Charlotte's dramatic entrance (long)
The morning of April 1st, 2012 dawned bright and sunny, but frustrating for me. I was 4 days past my due date, as big as a house and completely fed up with being pregnant. I was at the end of my rope. That afternoon, a friend invited us to go bowling with her and her husband and we accepted, hoping that the activity would help things move along. So we went out and had a wonderful afternoon and bowled 3 games against each other. I won the first one, but lost the second two because my arms got tired from using a ball that was too heavy because my swollen fingers couldnít fit into the lighter ones. By the time we left the bowling alley, I was having some heavy Braxton Hicks contractions and a lot of pelvic pressure, but nothing regular or even time-able. I was hopeful that maybe our stubborn little lady would decide to come that night.
We spent the night just relaxing and watching some TV. I was still having irregular Braxton Hicks and low back pain, but still nothing too promising. I figured I was probably going to have to wait another few days. Our little one seemed like she was far too comfy. At about 11pm, I decided I was tired and headed up to bed. As I walked to the stairs, I felt a small rush of fluid between my legs. I kind of stopped and waited to see if I felt anything more. I didnít, so I made my way upstairs and checked my underwear. They were soaking wet and smelled faintly sweet, which is what I have heard that amniotic fluid smells like. I sat on the toilet for a while trying to see if anything else was going to leak. Nothing. I chalked it up to maybe I had some water still trapped up there from my bath earlier in the day and I went to bed.
At about 3:30am, I woke up needing to use the restroom. At this point in my pregnancy, I was unable to just sit up and get out of bed and I needed to do this weird sort of roll to get myself up and moving. As I rolled over and went to sit up, I had a gush of fluid even bigger than the first one. I knew it was the real deal this time. I was soaked through my underwear and there was a puddle on the bed. So, I got up and dialed the delivery unit to talk to one of the midwives. She told me it sounded like my waters had gone and I needed to come in to be checked. I waddled downstairs to find that the husband was already awake and laying on the couch (he spent the last couple months of my pregnancy sleeping there because I started snoring like a buzzsaw). As soon as I got to the bottom of the stairs, he asked me what was going on and I told him that it was baby time. He jumped up off the couch like a kid on Christmas and started rushing around like a chicken with its head cut off.
I was surprisingly calm and totally at peace with what was happening. I sat down, repacked my hospital bag, got dressed, brushed my hair and just took my time. I think the husband was completely amazed with how I was acting because I am normally a little high-strung and Iím the one running around like crazy. We headed out and made the 45 minute drive to the hospital. When we got there, they admitted me and hooked me up to the monitors. I was having irregular contractions, but they werenít even strong enough that I could feel them. The midwife used a speculum and a swab and declared that my waters were indeed leaking but that I must have had a hind-water rupture, meaning that my water broke at the top of my uterus and it was slowly trickling out instead of coming in a gush. They told me that I had 24 hours to go into labor on my own or else they were going to induce me. So, they sent me home and told me to call back at 6pm to find out what time they wanted me back in that night since my water had actually broken at about 11pm the previous night.
We headed home. The husband was about comatose from lack of sleep (I found out later that he hadnít been to sleep yet when I came downstairs to wake him up), so he headed off to bed and I called in my two best girls to come keep my company. We just hung out and they helped me tidy up my house before they left. At 6pm, we called and were told to be there at 8. The husband and I spent the next hour before we left buzzing with a kind of nervous energy. I felt so strange that this was going to be our last hour in our home as just a married couple. Next time we came home, it would be with our daughter.
When we arrived that the hospital, they re-admitted me and hooked me back up to the monitors. I was still not in labor. They monitored me for a while to see how the baby was doing and did a cervical check. I was hardly effaced and only a fingertip dialated. Around 9:30pm, they inserted the prostaglandin gel to get my cervix to soften and told me to get some rest and they would start the Syntocinon (itís the form of Pitocin they use in the UK) in 6 hours. I slept off and on and chatted with the midwife who sat in the room with me all night. At about 3am, they came in to talk to me about an epidural before they turned on the Syntocinon drip. They were concerned that if they waited to do the epidural that it was stall out my labor. After a couple tries, the anaesthesiologist got it inserted, and the midwife went to break my water the rest of the way. Even though my water had been leaking for almost 24 hours already there was still a TON left. She had to jump up off the bed or else she would have gotten a shower. After my waters subsided, they started the drip and I fell asleep for a few hours.
At about 6am, the midwife decided to wake me up and check me. I had dilated to 2-3cm but my cervix was still thick. At this point, I was still feeling really good. I was having regular contractions but couldnít feel them in the slightest. After the check, I was happy to go back to sleep. The midwife woke me up at 9am to check me again. I was hopeful that the last 3 hours has brought some progress but was disappointed when she told me I was still 2-3cm but was now 100% effaced. The contractions were coming on a lot stronger and were about 2 minutes apart at this point. I could feel them, but not the pain that comes along with them. I was hopeful that the rest of the delivery would go as smoothly as it had been so far. Sometime in the next 3 hours, things got hairy. My labor kicked into overdrive and I dilated from 2-3cm to 9cm in just 3 hours. In that time, the first epidural started to wear off and I started to feel the low, cramping pain of the contractions. It wasnít a huge bother at first, but it progressively got more and more painful as it went on and I started not to handle it so well. She asked if I wanted to call in and get another epidural placed but the contractions werenít unbearable, so I told her I wanted to wait and see how it went.
I didnít have to wait long. In the next hour (at about 1pm), I fully dilated and my pain level skyrocketed. Because I chose to wait, the anaesthesiologist was busy and I had to wait to get another epidural. I had no urge to push and they wanted me to wait to try so that the baby could labor down as far as possible. I have a heart condition and was only going to be allowed to push for an hour and a half so she wanted to make the most of it. I accepted some of what the British call ďgas and airĒ in the meantime. Essentially, itís a little breathing tube and it gives you a nice shot of laughing gas. Itís basically just like getting high. You still feel the pain, you just donít care anymore. It was wonderful and definitely took the edge off. We waited about an hour for another epidural, which never worked. After we realized it wasnít going to work, we started pushing. She turned down my drip so we could take it nice and slow. It was a relief at first. She coached me through how to do it and we tried a few times until my labor stalled out and my contractions stopped coming. So, she turned the Syntocinon drip back up to kick-start things and after that, it was a nightmare.
The contractions started hitting me in waves of pain. The pushing just intensified it. It was about this time that the midwife checked me and realized that the baby wasnít descending because her head was crooked in the birth canal. She told me we could finish out the hour and a half of pushing and then she was going to have to get the doctor and we were looking at a forceps delivery. I barely made it the rest of my allotted pushing time. I donít even remember what was happening because itís all a haze of pain. The pain made me start panicking and I started screaming through my contractions. The midwife did her best to keep me cool and calm but I was totally overwhelmed. There wasnít even a break in between my contraction at this point and the baby still wasnít coming down any further. I remember her leaving to go talk to the OBs and coming back to tell me that we were going ahead with the forceps but it was going to be a little while because they were doing an emergency c-section at the moment. I remember just breaking down and crying when she told me this. I was in so much pain that I thought my body was ripping in two. I started begging her to do something about it. The epidurals didnít work, the gas and air stopped working, the pill narcotics they gave me did nothing and it was just me in a sea of unbearable pain.
After what felt like forever (which in reality, was at least an hour), there was a flurry of movement and I was wheeled into the operating theatre. By the time they tried to get me transferred off of my hospital bed and onto the operating table, I couldnít even function. They had to lift me by the sheets because I couldnít will my body to scoot over from bed to bed. At some point, someone handed me a pen to sign the consent forms for the forceps delivery and then they started prepping for my spinal block. By the time they had everything ready, I didnít even have the strength to cry anymore. I just remember sitting on the edge of the table, leaning on the midwifeís shoulder and quietly begging her to make them hurry. Once they got themselves set up, the spinal block was in very quickly and it took no time at all for it to kick in. My lower body was numb before they even had me laid back down again. It was heaven and I wanted to kiss the doctor. They waited a few minutes to make sure I was numb (and boy was I ever. I was numbed from my breasts down.) and then got to it.
Itís a very strange feeling watching people move your body around when you canít feel it. I could see them put my legs into the stirrups, but my brain was still telling me that I was lying flat. I remember reaching up and poking my leg and feeling absolutely nothing. SO weird. I remember feeling really calm. I heard the snip of the scissors when they cut the episiotomy but felt nothing and didnít even realize what it was until I thought about it later. They talked me through everything they were doing. He told me when he inserted the forceps and then told me to push. I was really confused and asked how I was supposed to push when I couldnít feel my body and they told me just to think I was doing it and my body would do it. In a blur that seemed like a long time but was probably less than a couple minutes, I pushed and then they were yelling at me to stop. My big, beautiful girl had her shoulders stuck in my pelvis. Shoulder dystocia is one of those complications you read about but donít think will happen. Well, it happened. I donít think I was even registering that that was what was happening. Soon enough, the doctor told me to push again and I had a baby on my belly. She was purple and not crying and they immediately whisked her away to the warmer as they started to deliver the placenta and sew everything back up down there. The husband went with the nurse and our baby and he stood there while they wiped her down and worked on her. The look on his face was incredible, somewhere between pure love, terror and shock. He looked across the room at me and we both had tears rolling down our cheeks. At some point, someone declared that our little girl was 10lbs 8oz and I about died. I stared at the nurse and asked her if she was serious. I was not expecting that. I mean, my belly had been the size of a beach ball and I was expecting her to be between 9 and 10 lbs but I never considered that she would be over that.
After a few endless moments and a little panic, the nurse finally got her crying and they brought her over to me and I got to touch my little daughter for the first time. I had never in my life imagined that love could come so quickly.
After my eventful delivery, I found out that I had lost 2 pints of blood and had to be given a blood transfusion and that both of us were running a fever and needed to stay in the hospital and be put on antibiotics. We ended up spending 4 extra days in the hospital when all was said and done but both of us came out of it fine. Despite the somewhat traumatic birth and a stressful first few days, she is gorgeous and healthy and absolutely the love of mine and her daddyís life. I wouldnít wish my birth experience on anyone, but I also wouldnít change it. If anything, it proved to me how strong I am. I went through 6+ hours of chemically augmented labor with a malpositioned baby and no pain medication and I am still here to talk about it. The female body is really an incredible thing and I hope that my story is a testament that you can never expect what will happen and you need to keep an open mind.
Charlotte June was born on April 3rd, 2012 at 7:31pm in Cambridge, England. She weighed 10lbs8oz and was 21 Ĺ inches long. I gave birth to her 45 hours after my water first broke and had ~13 Ĺ hours of active labor. I have the stitches from my episiotomy and I have one stitch in a small tear on my cervix. The first day after delivery was awful because I was so sore and swollen but it's gotten better every day since and has been relatively easy. The only lingering pain I have is from a bruised tailbone.
Re: Charlotte's dramatic entrance (long)
Wow! Dramatic entrance indeed! I find it interesting that even with a meal positioned baby you were still able to deliver vaginally, with the help of the forceps. I'm pretty sure in the US, that scenario would have been a csection birth.
Re: Charlotte's dramatic entrance (long)
I'm so glad you and Charlotte are well.
Wow!! What a big girl! Congrats!!!
Loved reading this even though it was so much. This is a delivery I wish I had been able to even try. But here in the US yes csection it was.
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