Friday, 31 August 2012

A Birth Story

I don't know why, but people's labour stories are interesting. Here's my own, except without all the sensational "I felt like I was being ripped in half!" smugness, because one thing I've learned is that sort of dramatisation is nonsense and unnecessary. Epidurals people: there where it's at.


The last week of my pregnancy was extremely uncomfortable. In addition to being crippled due to my sciatic nerve, I also started retaining water like a boat with a hole in it. A heat wave out of Africa had reached us, and the soaring summer temperatures caused my hands to swell so badly I could hardly bend my fingers, my feet were enormous, and my face was really puffy. To be quite honest I was really, really upset because my body just felt out of control. Additionally, it was getting harder to feel Little Baby kick and that made me nervous.

On Friday morning, August 17th, I had an appointment at my doctor's office at 8:00 a.m. to see the midwife. Naturally, I woke up late. As I hurried to get ready to go, I quickly used the facilities wherein something wasn't quite right. Namely, it was one of those gross things that signal your body is getting ready for labour. Dan was just getting ready to head out the door for work, and I told him he'd better come to this appointment with me.

We got to the doctor's office, per usual I had to pee in a cup, per usual they checked it, and then the midwife told me that something was going on but not in a 'labour is imminent' sort of way; just a "anytime within the next two weeks" sort of way. As a precaution I was hooked up to the CTG machine, and the baby's heartbeat was very high. Because I hadn't had time to eat or drink anything before leaving, my doctor figured this was probably the reason why it was elevated. At this point Dan went to work and I stayed hooked up to the monitor for another forty minutes. My doctor then had me into her office to do an ultrasound of the baby.  When my doctor did the ultrasound she said that my amniotic fluid levels had gotten too high in one week--borderline dangerous--and she was going to keep in contact with me over the weekend, and on Monday if they hadn't gone down she was going to induce labour.

After the ultrasound, she and the midwife asked me to please go have breakfast and drink a lot of water, try to go for an hour walk, and then head back to the office for another control to see how the baby's heartbeat was doing.

So I slowly limped the three minutes it takes to get to the Migros restaurant where I ate breakfast, drank three bottles of water, and sunned my pasty skin for awhile. Then I sighed in annoyance that I now had to drag my gimpy body around the block before returning to the doctor's. I got up and put my tray away and started to walk out of the restaurant when I felt a very alarming small 'gush' of water. I froze like a deer and remained still--refusing to take a step--unsure of what the hell happened or what I was supposed to do. I was afraid to move. So with breathless nervousness I called Dan and told him to meet me outside the restaurant ASAP because I couldn't be sure but maybe my water had broken.

But maybe it hadn't.

But maybe it had.

But maybe it hadn't.

I wasn't soaking wet, after all.

Maybe I should have read the labour part of the baby book, a little more carefully.

When he got to me I decided I'd been wrong because I wasn't soaked, and decided to skip the hour long walk but do a little turn around the block before heading back up to the office. So holding hands he helped me walk around the block and we basically spent the entire time speculating WTF? As we walked, a butterfly with orange wings and black tips rested on my belly and rode with us for a ways. This seemed really poignant to me: a peaceful symbol that all would be okay.

Apparently pregnancy hormones also make me super hippy-dippy.

When we got back to the doctor's I told the midwife what happened, and she checked me out and said that though I wasn't soaked, my water had broken and I had to get to the hospital. Dan became a whirlwind of adrenaline, and in a flash he was out the door and speeding back to our apartment to grab all the necessities we would need. In the meantime I was hooked up to the CTG machine again, and the baby's heartbeat was reassuringly normal.

When Dan returned to the office he was sweating like a sprinter; probably because it was already 32 degrees outside and it was only 11:00 in the morning.

When we got to the hospital I was put up in a pre-labour room in the delivery wing, and for the next three hours Dan and I played Monopoly on my phone and wondered when the baby was coming. At around 2:30 my doctor came to check on me, and the midwives told her that they didn't think my water had broken since their tests didn't show I was loosing amniotic fluid. Then for the next half hour I was intimately and uncomfortably investigated for signs that my water had broken, and I can't be sure but at one point I think they tickled a lung. After the investigations my doctor profusely, profusely apologised but all tests indicated that it probably hadn't been my water that broke, but rather the second--false--water sack.

If it had been my water, I should be showing way less amniotic fluid in the ultra-sound since it had now been four hours since the apparent rupture.

Because I wasn't showing any contractions that indicated labour was starting they told us we could go home, but to rest assured that in their estimations I would likely be going into labour in the next two weeks, or else on Monday if my amniotic fluid remained high. So with great dejection we packed up to head home. We decided to take the bus, since I obviously wasn't in labour.

We walked down to the bus stop as silent as ghosts, both of us feeling majorly bummed that we didn't get to have a baby that day even though we knew she was still four days too early of the safe "37 weeks" marker. When we got to bus, Dan hurried ahead to get my ticket as the bus was almost ready to leave. As I hurried a few steps to make it, I felt a huge, undeniable, gushing of water.

Then another one.

Then another one.

Then I started to hyperventilate because water was gushing down my legs and forming a puddle at my feet.


My water had definitely, undeniably, broken.

School kids swarmed around me to make the bus and in a panic I yelled at Dan to get back to me as water continued to gush down my legs. My pants were so soaked, you could snap them. Honestly, I was freaked out and MORTIFIED: it was 3:30 in the afternoon and people were staring with bugged out eyes at the hugely pregnant woman standing in a puddle of water on a 37 degree day that was a dry as a Sahara breeze.

"Oh my god, oh my god, ohmygod, ohmygodohmygodohmygod," I kept crying as I sucked in air.

I don't really remember it, but Dan turned me around and propelled me back in the direction of the hospital as I kept gushing more and more water.

"It's fine, it's fine! We're so lucky we're still at the hospital! You're fine!"

The bus stop where it all happened. I was standing right where the girl in black is.
My shoes squished and squeaked as we walked back, and once the hospital came back into view I got over being mortified and instead started to laugh at how hilarious this scenario actually was. When we got back to the delivery wing the midwives clustered around the door in confusion as to why we were back, and in hurried Swiss-German Dan told them without a doubt my water had broken. With a snap of my wet pants they all doubled over in laughter and disbelief, and for the second time that day I was ushered into the pre-labour room where I changed into dry clothes and Dan and I resumed our Monopoly game.

That evening around 9:30 my doctor stopped in to see me on her way home from a party, and as she walked in the door she cried, "You're unbelievable! I've never done so many investigations on a person to see if their water broke, only to have it really break 15 minutes later! Unbelievable!"

I wasn't sure whether to be flattered or feel like maybe I'm a medical freak who should end up in a textbook. In the end I didn't answer because I was having a contraction.

My doctor then told me that with average labour times she figured she'd be seeing me around 7 or 8 in the morning for the delivery of our Little Baby. She squeezed my hand and wished me a good night, and after she left all Monopoly play ceased as my contractions started coming with fast regularity every two minutes.

I was not getting the breaks that I had heard about.


At 11:00 they put me in a delivery room, and determined I was only four centimetres dilated even though my contractions kept coming and coming and coming with no relief. With my whole body shaking with adrenaline I sort of gasp/cried if I could "please" have an epidural, before promptly throwing-up the eggs and spinach that I'd had for dinner. That was really gross.

The epidural people came, I remember getting really pissy at a nurse when she was trying to check to see if my puny little vein had collapsed under the needle, then immediately feeling bad for my actions because 'that was rude, she's just doing her job'.


I am seriously screwed up.

But oh, the sweet relief of the epidural. It was immediate. For the first time in two hours I actually had more than two minutes to relax, and it was bliss. It was so blissful I started giggling, like I was high or something. And here's where I'm going to pause to talk about birth plans. I know a few people who were adamant on their birth plans, refusing to even contemplate any sort of pain relief, and when they asked about my birth plan I responded thusly: to have the baby.

That was my plan.

I had no idea what to expect, and people were filling my head with horror stories.

Labour is AWFUL.

I felt like I was being RIPPED IN HALF.



People actually told me these things! Who says this to someone?! Smug people who already have birthed their babies, that's who! Was labour painful? Yes. But every person is unique to how they handle pain. For me, contractions felt exactly like period pain and that pain just intensified as the evening wore on.

Your baby will be drugged out if you have an epidural.

Screw off and get your MD, idiot who doesn't know what they're talking about.

I had no problems getting the epidural, and at 11:30 I was feeling great. So great that I fell asleep until 1:00 when I could start feeling stuff going on. The midwife checked me, and at 1:00 I was six centimetres dilated.

"We'll definitely be having a baby tonight," she smiled at me.

Then I tried to sleep again, but at 1:30 I was restless and she checked me again.

"You are fully dilated!" She said brightly, with wide eyes. "Just excuse me for one minute."  Then she ran out of the room. In two minutes she was back and told me if I started to feel pressure, I was allowed to push. Dan had been sleeping on a bean bag on the floor and he jumped up, alert. Almost as soon as she said these words I started pushing. Before I knew it my doctor was coming through the door.

"You're crazy! Absolutely crazy! I can't believe I'm back here so early! It thought I'd have an hour to get ready, but your midwife told me to get down here as fast as possible! Crazy! So, let's meet your baby!"

I really, really like my doctor.

It went fast and at 2:10 a.m. our Little Baby came squawking into the world (3 kilos, 47 centimetres long), where she was laid on my chest. Unfortunately I was wearing a white shirt. Oh well. I expected to cry, but I didn't. Dan and I just stared down at our perfect girl in disbelief, laughing and repeating, "holycowholycowholycow."

Why is 'holy cow' a saying? I don't know, but I can attest to using it repeatedly.

Afterwards my doctor told me that I had had a very fast labour for someone having their first baby, and for a second baby tight controls will have to be used because labour goes even faster.

"Basically we don't want you delivering a baby in a car."

The next few hours were bliss. We cradled our girl, and in the recovery room called all our family whose excited voices rang bell-clear through telephone lines, bouncing off the walls, congratulating us.

It was the craziest day of my life, with the sweetest ending imaginable.


T said...

hahaha, oh man, your doctor sounds fun. I could totally picture you telling this story while I was reading it. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us and I agree, if that day comes for me - epidural is on the list!

Ais said...

Crazy day indeed!!! I can't believe that your water broke at the bus stop when you had been hanging around the hospital all morning!!! Sounds like Walton luck to me hahaha!

Meg said...

Sweetest ending indeed. It was very exciting at my end too! I was at work and seriously couldn't concentrate once I realized you were having LB!! What a day :)

Anonymous said...

What a magical birth story! Congratulations again, my dear. And very well done! Xx Crystal