It feels like this blog post has been forever in the making. Everything has been leading to the moment this baby boy would enter the world... and now he is here!
Tuesday night was a bit restless for me knowing I had to be up at 4am to get ready to head into the hospital for induction. I actually think it was the most pain-free night I'd had in a while though - no cramping or tightening or braxton hicks. But my mind would not shut off as I went through everything that was still to come with the induction the next day.
I got up, had a shower, made some toast and double checked I'd packed what I needed in the hospital bag again. Baby's parents arrived just after 5am. They'd both had a crappy night too. Dad had what he thought was a tummy bug and mum had been up with their 2yr old. So we all started the adventure a little wiped out, but excited nonetheless.
We got to the hospital at 6am, and were taken through to a birth suite. I had kind of expected things would happen quite quickly, but we actually spent the first hour just on the monitor. They took some bloods and eventually put in a cannula (it took a few attempts).
I think it was around 8am before the midwife had the first go at breaking my waters. I was apparently about 3-4cm at this stage and soft and stretchy. But the membranes were too tough for her to get the hook through. So we waited a little longer. Shortly after a doctor came in and had an attempt as well. But by this stage baby had moved back a little and was sitting too high to break the waters safely (they didn't want to risk a cord prolapse). So she asked for the theatre to be put on standby before she did it. But we were then told that they'd just started a c-section. So we had to wait another hour or so.
By 10am they did the third attempt. I felt the incredibly warm trickle pooling under my legs. It's a crazy feeling. And the smell!!! Oh my goodness - I remember my hubby talking about the smell of the amniotic waters with the birth of our first baby, but I never paid attention to it. It actually reminded me of the smell of 'sex' - very hard to describe, but very distinctive.
They didn't want to wait to see if my body would start contracting on it's own, so they then attempted to start the syntocin drip - but the fluid started dripping back down my fingers. The cannula had tissued, probably when they asked me to put my fists under my butt to lift my pelvis for the breaking of the waters. So that cannula was removed and another one was attempted on the side of my wrist on the other hand (as they'd already attempted on the top earlier in the morning!). The drip was set up by 10:30am, and contractions had begun.
I set myself up on the exercise ball with a towel under me to catch the constant fluid. My student midwife Alex was INCREDIBLE! She just seemed to know where to be and what to do without my having to say anything. Baby's dad was sent off to the chemist to buy a larger heat pack for my back as the heat was really helping too. I was actually pleasantly surprised by the contractions for the first 3hrs or so. I was getting breaks between them where it was just the achey back, then I'd get the wave of pain right down low in the front of my pelvis, and if I kept moving/rocking on the ball I was able to keep on top of it.
They kept asking if I'd like the gas and air, but I knew from my trial with that in my first labour that I didn't want it. It makes me feel like I've lost control. And I managed to do my son's labour without gas - so I was pretty sure I'd be ok. It was at about the 1:30pm mark that I started to loose it a bit. The pain was becoming overwhelmingly intense and the pressure in my back/bottom was increasing. All things I knew had to happen for this baby to come out, but I was just so tired, and so overwhelmed and feeling like I was never going to be pain-free again. I was getting told how well I was doing from baby's parents and the midwives... but that just served to make me cry more! I felt totally helpless and I think the fear took over a bit at that stage too. Just how much worse was the pain going to get?
I managed to explain about the pressure, and how my body felt like it was bearing down a little with each contraction already. So by about 2pm they asked me to hop back up onto the bed to be checked. I was 7cm. I lost it a bit. I felt like there was still so far to go and that my body couldn't possibly cope any more. I asked for an epidural. The midwife said she didn't think there would be time for that, but said to 'think about it for a few contractions'. I was still on my back on the bed at this stage - but surprisingly the pain had changed. I was actually now pain free between contractions and felt really peaceful. I was actually drifing off between them. Then one would hit and it was like I just wanted to escape my body.
My body was pushing spontaneously again but the midwife didn't seem worried - she said to just go with what my body wanted to do. With one contraction/push I felt a gush of fluid - but I think it was wee. They told me I needed to empty my bladder, and once that happened baby would probably come. So they helped me off the bed, and I made an agonising waddle the few steps to the toilet and dropped myself over it. INSTANTLY I was in agony. I was pushing, pooeing and weeing all at once. I have never felt so much pain in my life. I felt like I was going to split in half. The midwives got a little worried at this stage as they tried to look into the toilet bowl - and I was quickly moved back to the bed. Once there I could feel them trying to clean me up a bit (it's totally motifying to think I pooed myself in front of everyone, but at the time I totally didn't care at all).
My body really started pushing at this stage. I could feel baby's head working it's way down - which actually felt like it was moving up - I think because of the angle of my pelvis. It literally felt like a rock-hard bowling ball that I was trying to pass. It didn't feel like it took very long, and I could feel the burning of my perineum and thought he must be crowning. But with the next round of pushes the burning got way worse. I had my eyes closed so couldn't see what was going on, but I felt the widest part of his head make its way out, then pause at his neck. With what seemed like a hell of a lot of effort/pushing his body made it's way out in a gush of fluid and was placed up on my belly. The pain stopped immediately. Zander Michael was born at 2:40pm on Wednesday the 26th March 2014, weighing in at 4.33kg (9lb, 9oz), 57cm long (22") and had a head circumference of 37.5cm (a good 1.5cm bigger then my son's!)
I opened my eyes and looked down to see him all covered in vernix and looking just like his big brother, but with slightly gingery hair! He felt so warm and wriggly on my belly. We waited for his cord to stop pulsing, then his dad cut it and I held him up for them to see and he was handed to his mum. I felt the sting of the injection in my leg to help release the placenta, and we waited for a contraction to get it out. But it just didn't want to come away. The midwife said it could take up to an hour. So we just waited. She turned the syntocin drip back up, massaged my belly and asked me to push if I could... but nothing. Then I started to feel the warmth of more liquid between my legs. I never looked down there, but knew what it was. After about half an hour they laid the bed back flatter and were scooping out the bedding/mats from under me and weighing them. Numbers were being thrown around and added up, and with each new gush, added to again.
Eventually someone made the decision that the placenta wasn't coming away on it's own and a few new faces entered the room. I can only imagine what the scene would have looked like with my laying there totally naked from the belly down and blood everywhere - something that probably wouldn't have even fazed them though. The midwife said that someone needed to call my husband to let him know what was happening, so baby's mum made the call. I think she was trying to stay calm and explain that I was still ok, but the midwife yelled across the room that it wasn't ok at all (and my poor hubby heard that!). I was spoken to very calmly and gently by a few doctors who explained what was happening and what they needed to do. Another doctor was setting up yet another cannula on my other hand, someone else was inserting a catheter, and I was asked if I would prefer a general anesthetic or an epidural (NOW they offer me one! lol). I was in so much pain at this stage that I explained that I would have prefered the epidural because I don't wake up very well from generals, but that there was no way I could sit up for it.
So I was wrapped up and the bed was pushed out of the room. I just remember wanting the pain to stop and the ride to the theatre seemed to take so long. I had to shuffle from the birth suite bed over to the theatre one which took all of my effort. A mask was put over my face and someone leaned in beside me and said 'don't worry honey, you've got babies at home to get back to. We'll look after you'.
And then I looked up and it was 5:30pm and I was in recovery and shivering like crazy. I actually didn't have as much trouble waking up this time and was pretty with it in a few minutes. A doctor came to speak with me and said that they'd managed to get the placenta out, that I didn't have any tears or grazes and my uterus was contracting back nicely now, but that I'd lost at least 2L of blood. They hadn't given me a transfusion, but said they'd keep an eye on my blood levels. They sat me up briefly and I wasn't too dizzy. Then someone came to push the bed back to the ward. I remember thinking 'oh, it's probably a good thing the kids aren't here to see this' - then we rounded the corner and they were standing there with my hubby. The looks on their little faces was heartbreaking. I must have looked a sight with the horrible purple hospital gown, oxygen cord under my nose, drips on each arm and a catheter bag hanging off the bed!
Baby's mum was there too, and bub was sleeping soundly. Apparently he'd gotten quite unsettled after all the drama as everyone was waiting to see what had happened with me, but he'd been fed some of the expressed colostrum and had finally settled. I got a cuddle and my kids jumped up on the bed with me to say hello and meet the baby. They asked lots of questions about the bed and about the tubes and cords and things, but seemed to take it all in without any worries. Kids are amazing like that! My 3yr old asked if I was broken, which made me laugh. I explained that I was just a little bit, but that I'd get better.
(Zander at 8hrs old later that night)
We ended up spending three nights in hospital. Baby's mum was able to stay the whole time too, and is seriously a natural with all this newborn stuff! In his first 24hrs, Zander was quite mucussy, and went blue a few times trying to cough it up from his lungs which was bloody scary. But he had stopped doing that by the time we went home on Saturday morning.
(First bath with his mum and dad at approx 20hrs old)
(cuddles with his pop)
It was incredible to witness his big brother meeting him for the first time as well. He was so gentle and curious. And genuinely excited at the prospect of having 'bubba' come home with him! The three days in hospital must have seemed like an eternity for him. I know my kids and hubby were missing me as well, and the second visit they made to the hospital was quite emotional. My daughter didn't want to leave me and cried as her dad had to physically pull her away so they could leave. For an incredibly hormonal, over tired and low-on-blood mumma, this was almost too much to bare.
As good as I felt about the gift I'd just given, I also felt incredibly guilty for being away from my kids for so many days. And it's that feeling of guilt that is proving a little tricky to shake.
(Bubba and mumma)
(Proud surro-mum. Feeling quite good here, I think this was second day in hospital)
(look at those cheeks!!!!)
(More brother cuddles)
(My 4yr old got her first cuddle and was feeling very proud of herself for holding up his head - albeit a little awkwardly!).
(The delicious hopsital breakfast! lol. I actually didn't mind having my meals delivered to me three times a day at all, but was so greatful to go home and have access to my own food again).
We had all thought I'd be fine to go home on the Friday. I was feeling good, baby was fine - but my blood levels had dropped further (apparently they transfuse when you get to 80, and I had dropped to 76), and my liver results weren't great either. So we ended up in for that extra night because I didn't want the transfusion. I was so focused on getting out of there, and feeling quite well that I didn't realise how exhausted I'd feel once I did get home and was back on mummy-duty. I'm physically totally fine - I don't feel like I just pushed out a 9lb, 9oz baby at all - but just feel totally wiped of energy. A little like being hit by a truck and just having your whole body screaming out for rest.
My hubby has been fantastic. So attentive and caring and beautiful - so much so that everytime he does something lovely I burst into tears again. This morning he made toast for me and I found myself sitting there crying while I ate it! I'm crazy hormonal, and I think my milk has probably come in as I'm feeling very full and pendulous! I'm not terribly uncomfortable there yet though, so won't express until I need to for comfort. I'm just impatient to start feeling like me again. After the exhaustion of the last few months of pregnancy, I am just over feeling tired. But I know I have to be patient... I just don't do that very well!
We have counselling later this week as part of the legal process of having Zander's parantage transferred from us to his parents, and his mum is sending me photos of him each day which is lovely. I'll save a few and post them here the next time I log back on.