Saturday, October 18, 2008

Drum roll, please...

Weighing 8lbs 6oz, LG was born at 18.27 on 11 October at Pembury Hospital near Tunbridge Wells, Kent. But let me rewind somewhat to events leading up to his birth... Last Wednesday I checked in to the hospital overnight for voluntary induction since I was over a week overdue and going out of my mind with impatience and excitement. After several hours of fetal monitoring and a night of roaring newbies, I was told the following morning that the ward was now too busy and short-staffed to induce me. Discouraged and angry, I was discharged and told to stay home until the hospital could accommodate me. Of course now I was getting seriously worried. Post-mature babies carry an increased risk of stillbirth among other things, as the placenta gradually becomes less efficient at nourishing the baby. By Saturday, exactly two weeks past Little Green's due date, and according to hospital policy, I was now considered a "priority", meaning the hospital couldn't reasonably fob me off anymore.

Thus it was we returned to the hospital on Saturday morning. After the usual monitoring, the midwife assessed me and much to my dismay, said that she didn't think I was quite ready to have my waters broken and that perhaps I would need the pessary after all (a gel to stimulate the cervix) and let's see what happens in 6 1/2 hours' time. I begged her to check again and to go ahead and attempt to break the waters regardless of how painful the procedure might be. She did so, and yes, as pain goes, it was the eye-watering variety. Mr Green went so pale and sweaty just watching me I had to stop holding his hand. Finally a hot gush. Success! And midwives senior and student left me to wait for the contractions to begin, while Mr Green vanished for a McDonalds. Not 45 minutes later I as pacing the room listening to bad pop on the radio and reading magazine snippets in between contractions that were coming increasingly thicker and faster. By the time the party returned to the room, I was kneeling on pillows against an armchair, Mr Green was massaging my back as the waters continued to gush down my thighs, and I was asking to try out entonox, commonly known as 'laughing gas'. While it didn't exactly make me laugh, it distracted me from my own brain and pain without quite relieving it entirely. Mr Green (bless him) was all-too present in his own mind, helping to mop up the fluid that was coursing from me with each contraction. I warned the midwives of his history of hospital squeamishness, but he made me proud and never once fainted.

Because the waters mercifully came out clear (sometimes a substance called meconium, basically baby poo, is present which indicates fetal distress -- again, the likelihood of this happening increases with post-maturity), I asked if I could still use the birthing pool since the baby appeared to be fine. While the pool filled, I sucked from a canister of gas and air: my new best friend, calmed by my 'whale music' CD. A while later (maybe an hour or so, but truly I had no concept, which is probably a good thing) I stepped into the warm water of the pool which had the soothing effect of a nice bath. The lights were dim. Lightheaded, I sucked my way through the intensifying contractions. I remember there being a moment of sheer panic, as I emptied one canister and waited for a second... By the time I was 9cm, the pain was unbelievable and even as I professed that I couldn't do it, I knew the end was nearing and soon I would be holding my baby boy in my arms.

When I felt a searing burning sensation which I knew from TV to be the start of the baby's head crowning, the pain was the worst I have experienced in my life, and no amount of laughing gas could detract from it. However, in some far recess of my brain I knew I was too far gone for any real painkillers so I made my way through it gasping and later, howling for what seemed like eternity (about an hour and a half, Mr Green informs me). I squeezed his hand and occasionally paused for a sip of water, alternating between gagging and whaling. Around this time I was on the verge of throwing up, the body's natural reaction to shock... Finally, with some fancy tricks with mirrors and underwater torches, Mr Green watched the head emerge. Instant blissful relief. Then I could feel the baby squirming while still partly inside me. The sensation was so surreal. Another push or two and he was lifted onto my chest. While Mr Green blubbed like a little girl, I was speechless. My first impression was how huge and not-purple he was!! No small baby despite what we were told in previous scans. Certainly passing his head was pure hell, without a doubt the worst part, but because of the water I suffered only a couple very minor tears requiring stitches and one graze which was worse than any of the tears and would have to heal naturally.

Midwife senior asked if Mr Green wanted to cut the umbilical cord. He did! A minute later I left the pool. Mr Green cuddled his new son while I lay in the bed next to them, delivering the placenta (in 4 minutes according to the midwives' notes). After a few stitches, I held LG in my arms and then fed him off the breast. He was wide awake, staring inquisitively at me for ages. This beautiful, perfect creature Mr Green and I had made together. Quite simply a miracle. As for not remembering the pain... I don't think you forget exactly but it does have a way of being overshadowed by the rush of love you instantly feel -- that and the combination of adrenaline and hormones which make you feel like superwoman -- so much so that any pain which proceeded holding this little person in your arms suddenly becomes an irrelevance.

1 comment:

  1. oh I'm now blubbing like a fool! well done girl, I can't believe how amazingly you've described the actual birthing bit - that's precisely how it felt for me with Anwyn too (maybe because of the water birth?). such huge congratulations... almost makes me want to have another (i said ALMOST!). xx