Archive for ‘the birth experience’

June 12, 2011

how miss charlotte got here (and other news)

Have finally found some time** to write about how Miss Charlotte came into this world!  

I hope I don’t scare anyone (especially those with a strictly ordered birth plan) but telling this tale will be a cathartic exercise for yours truly, so here goes.

In early May, at 36 weeks pregnant, I went along to the hospital for one of the standard midwife appointments.

Everything during my pregnancy had gone smoothly and I had no reason to suspect anything was wrong.  The only thing I wanted the midwife to check was the baby’s position.

My doctor had suspected she was tranverse (lying sideways) and I agreed – although I couldnt discern hand from foot I seemed to only get kicking on one side of my belly.

Doc said she was still likely to move which was great news for me as I desperately wanted to avoid a c-section.

I asked the midwife to check bub’s position, hoping she had moved by this late stage, and was greatly relieved when she said that not only had the baby moved to the ideal position for birth but her head was engaged. Not long now til delivery day!

The midwife explained that if she had any concerns at all she would order an ultrasound to check the position but she was positive all was OK, and told me she had never in her career had an undiagnosed breech or transverse lying baby.

I left this appointment relieved, and excited for the upcoming arrival of our little one.

That Sunday (appropriatly enough being Mothers Day) I dreamt my waters had broken, after which I awoke to what felt like mild period pains.

In the back of my mind I thought ‘hey, this could be ealy labour’ but only being 36 weeks pregnant pushed the thoughts away, assuming they were only wishful thinking.

The ‘period pain’ got progressively worse throughout the morning however, and got to the point while out at the in-laws house for lunch that I was feeling pretty uncomfortable.

At this stage I dont think anyone (including me) thought I was in labour as the pains were bad, but I wasnt writhing around on the floor screaming as I thought I would be.

Nevertheless, we took early leave from lunch to go home, pack the rest of the hospital bag, and wait to see what happened next.

After a couple more hours and worsening pain, I called the hospital – I couldnt remember if I was meant to call when the pains were 5-7 minutes apart, or go to hospital at that stage.

When I called the phone service, I was advised that it was probably false labour and to have a panadol and wait it out.

Ignoring my gut instinct yet again, I agreed and relaxed on the couch assuming the pains would go away.

But go away they did not, and when I started bleeding a little with each pain (now even I was convinced these were contractions) I called the hotline again only to be told “this is the bloody show, you are probably still days away from true labour”.

OK, I thought, not wanting to be one of those women who rush to hospital only to be told to go home again (especally as we are a good 45 minute drive away, and by this stage is was around 8pm on Sunday night).

A couple of hours later I called the help line again – these pains werent going away, and were now stronger and closer together (although still not agony inducing – more like really bad period cramps).

A different midwife answered the call and, god bless her, suggested that it was still probbably false labour but as I was not yet at term to come in just to get everything checked out.

By the time we arrived at the hospital it was around 11pm. I was convinced I’d be sent back home after a quick check. 

But by 11:45 I’d been told I was already 7cm dilated and due to the baby being in breech position (damn that midwife!) I needed an emergency c-section.

Being petrified of the idea of a needle in my spine I asked if there was any way I could deliver naturally but due to baby’s position and my advanced stage of labour it was either the spinal block or a caesarean witout anaesthetic.  No prizes for guessing which one I chose!

Darling boy and I chatted during the op, he with camera at the ready, neither of us believing we would soon be proud parents.

After what seemed like an eternity we began to wonder what was taking so long.  Dont they just pull it out and sew me up?

At this stage, the surgeon leant over me and gave us the last news we could ever want to hear:  “We’ve got your baby out.  She’s not breathing, so we have to take her away. You’re losing a lot of blood due to a uterine tear so we’re going to have to put you under general anaesthetic now”.

WTF?? A minute ago we were looking forward to meeting our new baby and now…well now darling boy was being ushered out of the room and I was being put to sleep, thinking I had a stillborn baby and was about to have a hysterectomy.

When I awoke I was being wheeled into the intensive care nursery to meet our new daughter, all the while being filled in on what had happened over the past three hours.

Our baby Charlotte (which was a name we hadnt really considered but quickly agreed on) had a very rough start – apparently the drugs they gave me to stop uterine contractions once the c-section was underway hadn’t worked and when they tried to pull Lottie out my uterus had contracted around her neck.

This resulted in her having no oxygen for a significant amount of time without oxygen (the doctors couldnt say and gave us anywhere between 3 and 18 minute timeframes).

It also meant my uterus had to basically be torn open to get her out, resulting in more than two litres of blood lost.

Meeting our baby girl for the first time I felt a number of conflicting emotions – all with an anaesthetic induced hangover which made everything more surreal.

Lottie had tubes coming in and out of everywhere and at this stage we still had no idea what the prognosis was – would she survive? And if so, what effect would the trauma of birth have on her?

Turns out she is a little trooper.  Both of us had to spend over a week in hospital (I’d planned om a 12 hour quick discharge), but she was out of the intensive care nursery after day 5.

At her first checkup with the pediatrician, he told us that he had expected her to have a lot of problems when he read the report of her birth, before meeting her. 

But after a thorough exmaination he said that if he hadn’t known about the problems she encountered during birth he wouldnt have known there was anything wrong with her at all!

It’s still early days but it’s looking good for now, and to us she is the perfect little angel.

Moral of the story – go with your gut instinct and if you think something is wrong, insist on getting it checked out.  A mothers instinct is powerful and you shouldnt put all your faith in the medical profession (who, in my experience, are overworked and time poor, and often looking for a quick way out!).

** despite only taking probably 20 minutes in total to write this post, it has been a 6 day work in progress.  And I always thought those women who said babies take up a lot of time were exaggerating!

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March 29, 2011

cheap labour

As birth day fast approaches (8 weeks to go!) it’s about time to give some more thought to the labour process and more specifically, where it will take place.

For me, it’s the simple option – the local public hospital.

I chose this option because I had a good relationship with my GP and this, coupled with the fact that I didn’t forsee any problems due to my health, size or age, meant I didn’t think I’d need the specialist services of an obstetrician.

Cost came into it as well to a degree but it wasn’t a deciding factor – some time ago I did actually take out additional private health insurance to cover pregnancy and birth but in the end decided not to use it.

In hindsight I’m so glad I haven’t already forked out thousands (on top of my private health cover) for a completely straightforward pregnancy.

Perhaps if my local hospital (Royal Hospital for Women @ Randwick) didn’t have such a great reputation I may have felt differently.

If I could change one thing? I had wanted to go to the birth centre  (more relaxed environment, dedicated midwife care, less intervention) instead of the delivery ward but don’t like waiting lists, and for the birth centre there was a lengthy one.

I would’ve made it in there by now I think but wanted to be settled and know where I was going and also to receive continuity of care throughout my pregnancy rather than changing halfway through (that being said, I’ve never seen the same midwife twice and it hasn’t bothered me one bit).

A friend recently gave birth at the birth centre and couldn’t be more positive about it so there is a part of me that regrets not signing up!

Plus she was home the same day she gave birth which really appeals to me – I’m crossing my fingers that I can get out of the hospital and home with baby as soon as possible.

My concerns are nothing major though – at this stage I just want it OUT and healthy.

Writing this has made me realise how much I don’t know about how the whole labour day(s) thing will work, but I’ve got baby classes at the hospital coming up that should answer some questions (here’s hoping).

I’d love to hear comments from anyone with an opinion on RHW at Randwick, or the labour experience in general (in terms of type of delivery) – did you go public or private? Birth centre or delivery ward? How long were you in hospital after birth? Let me know, ladies!

For more information on birthing options, Huggies has a good run down on the topic.

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February 21, 2011

a bit of friendly competition

Much has been said about competitive mothers, starting with comparing Agpar scores taken at birth, up to (and beyond) reports cards in high school.

But the competition really starts at pregnancy, or perhaps even beforehand. 

From women comparing themselves to others in terms of how long it took them to conceive, to how much weight they did (or didn’t gain) during pregnancy, from ultrasound results to how much they could take on while pregnant.

It’s enough to make you crazy, if you let it, and I doubt there are many women who haven’t compared themselves and their pregnancy to someone else.

Even gorgeous singer Pink, who usually comes across as the picture of self confidence, has taken to posting self-portraits of herself to counteract the less than flattering papparazzi shots popping up in the media, accompanied by charming comments like “Pink looks horrible pregnant“.

Pink pregnant

Unfortunately there is little you can do to avoid it – even if you aren’t particularly prone to comparing yourself with other people, well meaning (?) friends, relatives and co-workers are likely to point out your shortcomings at some point or another.

Feeling nauseous?  Tired? Irritable Someone you know will have breezed through pregnancy feeling none of these things and someone else will be sure to let you know about it before you even open your mouth to complain.

Feeling a little plump?  Too tired to exercise?  You’re sure to hear about a friend’s (insert here) sister/cousin/colleague who didn’t gain a pound over the baby’s weight, continued jogging until the day their baby was born and wore their pre-maternity jeans out of the delivery suite.

Even if your pregnancy goes relatively smoothly, there is always someone to helpfully remind you that so-and-so did it better, healthier and happier, all while working 60 hour weeks, completing triathlons, looking like a supermodel and renovating a stunning designer nursery.

Earlier in my pregnancy I was at a wedding and when it got close to midnight I said goodbye to a friend, saying I was too tired to stay late. 

Her response?  “What’s wrong with you? I never felt tired after 12 weeks”.  Awesome, for her.

I couldn’t give two hoots about it now but at the time I was left with a feeling of inadequacy – what is wrong with me? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to some of the comments/advice/’supportive’ information I’ve been given.

If you ever find yourself wanting to slap someone for their (hopefully unintentionally) insensitive comments, just remind yourself that for every Gisele out there (who was apparently up cooking pancakes for the family the day after a drug-free birth which didn’t hurt in the slightest, and back modelling not long after) there will be someone out there who is doing it just as tough, or tougher than you.

gisele bundchen working that pregnancy glow

It’s also important to realise that while there are some truly blessed people out there (yay for Gisele) there are a lot of people who are selective about what they choose to broadcast about themselves so that they are always seen in a more positive light.

All you can do is the best you can, and smile to yourself that you are about to bring a lovely, precious little bundle into the world who won’t care if your hair is greasy or your thighs are more cottage cheese than coltish. 

The baby will just want love, smiles and cuddles from mum (food and a clean nappy won’t hurt either) and that is something no one can do better than you!

(as an aside, if you ever feel like you don’t measure up, check out this clip from Killing Me Softly as posted on MamaMia – a must see for any woman, pregnant or not.  Go Kate Winslet!)

January 27, 2011

no visitors allowed?

Mia Freedman recently wrote about the dos and don’ts of visiting new mums in hospital (seems like it’s more of a don’t, actually). 

While it was a great article I admit to feeling more and more guilt as I read on, remembering the birth of my niece seven years ago.

She was my sister’s second baby and it was a quick birth but as soon as the announcement was made, I hopped on the bus from work over to the hospital to say hello to the hour-old darling girl.

I thought it was just fabulous playing the part of the proud new auntie, even having a bit of a go on the gas after handing the little bundle back to my (no doubt overwhelmed) big sister.

But now I feel terrible for gatecrashing the party after reading Mia’s article! Even worse, I’ve started to get karma-based fears. 

Instead of having some precious time for BF and I to get acquainted with our newest family member I’m fairly certain I’ll be hearing the pitter patter of big feet.

And if I do end up in that boat?  So long as they bring cupcakes (chocolate, please) I’ll try to grin and bear any well wishers, and be grateful to have family and friends around to share the joy.   

Who knows, I might be like the mums commenting on Mia’s story who enjoyed the visitor experience (fingers crossed!).

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January 20, 2011

c-section tension

Dawn Brown of Knees Up Mother Brown had a great post this week that really got me thinking.

She’s been advised that she may need to have a c-section if her baby’s position doesn’t change, and (understandably) has a few concerns:

“1) I hate the idea of a spinal/ edipural and not being able to feel my legs/lower body. This is probably my worst fear and it’s the one that gives me nightmares. I know if I have to have a c-section then it’s inevitable but I just hate the thought of it

2) I really don’t like the idea of not being able to sit up, cuddle and breastfeed the new baby as soon as it’s been born. Within minutes of Zara being born we were sat having cuddles and it was lovely, I don’t want the new baby to be wheeled away and I have to lie there being sewn up again etc before I see it again.

3) I really don’t like the idea of having to rely on midwives, nurses etc having to come and help me to lift the baby etc I’m really independent and I want to be capable of going and picking up the baby if it’s crying

4) I worry about how long it will take to heal afterwards, especially when I will also have a 15 month old toddler as well to look after, if I can’t lift anything or can’t drive then I’m going to be pretty much useless and it will drive me insane.”

I’m 100% behind Dawn here.

While of course all anyone cares about is a happy and healthy baby, the delivery method is such an emotional one for many mums to be.

Even before looking into it much, I knew I didn’t want an elective c-section as I kind of thought it was cheating.  In my eyes, it was like skipping the trek and getting dropped to Everest’s summit by helicopter.

Bear in mind I have no medical reasons whatsoever to even consider a caesarean and I don’t feel that other women are ‘cheating’ if they have one, for whatever reason.  For me though, it wouldn’t have felt right.

This is not to say that I didn’t always harbour hopes that I would be told a c-section was necessary and I’d get to bypass a long and painful natural birth on doctors orders – in my mind it’s different if you have to have one! I guess like attempting to climb Everest and only stopping because you broke your legs, not because you got tired or couldn’t be bothered with the trek.

However the more I discover about the (serious) operation the more I am running scared from a caesar.

For the reasons Dawn lists, and others:

My mum’s experience:

My mum had five kids – four ‘normal and one caesarean (that would be me).  Many, many, MANY times over the years she told my sisters and I how much worse a c-section was.

Much of this could be attributed to the fact that 1) it was 30 years ago and they are probably done differently these days and 2) it was an emergency Caesar so the scar (massive, muscle severing) was a lot bigger than you would find in an elective c-section.

She stressed to us how hard it was not being able to cough or sneeze properly for weeks, no being able to pick anything up easily (including baby) and even once she had been given the all clear it took ages for her to relax around anything that made her use that part of her body.

She also stressed how much longer the recovery was for a c-section compared with vaginal birth.  This however could have something to do with me being a late ‘surprise’ baby and her being a lot older than when she gave birth to my siblings.

The epidural:

Not so much being numb from the waist down that bothers me, more the needle into my spine, ugh – have long held a fear (probably unfounded) that if they slip Ill be paralysed for life.

Catheter:

Enough said.

The ‘repair’:

Stitches or staples, I don’t want either on my belly, thanks.  At least if I need to get them from a natural birth they’ll be out of sight, out of mind (or so I tell myself).

Regardless of these fears, I have plenty regarding a ‘normal’ birth as well!  Best not to think about it all really and just stay focused on the end prize – whatever happens it will be worth it.

January 16, 2011

public versus private – why pay more?

So, I was at a hens party for a very close friend last night. 

Despite not being able to drink (well, I may have had a glass of wine) I had a great time and luckily there were a few other pregnant women and new mums to chat to.  I did feel sorry for some of the other girls who kept getting sucked into to our gasbagging about baby names, doctors, health etc! 

One issue that kept popping up was private vs public health care.

I was surprised at the number of women who had opted for private when a) the public medical system in Australia is so good and b) the cost of going private is so high (I’ve heard around $4,000 out of pocket AFTER claims, even with full cover), especially considering many of these women are scraping money together to pay a mortgage etc.

I’ve always been a big fan of public health and only signed up to private to reduce my tax bill. 

Luckily I am in a position to be able to afford private if I wanted to, but I’ve always found better uses for my hard earned moolah.

Besides, if anything serious happens you have to go to a public hospital anyway, so what’s the go?  Am I missing something? 

Am tempted to think it’s purely snobbery but perhaps there are other more convincing reasons people have for going private.

I know my local private hospital puts new mums up at a nice hotel after the birth so their partners can stay over, they can enjoy decent room service and have water views…but I don’t plan to be in hospital long after the birth anyway.

And for a couple of days of crappy hospital food (was planning on getting takeaway anyway) I could use that extra $7k for an extended holiday with baby, which could be madness in itself.

Another new mum suggested that rather than attend the birth classes provided by the hospital I give her midwife a call.  This midwife runs a five week course (two hours per week) for $2000. 

My first thought was, if this midwife isn’t putting this through the books (and even if she is) she’s got a real cash cow on her hands.

The second was, what’s the difference? 

Apparently, in hospital they show you “bad 80s DVDs with lots of grunting and hairy bits”.  The midwife also shows similar DVDs but “more recent”.  Oh, she also serves supper.

Is that worth the extra $2,000?  Or would I be better off putting this money into a savings account for whatever my child needs on a rainy day?

Melissa Maimann has an excellent post on this topic but I’m still undecided.

January 6, 2011

let’s talk about sex (and by sex, i mean poo)

The issue of the day is poo.  And I’m not trying to use child-friendly speak here rather than say ‘issues of the day are shit’.  I really just want to talk about poo. And not baby poo either. 

About ten years ago, around the time my eldest sister had her first baby, I discovered that while giving birth it’s common for women to let go of something normally reserved for the privacy of a bathroom.

This idea festered in the back of my mind without causing me much concern, like knowing you can catch diseases from sharing needles – neither applied to me.  Then I found out I was pregnant.

Since then I don’t think a day has passed when I haven’t thought about the birth process and what I might give birth to – other than a baby that is.

Seasoned mums (and probably some new mums as well) are at this stage probably thinking ‘get over yourself” but I keep coming back to this issue.

It has even dissuaded me from the idea of a water birth – I don’t want to be literally knee deep in shit!  Neither does my partner who, when reading that men can join their partners in the birthing bath, seemed to follow my train of thought…

It doesn’t look like I’m alone here either, according to NursingBirth, pooping during labour was one the most popular search items on the blog.

I wonder what other people think about the issue of poo during child birth – or is it  a non-issue?  Did it happen to you? Does it happen to everyone?  Can you stop it, or would you bother to even try?