So here's my birth story. Like a lot of birth plans, nothing went to schedule! Baby had other ideas, and 4 days before the date of my elective caesarean, (and 8 days before my due date) labour kicked in with a bang. Here's what happened:
I woke up in the morning feeling quite crampy and achy. Walking was a little painful and I could only do so slowly. Levi however was itching to go outside, so I put him in the pram and walked him to the playground so he could have a good play. He was having a blast, the weather was absolutely gorgeous, and we both were loving being outside, so we spent the entire morning out walking in the pram, going to different playgrounds. Because I was feeling so crampy, in the back of my mind I thought that maybe this could be it, but ignored it. I figured if I really was in labour I would know for sure!
We walked home when it was time to give Levi his lunch and put him down for his nap. While he was eating I went to the toilet, and lost my mucous plug. Then 10 minutes later, I was feeling funny and decided to sit on the toilet for a bit. I just made it and my waters broke with a gush, only because I was on the toilet, it took me a while to realise that it was my waters breaking, not me peeing! Levi was still happy in his high chair, oblivious to the drama that I was going through, so I put him down for his nap, and called the midwife.
Unfortunately my midwife had just signed off from a 28 hour labour, so had gone home for a sleep, and I was re-routed to her back up midwife, Ann. I spoke to her and explained what had happened, and my situation. I had decided if I went into labour before Caesarean date that I would give it a go. The midwife told me to lie down for an hour, and give her a call back to tell her how things were going.
I lay down, and started feeling contractions straight away. They weren't painful though, so I was just enjoying having a nice lie down! I was fairly sure that I was in active labour though, because last time I got to 5cm dilated before I started feeling contractions, so I called Brandon and my mum to tell them to come home. I was feeling really calm and relaxed about things though, so I told them there was no hurry, finish what you're doing first.
Mum insisted on coming home straight away, Brandon stayed at work for another 40 minutes or so then came home. I put the final things into my hospital bag, and when Mum arrived, she was horrified to find me doing housework. I couldn't help myself, I couldn't bear the thought of coming home with a new baby to a messy house! Mum gave me a hand doing the dishes and putting things away, and kept saying "Sit down! You're in labour!"
I called the midwife and arranged to come in to be monitored and examined to check how things were going. By the time Brandon arrived, the contractions were getting stronger, they were still very manageable, and I could talk through them, but they were a little painful. We left for the midwife, and as soon as we were in the car the contractions got much stronger. They were painful and only 3-5 minutes apart.
We arrived at the midwifery clinic and annoyingly the contractions slowed right down. Ann said that I looked as if I were in very early labour, that they would check me and then send me home for a while longer.
I hopped on the monitor and was on there for about 10 seconds. Ann's face dropped and told us we needed to rush to the hospital now. The baby's heartbeat was very fast - 200 bpm. I was really worried. Brandon and I jumped in the car and raced to the hospital, Ann was going to meet us there. Thankfully traffic was good, but I was still reaching over and honking the horn at anyone I thought was going too slow. I really wanted a flashing sign on our car saying "MOVE OVER, WOMAN IN LABOUR". As it was it only took us 10 minutes or so til we were in the labour unit.
Once we arrived at the labour suite, I was quickly stripped down and put in a hospital gown, Ann and the obstetrician rushed in and monitored me and did a quick vaginal exam to check for a cord problem. It turned out that after only about three hours of contractions I was already 7cm dilated. They also did a very quick (about 15 second) scan. Baby's heart beat was still incredibly fast, so I was prepped for theatre. I was told that they needed to get the baby out now, and I would be taken down to theatre as soon as I was ready.
By this time I was really worried and panicky, but trying to remain as calm as possible, which was hard given all the chaos going on around me. One nurse was trying to get an I.V line in me, another was shaving me, another was trying to read me the risks of a caesarean and getting me to sign the consent form, another was taking off my jewellery. Poor Brandon! All the while the contractions were getting very strong, and hard to get through. It was really difficult having such strong contractions, with labour so far advanced, and knowing that instead of helping baby come, the contractions were distressing baby.
We arrived in theatre and I was told I would need a general anaesthetic, because they were in such a rush, but then decided that they had a few minutes up their sleeve, and I would be able to have a spinal block instead, meaning I would be able to be awake.
I was given the spinal, and as soon as the numbing kicked in they started the incision. The doctors were doing a lot of pushing and pulling, and then they were pushing down with all their might on my chest, which hurt a lot, and meant I couldn't breathe! It turns out they were trying to push the baby down towards the incision, and it was hard work because she was very well wedged in there. They finally managed to pull her out with the help of forceps, and she was HUGE. 9 pounds 3 ounces. No wonder they had such a hard job getting her out!
Baby wasn't doing too well when she came out. They whisked her away to check her over. She took a long time to cry, but she finally did, and it was the most beautiful sound! I was so incredibly relieved to hear her crying. After all that drama, she was alive and crying and breathing. It was such a relief! After they finished checking her they wrapped her up and brought her over to me so I could see her. She was just lovely. She looked a lot like Levi when he was born. I was fairly 'with it' and lucid this time (unlike my last caesarean experience), so I was able to enjoy her being close to my face, and was just loving taking in all the amazing moments of finally seeing, and feeling and smelling and hearing her, but it didn't last long. She started struggling to breathe, and so she was whisked away again so the nurses could do what they had to. I was repeatedly assured that she was just fine, that it was very common, so I was still calm. For the rest of the time they were stitching me up Brandon and baby were with the midwives and the nurses.
When they were done with me, they wheeled me into recovery, where a lovely nurse looked after me. She was 15 weeks pregnant, so in between taking my stats and administering morphine we chatted about being pregnant, and I was able to take my mind of worrying about baby. An hour or so later a midwife came to escort me up to the ward. On the way we stopped off at SCBU to see baby. She was in an incubator getting oxygen and her vital signs were all being monitored, but she looked gorgeous and lovely. She looked really healthy; if you hadn't known any better you wouldn't have known there was anything wrong. She was lovely and pink and peaceful looking, though apparently she had just been very cross! I was able to put my hand in and stroke her, which was wonderful, but I longed to hold her and feed her. I was so glad though that she was alive and being taken care of by people who knew what they were doing. I was glad she was where she was.
So I spent that night alone. Levi stayed the night at my parents, Brandon went home to sleep, and baby was up in SCBU. It was a weird feeling. I knew I really needed to take the opportunity to get as much sleep as possible, and I really tried, but between using my morphine pump to control the pain, and all the thoughts running through my head, the best I could really do was to rest well. I did get some sleep, but most of the time I was just lying still with my eyes closed! I was also worried about baby not feeding, and was ringing the bell every 3 hours to get a midwife to help me express colostrum for baby, but we weren't successful. After about three attempts, the midwife said that it wasn't working, and that I was much better off getting some sleep.
The next morning I got up out of bed, which incidentally was extraordinarily painful, but not as bad as last time, thankfully, and Brandon wheeled me in a wheelchair, up to the neo-natal unit to see baby. I was so excited to see her, but on the way there, the doctor stopped us and said that they had taken a blood culture and she was found to be positive for Group B Strep, and that they needed to take a lumbar puncture to test for meningitis. This was all a bit much for me, the morning after a caesarean because I burst into tears, and couldn't stop. Up til now, everyone had been telling me that she was just fine, and that she was just there so they could keep an eye on her. So I was expecting to be able to take her back to my room in the suite with me that morning. The last thing I was expecting was for them to tell me she was sick, and needed antibiotics, and could possibly have meningitis, and then on top of that she could possible need to be in hospital for three weeks. So I took a while to collect myself, and get my head around the fact that she wasn't well. Later that morning I went in and got to put my hand in the incubator and stroke her, and look at her, and start getting to know her.
Later that night I went in to visit her, and I was finally able to hold my baby about 30 hours after she was born. It was wonderful. I was able to feed her as well, which was fantastic, she was a pro! She latched beautifully and sucked like crazy. It was such a relief to finally be able to hold her and feed her. They took her out of the incubator a few hours later, because her breathing, oxygen levels, and heart rate had all stabilised, so she was able to be in a bassinet, but she still needed I.V fluids because of her low blood sugar, so she needed to be in SCBU. Her blood culture was clear for meningitis, so we just had the Group B Strep to deal with. That night the nurses came every three hours, and wheeled me up to feed baby, and as crazy as it sounds, I was glad to be woken up in the middle of the night and taken to feed my baby, I just enjoyed it so much. She was very sleepy though, so feeds were only very short, and we had to work hard at keeping her awake to feed.
The next day, I continued to go up to the neo-natal unit to feed baby then come back to the room for a rest while she slept, and that night she was able to come into the room with me. It was so exciting!
We had to stay in hospital for a while, because she was on a course of antibiotics, which was hard. It was great, in terms of being able to get lots of rest, and recover well. But hard because I missed Levi like crazy. I could only see him for a few minutes each day, because he could only handle short visits, and I was craving us being able to be a family together at home with our new daughter.
In the end, they discharged us a few days earlier than scheduled, and we took baby into hospital in the mornings and evenings for her I.V antibiotics, which meant we were home for Christmas!
Since we've been home things have been going really well. Brandon was home for a month which was such an enormous help, and great for the kids too. Christmas was really special with our new little addition, and Levi really loved his first Christmas where he actually kind of understood what was happening.
Baby is growing and putting weight on like crazy! She is a great feeder, and a fairly good sleeper. She usually feeds once in the night, which I am finding is manageable. I seem to be coping much better on broken sleep than I did last time too which I am pleasantly surprised by!
Levi has been a wonderful big brother. He is kind and patient and gentle and lovely to baby. Watching him with her is gorgeous beyond words! Life with two children is difficult and crazy, but so happy and fun too.
Oh, and we FINALLY agreed on a name. If you have been frustrated by me constantly referring to our baby as 'baby' it's because that's what we called her for the first three weeks before we finalised her name! Her name is Emaraina Kathryn. Emaraina (pronounced Emma-rye-nah, with a single roll on the r) is my great great grandmother's name, and Kathryn is my mum's name. We call Emaraina, Emma for short.
Well, that's my story. It is a mammoth read, so if you've made it to the end I'm impressed, but there was a lot that happened, and things certainly weren't straight forward! But things have worked out splendidly in the end, for which I am so very grateful. Thank you for following my story, I have loved sharing my journey with you. And thank you also to all those who emailed me and shared their stories with me too.
Perhaps I'll see you in a few years time for baby number three . . . maybe!
Take care of yourselves, and enjoy your pregnancies and families!
Born 17 December 2007 at 4:25pm
9 lbs 3 oz