Monday, 31 March 2014

my birth story

For some reason I seem to enjoy going over the birth in my head and aloud to anyone who shows the slightest bit of interest. I think it's part of my body's way of coming to terms with the huge ordeal and reflecting on what it's just been through.

I may regret this post, but for now I've decided that writing everything down may help me to prepare for future births and for my friends and others to have a true step by step account of what I consider to be the best possible birth I could've hoped for.

I would certainly not consider myself an 'earth mother', however I do feel that going with nature makes sense. On the other hand, I also think evolution is wonderful and we as humans have made things easier and safer for ourselves, so it would be silly to (as an example) turn down medical help, just as it would be to turn down pain relief if I felt I needed it. 

The birth 'plan'
The more research I did prior to childbirth, through NCT classes, reading and watching One Born Every Minute, the more I realised that the best way to handle it was to not have a birth 'plan' but a birth 'wish list' and for Adi to be aware of it, so that he would be able to manage the situation and allow me to get in the zone and focus on labour.

It went something like this:
- to stay at home until it's recommended to go into hospital when contractions are 5cm apart
- to make myself comfortable at home, using the bed and having a bath
- to try to cope on Gas and Air, avoiding drugs that transfer to the baby and an epidural so that I am able to push instinctively
- to have a water birth to ease the pain and have a calming affect on me and the baby
- to push on all fours, to work with gravity and be close to the floor, rather than on my back on a bed
- to opt for the injection to release the placenta - the only part of modern intervention that I felt made sense as it reduces the risk of infection and allow me to bond better with the baby immediately
- to dim the lights and be in a darkened room without invasive and migraine inducing hospital lighting
- to be cool, using a wet flannel, water spray and fan
- for the midwife to talk as little as possible and for Adi to be assertive if the midwife was frustrating me!
- to have the option of my mum in the room, but not if it didn't feel right
- if something happened that meant that the baby and I had to be separated, for Adi to stay with baby and for mum to stay with me
- to have skin on skin ASAP after the birth and to try feeding as soon as possible

The birth 

Stage one
4pm, Friday 21st March: The contractions I'd been feeling over the previous few days were now strong enough and low enough for me to begin timing them. I was sure things were progressing and had joked with family that he would be born on the 22nd (the date of my dad and brothers birthday's). My body must have known, as my thoughts were different to all of the false alarms and thoughts that I'd had previously, I was more certain. The contractions stopped after a couple of hours, but I was still sure things were moving in the right direction.

7pm: Adi and I set off to his parents for fish and chips.

7.06pm: I felt a fairly strong contraction in the car unlike those I'd felt over the previous couple of days. Instinctively I knew that was the start and put it in my contraction timer app.

7.45pm: I felt the next contraction at Adi's parents, from this point onwards they began to come faster, but sporadic, between 30 minutes and 10 minutes apart. They weren't painful but they would stop me in my tracks and I had to stand up to walk around during one or two. 

21.25pm: We left Adi's parents and I called my mum and dad to let them know that things had started.

10.15pm: I had a bath and contractions continued but were slowing down.

11.30pm: I called the hospital to tell them that contractions were every 6-10 minutes apart, they told me to take paracetamol and wait until they were 3cm apart to go to hospital. As we'd always been told to wait until 5 minutes apart this was added stress for both Adi and I, as we were unsure when exactly to go in. The midwife said to have a bath and take paracetamol. 

11.35pm: We rang my parents to tell them that it was definitely labour so that they could set off. We decided that they should both come and could sleep in the spare room should the labour slow down.

12pm: Adi put the tens machine on me to try and relieve the pain of contractions and have it on for when they got more painful. It made no difference whatsoever and so we took it off a while later. 

1.30am: My parents arrived. We all decided to go upstairs to try and sleep in-between contractions.

2am: As soon as my head hit the pillow the contractions began to get unbearable. I was shaking uncontrollably and rolling around the bed. Adi had to start counting through each contractions for me, which really helped me to focus on getting through one at a time and knowing that the pain wasn't going to last much longer.

2.14am: I rang the hospital again to ask to go in as I was really struggling, but they said not to go until contractions were closer together or if my waters had broke (which I didn't think had). At that point they were sporadic, but between 5 and 10 mins apart. At this point I had a couple of paracetamol.

Almost as soon as I'd got off the phone they started coming faster and were between 4 and 5 minutes apart. I should have used my instincts but as the midwife had said not to go in I didn't. I also lost track of the timings because I was focused on just getting through each contraction.

3am: Contractions had been 4 minutes apart from the previous phone call and I'd just had one 2 minutes from the last. I went to the loo and had a tiny bit of blood on the tissue. I shouted to Adi that it was time to go and the next contraction came after 2 minues again.

*Just a reminder that Adi was still counting up to 60 during every contraction! Sometimes it didn't feel like they were coming to an end quick enough, so I'd count quicker and at one point it got up to 78 seconds. I just waved my arm as a signal or grunted for him to start and stop - speech wasn't easy at this point.

3.22am: It had taken us some time to get me into the car and comfortable. I called the hospital from the car, having set off a couple of minutes earlier. Dad was in the back of our car ready to take me in while Adi parked and mum was in her own car following.

3.33am: We arrived at the hospital and I stopped timing the contractions on my app. They were still approximately every 2 minutes.

the last contractions on my app
Adi dropped us off at the main entrance and went to park. Dad walked me up to the labour ward. That walk felt like miles, there were no wheelchairs available, no one on reception and I'd never been to the labour suite before. Luckily a nurse was returning from her break and was able to guide us. I had to stop walking for each contraction and get as close to the floor as possible, which I knew was a sign that things were quite far along. 

When we got into the labour reception I was put in a wheelchair and taken to be examined. Dad left the room and Adi arrived just after. Mum also came in but in no uncertain terms I shouted 'get out' - I obviously hadn't completely lost my dignity at that point!

I was straight away given gas and air which was the first real relief I'd felt. I definitely could have used that earlier, in hindsight waiting until contractions were 2 minutes apart was too long, but I was determined to follow the advice of the midwife and not arrive at the hospital too soon.

The midwife examined me and said that I was 8cm and my waters had broken (which is a mystery!). I said 'thank fuck' as I knew I hadn't got much more to go and felt like it was coming to an end!

I asked for a water birth but was told that the pool hadn't been cleaned from the previous birth. Instead they ran me a bath. Mum said that the midwife didn't even check to see if the pool was ready as I was too far along at that point and almost ready to push. 

They also asked about pain relief but I said if I'd managed to get to 8cm without anything, I felt able to cope on gas and air for the birth. Soon after I got up to say I needed the loo but the midwife said that was a sign that I needed to start pushing.

Stage two
Adi asked for the lights to be dimmed and I asked to be on all fours. The midwife set up the matt and beanbag on the floor. Adi was at my head with a flannel to cool me down and the midwife sat quietly behind me, occassionally using the Doppler to check the babies heart and talking if I needed to know something. She said to just go with what my body was telling me. 

When the pushing stage started she asked me not to use the gas and air and forewarned me that it would burn. Although it was burning, it was almost a relief that I could push and the pain had changed. 

I was now using the flannel as a bit in my mouth to scream in to and grabbing the beanbag to try and hold on to something. I also held one leg in the air (like a dog peeing) as it felt like I was opening as wide as I could and helping the baby out. Adi helped hold my leg up at one point and was almost covered in mucus (quickly wiped away by the nurse!) I also asked him to tie my hair back but that was a bit too much for him (!) - it did prove useful to hold on to it though. 

I was much louder than I'd imagined, screaming deeply with animalistic sounds. I went into a completely instinctive state to scream out the pain.

There were points that I didn't feel able to cope much more, but the midwife was encouraging as she could see the baby's head (she mentioned dark hair) and had told me not to panic when she could see me starting to lose it which snapped me back into focus.

At 5.02am the baby's head was out, the next few seconds felt like an eternity, until my next contraction where I was able to push his body was finally out at 5.03am.
skin to skin immediately after the birth
Stage three
The baby was laid in-between my legs, on one side, slightly bluefish in colour. There was no noise until the midwife had removed the cord that was around his neck and even then only a tiny whimpery cry.

At that point I just wanted to be on the bed with the cord gone and have skin on skin contact with the baby. It felt odd having the cord dangling in-between my legs. Adi didn't want to cut the cord and nor did I so we asked the midwife to cut it and help me on to the bed with baby.

The delivery of the placenta was almost as difficult as the birth. I used gas and air to get through it, which took the midwife some time as it didn't want to detach. I'm so glad I had the injection to remove it when I did, it allowed me to breath a sigh of relief, hold my baby and be left in peace for some time.

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