Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Birth of our BabyBear

It seems so long ago, and yet BabyBear is only 11 days old today.

Warning up front, this might not be everyone's cup of tea to read. This is a post that I need to write, but doesn't need to be read :) It does involve commentary and description of some of the icky parts of my experience of childbirth. It's also very long.

On Australia Day we went to a housewarming/Hottest 100 BBQ party at a friends' house. As such parties go, it was an all day party and we deliberately went before lunch so we could stay for a meal but head off if I started getting tired as heavily pregnant women are wont to do.

The party hosts did have a pool which was a welcome distraction from the fact that once again I was designated driver whilst people all around me were drinking happily.

We ended up getting home from the party at about 9:30pm, so I must have been somewhat distracted with the water. BabyCakes is glad to hear that the OB's appointment scheduled for the next day is an afternoon appointment, and not our usual 8am ish one.

I toddled off to bed and BabyCakes stayed up playing poker on facebook. He tells me he came to bed about midnight. Somewhere after 3am I needed to go to the loo, again. As a pregnant woman, you do get used to this, but retrospectively the fact that I'd been in the hour before should have been a tip off that something was different. So, I went, I wiped, I see pink. Once again, as a pregnant woman, checking of toilet paper for blood is something even the sanest most laid back women do given it is a big indicator that something is happening at all stages of pregnancy, sometimes good, sometimes bad. This is not something that bothers me at this late stage of pregnancy, it can mean labour is immanent, or it might not. One thing any health professional will want to know is how much blood there was, so one needs to get a panty liner to monitor this.

I lifted my leg up to get my knickers up (bending is difficult with a big round belly), and feel a small gush. I know I didn't wee myself, I know I didn't "do" it. I'm not 100% sure because an extra 10+kgs of weight pushing on one's lower body doesn't do a lot for one's bladder control. I know I need to talk to the hospital for some advice, so I toddle off to find the piece of paper with appropriate phone numbers etc. BabyCakes gets woken by my search, but manages to stay in bed when I tell him not to worry, and that I'll talk to the hospital and find out what to do.

The midwife I talk to on the phone tells me it sounds like waters breaking, and to come in, but don't rush, and if I'd like to wait an hour or so until I'm sure, that'd be ok too. I decide to head in straight away, and by the time we get downstairs to the car, I was sure. The bag was packed, and all I had to do was grab a couple of towels to sit on and BabyCakes looked after the bag.

We got to the hospital which was somewhat locked up in the middle of the night, so we needed a security escort downstairs. Thankfully, another couple had arrived just moments before us so we weren't in unfamiliar territory alone. As I'd stood up out of the car I'd had a gush of water, and it continued all the way to the labour ward. It was such a disgusting feeling to be leaking and not be able to control it.

We were met by a midwife who ushered us into our birth suite. I got changed into some dry clothes and waited for the midwife to come back and give me a bit of an examination and hooked me up to monitor bubs and any contractions. She felt baby through my belly and gave me the bad news that while baby's head was down and in my pelvis, her back was towards my back. I'd done my reading on labour (forewarned is forearmed!), and I knew a posterior labour (back to back) was destined to be long and ouchy, and felt more in my back than in my belly. The ideal presentation for a baby is the baby's back to mum's belly button. They can turn during labour, but don't always. The good news was that baby was completely and utterly not distressed .

The biggest problem was that labour hadn't started. Labour didn't start by the time my OB did her rounds at 6am ish. She did an internal exam which is not the most comfortable thing I've ever had a doctor do... More bad news, I was one cm dilated and my cervix was long and closed. To top it off, it seemed the leaking waters I experienced seemed to be a hind water leak (high in my belly), and the waters were intact below baby's head. The doctor used a charming tool that looked like a jumbo plastic crochet hook to pop this bit to try and wake up my body into starting contractions. It didn't, and by 7am when nothing started naturally, I was put onto a drip of chemical (oxytocin) designed to help start labour. I was hooked up to the monitor again, and we waited to see what happened.

The nurse came and went, taking me off the monitor, turning up the drip dose, putting me back on the monitor, etc. etc. BabyCakes snoozed in a vinyl recliner, and I tried to "rest" but wasn't in sleep mode. Lunch was brought in, and I was advised to stick to the light options, BabyCakes had the heavier fare, and after lunch my OB came back to visit again. More bad news. 1 cm dilated still. I needed another bag of oxytocin, cranked up to max dosage. I tried to stay upright, bouncing on a fit ball, trying to encourage baby out. The contractions did start, and they were all in my back. I asked for a heat pack, which in concert with BabyCakes' massage brought me some relief. The contractions weren't super regular, but I had faith in my body to do it's funky thing, and I'd hoped for progress. During this section my temperature went up slightly, so I was given some antibiotics via the drip to deal with any possible infection.

When my OB came at 5pm and did another internal to tell me I was only 1.5cm dilated, I was devastated.

My OB knew I wanted a minimal intervention birth.

She explained to us that the chemical being used to stimulate labour was also the same chemical they give you post delivery to encourage the uterus to contract and clot the blood at the placenta site, and there was a concern if too much was given now, that it wouldn't work then, and I would bleed too much (which doesn't sound like a good option). She said we could trial labour some more, but the reality is, babies only come out if there is 10cms dilation, 2cm, 4cm, 6cm just does not cut it, you need the full 10cm. I also knew that the contractions were getting to the point that I would fast need pain relief - an epidural would not likely be given (not that I asked) because they tend to slow down labour, and we were doing everything to speed it up, so that would mean gas and pethidine as pain relief... Also, I'd been awake since 3am, having had a big day the day before, I was tired and emotional. I told Steve that I didn't think I'd cope if I'd continued for however long they'd have let me and still ended up with cesarean as the best option. We decided that while baby and I were still calm and unstressed (within reason), that we could make an active choice and I guess I got some degree of control over a situation I did not expect to find myself in. I did cry. BabyCakes wiped away my tears and talked to me whilst my OB organised all the necessary people for my surgery.

Thankfully, there had been another lady in surgery, and we could utilise most of the same staff instead of having to wait for people to get there. I was still contracting and breathing through them the whole time this was going on. After signing the appropriate consent forms the Anesthetist and his assistant were first in to see me, and they came into the labour room where I'd been all day. I was asked if I had allergies and if I wanted to be conscious or unconscious and elected for conscious. The spinal block was administered quickly and easily, and to be honest, I was relieved. The needle inserted into my back concept was pretty scary to someone who had never been to hospital as a patient before this. It was not long before the contractions were no longer an issue for me. What did surprise me was getting the shakes. I was told this was not uncommon and to let them happen and they should pass. I must say, the anesthetist was lovely. he explained everything he was doing, and what I could expect to feel/not feel etc.

I was wheeled into surgery and placed on the operating table and the anesthetist kept up the explanations and kept me at ease. He asked me if I wanted to be told when things started, and I said that ignorance is fine, to which he replied "Good, because it has already started!" I must say, it's a really odd sensation not not feel pain, but to feel referred movement. The only thing I had to compare it too was having a tooth pulled.

My OB discovered that our little girl was also in my pelvis with her head tucked back, not chin tucked in - which was another indicator of a long and painful labour.

By the time they lowered the drape so that we could see our baby girl for the first time, I think I was still in shock. A picture not everyone will want to see... I looked at her swollen little face in wonder. They re-raised the drape and BabyBear was handed over to the paediatrician and his assistant and BabyCakes was called over to watch and be a part of the weighing and cleaning up of BabyBear. She was 3680g (just shy of 8lb 2oz), head circumference of 34.5cm and 55cms long. She got 9 and 9 on the APGAR test. It took a while before I asked if she was a girl, because I'd completely forgotten to look!

We got a brief moment to be together for the first time as a family before BabyCakes went with her while they dressed her and took some blood so she could be tested for infection related to my high temp earlier. My OB had a look at my insides (I'd had an unusually swollen ovary at one stage during pregnancy) before stitching me up. I was wheeled out to recovery and was handed BabyBear pretty much straight away and we fumbled through our first breastfeed together. The spinal block wore off surprisingly quickly and as it worked its way out of my system, my arms finally stopped shaking. I was in recovery for half an hour with BabyBear on my chest, lost in the wonder of a newborn. It was during this time that we were told that BabyBear had no infection related to my high temp.

She caught us by surprise 2 weeks early and was a very reasonable size - any more "cooking" and she would have been a very big girl! Whilst not my planned birth, we are both safe and healthy. Recovery from the surgery has been very straightforward as I took the advice of those around me and kept up my pain medication, only now just starting to contemplate reducing it.

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