I struggle to find the words to sum up such a life altering event...
The birth of a child, where do you find the words to do the experience justice.
Memories of what happened in that room, just two short weeks ago, already hard to find.
Charlie's story, The day we meet our daughter.
It was Tuesday morning I had an appointment with My OB Sue, I was booked in for a second stretch and sweep, in an attempt to naturally go into labor before I was to be induced the following day.
I lay on the bed and took a deep breath, I had found the sweep I had the day before painful and knew this would be no different. As she began she told me she could see I was having a show, most likely caused by the previous sweep. Other than that nothing much had changed I was 3 cm dilated and very soft, but my cervix was high and Charlie was no longer locked in, as she had been the day before.
I left the office and Harper and I went for a walk to try to get things moving. Over the rest of the day I didn't notice many changes other than the plug, I was losing it each time I went to the bathroom.
That afternoon I started having tightenings, they were definitely their but not painful, so I thought nothing much of them.
At around 9pm that night I was standing in the kitchen and felt Charlie drop and lock in, my whole tummy dropped, right in front of my eyes. I went to the toilet again and this time there was a small amount of blood with more plug. Matt and I decided to go to bed in case I was going to labor that night.
I had contractions all through the night, mostly they felt like strong tightenings, but I had a couple that were painful. I couldn't sleep, I was so anxious. I was booked to be induced at 7am in the morning and was really nervous.
That night Harper also woke up as if he could sense something big was about to happen. I spent two hours sitting next to his cot comforting him back to sleep. Finely 5am came it was time to get up, I would say I had two hours of broken sleep that night, but I didn't mind, I was just glad it was the morning and I could get up.
We arrived at the Hospital and were shown to our birthing room, it had big open windows that filled the room with light, The room looked out over the city. There was a large bathroom with a shower and spa, For a hospital room it was nice.
I was hooked up to a machine to read my contractions and Charlie's heartbeat for half an hour before Sue arrived. As soon as she got there I mentioned the blood and lightening. She did a check and said I was now 3 to 4 cm dilated. Charlie had locked in but was still posterior. She then went on to break my water it took about five attempts and she referred to my membranes as tuff leather boots.
After my water broke, I was shocked at the amount of fluid that came out. My tummy went down sooooo much, every time I moved more and more came out.
Sue told me she would be calling for an epidural sometime in the next hour and that once I had the epidural they would begin the drip.
Before anyone starts judging me for being induced at 38 weeks or having an epidural before I felt pain, I would like to explain my reasons. If you haven't read Harper's birth story I would suggest you start there. This was a drug-free, long, hard labor that left me traumatised with 3rd degree tears.
After my last experience I made sure I got private health insurance and found a doctor I could trust. The reason I was induced was to try to avoid more damage, because I grow big babies and Charlie's head was measuring 4 weeks ahead on the 98th percentile. I would have been open to a wait and see approach with the epidural but Sue thought there was less chance of tearing if I had control over my pushing.
Now where was I...
Soon the anaesthetist arrived, he was so nice and made me feel really comfortable. I held still as he gave me the epidural, it felt uncomfortable but didn't hurt to much. He explained how everything worked and checked the strength. It had worked more on one side, so I had to lie on my right side for twenty minutes to try to even it out.
In the beginning it felt amazing, I was so relaxed. Matt and I joked about how this was the most relaxed I had felt in the two years since having Harper. We didn't watch the TV, or play any music. I wanted no distractions, for it to be just us and quite.
Matt and I sat and chatted with the midwife over the next hour or so, I could feel tightenings but had no pain. Sue arrived to do a check I was at a 6 to 7, things were happening quickly. She told us she thought we might have a baby by lunch time. She would be back to do another check in couple of hours before she left the hospital.
Over the next couple of hours things started to change, I was struggling with the amount the epidural had worked on one side, I hated the feeling of not being able to move one leg, The epidural was controlled by me, I was told I would need to keep pressing the button each time I began to feel the contractions because it would take up to fifteen minutes to feel the relief. The numbness on the top of my body began getting weaker, it was starting to get painful, but each time I pressed the button my right side just got numb. So I stopped pressing the button.
Charlie's heart started to dip and I could see the midwife was keeping an eye on it. I asked if everything was ok and she told me sometimes a baby's heart will dip like that if it's moving down getting ready to be born. She called Sue to do another check, but Sue found I was still a 6 to 7. They decided to turn the drip up in hope it would encourage Charlie to turn from being posterior.
I don't know what time it was. From here on it's all a blur.
Lets say around 2pm came, by this stage I was starting to feel really uncomfortable, the epidural had stopped working on the top half of my body completely, which meant I was feeling a lot of pain. I still had the really numb leg down one side. I was starting to feel panicky, I was in a lot of pain and not able to move.
The midwife asked if I wanted her to call the anaesthetist to have him fix the epidural, but it had already been two hours past when I was told Charlie would be born and I wanted to be able to feel when to push when the time came. So I said no.
Because the amount the drip was turned up I was having six contractions over a 10 minute period. And the pain was getting unbearable, the pain and memories I had forgotten came flooding back. I knew I had to accept the pain, I had learnt that from last time, the more you fight and panic the worse the pain gets. I took a deep breath, I calmed myself, then I stated using the gas.
Our midwife finished her shift, which tells me it was 3pm. The new midwife came and spoke to us, she did another ice test which conformed the epidural was not working on the top half of my body. I told her to call the anaesthetist back to fix it. She spoke to us about Charlie being stressed and suggested it could be that her head was to large to move down or maybe it was because she was posterior, we were told there was a chance of a c section, the drip was turned off.
Matt and I could both sense the midwife was concerned about Charlie, she keep looking at the machine and not saying much.
After about half an hour the anaesthetist arrived and fixed the epidural. relief. Because I had it redone it was really strong and I couldn't feel a thing. I had no control over my legs, they would just fall off the bed. It was such a strange feeling. Looking back I'm kind of glad the epidural stopped working and I got a reminder of how hard labor is. It really made it clear to me, I had made the right decision to have pain relief.
Sue was called to come and check everything was going ok, when she came this time she was able to help turn Charlie's head into place and her heart rate was better.
At about 4.30pm Charlie's heart started to dip again. I was finding it hard to stay calm. The midwife said she just wanted to do a quick check, then reported I was ready to push. That explained the dipping in her heart this time, it was her moving into the birth canal. Sue was called and I was told not to push, until she arrived.
Sue arrived at about 5, she asked if we were ready to have a baby and went on to tell me how to push. She was fantastic and I had no problems pushing even though I couldn't feel a thing. Within five minuets, she was born. 5:04 pm
Matt said as soon as her head was out she was crying.
She was put straight to my chest for our first cuddle. Time stopped. I remember thinking how much she looked like Harper. I remember hot tears streaming down my checks. She was here and she was safe. She was perfect and she was mine.
I looked down and saw the placenta had been delivered.
I remember asking Matt to take a photo. Then I remember blood...
I remember Matt putting down the camera. Feeling very warm between my legs, Matt being asked to hold one of my legs and at the same time being asked if he was going to faint.
Sue very seriously ordering instructions at the midwife, drips being started and my uterus being packed and massaged. I remember thinking no one had checked Charlie, was she ok, watching her to make sure she was breathing.
More blood, thinking please god don't let me need a hysterectomy.
The bleeding stopped... I feel so sick, asking for a spew bag, throwing up. The bleeding starting again, trying not to spew anymore. Ok it's ok its stopped. Being in a lot of pain, I no longer had the epidural and the drip to make me contract was strong, I felt like I was in labor again. But I was ok. We were going to be ok.
I was checked to see in I would need a blood transfusion. Luckily I had low iron in pregnancy and had got on top of it, my haemoglobin came back ok.
We spent the hours following staring at our new Charlie.
Then the next day came and it was time for Harper to meet Charlie.
I starting crying the second I saw him walk though the door. It had been our first night apart.
And then the moment I had waited nine months for.
Then he held Charlie, he was gentle he was happy, he was perfect.