Sahan's Birth Story
The birth of our second son was quite different to that of our first – which was a fairly text book natural birth. Most of you will have read my earlier blogs (37 weeks and 39 weeks) about the challenges I encountered during the later stages of my pregnancy with pelvic athropathy which meant I needed to be induced. It was a very surreal experience waking up and knowing that this was the day our baby would be born (or at least by the end of the weekend).
We got to the hospital just before 7.30am and was greeted by my midwife – boy was I glad to see her after an agonising time dealing with the maternity system without her. She explained the process of an induction, the possible risks and complications. I nearly backed out at that point. Her words “we are messing with nature” ringing in my ears – this was not what I wanted. Then I went to move from the bed and shock waves of pain from my pelvis reminded me exactly why I was doing this. So gulping down my fear we went ahead. Both baby and I were monitored for 40 minutes and I was surprised to see that I was already having tiny contractions on my own – a good sign! At 9.30am I had the gel put in and then the wait began.
Sleeping on the Job!
Almost everyone I had spoken to about inductions said they were told to walk around a lot – this was not going to be an option for me. I was actually really tired – I could not remember the last time I had a rest in bed on a Saturday morning!! Ironic that this came from being induced for labour!! I knew it was potentially going to be a very long night (s) so I made the most of it and ‘slept’ for a good few hours. It was not a deep sleep but a sleep all the same. Unfortunately for my husband and his mum, this was a very tedious part of the day! Although I started to experience an increase in the intensity and frequency of the contractions they were still quite mild. I ended up ‘sleeping’ across a Swiss Ball at one stage to try and elevate some pressure off my pelvis.
At 2.30pm I was back on the monitor to check the contractions so the hospital midwife could make the call to break my waters or not. By this stage I was actually feeling good (the last time I was to feel this way for a while!) and thought she would say I needed to wait but everything looked fine, I was still having regular contractions, and at approximately 3.30pm they broke my waters.
From here things moved rather quickly. Now I was getting contractions about 3 minutes apart. My own midwife came back and about this time Nikita turned up too. Nikita is studying to be a midwife, as well as a talented photographer. I had invited her to be part of the birth and she turned out to be an incredible support throughout the whole time and it was very special to have her there.
By now I was in Active Labour. I kept changing positions over this time, from the bed, to being on the Swiss ball and managed to get a shower in with the help of my husband. The Swiss ball was the most comfortable and I was glad to have it with me. You can see here from the photo I had my wonderful husband on one side and his mother on the other.
Yoga and Birth Hypnotherapy! During my pregnancy I did yoga with Bella Mama (up until the point it was just too painful on my pelvis). In addition, I had a birth hypnotherapy session with Rebecca from Shine Hypnosis. Both taught me the importance of breathing and ways to positively focus through contractions. At times my husband would ask me “remember what Rebecca has taught you”, and Nikita would often say “keep breathing” which I could just focus my mind on.
As things really started to intensify these techniques proved invaluable. And intensify they did. Unfortunately our baby was in a posterior position, and as a result I was getting what my midwife described as ‘double contractions’ or ‘double peaks’. For me, it felt like I would get a contraction, followed straight after by another contraction without a break. I also felt like our baby was trying to turn around. At this point I was very focused inwards. Trying to keep breathing through the pain and control the slight panic inside me – could I actually do this? I am not going to sugar coat it – the pain was pretty up there and it was a combination of being induced (so not having my waters to cushion the contractions), baby being in a posterior position and I still had excruciating pelvic pain.
By now I had been in Active Labour for about 3-4 hours (you lose track of the time). Upon examination I had only dilated to 3cm and was not progressing. I was devastated and exhausted. It was time for a decision. My options were to carry on as I was (though my midwife was strongly suggesting not to), or to use something to progress the labour but this would further intensify the contractions (my brain was screaming “what? Intensify more?”), or to use an epidural and then stimulate labour further.
I mentally battled with this (all the while continuing to ride out my contractions). I was really against further intervention, and I was scared, really really scared of what this could mean. Deep inside though I knew I was shattered, every fibre in my body had given more than 100% and I was so aware that the end – which ever option I took – was still to come and I would still need to dig deeper. I had always said I would trust my midwife’s experience and above all else do what was required to deliver this baby in the SAFEST way possible. So this is what I asked her “what would be the best option for our baby?” She did not tell me what to do, told me I still had time to decide. A few contractions later I knew we had to make a choice. All I remember her saying was something along the lines of “in my 20 years of experience….” And thinking of the advice of a very close friend of mine “Julie an epidural is not the end of the world, in fact it can be a real blessing”…and this is what we went with.
The process of an epidural is not a one minute job. It was to take an hour to complete (and this is fast, many thanks to my midwife being relentless in getting an anaesthetist in quickly). I did try the gas at this point to take the edge of but I got very frustrated with this as I could not breathe out the contractions – I am sure I almost flung the machine away! To actually put the epidural in I need to be upright sitting on the edge of the bed – the worst possible position for my pelvis and for labour. All this time I was still getting double contractions and had to stay as still as possible. The pain was….hmm can I describe it? I am not sure how conscious I was at this point as I remember seeing a lot of white and saying numerous times “I think I will pass out” (to which my midwife calmly replied “we will catch you if you do”). My support team were incredible during this time and held faith that I would get through this, encouraging me the whole time. Finally, I was able to move position and slowly the epidural began to take effect.
A Final Rest
When things had settled a bit, my midwife examined me again to find within that hour I had dilated to 9cm and our baby had also turned himself around into the correct position!! No wonder things had been a little hairy!! There was no need to stimulate labour at this point, my body had done its job. While the epidural worked its magic I was able to rest for an hour before the final push. I was very grateful at that point to be able to breath – and in doing so my body relaxed enough to dilate the final last centimetre.
Upon reflection I know we made the best choice we could at the time. I am not as disappointed about having an epidural as I thought I may be. Yes, I would like to be able to claim I have had two natural births with my sons (why do we have this judgement of ourselves as the bench mark?). But I know I held on for a long as possible – and more than I thought I could. I am grateful that we do live in a world today where you can birth comfortably and safely in hospital with medical assistance at your finger-tips. It was not that long ago that the highest rates of death for women were as a result of giving birth.
This is the Moment!
I am not sure of what the exact time was at this point but it was somewhere around 10.30pm. After another examination my midwife told me it was time to push – music to my ears!! The atmosphere in the room became very charged and despite my exhaustion I felt adrenalin kick through my body. This is it, I am so close!! I had my husband right beside me, gripping my hand and his mum on the other. I remember looking at him and without saying anything both of us communicating to each other everything we were thinking and feeling at that point.
I do not remember how many pushes it took – I think it was only about three (maybe four) and then he was here!! In my arms!!
My heart just exploding with love and emotion, tears streaming down my face. Raw amazement and disbelief that after the enormous journey we had been through from my miscarriage, to conception, to a very long pregnancy and labour, our gorgeous son, little brother to Arjun was finally here.
Our lives are forever changed and although Sahan is only two weeks old, already we cannot imagine what life was like before he was here.
A very special thank goes out to the amazing support team I had on the day: my incredible husband who I trusted without question to be by my side the entire time, my mother in law who just knew exactly how to help me without being told, Nikita who is going to make one outstanding midwife (and took such priceless photos for us), Sara our personal midwife who has now delivered both our son’s safely into this world and to all those people who helped look after Arjun and ourselves in the days that have followed – we are truly blessed to have you in our lives.
xxx Dr Julie Bhosale (and tribe!)