This is an edited and updated version of my birth story that appeared in Maternity matters in April 2011
I had a fairly uneventful pregnancy- a few episodes of going to get movements checked and a funny thing where I was suffering with some kind of sleep apnoea and kept waking up having stopped breathing! But there were no major concerns. Towards the end I was incredibly uncomfortable- the baby had its feet right up in my ribs and it hurt! I had a very compact bump that measured perfectly for my dates and during pregnancy had actually lost weight from my face legs and arms- it had all gone into the bump- no-one actually suspected munchkin was going to be a big baby because of how compact everything was!
The baby had been in the back to back position for most of my late pregnancy and didn’t seem to want to turn, my bump was so incredibly tight and they were worried about the position so I went to have a scan- was told munchkin maybe 8lb’s ish and was very hairy!
Three days before I went into labour I was convinced my waters had gone- so off I trekked to the hospital to be checked out. A very nice midwife informed me that I looked just like Julia Roberts (I don’t) and then said I was mistaken re. the waters and I was sent home. The next day (my official due date) I had managed to convince the lovely midwives at the day unit to do a sweep as I was in so much discomfort and just wanted the baby out! They did and said everything felt ripe and ready. The next day I lost my mucus plug and at 4am on the Sunday morning my waters went just as I was getting up to get a snack. Annoyingly this meant I forgot all about my snack- this was be one of the first mistakes I made! We rang the hospital and although I wanted to stay at home for as long as possible- they said to come in to be checked out. So we rang a taxi and I had a shower and my contractions started. By the time we got to the hospital my contractions were every 2 minutes and getting quite painful. I had been in labout for less than an hour. At the labour ward there was no-one on reception and no-one answering the buzzer. I started to panic- suddenly my contractions got more painful and I started to cry. Finally after my husband phoned the labour ward someone came to the door to let us in. I couldn’t walk so they got me a wheelchair. They offered me the birthing centre. I think my response was “fuck that I’ve changed my mind I want an epidural”. The contractions were coming so frequently I barely had time to catch my breath- they were incredibly painful- I screamed through each one. They offered me pethidine but when I found out I would need to then wait longer for an epidural I told them in no uncertain terms I wanted an epidural. I was about 4cm dilated. Tried gas and air but I wasn’t shown how to use it properly and I just ended up vomiting everywhere. They were trying to get lines into me but kept bursting veins so blood and vomit was spraying everywhere. Not quite the calm serene birth experience I had hoped for. Finally after about 4 attempts they got a line into me (my arms were a mass of bruises for weeks afterwards). The anaesthetist finally arrived. I was so out of it with the pain that I barely remember what happened but after a while I started asking when it was going to start working- the midwife told me it hadn’t worked- I wonder how long I had been screaming for! During this mayhem time which I can barely remember I distinctly remember being left on my own with my husband- I felt a really strong urge to push. I was screaming for help as I didn’t know what to do and no-one was helping us. A blonde midwife came in and seriously I think she may have had a halo. She held my hand and calmed me down and honestly things were better in those moments she was with me- I begged her to stay but unfortunately she was looking after another lady so couldn’t and I got allocated a grumpy uncommunicative midwife instead. Lucky me. Finally a second anestheist arrived and the second epidural worked- I informed him I loved him and would leave my husband for him (It helped he looked like Daniel Craig!).
After that was 6 hours of pain free bliss- I was sitting up drinking water- reading magazines and chatting- it was lovely! I could still feel the contractions but there was none of that excruciating mind blowing pain- just tightenings I could totally cope with. I did ask not to have so many top ups of my epidural but the midwife insisted on topping me up every hour on the dot- “you don’t want that pain to come back do you?”- no I certainly didn’t so I meekly agreed.
Then it came to the pushing stage- cervix fully dilated and good to go. I had asked if I had to be on my back to push as I had read all the books and knew it was a stupid position to push in- I was told yes I had to because of the epidural (later found out to be false but at the time I put my faith in the medical professionals).
I started pushing- bearing in mind I have been in labour for 11hours- I haven’t eaten for 24hours (darn me forgetting that snack) and I happen to be numb from the waist down and birthing a big baby- can you see where this story is going…
…apparently they let you push for an hour before they go in and get the baby out. Well that hour was back to the hell of the pre-epidural labour. They decided to let my epidural wear out so I could feel to push- they racked up the syntocin drip and everyone was shouting at me to “push out a poo”! There were lots of people around and it was seeming serious as Munchkins heart trace was going wobbly. It just wasn’t happening- munchkin had turned slightly but was still in a funny position- I was screaming for hammers to knock me out with by this point and begging for a c-section- but munchkin was almost out- they then offered for me to change positions but by this time I was too exhausted. I distinctly remember wanting to die and not caring if the baby died- my exact thought was “I didn’t meet the last baby (my previous pregnancy was a miscarriage at 10weeks) and I was okay afterwards, I’ll be okay if I don’t meet this baby”. This is one of the main thoughts that haunts me since then- the fact I gave up on me and my baby.
They saw I had given up so they decided it was time to go and get her. They topped up my epidural and got the scissors. I don’t remember them cutting me- they then tried ventouse- I remember the obstetrian flying backwards across the room and a big wet plop- that didn’t work then! I actually wanted to laugh but everyone looked kinda grim and serious. They then got the forceps- munchkin was wrenched out of me- they really had to yank her. My belly felt odd and deflated it was such a strange sensation.
She was taken away and rubbed- I couldn’t see her but could hear the odd mewl- doctors were working furiously on her. Things weren’t good. I started cracking jokes- can’t remember what about but they probably weren’t funny. They started stitching me up and I said “I know the rest of my birthplan has gone to shit but I want your best seamstress on the job- that was in my plan- my skin scars badly”- the obstetrician looked offended and said “you’ve got me”- she did a good job though! Ooops!
Munchkin was shown to me- dumped on my chest for 30seconds so I could see her- she was enormous, fat, puffy and purple- I had absolutely no interest in her- she wasn’t mine- she hadn’t just put me through that. She was then rushed off to NICU- my husband went with her. Again I didn’t really care- I was so shell shocked. All I wanted was my tea and toast- I had heard it was like manna from the gods after labour so I was really fixated on it. It was really very good! Then I wanted a shower and to get cleaned up- again no interest in munchkin. Munchkin was born at 4.15pm on Sunday 7th Feb. At about 8pm that evening I had finally collected myself and wanted to see her- I could barely walk- I was probably in extreme shock. They got me a wheelchair and took me to see her. She was covered in tubes and extremely puffy and enormous. In NICU there were lots of tiny preemie babies and then the giant baby in the corner. She was 4.25kg at birth or 9.5lbs. We didn’t really know what was wrong with her other than she had suffered a bit during the birth.
We later found out Munchkins diagnosis was “Hypoxic Ischemic Encepalopathy Grade 1” and congenital pneumonia and a few other things. The thing they were most worried about was the oxygen starvation from labour and possibly brain damage. Munchkin had an MRI at 8days old. It showed a “neurocortical event” but not damage as such. We were basically told- good prognosis but wait and see. It wasn’t until munchkin was 3/4months old and started to roll over in advance of her peers that I was finally able to relax about her, but even now I still have the odd moment of worry about her development. Since then she has gone from strength to strength- she has met or exceeded some of her milestones although she is slower with others and she is amazing.
I will post about the post-natal hell next.