Following on from my previous post about my pregnancy I wanted to share my experience with childbirth or in my case an emergency Caesarean. At 38 weeks my Obstetrician decided it was time to be induced following concerns that I had a condition called Gestational Thrombocytopenia. I had a very low platelet count which impacts my bloods ability to clot and poses a risk when delivering a baby.
On a Wednesday night my husband Nick and I checked into the Mater Mothers Hospital in Brisbane to be induced. My only plan for Childbirth was to try for a natural delivery but I was open to anything (or so I thought) and Nick was on board with whatever I wanted. Neither of us had ever had much to do with pregnancy, childbirth or babies so we were putting all of our trust in the hands of our experienced OB and midwifes who were all amazing.
Sleeping in a hospital is always challenging, after a restless night we were taken to the birthing suite where my waters were broken at around 8:30 in the morning. It was at that moment on the 1st of June that it finally hit us that we were about to have a baby. Up until this point we had been pretty casual about what we were going to do when the time came. Once the moment arrived we both became mildly panicked and began contacting our families to inform them to be on standby.
The day was expected to be a long one, once my waters had been broken I had an IV inserted to administer Oxytocin which is the hormone that triggers contractions. I was hooked up to sensors to monitor both my contractions, my babies’ heartbeat, assist with the management of the IV and track the progression of my labour. My obstetrician advised he would be back in 4 hours to check on my progress and left us with our midwife.
Nick did his best to keep me comfortable and relaxed by putting on either music or cartoons to assist us in feeling more at home. My midwife kept checking in on me with my pain management as the contractions started and I attempted to keep my mind busy by messaging my friends and family on my phone. I did my best to rest as much as possible remembering the advice in our antennal classes to try and sleep in the early stages of labour. My contractions began to increase in intensity, I was breathing through them but finding it more and more difficult to do so.
Just after 4 hours had passed my OB came back to check on how my labour was progressing. The bad news was I was still only 1 cm dilated, the good news was I was offered the epidural which I made no hesitation in accepting. I’m grateful I did, the hormones through my IV were increased and so did the pain and strength of my contractions. I didn’t have to wait long for the anaesthesiologist to arrive, he administered my epidural in between contractions and I felt the relieving effects within minutes. With the epidural in place the plan was to get through the next 4 hours and see what was happening with my labour then.
During this time my parents arrived at the hospital, they checked in with us, then my dad went into the waiting room while my mum stuck around for a while. There was a lot of nervous excitement in the air and although everyone was doing well to remain calm on the outside for me I knew they were all eager to meet our little man. The epidural was working extremely well, I even had to be tilted on an angle as one side had become more numb than the other. Although I couldn’t feel the pain from the contractions I was starting to feel exhausted, my body was clearly working hard and getting tired.
When my OB came back to check my progress for the second time he let us know that unfortunately there had been no change. We agreed at this point that we would allow another 2 hours, check my progress and if there was still no change we’d proceed with a Caesarean delivery. After we agreed on this plan this Nick’s parents arrived at the hospital and came to see us in the birthing suite. We gave them an update and then they joined both of my parents in the waiting room so we could attempt to get some sleep.
The excitement had now worn off and the nerves were becoming more prominent. We started to mentally prepare for the high probability that we would be delivering our baby by Caesarean. The epidural was still working well so I did not feel the pain of contractions but we were both increasingly fatiguing from a very long day.
After 10 hours of labour my OB performed his final check and confirmed that I was still only dilated to 1cm, we were offered to continue with labour as all of our vitals were good but made the decision to proceed with an emergency Caesarean. This was not a choice we made lightly, our main reason was that we were all still doing well at this point and did not want there to be a concerning health-related reason to require a C-section.
The atmosphere in the room went from a somewhat relaxed environment to a flurry of activity. We were given a run down on what the next steps were and Nick quickly went to let our parents know what was happening in person. When he returned he was presented with scrubs and told to get dressed. My bed was wheeled into the hallway and down the corridor towards the operating room. Whilst the room was being prepared I was handed a clipboard with a consent form to sign prior to the commencement of the procedure. The next part of my story happened extremely quickly at the time but I can recall a lot of the details of my experience.
My bed was wheeled into the OR, a stark white, bright spacious room with various pieces of medical equipment strategically placed about. The team introduced themselves to me one at a time telling me their name and what their role was. I was transferred from the bed I was on to the operating table and Nick was sat down next to me. Whilst my Obstetrician and his assistants prepared my lower half for surgery the anaesthetist and Nick kept me company. The anaesthetist’s assistant offered to take photos on my phone, in a daze I said yes, I’m so glad I did as we now have some beautiful images of those first moments for us to look back on.
Both of my arms were laid out beside me, another cannula was inserted in my second arm and the curtain was pulled up so we couldn’t see what was happening. My epidural was topped up so I couldn’t feel below my chest. I was told would feel some pushing, pulling and tugging but no pain. I was so incredibly nervous, I locked eyes with Nick and concentrated hard on the sensations I was feeling in my body. Within minutes I started to feel nauseous and was presented with a sick bag, I kept breathing steadily as I didn’t want to be sick while they were operating on me. The nausea passed quite quickly but was replaced by an incredibly strong pounding of my heart, in my fear and fatigue I could barely find my voice but managed to whisper this to Nick who repeated it to the anaesthetist.
As my heart palpitations faded out our attention was bought to just above the curtain where we were introduced to our son for the first time. Both of us started to cry with tears of overwhelming relief and happiness as we took a look at him and heard his first cries. Nick was directed over to the station they had set up for our baby where the Paediatrician and Midwife were taking care of our baby and recording his birth weight etc. The anaesthetist kept talking to me until Nick came back and then Finn was bought over to me for my first cuddle. I held him unsteadily and tried to take in as much as possible. After a short while I was told that the surgery was almost complete and Nick and Finn would head to the recovery room where I would join them shortly.
Once my Obstetrician had finished his work I was moved to a new bed and rugged up tightly. I was then wheeled to the recovery room where I was to remain for an hour. I was more exhausted than I have ever felt in my entire life. My body was wracked with shivers and I was so thirsty but not permitted to drink just yet. As visiting hours in the maternity ward had finished we were allowed to have our family come and see us briefly. Both sets of new grandparents walked in and were followed by my sisters who had a huge bunch of balloons in hand. They were all so excited to meet our newest family member but their attention was focused on making sure both Nick and I were ok first. This is a beautiful memory I now hold and I am forever grateful for the care they all showed. After a brief stay we said our goodbyes as they left for home and we were wheeled up to our room on the maternity ward. We were all in need of a good night’s sleep as I started my recovery from the surgery and we started practicing our new role as parents.
Revisiting this experience has been a challenge for me, it’s difficult to put into words the moment your life changes forever. Although it was traumatic, I have learnt so much about myself and my relationship with my husband and know that we are stronger than ever as a result. Whilst this memory holds some of my biggest challenges it also holds some of the happiest and most overwhelmingly positive experiences of my life. I’m grateful for the support I have both then and now and truly believe that it was all worth it for the wonderful little boy I am now mother to.