It’s been a while since my last post but I’ve been very busy cleaning and sorting and cleaning and organising and cleaning and washing. Not to mention all the cleaning I’ve been doing. You see I’m 38 weeks pregnant now and every day feels like an eternity as I wait for the first pangs of labour to signal the imminent birth of our second baby girl. Everything is as ready as it can be for her arrival, but unless we stop living there will always be more cleaning.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about those precious first days and weeks after Little Chop’s birth – hours spent sitting on the couch holding her in my arms and staring at her as she slept and fed and slept again. I was completely overwhelmed with love and awe for this perfect little person I had grown and nurtured in my body for forty weeks and three days, and equally filled with anxiety and self-doubt about my ability as a first time mother. I cried a lot as I struggled to breastfeed a big, hungry baby through cracked bleeding nipples. At Little Chop’s one week check I was told she had lost too much weight because my milk supply was low. I left the nurse in tears and cried for hours feeling as though I had failed as a mother already and should just switch to formula. I know now that the nurse was wrong, I had plenty of milk but it didn’t come in until four or five days after Little Chop was born. Of course she would lose a lot of weight during that time. We went on to breastfeed for 16 months. I now believe the delay in the arrival of my milk was due to being induced and losing about three nights’ sleep in the process.
For those of you who are interested, I thought I would share Little Chop’s birth story as I remember it.
I woke up the morning after Little Chop’s due date with wet undies. My waters hadn’t gushed as such but they were definitely trickling. Excited and nervous, I called my partner at work and my mum to give them a heads up then went for a walk around the block. No contractions.
When I got home I called the labour department at my hospital and the midwife advised me to come in to be assessed. I waited for my partner and mum to arrive, gathered together my hospital bags and off we went. At the hospital the midwife confirmed that my waters had broken, no meconium was present, and that we should go home, get some sleep and return at 6am the next morning for an induction. Needless to say I did not sleep at all that night.
We arrived at the labour & delivery admissions the next morning, weary and anxious to begin, but ended up sitting in admissions for hours. After what seemed like an eternity, a nurse came to take us to a birthing suite, hurrah, it was finally happening! No, it was not happening. We were turned away from the delivery unit and sent to ‘maternity daycare’, apparently a couple of emergencies had come in that needed to birth ahead of me. More hours passed, baby was monitored, and my anxiety and frustration continued to grow. Around 3pm we were finally taken to a birthing suite, I felt relieved and excited. A midwifery intern greeted us and told us that the induction would begin at about 5pm. I immediately burst into tears. More waiting. Was I ever going to birth this baby!
The time finally came and I was hooked up to a pitocin drip. At first it was all laughs and smiles. We took photos. My partner napped overhanging a tiny 1.5 seater couch. Then the contractions picked up pace and pain and things got serious. The midwife offered me gas for the pain, which I inhaled and immediately felt out of control, like when you have one too many Bacardi Breezers and the room begins to spin then you throw up all over your shoes. I freaked out. I yelled at my mum. The midwife said I was euphoric – I think psychotic is probably more accurate. I was then offered pethedine to which I replied, ‘I want an epidural.’
Over the next hour as we waited for the anaesthetist, my contractions continued to build. Not once did they break to let me breathe and gather strength. As one contraction started to fall a stronger one would begin. I watched the intensity rise and rise on the monitor. The tens machine I had hired offered little pain relief but turning it off and on again was a welcome distraction. My mum and partner were on either side of me holding my hands but I have no recollection of anything that was said.
At about 10pm the anaesthetist came in to administer the epidural. He was smiley and handsome and as the pain began to dissipate I nearly declared my love for him – I’m sure he’d heard it many times before. The panic subsided and I felt excited again. At this stage I was 7cm dilated so the midwife advised that I get some rest before the pushing stage. My partner says I slept, I’m not sure about that, but I did rest.
Sometime around midnight a doctor came to the room and said that Little Chop needed to be delivered because she was becoming distressed. I was 10cm dilated and ready to push. With my legs up in stirrups the doctor positioned the forceps, my partner stood by my side holding my hand and my mum paced behind the doctor ready to watch the birth of her first grandchild. The doctor said that an episiotomy would be necessary, I was going to have a big baby. I consented, I was ready to get down to business.
I pushed for what felt like 15 minutes, closer to 45 in real time. Once Little Chop’s head was born her body came sliding out with the next push and my stomach deflated like a burst beach ball. She was flopped onto my chest like a slippery jellyfish and whisked away moments later. She was blue, the cord had been wrapped around her neck. In seconds the room was full of people. I should have been feeling elated but I was confused, I didn’t know what was going on. My mum told me that they were giving her oxygen. Little Chop’s first Apgar score was 4, her second was 8. She gave us a scare but she was okay. She didn’t need to go to the NICU. After ten or fifteen minutes, she was returned to me for skin to skin and soon had her first breastfeed. At about 2am, my partner and mum left to get some rest.
Little Chop continued to suckle on and off for the next five hours until the midwife came and told me to have shower so that we could go to the post-natal wing. I wasn’t really ready to get up, my legs were still a bit shaky but I thought that we could get more settled once we were in a post-natal room. I walked to the shower, stripped off and promptly fainted. I came to with two nurses standing over me, they got me dressed and wheeled us to our room. I shared a room with a woman who had seven young children – they all came to visit…at the same time. Her husband brought peace offerings of Turkish gozleme and Lindt balls, which I happily accepted.
Although I had envisioned a birth with as little intervention as possible, I don’t feel traumatised or disappointed looking back at Little Chop’s birth. In fact, I hate to think what might have happened without medical intervention. A lot of people these days advocate for a particular type of birth experience, but I can genuinely say that all I want is to birth healthy, live babies and not come off too worse for wear myself.
On that note it’s time for this tired mama to get to bed.
Until next time…