From the moment my husband and I saw the positive pregnancy test we were so excited to welcome another baby into our family, but I knew I had a tough choice to make regarding how this baby would be born.
Our first daughter, Lydea, was born via Category 1 emergency caesarean due to fetal distress. I was 7cm dilated when her heart rate started dropping as the cord wrapped around her body and arm. On the way to the theatre, her heart rate dropped further to 40bpm, so I was put under a general. I had to decide whether to elect for c-section or attempt a VBAC.
I was advised of risks and eventually decided to aim for a VBAC but also kept in mind that I could end up with another c-section. I was 37+3 weeks when I lost my mucous plug. I initially thought nothing of it as I knew labour could still be weeks away. I went to 40+4 with my firstborn, so I was expecting to go over again.
37+4 weeks at around 3:30 am, I woke up to use the bathroom. I was on the toilet for less a minute, and just as I was standing up, I felt a pop followed by a huge gush of water. I knew straight away my waters had broken as it also happened with my firstborn.
I wasn’t ready for this yet. My bag was only half packed, and the car seat hadn’t been put in yet, but that didn’t matter because it was happening whether I was ready or not. Contractions started straight away and were 5 to 6 minutes apart. Water was still running down my legs, so I stood in our bathroom calling out to my husband to wake him. I showered, quickly got dressed and called the hospital while he packed his bag, finished packing my bag and called his mum to watch Lydea.
The midwives requested that I come in straight away as my last birth was a caesarean, and when she timed my contractions, they were actually closer than what I had calculated.
I laboured on my hands and knees breathing through the contractions while we waited for my MIL to come to watch our daughter. We lived less than 5 minutes from the hospital and arrived just after 4:30 am. The contractions intensity had increased, the walk from the car to the hospital was slow, and with each contraction, I’d have to stop walking and concentrate on breathing. At one point, my husband was so far in front of me I thought he had forgotten about me.
We entered the lift, which would take us up to maternity and noticed a bunch of new signs regarding new policies and restrictions regarding COVID-19. This was how we became aware that only one support person was allowed and no other visitors were allowed other than the support person.
These restrictions went in effect after my 36-week appointment, and I didn’t get to my 38-week appointment, so I had no idea until then. We went straight to the birth suite, where they began to check my details and previous birth history.
I started feeling very nauseous due to the pain and threw up shortly after. I requested the gas for pain relief soon after. While they set up the gas, they also attached the monitors to me and did a VE [vaginal examination], and I was just over 6 cm dilated. The gas did nothing for the pain, and I requested the epidural. They said they would call her in and she would be there shortly.
In the meantime, they wanted to put in a cannula, which they were able to get in easily. However, I was so sweaty it wouldn’t stay in. A midwife held it in place while another taped the whole way around my hand; it was then held in place with a mesh glove.
The whole time my husband was a huge support. He was getting me water, helped get the hair out of my face, trying to cool me down, held the gas for me and reminded me to breathe. The pain was extremely intense, and I thought I was feeling pain in my scar. I began to panic about something being wrong and started begging for a c-section. The obstetrician tried to assure me that our baby was fine and asked me to point out exactly where the pain was coming from, but by this point, I was screaming through the contractions, and all I did was apologise when they stopped.
It was just after 6 am at this point and the anaesthetist had arrived, so they decided to wait until I had the epidural in hopes I would relax and also called in a senior OB to assess me and determine if a c-section was necessary.
The epidural was administered just before 6:30 am on the first attempt and was a welcome relief. I could still feel the contractions, but the pain was significantly less, and I calmed down a lot. I was also able to work out the pain I was feeling in between contractions was in my pelvis, not my scar. They performed another VE and said I was basically fully dilated, but there was a small cervical lip. The midwife said that if I felt pressure like I needed the toilet to push against her hand and she would try to push the lip away.
I was pushing for around 30 minutes before they recommended an episiotomy and forceps as baby’s heart rate was dropping (this was done in the birth suite). I was squeezing my husband’s hand tightly, and he was encouraging me the whole time.
Even though I had the epidural, I could still feel her being born. The burning feeling of her crowning was the most painful part. All I wanted to do was push to make the pain go away and meet our baby girl, but the OB told me to wait to avoid any tearing. My husband’s encouraging words helped me through the pain, and finally, I was allowed to push.
Our beautiful baby girl, Hailee was born at 7:10 am after a short 3 hr 40-minute labour, weighing 3430 grams and 51cm long. She had the cord around her neck, which explained the distress but was healthy and remained on me during all tests.
I am so thankful that we got to witness her being born. I got to experience a vaginal birth and immediate skin to skin which was the best feeling. I still remember the smile on my husbands face seeing his daughter for the first time. Watching him hold her in his arms was the most beautiful moment.