· By Tiny Hearts Education
As we got closer to our due date, I had a few sessions of acupuncture. It definitely helped me relax, and feel like I was actively doing something to naturally bring our baby into the world. At my 40 week appointment, I declined the S&S [stretch and sweep] but ended up having an ultrasound due to my size not changing. They were concerned baby might be small. We were reassured, though a small one baby was safe and sound.
On July 16 (40+4) I woke in the middle of the night thinking my waters had started to slowly leak and called the hospital. It wasn't, and they assured me to stay home but monitor, I knew then that I would be in labour pretty soon.
At 7:30 am my partner was walking out the door, and I came from the bathroom and said 'maybe don't go to work today'. From then I had period like pain for most the day and the pangs had started getting closer together. Around 16:30, we decided to drive 20 mins up the road to pick up some wallpaper for a cabinet we had been restoring. My contractions were about 20 mins apart by this time and lasting 20-30seconds.
By the time we got home, they were 10 mins apart. We ordered pizza, and my partner finished off the cabinet while I lent over the kitchen bench contracting and proud that I'd gone into spontaneous labour and was still in the comfort of my home.
Without any real expectations - so far, it was exactly as I had hoped and not nearly as painful as I had imagined it to be. We called my sister in law to come, and dog sit, and once my contractions were 4 minutes apart and lasting around a minute, we made the call to make our way to the hospital. Arriving at the hospital around 8 pm, the midwives put us into a suite and questioned whether I was really in active labour given my ability to have a conversation.
The midwife said she'd watch me for an hour or so and if nothing progressed they'd send me home. She described me as stoic through each contraction and was still convinced I wasn't far enough along. At 10 pm, in order to decide whether to send us home or not, they finally checked how dilated I was. 7cms! "Oh, it would seem you are in labour'.
They decided it was probably best to admit me now.
I was GBS positive, so the first step was to get antibiotics in me. All I could think was - thank fuck can I get in the shower now? So there I sat for about 2 hours with the midwife & my partner taking shifts as the room was so steamy. Though I felt so relaxed in there, I decided it was probably wasting a lot of water, so I got out. Paced the room, sitting, leaning etc.
I didn't think I'd rely so heavily on my midwife, but I needed her to tell me every step of the way, I needed information as to what was happening and I needed her to never leave that room. Only once I let her go to the bathroom herself. Sorry! At 1 am, my mucus plug came out, and they suggested they break my waters. No gush like I had imagined, just wetness under me.
From here, everything changed. Everything started to speed up, and when I think back, I remember being calm and still in control, but I'm told I started to swear a lot, and the contractions ramped up. I remember feeling like my entire insides were falling away and I'd have to push it all out. It wasn't long that I was told to push. I couldn't feel the separate contractions anymore and had a nurse's hands on my stomach to tell me when to push. Though I felt the urge, I was constantly wondering if I was doing it correctly.
At some point, the mood in the room changed, and a code was called. 13 staff came rushing in, midwives, doctors & students. Baby's heart rate was dropping, and we needed to act fast. All I could focus on then was that sound on the monitor.
Legs went up in stirrups. Forceps - unsuccessful. Vacuum - unsuccessful. Pushing - unsuccessful. Lying me on my side - unsuccessful. Back on my back - all were unsuccessful.
There were so many people saying different things I yelled "just one person please!, I can't concentrate" and remember pleading with this little person inside me "we've got this, we can do it, you and me, come on".
I locked eyes with the doctor, and she said "you can do this, you've been so incredible so far" and then I couldn't anymore. Nothing was working, and I'd lost my power and my mind. I just wanted this little person out safely. The doctor I could see between my legs was so determined too. But then she nodded to a nurse and another code was called, my partner got in scrubs, and I was wheeled away to theatre. I was defeated.
Lying in theatre, I had so many questions being asked and new nurses and doctors introducing themselves. At this moment I thought this is okay. I'm okay with this. I'd done it this far without drugs, full dilated and I'd gone into spontaneous labour - these were all my top 'goals' for labour, but my priority was baby arriving safely so this has to happen. While all these thoughts were happening, I realised my partner wasn't with me. Then they put a mask over my face, and I realised... this isn't like friends had described. This isn't a regular c-section with a blue sheet from my chest down and an 'it's a...., meet your baby moment' (we didn't know the gender).
I woke up, and my legs were shaking. The nurse put lip balm on my lips. I was so tired. I don't remember how long it took me to remember why I was there. I just wanted my legs to stop shaking. They told me I had lost just over a litre of blood, so we're pumping me with fluids. I have haemochromatosis (I store extra iron), didn't need a blood transfusion and all that iron filled blood meant my levels bounced back fairly quickly, considering.
After some time they wheeled me to my room and there my partner was. Exhausted. Defeated. But holding this beautiful little bundle. He lay this little person down next to me. My little boy. Everything I had dreamt of and imagined bum wiggling around in there—my little man. Already so cheeky, already so resilient, already choosing his own path in this world.
The next few hours were such a haze. I remember texting family between doctor visits and nurses and resting my eyes. I sent my partner home to get some proper rest - he'd been a pillar of strength for our family for those four or so hours. He asked every nurse who came past if I was awake yet. This breaks my heart, thinking about how he would have felt then—holding our world in his arms and all the time wondering where I was.
I was constantly wondering how the hell I was meant to absorb all this information, look after this little human and keep my eyes open. The whole experience was so surreal. And mostly, I was numb.
The doctor who had been with me through labour came back onto shift later that day and apologised. She hadn't stopped thinking of me and so badly had wanted me to have pushed him out. She told me that after I was under, they had tried the forceps and vacuum again and that then the final call was made for the caesarean. They got him out in 34seconds and even after the general anaesthetic he cried. And everyone smiled.
On day three at 5 am a midwife noticed he was looking very orange and had a paediatrician come to see him. After some bloods; Jaundice. We were so lucky that we were able to have him in the 'blue light disco' in our room, and after 12 hours he was 'cleared'.
In hindsight, I sometimes forget this part of our post-birth journey, but at the time I was so distraught and remember crying and feeling everything that had happened for the first time, I'd been so numb. The midwife sat silently and held my hand. That part I'll never forget, she'd worked me out in one shift. I just needed her to sit there and let me cry three whole days of tears. During these 12 hours, we told visitors not to come.
We had a short list of names, but still but hadn't been able to concentrate together to lock one in. I started looking up the meanings of the names in our shortlist.
And then, there was breastfeeding. I wish I had been more educated here. By far, the hardest time - we both struggled. He wouldn't latch, my milk was delayed & never really reached 'full'. On day eight we had our home visit, and the midwife said 'did no one discuss his tongue tie with you at the hospital' she suggested a GP in the area and we went that afternoon. His tongue tie was classified as extreme as the extra 'skin' was almost to the tip of his tongue, so we had it cut. It did help the feeding but unfortunately after eight we never really got there with feeding and LOTS of pumping and LOTS of top-ups until I couldn't anymore. I was so obsessed by the feeding; I wasn't enjoying my little boy. So we exclusively formula fed from 3 months.
Once home and finally having the chance to regroup together - we named him Logan - our 'little warrior'.