Thursday, 15 September 2011

My birth story

The day of Stan's birth was a lovely one. I had slept in, gone to my yoga class where I promised everyone I'd be back next week, headed to the Mount and got a takeaway salad and juice from Pluto where I joked with the lady that the extra pineapple in the juice might send me into labour ('Ha! I might see you tomorrow with a buggy!') and sat on the beach looking at the waves. It was a very cold day but brilliantly sunny. 
Heading home I had a hot bath and listened to my Rainbow Relaxation CD and lay in bed for a bit, then made a massive dinner of spag bol. All well and good.
Richard at this stage was sleeping in the spare room because I hadn't been sleeping well at all, so he kissed me goodnight and I settled down with my book and hypno relaxation white noise application on my phone. Braxton Hicks. Braxton Hicks. Ouch, Braxton Hicks. I read for a couple of hours and started looking up at each BH as they were starting to kinda hurt.  The tightenings kept coming and I decided to start timing them. They were 8-10 minutes apart lasting about 45 seconds. I kept reading and could feel my nerves starting to jangle. Was this it?

It was. They quickly went to 3-4 minutes apart, still lasting about 45 seconds. At 12.30 I woke Richard who was very calm indeed. He got into bed with me and we tried to watch a DVD (Steel Magnolias!). We didn't get past the opening titles as the pains were starting to require some good deep breathing and I was getting uncomfortable. We laughed at how cliched this was, having to call the midwife in the middle of the night. She said to leave it another couple of hours and call her back when it gets worse. I was happy with this as they weren't that bad and my breathing and visualising had them well under control. 
We drew a bath and I hopped in, with my mating-whales music on. This was lovely and relaxing and helped to pass the time. I think I was in there an hour or so. When I got out the pains ramped up, requiring loud breathing and I had to lean on a wall or the side of the bed to get through them. In between we watched MTV Classic, and I remember watching Jay-Z doing H.O.V.A., which gave me an ear worm that lasted throughout the entire labour! We called the midwife again at 3.30 and she came over to the house to check me. I was terrified she'd say I was making the whole thing up and I had hours to go yet, so it was a relief to hear her call the student midwife and tell her that I was 'rocking and rolling and ready to go!' The baby's head had already descended so far down that she couldn't feel my cervix so I never knew how dilated I was. 
We ran about the house putting last minute things in the hospital bag (I put my phone charger in my toilet bag, WTF! couldn't find it for days) and getting the car ready. It was such a cold night the windscreen had totally iced over so I had to sit in the car having contraction after contraction while Rich tried desperately to defrost it. I had about 6 billion contractions on the way to the hosp, another 4 billion in the carpark, and countless more walking to the delivery room. 
Luckily the nurses had started filling the pool before we got there so I just had to get nude (didn't give a toss funnily enough) and get my mating-whales music going and the lights down. Getting into the tub was gorgeous, suddenly felt weightless and nurtured. I think I stayed there a good 2-3 hours, during which time I was mostly rocking on my hands and knees, either breathing through a contraction or resting my head on the side of the tub. Rich would feed me a straw to drink water or a barley sugar, but apart from that no-one made a sound. I would come to every so often and realise I had 3 people watching me in the tub which made me a bit self-conscious. I think I let this get to me a bit and felt like I should hurry things along so I decided to get out of the tub. 
The weight of my tummy when I got out felt like 10 tonnes. I had to go to the loo and finally had my first show. I put on a hospital gown and leaned over the bed, doing everything I thought I would want to do in labour. The contractions were now strong enough for me to moan through each one. I was keeping my mouth open and moving my jaw side to side to remind me not to grind my teeth. I was finding it was hard to keep my legs straight and was getting a bit shaky. My midwife was monitoring the baby's heartbeat and it was coming back up fairly quickly after each contraction, when I thought I had the urge to push. So I did. Turns out this was bit of a mistake. The midwives were unable to feel my cervix and were going on other signs that I was ready to push, but it turned out later that I was only about 8 cm still. The pressure of my pushing caused a small haemorrage from my placenta and the baby's heartbeat dropped, and didn't pick up again for a whole minute. 
From here on in it's a bit of a dream to me. I was put onto the bed on my back which actually felt WAY more comfortable than leaning on the bed. I was given oxygen and what felt like 50 people came flying into the room to check the baby. I was stabbed with 2 IV lines and my midwife put a scalp monitor onto the baby. Richard went blue and had to sit in the corner with a barley sugar. I remember whimpering - actual whimpering on the bed and saying I'm happy to have a c-section, just get the baby out. 
Then everyone left and it was quiet again - I still don't really know what happened - and Marie told me that she had to break my waters which she did, and then could tell I was only 8 centimetres. I had to pant through the last 2 centimetres before I could push. However my body was pushing on its own. It was the queerest feeling, like I was lying there and my body was doing it all for me. Having to try to stop pushing was super hard, so my midwife suggested some gas. This was the first pain relief I had. Talk about a duck to water - I couldn't get enough. It removed me far enough to able to concentrate on what they were saying to me and following their instructions. 
This went on for a couple of hours apparently, and finally Marie said I could start to push the baby out. She and Rich helped me curl over my tummy, with my feet pushing into student midwive's hips. I was really screaming by now, off the gas, and determined to get the baby out. Rich was getting really excited, telling me he could see the head crowning, which would then go back up. I had to keep the pressure on during the breaks, and all of a sudden I could really feel everything down there streeeeeeeeetch. It felt like someone was poking the entire area with needles or sharp nails. There was suddenly a big pressure release and the head was out. Rich was gibbering like a loon, and I lay back thinking I had to get the energy to do the shoulders but again my body did it for me and, like giving birth to a warm squishy bag of walnuts, I felt his little body slide out and the pressure relief was the BEST FEELING IN THE WORLD. 
At 9.27 a.m. on 18th August 2011, Little Stanley was put onto my tummy and I was howling with relief and happiness. He took a while to breathe but coloured up nicely and was put onto my boob and stayed there quite happily. I could not believe it. He sneezed and coughed and looked around and IT WAS A BABY, my baby. 

I kinda want to stop writing here because up until this time, everything was perfect. I got my natural birth, I had a healthy baby that was a boy which we had hoped for. But what happened next happened, and it was all part of the journey.

At this stage he was still feeding on me and was nice and warm. I was stitched up with the help of the gas (only 3 stitches, no episiotomy). I was ecstatic and ready to party, waving the gas around and offering it to all and sundry. After an hour or two it was time to do the tests and weigh. Stan was weighed and he was only 2690g, or 5 pounds 15. Alarm bells should have started ringing for a full term baby. My midwife came back after inspecting my placenta and said that it looked like the placenta of a heavy smoker (not since Uni days!) or a very overdue baby. So he hadn't been getting very good nutrients in the womb. I wasn't taking anything in because I was utterly exhausted. I had a shower and we went back to the ward and settled into a bed. 
It seemed that 40 different nurses came in to check on us and all had different ideas on what to do. He looked a bit cold, so they put him back on the boob, skin to skin. We were left alone, and I looked down and noticed that he had stopped responding and was turning a yuk grey colour. We rang the bell and all sorts of things happened and basically my baby was wheeled away from me and my husband, and sent down to SCBU (special care baby unit).
It turned out he had low blood sugars, due to having no reserves from a low birth weight and a bad placenta, and hadn't been feeding properly off me. They force fed him every hour down in SCBU and gave him dextrose gel, and he came right.

I visited Stan in SCBU and tried breastfeeding but he was just too small to get much off me. He was tube fed for 5 days and bottle fed plus boob for one then we were allowed home.

He's now being breastfed and bottle fed plus I express after every feed, so it's been a baptism of fire.
But we reckon he smiled the other day, and it made my heart soar.


Stanley, born 9.27 a.m., on 18th August 2011. Pretty much 4 weeks ago today. I still can't believe it and am still paddling frantically to keep my head above water, but as people have said over and over, it does seem to be getting easier! We love him to bits and are so happy to be a family.

The only person not happy? Basil the cat....Stan squawks....Baz runs out the cat door :)