Tuesday, September 9, 2008
birth story: sarah and summer + tips for first-timers
"My first baby was due on the 4th of June. I think I had a lot of wishful thinking throughout my pregnancy that I would go into labour early, but six days after that date I was still waiting! I had done some sessions with a friend's mum on Lamaze-style breathing and birthing (she's had five children and is an expert!) and was also lucky enough to get some material from another friend on hypnobirthing, including some excellent reading and a great CD. I found the hypnobirthing mentality and approach to birth very helpful in relaxing me in the build up to the birth, and it helped to rearrange my thinking in terms of pain during labour and the journey of childbirth.
I had a really relaxed day with my husband Paul on the Saturday, we went shopping and it was a lovely day really! I had had a lot of very strong Braxton-Hicks contractions all throughout my pregnancy and in the last month some very strong sharp pains whenever the baby was pushing on my cervix so I had this instinct that my cervix was quite 'ripe' as they call it. However a doctors appointment two days earlier said I still wasn't that ready so I wasn't expecting anything.
After getting up from a late afternoon snooze, I was delighted to feel my waters break around 6pm. No labour started so the hospital said to have some dinner and then come in for a check up. The waters just kept on breaking, it was quite full on actually and I made quite a mess at the hospital while they monitored me for a couple of hours. So around 9pm they sent me home with some antibiotics and an apointment for a 6.30am induction. I was disappointed that I was going to be induced but just glad something was happening!
Almost as soon as we got in the car to go home I felt the Braxton-Hicks get stronger but still didn't think anything of it. We went home and I got in the shower (the waters were still breaking and I just felt so icky!) and called my Mum and best friends and told them what was going on. My best friend who had had a baby girl just two months earlier thought something was up when I had to stop talking to deal with my 'braxton hicks', as well as my Mum who started to time them when we were on the phone and I realised they were probably about five minutes apart.
I watched a DVD on my laptop in bed for a while and then called Paul to start timing these contractions. They were about three to four minutes apart and quite intense but I was using my very long hypnobreathing and was coping OK.
All I had heard during my pregnancy was stories of women who kept thinking they were in labour when they weren't so I still didn't want to believe I was anywhere near labour, just in case! But we called the hospital and after I got quite short with the midwife on the phone, they told us we had better come in. I was quite happy about this as I didn't think I could cope that well in the car (my husband had lowered our car and the suspension was terrible!) for much longer with the intensity of the contractions!
One red light later and lots of green ones and we were at the hospital again (third time that day). I was casually shown into our birthing suite, told by the midwife I was 5 cm dilated and probably in 'some form of labour' and should expect to have a baby by the next day. It was about 12.50am. I thought to myself, my goodness, I have to keep doing this til the morning and I still may not be in labour? I was struggling a little to cope with the contractions now and just lay down on my side, closed my eyes and kept breathing through them. I tried some gas but that didn't do anything and I was very happy at least that with each new contraction (a minute or so apart by now) the intensity and pain was stepping up, at least I was progressing!
I then felt the need to go to the toilet and I found the contractions so much easier to deal with sitting up. Then, all of a sudden, the pain didn't go away after the last contraction, it just kept on keeping on! I started to get very distressed and was asking the midwife what the hell was going on! She then had a bit of a peek with a torch and told me she could see the baby's head (!) and I was not allowed to stay on the toilet! I was very upset about this and started to want to give up (I think I asked for pethidine) but was ignored and moved promptly to the bed while the doctor and midwives (and Paul, who ran to the car to get the baby's clothes) hastily got gloves and lots of other things ready. I was obviously in transition. The pain was incredible! I just remember saying, 'I need to go to the toilet but I can't!' and 'I don't want to do this anymore!' Obviously the baby was ready to go and the pressure was very intense.
So I started pushing and the pain went away really (until the head was crowning, nobody told me about that!). I started to get a bit narky during the crowning part, demanding the midwife tell me exactly how many pushes I needed to get the head out (which of course was a guarantee she could not make!) and I think I really crushed Paul's hand. I just remember him feeding me iced water, incredibly thirsty work that it was. It was all a bit of a blur and I think I pushed for about five contractions and before I knew it my darling had slithered out (the cord was around the neck so they took care of that before the rest of the body came out). They put her straight on me but it was quickly evident she wasn't breathing so they whisked her away for a couple of scary minutes (when I heard them say 'Her') and things were a bit grim there, they started to call the pediatrican before I heard a little cry and we all breathed a sigh of relief! The next thing I knew I had my daughter in my arms, all squinty and scrunched up and perfect and I knew it was the best moment of my life and the bravest and most fantastic thing I had ever done. I couldn't believe it was finally over and we had a little girl!
As you can see by the pic, the look of disbelief says it all, it all happened so quickly! I am so lucky to have had a such a positive and stress-free experience, my darling Summer Shirley entered the world at 2.35am, the 10th of June 2007 about three and a half hours after I started to monitor my contractions at home in my bed! I was also so lucky that she took to breastfeeding like a duck to water and it all went very smoothly straight after the birth. It was a very relaxed time really.
I am still in awe of my body and the miracle it achieved: just half an hour later I was standing up having a shower (somewhat shakily) and then the endorphins and hormones must have kicked in because I don't think I have ever felt so wonderful in my life.
So there it is, my very positive (but still quite painful, of course) birth experience, the best thing I have ever done. Thank you for listening!"
And thank you for sharing, Sarah!
For anyone pregnant for the first time, there are two things I think any mother will tell you you're pretty much guaranteed to say during labour:
1. "I can't do this anymore!" and
2. "I need to go to the toilet"
The first one is pretty bloody obvious: you're exhausted, it's painful, new, a little scary and if you've been at it for hours, you might even be considering a DIY caesarean to "get this thing out of me" - oh, wait, maybe there are three things you'll say..!). But here's the thing: you CAN do it. Might not feel like it, but you can and basically, you have to. It can't stay in there forever. And when you do do it, you'll feel a million dollars. OK maybe not straight away, but when you think back to it, you'll be so proud. And think of the reward you get at the end.
The second for those not in the know: if you feel you need to do "number twos", you're probably ready to push. You might be trying to convince the midwife you really just need to go to the toilet, but she'll be trying to convince you to get on the bed or into a birthing position. Trust her and don't worry about the whole poop thing - s**t happens in childbirth. Literally! And noone gives a crap. Haha. Sorry about all the puns, but really, it's true!
One other thing that Sarah mentioned: you feel better on the loo. I think donut-cushiony chairs are in order for birthing suites if they are not already. Mine didn't have one, so the toilet was my throne during Zak's birth. Not the most lovely place to hang out, but contractions are more manageable while you're upright but you're still sitting down so your legs and body won't tire too quickly. Vertically is also the best way to push - gravity rules remember!
Don't forget: if you want to share your birth story, nursery or have a preg/birth/parenting question you'd love some advice on, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm not saying I have the answer for those preg/birth/parenting questions, but some blog readers might so I'm happy to ask it for you.