Having Baby Part 1: Pre-Labour
Strap yourself in, this is a long one!
My alarm went off at 6.30 am on the morning of Sunday 23rd July. I hadn’t had a lot of sleep the night before so I remember waking up and thinking I was too tired to have a baby. Unfortunately I didn’t have much choice in the matter.
We live only 5 km from the hospital and the quiet Sunday morning traffic meant that it was a nice quick trip. Before we went inside the hospital I asked AJ to take a photo of us together, our last photo of just the two of us before we become a trio!
I got to the hospital and my Midwife took me straight into a birth suite. They kindly gave me the same room I had been in the night before because I was quite taken with the lovely view.
Our Midwife was very dry and sarcastic, which was just what we needed because we aren’t the type to take things too seriously. We had no candles, essential oils, music or birth plan. Our only plan was to give birth to bubs safely and with as little pain as possible!
My Midwife read in my file that I wanted an epidural and so she asked if I wanted one before we started the induction or if I wanted to wait until later. Apparently the Anaesthetist wasn’t at the hospital yet and then he had some surgeries to do, so I probably wouldn’t get my epidural until around 9.30 am if I waited. Otherwise, if I was worried about the pain, they could hold off on the induction until I had my epidural. I was being my normal accommodating self and said “Oh it’ll be fine. Let him sleep in, I’ll just have mine when he can fit me in“. You would be guessing right if you thought I might later regret those words.
The Midwife hooked me up to all of the machines to monitor me and the baby and then started the induction by inserting a drip of pitocin. This is a synthetic version of the drug your body would normally produce to start contractions. I was settled in bed with my kindle and AJ got comfortable in the chair by the window with his ipad and we were both feeling pretty relaxed. I don’t think it had sunk in at all that we were having a baby.
The contractions started pretty quickly, but they were quite manageable and I was still able to keep reading my book. I only had a few chapters left and I was determined to finish it before baby arrived! The midwife laughed every time she walked in to see me reading my book through my contractions. I’m not sure that reading is a common labour technique! I can’t even remember what the stupid book was about now, it feels like a lifetime ago.
The contractions were bad enough that I needed to use gas to get through them. The gas was a useful relaxation tool, but it really didn’t help with the pain at all. I also don’t think I was taking the gas in properly to begin with, but the midwife showed me how to really suck it down and that made me feel much better.
Sucking down the gas
At some stage in the morning the Obstetrician came in to assess me. She said I was only 2 cm dilated and to just keep doing what I was doing. Unfortunately my Ob wasn’t on call that day, which was a bit disappointing, but the on-call Ob was fine. It really didn’t make a big difference because the Midwives were really managing the labour process and I barely saw the Ob.
After a couple of hours of contractions the pain had steadily increased and I was really looking forward to the epidural. I enquired with the midwife on ETA of the Anaesthetist and she told me that he had been held up in some emergency surgeries and was running behind. It turned out that the Sunday I gave birth was an unusually busy day for the hospital. What luck! By about 10.30 am the pain had reached an unbearable level and I could only lie on my side and suck on the gas to get through the contractions. I found I was most comfortable in bed, I didn’t get up and walk around or get on the fitball or even consider a shower or bath. I just wanted to be on my side and grip the bed rail for dear life.
Oh the pain!
At 12.00 pm the Anaesthetist finally arrived. I have never been so happy to see anyone in my entire life. It took him about 15 minutes to prep me and insert the epidural in my back, but I felt the effects within minutes. I don’t recall feeling pain or discomfort getting the epidural, to be honest, you could have hit me over the head with a hammer and I wouldn’t have noticed because the contractions were all consuming.
The next two hours were total and utter bliss. I felt no pain at all and I just rested in bed with my book and napped occasionally. I grew confident that this whole birth thing was going to be a piece of cake. My labour was progressing well and AJ and I were pretty much left to relax in the room in peace. AJ even had a sneaky watch of the footy!
Caught watching the footy while I am in labour!
At about 2.00 pm I started to feel contraction pain again. I thought this must have been breakthrough pain and that I needed to top up the epidural. The Midwife told me I could press the button to increase my dose every 15 minutes and that would help me keep on top of the pain. For about the next hour and a half I fixated on the 15 minute count down to push the pain relief button. Every minute or so I would ask AJ for a time update and despair at how slow time was passing. It was passing even slower than when you are on the stair machine at the gym!
Even when I pushed the button I felt absolutely no pain relief, in fact it was getting worse, but I lived in hope that it would get better. My Midwife assured me that I just needed to keep pushing the button and I shouldn’t feel any pain. I was back on the gas to get me through my contractions and the pain was now much worse than in the morning pre-epidural. The Midwife finally conceded that this wasn’t normal and that she would need to get the Anaesthetist back in to see what was wrong.
The Anaesthetist had gone home and had to be called back in so it was going to be a wait. I didn’t ask where he lived because I didn’t want to know. I couldn’t deal with it if I found out he lived on the other side of town. I can’t even describe the pain I was in during that time. I retreated back to my position on my side and just stared at the ground groaning and gripping the bed. I even stopped with the gas because I was in too much pain to suck it in and it wasn’t helping anymore.
Holding on for dear life
During this time AJ’s dinner was delivered to the birth suite. A curry. Do you know the last thing you want to smell when you are in the midst of horrific contraction pains? Yep you guessed right, curry. He kept going on about how delicious the curry was and I was close to killing him. Even after they took away his food tray all I could smell was curry.
At 6.00 pm the Anaesthetist finally arrived to review my epidural and discovered that it had fallen out. OMFG!!!!!! Why does this sort of thing happen to me?! Apparently this is quite rare and the Anaesthetist was apologetic. So he prepped me to do the epidural again and then I heard the horrible words “I don’t think it’s worked“. He had missed the vein which meant that most likely the epidural wouldn’t work, but we had to give it 15 minutes to make sure. That was a very long 15 minutes to say the least.
Once it was confirmed that the second epidural didn’t work, the Anaesthetist quickly worked to get the third epidural in for me. The main issue with having it now was that I was in so much pain that is was difficult to hold still to have the needle in my spine. It took all of my strength to stay still through my contractions, but I knew it would be worth it.
The third time was the charm! Thanks to the epidural I was back in a blissful and pain-free state. This was the only time during my labour that I cried a little, not because I was upset, but it was out of pure relief that the pain was over. I felt a bit frazzled by the whole ordeal and, despite the fact I wasn’t in pain anymore, I went back to the gas to calm me down.
Feeling physically destroyed
After the epidural was put in, my Ob came back in to assess me and said that I was fully dilated and ready to push. I hadn’t seen her since the morning and I had been so focussed on the contractions that I had no idea I was close to having the baby now. My Ob and Midwife got busy prepping for me to push, which gave me about half an hour to rest and try and compose myself after all the epidural drama. I couldn’t believe I was about to have a god damned baby!
At 7.00 pm my Ob said she was ready for me to push. I couldn’t feel anything, so I had no urge to push and couldn’t even feel myself pushing. My Midwife had me pushing in time with my contractions, which I also couldn’t feel, but the machine I was hooked up to told her when they were coming. She wanted me to give 3 big pushes for every contraction. I was so exhausted from the past 24 hours of pre-labour and labour that my pushes were a bit weak. I was even falling asleep in-between pushing because I was completely and utterly exhausted by this point.
After about 45 minutes or so of pushing the baby was crowning and my Ob said matter of factly “I’m going to have to cut you“. The dreaded episiotomy. I couldn’t feel anything, but my stomach still turned as I saw her grab the scissors and start cutting. Ewwww.
I kept pushing but I could tell my pushes were disappointing and we just weren’t getting anywhere. The Ob said she thought we needed to get the vacuum because she didn’t think I was going to be able to push bubs out. By this time I had been in labour and hadn’t eaten anything for 24 hours, so I was just beyond exhausted.
The Ob got the vacuum and instructed me to push. After just three cycles of contractions, and with the help of the vacuum, she pulled out my baby! I remember as she was pulling him out she said the cord was wrapped around his neck and it was lucky she had got him out with the vacuum. Apparently the cord wasn’t tight and didn’t cause any issues, but if we kept going the way we were, it could have become dangerous for bubs.
I don’t remember much after bubs came out. I guess I was in a state of shock. I think they handed bubs to me immediately, but they may have done health checks first, I’m really not sure. AJ told me that he cut the cord, which I don’t remember at all either. I remember holding bubs while the Ob was pulling out my placenta and then stitching me up.
At some point, someone in the room asked if it was a boy or girl and we realised that no one had looked! The Midwife had a quick check and announced that we had a baby boy. AJ later told me that he had seen the sex of the baby when he was passed to me and hadn’t said anything because he was nervous about my reaction as I had explicitly requested a girl! In that moment I didn’t really care if it was a boy or girl, I was just freaked out that I had a baby. I think AJ was a bit concerned about how I would feel about having a boy, so he said “Do you know who would have loved a grandson? Your mum.” and he was completely right.
I was encouraged to bond with the baby straight after he was born, but I was so emotionally and physically exhausted that I didn’t feel like I could hold him. Aside from feeling like I would fall asleep and drop him, I was in a state of shock and couldn’t believe that I had a baby. I was suddenly overcome with nausea and vomiting, AJ kindly took photos of this also, but I was nice enough not to share those with you. I wish I was one of those mothers who immediately bonded and did skin to skin and all those other things you are supposed to do, but it didn’t happen like that for me.
Thank god AJ stepped up and took care of bubs while I
got my shit together composed myself. I think he enjoyed the time to bond with bubs and he took the opportunity to play him his first album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by The Smashing Pumpkins.
AJ had also called all of our families to let them know that bubs had arrived. My dad and step mum got in the car immediately and drove the 3 hours to the hospital and my brother and sister in law from Sydney just happened to be staying with us that weekend. They all arrived at the hospital about 11.00 pm for cuddles with bubs. Once again, I don’t remember a lot about their visit. I think I kept falling asleep and I was happy that there were people to help hold bubs when I knew I wasn’t up to giving him the cuddles he needed.
The Midwives were monitoring bubs and were concerned about his temperature. They asked me if I had hats, socks and extra blankets to keep him warm. I hadn’t bought any of that stuff because it wasn’t on the hospital list they gave me. I immediately felt like a horrible mother. Thank god my sister in law was there because she had all that stuff back at my place that were my nieces hand me downs that she thought I might want, so she raced home and got it for me. I was so, so, so grateful.
Everyone left about midnight. They were all going back to my place to toast bubs with wine and I wished I was going with them. Instead I had to drag my catheter to the bathroom and try to stand up and shower. It was the last thing I felt like doing, but it’s all about getting you on your feet and up and about as soon as possible.
Once I showered I just wanted to curl up in bed and get some sleep. Little did I know that I still had a long night ahead of me…
Up next, our first night with bubs…