The Super Whites The ordinary life of a Super Mum

The Super Whites
Amy’s Birth Story – 1 year on
A look back at this time last year……..

The week leading up to Amy’s birth was a tough one for both Ron and I. We had gone into hospital for a check up and scan on the Friday and our baby was doing very well but showed no sign of making an appearance anytime soon! The kind sonographer measured the baby at 8lbs14oz and I asked her candidly after my scan if she thought I might go into labour spontaneously, she was sympathetic but didn’t think it was likely to happen in the next few days. We were advised we could postpone an induction past the 42 week mark which was Tuesday 4th July but I would have to go into the hospital everyday for a scan and a stress test where they hooked my belly up to the contraction computer to see what was going on with the baby’s heartbeat and my non-contracting uterus. So long as the baby was healthy and my placenta still fully functional, they would let me go for at least another four days. Ron and I went out to breakfast and had a long chat. Although I was still feeling physically good, or at least as good as someone can who is carrying a gigantic baby round in the hottest July on record, we were both ready to meet our baby. Despite my fears of induction we decided to go ahead on Tuesday and I started preparing myself for a night on my own in hospital.

Ron and I arrived at St Georges hospital at 9pm on Tuesday the 4th July. Ron got me settled in my bed next to the window in a four bed room, it was very strange being in the postnatal ward and hearing lots of newborn babies crying but that’s where the inductees go! There was another woman in the room but she had had her baby prematurely and so spent all her time downstairs in the NICU. I was hooked up to the monitor for contractions and heartbeat and everything looked good with the baby, it was calm and relaxed but there was minimal contraction action. It was very hard saying goodbye to Ron but we were both brave and I promised I would text him if anything started happening even though I wasn’t supposed to use my mobile. We both knew that a good nights sleep on his own in the bed without me creaking and getting up every 30 minutes to pee would be just what he needed before our lives changed forever.

I went straight to sleep after the pessary and although I woke a few times in the night to go to the loo and walk around and I was aware that contractions had started, they were not uncomfortable and I had a feeling that things weren’t going anywhere. At 6am a midwife checked me and gave me the first of a string of bad news updates, no cervical progress, still only 1/2 to 1cm. I was given another pessary and Ron arrived at 10am, we settled in to watch Wimbledon and slowly my contractions stepped up a notch. I started using the tens machine which took my mind off them and gave me something to focus on and Ron started to write down their frequency and length. By 3pm contractions coming hard and fast and the midwife suggested I try the gas and air but I was still not dilated enough to get my waters broken. Ron and I moved into a big bathroom and I sat in a lovely warm bath with the gas for nearly two hours. This was a dreamlike time for us both. I could feel our baby moving around inside me, almost in time with the contractions which were becoming very physical. I would feel it start in my lower back and slowly work round to the top of my belly. The baby was lying very low and my hips ached with the muscle spasms of the contractions. The bath was very soothing but I could definitely feel that things were moving along once I got out.

This is where things get a little blurry for me. We ran out of gas and air due to a misunderstanding between the midwife and the night porter who could change the gas canister and after nearly two hours of very intense contractions brought on by the pessaries, Ron had had enough and insisted that we get moved downstairs to the delivery suite. I wasn’t aware of any of these negotiations, by this stage I was talking in Afrikaans and using the metal hospital bed to hang from while I grunted through three minute contractions with 30 seconds break between them! Although I wasn’t even in established labour (more than 3cms dilated) I was finally allowed to settle into a delivery room with gas and air on tap and Ron got settled in to watch some more Wimbledon!

By this stage Ron and I knew that most of our labour intentions were going to be pretty meaningless, I was no closer to actual labour than when I came into hospital 24 hours before despite being in significant amounts of pain and even the gas and air wasn’t helping as much anymore which was what I had feared. I had tossed the tens machine into a corner long before and although the midwives were encouraging me to walk around and keep moving, we were all getting a little despondent. I was starting to get physically tired as I hadn’t eaten much and was starting to look forward to getting an epidural! The baby was still looking great, excellent heartrate and I think this was the best part of this stage of our experience, at no point did Ron and I feel worried about our baby. We were being very well taken care of and I felt confident accepting all the advice we were being given.

I spoke to Mum briefly before she got on the plane on her way, very strange because when we talked about her dates all those months before, neither of us thought that we would still be waiting for the baby more than two weeks after my due date! I can’t imagine how Mum must have felt being trapped on a plane and not knowing what was happening with me! Around 1am the next morning we finally had some progress after the 3rd pessary. I was nearly ready to have my waters broken and most importantly, to get my epidural. At 4am my mobility was taken away as we were advised to have a head monitor inserted into Amy after my water was broken and I was hooked up to a syntocin and nutrient drip to keep things moving along. The fetal head monitor was amazing as we could watch the baby’s heartrate on the computer screen and also see my contractions peaking whilst all I felt was a strange tightening sensation across my very large belly as my epidural worked its magic.

Thursday was a very long day. Ron and I both slept as much as we could. I was able to snooze for about 30 minutes at a time until the epidural would start to wear off and I would press my buzzer for my lovely midwife Effie to come and top me up. I was closely monitored and the Registrar came round to see me. We were still feeling very well taken care of but he didn’t have good news. I needed to get to the magic 8cm mark and quickly or we would have to consider a c-section. I had been in labour for 36 hours and although our baby was still doing great, we had to think about the options. Ron and I prepared ourselves and I spent the next few hours concentrating as hard as I could on each contraction and willing my body to get working! At 5pm the Registrar came back and I don’t know who was more surprised, him or us when I was ready to push. My epidural was turned off and very soon I needed to push. Effie the midwife was very honest and I knew that I had to work hard to get this baby out as quickly as possible, after nearly two days in labour I wouldn’t have much left to give. I don’t think I have ever worked that hard in my life before. I was in a little world of my own, only aware of Ron telling me when to push and feeling my whole body focus on one thing, birthing my baby.

At 7.37pm on Thursday evening, the 6th July 2006 I pushed our baby into the world and with the help of the midwife, I pulled the solid, slipperyness onto my chest and in that instant I saw that she was a girl. I was crying and Ron was saying over and over “it’s a baby” and I was telling him “its Amy” and then Effie showed him where to cut the cord and I was clasping her warmth to my chest, awed that this life breathed and her heart beat and yet she was separate from me.

She was taken across the room to be weighed (9lbs1oz or 4.1kgs) and then Ron had a chance to hold her close. At some point we called Mum and by strange coincidence she was on her mobile phone to my Dad in South Africa so we were able to tell them both at the same time. Mum came to the hospital and was able to sit quietly holding Amy while they unhooked me from the machines and got me cleaned up. This was very precious time for Mum because she never expected to be there only 20 minutes after my baby was born. Finally at 1am Ron wheeled us upstairs to the postnatal ward, my girl cradled on a pillow in my lap. Then Ron and Mum left to go home and the next few hours were very special as my baby lay in a bassinet next to my bed and we both dozed. When she murmured I picked her up and put her to my breast and we slowly got to know each other. Just a few hours later Ron came to pick us up and we took our new girl home.
I feel quite emotional when I read over this and remember what a vivid and visceral experience having a baby was to me. Amy is the most precious thing that Ron and I could ever imagine in our lives and it seems quite incredible that a year has passed since we welcomed her into our lives.

Happy 1st Birthday Amy Grace!

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