I have had two fairly straightforward pregnancies; other than struggling with pelvic pain, they were both complication-free. My births are a different story. After a horrible experience with an epidural, episiotomy and ventouse delivery with my first, I was really hoping for a natural delivery this time around.
I got that; I had a beautiful water birth. However, my after-birth experience was terrifying. Leading up to labour, I had false labour pains every day to the second day, starting at 38 weeks. I would get regular, mild to moderately painful contractions for a few hours at night, which would eventually fizzle out to nothing. Finally, the day before my due date, real labour started. I first noticed the real contractions at 9:30 am. They were regular and uncomfortable. My partner was at work, and I spent the day at home with my Mum and 21-month old daughter. By 3 o’clock, when my partner got home, I was having painful contractions around 5 minutes apart. I called my midwife to let her know, and we made our way to the hospital. At 4:30 pm, I had an examination, and my midwife confirmed I was 5cm dilated and in active labour. Things took a turn very quickly, and my painful but manageable contractions became very extreme. I went on to have very intense labour; my contractions were on top of one another with hardly a break in between each one—some, no break at all.
I feel that being in the water helped me manage to get through each contraction by swishing back and forth. Although I don’t remember much, I laboured this way in the water for over 3 hours. When it finally came time to push, my body took complete control of itself and was doing it involuntarily. I remember it being the most intense sensation I have ever felt. It took 20 minutes of excruciating pushing, and finally, my little boy was earthside. He was popped up on my chest for a cuddle and some skin to skin, and I remember one of the first things I heard was, ‘wow, he’s a big baby!’.
Unfortunately, before I even got a chance to admire him, he was quickly taken away from me just as fast. He wasn’t responding well and was turning blue.
A group of doctors and nurses flooded in the room towards my baby and another group towards me. They had called a code blue. I was absolutely terrified. I remember asking one of the doctors if my baby would be okay, and all he could tell me was that they were working on him. I was then told they needed me to get out of the water immediately as I was losing quite a bit of blood.
At that moment, not only was I scared for my babies life, but for my own as well. One of my midwives told me later that I had asked her if I was going to die. From here, I was helped out of the water and taken to the bed where I was treated for the bleeding and birthed the placenta. I had lost around 1.5 litres of blood. I was unaware at this point that my son only had an APGAR score of 3, and required an oxygen mask and was receiving CPR.
It took around 6 minutes for him to come to a reasonable APGAR score. I didn’t get to see what was happening, but my partner said he made it very evident when he was feeling better by doing a big wee over all the doctors and nurses.
When Arlo was weighed, we were all taken by surprise when he came in at 4.9kg! My fundal height had always measured normal, so it was completely unexpected. I remember my midwife asking if we could weigh him again as she thought the scales might have been wrong, but no, my darling boy was a big and cuddly 10lb, 8oz and a very tall 58cm!
While I was still being treated, I learned Arlo would be taken to NICU for monitoring. I really just thought he was going to have some checks done. I was completely unaware that Arlo and I, unfortunately, would spend the night apart due to his condition. He required the CPAP mask overnight for his breathing, and due to my blood loss, it was decided it was best to stay in bed and rest until the morning.
The next morning I headed up to NICU to see Arlo, and it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to face. To see my baby the way I saw him, attached to a breathing mask and machines and the number of cords I could see attached to him.
I couldn’t stay long, which made me feel incredibly guilty, but I couldn’t bear to see him that way. Thankfully, the mask was removed later that day, and I could go up and spend time with him for skin to skin and breastfeeding. He was moved to special care, and each day he was improving. Fortunately, he made a reasonably quick recovery and came home with us five days later.
Although everything turned out okay In the end, and we both made a quick recovery, both my partner and myself still struggle to this day to come to terms with what happened and what could have happened.
Fortunately, we left the hospital together as a family four days later, and seven months on are loving life as a family of four. A big thank you to my amazing midwife and backup midwife in the room that day. To the Doctors and Nurses who respond so quickly, and the NICU staff. We are so grateful for all of you 💙