Labour stories [Part Two: Cooper]
If you’ve read my labour story with Charlie, then you would know that we had a bit of a rocky ending to her birth. All I wanted the second time around was to hear my newborn cry instantly, and this was something that I stressed over and over again to my OB, Dr Seonaid Mulroy. It was planned that I would be induced early in an attempt to lower the risk of shoulder dystocia happening again, so despite a due date of 30 June 2016, we booked in for an induction on the 21 June. I had my heart set on adding a Cancerian baby to our family ruled by two Virgo’s and a Sagittarian, so insisted on pushing the induction date back as far as possible to allow for that.
My little Gemini Cooper however, had a very different plan…
On Saturday the 11th June, at 37 weeks pregnant, I was at Nick’s footy game feeling very pregnant and uncomfortable. On the drive home I called Nick and asked how far away he was, telling him that I felt like I was having contractions and had a dull period pain in my lower back. The contractions weren’t regular at all, and were coming probably every half an hour, so we didn’t give it too much thought. By Monday (13 June), I felt even more so that I could have possibly been in labour, and even sent a message to my Mum and best friend to tell them to keep their phones on loud just in case I went into labour throughout the night!
Waking up on Tuesday (14 June) morning I felt like a bit of an idiot. Maybe I didn’t know what to expect the second time around? Maybe I wasn’t as intuitive with my body as I thought. We had an OB appointment that afternoon to finalise the details for the induction the following week, so I spent the morning lounging around home with Charlie and taking baby belly photos. I even updated a “one week to go” post on IG saying how I was going spend the last week of pregnancy soaking up our last days as a family of 3 – what a joke!
When I got to my OB appointment, the midwife asked how I was feeling. I told her that I was uncomfortable and had dull period pains, and that I thought I was going to go into labour the night before but nothing happened. She got a little smile on her face, and asked me to jump up on the bed so that Seonaid could examine me. Seonaid checked my cervix (OUCH!) and told me that I was 3cm dilated! All of a sudden everyone got so excited! Everyone but me. We were told that if nothing progressed overnight, we were to come in to the hospital at 7am for my induction. Seonaid asked me if I had anything I wanted to ask, and I just reminded her that all I wanted was to hear the baby cry. I also told her that I was terrified I would tear (I hadn’t the first time) and she reassured me that she would take extra good care of me.
Walking out of the appointment, I began to panic. I was totally prepared for my induction the next week. All my eyebrow, waxing and hair appointments were booked – how could I miss them?! Surely I couldn’t go into labour without my brows on point! By the time we got down to the carpark, I was in a bit of a state. I told Nick that he needed to take Charlie home in my car, and I would drive by myself in his car. I called my parents to let them know what was happening, and I remember my Dad asking me why I was worried and telling me “you’ll be fine Teags, you’ve done this before”, but that was the problem, I’d done it before and all of a sudden all those painful memories of labour came flooding back. That afternoon I made a last minute appointment to have my hair washed and blow dried, did some grocery shopping and finished packing my hospital bags. Mum, my sister, and Nadia all came to our house that night. The plan was that Nadia would come with Nick and I to be there for the labour and Mum and my sister would stay with Charlie for a few days at our house. Before bed I had a cry to Nick, telling him how scared I felt for the next day. I barely slept a wink that night.
Wednesday, the 15th of June 2016, we woke up bright and early to set off to hospital. Charlie was still sleeping peacefully in her bed, and it was a bittersweet moment kissing her goodbye for the last time as my only baby. Once we arrived at the hospital Nick, Nadia and I were shown to the birthing suite. I changed in to a gown, my hospital bands were put on and a monitor was put on my stomach to watch the baby’s heart rate. Seonaid came in to put a cannula in my arm and to break my waters, which was very uncomfortable for me, but I’ve always found anything internal (pap smears, STD checks etc.) rather painful. Once my waters were broken, the drip with Syntocinon was turned on to begin my induction. Within seconds, I was hit with the most intense contractions I’ve ever felt. They were coming one after the other with no break in-between for me to catch my breath. Not only was I barely coping, but the midwives could see from the baby’s heart rate that (s)he was panicking as every contraction came. The nurses said that the labour had come on way too quickly, so the decision was made to turn the Syntocinon off for a little bit. At this point, I felt the sudden urge to go to the toilet (thank god, because poo-ing on the bed during labour is such a big fear of mine!). When I walked out of the bathroom my contractions were still coming regularly, so I stood beside the bed and rocked back and forth for a little bit.
I discussed my pain relief options with the midwives, and decided that if the Syntocinon was being turned on again I definitely wanted an epidural. The anaesthetist the second time around was thankfully much easier to get along with than the one from Charlie’s labour! Once again I sat up on the side of the bed, hunched myself over into Nick, and experienced the gut wrenching pain of having an epidural put in. I was also having issues with the cannula in my hand, so the anaesthetist quickly changed it over to my other arm. A weird side effect that I had from the epidural was that I became incredibly itchy – it was almost unbearable! Eventually the anaesthetist had to be asked back in to the room to put a shot in my leg to stop the itchiness.
Once the epidural was put in, the Syntocinon was turned back on. However the same situation occurred and the baby was continuing to panic with every contraction. A call was made to Seonaid, and the decision was made to keep the Syntocinon off for the rest of the labour. It was only lunch time by this point, so we still had a long day ahead of us waiting for the labour to progress naturally. It was happening especially slowly because I now had an epidural in, and couldn’t stand up to promote active labour. The rest of the day was a bit of a weird one, there didn’t seem to be much happening – but the midwives sat intently watching the heart rate monitor, talking under their breath to each other, and asking me to lay as far to one side as I could to keep the baby happy. Nick was getting increasingly anxious, and I could see Nadia trying to calm him down without getting me worried. We watched some makeup tutorials, Nick took a nap, and we discussed baby names (we wanted to call him Cooper if he was a boy, and had no idea what we would call her if she was a girl!).
At 5pm, I felt the pressure on my bottom and knew that it was time to push! Seonaid was called back into the room, and it was all systems go! Remembering my strategy from Charlie’s labour, I asked for a mirror so I could focus on seeing the baby’s head. I put a leg up on Nick and the other on a midwife, put my chin to my chest and started pushing as hard as I could with every contraction. Seonaid and the midwives were incredible, coaxing me with every contraction and reassuring me that I was doing a good job. I could see a head crowning in the mirror, and before I knew it Seonaid was guiding the body expertly out of my body (FYI I didn’t tear, if you’re looking for an OB in Perth, Dr Seonaid Mulroy is your lady!).
At 5:19pm Cooper was born, screaming his lungs out like every healthy newborn should. With a quick check of the gender, he was placed instantly on my bare chest, and that skin to skin contact healed every single part of me that was damaged from Charlie’s labour. With Cooper’s birth came the beginning of our family of four, and I’ve never felt so complete.