I thought I would get my thoughts, memories and fears out in writing. I think about labour and it makes me feel sick and I wish it wasn’t that way - so I thought writing about it might help!
Sunday the 20th of February I woke up at midnight with a contraction! A contraction!! Yay, sweet, sweet labour is coming! I was excited and scared that something was happening. I was technically 42 weeks, 1 day according to my cycle. So it was midnight and I got up and paced the halls for a bit as the contractions were pretty far apart and not too intense… it was just the beginning. I spent the night walking up and down my house, going to the toilet and praying that things would happen fast! On Monday morning I called the hospital as things were speeding up and my contractions were getting closer together and more intense (little did I know they were really not that bad at that stage). The hosp asked me to come in, which we did and they put me onto the CTG machine to monitor my contractions. While on the machine my contractions started pretty close together and things were looking good, but then they started to get irregular, soooo we were sent to go walking or do something active to try to speed things up. I said I didn’t want to be induced and I didn’t want my membranes ruptured and asked to let my body do it’s thing in it’s own time. Soooo Howie and I went to centro, went shopping (stopping for me to try to subtley breathe through my contractions). Howie had lunch and tried to get me to eat something, but by that stage I was feeling particularly nauseous! We later went to my friends house to ‘sleep’ the night so we were close to the hospital if need be. I spent all night walking around, bouncing on the exercise ball, toileting and vomiting and again, called the hospital at 8am the next morning. They asked us to come in and again I was placed on the machine to monitor contractions and fetal movements. I stayed on that stupid machine for 3 hours until my baby’s heart rate dropped suddenly and everyone went into panic mode. I was rushed down for a scan, which showed a healthy baby with a healthy heart rate but ‘not much fluid around the baby’. Everyone seemed concerned about this not much fluid business, and since we didn’t know any better, we were concerned too. I was told that my membranes would NEED to be ruptured NOW, which I consented to… and so it began. I looked at my husband as he held my hand and they did their thing and ruptured my membranes. It was painful, uncomfortable and I cried and cried and cried. Looking back on everything that happened in labour, I still feel yuck about that part. Thinking about it makes me angry and sad. I was checked for dilation and was told I was 4 or 5cm and things were looking good.
So it was Tuesday mid morning and I walked around the hospital and watched horrible news about the Christchurch earthquake, messaged family to make sure they were ok and had 4 different nurses stabbing my arm trying to get a cannula in ‘just in case’. By Tuesday afternoon I was checked again and was still 4 or 5cm dilated, which was apparently unacceptable, but I asked to be left alone as I felt I was doing well. I spent the night watching Tv, pacing and did a lot of vomiting. I ate my weight in ice to try to keep hydrated, but with vomiting up every 10 minutes, I wasn’t doing a good job of keeping hydrated. I had 4 showers and bounced on the ball and prayed that things would speed up and that I could meet my bundle soon.
Wednesday morning at 6am my room filled with hospital staff for the next little show of ‘check Carli for dilation’. I was apparently about 6cm dilated which was ‘unacceptable’ which started the induction talk. I was exhausted and hadn’t eaten in days and said yes to pretty much everything they asked me. An aneathsatist came and gave me an epidural (he managed to get it in successfully the 3rd go - genius man) and I was hooked up to a drip, the CTG machine, a cathetar and pitocin. So there I was, laying down attached to 4 or 5 machines, crying, vomiting and feeling pretty sorry for myself. I stayed attached to all the machines while the midwives threw around bets as to when I was going to give birth, ‘midday’, ‘3pm’, ‘the latest will be 5pm’. I just lay there and cried for a couple of hours and wasn’t sure how I was going to give birth having not slept or eaten for 2 and a half days, lying on my back attached to machines left, right and centre. I was scared and wanted to go home. Howie held my hand and updated my family who were freaking out that I hadn’t had the baby yet.
At 5.30pm the Ob came in and said that they had to turn down the epidural as I wasn’t going to know when to push. 3 widwives came in to my room and talked about how they had no idea how to use the machine, they got out the booklet and all talked about how they could turn it down. None of them could work it out so I saw them turn it off and say ‘ok we turned it down’. I just shrugged. At 6pm a midwife came in and told me ‘You have to push’. I said ‘I don’t feel like pushing’, but apparently I had to push, so I gave a a half hearted tiny push and was told I was pushing wrong! You frigging think??? I don’t want to push, I don’t feel the need to push. I was told that the reason I don’t feel the need to push was because of the epidural, however I was well and truly feeling my contractions so the epidural was wearing/worn off. Most of this stage is a blur to me. I remember pushing half heartedly for a while and then getting to the stage where my body took over and pushed for me. I had the uncontrollable shakes for a few hours and kept asking what was happening to me because I couldn’t stop shaking and vomiting. I was told it was the trauma of childbirth and it was normal. At about 8pm the midwife started to panic a little and told me she thought the doctor should be there and we need to start talking c-section or vacuum. I am not really sure what happened as I had started to pass out in between contractions, everything just became a bit of a blur. I remember the midwife going to call the Doctor and coming back and telling me that he doesn’t want to come and wanted me to get the baby out myself. She then left the room again at 8.15 and said she had convinced the Doctor to come. About 15 minutes later the Doctor turned up looking like he had been to a concert and/or skate competition. He looked at me rather disapprovingly and asked why I hadn’t had my baby yet. I didn’t have answers, I was off my head and kept passing out and was covered in my own vomit. He went through the risks of a vacuum extraction and my husband consented to it happening. I was told to push with all my might, which I did and it didn’t work the first time, nor the second… and then I was told that if I didn’t get the baby’s head out this time then they were taking me downstairs for a c-section straight away. I pushed and birthed the head, then the body closely followed. I had never seen anything so beautiful (or purple) in my life. They placed him on my chest and told me to blow on his face because he wasn’t breathing. I blew and kept asking if he was going to be ok, but they didn’t answer me… they just told me to blow. The next thing I know they took my baby boy away and I had no idea where. I kept asking what has happening and whether my baby was ok and if Howie was with him (No idea when Howie left… all a blur!). A few minutes later I heard a tiny squeak… and that was my baby’s cry, which could be likened to a puppy cry at this stage! They finally frigging brought my baby back and placed him on my chest and I loved all over him, fed him, kissed him, took photos of him and cried…and cried, oblivious to the doctor stitching me back together. I faintly remember the doctor asking a midwife how much blood I had lost and he was told ‘a lot, she is very unwell’… no idea what that meant though, as you don’t get told much to do with either yours or your babies health in hospital! Howie and I stayed and hugged Hudson for a while, I fumbled through breastfeeding (Hudson seemed to be more clued up on the boobfeeds than me hehe) and then I got up to have a shower. I remember standing up and the room spinning and I fell back down, I tried a few more times to get up but I either vomited or fell over. I was exhausted, sore and confused. I eventually got to the shower and was helped by a couple of nurses and my husband to wash myself as best I could…. then I went to bed! Sweet, sweet sleep! Well, I thought I was going to get sweet, sweet sleep! Hudson slept like a lamb, but I woke up sick quite a few times, but was unable to move by myself.
I got some good sleep in the early morning and woke up around 8am to find my beautiful newborn son starring at me from inside his horrible, sterile, see through cot. He had a frown on his face, and was not making a noise… just taking it all in. He was amazing. I couldn’t believe he was mine. It was nasty coz I couldn’t pick him up by myself as I couldn’t move by myself. I called the midwife and she gave him to me and I again gave this breastfeeding business a go. The midwife then asked me where my ‘breastfeeding chart’ was…I didn’t even know what a frigging breastfeeding chart was! I asked her what she meant and she replied ‘Have you even fed this poor kid yet’?? I said ‘I fed him when he was born and about 11pm last night and then I asked the night staff whether I let him sleep or wake him for feeds and I was told to let him sleep as long as he needs’. The midwife couldn’t believe her ears and told me there was ‘no way a staff member of this hospital would tell you not to feed your baby. He is starving and he relies on you for his food and if you ever want your milk to come in, feed your child’… then abruptly left the room. I cried and cried and cried. I was not coping at all and was sick of being treated like an inconvenience that had no interest in the well being of her own baby. I was a mess when Howie turned up about 30 minutes later. I can’t remember much else about what happened next, except for a few incidences with the same nasty midwife and an argument or two with other midwives about the ‘correct position to hold my baby when feeding’ and lots of condescending comments about first time mums. One incident with said crazy bitch face midwife was the first morning after I birthed Hudson and the OB came to check out how my sutures were going. I was in so much pain I couldn’t move and she kept trying to hurry me as I took took my undies off. I had a catheter in and was incredibly low on iron and still had the vomits, so hurrying wasn’t really an option. When her and the OB first looked she pulled some faces and said ‘That is disgusting. I can’t even look. It is like a warzone down there’ and left the room. I was in such a state of shock that I didn’t even say anything, I just cried. The next day when the hospital physio came to visit me and the same midwife announced that This woman is going to need some serious pelvic floor exercises to do. You should see her… it is disgusting down there. Her catheter came out during delivery (I didn’t know this until now) and the balloon ripped her urethral meatus to bits and the baby took the rest. When the OB checked her yesterday it brought a tear to my eye’. I spoke to another midwife about the treatment I was receiving and how offensive I found it and she just said ‘Just ignore that woman. We will look after you’. The next 6 days in hospital were a mix of being told when to feed my son and when to express, and then having that reversed by the next midwives on duty, because ‘they knew better’. I was so overwhelmed from day 2 onwards that I just lay in my bed and bawled uncontrollably for a lot of it. Howie took Hudson and I sat there and cried. I felt like a failure and had no appetite and really didn’t want to see anyone except Howie, Hudson and Andrea.
On day 5 my catheter got taken out, and I was like a little kid at Christmas. I felt like I was going to be attached to it forever. It wasn’t all fun and games though… about 30 minutes after the catheter came out, I realised I had zero bladder control. I couldn’t even feel that I needed to go to the toilet. This was one of the most degrading things I remember from the experience. I sat in the bathroom and cried for a couple of hours until someone came and got me and told me my son needed to be fed. It sounds silly reading it back, but I was not in a good state emotionally and this sorta pushed me over the edge a bit. A midwife came and spoke to me and told me ‘Oh well, I have had kids and it never gets better’. I asked how bad hers was and she said ‘well when I sneeze or cough it is bad’. I said ‘We are not talking about stress incontinence here. I cannot control my bladder even a little bit. I can’t feel the urge to go and I can’t control it when it starts’. I felt so angry. I told her to piss off and leave me alone and stop giving unwanted advice and petty comments that don’t help anyone. Clearly she thought we were buddies coz she said ‘Carli darling, let’s not be like that’. I think she got the picture though, because I almost backhanded her in the corridor and told her not to call me darling.
On day 7 they transferred me to a private room finally and it suddenly occurred to me that I hadn’t even asked about going home. I just kept doing what I was told. Since when did I do what I was told? What the shit had happened to me? I called the midwife and said I would like to be discharged and she said it could happen in the morning. The next morning my milk came in! (Day 8) and Hudson happily fed fed fed all morning. We got discharged that afternoon.
Home was good, although it took me about 6 weeks for my emotions to balance. I attended 3 physio appointments and 3 gyno appointments in those 6 weeks and each time I came away feeling stupid, useless and depressed. My bladder was not getting better and I kept being told to think about having surgery to tighten my pelvic floor, which would mean c-sections for future babies… I asked for alternatives and was told there were none. I eventually got told to come back after ‘completing’ our family and get the surgery done.
I feel like I have been non stop learning since giving birth, learning how to do things better, learning how to not care what people think, learning how to trust my instincts and learning how to forgive myself. I understand my journey is not as traumatic as some, but for me… it was, but I am thankful that I can learn from it and know what not to do next time.
I love my son, he is incredible and I would do anything for him. I can’t even look at him without my heart melting. I love spending every minute of every day with him and sleeping cuddled up to him at night… he makes life make sense.
I love my husband. He realises he could have done more to help me, but he too had no idea what was happening and what I wanted, because we were not educated and we didn’t discuss things. He was brilliant though… and he held my hand and told me I was strong, more times than I can count. He is an incredible dad, patient, loving, strong and has all the time in the world for Hudson. He rocks him to sleep every single night and loves it. Even though we are told Hudson shouldn’t still need rocking… he does, and we are ok with that :)
ONE DAY OLD