Hudson’s birth was not what I expected at all. When the midwife handed me this tiny, naked, crying baby, all I could think was, “….this is so weird.” And of course, “he is beautiful.” But my initial reaction was a really strange feeling, I don’t think there is a word for it. To sum it up, the whole experience was surreal.
As the days go by the images become more blurry but I can still clearly feel the fear, the love, the excitement, the anger, the strength. I didn’t realise how strong I was until that moment. Actually, after this experience, I have a new found respect for women. It’s not just the birth, but the whole pregnancy as well as the whole experience after pregnancy (the baby is still attached to you). Silly me. I didn’t realize that after the baby is born there is still more work to do! ; ) Nobody really explains (probably because they don’t want to scare pregnant women) the hard part is actually after the birth, especially the first month after. Recovery is hard. And while the beautiful baby in front of you makes your heart melt, it still doesn’t really make up for the extremely tough experience you just went through.
Anyway here is my story….(warning: it’s quite long, so I’ve broken it up into ‘chapters’)
CHAPTER 1 (day 1) – HE’S COMING!
Relax, Breathe, Open……oh wait……maybe he’s not coming……
I was one day before the 42 week mark. I had an acupuncture session booked for the next morning as I was trying to avoid any and all medical intervention to start my labour. Just as my partner and I were settling down to watch a movie and go to bed, I started feeling a cramp in my lower abdomen around 11pm. I wasn’t sure if it was just the normal cramping I had been feeling the last couple weeks or if it was actually the start of labour. I didn’t want to get my hopes up because I was so desperate to go into labour at that point it would have made me really depressed if it wasn’t real labour. I had three more cramps in a row like this and decided to ask my partner to start timing it just for fun (still not believing it was real). To my surprise, they were coming every ten minutes almost on the dot! This went on for another two or three hours and then they started getting closer together, around 7 minutes apart. I was using my hypnobirthing techniques and looking at my birth affirmations that I put up on the wall. My favourite birth affirmation to look at was, “Inhale peace, exhale tension.” It reminded me to breathe deeply on every contraction which really helped ease the pain. I also really liked looking at the flowers I put on the wall to remind me to visualise the baby going down the birth canal and opening up (I know all very “hippie” but it really helped).
I went all out on the birth affirmations at home. My Mom helped me put them up……we were really bored waiting for him to arrive haha!
Here are the birth affirmations we put up in the delivery room. It really gave me something to focus on when things got tough.
Another two hours later they were around 5 minutes apart and then another hour later they were 4 minutes apart! I started freaking out thinking that this all was happening too fast! It was around 3am that we called the labour ward who said we should come in right away.
Once I entered the hospital, the midwife brought me to a “room” aka a bed with a curtain around it. She checked me and found I was only about 1/2cm. She told me I was still in the early stages of labour and I should wait for the intensity to “ramp up.” Even though they were 3mins apart consistently, they needed to be stronger. So we went back home and waited.
I couldn’t sleep at all because of the frequency of the contractions and even though the intensity wasn’t “up,” they still hurt like a bitch. I would say they were like extremely intense period pains, with an almost burning sensation (when they were a bit stronger).
CHAPTER 2 (day 2) – Labouring at Home.
Am I Dreaming? I’m Not Relaxed Anymore. I’m Still Only 1CM. OUCH.
I went through the whole next day with the same contractions, 3mins apart, until 4pm when I decided to go to my doctor appointment. The appointment was originally scheduled to discuss having an induction (which I was against, if he was healthy). I decided to go anyway as I wanted to have them check me again. Surprisingly, even after 17 hours, the doctor said that I was about 1cm. So I went back home and continued with the contractions that were still 3-4 mins apart.
I couldn’t take it anymore, so that night I took codeine to try and get some sort of sleep. I temporarily dozed off for an hour but even codeine couldn’t take the edge off these contractions. Again, I didn’t sleep that night either.
CHAPTER 3 (day 3) – Hospital Visit & Checking into Labour Ward.
WTF. This Is Never Going to Happen. GIVE ME GAS AND AIR!
The next day around 11am, the contractions started getting really intense and were consistently 2 mins apart. I could barely walk to the car. I think I took 7 breaks to get to the car. The deep breathing helped me through. When I got to the hospital, they checked me again and found I was still only 1cm. How could this be after 31 hours?! The midwife said that first time Mums always take a long time (greeaaattt…that helps). I hadn’t slept in two days, the contractions were consistently 2-3 mins apart and I was starting to lose my shit, but I was still determined to have a natural birth.
I was just about to head home (and buy a tens machine on the way) when the doctor came in and said she wanted to monitor the baby and me for 20mins just to make sure everything was okay. Surprisingly it was not. She said that every time I had a contraction the baby’s heartbeat lowered. I later found out from a midwife in the natural birth centre that this is normal. But because I was in the labour ward they decided that they needed to check me into a room and keep me there for monitoring. Unfortunately, I was checked into the labour ward, which meant I would not be allowed to move into the natural birth centre (which was in my original birth plan). After a few hours in the labour ward, and almost 48 hours in labour, I decided to opt in for gas and air. Then I just laboured for another 4 hours until they checked me again. This time I was 1 1/2cm! While I was progressing, albeit very very slowly, it wasn’t fast enough for the midwives. There is a 24 hour window from when your water breaks until they need to start speeding the process up medically. My waters had been breaking since the day after my contractions started coming and officially broke on the second day with a “big gush.”
They proceeded to discuss my options, which didn’t seem like many. I had to be induced due to risk of infection, but I could opt for various pain relief. As I’ve heard and read, when you are induced the pain is much more intense than natural contractions, so I decided I would need some pain relief if I had to be induced. Again, while this was against my original birth plan, I had been having contractions for over two days without any sleep and was mentally and physically exhausted. Looking back now, I shouldn’t have been so hard on myself.
CHAPTER 4 (day 4) – Epidural & Induction.
Feeling So Much Better. This is Easy. It’s Finally Happening!
That night, the midwife checked me every 4 hours and, to my surprise, I was finally dilating! Thank god for that because the last thing I wanted was a C section. Then at 1pm the next day (third day in labour) I was 10cm. They said I could start pushing at 3:15pm (so precise!).
I started to feel a bit more during the pushing stage. It was just the midwife and my partner, the lights were dim, Bob Dylan tunes were on, and I had my birth affirmations on the wall. Everything was calm and I was happy with the environment and ready for him to come out! The midwife said I was doing a fantastic job pushing and believed he would be out with just a few more pushes. Yay! …But then…. she said he was in the face up position and every time I pushed he would go back up a little bit so this could prolong the process. I continued like this for over an hour until she said she needed to go and consult the head midwife.
After a few moments, the head midwife came in with four other midwives and a doctor. This is where everything went haywire. The doctor said he needed to turn the lights on to really see what was going on (ruining my calm environment). He checked and then turned to me and said “we are going to use a ventouse to suction him out and if that doesn’t work we will need to do a C-section.” This moment is still so clear in my head because I can clearly remember the details of the doctors face, his concerned expression and wide eyes, thinking to myself, “I am getting this baby the fuck out!”
The next half hour was somewhat of a blur, all I remember is I could feel everything. I could feel my partners hand. I could see his eyes more clearly then I had ever seen them before. It was like he was the only person in the room. The five other people in the room were blurry, soft balls of colour. The midwife’s voice was clear as water. “You’re almost there, come on you can do it, you’re almost there.” Everything was so intense. The perfect way to describe it would be; sensory overload. The head midwife told me to push and keep pushing as hard as I could. Out of sheer determination to not have a C section, I pushed that 7 pounder right out of me (well, with the help of a ventouse and episiotomy)!
Thank You God (I’m not religious), He is Finally in My Arms.
There was then a mad rush to get the placenta out and make sure the baby was okay. But once they handed him to me I didn’t notice anything else that was going on. It was like the room went completely silent and all that was left was my partner, the baby and me. For a second, everything felt right.
Oh Sh**. WTF Just Happened.
But then reality set in and I just felt strange, a mix of happiness and fear, ‘who is this baby? what is he doing in my arms? who is touching my vagina?! can I go home now?’ After what felt like about 10 seconds (I think in reality it was 5 minutes), they took the baby over to the table to check if everything was okay. They pushed my bed over and proceeded to stitch me up and do an internal sweep to get everything out. To be honest, I felt very exposed, dizzy, and shook and almost passed out.
This was not the birth I had planned and I was not prepared for the copious amounts of medical intervention. However, I feel very lucky that Hudson is a happy and healthy baby. I am so happy that he is finally here, and despite all drama, it is what is is. : )
Chapter 5 (day 5) – Postnatal Ward & Recovery.
I Am Exhausted. Leave Me Alone.
I spent another day in the post natal ward which is a whole other story (I had to have a catheter in for an extra 2 days post-delivery). The only thing I would like to mention is that I think they should allow the husbands to stay overnight with the woman and baby. For some reason, men are not allowed to stay in the postnatal ward (for the more ‘severe’ cases). They give private rooms to woman who had normal births where the men are allowed to stay. I was extremely exhausted, in a lot of pain, and terrified that I had to be by myself with a new baby in a “room” (i.e. hospital bed with curtains around it) where I had no idea what I was doing. Luckily, my Mom was in town and stayed with me.
I wish I could say that this was a positive experience, but I have to be honest, it was quite strange and surreal. I wouldn’t say it was scary because I knew that everything was happening for a good reason and trusted the doctors and midwives, I would just say that next time I am not going to have any kind of birth plan. No plan is the way forward. I would also like to be more prepared if things do take a turn. As I had prepared for a normal delivery, I didn’t feel confident making decisions about pain relief or induction and had no idea about the difference between ventouse or forceps or having a catheter in or what really happens during a C section. But then again, maybe it’s better I didn’t know any of this? I don’t think there is anything that can truly prepare you for birth, natural or assisted delivery, but I would say the relaxation techniques and birth affirmations from hypnobirthing did help me during the hard parts, and is still helping me to this day. The hard part starts after the birth! Who knew?! ; )
I am so lucky that I am healthy and the baby is healthy and that we are now a little happy family! I’m also very happy that I am no longer pregnant, it feels amazing having my body back (well…almost back)! : )
Here are some photos of Hudson Bear Jukes, 7lbs 9 oz, born December 23rd, just in time for Christmas!