LABOUR: TRANSITION STAGE OR WHAT I LIKE TO CALL THE NIGHT OF HELL
That night felt like it went forever. My contractions were bearable at this point, but as the transition stage hit, I had not had a break, vomiting up my food and screaming the birthing unit down. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the midwives for turning up their music at their station to drown out my cries.
I thought this was the most professional way to handle my situation. Even my husband tried to get the midwife assigned to me to come and help three times, but she didn't seem to care otherwise and claimed it was all part of the experience. He also had mentioned that other women in the birthing suite were asking the midwives whether they were going to help me, but instead, they moved these women away from my room. Thanks for trying ladies!
My poor husband did not get a break either, always holding my hand and at one stage putting me in the shower to help ease the pain. All I could say to him was to ask him to make it stop; it was that unbearable. It felt like my pelvis was being crushed by 100 bricks every minute. Then as the contractions got worse, he placed me in the bath, as the midwives advised that this may also help ease the pain. This did not work, and I was finally given the gas to help me elevate the pain. I should mention that before this, I had been given Panadiene Fort and morphine for the pain before going into the bath.
These worked for a little while but not long enough as the contractions had gotten closer. I did have another internal done which confirmed I was still only 3-4cm dilated, so an epidural was not on the cards just yet. The gas, unfortunately, did nothing. I mustn't have been correctly administering it to myself because so many women I had spoken to were praising this form of pain relief, always raving on the way it helps. Again, this was not the case for me. I had been given another internal (that's 3) which now confirmed I was 5-6 cm apart and could now receive the epidural. Thank goodness for that.
I was finally moved to another birthing suite and given an epidural, which I was lucky enough to get a contraction halfway through the needle going in successfully. The will power not to move had amazed me considering the amount of pain I was in. My husband and I finally got some relief and slept for 2 hours at least before the new midwives came in for the 7 am shift Sunday morning.
LABOUR: WHAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THE 3RD STAGE…
If I can recall correctly, these midwives were confident that I was giving birth to this baby that day. The epidural was working fantastically. I could barely feel anything. Throughout the day, I had my blood pressure and temperature taken and was hooked to a cannula and catheter. I was given the drip to keep my contractions going to help this labour move along hopefully. I had received two more internals confirming I was 6-7 cm dilated and the baby had attached to its head the device that hears the heartbeat as the head was in the pelvis. By this point, it seemed to be going well with the end soon approaching.
But of course, this seemed to be going too well. The doctor came in to examine me and took blood samples. These blood samples were taken because I had developed a fever and had blood in my urine. I had another internal (that's 5 now) and was told that my baby's head had moved, and I needed to try and get the head to tilt back into the pelvis.
Not only did the baby's head not move but another internal confirmed I had gotten to 9cm and by this point, my body wanted to push this baby out. I told my husband I feel like I need to push. He grabbed the midwives, who grabbed the doctor and examined my belly one last time. This doctor looked like she had been delivering babies for days with no break. She put her hands on my stomach to feel the baby and asked me when my last scan was. I told her that my last scan was at 37 weeks. She then proceeded to ask how much the baby weighed at this scan. I told her 3.75kg. I remember her next words so clearly. "You are not having this baby naturally; he is too big".
Right well, what have I been doing for the past day and a half? The time of day was around 5:30 pm Sunday late afternoon, and I would be booked in for an emergency c-section within an hour or so. My husband and I were relieved that this was finally going to be over. We just wanted to meet our baby already, and the exhaustion was getting the better of us. I was prepped for surgery and laid on the operating table, waiting for my husband to come in and sit next to me. The next few moments, no one prepared us for; the feeling of being tugged as they cut open each layer of my body or the feeling of release, as the baby is pulled out.
BIRTH OF OUR BABY
Our healthy baby boy, Sebastian, was born Sunday the 14th of April at 7:57 pm weighing 4.75kg (that's 10.5 pounds) and was 57cm in length. He was fantastic through the stages of labour and did not get stressed by any of the ordeals. Once they pulled the baby out, and I heard his cry, I was overcome with happiness. Finally, he was here. I suddenly felt tired, and all I wanted to do was close my eyes and go to sleep. My husband cut the umbilical cord and held our beautiful budda.
I tried my hardest to keep my eyes open as the midwife placed our baby boy on my chest to say hello so I could finally meet him. I remember looking at one of the anaesthetists, who had this look of concern on his face as the doctors began putting me together.
I kept asking if they were done yet, as it felt like I had been lying there for quite some time. Little did I know that, as they removed my large placenta from my uterus wall, I was haemorrhaging severely, losing what I had learnt after was almost 2kg of my blood supply. The baby, my husband and the midwife stayed with me to keep me alert, as they stitched me shut. I was finally wheeled out of the operating room, and the baby was placed straight on my boob for an attempt of skin on skin contact and feeding.
I barely remember this moment. All I was trying to do was keep my eyes open and not fall asleep, which was all my body wanted to do. My husband happened to take a snap of the baby latched on for his first feed, and my eyes were closed, as he puts it, I was "out of it". The pain of the operation was also unbearable, and I was not given any pain medication until arriving in the maternity ward. My pain was an 11 out of 10 by this point, and my poor husband was thrown into changing and comforting the baby, while I laid in bed unable to move or sleep due to the surgery and pain.
I look back at this part and hate that I didn't get to experience the skin and skin contact the way I had learned many other mothers did how the baby is placed on you as you and your husband kiss each other, praising how beautiful the baby is. The first encounter of the breast and the way the baby finds their way to feed. Or just the feeling of being awake and being able to give your baby cuddles and explain that you are the Mumma and this is your Papa.
It would be nice for me to end this recount here and say that everything went smoothly after his birth, but unfortunately, it didn't, and my hospital stay was another experience entirely.
LOW BLOWS CAME LOW MOODS
I had been given a room to myself in the maternity ward, which allowed my husband to stay with me for the night, to help watch Sebastian and look after me. A midwife would come in every hour to change my catheter bag, due to an immense amount of fluid pumping through me to flush out any blood in the urine. My vitals were checked, and although I had lost half of my blood supply, my levels were showing good signs, and I was told I didn't need a blood transfusion.
While I slept my pain away, my husband watched our baby boy as he slept. Around 2 am Monday morning, Sebastian started to cry, and I knew it was time to feed him again. I was still in a lot of pain, and I could barely form sentences; however, I got my husband to place him on me to feed him. I had no midwives there, in the beginning, to help me when it came to breastfeeding. I should note, there wasn't many around at that time of the morning, and I just did what I thought was right, keeping it up every 2 hours. The one piece of advice I did remember from the birthing classes, was that if you have a c-section, the milk production takes a little longer to come in unlike a natural birth. I tried very hard to make sure my milk wasn't delayed too much in the process.
My husband had contacted my mother to come at visiting hours and tag team to look after the baby and me. My family were unaware of the severity of the events leading up to this point, so seeing me in the state I was in was not what they anticipated. I still was unable to move from the bed and had to be given the baby to feed every time. I hadn't been allowed to eat anything at this point and hadn't eaten anything since Saturday before I vomited it all up during labour.
That same day, I had my daytime midwife (she was fantastic) come in and do a routine check for my blood pressure and temperature. She ended up checking my blood pressure three times before telling me that she was going to press an emergency button, and lots of people were going to rush in, try not to panic.
My blood pressure reading was very low (50/40), and a met call was needed due to my body going into Hemorrhagic shock, from the loss of blood. If unfamiliar with what a met call is, essentially it is when the patient is not meeting the set criteria, and the nurses need immediate support and back up as the patient is potentially experiencing a near-tragic moment.
This midwife kept implying that she wasn't too concerned, as I was still responsive and didn't look like someone whose blood pressure was cut in half and it was a procedure to go through with this line of action. Within a blink, about 20 people came into my room and started poking and prodding me to see what the issue was. I had doctors trying to talk to me, others pressing on my recently operated stomach and one who was taking blood from my left arm. All I could think about was how horrible I looked and whether my hair was okay (typical).
My mother sat with Sebastian and watched as her daughter was fussed over and checked to make sure there was no internal bleeding. I did, however, have blood in my kidneys, my haemoglobin levels (iron) were dangerously low, and I needed to get a blood transfusion, due to the amount of blood I had lost in the c-section (lucky I knew my blood type). I had also been given two more internals to check for blood clotting.
Could you imagine, you have just had your c-section, and now doctors are pressing on your tender stomach and sticking their hands in you (I cried from the pain). If you have lost count as to how many internals, I had throughout this, so did I, but I estimated around 10. I should note that my husband was at home sleeping while this was all going down! He was so exhausted that when I tried to call him, it went straight to voicemail, but he did return at midday to learn of the ordeal and claimed it was because he had left.
Later that day, I was moved to another room that was directly opposite the midwives station. This was so they could keep a close observation of me and pump me with pain medication, antibiotics and fluid. My milk still hadn't come in, and Sebastian was getting frustrated with the lack of food coming from my breasts. I still wasn't allowed to eat very much and was put on a strict diet, as they were still waiting for me to not only pass wind but produce a stool (sorry for the imagery). As a big baby, I could understand his need for food, as he tried to maintain that same weight from birth. This was a side effect of my labour, unfortunately, or perhaps just me.
We had no one visit us in the hospital except for our parents and siblings. The midwives had told us to limit the number of people coming in, due to their concerns for my health, and we agreed that my health was the main priority. We did receive lots of well wishes through and texts from our families. I want to thank them for all their kind words and love, we sincerely appreciated it.
There were some who only knew of the birth from my quick announcement on Facebook and did not like how we were 'allowed' to keep things private at the hospital because in their time it was expected that the family would know straight away. But we weren't thinking about that, and this wasn't the way that we wanted or expected this moment to be. Our focus was on my recovery and bonding with the baby, while I struggled to do essential functions, like eat, go to the toilet and walk. I am sorry to say, but this was not about you, it was about us. My husband did turn away his own parents on one of the days, as I had low blood pressure, was in and out of sleep and couldn't open my eyes or get out of bed.
I dreaded the nights being there without my husband and hated having to call on the midwives every time to help carry and feed the baby. He seriously has been the best support anyone could ask for, and I needed him more than ever. In the mornings, when visiting hours were on, my face would light up at the sign of my husband and family coming in. I even had my sister surprise visit me in the hospital on day two as she lived in Adelaide, employed by the Australian Airforce. That was a very emotional day that consisted of lots of hugs and crying.
My photos consisted of me looking half dead and barely clothed. I finally was able to slowly get off the bed by the fourth day, which took most of my energy. The one time I did get myself out of bed at night with no help, was because I was fed up with having to get the midwives every time my baby started crying for something and I ended up changing his nappy for the first time.
No one prepares you for having your husband shower you (and wash my hair), which he did in the hospital, while I tried to stand up straight. I was even instructed to get a kidney ultrasound and could barely get out of bed or lay there for them to try and gently feel around for them. Majority of the midwives and student midwives during this period were fantastic. Their help whist in this state did not go unnoticed, and I received a lot of help for my recovery. An exciting moment during our stay was that we got to bath our baby, and I was able to stand and help my husband, as he did most of the work!
LEAVING THE HOSPITAL
I was allowed to leave the hospital Thursday the 18th of April and was put on the Midwives program, to have home visits before being discharged. Walking out of that hospital was the best feeling, and coming home with our boy was all we wanted to do. I was visited by a midwife on the next day to discharge both myself and the baby. He was checked and displayed that had lost more than the 10% body weight allowed.
Unfortunately, we were not allowed to be discharged until he had put on the weight he had lost, and it was here that I professed to the midwife my struggles breastfeeding. My nipples had become raw, constantly bleeding, as the baby was ravenously trying to get food from my breasts.
I cried to the midwife, my milk still had not surpassed the colostrum stage, and at that point, the topic of formula was mentioned. I was never afraid of this topic and hoped that we could try another route first. It was here that my expressing journey began and was I discharged the next day with the baby only losing 8% of his weight. I have to commend this midwife for allowing my husband and me to choose how to feed our baby. We told her that we wanted to stick with expressing, and she was so happy that we found something that worked for us.
To end what I'm sure could have been a "better" labour experience, to this day I still wonder whether or not, if I had planned a c-section, that things would have been different. I learnt in hospital after my labour that I have a narrow pelvis and could never of given birth naturally and if I choose to give birth again (highly unlikely) it has to be a c-section.
Too bad this information didn't come to us sooner, although I was expressing my concerns about this to the doctors throughout our journey. But they knew best; I was told from the beginning that smaller women were having larger babies than me. The six ultrasound scans did what they could to prepare us for the size of our baby boy, though expressing that he was in a large percentile; if these were more accurate would that have helped? Would it have mattered if I was in the private sector? Could that have changed anything?
We kept to the same ultrasound specialist who is an OBGYN, to have some consistency throughout; however, that didn't seem to help. I should also note that we do not blame our son for this labour experience, for those who have read this and thinking I am going on about his weight being the cause.
Our baby was and still is a healthy baby boy, and we are so lucky that through this experience, he was utterly calm and perfect through the whole ordeal. We are blessed with the best version of ourselves in miniature form. I suppose in the days where you just had the baby and were surprised by the sex, size and features. I would have died in labour that night. But the truth is, I nearly did die that night.