My Real Birth Story – Cath Lankford
Pregnancy a second time is a weird thing. It’s as if you’re a glutton for punishment!
I mean yes, you hopefully get another beautiful baby out of it, but you know what’s coming the whole time. You know that at the end of the process there is something the size of a BASKETBALL that needs to exit a very tiny hole to get out of your body…
If I think back over the 9 months I was pregnant, I can’t say I enjoyed it.
I felt ill, had zero energy and had a terror of a two-year old who was battling big emotions and throwing even bigger tantrums on the daily. There was definitely NO GLOW here.
I was induced with my first baby, due to gestational diabetes. The doctors were concerned the baby was going to be huge so insisted they forcefully start the process. More about THAT story another day…
My due date came and went, and I started to feel like this baby was in for the long haul. I was HUGE and struggling to walk, sleep, or move and even sitting was horribly uncomfortable.
On the morning of the 18th December I woke to some niggling pains in my stomach. Of course I didn’t think it was labour and so naturally I carried on with my day. I had my scheduled 40 week hospital appointment booked that day, and actually planned on taking myself off to it alone, but Mum insisted she come with me, which in the end was a blessing.
I didn’t feel hungry at all, but Mum being Mum stood in front of me with some pineapple and a piece of fruit toast, with a very concerned “get-this-in-your-mouth-hole” look on her face. So, I ate.
I remember sitting with her in the waiting room at the hospital and all of a sudden I felt an overwhelming rush of fear. I was exhausted from the toddler, and I just desperately wanted to go home.
Luckily it was only a few minutes before a familiar midwife called out my name.
Straight away she discussed inducing me at almost 42 weeks. ‘Ummm WHAT?! No WAY am I doing this for another 2 weeks lady!’ I felt defeated and even more exhausted just thinking about it.
And then all I kept thinking for the rest of the appointment was ‘this poor baby, being born so close to Christmas.’ I love Christmas and was still hoping that I’d be hoeing down on roast turkey and plum pudding rather than eating dreary hospital food. I know, priorities right?!
The midwife then told me that she wanted to check the baby’s heartbeat and do a stretch and sweep. So I dragged myself out of the chair and walked over to the bed … *GUSH* A weird sensation came over me. ‘Did I wee?!’. ‘Why don’t I have any control over what’s leaking out of me?!’.
My waters had broken.
To the amusement of my midwife, I had no spare clothes, so she got me into a hospital gown, and then actually had to run around and find something to cover my private parts! Clearly the waters gushing was now a problem.
To raise my anxiety meter, she then informed me that there was meconium in the waters, so I wouldn’t be able to leave the hospital. And on top of that, since I wasn’t yet in “active labour”, I had to make my OWN way across to the ER and sit in the waiting room in a very wet towel and gown.
So, there I was, at 1.20pm – sitting wetly in the ER, with the baby was being monitored.
My husband arrived at the hospital, and reality of it all finally set in.
The monitor was showing I was having contractions, however I couldn’t feel anything more than perhaps mild period pain. (Pain gauge: 3/10). But within about 20 minutes they started ramping up and it was now what felt like quite bad period pain. (Pain gauge: 5/10).
I was feeling quite good as they moved me into the birthing suite, in fact I’d say that I was actually quietly cocky…
I remember saying no to a wheelchair and in my head I honestly felt like the pain wasn’t going to get any worse. I was secretly high fiving myself at how well I was coping and feeling glad that I had snuck in the calm birthing yoga class the week prior! I really did feel calm and ready and … PFFTT I couldn’t have been MORE wrong!
It’s a weird feeling walking into a room knowing that you’ll be having your baby in there, and I must admit that I was concerned when I saw the two VERY young midwives waiting for me. Nobody was saying much which made it a little awkward, so I started cracking jokes.
Then I thought I’d best roll around on a birthing ball or pretend to do something laboursome since not much was happening otherwise.
The room started giving me flashbacks to my previous labour, but I tried so hard to stay in the moment and be present. (Pain gauge: 6/10).
It was now 4.00pm and the pain appeared suddenly. One minute I was bouncing around and cracking jokes, next minute fear and doubt had set in and after 2 extremely painful contractions I found myself asking for an epidural. ‘We’ve contacted the anaesthetist Catherine, and he’ll be down ASAP.’ (Pain gauge: 8/10). Pheww! I could see light at the end of the very painful tunnel.
Weirdly, I already felt a lot of pressure down below and felt as if I might need to do a poo. This made my cool, calm, collected and young(!) midwives look at each other with a very worried look. They encouraged me to move to the bed so they could check me, but the thought of moving those 2 metres seemed virtually impossible.
Contractions were now continuous and the midwives felt that it was a good time to tell me that it was too late for the epidural. (Pain gauge: 9/10).
Once on the bed they offered me gas but I really knew I had to stay focused, and also that I needed to try and breathe as best as I could through the contractions.
All of a sudden, my body seemed to take over and I was pushing without even realising. I knew in my mind I was in the transition phase when I uttered the words ‘I can’t do this!’ and I was looking deeply into my Husband’s eyes – hoping, and begging without words that he would do something to help me. All I could do was hold onto his hand as tight as I could during each contraction and stay in my trance-like, painful state. (Pain gauge: 10/10).
The midwives finally checked me and confirmed that I was of course fully dilated and that they could see the baby’s head. The pain was relentless but I knew I was so close to meeting my baby.
I was certainly now in a different zone, focused and no longer speaking words. I screamed with every push and I was so incredibly tired. (Pain gauge: 15/10).
I tried to keep my focus on the view outside the window. I was so fixated on cars and people walking on the street, that I didn’t notice a team of doctors in the room and medical equipment being set up around me. In hindsight, it’s great they didn’t alarm me because I think if I lost my focus then I would have crumbled and things could have gone wrong.
I knew it was serious when a doctor who was holding onto my ankles, looked right into my eyes and said “Catherine, this baby MUST come out with the next push.”
The room was eerily quiet and I felt so many eyes on me. My husband looked worried. But something primal came over me and my body took over and knew exactly what it needed to do.
Somehow I got the energy to pull myself up, almost squatting over the bed and gave an almighty push. The burning ‘ring of fire’ pain that can only be described as pushing broken glass out of your lady bit’s, was extremely evident.
Out came my baby. ‘I did it!’, I cried.
But as I looked up at my Husband, he was crying and screaming “What’s wrong with him?” at the Doctors around us.
It felt like time stood still. The cord was wrapped around his tiny neck.
I vividly remember the Doctor unravelling it and it seemed to take forever. They immediately threw him on my chest but he was still blue and lifeless. The Doctors stood and watched us, and waited. But thankfully within what felt like an eternity (but was realistically only a few seconds) he let out a cry and opened his eyes.
The team of doctors confirmed all was ok with the baby, and then they packed up their equipment and left us.
So, my baby Harvey Jack was born at 5.01pm. He was fine, in fact he was perfect, all 3.9kgs of him.
I felt on top of the world (and extremely hungry)! It felt like I had run the biggest marathon but I’d missed the carb loading prior… I was so proud of myself and what my body was capable of. At this point I was shaking as the adrenaline was wearing off and my body was in shock from such a quick labour.
With my previous labour the placenta came out without me even realising. But after numerous attempts this time it wasn’t budging and I had to birth it. YIKES! This meant I had to get out of bed and on to the toilet where I could push it out into a pan. The idea of moving slightly terrified me and I still felt as though it was a total disaster zone down below!
It was a weird sensation pushing out the placenta. Almost like birthing another (smaller) baby.
Back to the bed I waddled, hoping that everything down below was somehow intact.
I know that the hospital staff are always super busy, however the bed still looked like a murder scene. Surely they could have removed the sheets and the evidence of what had just taken place, but they hadn’t. I climbed back into the dirty bed, and lay there in my own blood and mess.
I was told that a doctor would come and check me to see how my lady bits had faired, but I was just fixated on those damn sheets. It was a real reminder of how ‘medical’ giving birth can be and in this moment it took away slightly from my new tiny angel and the amazing life changing event that had taken place.
I waited one and a half hours to be seen by a Doctor. She finally arrived and informed me that I needed a stitch as I was bleeding, which actually hurt A LOT. And by then I was well and truly over having my legs spread and private parts on show.
But after a 4 hour labour, birthing my placenta, and laying in bloodied horror movie sheets for far too long, I finally held my little babe Harvey in my arms, and felt an overwhelming feeling of love.
In addition to that love, I felt complete and accomplished, immediately forgetting about the pain and all of the mess that came with it. So much so, that I could possibly do it all over again! I think… 😛
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