My pregnancy was pretty straight forward up until around 30 weeks when I learnt that my stomach was measuring below the expected measurements versus weeks pregnant. My beautiful midwife wasn’t too concerned, but after consistent small measurements, I was sent off for an ultrasound at 34 weeks just to double-check.
Then the unexpected happened, my sonographer told me that my babe measured well above the 99th percentile…WTF! Obviously, this was news to not only me but also my midwife who suggested we perform another ultrasound at 36 weeks to see how things were tracking. Low and behold, the 36-week ultrasound projected that this babe has put on almost a 1 kilo in 2 weeks. Given this, my midwife planned for us to meet with an obstetrician to discuss my labour moving forward.
The obstetrician advised that we proceed with an early induction at 38 weeks due to the large size and fast pace at which this babe was growing. I was all about giving birth vaginally, so induction seemed like it would give me the best chance possible, without too much intervention. I was paranoid about shoulder dysplasia, forceps, vacuum etc., so this seemed like a good idea!
The date was booked, which by the way is so weird… booking in to have a baby as casually as booking in to get your hair done. We arrived at the hospital at 38 weeks, around 3 pm, and I was admitted. We waited in the observation room until around 5 pm when the obstetrician came in with his trainee colleague. He told me his trainee would attempt to do the internal and get the ball rolling, which she did and botched the hell out of. So, he stepped in and performed the internal observation, of which the results were pretty bleak. I was maybe 1cm dilated, and things were not moving at all, so they proceeded with inserting ‘prostaglandin’ vaginally. This is a hormone tablet which is placed on the cervix to help it ripen. They said that this would kick into action overnight, so I was admitted to the ward and was told that at 6 am I would be wheeled down to birth suite!
I went to sleep around 11 pm, however, spent all night tossing and turning with both anxiety and excitement. Clock watching until around 6 am when I was woken up and told to shower and get ready to give birth! I texted my partner, and he made his way to the hospital. When I got to birth suite, whilst my obstetrician performed an internal, my partner and mum set up the room with oils diffusing, candles lit, and music playing. Only to be told that the ‘prostaglandin’ hadn’t worked, my cervix was still hard, flipped backwards and I was maybe 2cm dilated. My midwife and OBGYN discussed next steps and advised me that if we moved forward with bringing on labour, it was likely that I would end up having a c-section because my body was just not ready. I was so shattered; it was the most anticlimactic moment. I was tired from spending the night in the ward and not sleeping. I just wanted to meet my baby. My OBGYN told me that she would do a stretch and sweep, leave me here for a few hours and come back to see if I had progressed any further. We stayed in birth suite for the majority of the day, and you guessed it, I hadn’t budged at all.
So the plan was to use the Foley Bulb (essentially a balloon-type catheter which is inflated with water to stretch open the cervix) for the night and hopefully that would get things moving for tomorrow. Around 5 pm, another OBGYN came in with her colleague who was in training (again!!!), and they advised me that they were going to set up the balloon. I was actually super pumped… little did I know that it was such a super uncomfortable process. Her colleague attempted to put the balloon in, and it was so fricken painful, just such an unnatural feeling. I was wincing the whole time, so my midwife gave me some gas. After that failed attempt, the OBGYN decided she would do it, and within a couple of minutes, it was in, blown up and filled with water. I don’t really know what happened, but I just started to feel so queasy after this process.
The midwife in charge of the birth suite gave me some Ondansetron and codeine. They told me that things were quiet so I would stay in the birth suite for the night, which was fabulous because it meant that my room was set up and ready to go for tomorrow. An hour later, I started vomiting, and as a whole, I was just feeling so unwell. We were then told to pack up as they needed the room for someone else, and that I was being sent to the ward for the night. So, my partner and mum packed up whilst I sat in the bathroom spewing my guts up, only to be told: “Oh actually, let’s keep you here for the night”. So, my poor mum and partner were running around unpacking and repacking at the drop of a hat. To be honest, I was just so tired and wanted to sleep, so the midwife arranged someone to come in and make the bed up. Then, yes, you guessed it, at around 9 pm, I was finally once more shipped off to the ward for the night.
My family left me around 10 pm, excited at the prospect for tomorrow, and I once again tried to get some sleep. That night is a bit of a blur, but I do remember waking up around midnight in pain, of which the midwife was timing the tightening’s that I was having. It wasn’t anything serious, so she left it, and I went again tried to sleep until I was woken around 5:30 am, told to shower and get ready to go give birth (woooo!).
For some reason, I was much more nervous heading down to birth suite than the day before, perhaps because I couldn’t stop vomiting. It just felt so surreal. My partner was on his way to meet me for my waters to be broken around 7 am. I got down to birth suite around 6:30 am, and I could just sense the anticipation in the air, it was weird. My OBGYN came in around 6:45 am before anyone else arrived, did an internal, and broke my waters at the same time. HOLY MOLY IT WAS HAPPENING.
I was given more Ondansetron and codeine, which for some reason, I just couldn’t keep down. I decided to have my Hydrolyte icy poles for breakfast as I had been spewing non-stop, just to try and retain some fluids. At around 7 am, my partner and mum arrived and madly started setting up my dream labour space with all the good vibes. My midwife met me and started the drip of Oxytocin. I feel like from this point; things get so blurry and hectic. I remember like 45 minutes into the Oxytocin drip; I started to get these leg cramps that would come on in a wave of pain and then disappear. They weren’t crazy painful, more just uncomfortable. As time went on, these leg cramps were no joke. I’m talking shooting pain from my knees up to my hips for like 3 minutes at a time. I couldn’t hold myself up when this wave of pain came on.
My midwife and the rest of the team were perplexed as to the source of this pain. It was obvious that it was some sort of contraction; however, I was not feeling any pain in my stomach, instead of my legs. (Turns out my tail bone had flipped up, instead of down, back and out of the way. As a result, Teddy was pushing straight onto my tailbone causing the nerve pain I was feeling in my legs!) I thought back to ‘Calm Birth classes’ when they told us to slowly use pain relief and save things like showers etc. for transitional labour. But I just couldn’t wait. I tried sitting on the toilet, which helped to a degree but didn’t ease my legs shaking beneath me. I hoped in the shower and held the water over my legs which felt amazing, but again didn’t offer much long-term relief.
My midwife got me up on the bed on all fours and her and her colleague wrapped towels around my thighs and shook my legs ferociously when these waves of pain came on, again nothing. No one really understood what was going on, which was scary for me. Apart from being scared, I was also frustrated. Why the hell could no one help me? I remember screaming, like absolutely screaming in agony, telling my partner that I couldn’t go on and that I wanted someone to cut me open already. My midwife, who had said to me at the start of the day that she wouldn’t offer me pain relief only provide it when asked for, advised me to consider an epidural. I was keen. I just needed something.
This was when things got frustrating, the OBGYN came in and told us that they were unsure if an epidural was safe due to the mysterious pain coming from my legs. What happens if they give me an epidural and this pain is something more serious? So, the decision was made to seek advice from the head of the Neurology team to determine if an epidural was safe. And this was the longest wait of my life. I remember just lying there trying to use gas ineffectively, then passing out, and coming to screaming in pain as the leg pains got worse. While we waited for the neurologists, my midwife admitted two rounds of ‘terbutaline’ in an attempt to give me relief (an injection of medicine which stops/slows down labour). The crazy thing was, I was only about 3cm dilated this whole time, nothing even close to giving birth. Finally, the head of neurology and his team arrived and consulted with my midwife and OBGYNs. Apparently, there were like ten people in the room, staring at me whilst I begged for help. After a long discussion and many phone calls, the decision was made to administer the epidural (thank Christ). I was advised that the epidural may not take the pain away and it was super likely I may need a c-section. The anaesthetist arrived, and this was a hard part, staying still in order for the epidural to take place. You have to be still as a statue whilst they administer the drug, and before this in attempts to get through the contractions, I was hurling myself everywhere.
Let me tell you, that epidural the second-best thing to happen that day, apart from giving birth. Within like 10 minutes, I was blissfully numb. So much so that I watched ‘Meet the Fockers’ and took a nap. My midwife did an internal, and to her shock, I had somehow dilated to 7cm with the epidural and ‘terbutaline’ injections. I rested some more, and then around 4 pm, I was fully dilated, and it was time to push!
Because I had the epi, I had to lay in bed to push, which I was nervous about given that gravity was not on my side. Nevertheless, we started off some practice pushes using a peanut ball. This went on for a little while, and then we really got cooking. My epidural was patient-controlled, so I could still feel a little and could tell a contraction was coming. I struggled to push as time went on. I was still vomiting all over myself; I was tired of being in the hospital for almost three days and was just feeling defeated. I remember I would push, and mid push when I would take a breath in, the baby would go back inside.
My midwife explained that I needed to keep pushing mid breath, which sounds easy in theory, but way harder in real life. Every time I vomited, the baby came out more which was a win! At around 5:30 pm, my midwife told me that there was two OBGYN’s outside with forceps and a vacuum ready to intervene. I had been pushing for an hour a half, baby’s heart rate was high, my heart rate was high, and they feared my vomit was showing signs of sepsis. But there was no way after this huge ordeal for the last few days that I was having forceps, my biggest fear. So, I was determined to do this myself. My midwife said if she gave me an episiotomy, things could get rolling quickly, and I was down to do this together without forceps etc. I used everything in me to push.
I remember reaching down and touching his head; this gave me 10 X more drive and motivation to keep going. My midwife said “he’s coming” and I remember looking at my partner and we both burst into tears. And then at 5:47 pm, he was earthside. He was placed onto my chest and crawled up my belly, and I was instantly in love. I remember saying “is he okay? Is he okay?”, as I was so worried that he wasn’t. But he was fine, he was placed onto my boob and latched on. It was at that moment that I felt like our bond was cemented forever.
I had asked for delayed cord clamping, which my midwife adhered too and it was so beautiful to have that time (I have no idea how long) just with my little family, baby still attached. I delivered the placenta with my babe in arms and life was good! However, after a while, it was obvious that his breathing was rapid, he was tachycardic, and I was bleeding too. My midwife chatted to us and advised that we would need to send him to NICU and so my little babe was shipped away. My partner cut the cord, which was such a bucket list moment.
It was at that moment I watched my partner become a protective father, not letting anyone take his little boy without him there. I got wheeled into the bathroom, and took the best shower of my lifeeeeeeeee! While I sat in the shower chair and my mum washed my hair, I remember just staring at my body and the deflated belly which had just pushed out my little angel, in absolute awe of what it had just accomplished.
We spent the next three days in the hospital while our babe was in NICU before we got sent home and had to figure this whole parenting thing out! Oh, and turns out I am allergic to codeine…hence the constant spewing!