Sunday, June 5, 2011

Ti's arrival

I finally finished writing his birth story, although, four and a half months on, a lot of the fine detail is already blurry.

In the last week before birth, I often caught P looking at me funny, and often when I said 'I'm 38 weeks, that could mean it'll be another 4 weeks before we meet the baby!' he'd answer 'I think it'll be a matter of days, rather than weeks.' Apparently my behaviour changed, and I'd often be a bit 'spaced', sometimes I'd flush and complain about the heat in the room quite suddenly, and there were increasingly vivid nightmares and dreams. 

In the last days before Ti's arrival I crossed the last few important things off my mental to do list, like doing the pediatric first aid course I'd signed up for, spending a fun day with Emm, and getting her feet measured, and I realised I felt ready and calm now (even though I still had about 2 weeks to go to the due date). Instead of cleaning and tidying, which was badly needed, I curled up on the sofa with the laptop, and wrote shopping lists and updated the document I'd written for who would end up minding Emm while we were going to Hospital, and printed the labour document that my yoga teacher from the last pregnancy had written. We went to bed quite late, but even so, I decided to put on the hypnobirthing tracks and listen to them as I went to sleep. I woke up when it was already on the last track, the relaxation music, and switched it off. Straight back to sleep I had some more vivid dreams.

Around a quarter past three Emm. woke up and I got out of bed to bring her back to hers and lift her in. As I got up from kneeling in front of her bed I felt a trickle of fluid. I went to the bathroom and was pretty sure my waters had started to go! I spent half an hour getting pads, checking everything was in the hospital bag and reading the TENS machine instructions, and plugging in the cables. As there still was no sign of contractions I went back to bed, too excited to really sleep but wisely getting some rest while I could
At 4.25 I felt a tiny contraction, with a little gush of fluid, and knew it was time to act. I woke P, and called the midwives 5 minutes later. They said to come in, but not to rush or panic. P and I debated whether we should call my neighbour straight away and decided to wait till five, unless I got contractions beforehand. He had a shave, and I a wash (I didn't want to risk a shower as that had really kick started my contractions the last time, and we did want to be sure to make it in time!) We got the bags downstairs, and got Emm's buggy and nappy bag ready. 

At 5, just as I'd called my neighbour to come over, I got another bit of fluid, and just before she arrived 15 minutes later, I got the first contraction! I stayed kneeling on a pillow, leaning over my birth ball. My brilliantly efficient neighbour made us some tea and toast while P put the TENS machine pads on my back and put the bags and some towels into the car. I got to grips with the TENS settings and plugged my headphones in, for the hypnobirthing tracks on my phone. We had a little chat about Emm and what she would make of it all, and she reassured me that labour and birth would go just fine. Just as P and I were about to get into the car, around half six, Emm woke up! We said good bye and told her where we were headed and that she would go across the road for a play date. She was alright with it all, even though we could tell she found it all very confusing, being let out of the house in her pyjamas while it was pitch dark outside! 

I started to get very irritable in the car, but the half hour journey passed quickly while I concentrated on the contractions and listened to the gentlebirth tracks. Outside the hospital I got out at the door while P parked the car. I stood and waited when a porter asked if I needed a wheelchair. I was being all polite saying 'No thanks, I'm fine' when the next contraction arrived and I quickly changed my mind. By the time P got back to me I already sat in a wheelchair, feeling rather fragile! 

When we arrived at the birthing room I got even more irritated, realising the nurse I didn't like and the midwife that annoyed me both were on duty. She asked to examine me, (The examination was worse than any of the contractions) and said I was only 3 cm dilated and the baby was with its back to my back. I got up from the lying down position as soon as I was allowed, I seem to not be able to bear lying down on my back when I'm in labour. I started to get a little worried at this point. With Emm I'd arrived in hospital 9 cm dilated and didn't feel much different to now! How would I cope with hours and hours of contractions this strong?

Back labour can take a long time, so I sent P off to find cheaper parking for the car, and worried some more about how long this labour was going to last. The midwife asked lots of questions and she was a bit hard of hearing, so I had to repeat myself, I was getting more and more irritable.  Thankfully P came back soon. I got to kneel / sit on my feet on the bed, starting to feel unbearably hot, and getting dizzy. P helped me to the bathroom to go for a wee, and i was starting to feel sick on top of dizzy. The contractions were coming quite regularly, I'm not sure how far apart, maybe 3 minutes? My TENS machine was still doing its job. 

I wanted to use the beanbags and mat, so the midwives had all this set up by the time I came back into the room. (This must have been around 8, as that is when they change shifts, so there were several midwives) I leaned sideways on a beanbag for a few contractions, feeling very dizzy and spaced in between. The cables of TENS machine and headphones were annoying me, and at some point I handed P the phone and headphones.

The midwives asked did I want gas and air and a few times I said 'No, it's too early, I'll try to wait', turning up the TENS machine a little and breathing as calmly as I could, very much in my own head and taking very little notice of anything around me, coping well with the contractions

I thought I was going to be sick and P handed me a bowl, but I didn't bring anything up. 
Then I felt a very strong contraction, where I moaned loudly and asked for the gas and air. I turned to a sitting position, leaning back into the beanbag. I felt a strong urge to push. I sucked the gas and air. The midwives said 'you can push now', I said 'but you said I'm only 3cm! It's too early' They assured me I was OK. I wanted to turn to kneel and lean on the beanbag, but I somehow couldn't and stayed sitting. 

I kept very calm and breathed deeply and let the baby come down with the next few contractions, taking gas and air with each. I never held my breath, just breathed. I felt the burning sensation and blew out the air gently and breathed slowly, and the head was born, and with the next contraction my little boy was out! At 8.15, pink and screaming, and clean like just out of the bath! The midwives dried him off a little and put him on my belly. After the cord had finished pulsing they clamped it, and the proud dad got to cut the cord. I brought my baby boy up to my breast and after a minute or so he started to suckle. The contractions were quite painful, and the placenta came out soon, no oxitocin shot needed.
Like I'd been warned, the afterpains were much more painful than with my first birth! I held on to the gas and air for a bit, and especially for when the midwife checked for tears. Thankfully I just had some superficial grazes and a small first degree tear, and needed no stitches. They said I did really well, and asked if I did yoga. (I had only done 5 or so yoga classes this time around, but still remembered a lot from my last pregnancy, and I think the gentlebirth CDs helped a lot, too) I remember being told that I was 'very controlled, breathing the baby down very controlled and gently'. The student midwife was especially enthusiastic and looked really happy.

I spent a long time leaning back into the bean bag, my husband holding my hand, my boy cuddled close to me, him drinking, then sleeping, then drinking again. We had a blanket over him to keep us warm. At some point I was getting too uncomfortable and asked to go to the bed. P took our boy and put a nappy and clothes on him. A midwife weighed him, 7pds 4 oz! 

Seeing the clean sheets on the bed I decided to have a shower first, and it was great to have the shower room ensuite. I stayed in the shower for as long as I could, but my legs started to feel tired after a while, so I quickly dried off, put clean clothes on and got into bed. A nurse brought tea and toast, and apart from the breathtakingly painful afterpains I was quite chipper and awake! I finally took the nurses up on the offer of painkillers, as I still had to 'breathe through' each contraction. 

It took P and me a good while to decide on the name, as we had a shortlist, and had to look at him, and try out the names, before we were sure which one was right. As he looked so wise and thoughtful we decided on Tadhg (poet). It was lovely to have the hour, or was it more, with naked little Ti on my belly straight after the birth, we were very much left in peace by the staff. 

What could have been better? 

- The midwife examining me should have given me a choice of how I wanted to be examined, I wouldn't be surprised if I had been more than 3cm when I arrived, and tightened up a little when I had to lie back and endure the painful examination. When I arrived at the hospital for Emm's birth I already had a strong urge to push and just didn't lie down but knelt on all fours on the bed, and that hadn't been painful.

- Being told that I was 3cm sent me into a bit of a panic, as I'd felt further along before, and worried about many hours ahead of me, with the baby facing the wrong way, too. I think I would have done better if I hadn't known, and maybe quicker, too. I very much felt in transition shortly after the exam, so I'm slightly doubtful if I really was only 3cm dilated. 
It also worried me when so soon after I was told to push, because that number was still going through my mind. It might have helped if I had been reassured that I could be dilating very fast and that indeed I should allow myself to bear down. 

- Being asked lots of questions by a midwife that's a good two or three meters away, repeatedly, because she can't hear the answers, is very irritating for a labouring woman. A hearing aid, coming closer, or waiting for my husband would have helped. A lot of those questions could have been answered by my husband. 

- There was no shower head, and while i was able to 'hose myself down' with hot water, a proper shower would have been so much better! Apparently it's some new regulation to do with legionars' disease...

What was good?

I was privileged, not many women in Ireland get the choice to have this kind of birth, and I'm greatful to have had access to the great 'Midwifery Led Unit'. 

- a healthy baby boy with not a scratch on him, knowing he arrived gently and with noboby pulling at him

- being able to stay in the one room, for labour, birth and afterwards. I can't imagine how painful and stressful it must be to move to a different ward to give birth when contractions are so close together, and then to move again afterwards.

-being able to move around and chose my positions

-TENS, gentlebirth, and some gas and air towards the end

-knowing my husband wasn't going to be upset with me being irritable! 

-being able to breathe the baby down gently, and getting no tears! 

-my wishes regarding cord clamping, cutting and third stage management being respected this time. 

about 45 min old

about 12 hours old

about 36 hours old and home with his sister

1 comment:

  1. I do understand your criticisms, but god, this is a wonderful birth story. If only everyone could have such fast, gentle, uncomplicated births!

    No issues with your preferences, either, wonderful.

    I think it will be some time before our midwives come to grips with the idea of not examining. I think it should be obvious to a good midwife where a woman is at - and there is NO reason why an exam can't be carried out on all fours. I had the same agony on lying on my back, and with back labour it must be far worse. Some day, things will be different!

    Your photos are idyllic and beautiful too, you're all gorgeous :)

    Thanks for posting it! xx