The Super Whites The ordinary life of a Super Mum

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

Part I is here.

I felt a sense of peace as we waited for the call to go out and when Penny came back in 5 minutes later saying that an anaethetist that she really liked was on her way I knew we had made the right decision. The anaethetist arrived 15 minutes later and started to set up. Ron and I thought this was all slightly hysterical because I wasn’t actually in labour yet and the contractions I was having were strong but not uncomfortable although I was feeling a rather strange gush with each one as my water slowly leaked out. It was a surreal experience to sit on the edge of the bed, looking out the window at the horse in the field whilst the anaethetist poked around in my back trying to find the right gap in my spinal column. She gave me 10/10 for being a perfect patient but it wasn’t hard when all I was experiencing was some mild contractions and the urge to wriggle when someone tells you its imperative to sit as still as you can! Soon I was hooked up to the epidural infusion and the anaethetist gave me a boost through the catheter which was fastened to my shoulder to get the epidural going. While we waited for this to take effect, Penny started me on the syntocin drip and soon after she inserted a catheter for my bladder because as the epidural started to work I would lose the sensation that allowed me to know when to empty my bladder, plus the fact that I was now anchored to the table thanks to the epidural and the drips.

It was 9.30am and my contractions started to increase in intensity at the same time as my belly, thighs and hips started to go numb. I was reminded how much I hate the sensation of the epidural. The heaviness in my legs and tingling in my feet made me feel irritable and uncomfortable and I hated the sensation of knowing that something was touching me but not actually being able to feel it. Ron spent a lot of time massaging my feet and calves to help bring back the feelings, it helped a lot as at least when he was rubbing me I was able to associate that sensation with the knowledge that my feet still actually existed! The next few hours passed slowly, Ron watched tv while I read my book for a while and even dosed. I remember this strange inbetween time from my last labour except then it lasted a lot longer. Penny came in every 45 minutes or so to check on the contractions print out from the CTG monitor, occasionally she would adjust the drip, increasing the dosage slightly to try and get my contractions working more regularily. I spent a lot of time wondering how long this was going to take and feeling apprehensive about what lay ahead but also desperately excited because each tightening in my belly signalled that we were that much closer to the arrival of our baby.

At 12.30 my obstetrician came back in to check on me. I didn’t want the internal exam but it was the only way to know whether my contractions were actually working on my cervix or not and I have to confess to feeling despondant and depressed when he announced that I was only around 3cms. He was also concerned that my contractions weren’t regular or frequent enough so the decision was made to up the syntocin dosage and try to get some more progress. Within 15 minutes of the increased drip the contractions had revved up to a consistent level of strong contractions and over the next 45 minutes they came thick and fast. Ron and I watched the trace coming out of the CTG machine and I felt strangely proud of the regular peaks. I started to feel the intensity of them more especially deep in my pelvis and wasn’t surprised to see the numbers increase on the machine from contractions peaking around 70 or 80 they started to go up to 100 and 120 with each peak and I started to feel uncomfortable, wanting to move with the contractions but hating the sensation of being numb from the waist down. Quite quickly the sense of discomfort turned to actual pain and I started to breathe heavily and moan about how sore it was. Ron was getting worried and we buzzed Penny who came in quickly. She was puzzled as to why I was feeling so much pain and thought perhaps I had a window where the epidural wasn’t working on my left side so she and Ron tipped me over to my left slightly hoping the infusion would concentrate on that side, however all that happened was the pain became more pronounced with each contraction and spread to the right side as well. I hated sitting lopsidedly in the bed so they hoisted me upright and center again.

It was nearly 2pm and I was in agony, Penny gave me a boost through the epidural catheter but said if that didn’t help ease my discomfort then our only option was to call the anaethetist back to try another type of pain relief or maybe to consider having another internal exam as sometimes during transition the pain can transcend even an epidural. By this point I was moaning and breathing into each contraction and the pain was spiking at the peak of them. It was a deep, sharp pain in my left side, spreading round to my hip and my back and it was almost too much to cope with especially considering I had the damn epidural! At 2.30pm I asked Penny to examine me and it was the best sense of relief ever when she told me I was 9cms and nearly ready to push! I started to cry from the relief of knowing that what I was feeling was a purposeful pain and Ron and I could hardly believe I had gone from 3cms to 9cms in less than 2 hours! Penny said she would get me on the gas and air to help with the pain of transition and she would go and call the Dr to come up and get ready to deliver this baby.

I was overwhelmed with the knowledge that I didn’t have to be brave anymore, that I was going to get to use my beloved gas and air and that we were actually going to have a baby before the afternoon was out! The moment I sucked on the valve and got a hit of the gas I started to feel better. I love the heady feeling, it was a form of pain relief that worked really well for me last time around and I knew how to use it and breathe with it to ease the pain as the contractions peaked. Ron says I started to go loopy almost immediately and the next hour is very hazy in my memory. I remember Ron feeding me chips of ice between contractions, I needed to hold onto his hand and pull down on it with the pains and I was totally focused on deep breathing into the gas valve and then releasing it as the pains ebbed. I was communicating with my eyes and single words and guttural sounds but somehow Ron knew when I was asking for more ice or when I needed his hand or when to pass me the lipsalve for my dry lips!

The pains were getting stronger, more fierce and changing in their intensity and pressure, Penny came in and asked me if I was feeling any pressure in my bottom or the urge to push and I couldn’t answer her but with each contraction I felt like I wanted to bear down and breath deep into my body. The Dr arrived at around 3pm and checked me, I was fully dilated and ready to push but he was a little concerned that the head still wasn’t descending down the birth canal enough. He suggested I give a practice push with the next contraction. I had spent the whole day waiting for someone to tell me I could push. Last time round when I was in labour with Amy I felt as though I hadn’t been able to do anything really well until it came time to push when I came into my stride. I understood how to push hard into my bottom and was so relieved to be actively involved in my labour again that I found reserves of energy I didn’t know I had even after labouring for more than 36 hours. I was able to push Amy out in 40 minutes and had been carrying the knowledge that if I could just get to the pushing stage I would be fine. I had even told Penny in my hazy state between lungfuls of gas and air that I was a champion pusher and if she could just arrange it so I got a chance to push I would show her!

This is me looking slightly loopy, clutching my gas and air during transition.

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