Meeting Hazel Mae
The entire way through my pregnancy, when asked about my ‘birth plan’ I said: “I’d like to have a natural, water birth but I will do whatever I need to do to ensure my baby comes out safely”, but honestly, I had my heart set on a water birth, and I really didn’t want to be induced. So when I arrived at the hospital at 39 weeks and 1 day to have a sizing scan and was sent up to the maternity ward where I was shown to a bed, I thought I was prepared to hear anything the doctor had to tell me but my heart broke a little when they said that my baby had stopped growing and I needed to be induced. It broke even more when they said I was now high risk, so a water birth was no longer an option.
I called Mitch at around 3.30 and told him he needed to come up to the hospital and that I was being induced as at 6 pm. The plan was to insert a balloon catheter to help my cervix dilate and then pump me with oxytocin and break my waters at 6 am the following morning.
After two very uncomfortable cervical exams, the catheter was inserted.
It was incredibly painful, and as I focused all my attention on Mitch so as not to focus on what the doctor was doing his face went white. Not pale, white. I looked down, and the doctor was pulling out blood-soaked gauze and cotton balls and asking for more gauze. “Is that my blood?!” I said to Mitch, and he looked at me and said: “No, you’re fine.”
Another doctor came to check and informed me that I was fine; the doctor had just scraped and torn my cervix while inserting the catheter. I was 2cm dilated. They then added 80ml of water to the balloons on my vagina and cervix, cleaned me up a little and said see you in 12 hours.
It was pretty uncomfortable, and I had mild contractions immediately, not painful, just constant lower back and pelvic cramps. Mitch went home for the night, and I was left alone for a few hours before I was moved up to the maternity ward to try to sleep.
Mitch arrived back at the hospital at 5 am in anticipation for the 6 am the removal of my catheter. The entire time I had monitors keeping track of the baby attached to my belly and the catheter protruded about 15cm. At 730am, a nurse came and told us that the Birth Suite was hectic, and the doctor would be coming to see me as soon as possible.
At 9 am, I went down to the birth suite to have the catheter removed and get the party started. Two midwives came in, and while one organised the oxytocin and prepared to break my waters, the other put a cannula into my right wrist.
She wasn’t very nice. My vein collapsed, and my arm immediately blew up like a balloon. It was incredibly painful as she continued to dig around, trying to open my vein. After a few minutes, Mitch told her to take the needle out and try the other arm. She was unimpressed, but Mitch was clearly more unimpressed, so she didn’t argue. My wrist was already bruised all the way around, and the swelling was halfway up my forearm.
The cannula slipped into the vein on my left arm without a drama and was fitted with two valves and a tap for the oxytocin to enter.
The midwife removed my catheter and looked at me rather concerned.
She turned to the other midwife and said my cervix was now less than a centimetre dilated, and the catheter hadn’t worked at all. She then tried manually bringing my cervix open before letting the other midwife have a go. It was incredibly painful, and I was super uncomfortable when they turned to me and said the doctor would be in to assess me.
When the doctor came in at 10.45 and announced that they would be trying another induction method, prostaglandin gel, I completely lost it. Exhausted from the night before, in pain and upset about being induced not once but twice, I burst into tears. Mitch was unreal. Speaking for me as he could see I clearly couldn’t, he asked the doctors to explain to me exactly what was going on.
The gel was inserted at 11, and I was monitored on the birth suite until 1130 and then sent back up to the maternity ward to be assessed again in 6 hours. I was having constant, mild contractions in my lower back and pelvis. I was 1cm dilated.
I had some fruit and a shower and laid down for a nap at around 1.30. As I was falling asleep, I felt an explosion inside me. My waters had broken, and I was having an intense contraction. It was 1.45. I called the nurse.
She confirmed my waters had broken and told me to breathe through my contractions while Mitch timed them. She said she’d finish her hand over and we could slowly make our way down to the birth suite in about 20 mins.
About 4 minutes and four solid contractions later, I looked at Mitch and growled, “get someone!” The nurse came back in, took a look at me and told Mitch to pack our stuff up then left the room and returned with a wheelchair. Things were happening way too fast, and I was terrified that something had gone wrong or our baby girl was in distress.
As we entered the birth suite, an angel by the name of Chris introduced herself and told me she was my midwife. I trusted her immediately. She had a kind face and was very calm. I told her I trusted her. I’m not sure why I said that, but it felt important between all the contracting and breathing to say to her that I trusted her. Then I asked Mitch to take all my clothes off me immediately. Anything touching my skin was annoying me.
Mitch and Chris helped me into the bed, and Chris waited until my next contraction finished to do an internal exam. I was 8cm dilated and transitioning. It was all happening way too fast. My contractions were back to back and were excruciating. There was no break, no time to catch my breath. I started vomiting and couldn’t stop and was breathing in my vomit. I filled a vomit bag before throwing up all over Mitch’s leg. Chris gave me a shot to stop the vomiting, and it worked almost immediately, which gave me some relief. Chris said I could start pushing if I felt ready.
The midwife who had messed up my cannula came back in and did another exam. Not at all subtly I said to Mitch “not her!” All I could think was “why are things going in?! They are meant to be coming out!” She told me that when I’d pushed the baby had come down but then gone back up, and my cervix was now 7cm. I’m no doctor, but I’m pretty sure that number is meant to go up and it had now gone down. Again! She told me no matter what, I was not to push.
Chris waited until she left and asked me if I trusted her. Again, I said yes. She told me she could try to push the lip of my cervix over the baby’s head so she could come out. “Fine”, I said, “but after that, nothing else goes in!”
At that point all I’d had was gas. Before labour, I had told Mitch I didn’t want an epidural, but I couldn’t handle back to back contractions. I needed a break. I asked Mitch if I should have one, and he told me it was my choice and he couldn’t make it for me but would support my decision. So I asked (read: screamed) for an epidural. Chris said she’d organise one for me, but the anaesthetist would be at least 20 minutes. I didn’t know at the time, but she had looked at Mitch and shaken her head, indicating that it was way too late for the epidural. I asked how long it takes to work, and she said about 40 minutes.
I looked at the clock. It was just after 4 pm. “I’m going to have the baby before that!” I yelled. Then I asked if I could have the baby before 4.15. Chris laughed and said, “maybe not 4.15, darling.” “Fine! 4.30?” “Yes, let’s try for 4.30,” she said. Still giggling. “Now, when you feel ready to push, tell me, and we will start pushing.”
I told her I was ready, and I started pushing. I actually liked pushing. I could focus, I didn’t scream involuntarily, and I knew I’d have a baby in my arms soon.
I only pushed for about 20 mins. I think I did about six big pushes and she was out! I remember hearing Mitch say “she’s got a lot of hair. Oh, ummm.” He later told me her the top of her head crowned twice before actually coming out and said he wanted to warn her not to do it again.
Then once her head was out he told me “she’s really pretty”. One more big push and she was here at 4.27pm. Chris put her on my chest, and all the pain of labour just stopped. She was so tiny and so perfect, and I couldn’t believe she was in my arms.
She was such a sweet little soul. I couldn’t stop staring at her except to sneak some kisses from Mitch and tell him I loved him and thank him for being such an amazing support. Dad’s really are the best.
She started searching for my boob almost immediately and was feeding by 4.40 unassisted. It was a weird and wonderful feeling.
After a little feed, I handed her to Mitch and couldn’t believe how proud he was just to have her in his arms. My love for both of them was unexplainable. He helped Chris to weigh and measure and dress her while another doctor stitched me up.
I had a first-degree tear and a split in my labia from having the catheter inserted the day before. I lost hardly any blood. As soon as she was done, I got in the shower unassisted, and then we walked our precious girl back up to the maternity ward. We were back upstairs by 7 pm and Mitch and I were left alone in our room and in complete awe of our baby girl.
Apparently, I went through all the textbook stages of labour at a rapid pace. Exhaustion, screaming, swearing and at one point I told Mitch I couldn’t do it so we should just go home.
I can never explain how incredible he was, how supportive, reassuring, sweet, loving and encouraging. And I will never forget how amazing Chris was. I feel so lucky to have had her help bring our baby into the world.
It was a full-on 26 hours and an especially crazy 2 hours and 37 minutes of active labour, but it was worth every second to be laying here typing this while Hazel snoozes on my chest and belly. She’s the sweetest honey I’ve ever seen, and I am so proud of myself for growing her, nurturing her and delivering her into the world safely. I’m even more proud to be her Mum. Hazel Mae, this is for you. You are my world, sweet baby girl.