Pregnancy Week 41 Diary- She’s here!

12 April 2019

Reading my last post at week 41 minus 2 days makes me believe in the power of wishful thinking and positivism. Baby girl Aiza arrived at bang on Week 41 and I got to avoid artificial induction. Her birth didn’t go as planned but that’s with every birth. Our plans are just plans and baby’s do their own thing. However, the outcome is still the same. A healthy baby. If there’s one thing I've learned from life and HypnoBirthing, it’s stay calm and be prepared for anything. To not be rigid and go with the flow.  My intention for WaterBirth couldn’t go ahead but she still got delivered by normal vaginal birth, without any painkillers, so I gotta give myself a pat on the back for that. WaterBirth next time maybe?

As mentioned in my Week 41 minus 2 diary, my body gave me all the labour signs. Things really picked up that night. I still did most of my labour at home as planned. The official labor time might be short on papers but for me it started days before. I started getting signs on Sunday, things started picking up Monday (bloody show), contractions (or false contractions i'm not sure) started Monday night (I credit the spicy noodles I had that evening). I was in labour all of Monday night and all day on Tuesday. Monday night, the contractions/surges were every half an hour or so. I slept on floor right outside toilet door because I had to go & release poo with every contraction. I can't say how many times I went to toilet that night, but it would be easy 30-40. It was weird. My body was getting rid of every last trace of poo. And I swear I didn’t even eat much during the day. I wasn’t anxious but my body was in fight or flight mode by the looks of it. Irritated stomach and bowels is a good sign of labor onset they say.

The contractions grew stronger on Tuesday. My midwife did a vaginal exam at 11 am, cervix was 2 cm dilated (baby comes out when fully dilated at 10 cm). We timed the contractions during the day. By 5 pm they were lasting for 1.5-2 minutes and about 3-8 minutes apart (not regular) but still strong. My midwife came to check me again around 6:30 pm and I was about 5 cm dilated. Contractions picked up a little after that. They grew stronger and required more mental strength. I had the HypnoBirthing positive affirmations and meditation guide playing in my headphones the entire time. I tried various positions to cope with the stronger contractions. All the breathing's I had learned. Even sat in the bath for longer. I still didn’t think we were ready for hospital. I was ok to carry on at home.

Then at 9 pm, midwife came again to do a vaginal exam and I was 5-7 cm dilated. She suggested we move to our local birthing unit (It's just 5 km from our place). Note: my waters still hadn’t broken by then. 10 pm we reached birthing unit. Birthing Pool was filled but there was no point in going into the pool just yet. I was to labour till fully dilated. Contractions grew stronger and more closer in time. I was still getting the bloody show, every-time I used toilet. My amazing midwife (the WaterBirth one) dimmed the lights and let me and sunny be alone in the room. She kept checking baby’s heartbeat every 15 minutes though.

I tried my absolute best to breathe through the contractions/surges. Sunny was by my side the entire time, quiet & supportive, reminding me to breathe. I had trained him well. My goal when we were preparing for the birth event was that Sunny should know whereabouts of everything in my bag, he must know all the breathing techniques, he must remind me to breathe, he must stand up for me and speak for me when needed, if I was in no condition to do so. We both were quite passionate about natural birth, so if I happened to be dozed out, he had to make decisions for me towards that direction. I wrote and printed a list of all these points for Sunny and I did see him referring to it a couple of times. Why the list? The last thing you need in labour is your husband asking you unnecessary questions. Like where did you pack my shorts! I packed his clothes too, just in case he had to get into Birth Pool with me.

By midnight Tuesday, the contractions were very strong. I tried various positions to ride through them- by the bed, by the birthing pool, by my Swiss ball, by husbands knees. Sunny held my hand throughout the day and night. I didn’t want to let it go. It felt lonely and anxious when he didn’t. He reminded me to breathe when contractions grew stronger, which they were by now. He might have been able to notice the time we’d been there but I experienced time distortion as mentioned in many articles and books. I actually dozed off between some of the earlier not-so-strong contractions. It wasn’t possible to sleep through contractions at this point though. I just had to keep reminding myself to breathe, tell myself they are my friends, they are good, they are not painful, they are just surges of my uterus to bring the baby down, they are just waves of pressure and it’ll pass soon. That’s exactly what they feel like. They go up in intensity, last for a good wee while and then start riding away, until next one comes over.

Time passed. We arrived at birthing unit at 10 pm and I was due for a vaginal check at 2 am. When the midwife did the check at 2 am, something happened. When she inserted her finger in to check, a contraction kicked in at that very second by chance, therefore baby's head moved a touch lower and hit her finger and my waters broke. My clothes felt warm & wet. In my mind, now I knew that birth has to happen in next few hours because baby can’t be in there for long without the nourishing and protective water around it, but in real world outside, things went dead silent for a few seconds. I of-corse couldn’t see it but the water was all brown. Not a good color. It meant baby has pooped inside and is probably in distress. My midwife said I need to be transferred to Middlemore Hospital immediately. WaterBirth can’t go ahead and hospital midwives will take on from then on.

Breaking of water heightened my contractions and sped things up. They were the strongest yet. An ambulance was called. My first time by the way, so even in my extreme pain I manage to take 2 hazy shots of ambulance ceiling. Such was my dedication to document this birth! I was taken to hospital at 2:30 am-ish on what was now a Wednesday morning. Remember things started Monday night so it was already 2 full days of labour for me.

Husband followed the ambulance on car. Poor guy left the baby car seat at home (despite me packing everything and putting in the car) so he now has to go home and pick up the car seat for baby before he comes to hospital. He later tells me that he was very confident that we will have a natural WaterBirth at our local birthing unit and will have no complications warranting a transfer to hospital, so he didn't carry the seat along. He goes home to pick that baby car seat on his way to hospital in what was the most crucial time I needed him. But the reality is that he would still have to follow the ambulance on car because we needed a mode of transport to come back from hospital the next day or so. It was just the two of us so we had to plan our trip back from hospital too. My midwife sat next to me in the ambulance and I asked her if I could hold her hand. I desperately needed to. Breaking of waters sped the whole process manifold. Note: I had HypnoBirthing Rainbow Relaxation playing in my headphones the whole of day and half and even at this time (I mentioned that before right?). I tried breathing with the surges and telling myself mentally that time is close, baby is coming, I just have to breathe through this one.

Somewhere on the ambulance journey, I started getting poo pressure and with all that I’d read, I knew it was a sure sign that baby is ready to be pushed out. This was the hardest phase. We reached hospital around 3:20 am or so. They transferred me to hospital bed and I lay there in agony. I just wanted to push out the stool (or baby! whatever came out first). Secretly I didn’t hold it either. I was pushing a wee bit with every contraction. Midwife asked me to breathe through that sensation. Damn! easier said than done. I remember telling the hospital midwife to just hurry up, do whatever but get the baby out. In my mind, I also knew me asking this was a sign that things were very close. Close to end of labor, women felt exhausted and they yell out that they can’t do it anymore. That’s just before the pushing stage. It's in all the books I read.

I still lay there in pain. I'm fairly certain the hospital was short staffed but the midwife there was still very calm and she kept saying I was doing real good. Instead of breathing through the poo feeling as asked by midwife, I was already pushing a little myself with each contraction. After about 40 minutes of agony, there was some activity in room, other people were called in. Hospital midwife checked me, said I was fully dilated. They gave me some instructions how to push. Breath downwards and push the hardest I’ve ever done. I knew my birth breathing from HypnoBirthing book so I had some idea what they meant by downward breathing. I had practiced it on toilet bowl everyday. It definitely got the stools out easy, but this was pushing a baby out. Real big deal.

I felt like I pushed for about 15 minutes but the official report from birth tells me that it was 5 minutes. Yep I was that ready. Apparently I was fully dilated when I got to hospital in ambulance and they were actually short staffed. All hail public hospitals! From 7 cm at birthing unit to 10 cm by the time we reached hospital in 10 minutes or so. No wonder those contractions were strong and I needed to hold on to midwives hand on the way. And no wonder I felt ready to push. In that 5 minutes of pushing, I went through 5 contractions I think. Breathing and pushing down 3-4 times max in each contraction. They had a heart beat monitoring thing going on baby’s head and were measuring every nip and dip in it. By last contraction, the staff said I really needed to give my best push. I could feel baby in my cervix too. It was also quite encouraging when midwife said baby has black hair. A lot of hair she said! I’m like can you see the head? She said yeah! You wanna touch it? And she tell me where it is and I feel some weird thing that doesn’t feel like a head to me but whatever. I couldn’t see anything down there anyway.

They said give us your best push with next one and I did. With all my might. There was no consent taken but at this time, one midwife instructs other to make a small cut when I push and the contraction is on. She does. Baby is out. So much relief. My husband doesn’t look that way. Too much blood. They put the baby on me skin to skin straight away and start fixing things down there. I see sunny crying and I hear the nurse ask him to check the gender and tell me before she does (we asked them not to declare). He looks that way and says Aiza is here. I expected to feel a lot of emotions but surprisingly I’m still very calm. It feels surreal. I don’t believe I pushed a human out. She is living and breathing and covered in poo. She squirms and just lies there on me. We both just keep staring at her.

In the meantime, my legs are still wide open and one after another medical professional come in to fix a bleeding vessel that just wouldn’t stop oozing blood. 5 people worked on it. Sutures were done, undone and redone. As I was under no painkiller, only a local anesthesia gel was applied. I could still feel the pushing, tugging and suturing but I knew I had been through worse and this is just the end of it. I kept focusing my mind on baby so I don’t feel the pain down there. Skin to skin with baby usually lasts for 60 minutes but official records tell me that she lay on me for 126 minutes while they fixed me down there. It took more time to sew me back than delivery. In that time, I keep saying she must be hungry, when I have absolutely no idea how to feed her. Midwife shows me how to latch her on. Aiza doesn't. We try a couple more times. Midwife tells me the next midwife will help me express some milk.

Oh! I forgot to mention she was born around 4 am. By 7 am midwife shifts were changing so the midwife quickly did baby checks, weighed her and all, gave her vitamin K injection and glucose prick tests too. She was to be monitored at birthing unit for further 24 hours as she was born in distress and also because she was a little under 3 kg. The new midwife helped me hand express some milk/colostrum and collected it in empty syringe to feed her.

At 8 am, I was given breakfast. I lost a lot of blood due to that vessel or maybe it was birth, so I felt quite dizzy and light headed. I  didn’t know what I was saying. At 8:30 am Wednesday morning, when husband is out to extend car park time, the new morning shift midwife asks me to take shower. As unbelievable as it sounds, I get to shower holding walls and bed (still dizzy) and take bath myself while sitting on a chair. Is that normal? It was like nothing had happened. I just gave birth to a baby and took shower on my own while freshly sutured and blood oozing out of me. Achievement indeed! In their defense, they were short staffed and also wanted to transfer us to local birthing unit asap.

9 am I am propped onto a wheelchair, baby in her capsule and we get in to our car. In no time, we are on our way back home and then birthing unit. 10 pm the night before 2 of us left for WaterBirth at our local birthing unit. 9 am the next morning, there’s 3 of us, driving back from hospital. Still unreal. A blip in time but a life event that changed our lives forever. We stop by home on our way to birthing unit to unload some of the not needed stuff from hospital bag and head to birthing unit to be admitted for 2-3 days. Here we were to learn of all the ways to handle a newborn. The first newborn I’d held. We were to learn how to breastfeed, bath and change nappies. All the baby things. Twist: no males allowed overnight, so on the very first day of giving birth (and the day's after), I’m alone at night with my brand new baby. Surreal! Scary!

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