The Super Whites The ordinary life of a Super Mum

The Super Whites
Stella’s birth story Part I
Stella Margaret White
Birth Story – Part I

I never really believed I would have my baby before my due date despite everyone telling me second babies usually arrived early. At 37 weeks I came down with a terrible cold which took me nearly a week to shake off, I definitely didn’t feel like I could birth a baby with rivers of snot and trouble breathing. That was nothing in comparison to what I caught on the weekend of my due date and the adventure that befell me the week after! Our baby was due on the 12th April, 2009. Easter Sunday to be precise. Not only was our Obstetrician away but the inlaws were camping, all our friends who lived close by were on holiday and rumour had it the private hospital was radically understaffed on long weekends. I spent a lot of time worrying about Easter weekend during my pregnancy, visions of my waters breaking dramatically at home and having to rush to hospital, Amy in her pajamas in the waiting room, our new baby arriving into the arms of a strange midwife while Ron waited outside with Amy! In the end our Easter weekend was pretty horrible, we stayed home, me nursing a vicious cold which went straight to my chest, Amy irritable and bored, Ron impatient and restless. My due date came and went and I made plans to meet up with my friend Rosie for coffee on the Wednesday. What happened next is documented here but suffice to say that even being a witness to an armed robbery wasn’t enough to trigger labour despite bringing on some serious contractions!

We had an Ob appointment at 3pm the following day. My blood pressure was back down to the perfect level it had been at all pregnancy, our Dr had a look at the baby with the ultrasound and it was resting happily, heartbeat a lovely continuous rythym and enough amniotic fluid to sustain it for days. He then took a look at my cervix which despite the regular contractions I had been having was still hard and about 1.5cm, he gave me as much of a membrane sweep as was possible and based on this not so positive news we decided to schedule an induction for the following Tuesday when I would be 41weeks and 2 days. This gave me ample time to go into labour on my own but also hopefully would be the right time to induce and allow me the best possible chance to birth the baby on my own without too much intervention considering we were thinking that size wise this baby would be comparable to Amy who was born weighing 4.01kgs or 9lbs1oz. I left the Ob office feeling strangely eurphoric and happier than I had been in a while. Finally the end was definitely in sight and so we went home and made plans for the weekend as we were both sick of sitting around waiting and figured if we got out and about not only would it keep our minds occupied but it would likely increase my chances of going into labour!

We had a fantastic weekend, the best in ages, on Friday we took Amy to the aquarium and for fish and chips at the Fish Markets. On Saturday we spent the afternoon watching Ron’s rugby team win all five grades and caught up with friends. On Sunday we picked up my Mum from the airport which was such a treat. I never expected to see her whilst I was still pregnant so that was fun. On Sunday evening Mum and I spent a few hours at the hospital for my 41 week assessment. I was hooked up to the CTG monitor to check the baby’s heartrate and my contractions and it was a good opportunity to find out every little detail about what to expect from the induction on Tuesday. By this stage I was convinced that I wouldn’t go into labour on my own so I made sure to ask all the questions I had which was many. I found it strange that after all this time we had ended up exactly where we had with Amy, booked in for a post date induction and I wanted to make sure I knew what our choices were so that Ron and I could be fully prepared and in control. Everything looked good with the baby and my blood pressure and I was having some strong contractions, still irregular but the midwife assured me this would all help prepare my cervix for labour.

We spent the next two days getting the final details organised, making sure my bag was packed and that we had plans in place for who was taking care of Amy and how everyone was getting to the hospital after the baby was born and then suddenly it was Tuesday night and I read Amy a last story before Ron drove me to the hospital in the pouring rain for my 9pm induction. It was a very emotional evening for me. I felt almost guilty sitting on Amy’s bed reading to her knowing that this was the last night I would read her a story as my only child, my precious daughter and I found it very hard to say goodnight to her knowing that I wouldn’t be there in the morning. Ron and I were very quiet on the way to the hospital, a combination of nerves and excitement. We both felt quite relieved that we had spent the day at the hospital being assessed last week as we knew what to expect and where to go.

In the delivery suite I was settled into my room by a lovely midwife who explained what would happen. I was hooked up to the CTG monitors again and Ron and I relaxed and watched tv until the midwife came back and inserted the prostin gel. She then gave me two panadeine forte and some mild sleeping pills and suggested I get some rest. Ron and I said goodbye to each other, a scene reminiscent of the last time I spent the night in hospital alone, waiting for labour to start! I managed to fall asleep easily and slept well until around 2am when the sounds of a woman labouring close by woke me up. Sometimes later I heard the high pitched wails of a newborn baby and I lay there in the dark feeling sorry for myself, wishing labour could be that simple for me and wondering why my body didn’t seem to want to co-operate. I managed to get back to sleep and was awake at about 5.30am, walking around the room trying desperately hard to will my contractions to take shape, speed up, get moving. The midwife came in to check me at 6am and said my Ob would be along around 7-7.30 but that unfortunately it looked as though I would need further intervention to get labour started and that I should start considering the epidural because it was almost certain I would be needing the syntocin drip.

Ron arrived shortly after and consoled me for not having spontaneously burst into labour in the dark hours of the night. We waited for our Dr to arrive and watched morning television. I was feeling very nervous because I felt as though my last hope of a semi-natural labour was long gone and I was starting to get scared remembering what had happened last time with my labour with Amy. The avalanche effect of intervention which left me numb on a bed with a 16 hour epidural and a procession of Dr’s announcing that my cervix wasn’t co-operating and if I didn’t fully dilate within the next four hours we were going to have to proceed to a c-section. This time I was determined to avoid the heartbreaking internal exams which announced “no progress” and just try my hardest to think positively about the outcome. The good news was that our midwife showed up for the day shift and it was Penny, the no-nonsense, matter-of-fact midwife I had seen in the Dr’s surgery a few times and who had been with us when I came into be assessed after the robbery the week before. I was thrilled to see her, I liked her approach and her attitude and I trusted her judgement. We had asked her for advice the week before about whether to stay at the hospital or go home and she had practically and sensibly laid out our options for us and helped us make our decision. I hoped I would have the baby by the end of the day so she could be with us.

Our Ob arrived in a terrible mood at 7.30 and examined me. He gave me the bad news that I was still only 1.5 cms dilated but I was fully effaced so now it was just a matter of getting that cervix to do what it had struggled to do before – dilate! He then attempted to break my waters with a large crochet hook which was possibly the most uncomfortable thing that happened that day, he kept fishing around with a puzzled expression on his face saying that my membranes were extraordinarily strong which might be a contributing factor to why my cervix wasn’t dilating because the babies head was being cradled by the strong membranes. He finally managed to break them but wasn’t able to assess the liquid because it was so little although later Penny did say she thought there was meconium in it. I was relieved not to know this at the time as my stress levels were high enough without worrying about something I had no control over and the baby’s heartrate was still strong and steady on the monitors. This was something I was to be so grateful to Penny for throughout the day, her calm manner and ability to just get on with things without arousing any concern in me.

The Dr then advised that I start on the syntocin drip with the intention of getting my contractions to the level of four strong contractions lasting longer than a minute, within ten minutes, for longer than an hour. He put a canula into the back of my hand for the drip and Penny started to run some fluids into it to help keep my body hydrated. This was when I knew my hopes of an active labour were gone as I was going to be restricted to the space around the monitors and the drip machine. We said goodbye to our Ob who would be back at lunchtime to assess me again and we could make our decisions based on that. At this point Penny recommended we consider calling for the epidural sooner rather than later. It was still only 8am and most anaethetists start surgery at 8.30am so we had a good chance of getting one straight away without a wait. Ron and I were very conflicted on this choice as we both knew I really wanted to try and do this without the epidural but we also knew there was no point in being brave for the sake of it and then not being able to call for pain relief when I really needed it, after my experience of labour with Amy I was very afraid that I was going to be in labour for a long time and wouldn’t be able to cope without pain relief. We asked Penny to help us make the choice and she explained that it was unlikely that my fears of a long labour would be realised and that in fact getting the epidural sooner would help us to get my labour progressing quicker which would be far better for both me and the baby in the long run. She explained how important it was for her to get the drip running just right so that my contractions increased gradually but rapidly without causing any distress to the baby. This really helped us and after some soul searching we both agreed that as soon as we knew that I was going to need the syntocin drip, it made sense to call for the epidural.

This is me relaxing in bed, hooked up to the syntocin drip and the epidural infusion. I am staring at a spot above Ron’s head where the tv is waiting for labour to progress. The monitor next to me is spitting out trace showing the baby’s heartrate (red) and the intensity of the contractions (green).

Part II to follow.

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