This post is a continuation of my last, so if you haven't read that one, please go back and do so!
Around this time thirteen weeks ago, I was anxiously waiting in one of the few private rooms on the birth ward at the Royal Women's Hospital. We were awaiting the call from the midwives that they were ready for us to come up to the birth ward to start the induction process.
The day before I had an appointment with my midwife to discuss what would occur the next day (that is if I didn't go into labour overnight.. which we now know I didn't.) I was really sad about the prospect, and also terrified that I would have the same bad experience I had with Percy where we were both really distressed, and ended with epidural and episiotomy (because intervention leads to more intervention most of the time). My midwife was so understanding and reassured me that they would go in really low and slow with the oxytocin drip that would get the contractions going, and they would keep a close eye on my contractions to make sure they didn't get out of control and come on too quickly to the point I can't handle it, which is what happened last time. We went over other wishes I had like delayed cord clamping, and that I wanted Aidan to tell me the baby's gender and I wanted to cut the cord myself. I left that appointment feeling ok about it all as I knew I was super clear with my wishes and that my midwife Mel was onboard.
We were booked in for induction at 7am the next day. My brother was coming over in the morning to stay with Percy (who would hopefully still be asleep when we left). That night, i lay down next to Percy as he was going to sleep and gave him cuddles, and just thought about how tomorrow, everything was going to change for him. It made me sad in a way that these were out last moments of it just being the two of us, three as a family. I wanted Percy to have a sibling to grow up with but I also wanted time to stand still so nothing had to change, it was a weird feeling, a kind of torn feeling.
I barely slept that night as you can imagine, just lots of thoughts swirling through my head. I was nervous and anxious but also excited and so ready to meet the baby, find out who this baby was and not be pregnant anymore!!
We got up early and got ready to leave, my brother came and we were on our way in to the hospital. We hadn't gotten far when my phone rang. It was my midwife. She'd been called in for a long labour the night before, which meant she had worked her maximum shift hours and so had to go home for the day. She was calling me to tell me to go home again and wait for a call as they organised another midwife to be there for me. I was shattered.
I was just so ready to have this baby, and waiting even another hour seemed like torture at this point. We turned around, came home and told my brother to go home again. Percy was still asleep.
We waited around until about 10am when I got a call from another of the group midwives Megan, who I'd seen for a lot of my appointments as there was some changeover of staff in the group practice while I was a patient there. I really clicked with Megan and she definitely understood where I was coming from in all of my preferences to have as little intervention as possible (even though induction is like the biggest intervention there is, but I had made my peace with that.) I was happy to find out she would be there for my induction, and I was told to report to the emergency department at 2pm. We had a new time, a new midwife and I was happy that we were moving towards having a baby again.
We got to the reception at 2pm on the button, and we were brought upstairs to the day clinic area to be monitored once more before being induced. The baby was happy and going well in there, which put a lot of my worries at ease. However I was told that it had been a super busy day on the labour ward and that I was going to have to wait again to be taken up there as Megan had been called to another birth. At this point I was thinking that this induction was just not going to happen today and I wanted to just go home and forget about the whole thing. It was so frustrating for both of us.
After monitoring, they took us to one of the private rooms on the ward. Initially they were going to put us in a shared room to wait but there was some confusion about which bed was vacant and so we scored the private room. That was a win at least because we could both have a lie down while we waited to be called up to the ward. Aidan had been up with Percy quite a few times overnight (it's like he sensed the change, I've heard of this happening with other people's toddlers) and so was already really tired, and we weren't even in labour yet!
We actually didn't wait too long on the ward, maybe an hour and a bit, before a nurse came in to take us up to the ward. At this point I didn't know if Megan would be the midwife inducing me or if it would be a general staff midwife that I didn't know. At this point I was beyond caring I just wanted to get on with it. However when we reached the ward Megan was sitting at the desk, she was waiting for us! Her last birth had just ended so she handed that case over to a staff midwife to finish up (measurements etc) so that she could come to us. I'll be forever grateful for that, as the while reason I applied and was happy to be in the caseload program to was for the continuity of midwifery care.
We were put in the birthing suite at the very end of the corridor. Straight away Megan set about "creating some woowoo" by lighting up a salt lamp, sticky taping the curtains to the wall so that no light was coming through, and turning on all these little electric tea lights (no fire aloud of course). We tried to get my playlist happening but it turned out my iPhone 8 wan't compatible with their speakers, so Megan put on some music through the computer that was like acoustic versions of popular songs, I didn't mind it.
The first step of the induction was having my waters broken, (I was already a couple of centimetres dilated thanks to all of that pre-labour I'd had) I didn't need to have the gel or anything which was a blessing. I didn't think that having my waters broken would be painful as with Percy I didn't feel anything, but this time it was a little bit painful, but I didn't care as I knew that this was the least of it! She then inserted a cannula in my arm to get the drip going. She actually missed the first time and my tissue started filling with fluid (I had a big bruise here a day later) which was a similar thing to at Percy's induction, and I couldn't help but see it as an omen for what was to come. I got that thought out of my head quickly though as it just wasn't helpful to think that way.
Megan set me up on a Swiss ball next to the bed before starting the drip. I wanted to start the process feeling ready and "in the zone" and the ball is where I wanted to start. At pretty much 4pm the drip was turned on. The contractions started really faintly, and I didn't really have to use any tactics to get through them at first, but as they slowly increased in intensity I had to breath through them, but they were still fine. Aidan was sitting right next to me on a chair and each time one came he would rub my arm up and down, which I hadn't told him to do but it was a great distraction from the pain of the contraction. Each time a wave came I just concentrated on breathing and the feeling of him rubbing my arm up and down.
Soon they started getting more intense again, and sound started coming out of my mouth, pushing the sound out was really helpful in detracting from the pain, and also, I kept locking my gaze on a word that was written on the leg of the hospital bed (the brand name, I have no idea what it was now) and I kept reading it over and over in my head as the contraction came and went. Again, another good distraction. I was getting louder with the intensity of the contractions, and at this point Megan suggested getting on the bed and leaning over the head of the bed (she also wanted to check where I was at, i have no idea how long I had been labouring at this point). She checked and I was at five centimetres, I was a little disappointed as I'd started off at around 2.5 centimetres, but Megan said that my cervix was completely short and she thought that everything would progress quickly from here. I should note I hadn't wanted cervical checks, but in the moment I really wanted to know how far i'd come and how far to go as the contractions were pretty full on at this point. I wasn't sure if I believed what she was saying or if she was trying to stall me from thinking I needed an epidural, but I decided to believe her! Ironically the acoustic version of Bon Jovi's "Half way there" was playing on the computer ( no, i'm not joking, I wish I was) and I wanted to tell her to change the song but I didn't have the energy to concentrate on it for long. Aidan told me later that he wanted to point out the irony in the song but decided against it. I'm glad he did. She told me to go to the toilet and see if I needed to pee (i felt like I did). From listening to the Australian Birth Stories podcast I knew that this was an old trick midwives used to get the baby to move down further, thus making contractions stronger and moving things along. So i went to the toilet (i got there and back with great difficulty between contractions) and while I was in the bathroom I could here Megan and Aidan chatting like they were at Sunday wines or something, and I was thinking in my head "DON'T YOU KNOW I'M IN SO MUCH PAIN RIGHT NOW HOW DARE YOU!" but I had no energy to waste saying it out loud so it just stayed in my head then I let it go. In hindsight I was probably overreacting a little so best I didn't say it!
As soon as I walked out of the bathroom, the next contraction was SO strong. Megan has put a mat down on the floor and I went over to it and got on hands and knees, it was the exact position I felt like being in, it's like she read my mind, or is just really good at her job. The pain of each contraction started low but at the peak it felt like it was breaking my body in half, that's the only way to describe it. I knew I was being so loud, I was literally mooing like a cow, and between contractions I said " I'm mooing!" and Aidan said "yeah, you are". Another contraction came and i started to say no no no I can't do this. I don't remember thinking it but the words came out of my mouth involuntarily. The next contraction again "nonononononoo!". Between the contractions I started to ask Megan for an epidural. Aidan and Megan both gave me encouraging words like "you're doing so well and it's almost over" but I really didn't believe that I was far along in the labour as I was. The next contraction came and my sound changed to like a strained warble, and Megan asked "are you feeling pushy!?" I told her I didn't know, but with the next contraction I was certainly pushing, although my body was just doing it, it wasn't a conscious action on my part.
I could hear Megan getting things ready behind me, and at some point another midwife came into the room, although I had no idea she was there until after the birth. The next contraction came and again the pushing started, so I just went with it and started to consciously push. After a little while Megan told me to stop pushing between the contractions, but at this point I couldn't really feel contractions anymore and the pushing sensation was so strong I couldn't really control it. So she told me to just roll with it. I know she was worried about tearing, and I could feel her hands on me behind me trying to prevent tearing, but in the moment I really didn't care, i just wanted the baby out. Another push and I could feel the baby descending and then something felt really odd. I tried to look behind me and asked "was that the head!?" and Megan replied "yep I'm holding your baby's head!". I couldn't believe this baby was about to be born so soon. I pushed one more time and then felt like I needed to have a rest, but suddenly Megan said, "Mel, look down and pick up your baby!" I looked down on the mat and there she was. I couldn't believe my eyes, that the baby was right there on the floor. As I picked her up I noticed that she was a girl, but at that same moment Aidan said "it's a boy!".... I looked at him.. and both Megan and I said in unison, "No.. It's a girl!". Aidan got slightly confused because as you may know, when babies are first born their genitals can be a bit swollen. Anyway the confusion was cleared up. I held her to my chest and said to Aidan "It's Evie Maeve!". I was elated, relieved, ecstatic and exhausted all at the same time and a huge sob came out of my mouth. Megan told me later she wished she had a camera to take a picture of the look on my face. After so much waiting, she was finally here and safely in my arms.
There wasn't much time holding her on the floor before Megan asked me to stand up to walk over to the bed to deliver the placenta. She was worried because I was bleeding quite a bit, but at first reassured me that it can be normal. However when I stood up I felt a huge gush come out, and as i took a step I slipped in something wet on the floor, I was holding on to Evie (we were still attached) and luckily Aidan caught the both of us before we fell. I had slipped in the blood that was gushing from me. We moved to the bed and Megan said " this is no longer normal" and went to the wall to hit the emergency button. She quickly organised the clamps on the cord so that I could quickly cut it before the bleeding needed to be addressed. (I was grateful that she was able to still respect my wish to cut the cord myself even with everything else going on.)
Just as I made the cut the door to the room opened and about 10 extra people were suddenly in the room. Megan started to tell them all the info about the birth and everything else, I was so impressed that she could go from nurturing midwife to taking care of business so easily and confidently, telling the doctors what they needed to know and even correcting them when things were said that she didn't believe were correct. Suddenly I found myself covered up, a Doctor was attempting to insert another cannula into my other arm (he wasn't successful and I had the most amazing colourful bruise on my arm for weeks after- for some reason my left arm is just not a good arm for needles, i've always known this) and drugs were being pushed through my right arm. The doctors were attempting to calculate how much blood I had already lost, and Megan was palpating my stomach which was to ensure that the entire placenta had been birthed. That was so painful and she apologised as she went but it had to be done. I had been given an injection in my leg to get the placenta out fast, I don't really remember it happening with everything else going on.
As all of this was going on I was still holding Evie, and a nurse kept checking with me that I was still okay to hold her as I was really adamant about having skin to skin time, even thought the environment wasn't really conducive to a relaxing bonding time. I felt okay for awhile, and then I started to feel quite out of it so I told the nurse I wanted Aidan to hold her. I looked over and Aidan was whipping his shirt off so that he could do skin to skin with her over on the couch. I'm so proud of him for that and he surprised me with how willing he was. I know he knew it was really important to me that she have skin to skin time.
In this moment I thought to myself, I'm just going to look at the two of them over on the couch, and look at the ceiling and not pay attention to what's going on. it will soon be all over. I really wanted to hang on to the elated feeling that she was finally here, but it was really hard to hang on to when feeling whoozy, and people rushing around me. Looking back I feel like I kind of just drifted off somewhere else, not unconscious but just not really in the room anymore. I think it was my brain's way of protecting me from what was going on, but at the time I didn't really think it was that serious of a situation, more annoying than anything else. I heard the abbreviation "PPH" thrown around by the staff, and it took me a little while to work out that they were saying that I was having a postpartum haemorrhage.
Soon the rushing around slowed down and stopped and just as quickly as they were there, the doctors and nurses left again, just leaving Megan and an obstetrician who was attending to me and who had the task of stitching me up. I ended up having a second degree tear, so not too bad, and the pain and recovery was certainly nothing like I experienced with the episiotomy with Percy which was really awful. Megan explained to me that the reason for the PPH was probably because in the end, Evie was born so quickly (the whole thing was 3.5 hours from turning the drip on to her being born, and I went from 5 to 10 centimetres and ready to push in about 45 minutes) that my uterus had trouble clamping down, which is what naturally happens to prevent bleeding. The doctors estimated I lost 1.6 litres of blood, but they were able to stop it with drugs so avoided needing surgery, and I didn't need a blood transfusion because they didn't think my haemoglobin was low enough. I certainly felt like i'd lost a lot- standing up from the bed for the first time was really hard as not only had I just given birth, i felt completely depleted due to the blood loss.
We stayed in the birthing suite for another four or so hours as I needed four bags of fluid through the IV drip to replenish me. It was great because I wasn't rushed up to the ward and I could stay in bed and do skin to skin for a long time with Evie, and the new midwife on shift just went about doing her observations without any rush or needing to interrupt us.
We finally left the birthing suite at around midnight, I was wheeled out along with Evie as I didn't have the energy to walk. Aidan went home soon after and I spent the night in hospital trying to feed and settle Evie. I ended up just dozing with her on me as she wouldn't really settle in the bassinet (fair, I thought as she was only hours old).
The next morning Aidan brought Percy in to hospital to meet his new sister. I'll never forget the look on his face when he peeked around the curtain. He looked so excited but also really unsure. I was so happy to see him. He jumped up on the bed and immediately demanded cuddles with Evie. We put her in his arms and he looked so elated, he said "I love her, I'm happy it's a girl" and my heart broke into a million pieces it was so beautiful. We spent the morning in the family area so Percy could play, but he mainly wanted to push the hospital bassinet with Evie in it up and down the hospital hallways! I was discharged in the afternoon when all my results came back okay in terms of the blood loss, and once Evie's health checks were done. I had the option of staying another night, but I really wanted to just get home and rest in my own bed and get settled into life as four.
The next few weeks are a whirlwind of feeding struggles, visitors, and going back and forth from the hospital to see the lactation consultant and a trip to emergency when I thought Evie was throwing up blood, but really it was coming from me, as with our struggles to feed my nipples were so cracked that they were bleeding as she fed. I won't go into that part of the story too much but in the end after weeks of attempting to rectify the feeding situation, we transitioned over to bottles. It was a hard decision for me as I really wanted to breastfeed, and I managed to get through the struggles with Percy to go on to feed for over a year. However it was a real struggle for a long time, and this time around I didn't feel like I wanted to put myself through that again, plus I felt like I was spending no time with Percy as my whole days were spent trying to feed and pump. In the end it was the right decision for all of us, and now I now we made the right choice as both Evie and myself are much happier.
So thats it, it turned into quite a long story! If you made it to the end, well done! I hope you enjoyed, and if you are expecting a baby soon, or planning a baby soon, I hope reading about my experience helps you in some way.