Welcome to part 2 of Grace’s birth story! You can read part 1 here, but to quickly catch you up: I was past my due date and had been told it wasn’t looking like I would go into labour naturally so I had settled in at home to wait for my induction date to roll around.
At about 2am on Saturday the 5th of September, 8 days past my due date, I woke up to a really bad contraction. This had happened a fair bit over the past couple of weeks so I thought nothing of it and tried to go back to sleep.
About half an hour and 5 contractions later I figured I should probably keep an eye on the time to see how close these contractions actually were.
At the time it felt like so much longer between contractions because I was so exhausted and still trying to nap between contractions.
After about an hour of very painful and very regular contractions I realised that this was probably ‘it’ and I was finally in labour! I continued napping in between contractions for about 2 hours until I was loud enough in dealing with them to wake Stu up, who was happily sleeping soundly next to me until this point.
Stu got me some heat packs to help with the pain and I stayed in bed to rest between my contractions, which at this point were about 3-4 mins apart, a bit over a minute long and super painful! We called the hospital to let them know what was happening and they were happy for me to continue labouring at home for a while and told me to call back if anything changed.
I was in so much pain during the contractions but by 8am I was so hungry that I decided to get up, have a shower and have some breakfast.
In hindsight I wish I’d gotten up sooner because the contractions hurt much, much more when I was laying in bed! Once I got up and started moving around they slowed a little but were much easier to manage!
I had some breakfast and continued to have contractions while we sat on the couch and watched Friends (I’d started binge watching it a few days beforehand). At about 11am the hospital called to see how I was going and suggested I come in for a check to see how things were progressing.
By the time we got to the hospital it was 11:30am and I’d been in labour for 9.5 hours. At this point we kind of thought that I would have a quick check over at the hospital and then be sent home again.
The doctor on duty gave me a quick internal exam and told me I was fully dilated and my waters were about to break but the baby’s head wasn’t in my pelvis! She wasn’t engaged at all! It was a pretty dangerous position to be in, a fact which thankfully the doctors didn’t really let on until after it was all over.
A quick check on the ultrasound confirmed that her head wasn’t where it should be, nowhere near being even slightly engaged, and she was also in a posterior position just to add another complication.
The doctors quickly came up with a plan of attack for how to proceed. They would break my waters in theatre and see if the baby’s head would drop down, in which case they would take me back to the birth suite to labour and give me some induction drugs to help things along. They would also have a surgical team ready to go for an emergency c-section in case her head didn’t drop down when my waters broke. The risk of breaking my waters while she was so high in my pelvis was that the cord would drop down before baby could and block her exit.
Once I got into theatre and the surgeon and my OB had a quick feel at where the baby was, it was decided that breaking my waters would be too risky and that the best option was to proceed with the c-section.
Everything happened really quickly (I was in theatre being prepped by 12.15pm, about 15 minutes after my internal exam) and I had to quickly adjust my mind to what was happening. I have to admit, I was a bit scared and a bit overwhelmed with everything that was happening but Stu and the midwife did such a good job of calming me down and keeping me focused on what was happening.
I had to have a combined epidural and spinal block which I was really nervous about and it was surprisingly painful! I think it was much worse for me than it probably normally is because it took them a fair few goes to get it into the right spot and a couple of attempts to get the epidural to take down both sides of my body. After the surgery when I was able to get out of bed, Stu told me I had a huge bruise and about 6 puncture marks on my back! I think the biggest hold up with getting the surgery started was waiting to get the epidural sorted out, it took about half an hour or so to actually administer it!
They were able to get the epidural in but not the spinal block so they had to wait for the epidural to kick in before they could start the surgery. Stu told me later that the whole team was standing there, surgeon with scalpel in hand, just waiting for the anaesthesiologist to give them the go ahead.
Once the epidural had kicked in, they started. I was so focused on Stu, who was sitting next to me in full surgical getup, to help not think about what was happening (the epidural stopped any pain but it didn’t stop the pulling and pushing sensations which felt at the time to be a quite painful and really uncomfortable!). It was what felt like 5 or 10 minutes later when they told us they were about to deliver the baby and asked us if we wanted to see her after they pulled her out.
I decided that I wanted to see so they dropped the curtain and held her up for us to see. I don’t think I’ll ever forget seeing our tiny little baby being held by the surgeon, it was the most amazing moment and I’m so glad I decided to see her right after she was born!
They took her over to the resuscitation trolley because she was having a little trouble moving the amniotic fluid out of her lungs, but they made sure we could see her the entire time. It was so surreal to see my baby girl sitting less than 3 metres from me and it dawning on me that she was actually here and she was ours!!
Once the doctor was happy with her breathing they wrapped her up and gave her to Stu who brought her over to me. I don’t think I will ever forget that moment either – Stu sitting next to me holding her up to my face so I could properly meet our girl. It was then I knew her name was definitely Grace. She could never have been any other name!
The rest of the surgery was a bit of a blur, and Stu kept Grace next to me the whole time which was so amazing and kept me massively distracted from the fact that I was still being operated on (another surreal experience).
The next thing I can remember is being in recovery with Grace in the bed with me and giving Grace her first feed.
That first feed in itself was a bizarre experience. Because of how much of the epidural they had needed to give me I was numb (but able to move) from just under my shoulders all the way down to my legs so the midwife had to basically manually adjust both me and Grace so she could feed. It’s definitely weird to be breastfeeding and not be able to feel it at all!!
After I spent a bit of time in recovery and my blood pressure came back up, they wheeled me around to the maternity ward into the room that would be my little home for the next 4 days.
It was definitely not what I had expected of my birthing experience, which just proves that you always need to be prepared to go with the flow for these things!
After the surgery I was advised by my obstetrician that I would never have been able to give birth naturally (and never will) as my pelvis is just way too narrow to allow a baby to fit through (which unfortunately isn’t something you can know without attempting to give birth!).
I was also told by all the doctors and midwives that they had never seen someone fully dilated when the head wasn’t engaged! None of them could believe it and they have no idea how I was able to dilate without her head being where it should.
Having Grace has been the most surreal, amazing experience of my life and we are so thankful that she is safe and happy and healthy, especially given how hard it was to get her here!!
We ended up staying in hospital for four nights, which I was really thankful for. It made it a lot easier, especially being post-surgery, to have the midwives on call and to have lots of support around. It also made establishing breastfeeding a really smooth process, which I definitely appreciated as you don’t really realise how much help you need when learning how to breastfeed until you try.
Stu was so amazing through the whole process, and actually stayed in hospital with me for all four nights which was so good. Poor Stu slept on a fold out couch of questionable comfort levels in my hospital room but didn’t complain once! He also got up every time she cried for the first couple of weeks (until he went back to work) which made recovery much easier for me and let me just concentrate on feeding and sleeping.
I’ll share more about life with Grace in these ‘baby tales’ (which I suppose will replace my pregnancy updates!) when I get a little more downtime. It’s still a little bit of a struggle to find the right combination of time, energy and motivation for blogging at the moment but I’m hoping that as things settle down and we fall into a more predictable pattern here at home, I’ll work my way back up to my regular blogging schedule.
What was your birth experience like?