It was the 26th January 2016. I have no idea about the time, I had lost track quite a while ago. I had been in labour for 4 days, and was drugged up on every drug available to me. I was exhausted after not being able to sleep through tough contractions for the last 3 nights. This is not what I had in mind when putting our birth plan together a month before. So full of optimism (you really have to be to be fair!), we wanted a calm, easy, natural birth with a midwife and no intervention from doctors. For pain relief I opted for gas an air, and hot baths! In fact, I so enjoyed my warm baths that I had decided to go ahead and give birth to our baby girl right there in the water. Nice and clean and simple. And as far as I knew that was all possible.
In a moment of desperation, I turned to Sam and let him know that I wanted an epidural. If it was offered to me, I would happily oblige. And they did. When a group of new doctors (or anesthetists) came into the room to administer the epidural, I realised what a big decision this was. In a daze I tried to listen as the doctor explained to me what they were going to do and how I really had to concentrate and remain completely still. I acknowledged that I understood, but I still was not completely aware of what was going on around me. I felt like a was reliving an episode of One Born Every Minute, a scenario I never though I would find myself in. I really thought that this felt so familiar, I am sure I have watched this episode! I know I have seen that doctor on TV (thinking back, I don’t think he was the one on the TV but you never know!). Sam later told me how worried he was, as he knew I hadn’t fully taken in what the doctor had said, and he was very aware that if I had moved during the procedure, the needle could’ve broken and cause a whole new set of problems! Thankfully all went fine, and I was able to lie back again. This time hopefully with a lot less pain!
I honestly don’t know how much of an effect the epidural had, as I was still battling through contractions. I still relied heavily on the gas and air as we continued to wait, pressing the little button every now and then that released the pain relief into my system through the epidural. I tried not to use that too much as I only had a certain amount, and thought I should wait until things got even more intense during the final stages of labour. The next couple of hours was just more waiting and checking. Deep breathing and hand squeezing.
Then it happened. I heard the words “I think it is time to start pushing!”. I was a little surprised to be honest! Really? But I haven’t felt any change, surely I would know if it was time! I didn’t get that urge that I had heard about so often, in fact I had no idea what to do!
I was lying on my back, in a hospital bed. I was all wired up. I was bound to the bed by all sorts of monitors and tubes. This was actually my worst nightmare. I was told to push as soon as I got a contraction, but it was the most unnatural feeling in the world. This is not how I imagined it.
After a few attempts at pushing, I couldn’t do it any more. It wasn’t doing anything and I felt horrible. This is not how I wanted it to happen! I looked at Sam in desperation — can’t I change position? They had a laminated sheet next to the bed with all sorts of different birthing positions, why did I have to be lying on my back in a bed? The best we could do was to turn onto my side. Although it was still not what I had in mind, it was still a lot better! I felt like I had some more control over my body and could really use the bed and stirrups to help me push with all my might. And it really was with all my might! The nurses were very encouraging, I was doing well! I kept going with each contraction and was determined to get this baby out. Apparently this lasted an hour, but for me felt like only a few minutes. I was prepared to carry on, but it seemed it wasn’t making much of a difference. I was devastated.
I was encouraged to have a little rest. Baby was absolutely fine, just in no hurry to get out! A doctor was called in to do an examination and to decide what needed to be done. A foreign doctor, who I could not understand! He explained the situation and gave us three options. Wait and keep on pushing, forceps or caesarean. I had no idea what to do. I didn’t want forceps or a caesarean! I wanted to push this baby out!! The doctor left so I could have a rest and a think, but he was soon back to hurry us along. I found it so incredibly difficult to understand his accent, and I could see the nurses concern for me and asked him to try explain again! Eventually another doctor came to give a second opinion. She was definitely in a rush to get to another delivery and was hardly gentle! But I appreciated her blunt honesty. Baby was far too high up and it would be very difficult of not impossible to push her out. Fortunately she was in a great position for a caesarean as she was not yet stuck in the birth canal. So it was decided for me. I was to have an emergency caesarean.
I was absolutely terrified. I struggled to hold back floods of tears as everything that had happened so far ran through my mind. I tried to be brave, my throat clogged up trying to hold back tears, but they still came out. I am sure the nurses could see how I felt and tried their very best to comfort me. All I could do is hold on tight to Sam’s hand and tell him how scared I was.
The anaesthetist came back to prep me for the operation. At least with the epidural, the job was halfway done so they only really needed to increase the dose. As it turns out, the epidural wasn’t really doing much before hand and now was taking much longer than usual to take effect! They kept running ice along my skin to check if it was numb, but I very hurriedly told them I could still feel it! Terrified as it is of the procedure, I really didn’t want it to hurt. Thankfully after a while I began to feel less and less until I was ready to go into the theatre. And then the fun begins, I was carted through the hospital halls into the operating theatre. With no idea what to expect.
Sam appeared next to me dressed in blue scrubs, looking rather handsome I thought! I was very thankful that he was able to stay with me through the whole thing. When we arrived into the theatre, I had to do a funny little shimmy to get from the one hospital bed to the other, and was very swiftly sectioned off with a big sheet so I had no view of the rest of my body. It was also big enough so Sam didn’t have to see what was happening either.
I was still exhausted at this point, if not even more so after our eventful morning, that lying completely horizontally and completely numb (no more contractions!) meant I was struggling to stay awake. A new anesthetist was introduced to me, who seemed really lovely and happy. He kept the mood really light by telling jokes and generally being chatty (Sam said he looked like Michael Pallin! I haven’t a clue). I’m sure I dropped off more than a few times.
I could feel some tugging at my lower body and some pushing down on my belly, but other than that I couldn’t feel a thing! If anything I was having a peaceful break from contractions and feeling a bit of relief. Then I heard a feint cry — did I just imagine that? Then I heard it again. It was my baby! I didn’t know how to feel in that moment as Sam was whisked away from me to see our little baby daughter, and soon enough she was in my arms! A tiny little bundle, fitting across my chest so comfortably with her eyes open and staring into mine. I honestly can’t tell you how I reacted in this moment or even how I felt. It all happened so very quickly and soon I was being lifted back into another bed and off to the recovery ward with baby in my arms.
Soon enough we were able to have some special time together, skin to skin and to try our first feed. It was all so surreal, I had imagined this so many times and was beginning to think we would never get there! What a wonderful feeling it was to have my baby in my arms. I nearly forgot everything that had happened as I just stared at her and watched her every move. She was perfect. And I was exhausted!