On Thursday I was 4 days past my official due date, and getting a bit frustrated with the prodromal labour that came every night but never continued. After another night of contractions, we discussed the situation and decided that dh would take ds out of the house so that I could rest. My mother would stay home to help out if needed.
I had a few irregular contractions that morning (less than one an hour) and at midday I tried to take a nap. By 2 pm the contractions were back, about 20 min apart, and painful enough to make any attempt at resting fruitless. I went back into the living room, turned on my labour tape, put on my headphones and concentrated on working through the contractions. Around 3:15, with contractions now 8-12 min apart, I asked my mum to help me put the electrodes for the TNS machine on my back to help relieve the pain. As it turns out, the contractions were all at the front of my belly, and the TNS machine mainly worked on my back, so it made very little difference. On the other hand, it gave me something to fiddle with every time a contraction hit, which did provide some distraction (as did the contraction timer Shana posted here!)
Once the TNS machine was in place I called dh. He came home around an hour later, and we spent the next 3 hours just getting through labour. At 7:15 pm, just as dh was about to tuck into a pizza he had warmed up I suddenly said: ‘I want to go to hospital NOW!’ We called a taxi and grabbed a last few items (including the pizza) and headed off to the hospital. While walking out of the building the contractions were practically coming on top of each other – very uncomfortable!
We got to hospital at 7:50 pm or so and I was hooked up for continuous fetal monitoring, something I only agreed to when the midwife said I could stand up. I asked not to be checked internally, and she was fine with that. The graph showed that Mel was coping just fine with the contractions (things had slowed down a bit again), the machine was disconnected, and we were left alone to get on with labouring, with me vocalising loudly through the pain. At 9:00 there was a shift change, and the new midwife insisted on monitoring me again – my instant feeling for her was one of dislike. Again everything was fine, and we were left alone. At 10:10 pm I started to feel serious pressure, called the midwife, and asked to be checked. At this stage I still hadn’t lost my mucous plug and my water hadn’t broken. The midwife had a good feel around in there and announced that I was at 10 cm, but with a tiny lip, and that the baby’s head was still a bit high. She suggested I labour on my knees on the bed, holding on to the upright end of the bed. During the second contraction in this position my water broke, giving an instantaneous sensation of relief. I had originally wanted to try and deliver in this position, but it didn’t feel comfortable, so I ended up half-sitting, with the midwife and nurse each holding a leg and dh supporting my back. (So much for my intentions of NOT labouring in the classical hospital way!)
And then the pushing started. And boy, did that hurt! I got to feel the whole ‘ring of fire’ thing this time and almost lost it. This is where the midwife’s assertiveness came in – she really helped me focus and was very clear in her instructions on how to push. After 3 or 4 pushes the head was out and you could already here her cry. Waiting for that last contraction was pure hell, but eventually it came and she slithered out of me, and this squirming wet little thing was placed on stomach.
Melanie Kim was born at 10:31 pm Swedish time, after about 8.5 hours of active labour and only ten minutes of pushing. She weighed 3620 g (8 lbs even) and was 49 cm long. Her Apgar scores were 9 – 10 –10, and she was a pink and very healthy looking baby.
Unfortunately, despite the midwife’s best efforts to support my perineum, I once again tore badly into my sphincter muscle. The doctor on call came to check out the damage and decided that since this was my second tear in the same area, and fecal incontinence is no fun, she would sew me back together in the OR under general anaesthetic. It took about an hour before I was taken up, which gave me a chance to hold Mel and try to breastfeed her for the first time. Luckily she latched on like a pro straight away and had a good drink.
At around 5:15 am I was finally wheeled to the ward, and dh went home for a couple of hours sleep. Mel was checked one more time and then tucked up in bed with me. Needless to say, I couldn’t sleep. By 8 am Melanie had had her first check-up with the pediatrician, who pronounced her healthy, and at 5 pm, less than 19 hours after giving birth, I was discharged. We live very close to the hospital, so DS and I took the bus home, while dh and my mum walked home with Melanie in the pram.
As I write this Melanie is exactly 78 hours old. So far she has spent most of those 72 hours asleep, and when not asleep she indulges in her second favourite passion in life: sucking down as much breast milk as possible. Maybe we’ll get lucky and she’ll be an easygoing baby!
My stitches are still very painful and I feel very stiff, but otherwise I am recovering just fine. All in all it was a great birth experience.