We see Angela, our midwife every week on Wednesday during the last month, at 38 weeks she does an internal because as a vbac you have a week less to get things going, does a stretch and sweep and indicates a bishop score of 2, one point for cervix 0-1cm and one for cervix being medium, but that’s it. She also gives me homeopathic meds which “facilitate going into labour” which I had to take for 3 days.
At 39 weeks we see Angela again, another internal and stretch and sweep, bishop score of 4, two points for cervix 1-2cm and another 2 for cervix being soft. She also suggested that it might be a good thing to try going to a Chiropractor as she was concerned that the positioning of the baby might need a pelvic adjustment. Saw him 1 day past my due date, sure enough my left side was a problem.
According to me my due date has always been 8 November and my first obgyn confirmed it, but our second obgyn changed this date to the 11th which stunningly enough gave us 3 extra days.
Monday 12 November (according to me 40w4d, according to Dr 40w1d), appointment with Dr Searle. She did a scan, internal and a stretch and sweep, we knew all along that if I made it to this appointment we’d have to discuss how long to give nature to take its course and decide on a date at which to rather just give in and do a repeat c-section. We discussed what was going on internally and from what I could gather my bishop score went up to 5 because the doctor was “being generous” and putting my cervix at 2-3cm, the rest was still the same, baby was still high, not engaged at all, laying with her bum and back to the wrong side (my right side) and my cervix was still high up. She dropped a bomb on me by saying that for all intents and purposes she thinks we’ve already given this pregnancy a fair enough shot to go into natural labour and asked if Wednesday would be a good date for us – me being dumb and highly scared politely asked if she meant the following Wednesday because technically I was still only 40 weeks and would like my full 41 weeks. Luckily she gave in easily and we ‘booked’ the c-sec for Wednesday 21 November. The doctor phoned Angela to let her know and to ask her to cancel my next visit with her on Wednesday and rather to meet me at the hospital on Friday just to be monitored as she was concerned.
Tuesday nothing much happened, went for a longish walk, which was rather painful and exhausting, decided to give two more Evening Primrose Oil Capsules a try during the night, from the Monday I went all out with the raspberry leave tea extract I had, 10 drops 3 times a day, till then I had only remembered it once or at least twice but that’s it, so upped that, popped some EPO, Rikki our doula suggested a foot massage and pressure points, which I did. Sat on the ball a lot, did two or three sessions of standing on all fours hoping to get baby to move that bum, didn’t want to squat too much since baby wasn’t in the ideal position. Wednesday I was tired and gatvol to say the least, out of desperation I did a few jumping jacks and some housework just to keep my mind busy, had some BH, or it could have been real contractions but the moment I started timing it would disappear.
Went to bed Wednesday evening just before 11, got into bed and quickly realized that I wasn’t going to fall asleep easily but it wouldn’t have been the first time either. Started adding the time to my notes on my phone just to keep track and it followed quite a pattern (5, 5, 8, 6, 6, 8, 6, 3, 3, 8, 4, 7, 6, 6, 4 – measured between 23:02 and 00:27) Woke my husband and told him not to panic but that I was going to run a bath. The bath was very uncomfy! Not a lot of water to help and not a lot of positions to try, I got out again at some stage and went back to the exercise ball which actually did offer more comfort than the bath. Told my husband to phone my mother to come over to look after B because we had to go. (at this stage I was still rather certain that I was going to be told that it was just practice labour and that we are wasting our time, but also I was scared that should this be real labour we still had an hour to drive to the hospital ahead of us) Hubby phoned my mom at 1:57, when she got to our house and we were ready to go hubby phoned Angela at 2:21. This was also around the time that I realize that I didn’t have Rikki’s number only her bbm, I sent her a message, pinged her and sent a message later again but much more I couldn’t do, I did try everyone I knew who also knew her asking if anyone had her number but not a lot of people are awake that time of night! I also found it very distracting to look at the time or send messages so here’s where I lost all sense of time.
We drove the N7, N1, M5, N2 all the way to Vincent Pallotti, had to remind hubby not to go too fast and having surge upon surge while trying to hold on without being too tense was tough, the more he heard me breathing the quicker he’d drive so that was hard to have to keep in mind too.
Got to the hospital at some stage, possibly after 3am (and might I add that the guy who decided to put speed bumps at hospitals should have a massive cramp in his arse!) we parked in front of the emergency entrance and I got out and had another surge that got me sitting on the rails next to our bakkie, the one guy came out and asked if he could help and I was thinking ‘seriously, what do you want to help with’ and he left. We went through to reception as the guy instructed when another surge hit and I parked myself on the couch in reception (This was where I was when I got a bbm from Rikki with her number and asking if something was up, I just replied that we were at the hospital already). We never went for a hospital tour so didn’t know how far it still was or which way to go so I stayed there and we didn’t really know what to do. Every time I got up I had to sit back down, I stayed on the couch longer than I possibly should have but was happy just to be at the hospital, which was a huge worry off my shoulders already. We were still going this way or that about how to get to maternity, hubby suggested he get the wheelchair we could see at the emergency entrance and after a while I agreed. Almost didn’t make it onto the seat but was happy when I got in it. During one bad surge hubby actually ran the wheelchair into the wall! I wasn’t happy. The nurse asked if I had to go pee and I did so she wheeled me over to the toilet and that was equally difficult to manage. Every time I wanted to get up another surge put me back down. Finally able to make it back to the wheelchair she wheeled me back to the delivery room and got all frustrated that Angela (our midwife) isn’t there yet, the nurse didn’t even want to touch me.
The nurse phoned Angela who must have said that she was close by because she left and not too long after that Angela walked in and got me on the bed to be put on the monitors for a few minutes. As I was laying there Rikki joined us. I remember Angela giving her a strange sideways glance because with all the porridge brain I somehow forgot to tell Angela that I will be using Rikki as my doula, but she recovered quickly. Rikki started massaging my arms and hands with oil and the pressure points between my thumb and fore finger and that made the surges stronger and more difficult to manage, but I was quite happy on the bed. Angela asked my husband to start the water for the birth bath/pool and gave him a thermometer so I think at that point he started feeling like he was contributing in some way. Angela did an internal and said I was 5cm and baby was way down, which was encouraging. And here’s where I lose all sense of time because the clock was always to my back and because frankly I just didn’t give a damn, I had visions of playing games on my phone or whatever but just spaced out.
I remember a nurse walking in and Angela crapped her out saying no one was to enter without knocking, I thought at the time it was funny, her being so strict and the nurses being so scared but in the end I was grateful because even the soft knocks on the door later became distracting. The overhead white lights were switched off and the soft yellow lights were dimmed.
I got moved to the bath and it was such a relieve. Although I ended up sitting on the plug for quite a while which really was a pain in the butt! At some point Rikki offered her hands during a surge and that was my life line. Sometimes she was busy on her phone and her hands weren’t close enough so I’d use my husbands hands, he said it hurt so I’m sorry Rikki! As Rikki said in her post, 2 hours later I was at 7cm and for some reason this is where I started freaking out a bit, I think because at this point it had felt like hours had passed already and I was getting scared that the progress wasn’t enough so I asked for an epidural at which point Angela insisted that the fact that I seem to be freaking out indicated that I might be transitioning and offered gas. I really can’t say that it worked at all, but you have to breathe really deeply to get the gas moving and that serves as a distraction more than anything else. Somewhere along this point I was also moved to a different spot in the bath. Very much out of the blue I started making different noises, it felt like I had no control over the sound escaping from my mouth and that scared me. It sounded very much like a bull in heat, or to be more exact, like the retching sound one would make before vomiting and that is something I’m more afraid of than natural child birth. Angela offered an injection of aterax just to help me relax between surges and that made a difference as I was more able to really rest between surges and enjoyed the sensation of ‘floating’ in the water. I was still at 7cm at this point and she had me turn on my side a bit as there was still a lip of the cervix and something was bulging, at this stage my water hadn’t released yet and Angela asked if she could perhaps just break it for me, I still haven’t answered her and she never asked again.
According to Rikki’s post only an hour passed between 7cm and 9cm after the aterax, at the 9cm check Angela waited for a surge to get the lip out of the way which was rather uncomfortable and then things moved quickly. I had the most of my bloody show and actually felt my water release. There were a few surges where my body just started pushing the baby down and I remember thinking just 2 more then after two still nothing and opening my eyes, getting the thumbs up from Angela and thinking ok, just three more, it felt like I needed to go to the loo badly and although I knew that was normal it was still rather scary. I asked how much longer quite a few times, quite shocked that it was taking so long and Angela had me feel that babies head was right there, just doing the in and out with every surge which was normal. She monitored babies heart rate during a contraction and it had gone down a lot. She asked either Rikki or my husband to clear off the bed if we need to get out of the water and I said there was no way I was getting out. For a surge or two she insisted that I let my body push for longer, then suddenly the head was out and the body followed very quickly (8:24am, 15 November 2012) Angela picked her up out of the bath and struggled with the cord around her neck, Rikki helped, it was a little difficult and little A didn’t like dangling in midair so started crying LOUDLY. She got placed on my chest as we waited for the cord to stop pulsating, which didn’t take long at all. Angela asked if my husband wanted to cut the cord, he declined so Rikki got to do it. After a little while they placed little A skin to skin with her daddy so that I could deliver the placenta and get out of the bath.
Strange thing the placenta, it’s the one thing no one ever talks about. I didn’t know what to expect and asked in my haze if it was going to hurt. Funny! I just delivered a baby and was worried about the placenta hurting! Angela told me to get up and it will just drop out. I was feeling wobbly and shaky and just strange, sore from being in the same position for 5 hours. I was too scared to get up, but they helped me up and the placenta just dropped out, easy as that, no injection needed to ‘release’ it. They helped me out and onto the bed where Little A got placed in my arms for her first feed, boy did that child drink! At this point Rikki had to leave, I was sad to see her go, little did I know that I wouldn’t see her again after that. After Little A’s first feed she was weighed (3.34kg), daddy held her while I was being stitched up (6 – 7 stitches) I got moved to my room, they pushed me on the bed as I was very shaky and light headed. Angela finished the paperwork and later came in with a different doula who said she was so proud of me. My doctor came in at some point to congratulate us and admit that she thought I wouldn’t be able to do it, but said she loves being proven wrong. I got discharged after lunch but stayed a while longer as the pead had to do a checkup on Little A before she could be discharged with me. I slept in my own bed that night, went to the coffee shop on day 4, about two weeks after delivery I was back to normal.
This is the message I posted to FB when I was in the room with a moment to myself: "I did it, I did it, I did it, yeah, I did it! (To the tune of Dora the explorer) - excuse the French but a big middle finger up to the gynae who surgically removed B, making me believe (for 3 years) that my body is somehow broken! I CAN birth my own baby!!! Thanks to Angela the midwife, Rikki my doula and an awesome Dr Jacky Searle (who I never got to see today) Gave birth in the pool, just 9 hours!"
Now, almost a year has passed since that day, the transition from a family of 3 to a family of 4 was amazing, it felt easy and natural and against all odds I’m still breastfeeding. It was a fight to get the birth I wanted but it was worth every second, the moment it was over I knew I wanted to do it again!