. Two hours of laying still, on my back had all but ground my contractions to a halt, but as soon as I stood up they hit me hard and fast. I stopped dead in my tracks while the first contraction passed and in the time it took me to walk 30 yards to the bathroom, I must have had another 3 contractions. Things had ramped up a gear and I swear the moment I sat down on that toilet I thought to myself..."Holy shit. I'm going to have this baby on the loo..."

I hobbled back to the ward and told the midwife I thought things were moving along so she examined me to see how far along I was. To say I was disappointed when she nonchalantly announced I was "only 2cm dilated", would be the understatement of the decade. Surely not. I had to be further along than that...

I had been hoping that I was closer to 4 or 5cm dilated so that they would class me as being in established labour. That way I could have avoided being induced; but this news wasn't in my favour. Before I even had a chance speak the midwife appeared with an instrument of some kind and before I knew what was happening she'd placed stage one of an induction right where the sun don't shine. Goodbye natural water birth!

She informed us that she'd put a slow releasing hormone onto my cervix, not to expect much to happen within the next 24 hours, and that my husband had to leave me on my own - in labour - as visiting hours were over. WTF.

By now my contractions were coming thick and fast and I was starting to feel anxious. The pain was pretty intense and I found it hard to accept that I would be in this much pain for some time to come. Alone.

So after she'd left us to 'say our goodbyes' I lent over to my husband and told him, in no uncertain terms, that he wasn't going ANYWHERE. She didn't know it yet, but our baby was coming. I could feel him coming. FAST.

We broke the news to the midwife that my husband wasn't leaving and that I felt like things were progressing and we were then moved into our own room [I know right? Imagine sharing all of this with a room of other women all at varying stages of labour]. I'm pretty sure we were ushered in there to stop me from causing mass-panic among the other ladies in the ward... I was definitely starting to get agitated and the pain was beginning to test me.


Once in our private room I was left alone for a wee time, while my husband went to sort out the hospital parking, and was given some cocodamol tablets to ease the pain [whatevs]. I took the opportunity to calm things down a little, get my headphones on, and finally listen to my hypnobirthing CD.

Things start to get a little hazy for me from this point on, and whether that was the effect of the hypnobirthing or otherwise, I don't know. All I know is that things got serious around this time and my ability to cope was waning. With each contraction I was writhing around the bed and, as a method of pain relief, I started to hit myself in the face with [an empty] bedpan. There may also have been a little bit of arm biting going on, much to my husband's discomfort. Oops. It's funny the things you do to try and cope..

Another 45 minutes or so passed and I requested some assistance from the midwife. I needed something to help me cope - the thought of getting from 2cm to 10cm was daunting, it would take hours, possibly days [right?] and I was starting to believe I didn't have the strength to get there on my own.

I was offered pethidine [a form of morphine], or a bath. No middle ground, no gas and air, no nothin'. A bath or morphine.

Boy was I tempted to take the morphine. The lure of a drowsy, numbing sensation was appealing to me. But I contemplated the options and decided that I would try a bath. The natural birth I had hoped for had been slipping away from me from the moment I walked through the hospital doors. There was a  pattern of events emerging, and if I took the drugs, I could see my control slipping away from me. I did not want these guys to intervene. I just didn't see that it was required. I didn't want my pure little baby to come out into the world drugged-up and drowsy. I was trying to delay the inevitable - I did not want an epidural. I did not want to give birth, laying on my back being told when to push. I wanted to embrace the event and let my baby come to me as he wished. As he knew how. And as scary as it seems, I wanted to feel him coming to me.

Moments later we were escourted to the hospital bathroom and, as I somehow, managed to undress myself, I noticed the pessary had come loose. Suddenly something in me took over and I decided; 'to hell with it, I'm doing things my way'. I grabbed that thing and slung it across the room... :-/

I plonked myself, backwards, into the bath and sat there on my knees for a few moments until my husband came to re-arrange me. I'm pretty sure we were both thinking 'what now?'. I instructed MB to swish water over my belly while I was contracting to try and ease the pain - he looked at me like I was a loon but obliged all the same - and minutes later....SWOOSH.... a red liquid bullet shot out of me. We looked at each other shocked and clueless.

What was that? Neither of us knew what was going on, my waters had already broke, and by now I was pretty sure this baby was coming. Like. NOW.

MB scurried away to hunt down a midwife to see what the blummin' 'eck was going on and upon entering the room she said "Oh, that's just your hind waters going" [read: nothing much going on here]. But after seeing me wriggling around the bath, like I was laid on hot coals, she offered me another examination.

And this is where we began this tale, at 6cm** dilated trying to escape a hospital bathroom so I could go and deliver this baby. Who wasn't waiting around. For no-one.

My husband chased after me as I skulked through the bathroom door, clothes and towels in hand and ushered me onto a hospital bed where I was wheeled, pretty quickly, round to the delivery suite. And in the 2 or 3 minutes it took to get from "You're 6cm dilated" to the delivery suite, I had started pushing. I had zero control over this. My body had completely taken over. The sheer force my body was putting behind each purge was immense and very impressive. My moaning, from the pain of the contractions, had turned very suddenly into a deeper, guttural grunt.  My husband likened this to the noise a camel might make - though I'm pretty sure that for the most part, my labour was pretty quiet. There was no screaming. No shouting. No swearing. Just the odd bit of grunting as my body powered on to push out baby out. As much as I wanted a nice relaxing hypno-birth, where I could breathe my baby down and out quietly and peacefully, my body had other ideas.

The midwife that took over for the delivery recognised the sound I was making. She examined me immediately and concluded that I was, as I suspected all along, fully dilated and about to GIVE BIRTH.

Finally I was allowed some gas and air. Hallelujah.  Gas and air. Entinox. My sweet, mouth drying friend. You will see me through this....for all of ten minutes, when it was swiftly taken away from me and I was forced to go it alone.

My beautiful baby boy @ 2 minutes of age

The big weigh-in. All 7lbs 10oz of pure Barker power.

My gorgeous boy enjoying some skin-to-skin time with mama.

I spent close to an hour turning myself inside out and suddenly my little baby boy slipped out from his dark and warm home and came flying into the cold, bright light of the hospital room. At 00.02am on the 26th April, 2012, his grey, slippery body was placed on my chest and I greeted him for the first time, "hello baby". My husband cut the cord that kept us as one and our baby finally became his own little person, my little Charles Henry Buddy.

***

From the moment I was classed as being in 'established labour' to the second my son was born, little over an hour had passed. I'd walked through the hospital doors 6 hours earlier convinced my labour was progressing well, and quickly. My inexperience allowed the medical professionals to take over and intervene - albeit only slightly - which only slowed us down. I'll never know how quickly Charles would have been born if I hadn't been made to lay on a bed for two hours; I think all things considered, he came quickly enough. Even with the slight set back.

I trusted my boy and my body all along to do the 'right thing' and get him here well. I didn't expect it to be so fast - who does - but this enabled me to, at the very least, have my drug-free birth [forgive me if I don't include two cocodamol tablets as 'drugs']. And while I didn't get to calmly splish-splash around in a water pool, gently breathing through each contraction, I did get a beautiful healthy baby boy in record time for a first-time-mama. And to the young midwife who didn't believe me, pah, egg on your face! I think midwives would do well to pay more attention to the women they are caring for. Some of us really are in tune with our bodies/babies and perhaps many more women could deliver their babies safely and positively if these women are heard better!

But what an experience. What an absolute honour to have part-created this amazing little person and be trusted with the responsibility of keeping him safe and well for 9 months as he prepared to come and join us. And then to hand over wholly to my body, to trust my body to bring him to me safely; such a humbling and life-affirming experience.

I know not everyone has such a straightforward labour but I totally trusted my body and had positive thoughts all through my pregnancy and I really believe that this went a long way to allowing me to enjoy the experience. I would highly recommend hypnobirthing for that reason alone. My labour wasn't easy and it hurt [of course it hurt!] but I am lucky enough to be able to look back on the experience fondly and with buckets full of pride.

Believe in yourself. Believe in the power of your body. Believe in nature. Believe in your child.

Happy half year birthday my sweet angel. Mama loves you. She loves you bad.

*Term used loosely..
**The fabulously graphic term my husband used to describe this moment..


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