If you do – don’t say I didn’t warn you.
This is an account of the birth of my son.
Just to be sure – I’ll say it again:
Read this at your own risk.While I hope that people take this account in the right way I am aware that expectations and experiences of Birth can be sensitive and much varied. This particular experience may
a. freak/gross you out,
b. put you off ever having kids,
c. make you cry.
This is our story, this is my blog. I don’t have to give a reason for writing this down. The decision to read it is entirely yours.
Consider yourself warned.
If you are still here, Hi! Here we go…
Darragh was born on the afternoon of January 1 2010 after a 21 hour labour.
Contractions started at 7pm on New Years Eve. I had already been in hospital twice that week with false starts and a trapped nerve so I wasn’t that worried about getting there, despite the freezing temperatures. The snow had started to fall but it wasn’t grinding Dublin to a halt yet. I settled down, wrapped up in my slanket and using my pregnancy ball to ride the waves that were coming like clockwork. Textbook. I was happy, centred and excited and all set for my (almost) intervention-free birth experience.
We decided to move to the hospital around midnight. I was taken straight to the delivery room, Mark stayed by my side the whole time. Everything was going well. Until it came time for the IV. This was the only intervention I was prepared for and because they had discovered Group B Strep early in the pregnancy and I needed antibiotics. I had time to get used to the idea.
I got used to it. I wasn’t never happy about it but I accepted it.
Now tattoo needles and piercing needles don’t bother me at all. Needles in general never used to bother me until an unfortunate and painful incident a good number of years ago involving a clumsy nurse and a pulled needle put me off injections and blood donation for life.
So, as you can imagine, I was nervous about the IV needle. Fortunately I have a fairly high pain threshold and I was riding the contractions well. All I had to do was maintain my focus while they put the needle in and secured it and I would be fine. Zen baby, just close your eyes and float and it will be over in a flash….
Except it wasn’t. The first attempt to place the needle in the side of my wrist was botched and it hit bone.
I vaguely remember a flurry of activity at my left hand as they extracted the botched needle and started the process again on the back of my hand. I was more focused on trying to pull it together and centre myself again. I was in shock and in labor – it turned into a losing battle. I lost my rhythm.
From that point on my long-dreamt-of intervention-free birth experience turned into a drug-induced nightmare. Fortunately I remember little of it. The pethidine helped with that. It didn’t so much address the pain, I just didn’t care so much about it anymore.
Gas and air rocks. I loved the world and make sure that everyone knew it. I would have been hugging the midwives if I had been able to get off the bed. I got through 2 1/2 canisters of the stuff. Good shit.
Women in labour have many different experiences with an epidural.
I put that sentence in so that if you have stuck with me through the whole needle thing, thanks, and consider this another ‘heads up’.
I didn’t want the epidural, but by the time the option was given I was exhausted and trashed and barely coherent.
They had broken my waters at 6cm dilation. Up to that point my body had progressed the labour well. ‘I’ was off on a beach somewhere talking politics with a killer whale called Fred.
It was decided that an epidural would be a good idea as it would help with the pain and tiredness.
I don’t remember much of the epidural procedure. I do remember the feeling of personal invasion that stayed with me for weeks afterwards. I’m usually a tactile person and I love back rubs. But after the epi if anyone even touched my lower back it completely freaked me out. Not pain in the ouch sense of the word more like…. a ‘prickly ick’ feeling that gave me severe heebiejeebies.
And it did NOTHING for the labour pains, in fact it made them worse. That whole thing about not remembering the pain of labour does not apply here. After the epi my labour stopped and I think they gave me something to make it progress again but its all very vague. I know now that Darragh had not engaged and he was in a funny ‘L’ shaped position…
Next thing I remember was pushing and pushing and terrible cramps in my hips from the epidural and starting to think that I couldn’t do it…
And then I heard Marks voice in my ear, through all of the fuzz and pain, telling me that he loved me and that I could do it and I knew that he was right and I loved him too so I held on to his voice for dear life…
Then the Midwife said that the baby was in distress. Thats when the fun really started.
Actually it all went very quick. The Midwife and the Doctor who suddenly appeared seemed to go into superhero mode. They were fantastic. I was in so much pain but I knew I was in good hands.
Bernie, the Midwive ‘IS’ a superhero. I’m convinced.
It was a ventouse delivery, full episiotomy (like I said, fun.) and it was discovered in the final few minutes of my labour and the first few moments of his life that my beautiful baby boy was indeed in serious trouble.
We found out much later that it was a Foetal-maternal haemorrhage. Darragh was born without his full quota of blood. He was grey and gasping for breath with a falling apgar score. Mark was able to hold him for a moment and I got a quick glance of him before they whisked him away.
I’m not gonna write much about the following few hours because it will make me cry lots. I’ll just give you the happy ending:
The superhero Paediatrician made the decision to give Darragh a blood transfusion in the hope that it would turn things around and it DID. Darragh was a different baby after that, pink, healthy, glorious and adored by all the staff on the ICU and special care baby unit. More Superheros.
I finally got to hold him shortly after 7am on Jan 2. He was still wired up to lots of machines but he was over the worst. Everyone was now more focused on me. I had lost lots of blood as well and my blood pressure was yo-yoing from one extreme to another even after I left the hospital on the fourth day. I wasn’t worried. ‘I’ knew that I would be ok.
So thats it. There is not much else to say. Except that I am so lucky and so happy. Darragh is a beautiful, bright, healthy little boy and I will never be able to thank the Community Midwife team, ICU and Special Care Baby Unit team at Holles Street enough for playing their part in that. Nor can I ever fully thank the Paediatrician who hauled ass through the snow from Dun Laoghaire to save our sons life.