The Birth of Baby Eva Elizabeth
The 2nd of April came and went – our due date. As each day passed (although I knew it to be fairly common to go overdue) the anxiety and suspense escalated still. Now there was a definite unknown… when? Our Doctor, Dr D. Schneider had spoken to us about his plans to go away for two weeks (of which was right over my due date) and the possibility of an induction on the 10th when he returned. That would be eight days overdue. I was never concerned; I never believed I would go overdue, not for a second. Time when by. The start of my birth plan already changed…
The realisation of an induction loomed. I was scared out of my mind – I knew, with an induction, that labour could be a lot more intense and there was a real possibility of failure and a resulting caesarean section. Dr had assured me that they would not induce if things were not favourable – yet I still feared it! Deep down, I feared labour actually, to the absolute deepest part of me. I felt that if it happened on its own it would be easier to deal with emotionally than purposefully bringing it on. Somewhat strange. We tried everything, as everyone does when one is overdue. Sex, massage, pressure points, walking, curry, cleaning windows, gardening, stretching, hours bouncing on a gym ball… Baby would hear nothing of it!!
And so, here we are, the 10th of April 2012. We decided to use the services of a Doula, Robyn Hertog – what a gem she is!! Arrived at the hospital at 6:30am and Robyn and I promptly made our way to the labour ward while Craig did the formalities. Robyn set up the music, lay out candles and massage oils and started burning lavender oil… it sure was the nicest smelling room in the hospital. I was then hooked up to the foetal monitor and the Doctor came in around 7am to check my cervix. What do you know; I was already one centimetre dilated and having regular contractions – felt pretty much like Braxton hicks but a slight bit more painful. Nothing serious. Everyone seemed to be surprised that I wasn’t really ‘feeling’ them yet… After a little discussion with Dr we decided to go ahead with the induction, being 41 weeks already and with the increasing risks from here onwards. The gel was put in place and the waiting game began.I was unstrapped and aloud to walk around, have some massages – dear Robyn… Ahh. And her Rose massage oil… I had some breakfast and a little while later some jelly, man that was good jelly. Contractions were pretty much the same – possibly a little more painful. The memory is vague. It was around 12pm when the midwife came in to check my cervix. I was only two centimetres. I remember thinking, good lord – four hours later and only one more centimetre. This is going to take forever! God help me! I did start to feel things ‘happening’ so I was very disappointed. The midwife, during her examination, had ‘pulled my cervix forward’ and as I squealed and in the words of my sister-in-law, crawled up the bed backwards, she proceeded to tell me that she was just ‘helping’ me (Holy Crap!) and for me not to say anything to the Doctor… what the f?!
The pain was increasing, slowly. I started shaking… as if I was cold but I wasn’t. Another midwife came in and said the shaking was from the pain and suggested I get into a bath. I remember sitting in the bath, the pain quite sore by this stage… telling Craig I was too nervous to lie down as I wasn’t sure how I would handle the contractions in that position. I was managing them sitting with Craig applying pressure on my lower back as each one came on. I guess I had what is called ‘back labour’. I was unsure that I would make it through the day, remembering that it took four hours to get this far and it was painful already. My hands were starting to spasm, as if my thumbs were locked in place. A very strange and unnerving sensation for me.
As I got out of the bath and onto the bed for some more foetal monitoring, things started heating up. The pain is a blur. The midwife checked my cervix again… Four centimetres. The time is a blur too. She asked me if I wanted an Epidural. In my antenatal classes, we were taught that the best time for an Epidural is between four and eight centimetres. I remember thinking that I probably wouldn’t be able to handle the pain for the rest of the day – it took me so long, until midday to get to four centimetres. In my head I was preparing for the LONG haul! So yes, please, Epidural. In the meantime I used Entonox gas as it can take an hour for the anaesthetist to arrive… The midwife needed my written consent. I was breathing the gas, in the middle of a contraction – by this stage they were pretty intense – and attempting to sign consent, of which I (and ONLY I, no one else!) actually had to write the word ‘Epidural’ with my signature next to it… it felt like I was writing with my left hand! Two attempts later, and the drip in place… we were now waiting. Ten minutes later our Doctor came in to check my cervix before ok-ing the Epi. EIGHT centimetres dilated!! By this stage, I was SUCKING the gas like there was NO tomorrow! Doctor turned to us and said NO Epidural, there is no time! WHAT?!! The Epidural was my savour, I relied on it. It was my escape. Epidural was ON my birth plan. It never crossed my mind that I would not be able to have one… not for a second. I remember someone giving me one bit of advice and she said, ‘Natalie, have an Epidural’. Another had said ‘The only way one can actually enjoy a natural birth is with an Epidural’…
This was not on my plan.
All I had now was the Gas. Nothing else. No other escape. The Doctor went back to his rooms. How was I going to deal with this for the rest of the day? I was in it for the long haul. It never occurred to me that I was ‘already’ eight centimetres; it had taken 10 minutes to go from four to eight centimetres! The end was near, but I never saw it that way. The pain was extreme… I won’t lie. It’s a level no-one knows until one has been there. When you are in it, you do not know how you are going to come out of it alive. Honest to god truth. I remember saying in my drunken state… ‘it feels like I am dying’ – note: there was a slight bit of humour in that… it was in between a contraction. I knew I wasn’t dying, I was going through childbirth and I was supposed to be feeling this. One goes to childbirth classes and is taught how to breathe and cope with the pain. When one gets to eight centimetres all those lessons go out the window… It’s now survival. You do what you need to. Your body takes over. Your body pushes the baby out, not your mind. I felt like I lost control. I was fighting for control. The gas never took the pain away, it just sent me into a ‘dream’ world – the falling feeling you have when you are about to fall asleep. I was told to only use the gas when a contraction came… Yeah right! I got to a stage where I was constantly breathing the gas, one contraction rolling into another. By the time you start breathing the gas, your contraction is at its peak and the gas only affects your brain afterwards, in between the contractions!! I had Robyn behind me applying pressure to my back during a contraction and Craig on my side of the bed, holding my hand and just comforting me. Man O man, what would I have done without them two! The support I got from both of them saved me!
My water’s broke. With such a force. There was no mistaking it. I was covered in fluid, the bed, everywhere. I didn’t budge. I remember the midwife saying that she had to clean it up because the doctor wouldn’t be happy coming in and it wasn’t cleaned. I heard Robyn’s voice behind me ‘Your water’s are clear, everything is fine’. Honestly, at the time, I didn’t care.
During a contraction I felt this very powerful urge to push. I had no control. I told everyone, whoever was listening, that I needed to push… and I couldn’t stop it. There was no way. I tried to resist it because I knew the Doctor wasn’t there but it was impossible. The Doctor arrived. It was probably 10 minutes since he had previously left after checking me at 8cm. It was such a relief being able to push – my body was talking to me big time! From then, I don’t remember the pain of the contractions; merely the powerful urge to push and a very intense burning sensation down below! My hand instinctively went below… and I felt her head crowning. Apparently I told the Doctor to ‘stop it’! He told me that he could ‘cut’ and baby would be out in two minutes but he didn’t want to. My response was ‘I probably would only give a shit afterwards’! Somebody said, ‘the head is out’ – I don’t remember feeling any sense of relief as most people say. I still had to push like crazy to get her shoulders out! That’s when I tore – her shoulder’s were in an awkward position. I never felt it though.
It was maybe five pushes and she was out. Welcome Little Eva Elizabeth. 14:35pm. 7 hours later. 3.6kg. 55cm.
Craig cut the cord. I could see in Craig’s eyes – he was ready to burst. It was love at first sight. I was kind of numbed. She was brought to me and placed on my chest. We lay there for a good hour. She was wide awake and talking to us – little baby noises. I got up, had a bath and a cup of tea.
I did it. Yes, I, I did it! I gave my Baby life in the best possible way I could! I am so incredibly proud. I DID IT! She amazes me daily.
That sense of accomplishment is beyond words and will live with me forever!
A Huge THANK YOU to Robyn for taking the Photographs – when I wasn’t clutching onto her hand for dear life 😉 What precious memories we have!