Friday, 13 January 2012

Opening the Pickle Jar or Out Through the Sun-Roof

There is so much negativity surrounding the birthing process - all forms of media cite the pain of childbirth and mothers try to out-do each other with the horror stories of their labour.  HypnoBirthing endeavors to act as a counterpart reaction to this; with deep relaxation, breathing and meditation techniques the birthing process doesn't need to filled with screams and writhing in pain.

Months of reading Marie Mongan's HypnoBirthing and listening to her CD, and attending HypnoBirthing classes with Dany at Tums2Mums, and listening to her mp3s, had me looking forward to a calm, natural birth.  The techniques I'd learned had already helped with the SPD pain I was experiencing, so I was confident they would also be useful during the birthing process.

My due date came and went.  I always thought the date was wrong, and my hunch was that Pickle would arrive two weeks early.  Hastily I booked my bump photo shoot for week 37 with Harriet of Buckingham Photography (future blog to follow on both this and the baby shoot, though you can see some pics already here and here) and BoyWonder and I also did a bump casting at home.  Then I waited, but was surprisingly not terribly impatient, despite my growing enormity.  I figured (thanks to the HypnoBirthing teachings) that Pickle would arrive when Pickle was good and ready.

I "grew" for another
6-weeks after this!
Then, the Thursday during week 42 (i.e. 2 weeks after my "due date"), a nurse suggested induction.  On the spot.  BoyWonder was at work, so I declined, and said I'd come back on the Sunday if necessary.  With BoyWonder's birthday on the Saturday, I thought we'd wait to see how things progressed naturally.  I had a feeling things would start happening any day now, so after chatting to Dany that evening, I went to bed as usual.

1:28am I awoke with a start.  That was not a Braxton Hicks (practice birthing sensations).  I waited to see if it happened again.  Sure enough it came pretty quickly, so I woke BoyWonder up, and received a "oh, ok... can I go back to sleep now?".  Umm, no, we have to time them.  My surges (contractions in HypnoBirthing-speak) were coming five to five-and-a-half minutes apart.  Another request to go back to sleep from BoyWonder, and he lobbed his phone at me to time my surges.  Now, I was trying to use HypnoBirthing techniques and listen to Dany's calming voice on my laptop, so coming out of a relaxed state to press a freaking button on a phone was not particularly helpful.  But I was calm enough, and soon got fed up laying in bed.  So I got up to get a top out of the dryer* that I wanted to wear to hospital, and decided to phone my Mum in Australia at the same time.  By now my surges were about four minutes apart, and I chatted away to my Mum after telling her I was having her grand-baby.  I did get quiet every now and again during our half-hour or so call, and was doing pregnancy yoga moves along with my Hypno breathing.  Eventually, when my surges were coming between two-and-a-half and three minutes apart, I told Mum I should call the hospital and she hastily despatched me!

I woke BoyWonder up again, he phoned the hospital and they told us to come in.  Not before I had a shower, as I had no idea how long it would be until I got the next one.  So we both showered and dressed and drove the few minutes up the road at around 3:30am.

My birth plan detailed an active birth (using the pregnancy yoga moves I had learnt) followed by a relaxed and calm water birth using deep relaxation.  But first an examination was required to monitor Pickle and see how dilated I was.  Apparently I was only around 2cm (10cm is when the baby is ready to emerge), however the midwives were concerned with Pickle's heartbeat.  While it's natural for a baby's heartbeat to slow during a surge (or contraction), Pickle's was taking a while to recover after each, which could indicate that he was getting distressed.  A doctor was called.  To say she was abrupt would be the understatement of the century.  I wasn't allowed to sit on the yoga ball, stand, squat or lie on my side.  Instead I had to lay flat on my back - the most unnatural way for a woman giving birth, and one that increases discomfort considerably.  Not once did the doctor ever look me or BoyWonder in the face - she sort of just gazed in the middle of us while telling us what was going to happen.

During all of this, the surges were coming every two minutes or so, and I kept with the Hypno techniques and breathing.  I registered with amusement, one of the midwives saying "she's so quiet".  They would ask me "are you having another one" and I would nod.

BoyWonder - despite his initial reserve at having his sleep interrupted - came through wonderfully and questioned the doctor about changing my position, and then about what would happen if we waited ten or fifteen minutes before the sweep; then the breaking my waters.  I said it was OK to go ahead, and he checked I was sure - this is all part of the HypnoBirthing training, and it meant I felt in control of the process, and didn't feel pressured (mind you, the doctor wasn't best pleased).  And let me assure you, neither procedure is one I'd choose unnecessarily!  When neither procedure produced the results the doctor was looking for, she suggested an emergency Cesarean-section.  Now this really wasn't on the birth plan!  BoyWonder asked again what would happen if we waited even ten minutes, but I could hear Pickle's heartbeat and said it was OK, we needed to do what was best for the baby.  As long as I didn't have to have a general anesthetic.  I'd previously had an anesthetic consultation and the anesthetist at the time had insisted that is what I would need due to my previous back issues.  However, the lovely anesthetist that was present on the day said an epidural would suffice.

So off I was wheeled to be prepped for surgery.  BoyWonder was gowned.  I was tilted on a bed so the weight was on my left side to avoid the main vein that links to the placenta and also so my feet were raised which I think is supposed to help my blood pressure.  BoyWonder was seated on my right, so I really had to twist to see him.  I could feel tugging and pulling, but nothing else.  I kept using the breathing and visualisation exercises throughout.  And chatted to BoyWonder and the anesthetist when I felt like it.  The other medical professionals discussed music downloads amongst themselves.

Finally Pickle was out - it was 6:28am on Friday 19th August 2011, a mere five hours since I'd first awoken.  Though I still couldn't see past the sheet that had been placed in front of me, BoyWonder had a peek and discovered Pickle was a him!  Next on my birth plan was immediate skin-to-skin and breastfeeding.  But Pickle had been distressed and was covered in meconium (basically he'd pooed a little on the way out).  So BoyWonder got to hold him briefly while I caught a glimpse of his adorable little face out of the corner of my eye, but I loved him instantly.  I wasn't quite prepared for the depth or intensity.  And then they whisked him away as his breathing was a little fast (inhaling meconium can cause respiratory issues) to place him under a heat lamp and monitor him for a while.

I headed to recovery, and must have drifted off briefly, as the time seemed to whiz by - I was taken to the ward, what seemed like minutes later, but was almost two hours.  My little boy was brought to me about 15 minutes later, but it seemed like much longer; I finally got skin-to-skin contact with him just before 8:30am.  He was closely monitored, and at 2am that first night, he was whisked away as his breathing was still a little too quick.  His blood gases were checked, and I think it was something about not enough CO2 that required him to be taken to the Special (Intensive) Care unit.  I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach when they took him away from me; when the bought him back at 5am, I had the same physical reaction, but because I was so glad he was back with me - I can't even begin to comprehend how families cope with babies in there long term.
BoyWonder wasn't aware I was taking
this shot at the time  (in fact, I'm not
sure he's even seen this photo!) , he
was  completely entranced with Pickle,
which was lovely 

So while my birth plan - for all intents and purposes - was shredded and thrown to the wind, both the HypnoBirthing techniques and pregnancy yoga moves I learned, were invaluable and I'd highly recommend it to any Mums-to-be.  I'm not going to say that there wasn't discomfort, but my experience of the surges that were coming every two minutes while intense, were manageable.

I really wanted to breastfeed, and it was tricky at first - I had to express colostrum (the thick yellow liquid that comes before the milk) into a syringe a millilitre at a time.  Pickle latched on really well, but he didn't know he had to suckle.  It took us a couple of days (and one very long night), but with two fantastic breastfeeding support workers at the hospital (thankfully one on the day shift and one on the night), who were able to show me different holds and provide practical and supportive help, I persevered and Pickle finally "got it" the second night.  And that was another long night as all he wanted to do was catch up on the food he'd been missing!

As for the C-section... I've no idea why anyone would want to do one electively.  I understand if there are medical reasons behind it, but jeez, it's major surgery and has a much longer recovery period.  I was bed-bound with a catheter for the first 24 hours.  The SilverLining of this is that I got to avoid the meconium poos, and BoyWonder or the nurses changed those!  But the act of sitting up and then turning to pick Pickle up from the bassinet next to the bed was difficult and painful - I had to call the nurses if he was crying to be fed the first couple of days, or if they weren't quick enough, would struggle to do it myself.  Of course, BoyWonder helped me when we got home.  And this goes on for weeks.  Neither of us was prepared for how little sleep you get with a newborn!  But somehow your body just adjusts to cope.  It helps that Pickle is so darn cute the rest of the time!

Cheers, KangaRue :)

PS. For the record, though I thought Pickle was a boy from the day I found out I was pregnant, we never actually knew... think I must have inherited my Mum's white witch abilities.

*my friend Caroline had a dream that night that I was doing laundry and went into labour... perhaps she's got a bit of white witch in her too?

1 comment:

  1. Read the long story. Like you, I had an emergency c-section and like you, I can't believe how so many wimen woukd choose ti give birth via cesarian!

    Anyway congrats on your lovely baby. He sure makes this while ordeal worth it.


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