Sunday, 10 August 2008

how she got here

sleeping

firstly, thank you all SO much for the incredibly warm welcome that you've given baby mae! shane and i have been relishing every comment and feeling so very lucky that there are so many kind people in this world. i'm planning to grab some time this week to do some blog visiting and email replying but if i don't get to thank each one of you personally, know that every comment and congratulation is so sincerely appreciated. it's been a crazy week (who knew how time consuming feeding and getting to sleep a baby can be??) but tonight i finally found a spare napping hour to write out her birth story...



the good :: a relatively short, natural labour and birth, no tearing or stitches, a beautiful, healthy and perfectly round headed baby and a speedy recovery that saw me walking out of the hospital 24 hours after she was born.

the bad :: um, the horrendously unbelievable pain of labour that i was somehow completely unprepared for, despite having read countless birth stories in the past year. there's pain, and then there's... THAT.

the ugly :: i count myself as a strong character and thought i had a reasonably high threshold for pain but giving birth was pretty much sheer agony that saw me absolutely screaming my heart out. really. "no" (as in "no, no, no, no, no, no, noooooooo"), "i can't" (as in "i can't. i can't. i can't. i can't.") and "oh god" (see "no") were pretty much my mantras to get me through the last stages, punctuated by comments such as "i must be scaring the shit out of every other woman on the floor" and "man, i'm so sweaty" in between.


my contractions started at around 8pm on saturday night. they were small, sharp and erratically spaced for the first 4 or 5 hours, between 20 minutes and 5 minutes apart. by 2am, they were falling between 3 and 5 minutes apart so i called the hospital for advice and they said to come in for a look. we were happy to go, despite knowing we'd probably be sent back home. my mom and grandma both had really short labours so i think both shane and i were feeling a bit anxious about the whole thing, worried that things were maybe happening faster than we were aware of. so we drove to the hospital and i got hooked up to one monitor to check mae's heart rate and another that gauged the strength of my contractions, which were painful but quite bearable at this point. sure enough, after an hour or so of monitoring, the midwife sent us home with instructions to call again when the contractions were stronger and coming regularly at 3 minute intervals, or if my waters should break. we got home at about 5am and the contractions ramped up pretty much right away but stayed steady at about 7 minutes apart. shane got some sleep while i just tried to read, rest or time the contractions. at around 7am, i went to the bathroom and was treated to the start of my "bloody show", which was really more like a super heavy period with large clots - alarming, to say the least. the contractions were getting closer together but i didn't want to get sent home again so took a shower to try and relieve some of the pain. by 9am i was really struggling to stay on top of the contractions, which were regularly 4 minutes apart so i called the hospital and they gave me the okay to come back in. the midwife in emergency took one look at me trying to breathe through a contraction as i came through the door and sent us straight up to the labour ward. we were put in a consultation type room and had a quick chat with the midwife who would be with us throughout the delivery. she left to get some paperwork started and when she finally came back, about 45 minutes later, i was in tears from the contractions and the strong urge to bear down that was accompanying them. truthfully, although the contractions were super painful at this point, causing me to bang my hand on the table to try to distract myself through them, the tears were more from panic and frustration as we'd pushed the button to call the midwife about 20 minutes before and shane finally had to go into the hallway to track her down. she decided to do an internal exam and, when she discovered i was already 5 centimeters dilated, she finally started taking us a bit more seriously. we moved to the actual delivery room and the midwife encouraged me to try the nitrous oxide and to get into the tub to help with pain. things start to get a bit fuzzy from here as i was sucking back quite a bit of gas but i remember being hungry and eating a granola bar and then being in the tub and being irritated that the water wasn't warm enough. i lay in there for about an hour, with shane pouring water over my belly, fighting through the contractions with the gas but feeling mildly terrified by the amount of pain i was in and the fact that my waters hadn't even broken yet. i stated several times to shane and the midwife that i really didn't think i could do this, really and complained that i didn't feel like we were making any progress. i got out of the tub, back into my clothes and curled up into a sort of feotal position on the bed. the gas was doing pretty much nothing at this point but i kept sucking it back so that it felt like i was doing something to help the pain. my midwife offered no other pain options and when i asked about an epidural she said the baby would be born before it could even be administered. she left the room for about 15 minutes and suddenly, at the start of another hellish contraction, my waters finally broke in a huge, weird hot gush. the contraction took on a totally different dimension, the pain was sharp and searing and the urge to push almost unbearable. i started to freak out that i was going to deliver the baby into my track pants and shane rushed out to again find the midwife. things moved pretty fast from here on, although it didn't feel fast at the time. each contraction that accompanied pushing felt like my lower body was being ripped apart, no wait, it felt like it was being ripped apart and i was supposed to help it tear into a million pieces. the midwife suggested i get into a kneeling position and she adjusted the head of the bed so i could cling to it while i yelled, wailed and cried my way through every contraction. i really, truly and completely thought at many points that i could NOT do any more. i was exhausted, in a far more terrifying level of pain than i'd ever experienced before and the thought of adding to that pain by pushing though any more contractions seemed unthinkable. shane told me the midwifes (there was a helper midwife by this point, i have no idea when she came in) were putting on plastic apron gear so the baby must be close and this, at least, gave me some hope that if i could just put all my effort into the next couple of pushes, the whole ordeal might be over. i gave the greatest screams that i could muster and finally, finally pushed mae into the world. she was crying before she was even completely out and, miraculously, the pain stopped almost immediately. i wish i could say i was overwhelmed with feelings of love at seeing my new daughter for the first time, and i was fascinated to finally see her, but really, i was just so relieved that the whole thing was over. the widwife settled me back in the bed, put mae on my chest and got to work on delivering the placenta, which thankfully was painless and required only a very small push on my part. shane and i exclaimed over mae's hair, her feet, her wee nails and i just kept saying "i'm so glad that's over, i'm so glad that's over".

it's been a week now and yes, the memory of the pain is already fading. i can't quite remember exactly what the contractions felt like. the sweet smell of my baby daughter's head and her cuddly little body curled up on my chest seem to have wiped away most of the horror that i felt in the 24 hours after the whole ordeal but i've kept a small part of my brain on reserve, to remember and to book in an epidural early on next time : )

45 comments:

  1. I LOVE a good birth story.. So happy for you, she is a beauty... Hope you're getting plenty of rest, and enjoying getting to know your little babe... Oh those hands (I always love those little dimpled knuckles), those closed eyes.. So much growing to do.. Thank you for sharing Mae's beautiful story.

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  2. so very lovely. Glad to see that you have a beautiful girl and that the labour went well for you. you must be a natural!

    enjoy and congratualtions.

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  3. oh what a comprehensive birth story!! Even with 2 under my belt it still gives me shivers thinking about it!

    What a beautiful little girl you have - enjoy every moment!

    Would love to meet her and you sometime if you ever wander down North Fitzroy Village way some day soon :)
    xx

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  4. Ha ha ha ha! Oh dear Leslie! So will you be having more babies? I bet the whole experience was worth every bit of pain though :)

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  5. oh god. that was a terrifying read - you are so brave!

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  6. Well done to get through that. Gas does nothing! I think it just makes you think about something else and breathe deeply!

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  7. OMG. Just when I thought I was getting ready to have children... I think I need another 5 years!

    Congratulations on a natural birth!

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  8. thanks so much for sharing Mae's story. how amazing! i'm surprised that your DH had to keep searching for a midwife. i thought they were in constant attendance? perhaps its my misperception. but i'm so glad you made it through with no problems at all.

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  9. leslie1:24 am

    thanks for an honest birth story with all the "real" stuff. it really is the most insane pain you will ever feel, thank god you forget it pretty quickly. i labored for more than two days with both my girls so the epidural was heaven sent for me, i highly recommend it if you want to be giddy while pushing your baby out. it gave me the ability to catch a few hours of rest before pushing since i had been up for two straight days prior to that little nap. whew! congrats!

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  10. its good for me to be reading this birth story as I go into the second pregnancy. it is truly amazing how one forgets the details as time passes.

    she is beautiful and the story is wonderful. congratulations.

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  11. Wow, that sounds incredibly terrifying!!! I guess I have a couple of years yet to prepare for the agony [gulp]. Please, please post more picture of Mae - she's soooooo adorable! Who does she most resemble so far? I so wish I could see her in person - maybe when things settle down a bit, we could have a video phone? Pretty please!

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  12. Phoebe5:38 am

    Holy crap, that is a horrifying story. I think I will probably never have kids, but if I was planning on it, that there probably would have talked me right out of it. So scary. Still, I appreciate your honesty. I feel like some women make labor out to be all sunshine and fairies and happiness, so it's nice to hear that, even if the pain fades, it can be a scary experience.

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  13. hee hee hee!! the pain will fade from your memory so fast, before you know it you will delude yourself that it wasn't so bad and be heading back in for another one.

    Mae is so beautiful and you sound like you are enjoying this amazing time...

    Jo x

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  14. EXCELLENT birth story. Now print it out and put it next to your bed so that the pain will be forever ingrained. I know I planned to write it all out in graphic detail but didn't get round to it so now cluckiness abounds. Frightening.

    It sounds like you did a fab job though. And how beautiful is Mae?

    Oh yeah, and I think every woman tries to get out of giving birth whilst in labour. I vividly recall telling my mum and midwife that I wasn't going to go through with it. ha.

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  15. It's amazing what that baby smell can do...better than any chemical pain relief.

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  16. Congratulations on the natural birth :) I can't believe you avoided stitches, that is really lucky.
    The pain is just something completely different, isn't it? I don't think you could ever be prepared, no matter what how much you read or hear.
    Even though it REALLY hurts, from what I've heard epidurals can make it take longer and the recovery slower... at least without you can get up and have a shower and feel surprisingly normal pretty much as soon as it's over. And I don't think you get as many of those amazing hormones that make you feel like superwoman without the pain.
    Anyway, thanks for sharing... I hope you're recovering well and enjoying your gorgeous bundle. Sending you good wishes from Sydney.
    xx

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  17. OMG....I was almost coming around to the idea of having kids...or at least I was thinking about thinking about it! Not so sure now. Of course you've ended up with a gorgeous bundle of baby to show for it! Brilliant photos btw

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  18. oh my!! well done.
    I completely understand how you felt!! When wyatt was born I remember thinking ok he is alright but that was really hard work!!!
    thanx for sharing.

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  19. Hi there! I know that I have already heard this story in person, but I really wanted to read it again. Thanks for sharing your journey - you're an inspiration for the natural birth! I got a little panicky after we chatted and wrote about it on my blog....a lovely midwife left some words of wisdom for me that have helped to ease my concern.

    I really want to eat pastry and cake in Yarraville soon. Can I book in a lunch with Mae and Mum?

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  20. Wow is all I can say, although it does scare the pants off me and I'm not even thinking about babies just yet. Congratulations, she looks so lovely. A story that will stay with me for a while!

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  21. Isn't it amazing what our bodies can do! Our ability to forget the intensity of the pain so quickly is, I'm sure, what keeps so many of us coming back for more (though once those contractions start for the 2nd and subsequent pregnancies, it all comes flooding back!).

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  22. what a fabulous recount of your trials. congratulations on your efforts - she is a beauty! It's all worth it in the end.
    The first time is shocking. but it did't stop me from going back a couple more times :)

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  23. She's gorgeous !

    Well done on a birth story ( gee, a natural birth AND the story so soon - you must be some sort of birthing-guru ! :) .. my own story is 5mo old and still untold, and I was allowed drugs ... slack.

    Enjoy your darling baby..

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  24. Congrats to you and your little family! Nothing like a new baby and a very real birth story to bring out a long-time lurker. She is just beautiful.

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  25. What an amazing story and I'm sure it was worth all the pain. Not sure if you put me off it though...should I or shouldn't I...guess there's no way back once it happens ;) but we'll wait for another 5 or so years.

    Congratz again, she's beautiful.

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  26. It's so good you wrote it all out now when it's so fresh because the details do fade a little. I know what you mean about the no, no, no, bit. I remember with my second being told by my OB to push and every single time there was a moments hesitation, knowing that if I did push it was going to super super hurt, but if I didn't it would never be over!!

    You sound really well, I hope things continue well for you all.

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  27. I remember being utterly shocked after the birth of my first. Shocked that my body had done that, and I was still alive.

    You did well to get through with no tearing or stitches though.

    Now concentrate on the lovely stuff!

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  28. *sniff*

    Great story, though scary. I think I've fainted at the majority of my sister's deliveries thanks to that "bloody show" and the screaming. It's amazing, and I bet Shane will know you've forgotten all about the pain as soon as you say "let's have another"! Lol....

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  29. Thanks for being so open about your experience! So glad to read that there were no complications and you and Shane were blessed with a healthy little girl :-) I don't remember the pain anymore, except when you said that bit about the unbearable urge to push - still remember that very clearly!

    "i was going to deliver the baby into my track pants" :-)

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  30. Wow, Leslie, thank you so much for sharing your story. I try not to think too much about labor and delivery, but at the same time I'm beginning to do some reading and we've already hired a doula to help. I can hardly imagine the sense of accomplishment you must be feeling. Congratulations again on your sweet baby girl.

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  31. Jesus.

    You've just bought me another five years as well! eep!
    Good to hear such an honest portrayal though - I am so not one of those earth mothers - I'd be screaming for the drugs right from the start.....

    Well done, my love - glad to hear you're all on the other side safe and sound...

    Leah xxx

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  32. Wow, scary and inspiring, both! I am very impressed with how you managed! no drugs and no tears or stitches! if all goes well, i'm going to a midwife led unit, so all i'll have will be the deep bath and the gas and air, and i think one shot of pethidine max. i will be able to go across the hall and get an epidural if i really want to but then i'll be on thepuclic ward. but i'd say if i feel like you did i won't care and happily swap my birthing suite for a bit of relief!

    your daughter is so beautiful!

    thanks for your birth story!

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  33. congrats! she's beautiful. babies are very lucky they're so damn cute and lovable to put us through so much aren't they?! well done!! x
    www.renovateanddecorate.blogspot.com
    www.minimeez.blogspot.com

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  34. that was an amazing birth story. thank you for sharing it! i felt exactly the same way as you about birth- i couldn't BELIEVE how painful it was. it seemed completely outrageous. i think it's important that we are honest about that part of it. but you did it (now you know you can do anything)- and it sounds like you were a total natural. well done!

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  35. Thank you for sharing your birth story with us! I love hearing other experiences. I think I've mentioned before that I have a young-ish baby. He's 6-1/2 months old now. Isn't it funny how quickly any of the bad parts of childbirth fade and only the *WOW* remains. I'd go through it all a million times over!

    With my first baby I had a natural childbirth (not on purpose). With this 2nd baby I really wanted an epidural. I don't think either experience was bad...just different.

    Congrats!

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  36. You go girl!

    Brave you for getting through it and a fab souvenir at the end to help you forget. She looks perfectly perfect.

    I went straight for the drugs myself - bring 'em on - and bring 'em early I say. The drugs that is - not the baby - the baby should stay where it is until it's ready to come out....

    Congrats you three. :) :) :)

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  37. Reduced me to tears that did.

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  38. Anonymous10:47 pm

    Thank you for such an honest account of labor and delivery. Big congratulations on your beautiful baby girl. Michele in NYC

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  39. She is a beautiful baby. Enjoy her every minute. It's such a special time

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  40. Oh I am dying here with love for that beautiful girl. It is amazing how birthing goes, but so worth it. And lucky you, no tearing or stitches with your first birth!

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  41. Congratulations - she is so lovely and has such a very pretty name. I did the epidural with number one after being in several hours of unbelievable pain and it slowed things right down and became a forceps birth. Number two popped out in two hours with no drugs and number three I did heaps of gas and it lasted about 3 hours. So it's not always the same. And I have never felt the urge to push! I'm slightly in awe of myself thinking back though so thanks for your story. Best wishes to you all.

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  42. ha ha! that made me laugh! I'm thinking I might have an epidural this time round although I'm more afraid of a needle in my spine than the labour.

    hooray it's all over.

    xx

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  43. i'm a bit late but thank you for writing that. i don't have any children (yet) but i do really appreciate reading people's birth stories. it makes me feel both excited and reassured that i will be able to do it one day!

    congratulations on your beautiful girl.

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  44. well done! and congratulations she is really a little angel

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  45. wow awesome birth story!! i totally agree with oh God... no, no, no part. i guess i should have read this post before i had my son in oct. 08 lol. lucky for you you didnt tear. i on the other had did and i didnt even feel it tear! pushed three times and tada there he was a wrinkly looking little beautiful baby boy. funny thing was i asked how big the tear was and the doc said not big, but she was holding her index and thumb up to show me how long the tear was and it looked like it was an inch! i about died! lol. she said it wasnt bad just a stitch... yea a stitch! however she was going back and forth with the needle 3 or 4 times ... ahhhggg...

    you're little girl is soo freaking CUTE makes me want to have a little girl now ... but i'll wait another year or so.

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