Last time I wrote about Seagull's birth story. Today I write about Wombat's.
While I was at peace with the way Seagull was born, I really wanted to have the experience of birthing without an epidural. I found out about Hypnobirthing when I was about 30 weeks pregnant. There are no hypnobirthing classes run near where I live, so I made do with buying the book and reading about it. It explains that the reason labour hurts is because we are told it does, so we fear it. When we are afraid of something, we become tense and the tension translates into pain. Long story short, the book goes through strategies to self-hypnotise so that you are able to relieve tension. You still feel what's going on, but because you are not tense, you're not in pain. I figured I had nothing to lose and a lot to gain, so I read on and tried to practice the things the book outlines, some aspects with more success than others.
At the beginning of my last week at work, I was 33 weeks, 3 days pregnant. I started to feel a bit uncomfortable during the morning. It felt like Wombat's head had dropped and I couldn't get comfortable sitting. I couldn't stand for more than a couple of minutes either, so I was alternating between sitting and standing every few minutes. I just didn't feel right, so I called my OB's office and asked to speak to the midwife. I was told that she was busy and that she would call me back as soon as she had a chance.
By lunch time that day, I started feeling cramping-type sensations. I was feeling really uncomfortable by this stage and the midwife at my OB's office still hadn't called back, so I decided to call the maternity ward at the local hospital, just to get some reassurance. They didn't like the fact that I was having regular cramping every 3 -5 minutes and tried to talk me into going to another hospital that was a good 50 minutes away as both of the paediatricians on staff at the local hospital were on leave. I started to freak out just a little at this stage. When I told them that I have a son in childcare and no family in the area to pick him up if my husband and I both have to go down to the other hospital and queried if my OB would be able to see me down at the other hospital, they told me to just go in there and they would check me over before deciding if they needed to send me to the other hospital.
I was in tears when I told my boss what was happening, but he was really good about it all. He told me not to worry about anything at work, that they would all be able to cover for me and to just concentrate on making sure that everything was OK with Wombat. I then had to call Thunder Maker to let him know what was going on and to let him know that I'd be coming to pick him up. It was a 10 minute drive to get to Thunder Maker's work and I was having cramps about 2-3 minutes apart the whole way there. He took over the driving and took me to the hospital.
When I arrived, I was hooked up to the CTG. After 20 minutes, I was told that I was having contractions that were 2 minutes apart. I really started to freak out at this point. When they did an internal on me and did some swabs, they said that my cervix wasn't softening, so that was a good thing but that they wanted to keep me in and give me something to stop the contractions. Just after all of this was done, the midwife from my OB's office called me, so I told her what was going on.
Thunder Maker and I were pretty worried that night. We didn't tell anyone other than a close friend what was happening and that was only so we had someone lined up to look after Seagull in case I went into labour. We figured there was no real point in telling anyone because we honestly thought that we would be ringing everyone in the next day or two to tell them that we had had our baby and I just didn't need the hassle of everyone constantly calling (mainly my Mum - love her to bits, but she worries a lot) and projecting their own stress onto me.
I had a nitroglycerin patch stuck on me later that evening which is meant to stop the contractions. It slowed them down, but didn't stop them altogether. It also gave me the worst headache I've ever had in my life. I was so crabby about it all that I felt like jamming someone's head up their backside. The patches have to be changed over after 24 hours and I really didn't want to put the second one on the next night, but got guilted into it by one of the midwives. Over the three days I stayed in hospital, the contractions gradually subsided until they stopped altogether. On my third day in hospital, one of the swab results had come back positive for a bacterial infection. The treatment was via antibiotic cream inserted "up there" via an applicator. Nice. Only a bloke could have come up with something so unpleasant. I got to go home on Thunder Maker's birthday. Seagull and Thunder Maker were both very glad to have me back at home.
I probably should mention at this point that I had never spent the night away from Seagull before, thus Thunder Maker has never had to get Seagull ready for childcare all by himself. Thunder Maker did an awesome job of putting cloth nappies together, making sure that Seagull had the right things in his lunch box and getting him dressed every morning. Seagull came to visit me wearing some very interesting clothing combinations, but I figured that the important thing was that he was dressed when he left the house.
I had a very nervous wait for the next few weeks. First of all I was hoping that Wombat would at least wait until the paediatric staff got back from leave so that if he did come early that we could at least stay in our home town. Then when they got back, I was hoping that he would hang out until 37 weeks so that he would be full term when he was born. Then I got to 37 weeks and started trying to serve him his eviction notice by using accupressure points that are meant to induce labour and getting regular massage done and telling the massage therapist to do what she could to set me off. None of it worked.
I went to see my OB at 38 weeks, 3 days and started bitching and moaning to him that I'd had enough. He checked me out and said that I was 1cm dilated, but my cervix wasn't thinning. He got in and tried to do a membrane sweep, but couldn't really get in enough to do it effectively. I went home feeling rather down about it all.
Two days later, a friend who had just trained in how to teach hypnobirthing classes came to visit me to have a bit of a chat. She left me with a couple of CD's to listen to. I decided to listen to them that night in bed. My Nan (who was staying with my Grumps in their caravan in the driveway) told me to call them at 2am. I was really puzzled at first until I figured out what she meant, then I laughed and told her not to be silly. I went to the toilet to get ready for bed and had a show. I got really excited and got up to the hospital to be checked out. I wasn't in labour, I wasn't leaking amniotic fluid like I thought I may have been. They told me it would probably still be another couple of weeks away. I was given the option of staying in overnight if I wanted, but I figured if nothing was happening, that I'd be better off at home. I didn't want to talk to anyone when I got home. Nan told me that it would probably happen soon. I'd finally given up on it and told her that I'd probably end up going past my due date. I read some Terry Pratchett and went to bed.
I woke up at about 1:20am and I knew straight away that I was having contractions and they were for real. I went to the toilet, then crawled back into bed and breathed my way through them for about 30 minutes. They were about 5 minutes apart. I woke Thunder Maker up and told him that things were happening for real. We waited another 10 minutes, then called the hospital. They told us to wait another 30 minutes and call back if they were the same or any closer. They were still 5 minutes apart 30 minutes later, so we called back and they told us that we could come in. I had to call Nan at pretty much spot on 2am to get her to come into the house and keep an ear out for Seagull. She was pretty pleased with herself that she had predicted exactly when we were going to need to go to the hospital.
When I got to the hospital, I was 2cm dilated and my cervix was really soft. I concentrated on my breathing for the next three hours during contractions, got in the shower, got out after a while when I got the shits with it not working for pain relief and asked for an epidural. Nope, no epidural, I was 7cm. I got offered pethidine instead, which I accepted. I had three doses over about 5 hours and I think it became apparent to the midwife that things had stalled. She called the OB in and he had a look. Another midwife came in with him. I was still at 7cm and Wombat had turned posterior and lifted his chin so that the widest part of his head was presenting. I knew where things were heading at this point and I told the OB I didn't want a c-section. He told me that he'd organise for an epidural, break my waters (they still hadn't broken), give me an hour and see what happened.
After my waters were broken, the anesthetist came in (I was very pleased that there wasn't going to be a two hour wait this time) and started asking what felt like 20 questions. I have drug sensitivities and I get that she was trying to ascertain how that was going to come into play with the epidural, but I was having contractions so quickly that I was struggling to comprehend what she was asking and just wanted her to shut the hell up. What really took the cake though was when she told me that I'd need to sit up on the edge of the bed for her and lean forward. I felt like doing all sorts of nasty things to her at that point (which isn't fair, she was only trying to do her job), but settled for shooting daggers at her instead. There was no way that I was capable of getting upright under my own steam at this point, so Thunder Maker and the midwife dragged my protesting body into a sitting position.
Once I was where the anesthetist wanted me to be, she came toward me to place the epidural, but I started to have a really intense contraction. I was able to say "contraction!" and she told me to let her know when it stopped. Well, this bastard thing just didn't feel like it was ever going to stop. I kept trying to do my breathing exercises through it, but it just continued to get worse and worse in intensity. I got to the point where I started screaming down the room, and I'm sure they must have been able to hear me down the hallway in the maternity ward. Poor Thunder Maker was trying to talk me down from it, but he was talking too much for me to be able to concentrate on him and it was only making everything worse. I screamed at him to shut up and he rather meekly obliged.
Finally, the contraction started to subside, only for another one to start again moments later. This time, I urgently needed to go to the toilet. I tried to get up from the bed, only to have the midwife grab my arm and ask where I was going.
Me: I'm going to the toilet, I need to do a poo.
Midwife: No you don't, sit back down.
Me: Yes I do. I'm about to poo myself.
Midwife: No you're not, please sit back down.
I started pushing involuntarily at this point. I was super embarrassed that I was going to drop it right there and then, but I had no choice in the mater and I took a perverse sense of satisfaction that she was going to be cleaning it up. Serves her right for not letting me go to the toilet.
Midwife: You're not doing a poo, you're having the baby.
Shit! I can't be having the baby. I'm only 7cm dilated and he's in the wrong position. I immediately tried to stop pushing. You know that feeling when you need to go and you're trying to hold it in until you make it to the toilet, but you can feel it creeping down anyway? That's what it was like when I tried to stop pushing.
The midwife encouraged me to lay back on my side and asked the second midwife to get the OB back into the room to have a look. He must have only been next door, because he was back in a matter of moments. I was now fully dilated (had gone from 7cm - 10cm during that one bastard contraction) and Wombat was now anterior and had dropped his chin (looks like he had turned as I had been dragged up to sit). I was good to go.
During contractions, I made a concerted effort to bear down, rather than push to the point of straining like I had with Seagull. I ended up with internal haemorrhoids after having Seagull and I did not want a repeat experience, thank you very much. I went right into myself. These contractions were nowhere near as bad as being in transition was. I just tuned everyone and everything else out and concentrated on bearing down. I could feel that I was making good progress. In fact, I didn't notice any pain associated with the contractions at all, just the actual contracting sensation.
About 10 minutes and 6 contractions after being given the go-ahead, I was told that Wombat's head was nearly through. Yeah, you reckon? 'Cause I wouldn't have known that if you hadn't told me. I gave it a little more effort on the last contraction because I just wanted to get his head out. Once it was out, I could rest. Finally, the head was through. Then the OB started tugging on Wombat's shoulder. Damn, he hadn't shot straight out like Seagull had. I don't want to push any more. Just give me a moment to collect myself, then. No? OK then, I'll muster up some energy and push - I don't want to be torn to shreds for the sake of a shoulder. I gave it one last push and Wombat was out.
I was exhausted, yet elated and so at peace with myself. I had birthed my baby without an epidural and I hadn't needed a c-section. He was handed to me and I was immediately struck with how different his nose looked to Seagull's. He was crying away and I cuddled him to me and told him that it was OK. He squawked a little more, then settled down, snuggling into my breast. I cuddled him for about 10 minutes, then I offered him to Thunder Maker for a cuddle. They had a cuddle for a while, then Wombat came back to me and snuggled back into my chest. About an hour after he was born, he started nosing around, looking for a feed. I teased his lips with my nipple and he immediately latched on perfectly.
I've always said that Wombat didn't want to come out via a c-section any more than I wanted to have one, so he decided to cooperate and come out the way nature intended. He was born at 10:20am on 27 Oct 2010, weighing 3.58kg (7lb 14oz) and measuring 50cm.