Kate's Birth Story
Updated: Oct 24, 2019
When I was 26 weeks pregnant with my first daughter, I went into preterm labour with very strong and uncomfortable contractions. It turns out at this stage my cervix had become quite short.
Our obstetrician was so reassuring and explained this did not necessarily mean I would give birth preterm. Over the next two and a half months (while on strict bed rest) we had weekly scans and many false alarms, where midwives told us that our baby was on her way and probably only in a matter of hours.
At 34 weeks my cervix was funnelling during contractions. They knew she would be coming soon, so at 35 weeks, I was given two steroid injections within 24 hours of each other to help develop our baby's lungs. I reached 36 weeks, and we were at the hospital for an appointment, scan or a false alarm every few days. The first sign of labour other than strong contractions was a sore lower back. I could not sit or lay still because it was so painful. I just wanted to keep stretching and moving to ease some of the pressure I was feeling in my lower back.
I couldn't sleep the night I was 36 weeks and five days, so my husband and I stayed up talking and trying to pass the time, so I didn't focus on the pain... until I needed to go to the bathroom.
It was 3 am, and when I stood up, I had a large gush as my waters broke.
My contractions instantly went from being manageable to unbearable in a matter of minutes which is when I realised we needed to get to the hospital. The contractions were so strong in the car that I could not speak through them and thought my back was about to break. We arrived at the hospital, and they took us to the birthing unit. As soon as we got there, I felt the urgent need to go to the bathroom.
While sitting on the toilet, I felt very faint and told my husband I was about to pass out - so straight onto the hospital bed it was. My contractions were so intense and constant with no more than a few seconds break between. This was when an epidural was ordered and put in. Isn't it fun having to stay dead-still through intense waves of contractions?
While this was happening, I kept saying how I needed to go to the bathroom again, so my midwife said I should be checked again. Before she did this, she mentioned that my husband should move his car from emergency (worst timing ever).
It turns out I was fully dilated, and the epidural drug couldn't be administered because it was time to push.
The midwife did some more checks and said our baby was in a posterior position and it would be best to push on my side to turn her around (this explained the excruciating back pain). She also said that it was possible that I would need the help of forceps during birth if she did not turn.
I was pushing for 10 minutes with my midwife with tears streaming down my face. My obstetrician was then called into the room and told me that I had managed to turn her so did not need forceps and that she could see her head. She then asked where my husband was because our baby was coming. Just as my husband walked in the door, she told him to tell me to give one more big push with everything I had.
That last push was the hardest moment and the best feeling of adrenaline. Her head was out, and I was told to wait and then to give a small push as the rest of her body was birthed. Just before 5 am our baby girl was safely delivered and placed onto my chest. As you could imagine, I burst into tears of relief and pure joy as we laid eyes on our baby girl for the very first time. It was magical.
My husband cut the cord as we soaked in the moment. My obstetrician then told me the placenta needed to be delivered right away as I was having a large amount of bleeding, and I also had a 3rd-degree tear from my efforts of that last push.
The midwife suggested I nurse to help the placenta come away from the uterus. When I was then asked to push to deliver the placenta, I did a very small push - thinking "surely that will do". That's when my obstetrician started getting very serious and told me I needed to push just like before.
So I handed our beautiful baby over to my husband, and I pushed a few big pushes, and the placenta was delivered. That is when I began to haemorrhage.
This happened because my labour was so fast and intense, and I had been in preterm labour for ten weeks. My uterus was failing to contract. My obstetrician hit the emergency button, and within a matter of seconds, the room was filled with so many people.
I started to go into shock and lost the ability to talk. They were talking about the amount I had already lost as they began calculating it, then moved the gown I had on to the side and realised there was blood up the entire bed also.
My husband and baby girl were taken out of the room at this stage.
One of the midwives tried to get a cannula into my arm, but my veins had begun collapsing, making it very difficult. After three attempts she managed to get the cannula in and attempted to draw some blood to be cross-matched for a blood transfusion and barely got a drop.
They began to administer a large number of drugs to help my uterus contract and gave me large amounts of IV fluids. The anesthetist was called back to administer the epidural medication (so they didn't have to put me under a general anaesthetic), and the theatre was called to expect us. Our obstetrician was using cloths internally to soak up the blood to try and allow it to clot, as well as firmly massaging internally and externally. This went on for 20 minutes before they were able to take me down to the theatre safely.
My husband came back into the room as they started to wheel me away, and I saw the look of fear on his face. Our obstetrician explained how I had been critical for 15 minutes, but I will be fine now. She said that they are taking me to theatre to be safe and ensure everything is stitched up well and to double-check for any retained placenta. On the way to theatre, they talked me through how they were going to stitch up my 3rd-degree tear and try to make sure they finally had the bleeding under control.
I had to sign for a hysterectomy if in the event everything else they were to try failed. There were so many people in theatre which felt reassuring yet terrifying at the same time. My obstetrician had called in a second obstetrician to assist in theatre, the anaesthetist (who was so lovely and reassuring) and so many nurses were all so compassionate and positive during this time. I was in theatre for just over 2 hours, and they had managed to stop the haemorrhage and stitch up my 3rd-degree tear.
Reuniting with our baby girl and my husband afterwards was the greatest feeling. I was given two bags of blood due to my blood loss of 2.5L and a more extended stay in the hospital. I was very low in iron and felt weak for quite some time after birth. It also took me a while to openly talk about the trauma it caused me and the anxiety from the experience.
We have since gone on to have our second daughter with an opposite and positive birth experience. The birth of our second daughter helped heal me and the anxiety I had surrounding the fear of birth.