Thursday, 13 June 2013

A Very Late Early Birth Story

Watching someone give birth on television last night made me realise that I never actually blogged C's birth story. Although 15 months ago, I feel writing it down now might help me focus what to put in my birth plan this pregnancy.

I am sure many of you saw my tweets during labour last year and therefore are familiar with how the situation unravelled however hopefully this will piece it all together and fill in any blanks.

Friday 24th February 2012 started like any normal day.  I was 35+4 weeks pregnant and feeling pretty good!  My husband and I were both working from home and had been out for a working lunch at a local pub.  On our return, we decided to knock off slightly early for the weekend and I started to do a bit of tidying up.  At around 4:30pm I decided to clean the floor in our conservatory.  This room is commonly referred to in our house as the "cat room" and the floor is frequently covered in muddy paw prints.

Squatting down on my hands and knees I felt a pop, followed by a small leak of fluid.  Convinced i had squashed my bladder so much I had wet myself, I ran to the toilet.  On walking back downstairs I still felt like I was leaking fluid.  I found this very odd as knew this time it couldn't be urine.  Then I became slightly worried, what if I was leaking "baby" fluid? I stood at the bottom on the stairs for a while pondering my next move.  Did I ignore it? Did I tell my husband?  Did I phone the hospital?  I wandered into the living room and tried to explain my concerns as casually as possible to hubby without alarming him to much.  I expected him to tell me I was being silly.  Instead he told me that I knew my body better than anyone, and that I was concerned then I should ring the hospital.  Feeling less stupid now, that is exactly what I did...

The midwife who answered the phone was reasonably dismissive of my symptoms and told me to put on a pad and monitor the situation for a couple of hours.  If I was still worried after that, I should ring them back.  I pottered round the house for a bit, not quite sure what to do with myself.  Should I sit and rest? Should I pack a hospital bag?

After half an hour I checked the pad.  There was a definite bloody tint to the fluid.  Deciding there was no way I was going to wait another 90 minutes with this new info, I rang the hospital again.  They told me I better come in so that they could have a look.

Of course it was now 5:20pm on a Friday, the worst rush hour of the week, and the hospital is just off a busy motorway junction.  This could be a long journey!  I threw a few things for me into a bag in case they wanted to keep me in overnight and began to try and get hubby out the door.  He was now caught up on a work issue and reluctant to leave his laptop.  A few sharp words from me about priorities and we were finally out the door.

We arrived at the hospital just after 6pm.  As I stood up out of the car, I felt a rush of liquid between my legs.  There was no doubt in my mind now that my waters had broken!  We took a seat in the foetal medicine department and had to wait what felt like forever to be seen.  In reality I think the wait was about 45 minutes.

Once I was finally led to a cubical, the midwife examined me.  Guess what!... She thought my waters had broken!  She then hooked me up to a monitor while we waited for a further examination by the Doctor.  
"Can you feel any contractions?" the midwife asked
"No" I answered.
"Well, you're having some!"
As I was no able to feel anything at this point, she concluded that they were probably braxton hicks as a result of my waters breaking and should die down.
The Doctor arrived and examined me.  He agreed that my waters had broken.  I was trying very hard not to roll my eyes at this point.  I could have told them that 2 hours ago!

It was decided that they would not try and actively prevent labour if it was to occur as I was so close to their normal 36 week cut off for such intervention.  To be on the safe side I was given antibiotics in case of infection and a steroid injection to mature the baby's lungs.  I was then to be monitored for 24/48 hours in the hospital, first in the delivery suite and then in the ward.

Not long after being transferred to the delivery suite, I started getting pain in my lower back.  As this started to get more painful, the new midwife suggested I sat on the birthing ball and try some gas and air.  Once it became obvious that I was going to go into labour, she requested I get onto the bed so they could monitor the baby's heartbeat.

At this point there was a discussion about whether Special Care was likely to be needed for the baby.  SCBU at the hospital was full and not taking new admissions.  The next nearest SCBU was 30 miles away.  The Doctors and midwife would prefer to transfer me to the other hospital while in labour rather than trying to transfer a newborn baby.  It was decided that as baby was nearly full term, the amount of special care it would require would hopefully be minimal and therefore SCBU at the current hospital said they would make an exception and make room for her if required.  Phew! I didn't fancy a bumpy 45 minute ride in an ambulance to a hospital miles from home! 

The next few hours are a complete blur, being high on gas and air.  I know they were concerned about the baby's heartbeat dipping and at one point tried to roll me onto my left side to see if that improved things.  This manoeuvre put me in so much agony that they had to swiftly move me back.

At 2am they checked my progress.  I was 5cm dilated.  I was impressed!  I am used to watching One Born Every Minute when 5 hours later they are still only 1cm dilated.  I was advised that if I wanted an epidural then now was the best time to have it.  My original birth plan was to have a water birth however as I was in premature labour, this was now a high risk birth and that was not allowed.  I was also not allowed to walk around to ease the pain as they wanted me connected to the monitor to monitor the baby.  I decided that as it was apparent I was not going to be able to use the natural pain management techniques I wanted, I might as well have the epidural.

We had to wait another hour for the anaesthetist to arrive, and by the time he did I was so drugged up on gas and air that I was finding it hard to follow his instructions.  Also the contractions had now moved from coming and going to being a constant unbearable pain with no let up.  Once the line was in, things improved slightly but I was still needing to use the gas and air occasionally.  The midwife seemed surprised and asked the anaesthetist for a top up for me.  That was so much better!!!

With the epidural working nicely, hubby and I were able to get some sleep.  At 7am they checked my progress again.  Almost 9cm dilated!  I was told she would be here that morning.  At 9am I was officially 10 cm dilated and they were wanting me to start pushing in about 30 mins time.  At this point my epidural was wearing off and we were debating whether to top it up or do the last stint "au natural".  I opted for the top up which in hindsight was probably not the most sensible option.  The anaesthetic caused my contractions to stop completely.  The midwife was concerned and connected me to a pitocin drip to try and start them again.  After what seemed like an eternity they started and I was ready to push at about 10:30am.  The problem was, although I could see on the monitor I was having contractions, I couldn't feel them therefore I had no natural urge to push and timing it right was difficult.

After an hour of pushing with only a small amount of progress, the midwife was concerned again.  She went to find a Doctor.  I looked hubby straight in the eye and told him that I did not want an emergency C section and he had to do everything he could to help me get this baby out!

The Doctor arrived and examined me.  I was told I had 10 minutes to get this baby out or he was going to have to cut me and use forceps. Nice bedside manner! When he left the midwife spoke sternly to me.
"We are going to have this baby out before he gets back" she said, "but you need to put everything into it!".
The next 15 minutes or so were horrendous!  The epidural was no help during the second stage of labour and I was in agony, not to mention exhausted!  I have vague memories of the midwife holding one leg, DH the other and DH willing me to push harder.... as if I wasn't doing my best!
At 12:13pm, Celeste Adelaide arrived with a mass of white blonde hair weighing 5lb 13oz and 17in long.

I was asked whether I wanted the cord cut straight away.  I said I would like to wait a few minutes.  The midwife said they would rather cut it now so they could check if for infection.  This made me cross.  If I didn't have a choice then why ask me?

I was given my anti-D injection and Celeste was cleaned up.  She was then latched on to my breast which she took to immediately.  We were asked where the clothes were we had bought for her but I had bought none.  At no point when I threw a few things into a bag yesterday did I think I was going to be having a baby the next day.  They kindly found Celeste some clothes from their supplies and Daddy got her dressed while the Midwife ran me a bath.  She then wanted to know where my wash things were.  I had only packed a toothbrush.  She looked aghast and went to find me a flannel and some soap.  We must have looked like such disorganised idiots but I honestly did not expect to be in this situation less than 24 hours later.  I at least thought hubby would have enough time to be sent home for supplies.

After I had freshened up a bit, I sent hubby home for a rest and I had a short sleep myself.  That evening Celeste and I were transferred to the ward.  I was fine, only having gained a first degree tear, however they wanted to monitor Celeste's blood sugar for 24 hours as she was premature.  
Hubby returned briefly later that evening with some fresh clothes for both myself and Celeste and then had to leave us for the night.  That first night was difficult as Celeste refused to be put down in her crib.  I ended up saying awake all night cuddling her, too scared to sleep in case I dropped her. She was still latching on well and her blood sugar readings were excellent, apparently better than a lot of full term babies.

Hubby arrived as soon as he could next morning to allow me to have a rest.  We were discharged early that afternoon to begin life as a family :-)

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