Well, where do I even begin?
Let’s start with the call I received from the Canberra Women’s and Children’s Hospital at 9am on Saturday the 12th of September 2020. The call I had been anticipating for weeks, for months really. The call to be told to come in to the hospital to be induced, to finally have our baby! I remember how excited I was and just how nervous I was at the same time. I had been carrying our baby for 38 weeks and 5 days and now it was time to meet her.
At 3PM Peter and I walked into the hospital and after waiting an hour in a waiting room we were put into a birthing suite. Now, my memory is slightly blurry so my times may be a tad off. At approximately 7 or 8 PM the doctors came into our room and the induction process started. I had a balloon inserted into my cervix to open it up. It was to stay in for 12 hours so my waters could be broken the next day.
The balloon induction did NOT hurt. This was my experience and it may not be the same as others. Clearly my experience was quite different to many people that I had previously spoken to as I had heard countless stories of how painful and horrible a balloon induction is but this was far from my experience.
The doctors conducting the ballon induction kept apologising saying “I am so sorry it’s almost done” and I laid there waiting, clenching my teeth and bracing for the worst part and then I heard the doctor say “all done”. It honestly did not hurt for me. I was happy! At this point I was 3 cms dilated and the doctors said it was a great starting point for a first time mum. Perfect, all going well!
Almost instantly I started to feel period like cramps in my back. This gave me false hope! I kept thinking “yes! This is it, my waters are going to break “naturally” and I am going into labour!” I wasn’t..
At 7 or 8 AM on Sunday the midwives came into our room and I was put onto a drip and my waters were broken to induce labour. The drip contains artificial oxytocin that brings on contractions. We started on 8 units and every hour they increase it to kick things off. We got up to 20 units and the monitors were showing that I was experiencing intense contractions that were close together… but I was happily walking around the room laughing and talking through them. I couldn’t feel a damn thing! The midwives were in disbelief and kept joking saying “wow, you are like a unicorn, you are going to be one of the rare women that go through labour with no pain at all” and I kept saying “don’t speak too soon”. I knew I would eventually be in a world of pain. I just didn’t know when.
Hours went by and Peter decided to go and buy some lunch as I was happily chatting to my two lovely mid wives. I was in labour but it sure didn’t look or feel like it…. Until, all of a sudden I could feel the contractions. They were tolerable but uncomfortable.
The contractions were very close together and the intensity was increasing quickly so the mid wives started turning down the drip. Eventually we got back to 8 units of Cinto. After hours and hours of such intense contractions I had become extremely fatigued. The midwives offered me gas for pain relief and I accepted. The more tired I got the more intense the contractions felt. My birth plan was that I wanted to be up right throughout labour and birth and so during my contractions I was either standing up, leaning on Peter, kneeling on the bed or sitting. I did not want to lay down.
My cervix was checked again at about 6PM. I was 8CMS dilated. I was happy with this! I kept asking the midwives if I was going to have my baby that day and they kept saying “yes!” This was a huge motivator for me to keep going. At about 8 PM I was in tears from exhaustion and said to Peter “I can’t do this anymore” so I was then offered morphine for pain relief, I accepted. Well, I won’t be forgetting that injection any time soon!!!! I did not see the needle but Peter later told me it was massive. I remember one midwife holding my hands and trying to distract me while the other literally pulled back her arm and with such force stabbed the needle very fast and hard into my thigh. I was laughing and crying at the same time yelling out “OMG Woman that is going to bruise so bad!” And it did! I wish I could watch this back it would be a funny video!
At 10 PM my cervix was checked again and I was left so disheartened.. I was still only 8 CMS dilated after hours and hours of contractions… making no progress. I was so disappointed. The doctors came in and after assessing my progress told me the baby was not engaged in my pelvis and was not coming down. This is why my cervix was not dilating any further because the baby was not putting pressure on it. This could have been caused my two things. Either from macrosomia (a large baby) or the baby was stuck in an unfavourable position.
My next option was to either have an epidural so that I could get some rest and see if I dilate further. Which could result in labouring for hours longer which could more than likely result in an emergency c-section and I would be even more exhausted or I could opt for a non- emergency c-section now.
This felt like the biggest and most difficult decision of my entire life. I was shocked by my choices. I wanted a natural birth, I did not want an epidural and I did not want an emergency c-section. At this point I wanted someone else to make the decision for me. I felt like whatever decision I make it could be the wrong one and I would regret it forever. I was scared. Peter suggested I take the c-section. He said he didn’t want to see me in so much pain any more and reminded me of how exhausted I already was.
I accepted the c-section and once all the doctors left the room to start the process doubt flooded my mind. I was weighing up all the possibilities of what could happen with both options and I kept changing my mind… I stuck with the C-section even though I was hating my decision in my head. The doctor came in and went over all the paperwork for the surgery and this made me doubtful all the more. All the risks and the seriousness of having major abdominal surgery scared the hell out of me. But it was going ahead..
Peter and I packed up our birth room and I was wheeled down to the theatre to have my baby, via C-section. Once I was wheeled down in my bed we waited… and we waited.. and we.. waited some more. The doctors came out to tell us that another woman had just been rushed in for an emergency c-section. We didn’t get into theatre until 4AM!!!!!!!
Honestly by this point I was so fatigued that I felt so drunk and I was still in pain and it started to get worse and worse. I felt like I had extremely painful stitches (the stitch you get when you’re running).
It was finally time for me to go into theatre and I was told Peter had to wait outside while I got my spinal block and that when I was on the operating table he would be allowed back in to sit next to me. By this point I was over it and I was a mess. I was terrified, exhausted and extremely nervous about the surgery. There were so many emotions running through my body, along with drugs and adrenaline all I could do was bawl my eyes out. I remember being wheeled into an extremely brightly lit room, I could hear what seemed like hundreds of doctors and nurses rushing around. I was in shock from the whole ordeal and couldn’t stop the water works.
The wardsman was one of the staff I’ll never forget. He held my hands the whole time I was being prepped to get the spinal block. Just another injection. I was sitting upright on the side of a bed in a blue hospital gown. The nurses kept telling me I needed to arch my back so they could insert the needle into my spine. I don’t know about you but the sound of that makes me want to be sick! Yuck! I struggled to force myself into such a horrible position knowing there was a needle going into my spine. The nurses tried multiple times but the needle wouldn’t go all the way in. They asked again for me to arch my back as much as I could. I held the wardsmans hands as hard as I could and forced myself to arch my back as far as I could while in my head I blocked out all the noise and sounds and closed my eyes. Done. It was time to lay down and Peter was able to come in and sit by me.
The nurses placed a piece of ice on my stomach and asked if I could feel it.. I couldn’t. She slowly moved up my body until the ice was on my chest and I still couldn’t feel it. The spinal had been successful.
The surgery started and it wasn’t long before I was going in and out of consciousness. I could hear Peter talking to me but I couldn’t respond. I wanted to talk but nothing came out. At the time I assumed it was either from exhaustion, from the morphine, the drip, from shock or being so frightened..
During the surgery I could feel tugging on my stomach but of course it was numb so I didn’t feel any pain. After a little while I noticed the female doctor start ordering people on what to do. Her voice sounded firm, almost panicked. But at the time I didn’t think anything of it. She was ordering the nurses to place their hands here and there and asking for assistance. Peter later told me that from where he was sitting he could see the doctors feet and they were covered in blood.
I was oblivious to what was happening as was Peter. But we were later told that upon opening up my uterus they realised the top of the back of baby’s head was stuck in my pelvis. It took 8 minutes to dislodge baby’s head and an extra incision was made in my uterus to help get her out. During this ordeal I lost 3 litres of blood.. this is why I ended up feeling like I was literally dying. I almost completely blacked out and could not respond to Peter during the surgery.
Baby’s placenta was accidentally cut during the birth also which resulted in her losing blood as well. She was therefore born anemic.
I remember waiting for the baby’s cries when she took her first breath and for the doctor to hold her up through the plastic screen for me to see her for the first time. Although they did not hold her up for me to see her I did hear a very little cry.
Although I was laying on the bed not being able to speak I felt so much anticipation. I needed to see her now! Peter was called over to meet his daughter and cut the cord. I laid their while the doctor stitched me up. I could hear her counting the many layers she needed to sew back up. She was literally having a guy tick them off as she went.
It was all over. Now I just wanted my baby in my arms. Gosh, I waited 9 months. I went through so much to have her and now I wanted to hold her.
The midwife who had been with me the whole time came over and hugged me and assured me that choosing the c-section was the best thing I could have done. Due to baby being stuck there was no way I could have birthed her naturally. She would have never moved down.
A nurse came over to me to explain that Baby needed to go straight to the special care unit because of her blood loss and said she needed a little bit of help breathing and that she was going to be ok. I lost it even more. Crying like my heart was ripped out. I wanted to see her, touch her, hold her and kiss her. I was her mum and she needed me. I always dreamt of those first moments of skin to skin and staring into her eyes. It was taken from me.
A nurse wheeled Baby past me, stopping so I could have a glimpse. My bed was lower than her crib and all I could see was her sweet little cheek and her nose. My first words to her were “oh my god you are so cute”. I don’t know how all of a sudden I was able to speak but they were the only words that came out. Bawling my eyes out I reached for her and could just touch her face. She was the most perfect, sweet little angel I ever laid eyes on.
I was wheeled to recovery and Peter went with Baby. At this point I started to feel like I was actually dying. It was the most terrifying feeling I’ve ever experienced. Again I felt like I couldn’t speak, I was absolutely exhausted and couldn’t keep my eyes open. I still had no feeling in my body and I felt like I was very drunk. The room was spinning and I felt a strong urge to vomit. The nurse put oxygen in my nose and that made me internally panic even more. It felt like it was choking me. Although doing the exact opposite I felt like it was taking my breath away. All the while all I could hear were panicked voices all around me that kept talking about a “major blood loss” and so in my mind I thought something was very wrong and that I could die. I had so much running through my mind yet I couldn’t speak. I just wanted to ask someone if my baby was ok, when will I meet her and will I be ok. I fought sleep so hard but I physically couldn’t anymore and I fell asleep.
Wow did I feel like a completely different person when I woke up. I no longer was numb and I could feel my legs, I didn’t feel sick anymore and I was able to speak. I was then moved into another room where I could meet my baby. I waited and waited for what felt like forever and then Peter walked into the room….. without our baby. I was growing impatient and sad. Why couldn’t I see her already? It was the most important moment in my life and I felt like no one else cared how much it meant to me. I know Isla was in good hands and getting the help she needed but I felt heart broken. Finally at 11 am (6.5 hours after her birth) I met my beautiful little girl! The nurse from the special care nursery wheeled her in to me.
It was the most amazing feeling getting to hold her and lay her on my chest. She was such a quiet little curious girl staring into my eyes. I couldn’t believe how precious she was.
Born weighing 4.08 kilograms (8.9 pounds) at 53 centimetres long at 4:28 am on the 14th of September 2020 we named our beautiful daughter Isla Rae.
How was your labour and birth? I would love to hear other peoples stories!