Thursday, May 16, 2013

Birth, as only I can do it

Although this birth is an unassisted birth after two caesareans and a stillbirth and a homebirth and a vba2c, I've decided to drop all the acronyms. So this birth is NOT a ubahbavba2c .... it's just a birth. And I'm so glad I finally had one of those! He arrived on my birthday, which also happened to be Mother's day so it was a very auspicious date for a birth indeed. 

I don't really know where to begin the telling of this story so perhaps right at the beginning and we can work our way through it and see where the story goes! I suspect that I will muddle it up a bit because the order of everything isn't clear in my mind at all so whilst I might have things a bit topsy turvy it is all true and correctish, and it is all in keeping with the type of labour that I excel at. It's completely bonkers!

This last pregnancy was a surprise to us all. We weren't thinking we wanted more babies until we found out we were having one. It was a hard pregnancy with lots and lots of nausea until 6 months and no blood pressure and tiredness and children from previous pregnancies.

I made it to 35w and had worked through the bulk of my fears of loss when out of the blue I started leaking hind water. I was concerned that it was a sign the baby was going to come early but given my  history I should have known that was about as likely as a win in the lotto. We reassessed my due dates and determined that the first guess was possibly out by a couple of weeks so even if the baby came now they wouldn't be early so to speak.

I leaked for more than a month, taking high doses of vitamin c and colloidal silver to be sure there was no chance of infection. (I think I'll do a separate post on how we worked out that it was amniotic fluid and not any other bodily fluid.) So after leaking for all that time I did three stop / start labours the baby finally moved his head right into my pelvis and blocked the leak up.

The day I had set as my original start to wait date (NOT a 40w mark, I was 41+3 by original guess) I started having contractions at about 7pm. I didn't pay much attention to them, I assumed they'd fizzle out and we had plans to collect our interstate doula from the airport the following morning so I ignored it. I decided to go to bed at about 9, assuming I'd wake up in the morning and go to the airport. It didn't happen quite like that though.

I was up and down like a yoyo, unable to lie down through them. I had a couple of showers thinking they would stop but all they did was take a longer break between. The irregular breaks made me assume it was more stop / start. By 2am I was tired and grumpy that they weren't stopping to let me sleep when we had an early start the next day. I decided to wake A up and work out whether or not to ring our local doula, Katy. I had another shower, they kept coming. I watched 1980s music on TV and drank tea, they didn't stop, I paced about leaning on stuff and rocking and they still kept coming so we rang Katy at about 3.

Katy arrived and A brought the pool inside and started filling it. I was worried it was too early and that getting in the water would stall things. I really didn't want this to stop because waiting and starting again seemed like my idea of hell. The previous stop / starts had made me woefully tired. I started feeling things  were getting heavy but emotionally it felt like nothing was happening, like the stop / start labours I'd been having. I got in the pool and tried to rest but of course that didn't work. I didn't actually like being in the pool so I got out and kept pacing and trying to rest on the couch, all the while convinced this was going nowhere.

I kept doing this as the hours went by. I didn't notice as the irrational thoughts crept in and took over, and what I did notice I put down to needing to sleep when this darn stop / start labour stopped.

By sunrise I was well and truly irrational beyond redemption. A friend had agreed to collect our out of state doula, Mem, from the airport. She arrived at our house around 10 and I gave her a guided tour of the house whilst telling her how pointless all this was coz it was all going to stop. Katy took the kids out for a while, I kept waiting for labour to stop so I could sleep. I remember thinking that no one who is in transition thinks they are in transition and since I thought I was in transition I was obviously only in early labour. My reasoning is exceptional ... when I am in transition.

I decided to go to bed to sleep. I felt a great sense of relief until the next contraction hit (weren't they meant to stop?!) and I had to leap up to manage it. A came and lay in bed with me for a while. Hugs were very nice in my exhausted and irrational state. Lying down was too much so I got up again. Had one contraction at the doorway and one in the hall. I left A in bed to rest. There was no point in him being tired .... I'd need him if REAL labour started.

I tried showers, I tried walking, lying on the couch. It wouldn't let me rest. By now I was totally off the air visiting the evil faeries in my mind. I sobbed my heart out about it. What if it stopped and I had to do it all again? What if it didn't stop and I was too tired? What if I couldn't cope in transition? (mmmmhmmm) At some point Katy came back and I sobbed on her about it all. My support team deserve an award.

At this point I decided to phone a friend. A friend who happens to be the midwife I had with Angus, someone who knows just how much fun I am when I'm in transition. I told her all about it and she told me .... that I was in transition. She told me everything my doulas and A had been saying for hours. I had to give the phone to Mem when a contraction hit and I heard her knowingly agreeing with Sonja and saying "yep, tried that, tried that, tried it all". Why did all these people think I was in transition? Why were they getting my hopes up? Contractions were CLEARLY only early labour, I was clearly just over tired. (I later learnt that they were agreeing that contractions were not actually five - ten minutes apart as I kept insisting, they were actually one minute apart and not irregular, or pointless)

I decided to try the pool to get things moving but once in I hated it. Soooo I got out and kept going with the walking and talking and begging for sleep so I could "manage transition when it arrived". I decided that since no one would believe me that I was NOT in transition, I needed to go to hospital for drugs. Once again they ignored me and told me they weren't prepared to face my fury after the birth if they took me for no reason. I tried the pool again. Hated it.

In order to demonstrate how clearly I was thinking and how certainly I was not in transition I heaved myself out of the pool and demanded a transfer and drugs. I demanded they call an ambulance so I could have happy gas on the way. (I can't even type that with a straight face now...) But once again. I got nowhere so I walked and talked myself up into a lather, and tried to sleep. I lay on the couch angrily, determined that it would now STOP and l would sleep.

Had a shower (you guessed it, to make things stop) and my body pushed and grunted. Gee I thought to myself. Maybe I AM getting on! Walked and argued. Argued and walked. Focussed lots on relaxing. I noticed quite a few grunts and odd pushes at the height of contractions at this point, and I noticed that my body was shaking like crazy as well. I actually thought it might be transition when the crazy shaking happened and the hideous nausea set in. I also acknowledged that the contractions were mightily unpleasant, and maybe I wasn't being a giant baby about it.

At this point the team had had enough (although they are far too polite to tell me that even now) so they told me they were putting me in the pool and I was going to have the baby. I really didn't know what I wanted, I needed them to make decisions for me. I'd decided that I was actually in transition by this point. I was getting really angry at it because I wasn't moving through it. So I let them haul me into the pool and I practically collapsed onto all fours as a contraction hit. I decided by this point that I was SO infuriated by this whole process that I would have to force myself to over come it. Waiting for logic to embrace me as it did in my previous labour. I made an executive decision that I was going to push for all I was worth and that within three contractions the baby would be born.

Next contraction hit. I pushed. I pushed REALLY HARD. I remember the sound of anger that came out, it was quite amazing. I was really mad! Despite that I felt no movement. I was about to give up and announce that it was pointless again when I remembered the decision I'd made about THREE contractions. So I waited and I pushed again, and this time I felt movement but the head went back up again. Movement encouraged me so I gave my third push and this time I felt real movement and nothing went back. The three pushes had been a good idea, even if they weren't quite enough to get a baby out.

I kept pushing and roaring. I made lots of odd noises, I hissed and shouted and roared and grunted and pushed for all I was worth with every contraction and sometimes without one. I called the kids in when I felt certain movement.  Very soon the team could see a head and I reached down to touch it. I felt really relieved but OUCH my pelvis hurt! I pushed soooo hard and so angrily, I could feel this amazing sense of RAGE propelling me to the end and strangely enough, with the rage I could feel an enormous sense of relief. Surprisingly soon everyone was telling me they could see the top of a head, then eye brows, then a nose, a mouth, a chin and then at last a whole head was out. It actually took a long time for his whole head to come out and at one point I wondered if it was stuck but I instantly banished that thought in order to keep forcing myself through it to the end. After his head I waited and I felt lots of strange wriggling, it felt like arms and hands all poking me. Very odd. Then out came his body. To those who were watching it appeared to slither out. To me it was more like a freight train. Mem passed the baby through my legs because A had stitches and a bandage on one hand and wasn't able to catch him.

I picked him up and I was INSTANTLY overwhelmed with the most amazing flow of love. I've never felt anything quite like it. It was the most intense high of my entire life. I was crying and laughing and relieved and elated all at once, and probably a whole lot more as well. He instantly made noise, not crying, just noise that reassured me he was breathing perfectly.

The kids all had a job to do when he was born. It was Spike's job to announce if the baby was a boy or a girl. He announced that it was yet another boy. It was Angus' job to say "hello baby" (like the story we'd been reading him in preparation) and it was Stylish's job to choose some clothes for the baby.

I wanted to get out of the pool pretty quickly because I felt bruised and sore. The placenta came after I got out, I had the most awful after pain, pushed gently and it came easily. I climbed onto a towel on the couch, holding the baby. Oh the love! I giggled about Michel Odent saying "oxytocin, ze love 'ormone" in his French accent. I have a new understanding of the process now. 

After about 40mins he did the breast crawl. It caught me by surprise when he suddenly latched on. We didn't cut the cord, we kept it attached until it was really dried and hardened three days later when we became concerned about it ripping off with an active toddler leaping about.

He is now 4 days old and we've named him Hamish. He was 4.2kg which is a good half kilo bigger than the last baby I was told was too big for me to push out. Amusingly enough I didn't tear, I didn't even bruise.  He was pushed out much faster than my smaller baby with far less damage in the process.  I'm walking around really easily, not hobbling. Although pushing Angus out was physically easier, it took a lot longer. I guess there's something to be said for angry pushing!

So to sum it all up, it was one hell of a transformative birth! Kind of like mountain climbing. It hurt all the way, the bags were heavy, I was tired, my feet ached (or maybe it was my pelvis but that would ruin my mountain climbing analogy) but once I reached the top, the view was worth every moment of agony.