December 18, 2008

The Birth of Felicity


Mummy, After Everything, originally uploaded by Munzerr.

*** Please note, if you don't want to know massive detail about my birth experience, please do not continue to read this post. ****

So, it all started on Sunday, or very early hours on Monday 15th December. Andrew and I had stayed up late, even though we've been meaning to get to bed early in preparation for our new babies arrival. I had videoed Cara earlier and wanted to upload a Birthday message for Alan's birthday. Anyway, we went to bed, and I could feel my tummy harden, I said to Andrew that maybe our baby would come tomorrow, that we needed to go straight to sleep just in case. Andrew went straight to sleep, and I tried. I did get sleep, but was woken throughout the night feeling contractions. They weren't too strong and definitely weren't regular. Early hours of the morning, I couldn't help but wake Andrew to tell him about me having lots of contractions, that this really did seem to be the day. We stayed in bed as long as possible, trying to rest, and then when we got up, Andrew arranged to miss his Uni seminar, and we warned Grandma that we may need a babysitter for Cara. However, the contractions seemed to ease, and it seemed that maybe they weren't proper contractions after all.

By early evening I was pretty sure that they were proper contractions, but they were still very irregular in timing. After putting Cara to bed, I decided to take a bath, but before long, I was uncomfortable and pretty sure we should start the process of getting ourselves ready to go. Grandma and Granddad came over to stay with Cara, while we went to hospital. I think this was around 8pm.

The midwife that was with us was wonderful. I really think that the midwife makes such a difference to how the birth experience is. I am so thankful for A.M. - thank you. Contractions were getting strong, and I had been coping by leaning forwards, but now I needed to be examined laying on my back and then strapped to a machine to monitor my contractions and baby's heartbeat (these are precautions because of having a previous C-section). I really didn't enjoy this, it seemed to make the contractions so much more powerful. I don't think it was long before the midwife suggested I use some gas and air. I wanted to have as natural a birth as possible, but I didn't mind using gas and air, I just hoped that would be all I needed. My initial examination showed that I was 7cm dilated. I was so glad that progress had been made despite my irregular contractions. Andrew was great at being positive and upbeat, reminding me that even though I was in pain, all was going to plan.

I did use gas and air when I laboured with Cara, but I didn't really use it that long before I had an epidural, and I really don't think I got it completely, this time I could really see the effects of this drug on me. It was such a weird experience to be in pain one minute and then just in wonder at what this drug can do to your body. When my contractions were really bad, I guess I was taking some pretty deep breathes and on a few occasions it really felt like I was having an outer body experience. My conscious mind was very active and felt real to life, but I could see my body doing things that I didn't necessarily ask it to do. A couple of times it weirded me out so much that I stopped breathing it, not because the contraction had finished, but that it felt too weird.  At one point I really tried to describe this to Andrew, but he said I sounded really drunk.

I could really feel the difference between this labour and that with Cara.  There was almost 2 years in between, and until it came to labour I didn't think I remembered how labouring with Cara felt, but when I started getting the really strong contractions and getting ready to push, I knew I hadn't felt this before.  I knew the moment that I needed to start pushing, although, as the midwife wasn't there at the time, I didn't want to push unless it really wasn't the time, and trying to indicate to Andrew to push the button for the midwife mid-contraction while breathing gas and air seemed like quite a feat in itself.  The mid-wife confirmed I was at the stage for pushing, and I was just amazed at how our bodies work.

I am so grateful for a mid-wife who really wanted me to respond to my own body.  She really wanted me to go with what my body was telling me.  This active pushing was such a different experience to when I was pushing with an epidural with Cara.  It hurt, lots!  But it felt right, if that makes sense.  Andrew and the midwife gave me lots of encouragment and told me I was doing great.  It seemed like it was taking forever, and with each contraction I was really trying to push with all my might, that maybe, this would be the one.  I could feel Felicity's head, although it did feel rather strange, not really like a head, more like a water-filled strange feeling balloon.  

When her head was properly out, I knew that it wouldn't be long now.  But it was really painful, nothing can prepare you for that pain and stinging, and the not so nice midwife told me to push, even though my body wasn't saying push.. so I did.. Felicity was born, but I ripped pretty bad, 2nd degree for any who know what that means, and I couldn't help but think if I had held on just a little longer, for the feeling to push, would my tear not have been so bad.. who knows?  Felicity did come out with her hand up by her head, so maybe it would have happened anyway.  I'm pretty sure there will always be moments during labour where you look back and think, what if?

***  A break in the commentary - above was all written pretty soon after the birth.. but then I forgot about my writing this.. and so this latter part was all written quite a bit later, so may not be so accurate ***

The feeling when Felicity was actually born, was the weirdest feeling ever - just a complete rush of warm slippery stuff, and such a relief to my body, and it wasn't so much smooth as a bumpy ride, if that makes any sense.  I think you have to experience this to really understand.  Felicity was pretty much passed straight to me, onto my chest.  That was great!  So, so different to when Cara was born.  It was great to have those first precious moments, and Daddy got to cut the cord.  Felicity was really strong.  She was laid on me pressing up on her arms and moving her head around.  One of my biggest reasons for wanting a 'normal' birth, without heavy drugs was that I hoped this would aid with breastfeeding.  I had seen videos just the week or two before of new babies, an hour old, moving themselves onto their mothers for feeding.  It looked like Felicity was going to be capable of this.. however, she really didn't seem to want to be feeding.  We tried for quite a while, but she didn't really seem bothered enough to actually feed.

This isn't the end of my labour story though.. my 3rd Stage of labour, deliving the placenta, wasn't as easy as I had been told.  I opted for the managed third stage, however the placenta was not coming away.  The not so nice head midwife, said that I may need to go into surgery to have it removed.  I couldn't believe it!  I had just had my baby 'normally' and avoided another C-section, but I'd still have to have surgery - I felt awful!  Cheated!  All that pain, for nothing.. I was thinking.. I'd always said I'd prefer a planned C-section over an emergeny one, and this is what ran through my head.  A whole day of contractions, and these last hours in hospital in lots of pain.. all to avoid surgery... anyway.. while she went out to prepare things, the other, much nicer midwife that had been with us the whole time, said that she thought I could help her to get it out.  She got me to push, and this hurt a lot, just as much if not more than Felicity.. but I did it.  I didn't need surgery - I was so grateful!

Apparently, I lost a lot of blood though.  One of the things I had to wait for before I was allowed home, was a blood test, as I was told that I may need a blood transfusion if my iron levels were too low.  They weren't, so all was good.

Wow - what an experience.. my next big blog post will probably be all about my experience with breastfeeding this time round.  Oh, and for anyone who is now scared of giving birth, just know that although it feels like the most pain in the moment, it is all completely worth it when you look back.  

Felicity Marie Munzer, born at 23:46 on the 15th December 2008, weighing just 6lb 6oz  :D

6 comments:

Solviej said...

What a great post Helen. I've never experienced gas and air, so your description of it was funny to read. It's hard to imagine. Well done for getting through it all. You are definitely made of tough stuff:)

Hedge said...

Solviej - did you do your births completely natural or just use different drugs?

Solviej said...

For Micah I had a last moment cordal block because he was delivered with a vacuum, but Mailei's birth was completely drug free. It was a crazy experience. If it hadn't been such a fast labour and delivery(about 5 hours total)I wouldn't have been able to do it.

Hedge said...

Well done Solviej!

ADCottrellski said...

Hedge, I enjoyed reading your blog at lunchtime, but as I'm not allowed to blog at work I had to wait until now to post my comment.
You know that I've never actually had a baby, but I can relate to your narrative - thanks for sharing.
This is something you couldn't twitter about right.

missriss said...

Hey Helen, this is Larisa. :) Thanks for writing this and sharing it. Before you're pregnant or have given birth you don't get to hear a lot about labour. Being in that group, I appreciated reading this. :)

Well done!