By Anna May
It’s taken me a long time to sit down and write this story, mainly because I didn’t feel it was appropriate for a ‘Home Birth Association’ magazine. However, being a loyal Home Birth Association member I’ve gotten over myself and decided to start the healing process by writing our story.
I loved being pregnant. I have friends who warned me that pregnancy wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, but from the moment we conceived I was besotted with our baby and found the warm, happy pregnancy feeling a thrill. It consumed me, and I was unable to think about anything else.
Unfortunately, my body was not as receptive to my inner joy and about 29 weeks into my pregnancy, I started blowing up. We were living in Tauranga at the time and my midwife assured me we would be fine but that I had to start acupuncture and take it easy. I tried my hardest to take it easy but my husband and I were in the process of moving home to Christchurch and tidying up my father-in-laws business so we could leave it in perfect order. Each day I walked for 30 minutes and I attended yoga twice a week. Around this time I also read Maggie Banks book ‘Wise Women’ and became confident with my body and its ability to birth naturally.
At around 34 weeks we moved down to Christchurch and by the time I had my first visit from our wonderful midwife Jacqui, I was really sick. My blood pressure was sky high and I was the size of an elephant. Jacqui and my mother took over and sent me to bed for complete rest with the threat that I would end up sicker and in hospital if I didn’t. As we were living with my parents, I couldn’t slip anything past my mother. So I spent the next month in bed with one outing a day to keep myself sane.
At the beginning of week 37 I began getting protein in my urine and the hospital insisted I go in for observation. The following day, Greg and I met Jacqui at the hospital where they admitted me for 24 hour observation. This consisted of a round the clock urine collection and a scan of our baby. The next morning, just as the breakfast had been delivered, I was surrounded by 4 doctors with my results. They told me that the fluid around my baby was starting to leak and that the urine showed protein again so with all these factors they had decided to induce me on Friday (when the next spare slot was available). I called Greg and Jacqui straight away who both came in to see if there was anything they could do. Jacqui managed to convince the hospital that it was a good idea to send me home for the next two nights as I would be far more relaxed there, and, if anything happened, I would go straight back in.
So, Friday 9 November 2007, Greg and I met Juliet (Jacqui was delivering my friend’s baby) at the hospital entrance and she induced me for the first time at about 8.30am. Juliet, Greg and I chatted for the hour I was required to stay still and then she let us free. We took a lovely stroll through the gardens, sat in the sun and finally headed back to the hospital to challenge each other to a game of cards.
Jacqui soon arrived looking tired but ready for the next baby delivery – god only knows how. She then gave me the next gel and I was admitted to the upstairs ward for the night as nothing seemed to be happening. Greg and I wandered around the fourth floor wards and seemed to walk miles trying to encourage our baby to arrive.
Finally at around 10.30pm the hospital staff gave Greg the nod to head home. I was feeling slightly uncomfortable by now and couldn’t sit still long enough to relax so I remained walking about. Around 11.30pm I hopped into the shower and my waters broke with great force. I got a hell of a fright and pressed the midwife call button; only to discover that I’d pressed the emergency button so 5 midwives came rushing.
From that moment on, my contractions came every minute apart. I was also stuck on the loo as everything was going! They said they would come and check on me in 15 minutes to see how I was doing and shut the door. In between one of my 15 minute checks I rang the button again and asked the midwife if I could call my husband Greg, because by this stage I was starting to feel scared, alone and the contractions started coming on even stronger. I was told that whilst they were sure my husband was a lovely man, there were no men allowed on that floor just in case they got up to no good. I then asked if I could call Jacqui instead and was once again told ‘no’ as I wasn’t far along enough and if I could just make my way to the bed then they could do an internal and see what my progress was. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get off the loo so there was no way I could get onto the bed.
By this stage, I started panicking and I asked if I could have some drugs instead and was once again told ‘no’ because I wasn’t charted for any. I finally made it off the loo to the bed where they told me I was only a couple of centimetres dilated. They said I just had to breathe my way through it and they would check up on me in another 15 minutes to see how I was doing. I only just made it back to the loo where I sat and got more and more irate. I got a minute’s rest where I snuck into my room to get my mobile phone to call Greg and on my way back to the loo the midwife came back for my 15 minute check. I was crying by now and told her in no uncertain terms that I was calling Greg. She in turn said that she thought it was time I went downstairs to the birthing suite and that she would call Jacqui to meet me down there. As Greg answered the phone a contraction came and he had me wailing on the other end about how I ‘NEEDED HIM NOW’. He has since told me that he doesn’t remember his feet hitting the ground, that he woke up my Mum and sister (my support crew) and they were in the car in seconds flat.
I was taken down to the birthing suite where I took all my clothes off and walked around the room wailing like a banshee. They insisted on my door being kept open so when the elevator opened to the floor with Greg, Mum and Rosie they could hear exactly what room I was in. They arrived around the same time as Jacqui who quickly took over with hot towels and massage. She called in Juliet in an attempt to keep our room secure and safe and soon a production line was underway and I was starting to calm down, feel safe and get into the labour.
Unfortunately, my time upstairs and alone did nothing for my blood pressure which was even higher than before so after a few hours the registrar decided that I needed an epidural. Jacqui had been amazing at preparing us for this birth and had predicted this would happen if my blood pressure got too high. I was held down on the bed by Greg, Jacqui, Mum and Rosie as they put the epidural in. Relief was near and I slowly stopped feeling anything and the room became quiet. In the middle of all this, Juliet had to rush away to another birth so it really must have been baby season. Jacqui was in complete control of our situation so we were all able to relax, knowing that we were in the best hands possible and that nothing unnecessary would happen to us on her watch.
Within an hour I started feeling a horrible pain in my groin and I started wailing again. The anaesthetist returned and had to take my epidural out and put it in again. Alas, this caused more issues later on as obviously while putting the first one in they had gone too far and punctured my spinal fluid! Once all that was sorted I was fully dilated so Jacqui got me to start pushing. The registrar came in and was still unhappy with my blood pressure and said that if it got any higher I was straight into the operating room.
In between contractions and pushing I lay back, thought about holding our baby and breathed calmly all keeping my blood pressure down slightly. I pushed for 4 ½ hours but our baby refused to budge. During all the crazy moments we had discovered our baby was posterior so the registrar came in again and said it was time to go into the operating room. They were going to try and turn our baby with a ‘Kiwi Cup’ and if that didn’t work – it was time for a caesarean.
Greg was taken out and given a surgical gown and I kissed Mum and Rosie goodbye through tears and hugs. I was wheeled in and a man at the side of the room was preparing the caesarean equipment. My epidural was increased and I was put into the funniest leg stirrups. Jacqui in the background was heating up some towels, turning the operating room temperature up and giving the operating crew instructions like nobody was allowed to tell Greg and me what sex our baby was, Greg was to cut the cord and that she was going to take over from there. It was then Greg’s turn to break down slightly. The music was blaring so he, in true grumpy Southland farmer fashion, told the staff that we may just be a number to them but that this was the birth of our beautiful child so it wasn’t a disco and to turn the music down!
The Kiwi Cup was inserted and they attempted to turn our baby whose heart rate rapidly fell and didn’t like it at all. Before I could even panic – I was opened up and our baby was pulled from my tummy – screaming. She was placed before me and then quickly taken to the side table where Jacqui, Greg and the hospital midwife cleared her windpipe, weighed her, cut the cord and tied it with a home birth midwife’s piece of string rather than a clip like those used in the hospital.
Finally, Matilda was brought over to me. Much to the anaesthetist’s horror, Jacqui then pushed the screen down slightly and placed Matilda on my chest for skin on skin time. She had warm towels put over the top of her and Jacqui kept a constant eye on her temperature. Matilda was screaming all kinds of horrible stories but as soon as she was placed on my chest I said ‘hello my darling’ and she stopped, opened her eyes and looked for me. Matilda and I then had a 45 minute bonding session while I was being stitched up. Amazing Jacqui spent all this time keeping the hospital staff away from us.
We were later told that Matilda had the cord wrapped around her shoulder, was pressing into my hip bone rather than in the birth canal and was posterior so this is why she didn’t want to come out.
Two days later I was wheeled back to the birthing unit where they took blood from my arm and injected it into my spinal fluid to create a patch and I was able to sit up and didn’t have a migraine after that.
All and all, my birth story is a case of what could go wrong, did go wrong. However, throughout the whole ordeal we had Jacqui keeping us 100% informed of what was going on and on our side. I don’t know how we would have coped without her but it was great to have a Home Birth Midwife batting for us.
I try not to dive too deep into why my birth went so dramatically wrong but at the end of it we got the most beautiful daughter who has brought us nothing but pleasure so as far as I’m concerned, it’s probably best I don’t.
Next time round I’m going to get my home birth!