Okay, 23rd December 2004. Last thing before bed I go to the toilet – again! And pass a big glob of mucous. Something’s happening! I silently hope for a Christmas Eve or Boxing Day birth.
I don’t sleep very well, which has been the way for the last month or so. I am humongous, in loads of pain with Symphisis Pubis Dysfunction, all swollen and puffy, and in the last week I had come up in the itchiest rash on my legs, hands and tummy. Plus Ella wakes up 3 times.
The next day (Christmas Eve) Ella and I have a list of things to do, and as the shops are going to be closed for 4 days we head to Coles (Madness!) I am feeling crampy, over it and so, so tired. So when we finally get out of the shops we head home and while Ella has a sleep I do too. We sleep for just over an hour, and by then I am pretty convinced that I am in labour. I keep thinking that when the next pain comes I will ring Raff to let him know what’s happening. But when the next pain comes I think – Oh, I don’t want to jinx it – so I wait till the next one. At 4 o’clock when they have been 7 minutes apart for an hour, I call him. He is on his way home anyway, but I tell him to finish running the errands that he has to do. He hasn’t even purchased his Secret Santa gift yet!
At home I am pottering around trying to think what needs to be done first. I pack bags, I tidy the house, I finish wrapping Christmas presents and I prepare food that I promised I would take to my Uncle’s for Christmas lunch. I talk to Mum on the phone a dozen times to work out the logistics of the evening. We try to decide whether to put Ella to bed here or at Mum and Dads.
Raff gets home, and he has bought us a digital camera! Cool!
It’s getting closer to Ella’s bedtime, and I don’t feel ready to go to hospital, so we decide to leave her here, and worry about it all later. Mum and Dad are at my sisters’ house constructing a swing-set for her kids. I am grateful that she only lives around the corner.
Around 9pm Raff decides to cook dinner, even though I keep saying that I am not hungry. While he is doing that I am making a Tiramisu for Christmas in between contractions. At 10pm and still not hungry, I have a nice long hot shower. When I get out I am so, so tired. I can barely keep my eyes open nor stand upright, let alone labour! I lay down in bed, and Raff brings in dinner. All of a sudden I am ravenous, but it sure is tricky eating Spaghetti Marinara lying down in bed!
Mum and Dad come around, and after watching me for awhile, they convince me to go to the hospital to see where I’m at. So after a lot of dithering about from me, with lots of lists and instructions and scenarios, off we go!
We get to the hospital and stand pushing the after hours entrance button for ages – no one answers! Eventually I looked through my bags and found the hospital phone number and Raff called them on his mobile to tell them we are waiting. Meanwhile, I am pacing, pacing, pacing.
The midwife arrives with a wheelchair, as she was watching me on the video monitor, and said I looked like I needed it. We arrive in the delivery room at 11pm, smack bang on change of shift. So we waited through handover and then met our midwife Cynthia, a familiar face as she assisted Ella and I with our breastfeeding attachment. In fact the whole situation is familiar. Same room and same bed as Ella’s birth brought back some vivid memories!
Cynthia does an internal and Bugger! Due to baby presenting posterior my cervix is high and tight! I so want to go home now, I am desperate for some sleep, and at least at home there is a semi chance of that happening. But Cynthia has other ideas.
Apparently she would ‘never send a lady home that was contracting that hard and fast’. Contractions are between 3 and 5 minutes apart, and even though the backache is severe I still feel like I am coping well. One half of me thinks that is great, the other half of me knows that I am in nowhere near enough pain to be doing anything constructive to my cervix…..
Its 11:45pm and the lady in the next room is screaming and moaning in the final stage of labour. I do not need this!! I am talking to Raff non-stop really, really loud to try and block her out. I want to go home.
At midnight my OB shows up, does an internal and pronounces me at between 3 and 4 cm’s. He offers to break my waters and I refuse. The news of the quick dilation plus the fact that the back pain is easing a lot, cheers me up as I now presume the baby has turned anterior. We ring Mum and invite her up. She managed to catch 2 hours sleep on the couch. Dad stays at home with Ella.
For the next few hours it’s just walking and talking. I reckon I must have walked 100 miles – the soles of my feet ached for days afterward! I asked very nicely, if at all possible could an episiotomy be avoided as I had months and months of pain with my last one. At some stage another internal says I am at 5 cm’s. Every time a contraction started I would go and lean against a bar in the bathroom. I was on and off the toilet constantly weeing and wiping off loads of mucous – nice! I felt that I was coping well on my own during this time. My sister, Rachel arrived around 3am, just as I was getting up on the bed for another internal. Oh – still 5 cm’s ? I agree to have my waters broken. Bugger, meconium staining. Oh sh*t – not progressing, in loads of pain and now my baby is in distress ? I was overwhelmed with panic – for 5 seconds – then, and I still don’t know how I did this, I managed to harness that panic into a positive energy. My baby needed me to be strong.
Cynthia wants me laying on the bed for constant foetal monitoring. No way! The pain is unbearable there. I need to be upright and moving. So she followed me around with the monitor My contractions are excruciating, I now need Raff’s strength and support to get through each one. In between contractions my poor husband is falling asleep, he looks so knackered. I almost feel bad for waking him every 2 minutes – then I remember that I’m the one in bloody labour!
I am getting to a not very nice place. I cannot believe that I came back for this a second time. Never again!! The midwife thinks that I am having trouble coping and really wants me to have some Pethidine. Whereas I feel that I am just so overwhelmed with tiredness, and therefore finding it hard to focus. But I know I don’t want Pethidine, and I believe I can get through it. Thank goodness that the baby’s heart rate is doing all the right things this whole time.
At 4:30am she talks me back up onto the bed and after quite a lot of effort I’m up there, and another internal puts me at 7 cm’s. She strongly, strongly, strongly recommends that I give the gas a whirl – which I do. (It’s funny, but up until now I hadn’t even thought about the gas at all) She then proceeds to manually stretch my cervix the last few centimetres hmm, I just crossed my legs thinking about it. Well, let me tell you, the bloody gas did jacksh*t to cover that pain. OMG!!! I’m screaming and screaming. The midwife turns around and says to Mum, Raff and Rachel ‘Oh, that may seem (SEEM!?) a little (LITTLE?!) barbaric, but it’s for the best’
And she had a point! Within half an hour I am feeling very ‘pushy’. So at 5:15am she calls the OB at home and tells him to come in (“Don, Nicole’s fully” then hangs up the phone LOL)
I was so hot, and so thirsty, I had a wet face washer covering my face, and just kept saying ‘Drink’. Then with Mum and Cynthia on a leg each (Interesting as there is about a foot difference in height, so their hips were in different places!) and Raff and Rachel at my side I’m ready to puuuush. What an awful, yet relieving feeling. 4 pushes and there’s a head – dark haired! The cord was wound tightly around the neck a few times, and I gather by everyone’s silence, and the midwife saying ‘It’s okay, the baby is still getting oxygen through the placenta for a few more minutes’, that all does not look well. But then with a very, very apologetic episiotomy (Quote from me when told – “Cut me, whatever, just get the f*cker out!”) and one more push it’s all over. 14 minutes after I started pushing.
And it’s a girl. A girl?! I was so positive that I was having a boy that all I could think was ‘A girl?’ I had to look from underneath the face washer still covering my eyes and I just couldn’t believe it. And she looked so, so small. I was expecting a really big baby. But, worst of all, she was very still and quiet, and as I was holding her someone else was holding the oxygen mask over her face. I placed my hand inside her blankets so that I could feel her heart beating. And waited. Then finally, she cried. Music to my ears! Then the OB showed up.
I deliver the placenta – easy. But then everyone starts to look worried (again!) I’m bleeding and bleeding. I get a drip inserted quick smart and I really don’t want to look down. Raff told me later that they had put a bucket under me, which seemed to fill up way to quick. No one is talking and they are all so busy, and serious.
Eventually, after some pretty painful uterine massage, they all seem happy that the bleeding has slowed down enough. The OB begins to stitch me up which hurts a fair bit, but OB keeps saying, ‘That shouldn’t hurt, you’ve had a local’. Maybe I should take a needle and thread to his genitals one day….
And then I begin to vague out. Raff took the baby from me, and I can hear her crying and I can’t do anything for her. It all seems so far away. I think we named her. Only that week we had decided on Charlotte Lily. I felt so awful, and everyone just kept talking at me to try and keep me awake. How annoying! I just want to sleep. All I can say is ‘I’m just tired, let me sleep’ and ‘I’m just hungry, that’s all’. But no one would get me food as the kitchen doesn’t open till 7….
And then my fantastic Mum appears beside me with a plate of buttered toast. I hadn’t even realised that she had left the room. She had driven home to get it for me! Cold and soggy, it was the best toast I have ever eaten. I heart my mum.
Eventually Charlotte was weighed 8po 2oz (3680gm) 50cm long and 33cm head circumference, so 2cm and 200gm less than her sister, plus a 4cm smaller head! I managed to breastfeed her. She latched on like a champion, and would have stayed attached for ages, but after 20 minutes I was nearly falling asleep. I just wanted a shower, some more food and a nice dry bed that wasn’t soaked through with my blood.
No one wanted me to take a shower. I was too weak, I had lost loads of blood and they were talking about a transfusion (I kept mumbling to Raff, ‘I’m A positive’) but I was covered in blood, it looked like I was wearing red knee-high socks. Plus I had Charlottes meconium smeared all up one leg and over my chest. They kept trying to talk me into a sponge bath. No thanks! I have no idea how I managed to walk to the shower, but thank goodness for the bench in there! Raff hosed me off, but I can’t say I enjoyed it. I was shivery and still very vague. I was carried to a wheelchair and wheeled through the hospital corridors with only a towel draped over me. The midwife and Raff helped me get dressed and then loaded me into bed. I fed Charlotte again while Raff handfed me bacon and eggs. Thank goodness Charlotte then slept for 5 hours, and Mum and Dad waited till 10ish to bring Ella in to see her baby sister.
Though everything pretty much went as I wanted (no drugs etc) I was very, very down and traumatised by the whole experience, and took quite a few weeks to bond with Charlotte. I loved her, but………..
I handwrote this about 2 months after she was born. She will be 5 months old next week, and I have well and truly bonded with her, and absolutely love her to bits. I think that even though I honestly didn’t mind if I had a boy or a girl, because I was convinced that it was a boy, it kind of threw me for a while. (You know how people always ‘know’ what you’re having? Well, every single person that I came across in my pregnancy said BOY, the pregnancy was so different in so many ways, and at 38 weeks I did the wedding ring test – BOY. Bloody old wives tales)
Charlotte is under there somewhere :(