For today's My Story Monday, I'm sharing my friend Kat's birthing stories of her two children. Please enjoy, they are an incredibly inspiring read.
I'd like to say this before I begin. My son's birth was a long haul experience. There was a lot of intervention, and the end birth was nothing like I had hoped or planned. However, I am happy with all of it. I don't look back and view it as a horrible experience. As a long one, sure, but it was no horror show by any stretch of the imagination, or I wouldn't have gotten pregnant again. I like to think of it as... experiencing as much as possible in one birth ;)
Patrick was due on the 12th of April 2009. That day came and went.
I was already under the care of the Obstetrics team at GWH Swindon because I am epileptic, and technically high risk in pregnancy, even though it never reared its head. I would have been moved to their care anyway because I was overdue. I had my appointment on Wednesday the 15th and 3:30. I was three days overdue. I consented to stretch and sweep, which contrary to everything I heard about it - 'it will hurt' 'this will make you sweat', I didn't feel a thing. Perhaps my obstetrician really was that good. I'd like to think it was a load of tripe and it just doesn't hurt. As expected I immediately started to have cramping and tightening. But that was good. I went home, got on with my day, talked to my husband when he got in from work, and set him to oversee my dinner while I was in the bath around 7:45. I loved my tub when I pregnant, but by that stage I did need his help getting out. I felt something odd in the water. Like a rush of fluid, but it really didn't dawn on me what it was. Until I was out of the bath, pottering in my bathrobe, and with every tightening, there was a gush of fluid.
Oh, yeah, that would be my waters then. Finally! We'd had a few visits up to L&D thinking I was in labour when I wasn't. But my waters had gone. I was going to have my baby! Tightenings had become early labour contractions, and I felt every one of them in the car. We lived half an hour from the hospital, 40 minutes in high traffic and we were glad of clear ish roads. Get to L&D and get hooked up to monitors, the contractions are very obvious, but when examined it becomes clear we have a long, long way to go. Its my hind waters that have gone, not the main membrane, and it can, and did reseal itself. My cervix was doing nothing. But there was now an infection risk. That, combined with my risk factor, and my distance from the hospital had them admitting me to antenatal to get some rest, and hubby was sent home.
Thursday came after little rest, I was four days overdue, and contractions had stopped. But I was now on the clock because of my waters. I would need antibiotics during the birth, and the longer you go before the baby is born, the higher the risk of infection. It was a long day of waiting for an induction, and very little information because every midwife was rushed off her feet. Unfortunately this is the case everywhere, that midwives are badly stretched. I spent the day walking, encouraging my body, getting those very early labour contractions going for a few hours, but they fizzled to nothing. By evening someone finally told us that there was no room today, I had to wait till morning. I was tired, emotional, hormonal but a fantastic midwife made time to sit with me for an hour as I cried, got it all out of my system, talked me through what on my birth plan was still realistic, and what to expect. She was a star. So off hubby goes and I get another night on my own in the hospital.
Friday, and five days overdue, I was awake anyway at 5 am now on my own in my four bed bay when a midwife comes to tell me they are getting ready to start my induction. I phone the husband and tell him to come at 8 am, when they will, if he smiles really nicely, allow him on the ward. We are having this baby now. Once induction starts, by hook or by crook, it will end with a baby. They used Prostin gel at 6 am and I am told to expect another dose around 1pm, and it will likely take two doses. It doesn't. My body and I want this baby out and early labour starts and sticks this time. We walk a lot, I did laps of the stairs and by lunch time when my scheduled monitoring happens I am contracting too much for a second dose of gel. I am also feeling the need for more pain relief than just cocodamol. My cervix was finally opening to 2cm and a midwife tried to break my waters then, but I found it too painful. I went for a bath. Labouring in the tub was lovely, relaxing, and peaceful. I loved it. And when I got out, a midwife was waiting to take me to L&D, this time to stay.
At 3pm I was 3cm and asking for pain relief, so I was given gas and air. I loved the stuff. I was happily high. Labour was slow. When gas and air ceased to be enough, I asked for pethadine. A decision that in hindsight I wouldn't make twice, but not because of anything bad. It gave me much needed rest and was exactly what I needed at the time. But hubby didn't fare so well watching me dosed up on it. When it wore off I really didn't want a second dose and I wanted an epidural. Coincidentally my blood pressure was being a bit mental so they wanted me to have one too, so all were happy. Hubby especially. It was very well done, I had feeling and movement in my legs and no pain. It was now about 9pm.
11pm, stuck at 5 cm and its becoming clear my son has decided to align himself back to back with me and will not turn the other way, giving me a harder job to do. That is obvious when two hours later I have not progressed any further. And my son's heart rate is dipping with my contractions. They went through the process of getting a blood sample from the top of his head, but his oxygen levels were okay, so the doctor laid it out for me. We had done everything possible to have this baby naturally. My body was tired, and although my son was okay now, he needed to be born in the next few hours. I was given two hours to progress naturally, then he would start pressing for a c-section. Those two hours were what I needed. I needed them to process that I could not have this baby naturally. That he had misaligned himself and wedged tight, and no longer fit through my pelvis. I needed them to accept that I had done everything possible to have my baby by myself. But it was time to accept help, for the good of myself and my son.
My two hours were up at 3am. I was checked, and there was no change. I asked for the consent forms and signed with a happy heart. I knew it was the right thing to do. For my son, and for me. I was now six days overdue. I had been trying to have my baby for three days. It was time to finally have him. My husband had just enough time to change into scrubs before I was wheeled to theatre and surgery began. At 3:30am on the 18th April 2009, my son was delivered. This was the ONLY moment I was scared in the process. Because he was silent. He was tired just as I was, but he was breathing solo from a minute after birth. It only took him another minute and a half and some encouragement from the paediatrician to cry. The longest minutes of my life. He was 8lbs 1oz, and healthy as a horse, wrapped up and handed to my husband who propped him by y head to meet him.
I cried. I wouldn't get to hold him for another hour, because I was bleeding badly. But never once was there a stress or a panic. There was a lot of me happily chatting and nagging at them that I wanted to go hold my son, but an hour after he was born, they had patched me up, and he was placed naked, into my arms and against my skin. And I fell utterly in love with him as he looked up at me.
No, an emergency c-section was not ideal, not in the slightest. But it was how he was born. And every step of the way I was looked after by fantastic staff and midwives. I was never afraid, I was never stressed. I was helped to bring my baby into the world by the best people I could possibly have had.
My daughter's birth was by far the simpler of the two. Her pregnancy was a typical pregnancy really, until 32 weeks. When my absolutely wonderful blood pressure started to climb. And climb, and climb over the next few weeks. By the time I was due to see the consultant team at 36 weeks I knew full well what was happening. I had planned, and hoped for a normal delivery despite my previous section. I looked after myself, did everything I could to make it happen. I researched, I learned, and made sure I knew what to expect and what I wanted. But over the course of those four weeks it was plain. My daughter was making me ill. I hadn't yet started to have protein in their routine urine tests. But it was practically an inevitability. Before my appointment, I discussed with my husband what was going to happen. What I knew that would say. I asked for his opinion, and we made a decision.
I went to my appointment, and saw the consultant, his midwife and her student. As she took my blood pressure I was unsurprised as she took the reading. Or by the heavy blood pressure medication I was prescribed. Or that the consultant said he didn't want me on them for long with my daughter on the inside, because they could cause her harm with longer term exposure. I could see them gearing up for a fight, to talk down a hysterical mother. He addressed the elephant in the room and recommended a scheduled section to make sure my daughter stayed healthy. I calmly smiled and asked them to get out their diary, shocking them all. There was no point in fighting it. I was getting sicker day by day and I could feel it. Getting her into the world safely was priority. Yes, it was not the birth I wanted. But it was right. Her due date was the 19th of October. She would be born on the 11th.
What followed was a trip to the day assessment unit every three days to have a trace on baby and a blood pressure series, as well as a test for protein in my urine. That part was not fun, but necessary. I could not wait for the 11th. Fitting those visits in around my son being in preschool and such was a pain in the rear. I had to go in the evening more than once so that my husband could be there for our son. On the 9th we had a false alarm of labour. It had been bad. My parents who were supposed to be coming on the 10th, came early, just in case. But the evening of the tenth saw me taking my pre-op meds and retiring to bed, now nil by mouth. The 11th came, I took the last meds, took my case, said goodbye to my son, leaving him with my parents, and went to bring his sister into the world.
We arrived a little before 8am. I was supposed to be first on the surgery list, but two emergencies had come in before me, such is life. I didn't enjoy spending two hours waiting on hard chairs with little information, but it could not be helped. Staff were stretched. but by half ten I had a room, I had a bed, and I had been told what was happening. Working it out I figured I would be in surgery between two or three pm. I relaxed, read on the ipad, and was generally quite happy apart from a growling stomach. But minor worries. 2pm came around and an anaesthatist with the paperwork arrived. We were moved rooms, I got into my theatre gowns (one front, one back) and had my surgical stockings fitted. Hubby changed into scrubs. Three pm came and we walked into theatre.
Hubby was able to be there and help me as the spinal anaesthetic was put into place. The only uncomfortable part of the process. But that was done, I was soon laid out, and things got underway. One of the anaesthatists was telling me what was going on, at my request. Everything was calm, everything was relaxed, and quite serene really.
"That sound is your waters. And here's the head."
An instant later and there was a hearty wail in the room. They had yet to get her all the way free of me and she was yelling in protest of being ousted from her comfy home. After my son, that was wonderful.
"She's a long one!"
She wailed and wailed as she was cleaned up and handed to my husband, and I beamed with pride as I watched him cradle our daughter. Everyone cooed while she pouted and hunted for her first meal as her father held her. We joked, we had bets on her weight. It was the male anaesthatist who came closest. He guessed 7lbs 2ozs. She was born 6lbs 15.5 ozs, and perfect. With an attitude and personality. I was very quickly put back together, and the surgeon told me that if I want another baby, I should go ahead, everything was healthy. I got to hold her very quickly and she remained skin to skin with me for her first very long and hungry feed (and much needed food for mummy too), and long after, bonding for hours. It was a wonderful, calm, serene experience that I treasure, along with my daughter. Things went so well, I was home less than 48 hours after surgery.
Such beautiful little ones!!
I'd like to thank Kat for sharing her stories with me and you all, if you would like to follow Kat on Twitter, you can find her here!
If you would like to share your story, please read the intro post here.
Labels: babies, birthing, My story Monday