Giving birth for the first time, was not what I expected it to be. It wasn’t beautiful, emotional or something I would ever have wanted to film. You see the movies, you know the kind, with the short labour, looked-after mother and the healthy baby, passed into her loving arms at the end. You imagine that same scenario for yourself, and this comforts you, as the weeks pass and the bump feels like it will take over your entire body.
It didn’t happen like that for me.
I was taken in at 37 weeks. The fluid around my baby had come back with a vengeance and it was just too dangerous to let me go any longer. My blood pressure had also sky-rocketed to something crazy! I remember my obstetrician, explaining it in a very graphic way,
“Put it this way, if you were in a moving car and your waters broke at the same time, the pressure that would be released, would send you right out of the back of that car. Oh and your blood-pressure suggests that you should be having a stroke right now.”
It’s a pretty sobering thought don’t you think? I’d been waddling around all this time, not knowing the danger that me and my unborn baby was in. I had no way of knowing! I didn’t feel any different from the exhausted, aching, barely able to walk state that I’d been dealing with all this time.
Needless to say, they frog-marched me right up to a delivery room! I very nearly had Big Bro that very night, alone, in hospital for the first time and scared out of my wits! Thankfully, my blood pressure behaved itself and I was transferred to the anti-natal ward to await further instructions.
The plan was this. I would be induced and monitored, then they would break my waters for me in a controlled environment, I’d go in to full-blown labour and then I’d have a baby. I said it was a plan. In reality it went like this.
They induced me at 11am, on Thursday the 10th of September. Nothing happened for the rest of the day. So far so good. The following morning they decided that they’d break my waters for me and let all hell break loose.
So there I was. Bending over a pillow at the edge of the bed while 3 different anaesthetists tried and failed to put an epidural into my spine. This was after they tried and failed to put in a drip. I’ll skim the needle details for the squeamish people who might read this, but by the end of it my arms were covered in bruises and dried up blood. It’s a good job I’m not scared of needles! Eventually they got the head honcho to do my epidural, which resulted in a lovely warm comfy sensation, washing down my spine. Bliss!
To business then. My legs were hoisted up into the stirrups and I fondly waved good-bye to my dignity, as a rather tiny little doctor walked in, snapping her rubber gloves into place. She was shortly followed by a midwife and a trainee nurse. Poor love! Midwife and nurse were instructed to place as much pressure as they could onto le bump, while tiny doctor lady popped my waters. This was so Big Bro didn’t bob back up out of the birth canal from the pressure of the fluid.
And oh boy was there fluid! All over the floor, the nurse, the midwife and the poor doctor! I remember thinking she should have worn a snorkel! It really was all so surreal. I was petrified at the time, of course, but the hilarity of the moment took over and I couldn’t help but laugh.
With that over, I was left to myself to see if labour would progress. By this time Big Bro had stopped moving and I was getting worried. I’d heard horror stories about what that might mean and within an hour, I was buzzing away on my little bell, with the fear that something awful had happened to my baby. On examining the read-out from the monitoring machine I was hooked up to, it was established that he indeed wasn’t moving and his heartbeat was starting to get a little irregular. I hadn’t dilated past 1cm and as much as I wanted a natural birth, it was just too risky.
In a mad rush, I was whizzed off to theatre for a caesarean section. I’m a big girl and from what I’d read, being a big girl and having a major piece of surgery like this, didn’t mix too well. On the table I went. Strapped down, trussed up and hooked up. Now for the ice-cube test. Ice cube on the cheek, I can feel that, good! Ice cube on the tummy, I can still feel that, not good! No really Mr Anaesthetist, don’t you dare cut me open yet. I can still feel everything! Look, I’ll just climb off and back on to the table to prove my point. I can still use my legs!
So if you hadn’t already gathered, my epidural wasn’t working. Sadly it was night night for me. I’d be going to sleep now. I wouldn’t be there to see my baby come into the world. I wouldn’t be able to hold him and care for him. He would be whisked off to the special care baby unit, before I could even give him a name or a kiss, or a touch.
The mask was put over my face and I had no choice but to breathe deeply. I felt the anaesthetic being injected into my already swollen hand and I remember crying out because it bloody well hurt. I remember the faces of the three men above me, telling me everything would be all right and that they’d see me soon. I remember ‘Golden Brown’ by the Stranglers, echoing around the shiny new theatre and I remember a tear rolling down the side of my face and blurring my eyes.
Then everything went black.
Join me next week for the next part of Big Bro’s journey, from the womb to the operating table. The previous posts for this ongoing story (for those interested), can be found here: Oesophageal Atresia | The Journey Part 1, and On Needles And Weightlessness. As ever, please tell me your thoughts – I’d love to hear your birth stories too!