Pregnancy, Birth and Postpartum - Part Two
I woke up on Tuesday the 30th of December to what felt like strong period cramps.
I went to the bathroom to see if it would ease when I went to toilet - oh the joys of pregnancy! Low and behold, there was some spotting and mucus. Shit. I'm in early labour. I sat on the toilet for a while. One, because I had to process what was happening. Two, because it took me ages to get back from sitting down anyway. I got back into bed and Jez asked me if I was ok, "I'm fine babe, let's sleep in a bit." We lay there for another hour or so and I drifted in and out of sleep as the pain came and went every now and again.
When we got up and I told Jeremy what I thought was happening. He exhaled sharply, "ok, shit. It's happening. He'll be here, maybe sometime today?"
"I don't know. It could be today, it could be tomorrow. I'm only having weak pains at the moment and only a bit of the mucus plug has come out." Pregnancy is gross.
We decided not to let my family know, as I didn't want to panic people unnecessarily and have everyone asking me all the time "how are you feeling? Is it getting stronger?"
I asked Jez to take me shopping, as I knew walking around can help speed up the process. So we went to the shops, the pains instantly started getting stronger and it made it a little hard to walk around, but I kept it up for about two hours before we headed back home. At home I sat on an exercise ball and bounced gently through the contractions, they were getting longer and starting to come closer to every hour. To take my mind off it, we decided to watch Arrested Development and thankfully laughing helped a lot!
By 3pm the pains were very strong and starting to take my breath away. I looked at Jeremy and he nodded to me, indicating that I should probably let the family know.
"Hey mum!" I called out to her to come in from the backyard.
"Juuuuuuust letting you know. I'm in labour"
"WHAT?! Oh crap. Oh ok, how are you feeling?" She looked nervous, happy and teary all rolled into one
"I'm totally fine" I continued bouncing up and down on the exercise ball "the pains have only just started to come once every hour."
"Ok. Well let me know what to do, and when we have to do it"
My brother stood in the kitchen, looking concerned "are you really? Oh my god, that is so cool."
At that point I had a doozie of a contraction and everyone in the house looked at me with anticipation as I stopped bouncing and breathed it out making gasping noises.
"All good guys!" I said through gritted teeth and then let out a sigh of relief "they come and go really quickly" I then looked up, smiled and continued bouncing on the ball. Everyone was looking a little freaked out.
The bouncing and laughing continued on till 6pm. They were coming on stronger and faster so we decided to head over to the hospital. By the time we rung ahead and I had a quick shower (wanted to be clean for the baby), got dressed in my comfy clothes and made sure we had done everything, it was closer to 7o'clock by the time we arrived at the maternity ward. We were ushered into a waiting lounge at the back, as we walked through the ward - we being the entourage of Jez, mum, my sister and brother - we heard a woman scream a blood curdling scream. I laughed. Everyone else looked a little shocked and wide eyed, but for some reason it just tickled my funny bone. Still wasn't scared or worried. A nurse finally came into see us after a small wait for a room to be ready for us to use. I was propped onto a bed and monitors attached to my belly, one for his heart rate and one to show how my contractions were doing. Everything looked good. I had to answer questions about when contractions first started and how long they were lasting and how long in between, all the usual stuff. They then went to do an internal examination to see how far I had dilated. 2cm. Dammit. I knew that anything under 3cm they would send you home. The nurse looked up at me and said the dreaded words "we're going to have to send you home, you're not dilated enough to admit you. Take some panadol and try to sleep, contractions can last days"
DAYS!?! What the F%*# take panadol and sleep it off? How the heck am I meant to sleep through this? DAYS!?!
Everyone looked at me with wide eyes again, my sister looked at me pitifully. "Shit Mands, you gonna be ok?"
"Yea I'll be fine. Just don't want to do this for days"
I was unhooked from the monitors and got down off the bed and we started to pack my things up. Time was coming close to 9pm.
I was a little emotional in the car on the way home, I had been hoping I was closer to having the baby and now I was being sent back home.
My family looked at me apologetically as I hobbled upstairs to try and "sleep" through the contractions. By the time I had made it upstairs I had decided that another shower would be good idea. I had read that water was a natural pain reliever for some women and I wanted to give it a shot. Turns out it works on me really well, hot water on my back or stomach and the pain just floats away... bliss.
Jeremy passed me a stool so I could sit in the shower. I alternated between sitting and standing, using the stool as support as I let the water run down my back. The pain was a lot easier to manage with the water, but I realised I couldn't stay in the shower forever - shouldn't waste water you know. So I got out and hobbled to the bedroom, to where Jez was hanging out on his laptop. I crawled into bed but couldn't get comfortable. I then had a really big contraction. Gaaaaaaaaahhhhh! Not being in water was hell!
"Why don't you run a bath?"
Jez was a genius!
He came in to the bathroom with me, and helped me get in the tub. That was a sight to behold. We got the temp to a little warmer then lukewarm, hot water baths are not recommended in pregnancy, and I let out a sigh of relief as the water level crept up and covered most of my body. He sat with me for a while and then I told him to go and sleep, I could be doing this all night and there was no need for both of us to stay awake. He repeatedly asked me if it was alright that he went to bed, that I had to get 'cranky' with him and demand that he leave me alone and get some sleep. Once he had gone, I lay in the bath and breathed through each contraction. Floating was good, it made it easier to concentrate on the pain and not have to worry about supporting my own weight.
I was in the tub for close to four hours when all of a sudden I felt the need to get out. I didn't want to wake anyone (I had heard everyone go to sleep) so I sloshed around until I managed to pull myself up - a little bit of panic set in as a strong contraction came on and I saw blood trickle down my leg - the nurse had said a little bit of blood was fine, but it still worried me despite knowing what she had said earlier.
I got into the room and crawled onto the bed to wake up Jez, he woke up with a start and I told him "I can't do this anymore on my own, the pain is getting too much" he then got up and called the antenatal ward.
While he was on the phone I had a contraction that lasted 20 minutes. That's when I started crying. I had managed to get onto my back at this time and Jeremy reentered the room on the phone to see me writhing in pain and crying - he looked so worried.
This is where things get a little hazy for me. I remember Jeremy talking to the nurses and hearing him repeat "it's better to stay at home for as long as possible" I do believe I glared at him or something because he then said "I don't think she can do any more at home" Good boy.
Once the contraction stopped, I apologised for crying and got up to get dressed. I slipped into a bikini top (I wanted a water birth) and put on a flowy stretchy skirt and loose t-shirt. No bikini bottoms, there was no time and it hurt to raise my legs at all. Mum had woken up too and made sure my bag was packed. I had read that they don't let you drink while you are in labour (in case an emergency cesarean is needed) so I asked for a hydralyte ice-block to chew on as I didn't want to be dehydrated during the night. Mum offered to drive me and Jez to the hospital, so we didn't have to worry about parking the car and she could drop us off at emergency. We got in the car; mum driving, me in the passenger seat and Jez in the back with all my bags. We had to go to emergency as the hospital doors were locked, but antenatal ward had told them we were coming. It was really difficult to walk at this point as my contractions had gotten crazy painful and I was crying quite a lot.
Triage looked up from their desk when they saw us walk through and buzzed us straight in. I was having difficulty standing up so they called out for someone to get me a wheelchair. The nurses seemed a little nervous and kept asking me if I was sure that I wasn't about to give birth right away. There was a lot of talk back and forth between Jeremy and the nurses. I remember my mum coming in as I let out a groan, another large contraction happened. The nurses said that they just had to wait for the Dr to come take a look at me. He was quite young and said straight away "you're not going to have the baby now are you?"
One of the nurses suggested that he examine me to see how far I had dilated - this next part always makes me laugh when I think about it.
He kneeled down in front of me and grabbed the bottom of my floor length skirt and said "ok I'm just going to check how dilated you are, can you remove your underwear?"
"I'm not wearing any" I said through gritted teeth. He then lifted my skirt and 'took a look' as another strong wave of contraction came over me and I let out a pained noise.
He quickly dropped my skirt and said whilst nodding "oh yea, she's ready to go"
HOW THE HECK DO YOU KNOW THAT?!?! You looked at me!?! My knees aren't even that spread apart - and I ain't no Dr but I am pretty sure some fingers are usually involved when checking for dilation....
He stood up abruptly and got behind my wheel chair. He then spun me around and we were off with a slow jog down the halls and to the elevator to take us to the maternity ward. Hilarious. I actually had a giggle at the ridiculousness of it all, and then was crying again as another contraction came on.
We got maternity and were greeted by a very... lovely... nurse.
"What's wrong with her?" - delightful.
I could sense my mums 'mother bear' instinct kick in.
"She's in labour." Mum answered curtly.
"Well, get her up out of that thing. She can walk."
I looked up at her as if she was crazy - clearly a lot of time has passed since this one has had a contraction, the old love doesn't remember.
The emergency Dr pushed me forward with the wheelchair.
"No, no I said up. She can walk" - I must remember to send this one a bunch of flowers when I am out.
"She can't walk she's in a lot of pain" the agitation in my mothers voice rising
"It's ok I'll get up" I rose up slowly and hobbled the rest of the way. I didn't want a growling match between the nurse bear and mother bear to begin.
It took me a while but I finally got to the bed. That was when the angelic and wonderful nurse Suzie came in and gave me a big smile.
"Getting comfortable yet?"
I smiled back at her tearily and replied "I'm trying too"
"Don't worry, we'll get you comfortable in no time" - Hallelujah!
After answering a few standard questions Suzie and the other nurses ducked in and out of the room, fetching different things and hooking me up to machines.
Jeremy looked at me worriedly and asked "are you going to get an epidural?"
"i don't know yet. It all depends on how dilated I am."
Jeremy looked at me confused
"Well I can't really gauge my pain threshold properly" - more confused looks.
"Ok, if I am only four centimetres dilated get me an epidural now. If I am higher I can do this without the epidural for a little while longer."
"Ahh gotya. Can't you just get an epidural anyway?"
I laughed at him, Jeremy seeing his loved ones in pain is torture for him.
The nurses came back in and Suzie told me that they would check my cervix. I was six centimetres. Awesome.
They cleaned up and I got Suzie's attention, "would I be able to get some gas?"
"Of course sweetie, would you also like a pethidine injection?"
"It basically helps relax your muscles, we give it to you in the thigh and it takes a few minutes to take affect."
"I'll take it, and the gas too please"
She smiled and went to go get the tubing for the gas.
A few minutes later I was breathing in the sweet, sweet air of the gas as I went through another contraction - it was fricken amazing!
It didn't take the pain away completely, but took away the edge and 'sting' of it all. It also made me woozy and giddy in between.
It also - although some people may concur - made me really funny. I was cracking all sorts of jokes and making smart alec remarks. I was having a ball! You can see by Jeremy's body language in the next few photos that the was having an awesome time too.
Jeremy suggested getting in the shower as well, double the pain relief. I think he wanted me to get as close to an epidural type pain relief as possible. The nurse had mentioned that I could take the gas into the shower but we couldn't figure it out, and as I had had the pethidine injection I was fine to be without the gas for a while. I sat on a chair and Jeremy used the removable shower head to run the water down my back. We had asked about a water birth, but unfortunately were told that because the baby was measuring so big it would not be an option for me. There was a very strong chance he would come out to quick and do damage to me or himself. I would have to do this in bed. So I was going to take advantage for as long as I could with the shower facility. It soon got uncomfortable and I wanted to get back into bed, so I got dressed and clambered back into bed.
A few hours had passed when it came time to check my dilation again. Suzie did the internal check and told me that I had only dilated to 7cms. Crap. It was 5:00am and I was only one cm further since coming in at 2:00am. This is why they send you home if you aren't dilated enough, you tend to do better walking around and being relaxed in your own environment. The hospital bed and drugs slow things down. Suzie looked up from the end of the bed and said "ok Amanda, we are going to break your waters and see if that speeds things up for you a bit"
I nodded back at them, things were getting closer - I suddenly felt a little nervous, but only for a second. A warm gush left my body and I felt the heat of what must have been all my amniotic fluid coming out.
"My goodness that is a lot!" I heard my mum exclaim.
"Yea, you are carrying quite a lot of fluid there" confirmed Suzie.
They cleaned up and left the room. I started to feel a little panicky. A contraction came on. I grabbed the gas tube and started sucking and inhaling furiously. Mum looked at me and noticed that something had changed.
"Mandy, are you ok?"
I couldn't talk. I wanted silence. I needed silence. I also needed Jeremy. I beckoned to him to come closer. He came over and I motioned for him to bend down towards me, still inhaling the gas. When he got close enough I grabbed on to his shoulders and pulled him down. Smelling him felt good and feeling him next to me comforted and soothed me.
"I need to push." My breathing was getting harder and faster.
Mum heard me "no baby, you can't push yet you're only 7cms"
"I NEED TO PUSH"
Mum rushed out to get the nurses - I could vaguely hear her saying "Ahh can someone come in, she is saying she needs to push"
Another contraction, more sucking of the gas, I was really holding Jeremy down as well - I half knew that this may set of his anxiety and he could have a panic attack, but selfishly I didn't care at that point. I just needed to feel his warmth and smell him.
A nurse came in and said to me "sweetie, you can't push yet you are only 7cms - I'll do another check but you really need to fight the urge to push."
She checked and then quickly withdrew.
"OK it's time."
Boom. I had dilated the last 4cms in 2 minutes.
That's when the rushing began, she pressed a button and people came running in and grabbing things. I had started pushing.
Suzie came to my side and took the gas off me.
"Noooooooooo, I need it" I tried to grab it back off her.
"No, you can do this without the gas, you can do this."
I started crying. Why would they take it away from me?! EVIL THEY ARE!
Suzie grabbed my foot and directed Jeremy to go to the other side and do the same. I had Suzie on my right and Jez on my left. Both holding my feet so that I was in the 'stirrup position'.
Again I am a bit hazy on details, but I know it was a lot of "ok push now" and then "wait, wait, breathe, breathe and now push" and me going "I can't do this, I can't do this"
I don't know how long I had been pushing but all of a sudden Suzie exclaimed "oh wow, he's a blonde little fella"
This made me smile, I had a blonde baby!?! I looked at Jez, he was as white as sheet, I smiled at him but it only lasted a second. He gave me this weird look and then I realised why - Suzie had just given me a full episiotomy. My eyes went wide, and Jeremy looked like he as about to faint. I did not enjoy that bit. That was horrible. *Shudder*.
A few more small pushes and a really big one where I let out a loud groan and he was out. It felt amazing. I know that sounds weird but it was the best feeling as he left my body.
At 5:40am he was out.
Jeremy cut the umbilical cord and then Suzie held him up, placed him on my chest "here is your three month old" He was bloody huge! He was also noisy, and would not stop crying.
I looked at his face. It was the most surreal moment. I had just met him yet I knew him, he looked so familiar. "I know you" he looked at me for a split second and continued bellowing. They took him away to measure and weigh him. I slipped in and out of microsleeps as everything happened around me. I remember Jeremy kissing me on the head and telling me how good I did, my mum also came over and congratulated me.
He kept crying and bellowing as I tried to quiet him down, he did not like being out in the cold. Everyone giggled and exclaimed that it looked like he as trying to crawl away - he was writhing and moving his legs up and down over my stomach. It was such a nice feeling. I kept slipping in and out of consciousness as nurses came in and out to clean and pack up, so Jeremy and mum took turns in holding him so I could rest. A young trainee nurse came in to stitch me up while he had a diabetes test to see how his sugar levels were doing. Something that can drop fast on large babies, so it needed to be monitored. Mum took pictures, and kep coming over to me crying - telling me how proud she was of me and how well I did.
I was so exhausted.
Suzie had to clock off as her shift was over so a new nurse, Natalie, came in to take over. I had been stitched up, so it was time to get up out of bed so I could have a shower and go into the main ward. First Natalie asked me to sit up in the bed. I shifted my weight and felt the lower half of my body shift weirdly. It hurt. I pulled a face, and Natalie noticed.
"Are you ok?"
"Yea, it just that my body feels 'loose' and it really hurts to move" I giggled, realising that that would sound stupid - I had just had a baby, of course it hurts!
"ok well, we'll take our time, I'll move the bed up to help you sit up." she pressed the button that tilts the back of the bed up into a sitting position. Something felt wrong. I winced, and exhaled sharply.
"It really hurts in my pubic area, and it moves" tears started filling my eyes.
"When you say it moves, can you describe what you are feeling?"
"When I move it feels like my left and right side are not attached, like I am disconnected. Like my body is sliding"
Nat removed her arms from my shoulders and placed me back down on the bed.
"I'm going to get another nurse in to take a look at you, ok sweetie?"
"Ok" I said quietly. Something wasn't right. Jeremy was still there, mum had gone home to rest. He looked at me reassuringly and I smiled nervously back at him. We didn't say much, as we were both worried about what might be happening.
They came back after a short while and asked me a few more questions.
"Basically what we are thinking that may have happened is something we call Pubic Symphysis"
We both looked at them blankly.
"It's when the tendon stretches and becomes soft and this causes your hips to feel like they are sliding within you."
Yup. That was exactly what I was feeling. It was like my left and right halves were disjointed.
"We need to get you up so we can assess exactly how much your tendon has stretched."
Everyone got into position to move me, and get me standing. Jeremy stood on my left, Natalie on my right and the other nurse has my legs. The nurse at my legs manually lifted my legs together so that my feet were at my butt and my knees were up. Shit that hurt. On the count of three Natalie, the nurse and Jez were going to pivot me on my bum so that I was facing the right side of the bed. One, two three and pivot. Faaaaaaaaaaaark! That made me woozy, but I was now facing sideways on the bed and had my legs over the edge. They were still being supported by the nurse. Natalie lowered the bed so that my feet could touch the ground.
"I want you to lightly bear some weight on your feet. Slowly so you don't pass out, and then when you are ready we will start to walk."
Sounds easy enough.
I slowly stood up, making sure that I gave both legs the same amount of weight - the internal sliding feeling turned my stomach. I was looking at the floor when I did this, and quickly looked up with pride once I was standing. Bad idea - I started getting giddy.
"Slowly, slowly. You went a little faint there didn't you?"
"Yea, that felt weird. Ok let's try to walk."
"Ok, when you are ready. Take a step with your right leg. We'll be here to support you."
I stood there for a while and gathered my thoughts as I went to take a step.
Ggggrgrgrgrgrgrgrgrgrgrgrgrgrg - there was an internal crunching noise and a sharp shooting pain went up my body and down my left leg from my pubic area as I felt as if my body was splitting in two. I don't remember much after that because that was when I blacked out.
I'm going to finish it here. Oooo a cliff hanger, how exciting! Stay tuned for part three, where you get to learn more about Pubic Symphysis and what happened to bubba that caused him to have to go to NICU.
Hope you enjoyed reading and it didn't make you feel to queasy!