Thursday, June 18, 2009

He's here!

Well, after waiting for so long, my son finally arrived a month ago.  For our eagle-eyed readers, you will no doubt notice this meant he arrived five weeks early, at 35 wks gestation.  So, before we get down to the nitty-gritty of my life with a newborn, here's a no-holds barred guide to my astonishing labour.

All FIFTY-FIVE hours of it, so strap in...

I woke up early on Friday morning (the 15th of May) and my hips were hurting really badly. I managed to get a few more hours sleep but when I struggled awake around 10am the pain was getting worse and it seemed to be coming and going. Idiot that I am, I started researching "pregnancy hip pain" on the internet and honestly thought that's all it was. It wasn't until about 12pm I realised that the pain was starting in my back, not my hips, so I researched "early labour signs" instead. It seemed to make sense but I still wasn't convinced, so I sent a message to my friend on Facebook asking her what HER contractions had felt like. She called me immediately from Seattle and ordered me to call my doctor. Which I did. And they told me to go to labour and delivery. So I called my husband at work and started timing my contractions. By the time he got home it was about 3pm and I'd been in labor for about five hours. The pain wasn't too bad but I was definitely uncomfortable so we zoomed up there and I got settled in at 5pm.

Except I didn't. Because around 10pm they sent me home with Tylenol 3 and told me to try and rest. I wasn't dilating but I was around 75% effaced. I duly went home, wasn't able to sleep, and phoned them in the morning to say the pain meds hadn't done anything and I wanted to come back in. So we went back around 9am and I was 1cm dilated and 100% effaced. They told me to go home again and gave me sleeping tablets, which knocked me out for about three hours but in the last hour I was waking up during the most painful part of the contraction then falling immediately asleep again!  My husband said he had to talk me back to sleep each time, but I don't remember any of it.

Around 8pm on Saturday I was starting to REALLY hurt. I called the doctor and she told me to come back in, if only so they could help me get some rest. I'd now been in labor for around 34 hours and I was getting really tired. Because I was 35 weeks along they wouldn't stop my labour (too late for that) or speed it up (too early for that), so I basically had to go it alone. When I went back in I was about 2-3cm and 100% dilated, so they let me stay. I laboured all bloody night and demanded IV meds three times. I also got into the jacuzzi water tub, tried a birthing ball (didn't help AT ALL, completely overrated) and walked around a lot with my husband. Finally, some time around noon on Sunday I was dilated enough for an epidural, so they hooked me up and I slept a little bit. However, it only took properly on my right side, which meant I had to stay slanted to my left to assist gravity. This hurt my hip a lot and I was really uncomfortable, but at least the majority of the pain went away.

At around 2pm I was 7-8cm dilated so the LOVELY LOVELY doctor broke my waters. Almost immediately I began contracting like mad and opened up to 10cm in an hour. It hurt like a son of a bitch, to be frank, and I panicked quite a lot. However, at 4.25pm I was allowed to start pushing, and that was great because it gave me a focus again. My husband told me later that I went all Earth-Mother on them at this point because I rested quietly in between contractions and then focused hard on pushing instead of yelling like a banshee (which was my own, personal approach to labour pain prior to this). I pushed for almost an hour and Owen Henri was born at 5.12pm on Sunday, 17th May, weighing 5lb 14oz and measuring 19". Including pushing I was in labor for 55 hours. During pushing I breathlessly told the doctor that under no circumstances was she to give me an episiotomy, and she told me that she never does those anyway, which was so wonderful to hear. To be graphic, she "lubed" me up down there and massaged the area to give Owen's head more room. I pushed him out without a tear or a cut, which I attribute to both me AND her. She and the nurses were just great, and the atmosphere stayed so calm. I also didn't poo! Hurrah!

When he came out he didn't breathe for about five seconds so they suctioned him, but after that he was okay and put in the little bed warmer. He was born with hernias in his groin so after a little cuddle he was taken to the NICU and the rest of the story is far too long to type up here now...

I think the things I'll remember the most are the pain... ouchee... the duration... sigh... and my body's amazing abilities. I am still astounded I was able to labour for three days, and for most of it I was without pain relief because it was either too early, or it kept wearing off because everything took so long. I'll also remember the first time I saw Owen, and thinking how much he looked like his 3D ultrasound pictures!  My husband was a rock during the entire event, and I didn't feel alone.  It was lovely, however, to be in an environment surrounded by women helping other women.  My normal doctor is a man, but as he wasn't on call that weekend it ended up being his female colleague who helped me deliver.  All the nurses were female, as were the NICU staff.  Now, normally I'm very anti- this type of thing and would have said something about destroying the walls surrounding birth by having male members of staff there, but you know what?  I loved it.  I loved being surrounded by other mothers and a doctor who didn't do episiotomies because she believes women don't need them.  It felt really warm and comforting to be with all these other women, enjoying a shared experience with them.

Labour was bloody hard work, but I will look back at it with nothing but proud, happy memories.

Which helps me forget the pain.