Warning... this post contains birth photos & me in the nuddie! Do not proceed if you wish to avoid seeing my woman bits!
So here we are! Richie is living his ninth day on the outside and is doing wonderfully.
Richie's birth story starts way back at my blessingway on February 4th. After everyone went home I had about 25 hours of prelabour before it tapered off and stopped. This put my brain into the labour zone and I started to feel like it might happen soon. At this point I was 38 weeks pregnant and totally ready for it to happen.
Each day I anticipated labour starting. I had several other prelabour sessions as I passed 39, 40, 41, 42 weeks. Each day I felt different. Some days I was happy to keep waiting and just went on with life as normal. Other days I got so down and sad and felt that my body had betrayed me. As you know I had been planning to give birth in our home and I really wanted to avoid induction- particularly the syntocinon drip which causes the nature of labour to change dramatically and moves a woman far away from the physiological hormonal process that usually happens in natural birth.
I decided to have monitoring in the hospital after 42 weeks to ensure that our baby was ok and that the placenta was still functioning properly. My plan was to wait until labour started spontaneously unless the monitoring indicated that the baby really needed to be born. I had five days of monitoring and on the 5th day, there was a significant enough change to cause me to make the decision to change to "plan B" and have an artificial rupture of membranes (AROM) in the hospital on Sunday the 13th of March.
Once I had made that decision I had this overwhelming sense of peace. Like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. Molly went to stay with her cousin Felix for the night and John and I had a lovely relaxed night together watching crappy American sit-coms (Everybody Loves Raymond, Seinfeld and the american version of The Office were our favourites over last weeks of my pregnancy) and I slept so deeply and peacefully. It was the best I had slept in months so I woke feeling refreshed and ready for what the day would bring. We were asked to get to the hospital at 6:45am to be admitted and get settled into our birthing space. My mum and midwife arrived at about 8am and we sat and chatted and eagerly anticipated the coming events!
|Waiting to be seen by the doctor. About 7am. Excited!|
At 10am a doctor came to see me and he checked my cervix. He said it was 3cms and could be stretched to 4 so I wouldn't need any prostaglandin gel to ripen my cervix before breaking my waters. I was really happy about this as the gel can cause more discomfort. He then broke my waters. There was only a small amount at first so we weren't sure if he had done it properly but when I stood up I had a big gush and soaked several pads before it lightened to a trickle. The liquor was perfectly clear (which is sort of strange for such a "post-dates" baby).
We decided to get out of the hospital for a while and went for a walk in a really lovely park nearby. It was a beautiful day. A clear blue sky and a lovely breeze. Perfect for walking in the park. It was a very strange feeling. So normal. Walking in the park with John, mum and Joy and chatting about whatever came up. Kind of ignoring the fact that I was trying to get myself into labour. It was a stark contrast to the dark stairwell walk we did after I had an AROM with Molly. After this we decided to grab a drink and something to eat from the cafe before returning to the room to concentrate on getting things moving.
Once back in the room I started having some irregular contractions. They were only light and I could easily talk through them. Mum, John and Joy sat around doing crosswords and playing scrabble on the iphone and I went into the bathroom, turned off the bright light and listened to my birth hypnosis CD. I would come out and give thumbs up when I was having a tightening and John wrote down the time. I didn't care about how far apart they were. I was busy trying to get out of my head and into labour land. As the time approached for the doctors to return and check my progress I started having what I would describe as proper labour-like contractions. They were further apart and much more intense. Like a rubber band being pulled from hip-bone to hip-bone and crampy. I had about 4 or 5 of these before the doctor returned.
When he came back I was mid contraction and I had to wait for it to finish before being able to let him examine me again. It was two o'clock by this stage and he said I had made very little progress between the last VE and this one. He said the head was much lower but I was still only about 4 cms. At this point he strongly recommended I consent to the syntocinon but after asking for some privacy to talk it over with my team, I decided to wait another two hours to see if what I was feeling was actually true labor contractions. I'm so glad I did! This was it!
Things intensified very quickly after this point. Before this point I was mostly in the bathroom but ventured out to have a chat every now and then. Once the contractions started picking up I decided that the bathroom was the perfect place to be. It was not the vision I had for my birth but it felt safe and I stood in front of the toilet hanging on to the grab-rail and lowering myself up and down onto the toilet. I felt this motion really helped bring the head down and although it hurt more when I sat down it felt really good to feel the opening/stretching sensations that told me my baby was coming. I was taking my pants off and putting them back on when I sat on the toilet and at some stage I decided it would be better to leave them off.
I started needing to vocalise through the sensations and found my "labour song". I moaned with a low "OOOOHhhhhmmmmmm" sound and tried to focus on relaxing my bottom and let gravity draw my body down with each wave. I still had decent breaks in between sensations at this point.
Right on two hours after the last VE the doctor returned (funny, he had been late all day but now that I was refusing syntocinon he was very keen to examine me again). From my perspective it was pretty clear that I was in labour. I was vocalising, I was hiding in my bathroom cave, I had my pants off and didn't care who saw me but still... I had entered into the medical model and they need hard evidence to prove that a baby is coming. I said if the doctor was going to examine me he was going to need to do it in the bathroom. He seemed very uncomfortable with this and said that it would be a bit awkward (for him yes!!). My midwife said something along the lines of "I once had a vet as a client who said she never made a cow lie down on a bed for an examination"... We all laughed.. I said something like "I hope he doesn't need to put his arm that far up me".. the doctor didn't get the joke.. I was grateful to Joy for lightening the mood and for making the doctor look a bit stupid. After this I actually felt a little better and decided to get the exam over with so I quickly jumped up on the bed and I was examined again. This time the doctor was very rough. He poked and prodded and I told him to stop. He didn't stop, saying he just wanted to check one more thing"...I said "get out". Someone said "she has withdrawn her consent" (meaning, what you are doing is no longer legal) and he quickly stopped. He told me I was 7cms and the baby was in a right occiput anterior position (ROA). I was very glad to see the back of him (I think we all were). I'm pretty sure he was annoyed that I had been right about what I was feeling.
I told Joy that I didn't think that baby was ROA. I thought LOA and the doppler position when we checked the heart rate was consistent with my feeling.
I hurried back to the bathroom and resumed my position in front of the loo. I said to Joy "no synt for me" and burst into tears. My vocalisations were picking up intensity and I took off my birthing beads. They were just annoying me by this stage. My moans started to get really shaky at the peak of each wave and tapered off. I had a heavy crampy feeling between each contraction and wasn't finding much relief although I would definitely say there was no time when I had back-to-back contractions that I couldn't cope with. The sensations were extremely intense. I started saying "owww" and "this hurts". When I said these things I found it much harder to relax my bottom and it made it hurt more. I remembered Ina May's advice to relax your mouth and relax your bottom. I adopted a new chant.. "Relaaaaaax relaaaaaaax relaaaaaaax" and "yessss yesss yesss" while squatting down and relaxing downward. I even started saying "thank you Lord" at the peak of contractions. Once I relaxed I could cope very well with the intense surges and I could breathe my baby down. Joy applied counter pressure to my sacrum which helped a lot. I could feel a great heaviness in my vagina and I asked for a wet face washer to hold against it. There was bright red blood on the face washer and I knew my cervix was nearly there.
All of a sudden I had this burst of energy. I was no longer in a meditative state. I was fully alert and said "okay, let's go out now". I left my cave, took off the rest of my clothes and took up an all fours position on a mat next to the bed. I leaned on the bed for a while and felt the nature of my sensations change from the stretchy opening cramps to an expulsive pushing urge. I never got to feel this with Molly as I was totally numb from the waist down. It was an amazing feeling. My body just took over and my vocalisations became higher pitched and grunty. Kind of like crying with a grunt at the end. Then the crying stopped and then there was just the grunting.
|Feeling the first of the pushing urges|
|There's the facewasher next to my knee... Ignore the dirty feet.|
My mum was sitting in front of me and looked like she didn't know what to do with herself so I asked her to come around the "back-end" with the others. The head came into view very quickly and I moved from all fours to having one leg up, then swapped legs due to a cramp and then returned to all fours with my bum very close to the mat. Mum said that watching the midwives was like watching two mechanics working with their torches underneath a car.
|Bringing baby down|
I touched the head and was totally awestruck. I felt long hair that I stroked. I felt my perineum stretching and massaged it with my hand. I pushed with each contraction and felt the head come further and further down. It slipped back once but I quickly figured out how much pressure I needed to maintain in order to hold it there between surges. I felt the "ring of fire" and spent one contraction resisting it but then decided I really wanted to meet my baby and with an almighty push I worked the big round head out of my body.
|Melon head emerging!|
I rested between contractions. As soon as I felt the next surge I pushed with everything I had and felt the body slide out of me. I stopped pushing, thinking it was all done and the midwife said "keep going, the legs aren't out" and with one more push the rest came tumbling out.
After unwrapping the cord that was wrapped around a leg and an arm (I think), Joy passed my baby through my legs to me and I held it close and enjoyed the feeling of my warm, wet, squirmy baby on my chest. I put my wiggly little person down in front of me and checked the sex.. A BOY! MY BOY! I stroked his body and face and made sure he was breathing and ok. He let out a beautiful cry and I held him to my body again before moving to the bed for skin to skin and the first breastfeed. He attached almost immediately. John spent the second stage taking photos and some video and cried when we realised we had a boy and all was well. He was/is so proud of me.
Richie Jack Carr was born on 13.3.11 at 5:11pm weighing in at 4.46kg or 9lb 13oz.
Joy and I had worked out a plan for the third stage (delivery of the placenta) that was different to hospital procedure. Because I had my waters artificially broken (therefor disturbing the natural process albeit in a small way) I had decided to have the oxytocic injection to deliver the placenta but because I wanted to let my baby receive all the blood from the cord (wait for it to stop pulsating before cutting it) Joy recommended waiting for it to stop pulsing before giving me the injection, thus ensuring that he didn't get any of the oxytocic drug via the placenta (usually the midwife would inject the mum in the thigh as the shoulders came out). There was also instruction in Joy's words, not to "fiddle with the fundus" and to let me push the placenta out when it detached itself. This process went exactly as we had planned and I have had only light bleeding since. Joy and I examined the placenta together and it was intact and the membranes only had a small hole where Richie came through. Amazing!
I required some stitches as my episiotomy scar from Molly's birth didn't hold up very well. That was very uncomfortable!
All in all it was an amazing birth for a hospital induction! I felt strong, empowered and knew what was going on in my body. Of course, I would have preferred to birth at home however I am so happy with how this birth went and am so grateful to my support people. I would never birth in a hospital without an independent midwife.
Richie required some special care in hospital but is fine now and I'll elaborate more on that in the next post.
Hope you enjoyed reading about Richie Jack's birth!