Our little man is finally here! Here is our birth story and a little about the first few days. Sorry its going to be a long post so grab a cup of tea before you start reading haha.
So our due date was 14 May, leading up to this day I wasn't having any braxton hicks contractions, tightenings or anything so I had a feeling that our new addition wasn't going to come on his due date. I had been pretty patient leading up to the due date, but once it hit... I wanted to meet our wee baby.
Everyday I woke up hoping that day would be the day and each day there was nothing happening. I tried lots of things: hot curries, long (2 hour) walks at the beach, hundreds of squats, countless cups of raspberry leaf tea, hours of sitting on a fit ball, acupressure points - the list goes on. But no action.
At our midwife clinic appointment at 40 weeks 5 days we had to start talking induction (our hospital only lets you go 10 days overdue) and a date was set - Monday 23 May. I kept hoping that things would all come naturally before the induction date.
So the next thing that I tried was acupuncture, I had the first session which was a pre-birth preparation session, they also did a few acupuncture points to help calm my mind... and that bit worked. I started to relax a little more and enjoy each day of kicks from our wee man knowing that we had an end date in sight.
Later in the week I had a full on induction acupuncture session. The therapist warned me that it was one of the stronger forms of acupuncture around and he wasn't wrong at all... unfortunately I ended up power-vomiting all through his office (5 times). Hmmmm not a good look at all!!
As the days continued there was still no action so I started to mentally prepare for a birth different to what we had envisaged. We had hoped for minimal intervention (only when medically necessary) and now we were looking at a highly managed birth.
The Sunday before the induction date Jason and I went for a walk at the beach and I started to feel some cramps and tightenings, not a lot but I was still hoping to go into labour naturally.
Monday 23 May
6.30am: Jason and I arrived at Osborne Park hospital with a strange set of mixed feelings. I had imagined racing to the hospital already in labour but here we were just walking in as I would for a normal appointment, however this trip we were expecting to have a baby by the end of the day....
7.00am: Jason and I are in the birth suite waiting for action. Apparently the doctors were in a meeting so we were just waiting around for things to start. We met our midwife for the day as well as a midwifery student assisting her. Now I think the staff play a huge role in how a birth experience pans out and our birth story shows this. This midwife was all about efficiency, getting the baby out and doing it in the easiest way for her. She ended up making me panicked, scared and really uncertain. She told us I would be basically chained to the bed for the day and would have no control over what was happening to me. As the time wore on I was getting more and more worked up and really just wanted to leave. We were sitting there with all the monitoring equipment, bright lights, in a hospital gown and it felt so clinical, not the start of a journey to meeting our baby. The midwifery student was in charge of taking my blood pressure and she was not very skilled at all, at one stage I felt my hand was going to fall off she had ramped the pressure up that high. It truly was a frightening, disheartening and disappointing start to the day for me.
However things changed a little when the doctor arrived. He was the head of Obstetrics and had such a soothing bedside manner that started to ease my fears a little. He told us that the hospital was dealing with a couple of complicated births that morning (twins, and pre-term labour) and that my induction was to be bumped. I was really relieved at this! He did an exam and then things changed again, he said my body wasn't even ready for the induction anyway and even if they didn't have the complicated births we wouldn't induce the way it was planned anyway (artificial rupture of membranes and then syntocin drip). So the induction technique was changed.
10.30am: Jason and I were now out of birth suite and in an induction room for a gel that gets the cervix ready for the next stage. At this time I also received the first (of many) amounts of IV antibiotics as I had tested positive for a bacteria that would be potentially harmful to both me and Ethan during birth.
A short while after the tightenings/contractions started. We were advised to have lunch and go for a walk. During the course of the day the contractions increased in intensity and frequency as Jason and I walked, and walked, and walked. This walking was interspersed with regular IV antibiotics top ups and checks on progress.
5.30pm: Dinner time for me which I managed to eat between contractions. However following an exam I started a series of 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off contractions (which indicated an overstimulated uterus) for hours. I tried showering for pain relief, walking, sitting on the fit ball, any positions we were taught at antenatal class I tried. Jason was great, holding my hand, rubbing my back, comforting me, getting me water and snacks, making me take regular toilet stops, anything and everything to help me through this.
9.30pm: I was given some panadeine forte for the pain. This helped a little and I got some sleep (very patchy and only a few minutes at a time) over the next few hours. Jason was beside me in the bed and was trying to get some sleep. I was aware that he was nearly ready to drop off to sleep and then bang a contraction would start and I would wake him up.
Midnight: A midwife convinced Jason and I that a drug induced (morphine) sleep for me would be in my best interests (this proved to be the case) so that I had some reserves for what lay ahead of me for the next day. I drifted in and out of consciousness aware of the regular observations and antibiotics top ups during the night. Jason also tried to get some sleep, but a double bed, a restless pregnant wife and lots of interruptions was not conducive to his rest.
Tuesday 24 May
6.30am: Jason and I were again taken to birth suite... a strange sense of dejavu come over me. Here we were again, all the feelings from the previous day came flooding back and I started to feel overwhelmed... but what a different experience it was. Our midwife Jackie (20 weeks pregnant herself) was really similar to me, she was cheerful and bubbly and built a rapport within seconds. She was happy for me to be active while in labour and it was a completely different story to the day before. Yay! Jackie broke my waters for me and we got started on the drip. Every hour the drip was turned up, so correspondingly the contractions stepped up in intensity and frequency.
We also consented to a 5th year student doctor to observe the day. He was a rugby fan and we all talked various sports (rugby, swimming, canoe polo and triathlon) during the breaks between contractions. Soon I was unable to talk between contractions even as I was needing the time to recenter and focus myself for the next one. Unfortunately with the induction I had to have constant monitoring so I was unable to use water as a pain relief option. Hot packs on my lower back were a godsend for a while though and Jason was kept busy with this.
Meanwhile the drip was constantly being turned up.... harder, faster and stronger. I started using the gas to help with some pain relief but soon it all got too much and we needed an epidural. Prior to the day I was 100% adamant that I was not going to get an epidural. I was never going to go down that route. But knowing that the drip was going to just keep on getting wound up I decided to use it...
3.30pm: Shift change time which meant that we were losing Jackie. She had made it a much more pleasant experience for me and I was sad to see her go. Our new midwife Linda was quiet, but soothing. She was also really organised, writing lists on the whiteboard with all the upcoming milestones i.e. examinations, antibiotics top ups etc. I liked this as it is what I would do.
Throughout the afternoon Linda was getting a little concerned with Ethan's heart rate decelerations as I had each contraction as well as the slow progress my body was making. The doctor came and checked a number of times and I was scared that we were heading towards a c-section.
In addition to all of this, Ethan was still posterior (Ethan's spine to my spine rather than facing the other way). This is a much tougher position for birthing.
8.00pm: The doctor came in for a check and I was around 9cm dilated so not quite ready to go but the doctor was concerned enough for Ethan's well being to want the next phase to happen early. Another doctor and an extra midwife arrived as well as a number of trays of different medical supplies. I was a little worried about poor Ethan myself at this stage, but still felt that
we were in very good hands with the doctor that we had. The doctor explained that she was going to have to assist me in this process, there were two choices- the vacuum or forceps. She explained that the vacuum is easier for mum but harder for the doctor and the forceps were harder on me but easier for her. She chose the forceps, all Jason and I wanted was the safe arrival of our baby so agreed.
It was time to push for me. This was hard as I had an epidural so I had to imagine where I was to push rather than feel it but the doctors and midwives were impressed with my pushing (even though my body was not giving me the feedback due to the epidural) so I know I was doing the right thing. Not long after I could feel the head crowning. I recall being asked if I wanted to feel his head, but I wanted to meet him for real so said no. Two more pushes and...
8.27pm: Ethan Kenneth Papps was born!!!!
WOW what an experience, what a day for all three of us, but what a great outcome. Both the doctor and midwife mentioned that I got through it due to how fit and strong I was going into the birth.
Finally Ethan was on my chest and boy did he have a good set of lungs so we knew he was ok straight away. His agpar scores were 8 and 9 after 1 and 5 minutes respectively.
Here are a few of the first photos for you.
Ethan is a big boy, nearly 4.2kg (9lb 1oz in old terms) with a 38cm head and 53 cm long10.00pm: Ethan and I had managed our first breastfeed and we had experienced skin to skin for the last hour and a half. Following this it was time for a shower and food for me, and some one on one time for Jason and his newborn son.
Well that's our birth experience, a little different from the minimal intervention plan that we had. But we got the best ever little boy from it.
Due to the positive test for Group B strep that I mentioned earlier we needed to stay in hospital for a minimum of 48 hours for additional monitoring of Ethan to ensure he was ok, and in the end I actually ended up staying in for 3 nights. Longer than I thought that I would, but I think it was worth staying as I was recovering from a pretty full on birth.
Jason spending some time with Ethan at the hospital.
Awwwwww what a little cutie.
While we were at the hospital we gave Ethan his first bath, which he enjoyed after his initial trepidation... a future swimmer perhaps??
Finally, thanks to all for the lovely flowers I received while in hospital- Jason, Jason's parents, Sandy and Nathan and both mine and Jason's work.
Well if you are still reading- thank you. But I did warn you it was going to be a long one :-)