This is the story of how my little baby girl was born. I’ve tried to keep it as icky free as possible, though like labor it’s hard for it not to be just a little bit messy, you’ve been forewarned!
I had been very sick with the flu since boxing day and on Sunday 2nd January I finally started to feel a little better. That night I felt well enough to sit at my computer for awhile when I started getting Braxton Hicks contractions. They weren’t painful but I noticed that they were a bit different than normal moving through my back and thighs not just my stomach. It was a good 2 weeks before my due date and a little voice in the back of my head wondered if this was the start of labor and whether I was going to wake up in a few hours time with strong contractions ready to go into hospital.
That didn’t happen but I did wake up the next morning with mild contractions about 20 minutes apart and when I went to the bathroom there it was, a bloody show. I always thought that knowing labor was imminent would be nerve wracking but instead I just felt incredibly excited. I happily told my partner that things were starting and that I expected bub would be born sometime over the next couple of days. Throughout the day contractions stayed mild but moved up to about 10 minutes apart. I spent most of the day packing my delivery and labor bags, while my man frantically tried to get some last minute things organised in the nursery. That night it was a bit difficult to get to sleep but overall I was finding contractions way easier than I expected – the worst part was the waiting.
On Tuesday I had 2 afternoon appointments scheduled with my endocrinologist and later in the afternoon with my hairdresser. At about 10am contractions were still mild but coming about every 6-7 minutes and lasting a good 45 – 60 seconds. My partner had decided not to go into work that day and we both thought it best that I cancel the appointments fully expecting to be in hospital that afternoon. We rang the hospital in case I needed to go in a bit earlier because I had gestational diabetes, but they told me to wait until the contractions were closer together. So I took their advice to have some Panadol and a sleep. I went to sleep around midday and when I woke up I had nothing. No contractions, nothing. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement, I was deflated and defeated. I felt horrible that I was wasting my boy’s annual leave and it could all still be weeks away.
On the Wednesday morning we went to my obstetrician appointment and told him that I thought I had been in labor as I had been having contractions for the better part of the last 48 hours. I think he thought it was wishful thinking on my part and told me quite dryly that if it was real labor then it would never have stopped and that a lot of first time mums went over their due date. As I was 38.5 weeks along it was time for a cervix check to see if I had started dilating and to work out an induction date due to having gestational diabetes. I was prepared to find out that I wasn’t dilated at all and my early labor was all in my head.
To both his surprise and mine I was already 4cm dilated and 90% effaced. An induction was booked in for 7am the next morning but it was a precaution only, he expected to see me again later that day in hospital as I was already in labor! YAY!!! We went to the shops after the appointment and I stocked up on magazines to read while in the delivery room before going home to do a final check that everything was ready for our baby’s return. At around 2pm I decided to have a sleep as I still had a very nasty cough left over from the flu the week before. 2.5 hours later I woke up from a contraction, it was finally happening.
These contractions started out at 12 minutes apart and within an hour were at 5 minutes apart and lasting a good 60 – 90 seconds. I was starting to get a bit uncomfortable and decided to have a shower while my partner called the hospital to say we were going to come in shortly. The midwife insisted on talking to me directly to best gauge how I was going. Apparently the fact that I could still smile at a joke and could talk through a contraction regardless of whether it was painful or not meant I was hours off having my baby. She told me not to bother coming in yet and to see how I felt around 7.30pm.
Half an hour later I was having contractions every 3 minutes, it was hitting my pain threshold and I was starting to panic that we weren’t going to make it it the hospital in time to have the chance for an epidural. I threw up, burst into tears and yelled that we were going to the hospital now regardless of what they said. Apparently the phone call to the hospital, packing the car and locking up the place took 10 minutes. To me it felt like a good hour – I’ve never felt so anxious in my life. The car ride was approximately another 10 minutes and was incredibly painful. I had 4 contractions during this and having to stay seated was probably the worst part of the entire labor.
We finally arrived at the labor assessment area in which I had 3 more contractions while walking there, and after what felt like an eternity was put in a room with a front and back shower head while waiting for one of the private midwives to come and check how far along I was. The shower was nice and it definitely helped during contractions while I waited. At 7pm I finally had a midwife who did a cervix check (at this stage lying on the bed was complete agony) and told me I was already 8cm dilated and I was being put into a birthing suite immediately.
If I wanted an epidural I had to make a call then and there otherwise I was going drug free. I hated having to make such a quick decision as I had originally thought if I made it to transition (8cm dilation) without needing drugs then I would go the whole hog without. The whole experience so far had been so fast and I felt so out of control I decided to have the epidural.
20 minutes later the epidural was in, the anesthetist was my new best friend, I had another cervix check and my waters broken. I was 9.5 cm dilated but baby hadn’t moved into the birth canal yet. If I hit 10cm with her that high up I would be pushing forever and most likely end up having a C-Section. The idea of being cut open absolutely terrified me and I told the midwife I only wanted that considered as a last resort. I was administered Syntocinon a synthetic drug to strengthen my contractions in the meantime to help bub move down into the birth canal and providing our unborn child could handle it, I would stay there for another couple of hours before another cervix check.
At this point I was calm and couldn’t feel any of the contractions because I was given a spinal tap as well as the epidural. It was wonderful and I decided to have a sleep, while my partner moved the car. I probably had about 30 minutes rest and then the 2 of us whiled away the time talking, discussing names and wondering what she was going to look like. At about 9.30pm the spinal tap must have worn off because I started to feel the contractions again. The next 45 minutes became quite uncomfortable and in the end the midwife got me to start pushing even though my obstetrician hadn’t yet arrived.
Pushing was wonderful relief – the contractions no longer hurt though I did wonder if I was going to end up with a bloody nose from all the straining. After pushing through a couple of contractions the obstetrician came in and decided that as bub was still so high up in the birth canal that a vacuum extraction was required. He sat and explained how it all worked though by this stage it was all surreal and the only thing I could really concentrate on was pushing and trying not to burst every blood vessel in my body.
Through this phase I was in my own little world though I vaguely remember being asked if I wanted a mirror to help with the pushing and if I wanted to feel my baby’s head crowning. I answered both of those with a resound “no” and the next thing I remember is my partner excitedly telling me he could see our baby’s head. Before I knew it my little Sapling was placed on my chest where she decided to poo and pee all over me.
It was the most overwhelming experience I have ever gone through, meeting her for the first time.
Both of us came through it incredibly well, within 5 minutes of birth her Apgar score was 9 and before I knew it she was latched on to the breast suckling away. I didn’t end up with any tearing or damage at all.
Caitlin was born at 11.11pm on the 5th January 2011 weighing 3.3kg and was 50cm long. The entire labor was only 6.5 hours and I never did end up getting to read those magazines. I would hate to think how fast labor would have been if she had been in position!