My Birth Story: Slow Progress

Baby Eve

I wrote most of this for my child, because when you are desperate for your child to turn up you start to talk to them about them maybe moving sometime soon. I hope you find it interesting, amusing, or whatever you need it to be. For me it is a record of a sort and maybe something to show my child one day.

22nd January: 40 weeks 6 days
20:13

So today was the “stretch and sweep”, it was not comfortable but it was a decent opportunity to breathe through it. This is the first attempt to really get you moving, yes you! Speaking to you Cub! If you move you get blankets and cuddles and food and newness… surely that’s better than a water bubble and the chance of swallowing your own poop?

We walked out of the lobby of the hospital and I felt a sharp stomach pain which could be something… but I’m trying not to get my hopes up. I’m 1-2cm dilated, which sounds exciting but really is still pretty far from anything. Since then we’ve had a few more of those, particularly when walking Guin, but nothing solid and nothing I can be really certain about. I’m guessing contractions aren’t really things you can mistake at 40 +6 days pregnant.

Timeline is dependant on you. If you don’t turn up in a few days then we’ve got a potential second S&S… please get here first. The idea of adding to the discomfort isn’t pleasant and labour is named pretty honestly. After that it’s a possible induction on the 30th.

I do NOT want an induction but I know the facts. So get a move on or you’ll have a very grouchy mother who didn’t get the nice relaxed birthing experience she wanted. She’s already pretty stubborn, so you don’t want to push it.

24th January: 41 weeks 1 day
11:12

Still nothing major has happened but I’m still giving you lots of options. You could come today and we could be home before Aunt Mouse. You could come tomorrow and be a Burns Night child which would create some pretty amazing parties! You could come on Sunday and then you might get a couple of early visitors. We are now 8 days overdue and time is running out a bit. Even Guin is wanting to meet you.

I have had lots of boogeyness which suggests good things, and bits of contraction-like pain but nothing regular or long enough. Pleeeease try to come out soon. Rest is lovely but getting labour over with and meeting you would be very nice too. You’ll even get a new bear!

I’m bribing you with toys already – you definitely want to come out!

25th January: 41 weeks 2 days
17:53

Second S&S was not fun. You obviously know what needs to be done, you’re just taking your sweet time about it! There is a chance for a third but can’t you just do the deed and get a move on? People are beginning to wonder why the anti-social behaviour.

Look it’s Burn’s Night. I am going out, near the hospital even, and if you wanted to appear around then I would be OK with that. Otherwise you are being pushed out by haggis, cranachan, and smoked salmon no matter how little room you’ve got. Want to lodge a complaint: come out, learn to write, then fill in the form!

27th January: 41 weeks 4 days
10:08

Yesterday you had guests. They arrived on time and you didn’t. They did pray for you though and Bear & I had a good heart to heart last night. You do scare me y’know. The longer you stay in the more I worry you’re not wanting to appear at all. Most of this is irrational but we’ve been waiting for you a seriously long time. A lot can happen in 9 months and infact it has: Bear has changed jobs twice, we’ve moved, travelled, gained a puppy friend to look after you as you grow up (and for general comedy value). In the meantime you’ve been happily growing and making my life a little difficult.

I am trying to trust that everything will be OK. The aim is to receive a happy, healthy Cub, but it would still be lovely if you came soon. There’s about 3 days left before doctors take action to smoke you out. I don’t really want it to all happen that way and it would be much nicer for you too if you came before then.

I think yesterday was also the closest I think I’ve got to an actual contraction. It didn’t last and was hardly repeated or regular, but tightness plus pain generally suggests something. At least that is giving me a little hope. Of course, if you decide to come right this minute the dog might have to be the midwife!

17:07

You have no idea how many random little bodily details that I’m starting to look up to see if labour is anywhere close. I hate the internet sometimes for the rubbish it pumps into my head but it’s difficult not to try and grasp a little hope you might be arriving soon.

28th January: 41 weeks 5 days
08:50

You are actually driving me crazy, bad crazy, not funny crazy. Last night I got more and more het up and came to the annoying conclusion there is nothing I can really do. This also included getting annoyed at your Nanny for her backing up medical science and yet not giving me the answers I wanted. I also looked up about 6 due date calculators and decided you were due on the 19th-21st range, not the 16th, but guess what that means?!

NOTHING.

You’re still late, overdue, and not here!!!

Sleep was not good. I tossed and turned a lot, got up 3 times for the bathroom and seemed to get lots of uncomfortable braxton hicks. I get you need practice but it would be nice if we could wing it right now.

13:05

So you, or God, or both, may have heard me (yes I know I was complaining a LOT). According to Jenny (our lovely midwife) those pains through the night and every time I move/roll over/etc could actually be very early bit of labour. But because I’m exhausted and resting I could’ve been slowing everything down. Figures.

OK, so now the plan is to get up, and stay up, and think of random activities to do whilst standing/walking/moving. So far… dog walks and cleaning… maybe cooking, maybe COOKIES! You’re going to love cookies. But in the meantime, I’ll eat them for you. I’m nice like that.

These updates might be pretty short from this point forward. Hopefully. You might be coming soon. Please come soon!

19:30

I have been on my feet almost continuously for 6 hours. I have been surprisingly productive though so that’s nice. The bathroom is clean (ready to be covered in poop and nappies), a second load of laundry is done (ready to be thrown up on), cookies are baked (ready for my sleep deprived cravings), bedroom is swept (as if that’s going to stay tidy), books are organised and filing done (not that you will be too interested in that). Mainly my feet are hurting, followed by my legs and belly and back.

I sent Bear off to the pub with Pops and your Uncle, mainly because I’m not quite ready to suggest this is labour and therefore, trying to cover up the occasional yell of pain would be silly. Guin went with them so at least there was no risk of slipping on mud in some crazy loo break trip to the woods.

Are you appearing soon? When do I get to lie down? I may be running out of activities so try not to make me wait too long…

Mmmmm cookie smell!

21:26

I have decided almost eight hours on my feet is good enough effort for today. Hopefully you’ll appear anyway… or at least keep progressing… please? Pretty please?

Off to bed for TV watching and hopefully a little sleep.

29th January: 41 weeks 6 days
08:42

You have approximately 24 hours to appear otherwise doctors get involved. I don’t really want them down there either but if you’re not moving by yourself I have little option without risking your health. I’m still getting a bit of pain and tightness but I’m not sure what to do at this point. We are planning on going to get little treat bones for Guin, then see a couple of friends, then a dog class… after that what? Keep active is a pretty vague suggestion when your room and belongings have been bought and organised for weeks already.

20:52

So today has been mainly about staying active and seeing what happens. After attempting to stand for ages and being really bored (aka OFFERING to take on the ironing pile of doom), Nanny managed to find a borrowed exercise ball. This has meant you have been swung from side to side, front to back, and generally bounced A LOT. I am now currently leaning on it on hands and knees swaying because my hips were not appreciating it as much as I hoped. Countdown is probably more like 11 hours now so if you want to show yourself I wouldn’t mind.

You are confusing a lot of people by the way. Went to Guin’s dog classes and the general question was “What happened?” followed by “So what now?”. Basically, get on with it, there is no reason you still need to be in there!

30th January: 42 weeks, 2 WEEKS OVERDUE.
08:42

I woke up at 2am, 4am and just past 6am. I was begging God that something would happen, but other than some very strange dreams, nothing did. This morning I still have painful feelings and yet nothing has come of them. We are due into the Day Assessment Unit at 10:30 and I think I’m losing hope in the idea that something will happen before then.

I realise that this may all sound really… irrational when read back, but it’s hard to re-visualise an experience that you’ve spent months thinking about. I don’t know if I have the energy to fight for something that seems reasonable. I don’t understand why constant monitoring is necessary when you’ve been perfectly, happily, healthy for the past 9 months.

I’m scared.

I’m scared that you won’t show up at all, no matter what happens. I’m scared that I won’t be able to do it. I’m scared I’m not brave enough, fit enough, strong enough. I’m scare that it’ll be my fault if something goes wrong.

This isn’t how I wanted to feel the potential morning of your birth.

I want to make something very clear though: through all of this my priority is your safety. If you are in trouble, it’s you first. If you need to be cut out of me, I’ll do it. If the medical profession are telling me to do something in order to make sure you arrive healthy, I will do everything in my power to do it.

11:57

Can I just say: we love Angela. I won’t give you anymore than that because this is the internet but she is awesome. She has argued our case and said that if induction works into normal labour then we can go into the birthing unit!

So we’re just sitting here watching your heartbeat. Hopefully we’ll see you in the next 24hours.

Also Lindsay was remarkably good with the needle for blood test. Yay for good needle experiences!

12:32

I get jelly! Jelly is awesome! Bear got a bit jealous of me receiving lunch so disappeared to the cafe quickly.

In the meantime a little alarm keeps going off despite completely normal heart rate for us both. You may inherit a trait from me where you don’t seem to get on with medical equipment. I always feel sorry for the staff…

13:28

Told to go wandering for a bit. Trust Bear to find food items! We sorted car park for the next 24hours so ideally we’ll be home with you before it runs out. Back to monitor in about 30 minutes.

Also although it’s raining and miserable, there is some really pretty music in the lobby: flutes and piano.

16:20

We went back, found out we didn’t need to be monitored after all, so decided to chill. Poor Bear had a bit of a headache so we aimed for reading/napping.

Now we’re back on our feet and discovering interesting and strange art around the corridors. Should be able to go home at about 6pm, and after that it’s just the waiting game.

Overhearing some of the other women in the Day Assessment Unit make me feel even weirder about being there. You may be late but we both seem healthy enough; surely there are women in more need than me for high risk care?

Just give me some water and a tub and I should be fine.

22:02

Home and waiting. Monitoring all went fine despite beeps scaring Bear every once in awhile.

Seems something is happening and I generally feel like I need to go to the loo a lot despite there being nothing much there, hence it is probably just pressure. I could have been more graphic but you don’t want to hear that.

If we’re following Nanny’s inducing experience then we are probably looking at giving birth in the middle of the night, approx 3:30am. One day that will feel like a fun time of the day, then you will grow up and want to sleep at normal times.

31st January
04:10

OUCH! General consensus since midnight is OOOOOOUUUUCH! And then breeeeeeathe along with OUCH!

I had a mini nap dream about contractions and finding time to take a nap. That was just cruel.

05:03

I was wrong; the dream wasn’t cruel, still being 1-2cm is cruel. Means I am now in pain but you’re still not doing anything to move on out.

Midwife and Bear are lovely, & I’ve been given a painkiller with the suggestion of going home to get some sleep. Why does my body not like hormones? What do I have to do to get it to behave?

I have 6-7 hours before the next bit.
Ouch!

11:02

I am not emotionally very good on low sleep. Contractions are still around but rather irregular and shorter than in the night. I am losing a bit of faith in myself so I need God to help. It means that a number of people are currently praying (some more) for you, and me, and a speedy progression.

I think I’ve had a couple of fragmented hours of sleep since we arrived home at 6:30. Bear is still being wonderful and hopefully a little more sleep did him good.

14:50

So very sleepy; you seem to be too. We’re in for the long haul now. Little tablet and much monitoring in due course. You could be here tonight.

18:06

Started having contractions again and now it’s just a case of checking hourly if your heart rate is OK. Let’s hope it’s all quick from here on out.

Who knew you could be a February baby? We didn’t but maybe the winter needs a few more reasons to smile.

31st January – 1st February: What Happened

From this point on, this is not written to my child because I would never want the stress of this situation to be associated or blamed on them, even in their own mind. This is simply how it happened/how I remember it. Both my child and I are alive and well so the ending shouldn’t be too surprising.

Quick it was! But painful obviously: by 21:30 I was having a large number of strong contractions about 2-3minutes apart. I was desperate not to get to certain about it too quick because I had been disappointed with the first induction I waited as long as possible before asking for help with the pain and an examination. By that point I was in huge amounts of pain, despite having a bath, breathing had stopped working to help me cope and I was in floods of tears. At that point I simply assumed I was just not as strong as everyone else – if women can walk into a maternity ward at 4cm and yet I couldn’t even stand, maybe I just wasn’t going to be able to do it.

I had planned a water birth but the induction put me into the “high risk” category and made my choice outside the guidelines of the hospital. Water birth is supposed to be naturally wonderful for pain and without that I was seriously worried how I would cope.

Epidural sounded generally rubbish and with a needle phobia. And yet I was in those moments considering everything. The examination told me that I was indeed 4 (and a half) cm, but the midwife still suggested that it could be anything between 8 and 12 hours more. My mind baulked: how was I going to cope with that much pain for so long, getting stronger and harder.

I was given the option of gas and air and jumped at it.

Gas & air surprised me in that it made a very quick difference to the pain, but made me come out with some pretty weird things, for example: “I sound like Darth Vader”.

After that things got very blurred, very painful, very quickly. I remember everything getting very odd time-wise and struggling much quicker than I expected to. In hind sight I had gone from 4cm to 8cm in a very short amount of time and despite a lot of pushing and not a lot of choice about it nothing was really happening.

Bear and the midwife were great and trying to encourage me but something didn’t feel quite right. No matter how hard I pushed, how much I focused I was just getting more and more exhausted and less and less able to cope.

Everything past this is a little bit of a blur because everything moved very fast (even if it didn’t feel it) and decisions had to be made even faster.

I was told that although pushing was being done exactly as it should, despite putting everything I could into it, and despite the head being incredibly low and close, it just wasn’t getting anywhere. I was put on a hormone drip in order to try to elongate the contractions, so that when I did push I might have a little more help and time to really do some good. It also meant that if forceps or ventouse were needed at some point it stood a higher chance of succeeding.

The hormone drip didn’t work because there was still no movement. The head was as far down as they were going to get. The trace which had been put on their head in order to keep track of their heart rate was suggesting some distress and things were getting more urgent.

I was exhausted and begging for it all to be over. Each time I heard someone say “we’ll check again in 15 minutes and decide the next course of action” I cried. I desperately wanted someone to do something to stop the pain, to stop the feeling that I was falling into a pit of pain that wasn’t going to stop. In those moments I was begging for a C-section I had never wanted, the epidural I was terrified of, the magic cure that would make it stop, quickly.

Finally at around 4am it was explained that they saw I was exhausted, that it was getting harder to get any movement, and would recommend putting an epidural in and attempting a forceps/ventouse delivery. They wanted to give me as much chance of a normal delivery as possible but saw that I may need some help. The epidural was changed for a spinal which is in lay terms just a smaller needle and a one-time injection for the pain.

I was prepped, Bear was given scrubs, and I was wheeled into theatre. I was told to breathe in gas provided, not quite gas & air but a little stronger in order to let me breathe through the still very strong contractions. In order to put the spinal in I would need to stay very still despite contractions, had to let my head hang, shoulders go loose, be as symmetrical as possible, and arch my back into the place they specified.

An hour later the spinal still hadn’t been successful and the space they needed had not been found. I honestly felt more sorry for the doctor than myself at that point because they were trying so hard for me and yet it didn’t seem to be possible to find the right spot. They also tried an epidural but still no luck.

Finally the ultimate decision was made, based on myself and the foetal heart rate, that an emergency C-section was the only option and it would require me being put under/put to sleep for the duration. Bear had been waiting for the hour outside theatre waiting for news and now the news came that he could come in to see me but couldn’t stay in.

Honestly all I felt was relief. I can’t necessarily explain the calm. It should make no sense that when faced with a consent form that states clearly that there is a chance (however tiny) of death, signing it, and then being told to lie back on a table whilst things are explained to your husband, that there is an intense calm.

For me it is what I felt. I had never wanted a C-section, it was as far away from the natural-maybe-not-even-gas&air-birth-plan I could have conceived. Yet, this meant I would be safe, wouldn’t feel the horrifying pain I had so far experienced, and would hopefully be holding a baby soon after. I had been put to sleep before when I was very young and for a minor surgery, and despite the major surgery ahead of me I had some very simple requests.

I asked that although I wouldn’t be able to provide skin-on-skin contact immediately, that Bear be given that opportunity if at all possible. That was literally all I could ask for; ideas about placental pulsing, breast-feeding, calm, music, and everything else I had ever put thought into were out of my hands. The only piece I thought I could have was that Bear, at the very least, might have a head start with this bonding relationship. He could look after our child for as long as required.

It would be OK. I knew Bear was scared and this was so far away from what he knew I wanted. He had fought for me every step of the way and questioned me when he thought I would regret a decision I was making. He had supported me and encouraged me through everything. I told him I loved him, that it would be OK, there was nothing to worry about, and his job was to look after the baby.

I don’t remember much after that but I was given a mask to breathe into. Apparently a local anaesthetic was given. I remember thinking “Am I suppose to start feeling drowsy? Are they going to make me count to ten? Why don’t I feel anything happening?”.

With very little gap in my memory I woke up in a bright room, Bear and a little baby in a box being wheeled in to see me. Someone told me it was a girl and asked if we had a name. I remember looking at Bear and nodding.

This was Eve.

Born 6:21am, 8lb 5oz, healthy.

My body would not stop shaking for awhile, and I felt extremely thirsty. I still felt a little out of it and apparently had things repeated to me a number of times. I did not feel ill or in pain though. I did not want to look at cut I knew must be across my abdomen.

I had lost a lot of blood (around 3 pints) and my blood pressure had dropped significantly. I was being monitored every 15 minutes, and that machine bleeping that I had low blood pressure each and every time was annoying to say the least. I was put on fluids, as well as drugs to ease a slight fever, to help and told that I would be there for a while but as long as I recovered well everything should be fine.

The doctor who performed the c-section came to see me later on Saturday 1st to explain a few pieces and make sure that if I had any questions they were answered. I respected her a huge amount and had met her for a previous appointment, so I appreciated that she had tried very hard to stick to decisions she knew I wanted before considering anything else. It was suggested, although forcefully, that I should not try a vaginal delivery with any future children as the cut that they needed to make (t-shape to anyone who that might mean anything to) would increase the chance of the uterus tearing.

It was also explained that Eve has been in a position with her head up rather than chin into her chest. Being back to back as well meant she had got stuck and been even more difficult to move. This explained the pain in early labour, why my efforts hadn’t worked even with a hormone drip, and actually why she was a breach birth despite a C-section. They literally had to pull her butt-first out of me.

But I had her. I couldn’t move without pain, my back was bruised and aching, and I couldn’t get to my feet or even move myself up the bed without help. But I had her.

Eve was and is healthy and happy and beautiful.

My experience of labour and birth was horrific in so many ways, but I was through it. We have the option for a debrief soon to ask any remaining questions and even just get some closure on it all, but I think I’m OK.

I hope this hasn’t traumatised anyone or made anyone scared about their own potential birth stories. I do not write this with warnings of mean doctors and ignored plans and risks of pregnancy – everyone did the best they could and I plan to make a lot of cake/chocolate/presents. I write this knowing that despite everything I thought would happen changing, often multiple times, that sometimes being out of control is exactly what you need. I was at peace with what was being offered to me because I had no choice. There was no choice, no alternative, just what there was. The likelihood of this happening to anyone else is ridiculously small, especially all of it together, even my community midwife has been surprised at how far from ideal it all became. I had an almost perfect pregnancy: excellent iron levels (just as well in hindsight), perfect blood pressure, neutral weight gain (despite not ideal starting point), good diet, very little sickness, perfect measurements throughout, good pelvic size and shape, foetus is perfect position from 30 weeks. Yet none of this made any difference to the result. Control is a delusion and although I pray that you have the birth you dream of, I will pray harder for the dream result: your child in your arms.

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