Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Katherine's Birth Story

In the Special Care Unit - 12 hours old
When last I wrote in my pregnancy journal, I was 34 weeks pregnant and feeling brilliant, looking forward to delivering the baby sometime, fingers crossed, just before Christmas.  So it was a bit of a shock to find myself in labor over a month early.

On Tuesday night (Nov 20, 35 weeks +1), D and I played our customary evening round of Wii Golf and I retired to bed.  Nothing unusual at all.

Except at about 12:30 am Wednesday, I woke suddenly to the feeling that I was wetting myself and jumped quickly out of bed to avoid a mess.  Bladder incontinence, though not something I had experienced myself, is not unheard of in late pregnancy.  I went to the bathroom and then realized that I was soaked to my knees.  Not having been able to pee more than a thimble-full in several months, I became concerned that my water had broken.  Sitting on the toilet, the fluid just kept coming and coming... and I started to panic.

I just sort of sat there moaning "oh, no, oh, no" and after a few moments, managed to weakly call D's name.  I heard him say from the other room "Are you okay, babe?"  He hadn't heard me call him, but just sensed something was wrong.

"I don't think so," I moaned.  "I woke up and I'm not sure if I wet myself or my waters have broke."

Thinking quickly, he jumped on Google and said, "Apparently if it smells like pee, it's pee, but if it smells of bleach its probably amniotic fluid."

I picked up my soaking PJ bottoms and sniffed deeply. "I can't smell anything."  Bless him, D did the same - with the same conclusion.

"It's still coming - this can't be pee."  I was shaking and cold now, and nearly in tears.  It was time to call the hospital.

The midwife I spoke to assured me it wasn't an emergency and that my baby should be fine.  I was told to gather my things and get to the hospital in my own good time.  D was a total star.  He had expressly told me (on the advice of our prenatal class) to pack a hospital bag the previous weekend... advice I had foolishly ignored... but he gamely gathered up all I needed whilst I directed the process from the porcelain throne.  And he managed say "I told you so" only once, which I took with the appropriate good humor, since he was totally right.

Eventually it was time to drive to the hospital... but I was still leaking profusely.  I stuffed a maternity pad and one of my baby's diapers into my knickers, sat a towel under my bum on the car seat and we headed off around 1:30 am.  Despite the precautions, when I arrived at the hospital, my clean PJ bottoms were soaking and I was walking like an 80-yr-old invalid just to avoid leaking a trail of fluid behind me.

I was examined by the triage midwife, who found me not dilated at all, which was unsurprising as I'd had no painful contractions.  Since the scan that was to determine whether I needed a c-section hadn't scheduled for another 6 days, they wanted to wait until the ultrasound tech came on duty at 10 am to decide whether I would be induced for a normal delivery or go straight to a c-section.  During my wait, I asked what to expect when delivering a baby at 35 weeks.  They said its lungs should be fine, but that it might need initially a breathing tube or a feeding tube because it was quite small, and might spend a couple of weeks in the special care unit.  Since there was nothing to do but wait, I sent D home to get some sleep and tried to do the same myself... still leaking like a, well, leaky thing.

At 10 am, I was scanned and they estimated the baby's size at 3 lbs 13 oz.  I was also cleared for a trial of delivery, as the baby's tiny head had managed to slip below the problematic fibroid.  They were going to induce labor.

Since I had been waiting for the results of the following week's scan regarding a c-section, I hadn't prepared myself for birth at all.  My birth plan had been: make a birth plan next week.  Oops, there was no help for it now.  At one point, I was asked if I wanted an epidural.  I told them I didn't not want an epidural, but that I'd see how things went.  I had no idea what my tolerance for pain might be, but I consider myself a bit of a wimp.

At 11 am, I called D and said he might want to consider coming back to the hospital as I was about to be induced.  Then I called him back and told him not to rush because I figured this would take a while.  I have a sister-in-law that was induced on a Thursday and had her baby on Sunday.  So I was prepared to settle in for a good long wait.

At noon, they started the IVs and noted that I was already dilated to 3 cm... so despite not feeling anything going on, apparently early labor had indeed started after my water broke.  Left alone in a darkened delivery suite, I watched a film on my laptop and dozed off and on.  I was checked on periodically, but always claimed that contractions which I could feel weren't yet painful.

Around 2:30 pm the contractions began strengthening.  While they weren't particularly comfortable, I don't remember them being very painful.  I asked the midwife when I should consider options for pain relief in case labor got all hurt-y.  She offered me gas-and-air (laughing gas and oxygen) which I began inhaling during the contractions, but never really went for it because I was worried that it might make me nauseous.  For the next 90 minutes or so, I simply needed three deep breaths to get through the contractions and I was relaxing in between.  The midwife had me laying on my side because it was difficult to monitor the fetal heart rate in other positions, but around 3 pm I asked if I could sit up on my knees in bed.  I just felt that needed to be done to move things along.  D arrived around that time and I warned him that I still thought it could be a while.

At 4 pm, I was checked and dilated to only 4 cm, confirming my theory that we were in for a long wait.  What I didn't know was they were about to jack up the induction drug.

At 4:30, I started to feel like I needed to poop.  Like really bad.  And I was concerned because I was hooked up to all these monitors and IV lines and how was I going to get to the bathroom.  The midwife went into overdrive preparing the room for delivery, and I was all "it can't be time yet, I was only 4 cm a little while ago!"

It all gets a little fuzzy for me here.  D told me that at some point the midwife hit the emergency button and an obstetrician and another midwife showed up.  At 4:45 I was told to lay on my back and start to push.  The transition from a comfortable first stage of labor to active pushing came very quickly and I was no more prepared for that than I had been for any of this.  Used to weight-lifting, where you must breathe out through the muscle contraction, I tried the same approach which was totally wrong.  The second midwife who was on my shoulder said, "Krysta, I need you to hold your breath and push like you are going to take the biggest poop of your life."

So I did.  I pushed so hard I saw stars.  And when I started to breathe again I was hyperventilating because I felt so deprived of oxygen I thought I was going to pass out or puke or both.  The next contraction came and I did it again.  It was all very sting-y and painful, and after about three of those I was seriously regretting that I hadn't had a chance to ask for an epidural.

I started to panic and moan about how I can't do this.  I really wanted someone to make it stop.  But the 2nd midwife told me what a great job I was doing and that I can do this.  So I did it again for another contraction.  Then the doctor told me they really needed to get the baby out and he wanted my consent for an episiotomy and forceps delivery, and I said "NONONONONONONO!"

The doctor explained that it wouldn't hurt the baby, and I was thinking "I know it won't hurt the baby, but fuck that, it's going to hurt me!"

So he got my consent for at least the episiotomy and told me I had to push with everything I had.  I didn't realize that he had pulled D aside and explained that it was really important to get the baby delivered pronto as its heart rate was dropping alamingly.  Two or three more contractions, giving it my all, and then they told me the head was delivered.  Another contraction and a gentler push and my baby was born.  I'd pushed for a total 15 minutes.

The baby started to cry.

It was the sweetest sound I've ever heard.

I asked "what did we have?" and they set her on my chest and said "take a look." I've never seen newborn bits before and hers were all swollen and confusing, so I said "I still can't tell" and D later told me he wasn't prepared to venture a guess and look foolish, so they said "you've had a baby girl!"

I looked up at D and said, "Look what we made!" and the look on his face, of pride and amazement, is one I'll treasure forever.

* * *

In my next post, I'll tell you how we're all doing now.


  1. Oh dear, you had me weeping at the end. I'm so happy for you.

    1. I'm touched that you were touched, Rebecca.

  2. Oh Keenie, congratulations to you and D and little Katherine. I havent been online for a while and was overjoyed to find your latest blog. Much hugs from down under down under. lol

    1. Go-Betty - lovely to hear from you! I've been wondering how you are. Many thanks for stopping by and big hugs back to you!

  3. Oh KB! Soooooo awesome! So very very awesome! My dude was early, too. And he is fabulous! ;-)

  4. What a beautiful birth story! Congratulations on the birth of your baby girl.
    I too haven't been online for a while, so this was a lovely surprise. I guess you won't be coming to New Zealand ;P