Meeting Sophie Judith
“I am just going to get another midwife to check this measurement.”
This was the first time out of three pregnancies that I thought to myself, is something wrong? The comments of how big I was at 33 weeks were flowing, but I assumed it was due to my body growing three babies in 4 and a bit years. With an ultrasound to confirm, I was diagnosed with polyhydramnios or in simple terms – an excess amount of amniotic fluid around the baby. There can be multiple reasons behind this, but for me, it was a simple case of ‘just cos’. Besides a super – and I mean SUPER – large tummy and weekly ultrasounds to check fluid readings, the rest of the pregnancy was smooth.
The catch with polyhydramnios is that an induction is needed. This is to ensure that if my waters broke and the cord slipped out amongst the current of extra fluid – crazy, I know- then an emergency caesarean would be needed. If I were at home when this happened, the baby and I would be in trouble. I was induced with my son in 2014, and while the birth went well, it was a LONG and painful process that I just didn’t want to experience again. In 2016, my daughter avoided her induction by a matter of hours by deciding to arrive 11 days late, so I got the natural birth I longed for. Looking back, I became the biggest pain in the backside for the staff at the hospital as I continued to refuse to be induced or tried to push back the date as far as possible. We agreed to 40 + 2 week – Thursday, November 8 2018.
I drove myself into the hospital by 6.00 am. My husband Glenn had to drop our kids to daycare at 6.30 am so this way our families still got a surprise about the birth. I was terrified. One second I would be pumping myself up and the next balling my eyes out. There is just something strange about driving into hospital pain-free and saying “I’m here to have a baby”.
At 7 am, I was examined to have my waters broken. This had to be done a particular way to ensure my waters were broken slowly. I was already around 3cm dilated at this point, but the baby’s head could still be moved slightly, so the decision was made to hold off until the day staff started and Glenn arrived in case I had to be rushed off to theatre. Cue freak out mode.
By 9.30 am, they broke my waters very slowly, and it took about 15 minutes. SO MUCH FLUID! I was hooked up to the drip and started on a slow dosage to get contractions going. In the room with me was my husband, my student midwife Cassie and my friend Nikki who was our photographer for the day. Everything was manageable, and we all were able to chat and laugh, which was a good distraction for me as the contractions amped up every hour as the drip strength increased.
By 1 pm, I was well and truly at the peak of labour. At this point, I was still on the swiss ball and contractions were very intense by now. I needed to lie down by 2 pm and knew that pushing was close by the time it was 2.30 pm. I had a few turns of the gas and air to concentrate on my breathing, but my midwife took it off me so I could focus. This wasn’t a bad thing as I was actually saying over and over, “I don’t want to push this baby out” so my midwife knew what was best for me to get this baby out.
I could feel the baby going down and then back up with each contraction and push, which was awfully painful – this will make sense when you read her size. After the awful yet exhilarating ring of fire moment and the babies head was out, I remember thinking, “This is it, the baby just slides out now.” But the baby didn’t.
The nurses were encouraging me to push hard, but I couldn’t possibly push any harder. Next is the moment that has changed my life forever. The emergency button was pushed.
Around 10 staff made up of doctors and midwives ran into the room, shouting orders between each other. One looked me in the eye and said: “Laura, your baby is stuck, and we need to get it out now.” I’ll never forget the look on my husband’s face as I looked at him for reassurance.
We heard code pinks, and code blue’s being called over the PA.
The first thing they tried was bringing my legs up and into my chest to open up my pelvis. You can imagine how uncomfortable the feeling of that was whilst still getting contractions and a head that is already out. The next attempt was a midwife came around and kneeled on the bed and basically did compressions on my belly to try to dislodge the baby. I do remember screaming through that which I think affected my husband the most seeing that happen. The third attempt was the doctor reached in and just pulled down on my babies’ arm, and this then dislodged the shoulder from my pelvic bone which was the moment the baby came out. I looked down to a chubby, but very blue baby GIRL.
Something that will never leave my mind is one of the nurses ran straight for me, held my hand and spoke in my ear the entire time. That was her one and only job – to be there for me. To be honest, I don’t even know her name or what she looks like, but I hope she knows that I will never forget how her support was so amazing.
This is the part where tears stream down my face whenever I tell this story and even as I type it now.
Our girl was taken straight to have oxygen. She was right next to me, but I couldn’t see her as there was so many staff surrounding her. At one point, there was a gap between the staff, and I saw my baby with the mask on her face with her little chest pumping up and down. Amongst this chaos, the silence was so loud and we felt helpless.
After two and a half minutes, we heard our baby cry. She was placed onto my chest and didn’t leave for over 2 hours.
From the emergency to getting her out was 1 minute and 10 seconds. To get her to breath was 2 and a half minutes. Not even 5 minutes in total. But to us at the time, it was an eternity. 4 minutes that has completely scarred me. Until that point, the induction was actually amazing, and I remember thinking to myself that I was worrying about nothing.
At first, we declined all offers of counselling regarding our birth. Perhaps it was the adrenaline of the newborn bubble. Until I tried to tell our birth story to friends and family or even look at photos, that is when I realised how much Sophie’s birth has affected me. Writing my story already feels like a big step healing my mind.
All our thanks and love to the maternity and birthing suite staff at The Northern Hospital Epping who have delivered all of our babies safely and given us the most wonderful care before, during and after birth.