crystal's capers

one girl's international adventures

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Birth Story

I know it's been a while, but I guess that's what happens with a new baby around.

Riccardo and I welcomed Avery Rae into the world on 26th Decemeber, 2010!

I thought I'd share my birth story, even if it's only for my own memory's sake. It's probably not suitable for the squeamish, so there's your warning.

Avery came into the world in a rather dramatic manner. On Thursday (6 days overdue) I attended my 'postdate' appointment at the hospital, where my induction was booked for the following Tuesday. My blood pressure was quite high, so they checked it twice more and confirmed that it was a concern. I also had to report that the baby was moving around less than usual, which was troubling. So the doctor asked me to have my midwife check my BP again on Friday.

My midwife came to my house Friday morning and on first check, found my BP even higher than Thursday! After 10 minutes we checked it again and it was nearly down to normal, but since it had been so erratic, she called Triage at the hospital and I was told to come in for monitoring, where they hook baby and me up to monitors to track our BPs over time.

So early Friday afternoon, Christmas Eve, I became an inpatient in Triage and the monitoring revealed that our BPs were ok, but that baby was not moving as much as she should. Induction was then rescheduled for immediately, so I wasn't discharged - good thing we brought the hospital bags just in case! This was kind of funny, because in true British fashion, the doctor didn't tell me that I had to stay, outright. So Riccardo was getting ready to take me home, thinking we still had a choice until the doctor was forced to say, explicitly, that I wasn't going anywhere.

Induction involved putting a pessary (like a mini, drugged tampon) onto my cervix. This proved a nightmare because every time I went to the loo it fell out! I had to have it re-done 5 times over the next 24hrs. Not to mention that it's very painful to have put in! I really don't understand the logic here: the pessary is a tiny piece of cardboard attached to a big fat string; as soon as the string gets waterlogged, it pulls out the cardboard. Duh!

Friday night Riccardo went home and I had mild contractions that stopped by morning. Finally, by about mid-day Saturday my contractions were beginning to get regular, but my cervix remained only about 1cm dilated (same as the previous Monday, when I'd seen the midwife for my membrane sweep). Things moved fairly slowly, but by Saturday evening my contractions were regular enough that Riki was allowed to stay with me. The goal of the pessary was to open my cervix enough that my water could be manually broken, which should have started off full labour, but they say is quite a painful procedure. Luckily, around 1am that night, my water broke on its own! That was very strange because it was like an actual lake coming out - so much liquid in there! After this, the contractions came thick and fast and were very painful but my cervix refused to open. Because I'd already been awake for about 36 hours with a long way to go, I was given Pethadine, a morphine-derived miracle drug that allowed me to sleep a little (dulled down the pain and knocked me out, so I felt the contractions, but could usually sleep through). What a fun Christmas!

Sunday morning my contractions were excruciating. By this point, I was topping the waitlist to go down to delivery, so off we went. I don't know how women stand those things unaided! You are heroes! So despite earlier reservations, I decided to have an epidural, which didn't work properly the first time and had to be re-done, but didn't hurt at all to be put in. Actually, it was truly lucky that I decided to have an epidural because by late Sunday morning there were big concerns about baby's lack of movement, which resulted in internal scratch blood tests of baby's scalp tissue. This was horrendous, and involved inserting and tons of shifting around of a huge metal funnel (at this point my cervix was still only about 3 cms!) And I'm sure the 5 times the doctor did it would have been the death of me if I hadn't been numb. Plus, they only partially numb you here, so I could still feel my legs and wasn't totally useless. The epidural was great; I SO recommend it!

Induction-wise, I was supposed to receive an IV drip of a drug to really get my contractions going and my cervix to open, but my body took over by mid-afternoon and I progressed from 3cm to 8 in about 2 hrs. Unfortunately, through all this, baby was hardly moving, which had the doctors very worried. Babies are supposed to go through 20 min intervals of wakefulness and sleep, but Ava wasn't very awake, though at this point her BP was fine.

By about 4:30 I was fully dilated and ready to go. For some unknown reason only then did the doctor decide to put me on the above mentioned drip and this seemed to really stressed baby out: her BP went WAY up. The doctor then hastily informed me that despite my good progress and readiness to go, natural delivery was pretty much out the window: I was brought directly to the surgery suite where I got 2 tries to push out baby naturally, another 2 tries to push her out with the aid of a suction cap on her head and then an immediate, emergency caesarean-section was performed. All of this took no more than 8 minutes! So Avery came out through section safe and sound and they spent another 40 mins stitching me up - happily there's no damage to my girl bits since baby couldn't come through the birth canal. Surprise, surprise: she was too big and there wasn't time to force it. Again, it was lucky that I'd chosen the epidural because it only needed to be topped up for the c-section, meaning I didn't need to be knocked out and things could happen very quickly! The only downside was for the final hour or so the epidural gave me the severe shakes, which was rather off-putting. I also threw up several times right before going into surgery because I was dehydrated (only allowed a little water the whole day in case I ended up needing a section). The c-section and stitching didn't hurt one bit.

Unfortunately both Ava and I came down with fevers right after delivery and we were put on IV antibiotics. Our temperatures came down quickly, but because there's a chance that Avery picked up an infection of some sort, we had to stay in the hospital for five days (they usually discharge 6 hours after delivery, all being well). I cannot say how excrutiating it is to stay in a ward with three other women and their squalling children; thankfully, on day three the midwives took pity on us and gave us a private room.

As for my recovery, Iwas a little sore for the first couple weeks, but they kept me well drugged. My scar isn't too noticeable, and other than a very small infection which required another course of antibiotics, has healed really well. It took some time to get my strength up, but I feel absolutely fine now, and given the choice, I think I would opt for a C-section for baby number two.

Overall, we are all fine. Ava is so so so cute and cuddly. She already has a full head of dark curly hair! Riccardo and I are already totally besotted with her and cannot believe she's ours and we get to keep her. We've never been happier! :D


    • At 7:20 AM, Anonymous Danica said…

      Oh my goodness, what an ordeal. I've been waiting to hear all about it. Can't wait to see some pictures! Hope you are all doing well and that this develops into a really good season of life for you.

    • At 8:29 PM, Blogger TheRevolutionary said…

      :D congratulations. Its sounds like you had A LOT of scary moments. I remember when my aunt was delivering, and she had a problem w/ her blood pressure, which caused her to have anxiety attacks, I think. And she almost bit through her tongue! :P, but she was alright in the end, and so was the baby! So right now I have one of the happiest 2 year old nephews in the world :). Congrats again!

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