So I may as well start with telling you my birth story right, after all this is a mum blog and everyone always wants to know all the gory details! My birth story is one of the reasons why I have started to write this blog. I went through it in my head so many times, somedays it would really cloud my vision or maybe that was just the tears, either way I’ve had some very dark days. People would say to me things like ‘but now you have a perfect baby boy’ or ‘it’s all worth it in the end though’ but it didn’t help at all. It should have done, but it didn’t. Days, weeks and months went by and I’d randomly remember something new about it so one day I decided to write it all down, everything I could remember, to try and piece it altogether. Now I’m not looking for sympathy, I’m really only including this for my own cathartic reasons, but if you’d like to know then buckle yourselves in for an emotional ride and read on.
At 41 weeks (feeling very heavy and big by this point) and after 3 failed sweeps (delightful experiences) I went in for an induction. At this point I had accepted that I wasn’t going to get my dream natural water birth that I’d imagined instead I was just super excited now to meet our baby. I had prepped myself for some medical intervention as during my pregnancy I had GBS which was picked up during a routine urine sample test when I had a spout of kidney infections at 23 weeks (I’d had UTIs and kidney infections in the past but having them when you’re pregnant is a whole different ball game of joy! Cue massive amounts of pain, sickness, drips for dehydration and a miserable month off work) so i know I’d be hooked up to IV antibiotics at least. However I was determined for the rest to be as natural as possible with little medical and pain intervention. I’d read up on all the lovely jubbly hypno birthing hype and practised my breathing and meditation techniques I’d seen online and learnt in my antenatal classes. I’d spent months of my pregnancy terrified of the incoming, unknown pain but now I was finally feeling ready about what may lay ahead however what actually happened was not one of the many situations I’d imagined or learnt about.
So anyway, at 41 weeks, on Tuesday 20th March, at around 9:30am, I was induced. Via the balloon method incase you were wondering, because i had a favourable cervix – I’ve always found that term amusing, particularly as on my first two sweeps I was told my cervix was unfavourable (…how rude!). I was told it would take about 24 hours and that the next day my waters would be broken and then it’ll be all go from there. With at least 24 hours of waiting ahead Mitch had stocked me up with magazines and snack based products. So imagine my surprise when at about 5:30 in the evening, when I had just finished by hospital dinner – a rather nice chilli con carne I must say but then I am one of those odd people that genuinely likes aeroplane food – and I was drinking a cup of tea I suddenly felt very warm and damp! Did I just spill my tea? Mitch tried to tell me I’d wet myself, but no it was definitely my waters, and it wasn’t just a trickle either!
Now being GBS positive I knew that I had to have antibiotics in labour once my waters had broken, now I don’t know if the delay had anything to do with what happened after the birth but I didn’t receive them until I was moved to the labour ward about 3 hours later. Not long after my waters broke I started having contractions, they were painful but manageable with my breathing techniques – it all started so well! Mitch always laughs about me denying any gas and air, despite being offered it but I didn’t want any pain relief until I really couldn’t handle it anymore – I said it’ll be like leaving your coat on indoors, you wouldn’t feel the benefit! That obviously did cause some laughter, after the confusion, of me replying to the midwife “no, it’s like wearing a coat indoors” when she asked if I wanted any gas and air. Although now I regret not having any as I was always intrigued what it’d feel like! I didn’t get that far to put the coat on! Although I do proudly say “well I didn’t have any pain relief during labour” but obviously that’s a joke to lighten the mood when people ask about the birth.
So everything was going smoothly and as I was getting my IV fitted Mitch went to get a sandwich to get some food in him to prepare him for the night ahead. I mentioned to my midwife that I hadn’t felt baby move as much since the contractions had started, I wasn’t worried, I just thought the contractions were taking my attention away from anything else. So she said she’d examine me and then put the monitor on to check everything is ok. She examined me, 2cm, woohoo I thought, only 8 to go, I CAN DO THIS!! She then hooked me up to the monitor…everything wasn’t ok, although with my positive mental attitude of ‘I CAN DO THIS’ ‘I BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF MY BODY’ blah blah blah I didn’t realise that in fact things were not OK. By this point Mitch had come back with his sandwich. It was Mitch that asked, while looking at the screen, “is it normal for the heartbeat to go up and down so much?” My midwife just said “hmm, not really…” At this point, Mitch realised things weren’t ok, I still didn’t though. Even when doctors started filling the room, I just thought they were doing the rounds and saying hello (seeing as I’d only just arrived I ignorantly thought well this is very friendly!). It wasn’t until there was about 5 other people in the room and the second Dr asked to examine me (4th person in 12 hours, lucky me!) that I begun to realise that nope, things were not ok, not at all. My veil of denial and positivity was suddenly replaced my panic and hysterical crying. People suddenly started undressing me, top and bottom, forms were being shoved in my face left, right and centre, I could have been signing anything, I remember hardly being able to sign my name, my hands were shaking so much. Pretty soon I was being raced down to theatre. I remember the Dr asking the anaesthetist if he could put my spinal block in laying down as she didn’t want me sitting up because…I didn’t hear her say why, she mimed something and made an action at that point. It was with that, that I suddenly realised that my baby was in serious trouble. Everything happened so quickly, Mitch almost missed it, he arrived in his scrubs just in time for Hayden to be lifted out and the curtain put down to reveal our lovely son, born at 9:25pm weighing in at 9lb3oz! A lot bigger than predicted, even the Dr who made the decision about the caesarean was concerned the baby felt small! I remember her saying as she pulled him out, “oh, no it’s not a small baby, it’s a very big baby.” We’d remained team yellow throughout the pregnancy so it was at that point we found out ‘bean’ was a boy! We had planned on Mitch announcing the gender but obviously that didn’t really go to plan but it didn’t matter, he was here! But not completely out of the woods yet…after a few seconds of silence it became obvious he wasn’t breathing and needed oxygen. The feeling of helplessness as I laid there with my numb body is something I will never forget. It felt like an eternity that he didn’t breath on his own for but in reality it was for just less than 2 minutes. He was brought over to me, and my tears suddenly turned to happy tears to see his little face and his gorgeous eyes looking at me. However, those happy tears soon turned again as they announced to me he was still in respiratory distress and showing signs of an infection so before I was out of theatre we was rushed off to intensive care. Neither of us got a chance to hold him. Although at that moment in time I don’t remember being too upset, I just had an overwhelming sense of relief that he was out and ok (ish). The realisation of not having my baby only came when I was in recovery and I saw another woman being wheeled out of theatre with her baby in her arms. It was then the adrenaline and fog seemed to disperse and i suddenly realised this is not what it should be like, this isn’t what I learnt in my antenatal classes or how it happens on TV, I should have my baby with me doing skin to skin! I won’t forget that feeling, I wanted to see him so badly, all I could do while laying there with my numb body was cry.
For some reason when Mitch came back with our stuff from the labour room (I didn’t pack light bless him) all I asked him was if he had eaten his sandwich. He said he ate half of it and wasn’t sure what had happened to the other half! The sandwich that got away! Again another joke to lighten the mood when people enquire about my birth story. We’re very much Chandler people…we tell jokes (sometimes inappropriately) in awkward situations to escape the seriousness.
So that’s how Hayden entered the world. Apparently what was happening was somewhere between cord presentation and cord prolapse – quite rare so I hear! I’m not sure if that was ever explained to me during the madness but in my birth refection it was described as I was in the right place at the right time. Basically, as far as I understand it, his head was pinning the cord against him and my cervix therefore shutting the oxygen off therefore his heart rate was dipping dangerously low. Again, I’m not looking for sympathy, it’s a far from perfect birth story but by the sounds of it most birth’s don’t go to the ‘birth plan’ (seriously, what is the point in those silly things!). I know it could have been worse and that many people aren’t as lucky as we were to be in the right place at the right time and we do feel so incredibly grateful to have our boy. But it is my story. I have people say that ‘oh, at least you didn’t have the pain’ or ‘good that you’re still all intact though’ like it’s some kind of competition of who had the worst birth. But believe me, I would have taken any amount of pain over the terrifying thought my baby was going to die (which was a very real possibility). This is just our story.
Next up – our first 8 days as a family of 3 and NICU.