Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Pregnancy diaries || Labour and Delivery

To see more about my pregnancy journey follow this link
To read more about the reasons why I needed an induction follow this link

For obvious reasons this post contains a TMI warning (Too Much Information) if you don't want to know very personal details about my birth story please read with caution.

We both woke up at around 5:30am super hyped that today could be the day we become parents. Last minute items were packed into the car, a good solid breakfast of eggs on toast was enjoyed. Winter woollies were donned and we were in the car on our way to Waitakere Hospital by 7:30am.

We arrived at the hospital by 8:00am and they hooked me up to a CTG to monitor baby's heartbeat, movements and my contractions. Then inserted a wrist IV for those "just in case" moments. Vitals were taken and the hospital midwife was happy with the monitoring of baby's heartbeat and movements. She inspected my cervix, and told me I was only 1.5cm dilated and gave me two doses of hormone prostaglandin gel to ripen my cervix, begin my induction and bring on more contractions. I was already having contractions prior to this, they were just mild.
Shortly after, we discovered an unexpected symptom of my induction was that my body did not want to keep food down, as soon as my body started responding to the gel and getting more forceful contractions I suddenly started feeling very nauseous. Which lead to Chris running around frantically looking for something for me to hurl into and a reusable shopping bag was deemed the best option-to-hand with not a moment to spare. This reaction meant that I needed to stay attached to the monitor for longer to check on baby.

By 10:00am I was disconnected from the monitor and allowed free roam of the hospital. We went and sat in the morning sun in the garden next to our room and took a walk around the maternity wing.
An hour and a half later contractions were certainly picking up but were still manageable.

I had a small lunch, that decided to reappear as we were walking through the hospital garden. So with little to no warning I threw up for a second time, straight into the garden, after another strong contraction. We covered it up with leaves and slunk quietly away. Sorry. After this the midwife gave me some medicine to reduce my nausea, although I did sick-up again later on after eating a few mouthfuls of banana. I guess my body just had other ideas.

After lunch my contractions were getting way worse. I was still periodically getting fetal monitoring to check baby's heartbeat and it was interesting to see the rise and fall of my ever increasing contractions. Chris found the monitoring helpful to know when I would be in pain but it sucked that I had to lay down on the bed, as that was the most uncomfortable position to be in.

I found distraction was my best ally, so as a strong contraction was coming on, I started touching my thumb to each of my fingers quickly and scratching at the coarse hospital pillows right next to my ear, as I could not get into a comfortable position and writhing was not compatible with the fetal monitoring. Adding tactile movement and loud noise was a way to distract my brain from the pain.

A few of my friends have asked what contractions really feel like. So the way I can best describe what I was feeling, and everyone can feel them differently, is that the "false labour" or braxton-hicks contractions I was having pre-labour a few weeks back would start as an ache in my lower back and gradually wrap around my sides towards my belly button. I would feel my bump get firm and baby would brace against it on the inside. As soon as the BH contraction was over, she would become very active again. These were like medium strength period pains and could be eased with a hot water bottle. The contractions I was feeling during active-labour were much the same but very centered on my lower back and their was no comfortable position or way around them, you just needed to endure them until that particular contraction finished. Distraction is key, and I did find that having Chris rub my lower back quite firmly was a good distraction and got me through until the end, which once it was over I was completely fine and could talk and joke around just like normal.

I got checked at around 4:30pm and was told that I was in active labour, which was much sooner than the hospital midwife was expecting. As it can sometimes take up to three days to achieve that progress. At this point I asked if I could get some "gas and air" just in case it gets too much and my nurse told me that I was doing great and wouldn't need it. Ummm, ok sure. I had my waters broken at 5:00pm, which was far less dramatic than I had expected as only a small amount came out, and was then moved into the delivery suite half an hour later.

The LMC midwife I have been seeing during my pregnancy then arrived and started prepping the room for the main event and coaching me through my contractions.

I found that standing while leaning over the bed was my only some-what comfortable position at this point.  Every time I could feel a contraction coming I would call out to Chris to run over and forcibly rub my lower back for its duration. Still no pain meds as I really wanted a pool birth. Pacing around the room, or sitting on a tall stool were the only things I wanted to do. My waters released bit by bit as I would move from a seated to standing position between contractions, but there was no big "gush" like in the movies.

As baby girl worked her way into my birth canal I actually found the contractions reduced their concentration in my lower back, and so briefly found them more manageable. This didn't last long however as quite soon my body felt the need to push. My midwife checked my dilation and I was only at 8cm, she was able to move my cervix to 9cm but told me that I had to pant my breath whenever I felt the need to push as I wasn't quite ready. I was still asking to go into the birthing pool at this point but it was deemed to late. There had been another birth taking place in the birthing pool next to my room just prior and they were still re-filling it for me to use shortly. However, my body wasn't willing to wait and so we never made it to the pool.

Instead my midwife instructed me to get onto the adjustable bed, we propped the bed up and I was facing backwards on my hands and knees leaning up against the top of the bed. I just barely made it to 10cm dilation before my body fully took control and I could do nothing to stop the urge to push. I was quite bizarre. There was only one occasion where my midwife asked me to do only a "little push" which I did, all the others were completely out of my control. Fortunately our baby had moved into a good birthing position the previous day and so was coming out the correct way. The midwife warned me that I was about to feel the "ring of fire" and I casually joked about no one mentioning anything about Johnny Cash (still no pain medication) and she told me to go as slowly as I could. Baby girl did have the cord loosely wrapped around her neck as she emerged, but my midwife quickly fixed that. Once her head was out all it took was one more push at 7:15pm and the rest of her body came out easily.

Chris who was holding my hand loosely at the front of the bed says that he could see her as she came out and that it was absolutely the most amazing thing to witness. It was at that moment he truly got emotional and exclaimed with me that we had a daughter with tears in his eyes.

(TMI warning) The tender moment was rather short lived as all of a sudden 1.2 Litres of blood gushed out of me and my midwife needed to push the emergency button to summon all of the available midwives in the hospital wing for assistance. I was still over-whelmed by it all and didn't even hear the alarm. So when about half a dozen additional staff were surrounding me getting me to move, putting things in my IV, removing my gown, I just went with it. I was holding my brand new baby girl and as far as I was concerned nothing else really mattered. Sure there was pools of blood all around me but I was quite distant from it all and my midwife stayed calm, so I did too.

Crisis over and cleaned up, I lay back with my daughter on my chest and my legs in the air. We had delayed cord clamping, and Chris cut the cord. She had breast milk which was hand expressed within the first hour. I had saved some delicious dairy-free chocolate which one of my best friends had sent me from Australia for a special moment. This was deemed a good time to finally get some food into me and keep it down (for the first time that day) and I don't recall anything tasting as good as that dark chocolate peppermint creme egg did in that moment.

Our daughter was weighed and measured, her APGAR scores were 9-10/10 and a mere 10 minutes after the birth I was expressing my surprise that it was easier than I had expected. Despite not having the pool birth I had planned or any pain relief or additional intervention. I finally had my daughter in my arms and all was right in the world.
(TMI warning) I had second degree tearing which my midwife was concerned has opened my urethra, but upon further inspection by the obstetrician they decided that it hadn't gone that far and was in fact a very "good" tear (as far as tears go) in that it was only in a single spot but had spread three ways. By-the-way, I have never been told by so many people that I have a "beautiful vagina" (thank you?) that was a bit weird but comforting that I was in good hands. After the bleeding slowed and I was stitched up we got wheeled back to my recovery room for the night, to get some bonding time and hopefully some rest.

Partners are technically not allowed to stay overnight in the shared rooms but they are quite lenient, especially on the first night, so Chris didn't end up leaving until about 1:00am and even that felt too soon.

I didn't sleep a wink that night. As I am a first time mother and every noise she made concerned me, plus I still had a surge of hormones and adrenaline rushing through my body from the birth. She was quite mucousy, as her voyage through the birth canal was rather quick she didn't have time to get thoroughly squished, and so she still had a small amount of liquid and mucous in her lungs. This meant that every now and then she would spit up, or start what seemed like choking on some mucous which meant that I was super paranoid about leaving her to sleep without me watching her like a hawk. After chatting most of the night with the lady sharing a room with me about her birth, family and other personal details, seven o'clock finally rolled around and my knight in shining armour returned to me, to take the reigns and give me some shut eye, knowing that my newborn was safely being cared for.

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