My pregnancy was low risk and relatively cruisey, despite the ten weeks of nausea at the start. I had a midwife appointment at 9 am on the 2nd of September at 40+1 weeks. I had started to have a “bloody show” on my due date, Wednesday 1st of September, so I was looking forward to my appointment, as I had agreed to have a Stretch and Sweep if things didn’t happen on their own overnight.
Five minutes before leaving for our appointment, I popped my foot up on the bed to tie my shoelaces and felt a trickle as I put my foot back down and walked over to put on some perfume. I thought, is that my waters or was it more of the bloody show releasing. I took the panty liner with me to the appointment, but in classic Pippa style, I didn’t speak up and went ahead with the Stretch and Sweep, and it wasn’t until my husband Sam asked the midwife as I lay there; “how do we know if her waters break?”, to be told it could be anything from a trickle to a gush, I decided to speak up. I got sent straight across to the Assessment Unit to confirm if it was my waters.
I was in the toilet after they had done a swab test and were waiting for the results. As I walked back into the room, my husband was in tears as he had overheard the midwives discussing it outside our room that it was, in fact, my waters that had broken and that the baby would be born today. As I had also tested positive for Group B Streptococcal (GBS) around 36 weeks, I needed to be put on an IV of antibiotics for birth and induced to avoid any risk of infection.
By 1.30 pm, I was in the birth suite having my waters officially broken and placed onto the antibiotics before starting the induction drug (Oxytocin). The contractions started to progress, moving from the bed to standing and back to the bed. I tried the gas to help manage the pain, but that combined with the Oxytocin, I proceeded to vomit three times. Within a couple of hours, the pain became too unbearable. I was begging for the epidural. It took 1.5 hours for the anaesthetist to arrive, but at this time, they had to reduce the Oxytocin as I couldn’t handle the pain, particularly in my bum and the right side of my pelvis. At each contraction, I was grunting, and my whole body was shuddering. I remember with each of these contractions, I would grab Sam’s t-shirt squeezing and twisting it as I didn’t want to hurt his hand.
Once I received the Epidural, they increased the Oxytocin again, and I tried lying in all types of positions to move the epidural around, particularly to try and help the intense stabbing pain I was feeling in my pelvis. Bub became distressed from lying on the umbilical cord, and each time a contraction would finish, his heart rate would continue to rise. The midwife had left the room at this stage, and I could feel bub suddenly moving frantically inside, telling my husband “somethings not right”, which he could see happening on the monitor, forcing him to press the green button to call the midwife back in.
As she entered the room, she could see Meconium on the bed, telling my husband to press the big red button calmly, which then brought multiple doctors and midwives rushing into the room. The midwife told me they wouldn’t usually do an internal just yet and should usually only be around 4-5cm at this stage, however with each contraction, I was grunting so hard with the amount of pressure on my bum, she said; it sounds like you’re wanting to push so I’m going to do the internal now. As she removed her fingers, she told me I was, in fact, 9cm dilated. The epidural wasn’t working well as I had obviously progressed quite quickly, so they went to increase the dosage, but the sterile cap had been left off from the last amount being given. I had to wait another 30 minutes for a different anaesthetist to come from home to replace it before they could administer more.
As bub was getting distressed, things were moving towards needing an emergency Caesarean, so the doctors decided to assess bub further by taking blood from his head. The Consultant who came and introduced herself when I was first induced told us she’s only coming in to say hello and that she’s only there if something serious happened, so no need to worry. When we saw her walk-in at this point, we knew it was serious. I was placed on my side with one leg in a stirrup, and a whole lot of pressure and pain felt down there as the Consultant was drawing the blood. I remember one midwife having to hold my leg up to keep me still as I was arching my back with all the pressure. I tried the gas again at this stage, and it worked wonders this time. I was almost a little high from it; the midwife holding my leg had an English accent, and I told her she reminds me of Karyn, which is my English mother-in-law who is a midwife, but I think she thought I was making a joke about “being a Karen”.
As they were scraping blood from bubs head, the doctor asked if I had the urge to push as I was now 10cm, which felt like music to my ears, as I had wanted to push for the last 2 – 3 hours with all that pressure in my bum. They quickly flipped me onto my back, and I started to push, bubs head came out, but thump, his shoulder got stuck behind my pelvic bone (Shoulder Dystocia). Midwives quickly pushed my knees right up by my face to help with the position of my pelvis. Within seconds I had an Episiotomy, and within nine minutes of pushing and the help of the vacuum and the Consultant dislodging his shoulder with her hands, he was out and on my chest.
The relief he was there was the best feeling, but it took me a while to process how quickly and intense things happened. I didn’t know the half of what unfolded during his birth, and I remember asking the doctor, as I saw the bloodied stitches string come up above my legs in the stirrups, “do I have a fourth-degree tear” and her response was “no love we had to cut you”, I felt disappointed. Little did we know until this stage, he was a big bub, weighing 4.310kg (9lbs80z) and 56cm long. We didn’t have the usual scan around 36 weeks which could have indicated this, as I had one at 29 weeks for reduced movement, and the doctors said I wouldn’t need another as everything was looking good.
Two weeks after his birth, I found a lump on his left shoulder. After some Doctor Google and a visit to the Children’s Hospital Emergency Department, an x-ray confirmed they had indeed broken his collar bone in the process of dislodging his shoulder from under my pelvic bone. Looking back, it explains my inability to settle him during the night for the first two nights in the hospital. I could only imagine the headache he had from the suction and the pain from his broken collar bone.
I also suffered a Post-Partum Haemorrhage, meaning we stayed three nights in hospital for monitoring. Coming home with our son was very exciting, but I shed many tears in the following weeks processing it all, almost mourning the birth I didn’t have and lots of guilt over our little boy having a bone broken as he entered the world.
I watched and read so many positive birth stories, and having had a low-risk pregnancy. I had a positive mindset believing it would all be straightforward and go smoothly. I didn’t have any specific plan; I wanted to see how long I could go without asking for any pain relief but also was happy to ask for it if it became too much. I was always told to avoid reading the negative/traumatic birth experiences, but I want people to read this to know that however your birth unfolds, it doesn’t define you and your baby.
It truly shows your strength and your body’s ability to bring life into this world. I hope my story resonates with others that may have gone through something similar or educate others on what can possibly happen and that it’s okay to take as much time mentally and physically needed to recover.