George is exactly one month and one day old today…and it has flown by.
I’m taking advantage of one of his rare naps to tell you the story of his birth. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not rare for him to nap – he does it all the time – it’s just rare that he’ll let me put him down. It’s also quite rare that I don’t really have anything else to o while he’s napping, but today I have managed to get showered and dressed, brush my teeth, eat breakfast AND lunch, and drink enough water (okay, tea). I’ve also found time to give Luke a hand with the housework, so I don’t feel quite so bad about sitting down at my laptop and getting some writing done.
So, in my last post as a pregnant woman I told you that I was in the hospital being induced because of my pre-eclampsia. I was in slow-labour anyway, but I’d still had to have the pessary to begin thinning my cervix (a lovely image for a Monday evening). I had wanted to avoid it but the midwives were concerned that I wasn’t progressing quickly enough and that they needed to help me along. In hindsight I kind of wish that I had refused them, but they did that thing where they worded it as if I didn’t have a choice. I knew that I had the choice, but in my vulnerable state I just went along with what they were saying, worried for the health of me and my baby. If I could do it again I would ask them what the outcome of NOT having the pessary would have been,
So, at 11.45am they inserted the pessary and then left things to develop. They put it behind your cervix so it was pretty uncomfortable, and it actually took a lot longer to put in place than I expected, but it was bearable. You have to lie still for half an hour after it’s put in to stop it from just falling straight out, but I hadn’t taken note of the time so I lay there for over an hour worrying that if I moved I’d have to go through all that again.
Luke had already gone home, so once I could move again I spent the afternoon listening to the radio and colouring a mandala in until he came back to keep me company.
I can’t remember when my contractions started, but they began as hot stretching feelings in my lower back, and as the day progressed they started to feel like an odd pressure in my bottom…almost as if I really needed a poo. They weren’t really painful, more uncomfortable, even when they started to become more regular – not at first anyway. Very quickly it got to the point where I was getting three minute-long contractions every ten minutes and I had to really concentrate on my hyponobirthing techniques to control the pain. I was breathing deep and steady, imagining a dial and mentally “turning down” the pain, thinking the words numb and comfortable (numbfortable) .We tried going for short walks up and down the corridors but, after three hours of terrified non-sleep the night before, I was utterly exhausted and felt like I just needed to lie down and try to get a bit of rest.
…except that REALLY wasn’t happening.
Contractions aside (and it was probably going to be impossible to sleep through those anyway), there was a completely obnoxious family on the same ward as me. The mother was awaiting a c-section, and her husband and two-year old were sitting with her…well sort of. The child was screaming blue-murder whilst running around the ward, and the father employing his (VERY LOUD) voice to encourage the little one and laugh at him in-between (VERY LOUD) phone conversations. I’m not entirely sure what the mother was doing as I was lying with my curtains closed, trying to relax, but just getting more and more wound up with each shriek and booming laugh. Luke went out to complain to the midwives twice, and eventually they were asked to take their loudness away from the antenatal ward.
Now, I know that children make noise and that you can’t use reason to get them to be quiet, but you can remove them from situations where their noise isn’t appropriate. An antenatal ward where women are in the early stages of labour is not the best place for a small child to be screaming. It also isn’t the best place for you to hold telephone conversations in a booming voice.
I was majorly upset by the time they were removed from the ward. It was fast approaching the time that Luke would have to leave for the night, and I’d completely missed any chance for the rest that I needed. By this point the pressure of my contractions was getting to be unbearable. I kept thinking that if I could only do a poo (or maybe throw up) I would feel SO much better, and so I made numerous trips to the bathroom where I sat on the loo and cried because I just couldn’t get any relief. I was hot and cold all at the same time and ended up in bed in my coat, feeling like I was coming down with the worst case of flu…it was a pretty hideous time. I hated it.
At ten Luke had to leave the ward and so I lay alone, trying to dial down my pain (numb and comfortable…numb and comfortable) and failing miserably. He hadn’t long been gone when I decided to make one more pointless trip to the toilet, but when I rolled over in bed I felt a big POP and my waters broke quite spectacularly. I carried on in my quest for the bathroom, convinced that I just needed to poo and when I got there I was sick. Exorcist style sick. I was the embodiment of glamour and grace. Not.
I don’t remember things too clearly from that point on really. I know that things happened but I’m not too hot on details. It was 11pm…I sent Luke a text asking him to come back…I was put on a monitor and they saw that the baby’s heartbeat was dropping with each contraction…they wheeled me through to the delivery suite on my bed where I met a wonderful midwife called Yvonne…the baby had to have a clip attached to his head so they could monitor his heartbeat more effectively…I was offered gas and air…my contractions were like my body was being ripped in half…I breathed entonox continuously for four hours whilst swearing profusely at anyone who suggested I take a break from it…I talked a lot of rubbish (due to being high as a kite) and tried to imagine I was off my face in a tent at a festival, rather than on a hospital bed in a depressing delivery room…
…and then I pushed…but I was only 6 cms dilated so I was told NOT TO PUSH.
I couldn’t help it though, there was nothing I could do. It was like trying to stop yourself from being sick. You don’t want to do it but you know it’s going to happen and your body just takes over and OH MY GOD I was pushing again. I had sworn that I didn’t want an epidural, and it was on all of my birth plans but I found myself begging for one, just so that I wouldn’t push anymore.
And so I had an epidural. It wasn’t scary and I didn’t worry about it at all, hell, I didn’t even feel it because I was sucking on the entonox mouthpiece like my life depended on it.
The epidural didn’t really work properly for me at first. The anaesthetist put the test dose in (which I shouldn’t have been able to feel) and it made my left leg feel numb and heavy. She was confused and didn’t want to give me a proper dose, so for a few hours I had a weird lopsided feeling as my left side did what it was supposed to, and my right side felt far less numb. After a while the contraction pain and the need to push would start to make itself known – but only on my right hand side – and so she’d give me a mini top-up that’d last for an hour or so. In the end she decided to give me a proper dose and then everything went numb. It was great, but suddenly I was fully dilated and it was time to push…
…and I couldn’t feel a damn thing.
I tried and I tried to push…they even gave me a syntocinon drip (man-made oxytocin) to make my contractions more effective and help me to push, but it just wasn’t happening. The registrar came in and gave me half an hour more to push before they took me to theatre. The plan was to give me a spinal (because the epidural wasn’t working on both sides) and attempt delivery via forceps or ventouse, and if those didn’t work they would do a c-section. I did not want any of those things and I was terrified for the baby and for myself, but he was back to back, in completely the wrong position and he was not going to come out on his own. I was exhausted and I just couldn’t do it anymore.
Predictably, they couldn’t move the baby using forceps or ventouse, and I couldn’t feel to push to help them move him down, so I was told they needed to perform a section. I had resigned myself to it. I had known from the moment I left the delivery room to go to theatre that they would be doing it, but it didn’t stop my fear and I shook uncontrollably throughout the whole procedure, despite trying to relax myself using the techniques I’d learnt. Luke was right there beside me, and the staff were amazing, but I was so worried, so scared, so tired…
I had nothing to be worried or scared about. There was no pain, and all I felt was a lot of pushing, pulling and tugging as they pulled the baby back up into my uterus and then pushed him out of the tiny hole that they’d cut (seriously, looking at my scar now I have NO idea how they got him out of such a small incision), and then the surgeon was thrusting a small vernix-covered bottom over the screen and telling us we had a boy, and then George was crying (a tiny reedy sound) and I was crying and Luke was crying…
…and suddenly we were a family.
I plan to write about the aftermath of my c-section soon…I’ve gone on for far too long for one post already 🙂