We arrived at the birth centre sometime around 11. It was one of the few times there has ever been a park. We went in to the front desk and the girl asked why we were there. I must admit I was stumped.
"Uhh, I'm having a baby." I said. She didn't look amused and asked for my yellow card. I guess night shift on the labour ward desk might not be as fun as it sounds.
She let us in and as we went into the birth centre out came a long lost friend of my mums. She had gone to church with us years ago and mum hadn't seen her since she had left. She is a midwife at the birth centre and mum knew this and told me to look out for her. I hadn't bumped into her until that night. She and Mum had a happy little meeting and she couldn't believe it was me going in to have a baby. The last time she saw me I would have been 4 or 5. We had almost forgotten that I was about to have a baby but eventually went inside.
The birth centre looks a whole lot different at night when you are going in to have a baby. I had been in there so many times in the last few weeks and imagined what it would be like going in there in labour. The midwife came to see us and indeed it was merconium in the waters. She broke some bad news. We couldn't have our little one in the birth centre. It was too high risk. Oh.
They would need to give me a drip to start contractions as they weren't strong enough. Oh. I would need to go to the labour ward and be on a heart monitor. Oh.
My perfect birth dream was falling down around my ears and how did I feel? I felt pretty calm. I think it was about then that my body started to take over. I felt this amazing calm sensation like everything would be ok. I am so thankful for this because if ever there was a time to panic in life it would have been this night.
Mum was asking the midwife about the option of waiting it out to see if the contractions started naturally. The midwife didn't seem to think the doctors in the labour ward would be too happy about that but they were pretty busy over there so there was a possibility I would be waiting a while anyway.
I was waiting a while. The midwife told us to get comfy. She set us up in one of the empty labour rooms. In all the excitement my contractions had stopped so I was pacing round the room trying to get them started again. I sat on the birthing ball and rocked, Myl gave me a massage. I moved around and did some of the exercises I had been practicing during pregnancy. We had brought our computer to listen to music on and still had old Lord of the Rings in the player so back we went to middle earth.
The midwife came in to check up on us every now and then. She got out her Doppler and listened to the heartbeat, checked my temperature and blood pressure. It was a little high so she was getting me to drink water. I had already drunk about 2 litres of water that day and probably drank another two in the labour room.
About an hour later a doctor came in from the labour ward to give me a cannula. I'm not sure what happened to the idea of waiting and seeing if labour would begin by itself. I was having a few contractions but they weren't very strong. I think they wanted the cannula in just in case. Boy oh boy was I nervous when she told me that she needed to put local anesthetic in my hand before putting in the needle. I thought it must hurt pretty bad if they need to do that. Myl came over and held my hand. I braced for impact and it didn't really come.
"It's over." said the doctor.
I told her I barely felt a thing. She seemed pleased. It wasn't all that nice having a big tube in my hand. It was trickier to do some of my exercises. I felt less like a mother and more like a patient. But I tried not to worry.
As the orcs closed in on Minas Tirith and Gandalf spoke rather beautifully about death to young Pippin the midwife came in for the last time. They had a room for me in the labour ward. It was time to go. I stood up and gathered my things. We walked out of the birth centre and crossed the corridor into the scary world of the labour ward. It was about 2am. The time had flown. I now know how people survive through twelve or more hour labours. The time just goes by without you realising it. An hour feels like a few moments.
We walked down the corridors and into a new room. The first thing I noticed was the cold. It was quite a few degrees colder than in the birth centre. The lights were all on. It was so bright. It felt sterile and unfriendly. But it was where we needed to be. Myl went to move the car. We were still in the 20 minute parking spot. I don't know if we got a ticket. Maybe they are kinder at night. Mum set up the music and I stood around looking lost. We were introduced to our new midwife Kelly. She apologised that it wasn't the birth centre and said she would try and make it as nice as she could.
I was set up on the bed with a heart monitor. They tried to use one that would allow me to move around as much as I could but it wasn't working. This also meant I couldn't use the shower or bath. My heart sank. I was hoping for a water birth and it had just gone out the window. I tried not to worry and felt that calm wash over me. I felt a little nervous about how I was going to cope with labour without the water. I tried not to think about it. One moment at a time.
Kelly said she needed to do an internal exam. She said I was 3 or 4cm dilated. I felt quite proud of myself. She also said she could feel something a bit strange so she would need the midwife in charge to have a bit of a check. This was the second most painful moment of the whole night. The most painful being when she did it again a bit later. The second midwife said I was only 1cm dilated and hardly effaced at all and that is why Kelly thought I was 3-4cm. That is also why it hurt so much. I felt deflated. 1cm? Surely not!
I had a little cry when everyone left the room. 1cm dilated, in the labour ward, hooked up to machines on the bed, no shower, no bath, most likely going to be artificially induced. What went wrong? Where was my perfect natural birth?
The doctor came in to discuss going on the labour inducing drip. I asked if we could wait a bit longer to see if labour would start naturally. He said that we had been waiting a few hours already and nothing had happened. (1cm oh boy) I looked at Myl. He gave me a comforting look and held my hand. So it was time for the drip. I was told it would make the labour quicker and more intense. This scared me a bit but Mum and Myl convinced me it would be ok. Kelly told me I could get up out of bed and move around a bit (at the side of the bed) and that we could still use the ball or move the bed to an upright position. It seemed like a weak compromise. I just wanted to hide under the covers. I didn't want to labour like this. I wanted to hide and wake up and have my natural birth. I wasn't freaking out but I was pretty sad.
They put me on a saline drip to start with to try and get the little ones heart rate to calm down. It was just on the edge of being too high. I kept needing to go to the bathroom. This was no mean feat. I had a drip in one hand and two heart monitors strapped to my belly. Myl would carry all the bits and pieces and I would waddle off into the bathroom. The midwives kept coming in and out so I liked being in the bathroom where they couldn't come and get me. I would linger in there holding on to Myl and chatting to him. They would ask if I was ok and I would waddle back out.
I had regained some of my calm. Sure it was so far from my ideal but if I needed to give birth strapped to a machine then I was going to do it with style. The contractions were coming stronger and stronger because the labour drip was starting to work. I was standing up to work through them. I was swaying through them and it felt good. I couldn't move far but I could move. I would hold Myls hand and breathe deeply.
Kelly came back in to check how I was doing. She looked at the monitor and asked me to hop back on the bed. She said that our little girl didn't like me standing up. She explained that whenever I had a contraction the little ones heart rate went down. This was confusing. It was too high before and I was drinking loads of water to bring it down and now it was too low? She called in the other midwife to have a look. They had worried looks on their faces. I didn't know what it all meant. Painful moment numero uno came when the second midwife put a monitor on our little girls head. Yes you can imagine. Ow! She needed to check that the monitor on my belly was showing the right thing. It turns out it was and in came a flood of doctors. They were looking at the monitor with concerned faces and started talking about a caesarian.
This was not what I expected but by this stage I was in another zone. I didn't really want a caesarian but I wanted my little baby so much. I would just have to do what needed to be done. The doctors were talking about prepping me for surgery and about anesthetic and epidurals. It's all a bit of a blur but I remember they said that Myles could come into the theatre if I was going to have an epidural. I was thinking "I don't want an epidural." but then the other option was a general anesthetic or being awake while they cut me open which is not really an option at all.
I don't remember saying it but at this moment I asked my mum if our little girl was going to die. She told me that she was going to be fine. I must have been worried but I don't really remember. Within a matter of moments I was being wheeled out of my room and into theatre. Myles was walking beside me in scrubs holding my hand and looking into my eyes. It felt so surreal. I had given up the control of my body and my birth. Our little girl would be coming soon.
To be continued...
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