20 February 2013

Shae's Birth Story: Part Two

[Read Part One]

After about fifteen hours of active labour I was thinking that I could handle a couple more hours, but with no progress and potentially many more hours of labour ahead I knew I was done. Just after 9am we decided it was time to transfer to hospital, have an epidural, and get that baby out! I was disappointed that the birth was going to be radically different from what we'd hoped, but I knew this was the right decision.

The next two hours were the hardest part of labour. Once I decided to get the epidural I wanted the relief immediately! I was completely out of my hypnobirthing zone and no longer able to breathe quietly through the contractions, and I obviously had to get out of the birthing pool which made things even harder. I'd heard from some people that being vocal during contractions made them easier to handle, but this wasn't the case for me. While everyone else was getting things ready to leave for hospital I was pacing around, moaning quietly to myself, and wishing that we could hurry up already!

We drove to hospital, with a few delays thanks to roadworks, and arrived around 10am. I was able to walk up to a private birthing room where I was hooked up to machines to monitor contractions and the baby's heart rate. By this stage I was exhausted, sitting on the edge of the hospital bed and almost falling asleep between contractions. It was almost another hour before the admission process was complete and the anesthesiologist was available to administer the epidural. But then things got a lot better!

The next few hours were almost relaxing with no pain and a while to wait before I was fully dilated. Owen managed to take a nap but I was still feeling too excited to sleep. I spent the time quietly resting while the hospital midwives kept an eye on things, and after a couple of hours break my midwives Juliet and Jo came back for the delivery. And then it was time to start pushing.

Although I knew it was coming, I felt really unprepared. Whenever I'd thought about the pushing stage I always assumed I'd just allow my body to do what was needed, but with an epidural everything was different. Because I couldn't feel any contractions or sensations I didn't know what I was supposed to be doing, and the delivery started to look like a scene from a movie - I was surrounded by people telling me when to push, how long to push for, and where to focus my efforts.

I couldn't tell if I was making any progress at all and after about thirty minutes there was still no sign of a baby! And then the heart rate became erratic and things started to become a lot more serious. The hospital staff went into overdrive mode and were ready to rush me into theatre for an assisted delivery immediately. Luckily Juliet was there to calm things down, and made sure we had time to discuss our options with the surgeon.

By that stage I knew the baby wasn't coming out without help, and we decided that using ventouse was the best action. I was wheeled into theatre and set up with a sheet blocking my lower half so I couldn't see what was going on, which I was grateful for! As I started pushing again, the surgeon assisted with the ventouse and it looked like everything was working... until the suction cup slipped off the baby's head. When it happened again the surgeon suggested forceps, which I'd initially been against but we were running out of alternatives. And then the forceps slipped off the baby's head and we realised there was only one option left - a cesarean.

My first hold, about five minutes old

Things were happening so fast that I didn't have time to think about it. Because of the long labour and interventions the baby was in distress, so everyone was working as quickly as possible. The surgery seemed like it was over in a couple of minutes, and our sweet baby was born at 6.37pm (almost 38 hours after contractions started!). He was rushed over to the other side of the room to be resuscitated, but because of the screen I couldn't see what was going on. Owen and Juliet were both with him and the hospital staff seemed pretty calm, but the next couple of minutes felt so long and it was such a relief to finally hear him cry! I was sobbing and shaking when he was bought over to me a few minutes later, and was so happy to finally hold him in my arms after so many months waiting to meet him.

The dramatic highly-medicalised hospital birth was so different from the calm homebirth that I'd imagined. Although I'm disappointed that things didn't happen the way I hoped, my main feeling is one of gratitude. I'm so thankful that everything worked out. Holding our beautiful, healthy baby made the details of his arrival seem irrelevant. He was here and that was what really mattered!