On the 27th of November 2013 I went to Spotlight to buy some decorations for my baby shower; we were going to have it on the weekend. I was 35 weeks and 4 days pregnant and so far everything had been going reasonably well. I say reasonably because I had morning sickness throughout the whole pregnancy, but baby was growing well and I was healthy too. The previous week I had had a slightly elevated blood pressure, but the midwife wasn’t very concerned and was simply going to check it again at my next appointment.
That evening was normal; my husband and I had dinner, watched T.V., and then started to head to bed. I went to the toilet and suddenly felt a gush of fluid. My heart started racing; I was pretty sure then that my water had broken. I told my husband by saying “Don’t freak out, but I think my water just broke.” He replied with “Well make sure before I get out of bed”…lovely I know! I called the hospital and they told me to come in and get checked, so we grabbed the basics (i.e. nothing) and headed out.
When your water breaks, it’s hardly anything like it is in the movies. I had the initial gush of water, but it’s not over after that- it keeps coming! I had to use maternity pads and was constantly feeling like I was peeing myself. Just something else to add to the joy of labour.
We got to the hospital and they confirmed what we already knew, that my water had broken, but they also found that I had high-blood pressure. They monitored me for a few hours and I was having very faint contractions and baby was happy. My husband went home to try and sleep, but I had to stay in a birthing suite for a few more checks. A doctor came in to give me an ultrasound to check over baby and she said “He looks very good.” I didn’t say anything to her, but we hadn’t found out the sex of the baby during the pregnancy. I was moved to the maternity ward to try and sleep…anyone who is heavily pregnant can tell you how impossible that can be. At six the next morning, the doctor decided it would be best to induce labour due to my blood pressure.
I was started on Syntocin and had a belly monitor for the baby, which meant I had to stay close to the bed. I had really wanted to be able to move during labour, but by the end of the day, laying down was the best position for me. My husband came back with a bag that he had packed- it was on my list of things to do when I went on maternity leave the following week. He also called work and my mum, because she was going to be in the room with me. The morning went pretty smoothly; I remember getting a visit from my sister who couldn’t believe I was in labour because I was sitting there holding a conversation. The Syntocin was periodically increased and baby and myself were constantly monitored.
When I started to feel the contractions, I tried to remain upright as much as possible. I had to stay close to the bed because of the drip and monitor, so I leaned over the bed and swayed a lot. At 12pm, I was 3cm dilated; that was pretty exciting, I felt good that things were moving along. Soon the contractions were becoming very painful, so I tried sucking on gas. It was great for a while, but it was weird also. It made me very light-headed; almost like I was a little tipsy. My husband kept joking that I was sucking on it way too hard…but hey it was good! Pretty soon though I was sick, so that was the end of the gas for me.
My contractions became continuous at one stage, so the Syntocin had to get turned down, but that made them barely noticeable. The midwives had a hard time finding the right balance because my body wasn’t really taking over with contractions. At about 6/6:30pm, I was checked again and was 4cm. I have to admit, that was very disheartening- knowing that in six hours I had only gone 1cm.
It was about now that I also had to come off the Syntocin, because you can only be on it for 12 hours. So after a short discussion, the doctors offered a c-section. Even though bubs was happy, they believed my body wasn’t going to to the job, so it was the best option. I really didn’t want to have a c-section, but I was exhausted; so after talking to my husband and mum, I decided to go ahead with it.
My husband has a massive issue with needles and hospitals in general, so it was decided that my mum would come in with me. I was wheeled into the prep room where I would get the epidural. It took two doctors 45 minutes to find the right spot in my spine for the epidural. I was hunched over on the edge of the bed, still having contractions but having to remain perfectly still! Once that kicked in though, I ended up being very comfortable. My mum met me in the operation room, a sheet was put up and pretty soon, I felt pulling and tugging. One mid-wife said “No one say the sex” and then the sheet was moved and my baby was held up. We quickly saw that he was a boy and then he was whisked over to the cart to get checked over.
My mum was allowed to go over and cut his umbilical cord, and one of the mid-wives had my mum’s phone and was taking a bunch of photos for us. I felt more pulling and tugging, which is a very surreal feeling when you think that that’s your inside they are handling. My first was brought back over so I could have another look and a gentle touch and then he was taken to the special care unit. He was 2,684g and 46.5cm, but because he was pre-term, he would have to stay special care for a while.
After being stitched up, I was wheeled into recovery where I had to wait, alone, for about half an hour. A nurse came over with an ice-cube and checked where I was numb; it was very weird seeing an ice-cube on my foot but not feeling anything at all. I was taken into special care where I got to see my first in his little humidi-crib thing, and my husband was there seeing him for the first time. My mum and husband went home not long after that- by this time it was about 10pm- and I was taken to a room where I spent the night trying to sleep between half hourly vital checks.
The nurse who was checking me during the night, actually took my phone and went and took pictures of my first. He put my almost flat phone on charge and left it on my pillow so I could look at the pictures when I needed too. That gesture is something that has stayed with me, I am very grateful to that nurse for doing something so small yet so massive for me.
In the morning, some nurses came in to help me get up. One nurse was finding me some clothes to wear and I mentioned that my husband had packed it, so I had no idea what was in there. She picked up a pair of little frilly, lacy undies that he had put in there and went “Is he joking?”, they were definitely not post-labour friendly! I slowly got out of bed and went to have a shower with the help of a nurse. The epidural had worn off by this stage and warm water was really refreshing after a very messy previous day. Seeing my body in the mirror for the first time was a bit of a shock; it was pink all over from the operation and was very saggy. I was very eager to put on clothes after that.
I was put in a wheelchair after my shower and taken to special care where I got to have my first hold- he was so tiny! He ended up needing photo-therapy for jaundice and had to be tube fed because we were slow to figure out breastfeeding. He was in special care for seven days and then we were in hospital for another three days after that, because the doctors couldn’t bring my blood pressure down.
I realise this is a long post, so I might save the details of our hospital stay for another post. Looking back I really wish I had a hospital bag packed sooner- I had planned to have music to listen to and snacks to munch on, and those undies that my husband packed… It took me a long time to work through my feelings about having a c-section- it was something I really didn’t want to do. I know now that it was the best thing for me at the time; I was exhausted and in a lot of pain, and pretty much out of options. It’s the story of my first’s journey into this world, so it’s a very special one.
Did your labour turn out the way you hoped? What kinds of things do you wish you did or didn’t do during your labour?
Did your SO pack your hospital bag for you? What ended up in there that wasn’t appropriate?