Labour stories [Part One: Charlie]
Now I know that the title of this blog is going to get two very different reactions. Half of you are going to think “yaaasss girl gimme all the juicy labour details!” and the other half of you are going to be all like “f*ck NO do I want to read about Teagan pushing a human watermelon out of her lady parts”. So if you’re part of the latter group, do yourself a favour and keep scrolling… otherwise grab yourself a cuppa, it’s story time!
Going into labour with Charlie was fairly textbook, which is a very comforting thing when its your first time and you have no idea what to expect! Charlie’s due date was 29 September 2014, but I was adamant that I wanted her to be a Virgo so at around 37 weeks I tried a few little things to bring on her labour (Evening primrose oil, raspberry leaf tea, hot curry, walking). A few days before she was born I was feeling a little off. I remember being at the shops and feeling like I needed to faint or vomit, and I had gross period pains in my stomach and lower back. I text Nick thinking that this could be labour, but nothing seemed to progress.
On Saturday, 20 September 2014 (38 + 6 weeks pregnant) I was jolted from my sleep at 6am. I heard a faint “pop” and thought in my dazed state “did that noise just come from inside me?”. I jumped up to go to the toilet and when I sat down I could feel warm liquid slowly dribbling out of me, but to be honest by this point I was so far pregnant that I couldn’t figure out if my waters had broken or if I was just weeing and couldn’t feel it properly! I went back to bed and woke Nick up to tell him that I thought my waters had broken. He was still half asleep and started feeling around in the bed as if to find a big puddle haha!
When he finally woke up properly I rushed back to the toilet, the liquid was coming a lot faster now and was a bit more murkier and tinged with a little bit of blood. Nick called the hospital and told them what was happening, but because I wasn’t feeling any contractions at that point they told me to wait it out at home for a bit longer. So I called my parents to let them know and my Mum started to make her way over to our apartment as we had decided that she would come to hospital with us. I began to freak out a little, and all of a sudden felt super unprepared so I decided to put a load of washing on and clean the apartment. By the time Mum got to us I was having very regular and painful contractions, but I was still procrastinating and thought that going to the hospital was far too drastic. The contractions felt just like a “tightening” feeling. My whole stomach would tighten and go really hard, and then it would relax. I was noticing that I was feeling most of the pain in my back though. Mum began to time and write down my contractions, and Nick called the hospital again to tell them we were coming in soon. Eventually (after Nick practically ripped my toothbrush from my mouth) I agreed to leave for hospital, so we grabbed our bags and made our way down to the basement where the car was parked. I think I stopped about 5 times doubled over in pain from contractions on the way to the car.
Nick drove a little erratically to the hospital, and almost ran a red light! But we got there in the end, checked in with reception and were led to the birthing suite. I remember thinking how calm all of the nurses and staff were. When we got into the room everything hit me all at once, and I panicked. I started crying and grabbed onto Nick, telling him that I didn’t want to go into labour today and begged him to take me back home. I just wanted to crawl back into our bed and go to sleep for a month!
My midwife walked back into the room at that point and began to reassure me. She must have said at some point “it’s okay Teagan, you’re okay” which really hit home for me, and then became my mantra for the rest of the labour. I got my head in the zone and changed into my robes. The OB I was booked in with and had seen all throughout my pregnancy wasn’t on call that weekend, but in a blessing in disguise, Dr Seonaid Mulroy was. I jumped up on the bed and was examined, my cervix was dilated 4cm and my contractions were lasting for over a minute at a time with only a few minutes break in between. After labouring around the room for a while; swaying my hips, clutching on to Nick, crouching on all fours, supporting myself with the bed and repeating over and over “it’s okay”, I decided to labour in the shower for a little bit. I was on all fours on the ground and Nick sat in with me and directed the stream of water onto on my lower back, which felt amazing! A nurse suggested that we move to the labour bath in another room, so we ran a bath and I jumped in. But I soon realised that every time I had a contraction I felt the urge to bear down, which meant that I would lift myself up onto the side of the bath and therefore out of the water, completely defeating the purpose of the bath. I got out of the water and was examined again on the bed, but this time the labour had slowed down and the baby was retreating back up the birth canal. I was also told that the baby and I were spine to spine (the baby is supposed to face the other way) which explained why my contractions were hurting so much in my lower back.
The midwife suggested an epidural, which I declined. I wasn’t against epidurals, and the only consideration I had given to drugs in my birthing plan was that I definitely did not want pethidine, but I wasn’t ready for an epidural just yet and wanted to see if I could cope for longer without one. The midwife told me that sometimes “tweaking” nipples can help to induce labour, so she was going to leave me alone to do that and would come back in a while to check how I was going. When she left the room she called Mum out with her, and I later learnt from Mum that the nurse told her that I was going to need an epidural regardless, but they were going to give me some time to come to the conclusion myself rather than having it forced upon me. In retrospect I really appreciate that I was given this time to make the decision for myself.
As soon as Mum walked back into the room I had another contraction, and this one was so painful that the idea of tweaking my nipples sounded absolutely ridiculous. I decided I wanted an epidural and Mum went running out of the room to find a nurse. Not long after, the anaesthetist (fun fact, I can’t pronounce this word!) walked into the room. By this point I was terrified. I have a needle phobia as it is, but was so overwhelmed with everything that was going on and in so much pain that I backed myself into a corner of the room and wanted to disappear. He got me up onto the bed and started to put the epidural in, but at the same time I could feel a contraction coming on so I begged him to wait. He made some smart ass remark, and I was laying on my side looking up at Nick watching him fuming with anger. I thought that there was going to be an argument, but I closed my eyes and squeezed Nick’s hands as hard as I could, and got it over and done with. Getting an epidural is a pain that is very hard to describe. To me it felt like someone was punching me from the inside, almost as if I was winded. I felt a sickening pressure on my spine and had the urge to vomit (but thank god I didn’t).
Once the epidural was in and working, we didn’t have very much to do but wait! Mum read her book, Nick had a nap and I laid in bed and watched TV. I could barely feel my contractions anymore and the only side effect I had was a pain in my ribs every time I had a contraction which felt like they were going to snap!
At about 4:15pm I felt a very intense pressure in my bum, it felt like I was going to poo! Absolutely horrified I told the nurse that I wanted to get up to go to the toilet to do a poo, and to my surprise she started clapping and told me it was time to push! I told her that there was no way I was going to push as I was far too embarrassed, so she asked if I wanted a mirror to see the baby’s head. I agreed thinking she was talking about a small hand mirror, but in came a mirror the size of a large TV on wheels. Now convinced that there really was a baby about to be born, I decided to push. I put one leg up on the nurse, and the other up on Nick, and used them as support to help push. Chin to chest, I pushed with all my might as every contraction came along. I was concentrating on what the nurses and OB were telling me to do, but I could see out of the corner of my eye that Nick was preoccupied with something else and was getting increasingly worried.
I was told that all I needed to do was push the head out, and the rest of the baby would follow. I had even seen it on birthing videos, the head comes out and then the body kind of slips out afterwards and a screaming, healthy pink baby is born… if you’re lucky.
At around 4:30pm Charlie’s head came out, and all of a sudden nothing else happened. I caught a glimpse of her head just hanging there before the mirror was taken away and the whole room went into panic. Nick was screaming at me “PUSH TEAGAN PUSH!” at the same time the doctor yelled “STOP!”. What I didn’t know at the time was that Nick had been watching the baby’s heart monitor the whole time, and as I progressed with labouring her heart rate was beginning to drop. For most of the labour the heart rate was around 140bpm, but at the point he started screaming at me to push it had dropped to below 40bpm. So one minute I was pushing and everything was fine, and the next thing I knew a whole team of nurses came running into the room, half the bed was taken out from underneath me, my legs were put up in stirrups and a vacuum was put on Charlie’s head to rip her from my body.
It was as if the room became incredibly loud and everything was happening so quickly, and then the minute she was born, time stopped. The room was silent. She was put in front of my face for only a second and then taken away to the corner of the room. Charlie was blue and limp. In that moment, I thought she was dead. I looked up at Nick and I knew that he thought it too. Without saying anything he turned around and walked over to be with Charlie while I birthed the placenta. I laid on the bed feeling completely defeated. I had just been through 9 months of pregnancy, a whole day of labour, waited what felt like a lifetime for this baby, and now I thought she was dead. I watched helplessly as the doctors and nurses were working on her, trying to get her to breathe.
After what felt like hours, I heard a gurgling sound followed by some choking, and then FINALLY a baby’s cry. Relief flooded my body as Nick turned to smile at me. A few minutes later Nick walked back over to me, “what do you think her name is?” I asked him, already knowing what I wanted to call her… “Charlie” he replied serendipitously “She’s a Charlie”.
And that she was, our daughter Charlie x