All birth stories are different and we want to empower and support all kinds of births. We all have individual reactions to reading birth stories; some make us happy, laugh, cry or feel sad. Here at The Merge Journal we hope to give the mother who writes her birth story a sense of empowerment. A time for reflection. We respect all the different types of individual birthing stories.
Hannah has bravely shared with us here, the birth story of her daughter Eden:
Thursday 12 November – 3am
I woke to go to the bathroom and discovered that my mucus plug was starting to come free. How’s that for an opening sentence?! I went back to bed but got up again at 5am and found there was more. I also started having some very light period type cramps so I woke Ben and we agreed he would stay home from work that day. We lay in bed for a while talking excitedly about the fact that today could be the day.
The cramps continued throughout the day but they were bearable. We took a walk up to our local shops and I spent a lot of time bouncing on the gym ball. By afternoon they had started to get more intense and we decided we could start calling them contractions as opposed to cramps. My mum and dad decided to drive down from Tamworth that night and they arrived around 9pm.
I didn’t sleep at all that night as the contractions continued. We started timing them and while they were painful and consistent, they stayed around 6 or 7 minutes apart all night. I tried lots of different positions to cope with the contractions but found that either kneeling on the floor and leaning against my bed or leaning over a chair worked the best for me. At around 3am I reluctantly called the midwives. My assigned midwife Fiona was on leave that day, so I was put through to her sister Jane, who also works at Belmont Midwifery Group. I felt terrible waking her but she agreed to come around and examine me come daylight.
Friday 13 November – 6.30am
Jane arrived and examined me. I was gutted to discover I was only 1 – 2cms. The contractions were painful and I could mainly feel them across my pelvis and in my hips. As I was a week overdue, I was scheduled to go out to Belmont for an ultrasound that morning. I honestly thought I wouldn’t be overdue (don’t we all!) and was hoping to not have to go to that appointment, but alas. My appointment was at 10am so off we went. I was still contracting and very emotional throughout the whole thing. The purpose of the ultrasound was to check the fluid around the baby and thankfully all was okay.
Following that, I went upstairs to the birthing centre so they could put a heart monitor on (CTG). I was monitored for about an hour and I was still contracting every 6 minutes or so. I saw a different midwife again, Margot. I don’t think she quite believed how uncomfortable I was and she was a little blunt with me until she examined me at the end and I was 3 to 4cms. Still, she insisted I was not in labour (not what you want to hear!) so sent me home with panadene and told me to rest. It was about 1pm by the time we left.
I was in too much pain to rest and couldn’t stay lying down through the contractions. By about 6pm it was becoming unbearable so we called the midwives. Shifts had changed and this time it was an English lady named Jackie. She agreed to come around and examine me again. This time I was 6cm. Woo-hoo! It was go time. We grabbed our things and headed out to Belmont. We being me, Ben, my mum and sister! Quite the team.
Friday November 13 – 8pm
Just to keep things interesting, on our way to the Birthing Centre we were stopped in traffic due to an accident. It was pouring rain and a man had been hit by a car. We had to take a detour to get to the hospital. Ben did tell the policeman I was in labour and asked if we could perhaps go through (like something out of a movie) but no dice.
So we arrived around 8pm and Jackie was running the bath for me. We were the only ones there so it was quite peaceful. I hopped in the bath for an hour or so, with contractions getting more and more intense. I couldn’t seem to get comfortable no matter what I tried. Ben hopped in with me too for a while. After about two hours Jackie said I should probably try and go to the toilet as I hadn’t been in a while. She indicated that she thought I was in the transition stage and getting ready to push, so she was busy getting everything ready. I hopped on the toilet for a while and stayed there through a few contractions. I then decided to hop on the bed and try and rest.
At that point everything seemed to slow down again. Jackie decided to examine me again and discovered I had not progressed past 6cm. I was so frustrated and exhausted at this point. My waters had not broken either. Jackie suggested that the best thing would be for me to transfer to John Hunter hospital to have my waters broken and perhaps be induced. She recognised that I was just so exhausted and wouldn’t be able to go on for much longer.
At that point I just wanted it to end. Throughout my entire pregnancy I had been working towards a nice natural birth without intervention but I got to the point where I just wanted my baby out safely and I didn’t care how it happened.
We arrived at the hospital around midnight. They were expecting me and had a birthing room ready. I was introduced to the midwife Emma and doctor Peta and I immediately knew I was in good hands. From the moment I got there they were so attentive and explained everything in detail so I knew what was happening and might happen. Dr Peta couldn’t believe I had been repeatedly told I was not in labour and commented that if I had gone on for much longer she feared I may have haemmorrhaged.
The first thing they did was break my waters. At this point they discovered that Edie had done her first poo in the uterus which is a sign of distress and can lead to infection so I agreed to be induced. They also discovered that I had gone from 6cm back down to 4cm. I was hooked up with two cannulas – one for fluids and one for the induction hormones. They gave me the option of an epidural, which I agreed to have to try and get some rest. The anesthetist came to do that and it probably took an hour all up. I am shocking with needles so found that pretty stressful. It worked pretty quickly and I was able to get some rest. I could still feel the contractions on one side but the pain was far less than before. Ben, Mum and Soph all decided to get some rest too so it was like a big slumber party in my room with people all over the floor. Sophie napped in the bath and scared one of the doctors at one point as they didn’t know she was in there!
I can’t remember when she came in but at some point a second doctor became involved. Her name was Mercy and she was just beautiful. So gentle and personable. After maybe two hours on the epidural she examined me and I was finally fully dilated. The plan was to leave me to rest for another hour and then start pushing. I was hooked up to the heart monitor and after another 20 minutes or so they noticed Edie’s heart rate was fluctuating and made the call for me to start the pushing now. Given my level of exhaustion they had explained to me that they may need to use forceps and an episiotomy but they wanted me to try pushing first.
My god it was hard…but I tried for probably half an hour. I managed to get her head to almost crown but ran out of steam so they told me they would need to use the forceps. I remember seeing all the instruments on the table and freaking out so I just closed my eyes and focused. I still had to push but within about 10 minutes Edie was on my chest, and words can’t describe the relief. It was now 5.24am on Saturday. I cried and cried and looked at Ben, Mum and Soph and they were all crying too. The doctors had called a neonatal nurse in to the room just in case they needed to take Edie away but she was perfectly fine and could stay with me. The feeling of her on my chest was amazing. She was so soft and slippery! We didn’t even check if she was a girl for about 5 minutes. I remember saying to Ben – “so is her name Eden?” Haha. Watching her find her way to my breast for the first time was so amazing. I still can’t believe they know how to do that!
Not too long after, my Dad arrived. Meanwhile I was being stitched up which took about an hour because I had two tears (3rd and 2nd degree) and an episiotomy. Thank god for the epidural! My legs felts so numb and I had no control over them. I also lost about 700ml of blood so was on antibiotics for the next couple of days.
I couldn’t have asked for better care from the doctors and nurses. They were so encouraging, not to mention skilled and at one point there were 7 people looking after me (plus my crew of 3!).
I stayed in the birthing room for another 6 or 7 hours before moving to the ward. Ben’s parents arrived around mid morning. The drugs had worn off and I was in a bit of pain by this point so they didn’t stay long but came back later that day. I ended up staying in hospital for 2 nights.
I’m now slowly coming to terms with what I feel was a fairly traumatic experience. It was in no way what I had expected but I’ve learned that you really cannot anticipate how labour will go and having a healthy baby and mummy at the end of it is really all that matters. Throughout my pregnancy I had a number of professionals tell me that I would have an easy labour. Looking back I’m a bit baffled as to why they would make these comments. Easy pregnancy does not equal easy labour! Unfortunately I was given false hope and that only added to the stress when it all went pear shaped. To be honest there have been some dark days. I have felt completely overwhelmed and not myself at times. I believe I’ve suffered a bit of post traumatic stress, on top of the normal ‘baby blues’. But the reason I am able to write this now is that I’ve definitely turned a corner and I’m feeling more like myself. We have an absolutely beautiful baby and we are learning more about each other every day. We have overcome some breastfeeding challenges and we are settling into this new crazy life and I am so lucky to have had so much support from Ben and our families.
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