This is my birth story of my second daughter Mackenzie Mae. It is an epic, so grab a coffee and some biccies.
Tuesday 6th ~ I had my first acupuncture appointment, I’ve never had acupuncture before and had no idea what to expect. The only thing I could envisage was these long ruler length needles sticking out all over my body. I can say it was nothing like that, the needles were much smaller than expected and the whole experience was extremely relaxing. Immediately after my treatment I started to experience Braxton hicks contractions. I then had an obstetrician appointment with my fill in obstetrician as mine was on holidays this week. I asked the obstetrician to perform a stretch and sweep (knowing that my obstetrician had declined last week, so I figured I would try my luck again), which he agreed to. He however told me that my cervix although very soft was still closed. The evening primrose oil, the breast feeding and raspberry leaf tea was obviously doing something. He also told me that the baby was still only 5/5 engaged, basically not engaged. I left there feeling incredible sore downstairs, so was hopeful that it might trigger something, anything.
Wednesday 7th ~ my Braxton hicks contractions from the day before fizzled a few hours after my obstetrician appointment and amounted to nothing. I had another acupuncture appointment today and was prescribed some Chinese herbal medicine which needed to be mixed in warm water not hot and taken every two hours. This stuff was absolutely disgusting. After the appointment I was again feeling nice and relaxed but no contractions to be had.
Thursday 8th ~ Coco’s due date and it was also the final of my three acupuncture appointments to try and encourage the onset of labour. Lea, my acupuncturists upped the ante today and changed the pulsation of the machine. Wasn’t too sure if it was going to work but I definitely felt nice and relaxed. I almost fell asleep, actually I probably did, when the needles were in my back. I was still drinking the most disgusting brown dish water (Chinese herbs) two hourly as prescribed as well. Man they better be doing something as they are foul.
Friday 9th ~ I am officially over due today and running out of time before my scheduled cesarean section on Monday. My doula emailed me a castor oil cocktail that her midwife swears by, apparently it has never failed her, I was prepared to be the first. It consisted of 30ml each of vodka, orange juice and castor oil, which you needed to take three doses of over a three hour period. I decided to give it a go Friday morning. It was definitely an interesting mix, the castor oil conjuled into little balls and the vodka was very potent, think that could just have been because our vodka hadn’t been touched in a while. I persevered with all three doses, hey I was willing to give anything a bloody go to have a chance at my body going into spontaneous labour. Apparently the vodka masks the effects of the castor oil on the bowels and the orange juice is to mask the taste of the castor oil. The only thing I could taste was the vodka, probably as I hadn’t touched the stuff in other three years.
My doula arrived at about 10.30 a.m. and we all went for a walk down to the local shop, wishful thinking that something might happen, only thing that did was that we had a lovely drink and a bite to eat before heading home. Back at home it was time to relax, so on went the calming music and out came the oils. Angela was burning clary sage oil and made up a quick massage oil with the clary sage which I massaged all over my belly in a clock wise motion as advised. I was getting the odd Braxton hicks contractions but nothing out of the ordinary to what I had been experiencing previously.
After lunch around 2ish (which I could stomach very little, didn’t think much of that as I had chowed into a big bowl of chips at the shops earlier) we headed into town for me to get a hair cut and for Andrew and Taleisha to buy me a mother’s day present. Just before I was about to go into the hairdressers I had this sudden urge to go to the toilet. I quickly left Andrew behind and waddled as quickly as a heavily pregnant woman can to the public toilets making it in just the nic of time and ever so graciously emptying my bowels in an explosive rush. Funnily enough with bowels now empty I felt OK, so I waddled back to the hair dressers and got my hair chopped off, well a much shorter and neater do then before. The whole time I was getting my hair cut we were joking with the hair dressers that the lady cutting my hair better do a good job as I was going to be on the front page of the newspaper with the mother’s day baby. After my hair was done, I was feeling pretty knackered so we went home. As soon as we got home I again needed to go to the toilet, apparently my stomach was not quite as empty as I thought it was.
Later in the evening I noticed my Braxton Hicks contractions were occurring more frequently and causing some discomfort, I started to think maybe this is it; maybe one of the many things I’ve tried has actually done the trick. By about 9pm and after trying to watch “I am legend” and declaring it too weird, I decided to go to bed as I was not feeling well. After trying to read a book for a while and nodding off, I called it quits and turned off the light only to be kept awake by a quick succession of Braxton hicks contractions. I tried to go back to sleep but it was not happening, so I just laid there. At about 10.30p.m. I felt a sudden gush of liquid, like I was peeing myself, I quickly jumped up, held myself between my legs, like a little kid trying to hold on to a wee and ran to the loo, cursing my bladder the entire way. I started to wonder that maybe my waters have broken but wasn’t completely sure if it was it, I was feeling like an absolute novice and everything I read just didn’t make sense and was mush in my brain. I changed my pjs, thankfully I missed the bed, so no need to change the sheets and told hubby. He told me to call the hospital but I wasn’t too sure. I really wanted to stay home as long as possible, and given the hospitals policy on VBAC I would need to go straight in, so I wanted to be sure before I did anything.
I went back to bed and realised that the contractions were still coming every 5 – 10 minutes and they were getting stronger. I decided to give the hospital a call, and surprisingly was told to stay home until my contractions were regularly seven minutes apart, take some panadol and try to get some sleep, yeah right which lunatic thinks a couple of panadol is going to do the trick with contractions coming so frequently, never mind everything pumping around in the body. Needless to say I didn’t get any sleep. A short time later I felt a further gushing of water and was pretty damn certain this time that things were on the way, my body was going into labour by itself (OK maybe I encouraged it a little bit)
By about 11.30 p.m. I had long given up on getting any sleep and had relocated to the lounge room and my fit ball to try and get comfortable with the contractions, which were now coming at about 5 minutes apart regularly. Figured I should give the hospital a call and was advised to make my way in. I told hubby to get dressed and to call his mum. MIL arrived about half hour later, hubby then had to install our spare car seat into MILs bloody car and I showed her how to use the stroller, we were on the way. SMS’d my doula and told her we were making our way in, she messaged back to see if we packed the oils, no, shit they’re still on the kitchen bench, so back home we go, quickly grab the oils and now this time we’re on our way.
Question hubby on his choice of routes, he swears this way is quicker, I tell him not to speed, there is no rush this baby is still a while off, he then turns down the worlds bumpiest road and he cops a royal serve what a dumb arse, no idea why he thought it was wise to drive his laboring wife down a bloody road like that. Needless to say I did not enjoy that part of the journey one bit.
Saturday 10th ~ We arrived at the hospital at about 1.30 a.m. and went straight up to the labour and birthing suite. We were directed to our room, a room where we were about to spend a hell of a lot of time. The midwife then did a quick check and gave me the good news, I was only 1cm dilated and the baby was only 4/5 engaged. Queried whether I could go home but due to the VBAC and the distance we lived from the hospital I had to stay. Was feeling slightly deflated at this point, given the regular contractions. The obstetrician was contacted and thankfully by some small miracle I was not put onto the foetal monitor, it is allegedly hospital policy with a VBAC for continuous monitoring, so was very happy about that. My doula arrived a short time later and was thankfully in possession of my birth plan which I had forgotten, whoops, must have been the excitement that my body was doing something right and I didn’t care what happened next. I was experiencing labour, I was happy.
My early contractions although they were painful, they were quite easy to breath through and managed to get through then with just focusing on my breath. The contractions continued to come at about 5 minute intervals. I also started to pull out my birthing tools – I had stress balls, oils and focus objects. I also found a nice comfortable position seated on the fit ball. I think I remained on the fit ball for hours, which is probably why at one point my leg cramped and the pain from that was worse than the contraction pain. I found sitting on the fit ball and leaning on the bed the best posie, as it allowed me to put my head down and hold onto what ever I wanted during the contraction and just draw into myself to focus on my breathing. I had a shower as this is also where I thought I would spend the fair majority of my time but could not find a comfortable position. We also went for a couple of walks, massaged some more clary sage oil into my belly and even contemplated using the breast pump except by the time I got it going I was having another contraction, so found it more of a nuisance than a help, anything really. I was also smelling the focus sniff box to try and control my breathing.
We continued like this quite happily, hubby, my doula and I for hours. At about 8am my breakfast was brought in but the midwife asked if I would hold off until I was seen by the obstetrician before I ate, I agreed although was internally cursing, I was bloody starving and was wishing I’d cracked open the snakes earlier in the morning. The on call obstetrician arrived at about 10a.m. I think and had a quick read of my birth plan. We discussed many aspects of it, apparently some of the things I had put in there were not necessary as it was no longer the case, hey I was covering all bases. After we spoke, we were both happy with a general game plan and would see what happened. She unfortunately advised me that I would have to be monitored, so had the foetal monitor hooked up to the portable machine. Although I really didn’t want continuous monitoring understood it was the policy for VBAC so dealt with it and hey I had had a good run, as I’d been in hospital for about 9 – 10 hours already and had managed to escape it. She then performed an internal and gave me the ever so depressing news, I was only 2cm dilated but was completely effaced or something like that. I just couldn’t believe it, what on earth had all those contractions been doing. At this point I really didn’t think I would be seeing this through to the end. The obstetrician also advised me that she didn’t think I was in labour (I wanted to punch her) and that this was just pre labour, oh joy, if this wasn’t labour, I sure as hell didn’t want to see what labour was. Oh and the midwife was right, no food for me, man I was hungry!!! I also had to have an IV put in, just in case. Unfortunately it took the woman about three attempts to get the bloody thing in. I also had to have blood taken and although she got this on the first go, she apparently nipped a vein, blood vessel or something as I have a nasty arse bruise on my arm.
Things pretty much carried on like that for a while, the midwife was basically permanently in the room with me as the signals for the monitor kept being lost. The contraction one on the top of my belly just rolled up and the one for the baby heart beat would roll down, it was quite amusing, the joys of a basketball belly. We sent my doula home as we figured we were in for the long haul and she needed to breast feed her 9 month old and have a sleep; she was no good to us sore and tired. Shortly after though the intensity of my contractions were definitely building and I was really needing to draw into myself and focus on my breathing, I was surprised I wasn’t letting out these primal noises but I was finding the most respite from the pain, inside myself with the focusing. Unfortunately the monitor was showing that with each contraction the baby’s heart rate was dropping quite severely. They suspected that the cord was been compressed. The obstetrician was called back in and examined the results. We discussed what the possible options were. She said it was very likely that I may need a caesarean section if the baby continued to show the signs it was showing when I was contracting. At this point, after been awake for far longer than I would like to remember I was happy with what ever decision was made that resulted in a healthy baby. I was also happy that even if I had to have a caesarean section I had experienced labour. As I was apparently in labour now (it was about 11am) according to the obstetrician, it was decided to see how things went for a short time and if things were worse than it was off to theatre for me. Thankfully this was not the case and I was able to continue to labour.
Hubby was starting to get really worried for me as he could see that I was in a lot of pain and was very tired. He’s professional self was taking over and by about lunch time he was asking me to take something for the pain, so I could get some rest. I persevered against his judgment for another couple of hours but by 2pm I was hungry, tired and just really mentally, physically and emotionally over it, I needed something, so we asked the midwife for a shot of pethadine. The midwife said it wouldn’t remove the pain but just take the edge off it. Well if I thought I was going to get some rest I was seriously deluded, the pethadine did one thing and one thing only, it intensified the labour, everything sped up. My contractions started to come quicker and harder, it was like they had been given a huge sugar boost and they were off. I think I laid down and tried to get some rest for about an hour but after a while I just gave up on the rest thing it wasn’t happening and got up out of bed. I think hubby really struggled in knowing how to help me, so I unfortunately had to direct him quite a bit to get him involved. This was not made easy with the contractions. If I’m honest with myself, I think the pethadine was the best thing we did, it allowed my body to completely relax and for labour to really kick in, without it I think my story would end here. So although it gave me no relief from the pain, it did its thing.By about 4 or 5p.m. I was again no longer coping and I called for an epidural. I was getting severe pain in my lower back and bum, and it was believed that my baby was posterior, which was why I was in so much pain, oh joy.
The anesthetist arrived about half hour to an hour later and proceeded to put in the epidural, I only wished he would hurry up as I was really struggling and my body was physically shaking with the pain, I know now that I was probably going through transition at this point however no internal was conducted as I don’t think anyone thought I would have progressed that far in such a relative short period, given the previous 12 or so hours. When they were fitting the tubing apparently the anesthetist skillfully managed to tie a knot in it, I can tell you I sure as hell did not find that the slightest bit amusing, my contractions were coming right on top of each other and I felt like my butt was about to explode if I didn’t do a poo right then, the pressure was so intense. Eventually the epidural went in, I had a cocktail epidural with the mistaken belief that I would still be allowed to be mobile. So as soon as it was in, I asked to go to the toilet so I could do a poo. My midwife advised me that I wouldn’t be able to get up from the bed and if I really needed to go I could try and sit on the bed pan or alternatively I could strip down below and lay on some disposable sheets, so if I did a poo they could quickly clean it up, I chose the less dignified of the two options, as I really couldn’t see myself maneuvering to use the bed pan.
I soon learnt that an epidural will mask pain but not pressure pain, so although I now had this supposedly blissful epidural in, I was still in severe pain due to the pressure on my butt. I just couldn’t believe it; all I wanted was a bit of respite. The midwife told me to try and not push when I felt the pressure, easier said then done I can tell you, I told her that if the obstetrician came in and performed an internal only to tell me I was 3 or 4 cm dilated that I quit and they can use the escape hatch. The obstetrician arrived at about 6.30ish (I really don’t have a huge recollection of the time) and the midwife advised that I had been getting these pressure pains for over an hour. The obstetrician performed an internal and told me that I was fully dilated or that my cervix was completely open or something like that, I couldn’t believe it. She suggested that I get on all fours to help the baby turn. At this point, my doula arrived back, hubby had been sms’ing her progress reports. So I awkwardly repositioned myself, leaning over the top of the bed. I was then instructed to push down with all my might when ever I felt a contraction. Given the epidural had done very little to mask the pain, I felt every contraction and could also catch the in between ones as I could see the numbers on the monitor when they were going up.
I can not describe what an amazing experience it was to feel my baby move down, of course it hurt like heck and I was probably making the most noise I had made all day, I was groaning everytime I needed to push down. I tried using the coffee plunger visualisation, but found the most useful thing was listening to my midwife, who told me to push down into the bum where I was feeling the pressure.
It felt like an eternity when I was pushing, especially when I could feel the baby’s head at the entrance only for it to slip back, although at that point I was filled with absolute desire to get this baby out that I pushed with all my mite and after a couple of more pushes my baby’s head was out, it was really strange the sensation of the head coming through and it going all slippery and bloody. The shoulders and body followed suit pretty easily and my beautiful little girl was born at 7.42 p.m., ok she didn’t look all that beautiful all gooey and bloody but I was in love. The obstetrician handed her up between my legs and my heart just melted, all the pain and frustration was forgotten immediately. I then repositioned myself on the bed, were I could sit and I just sat there gazing into my daughter’s eyes, who was letting everyone know she had arrived and was giving those lungs an extreme workout.
I then delivered the placenta and required a bit of repair work, I had a second degree tear on the perineum which needed stitches and a graze at the front, and a lovely dose of the hemorrhoids, so just slightly bruised and battered, but over the moon that I managed to have the birth I had hoped for. The midwife showed me the placenta and it really is an amazing thing.
Mackenzie took to the breast straight away and was feeding within a half hour to an hour after delivery. She was such a petite thing compared to her big sister and it just goes to show that those growth scans really are just a guessing game, at 7lb 10oz, Mackenzie is a far cry from the 9lb they had predicted.
After a couple of hours of cuddling our beautiful girl, I got up out of bed and had a quick shower to clean myself up and I proudly wheeled my daughter in her bassinette to our room. (the first of many, in my four nights I had three rooms; the first the bathroom light konked it, the second was outside the nurses station and on the last night the family room became available so I jumped at the chance to have a double bed and to get away from the nurses station)I feel so proud of myself and in awe of my body that I could go through such an experience, especially as in those last few days I really doubted that my body was going to experience what it did and I was being such a negative ninny, so when I gave birth to Mackenzie I was immediately on such a natural high that I had a smile from ear to ear and you would have been hard pressed to guess that I had just gone through about 20 hours of labour and hadn’t slept since Thursday night/Friday morning.
The official run down on my hospital records has my 1st stage at 8 hours, 2nd stage at 42 minutes, third stage at 7 minute and membranes ruptured for 21 hours. So it was definitely a long 24 hours, but I wouldn’t change a thing, well except maybe eating those snakes in the middle of the night, my reheated lunch at about 9p.m. at night was the best thing I had eaten in years I was that bloody hungry.