August 27, 2011

I had my 37 week doctor’s appointment on Wednesday August 24. I brought up the question to my doctor “does an increase in Braxton Hicks contractions have any correlation to upcoming labour”? To which he replied that there is no correlation. On Friday the 26th, I was hanging out with my sister at home and started to have a lot of what I thought were Braxton’s. There was no “start” or “end”, they were just there one minute and gone the next. I had about 3 or 4 in one hour, and then they would be gone. I had some more right before bed, but that was pretty normal for my pregnancy. At 5:30 (Saturday morning) I woke up with another “Braxton”… so I went pee and it went away, but I had this uneasy feeling and couldn’t fall back asleep. I got up with Colin when he got up for work at 6, and had breakfast (little did I know this would be my last meal for the next 12 hours). Colin was in the washroom when I had what I still thought were 4 Braxton’s in a row…. Colin jokingly said to me “It’s probably early labour”…. To which I replied “no, I don’t think so.”, and Colin said “good, because I haven’t reviewed our birth class notes yet!” Colin went to work, with the parting words “Are you sure you’re not in labour?” I told him I would call him if anything changed. After he left I went to the washroom. I noticed some blood and new that either way there was going to be a doctor’s visit of some sorts that day because I had not had any spotting at all in my pregnancy. After that point my thoughts turned to “I might actually be in labour!” I called my mom to come over and feed the dogs, because the thought of bending over at that point wasn’t sitting well with me.

While I waited for her to come over, I pulled out our healthy birth choices binder and started looking at the early labour symptoms. My mom showed up at around 7:15 and at that point I knew that my contractions were not Braxton’s. They were 30 seconds to the peak and about 3 minutes apart. At that point I could breathe through them. I called Colin at 8 to tell him that yes, I was in labour and that he should come home. By 8:30 I could really feel the contractions starting and peaking. I needed to have counter pressure with each one, but was still standing up. Colin came home around 8:30 and started the mad rush of trying to put together all the things that were on my “to do” list…. Such as putting the car seat in the car, and packing a hospital bag. At 9:30 I moved to the floor, draping myself over an exercise ball. Colin was great at applying pressure and timing the contractions. He also made sure I drank some water after each contraction, but I wanted the water too….. Breathing that heavy made me very thirsty. During a toilet visit around 10, I lost my mucous plug. At 10:30ish I went upstairs to our tub. The warmth of the water was a nice break, even though minutes earlier I had been complaining at how hot I was, and was having Colin put cool cloths on my neck. I remember telling Colin, while I was in the tub, that I could feel my cervix moving with the contractions. It was a bizarre feeling, but it also kept me focused…. Something was happening, and this was not a test run! At 11:30, I started getting the urge to poo with my contractions. Colin reminded me not to push and tried convincing me to get out of the tub. By this point I was no longer just breathing though the contractions, but almost singing through them. Very low vocalization helped get the discomfort “out”. I moved from the tub to the toilet and laboured there until I felt that same rectal pressure with almost every contraction. At that point I knew we should be heading to the hospital.

I got dressed and slowly made my way downstairs. I had to stop on the toilet downstairs, waiting out a couple of contractions until I felt ready to get into the car. Our car ride to the hospital was eventful. A large truck with a camper trailer cut us off in the fast lane, and then slowed down…. We almost ran into him! There was an unusual amount of traffic for 12:30 on a Saturday afternoon too. I only had 3 contractions on the ride there which was a bit of a relief. Colin got lost trying to wheelchair me from the emergency entrance to the elevators. A nice hospital employee found us and took us up to labour triage. Colin did all the paperwork while they took me into the triage room. The nurse went to do a cervical check, and all I remember her saying was “I can’t seem to find your cervix; there’s just a large bulge of membrane”. At which point my first thought was ‘I mustn’t be very dilated’…. Which I knew was a very bizarre thought. They then took me straight into the delivery room. I remember looking up and seeing blood splatter on the ceiling and thinking “what am I in for here?” The doctor came in and told me that she would break my water so that she could see how dilated I really was. After she did that, I got the go ahead to push! I had gone from start of labour at 5:30 to fully dilated at 1:00! I quickly ran through our mock-labour rehearsal in my head, remembering that I had to take two deep breaths before each push.

By now, my contractions had slowed to about 4-5 minutes apart and 45 seconds long. I started pushing in the “traditional” position. It took about 4 or 5 contractions until I found the “right” way of pushing. It really is like trying to pass a large stubborn bowel movement. I pushed on my back for about half an hour to forty-five minutes. The nurses then checked and found baby at about -1 station. They moved me onto the squat bar, where I pushed for another half an hour. Baby had moved down another centimeter, but was starting to get D-cells. With each contraction (even with deep cleansing breaths) his heart rate was dropping from 130 bpm to somewhere between 80 and 90 bpm… not a good sign. They attached the internal scalp fetal monitor to make sure the readings were accurate. They moved me onto my left side for 3 or 4 contractions, and then back to the squat bar.  I managed to move baby down to somewhere between +1 and +2 station, and then the doctor said that she was going to help me by using the vacuum to get baby out the last little bit. The most painful part of my labour was when the doctor attached the vacuum. I gave one good push and baby’s head was out, with no pain really… just the odd realization that my baby was here! The doctor told me to stop pushing to reduce the risk of my tear getting any bigger. Then told me to push once more and sploosh, out came baby Callum! There was a lot of fluid behind him, so when he came out I heard the splash, Colin saw the splash, and in the doctor’s words “I felt the splash”…. We made a mess of that delivery room! Callum was born at 2:53pm on Saturday, August 27th, weighing in at 6lbs 6oz, and 51cm long.

And this is where my birth story gets a little more graphic. Because of his heart rate dropping, I only got Callum on my chest for a few moments before he was taken over to the warmer to be checked out by the baby team, and therefore we did not get the delayed cord clamping either…. But we also didn’t really have any time to discuss it with the doctor either. His health turned out to be a-ok, with Apgar scores of 9 and 9! My health on the other hand, not too good. I had a full second degree vaginal tear, and a partial third degree rectal muscle tear. On top of that, I had a retained placental fragment. The OB who was going to stitch me up took almost an hour to make her way to my room, because I was losing blood (almost a litre in total) the anaesthesiologist poked and prodded me for almost 45 minutes trying to start an IV so I could get morphine for the manual removal of the fragment. The lab tech could only draw a couple of drops of blood at a time for my blood work… they even tried drawing blood from my feet, with no luck! When it came time for the removal, they pumped in the morphine and had me sucking back on the “gas”… but it was still unbearably uncomfortable. That pain was more than any pain in my entire labour! Thank goodness for drugs there! I hope that no one I know has to go through it! Because of the risk of more haemorrhaging, I was given a Foley bulb catheter so that my bladder and uterus did not have to compete for space, and that by pumping full of fluid, my bladder would help my uterus contract back down. Once I was all stitched up, I was taken to post-partum, at around 7 pm. I think I only slept about 1 hour that first night. Just getting used to Callum’s little noises took a while. Breastfeeding has not been easy, but we’re getting there. We’re just so happy to have our little man with us now!

Thank you Sue for getting us prepared with the knowledge that helped us get close to the delivery we wanted and for dealing with the issues afterwards!

Calgary natural hospital birth story