I thought that I would begin the Mom’s Manic Monday series by sharing my birth story with my readers. Axl was only due on the 09 March 2014 but I was hoping for a safe arrival a little earlier than expected and the way things worked out – I got just that!
On the 26th of February, my husband and I woke up early to go and queue at the local clinic in Uitenhage, for my usual check-up. I had never suffered with high blood pressure, until 2 weeks previous and since then I had memorised the numbers to aim for. The sisters at the clinic were already concerned about the swelling in my ankles and the high blood pressure was adding to the pile of things to stress about. However, I had no protein in my urine – until today. That was all that they had been waiting for, it didn’t matter that on this particular day, my blood pressure was normal or that my swelling wasn’t as bad as days before. No – the urine test was enough for them to start with blood tests and the promise of returning to high risk care, at the hospital, the following day.
|The last belly shot|
I decided that I would need to prep myself into going back to the hospital, as I had never been to one before. Yes, I have never had stitches, broken bones or even my tonsils removed – yet, I had to come to terms with leaving my comfort zone and the possibility of being induced in the coming days. No one in my immediate family has been induced nor have they faced hypertension, so it was up to me to keep a brave face while they all ran around worrying about the process to follow. I have to admit that usually I would run around like a chicken without its head too, but I found a calm inside and focused on that. I packed all my bags three times over, being sure that if my son were to be delivered the following day – I would have everything ready for his care and my own, at the hospital.
Thursday morning, we found ourselves queuing with several other high risk patients. They took a look at my blood results and said that there were irregularities (I am still not sure what this meant, but it seemed rather serious). The doctor sent me off for a retake of my blood and a scan to see if Axl was big enough for delivery. She explained that in normal circumstances with regards to hypertension, they would not let me carry a day over 38 weeks and I was approaching 39 weeks like the Fast and the Furious. By the sounds of things, I would meet my little boy, tomorrow.
After a look at my results, a quick internal and a lot of writing, the doctor looked up at me with a reassuring smile and said, you will need to be admitted now. They are going to do a catheter to expand the cervix and then tomorrow, we will break your water and give you a solution to drink to bring on contractions. You see, when you fall pregnant, you read of two things: natural birth vs. c-section but no one ever explains to you the possibility of being induced, the process of what your body will go through and what it all actually means. It can be an overwhelming experience when things don’t go the way you were preparing for, no matter how many pep-talks you’ve had with yourself in the coming months, nothing prepares you for the time that you weren’t even considering.
I made my way up to the maternity ward, hubby by my side, with far too many bags in tow. I was shown my bed before being whisked away for the awful catheter that would expand my cervix by means of a balloon filled with liquid and told that it would fall out, on its own, during the night or early hours of the morning. But surprise, surprise – 2 hours later, it was out. So now for a lonely and uncomfortable evening in hospital, trying to get sleep for the big day. An abundance of emotions flooded my mind as I drifted in and out of sleep – one minute I was so excited, the next I was scared of the pain – really, all I wanted right there and then was my husband, he’d tell me some horrifying story of his experience in hospitals and make mine seem minimal, he’d follow the story with, “man up – you can do this!” Although, I know he is a Whatsapp message away, I didn’t want to interrupt his sleep, he’d need the energy for the morning as much as I did.
Morning came with a whole bunch of tests and having my water broken, before trying to swallow the salty solution that would bring on my contractions. The only good thing about the sun rising was seeing my husband walk through those doors at 7am with an amazing breakfast, that I could not bring myself to eating.
From what I can remember, the hours to follow were torturous. No matter how many of those posters you read about comfortable labour positions – they all lie! There is not a single position that helped, I could literally tick them off as I squatted, crunched, lied down and threw my body at my husband. I tried with all my might not to be the woman from the exorcist, screaming and swearing at my husband for his contribution to the matter. I am proud to say that I went polar opposite and would pass out from lack of energy, not having any to even dare express the pain. Instead, my only means of communication was falling into my hubby’s arms with each passing contraction.
This is where I have to thank Darren for everything that he did in that labour room. I know the extreme fear he held about not having it in him, to bear witness to my pain or the birth of his child. But it seemed that when it came to the actual event, he put all of that behind him, he held my hand although I begged him not to, (in fear I would rip his hands open) with each tear that fell, and each time I passed out – he would tell me to keep it together, that it wasn’t much longer and that I was doing great, although I felt like my pain management was a complete failure. In the two days that I spent in hospital, I saw many women come and go from wards, but I was the only one who had a husband by my side – that is admirable. Whenever he saw something that worried him, he told the nurse, he spoke up for me when I couldn’t. I cannot explain how grateful I am, to have him.
By 11:30, they checked and found that I had only dilated a further 1cm through the past 4 hours. I was sitting at 4cm and by the looks of things, this kid was only coming in the early hours of the next morning. I just wouldn’t have it, I asked to go to the bathroom while my husband moved my bags to the new labour ward. I sat there, fighting the urge to pass out, I whispered to myself, “Axl – I need you to come now, I don’t know how much more I can do, my body wants to give up but my mind won’t let me. You need to help me out now and make your way into my arms.”
I found the energy in myself to get back to my husband. He tried to help me onto the bed, but I couldn’t. Honestly, there is no words to describe the pain. Suddenly my contractions were stronger and closer than ever and there was no gap, from the pain, to lift my legs onto the bed. So instead, I stood – I stood the way they show you on those ridiculous posters, with your head resting on your hubby’s chest. It doesn’t help the pain and most of the time, you feel like you need the bathroom real badly, but it was great to feel supported.
I am not sure how long we stood there for, it seemed forever but looking back at the times, it wasn’t really. I remember hearing my husband asking the nurse to give me something for my energy. I had not eaten and the little bit of sweet tea that I drank in the early hours of the morning, had all come up when I vomited, from the pain. After much convincing from my husband, the sister brought over a drip with glucose. Oh my, to think back that a year ago, I cried when they gave me an injection – and now, I have had needles coming from every which way and how. But a drip still terrified me and I was hoping to avoid it. The sister took my hand, while my husband tried to keep me awake. There was no way for me to keep still though, the contractions were unbearable and before I knew it, Darren was lying across my arm to keep me still. He only told me this the next day, when I asked about the severe bruising on my hand, that she inserted the needles but because of me moving – the needle was doing a vicious dance under my skin and he was waiting for it to rip through the other end. She tried sticking it with tape to keep it still, but the liquid just poured out and she said that they would need to redo it. (Great) But first, she wanted to do an ECG on the baby to monitor my contractions and what not. Seriously, you want me to lie down and lie still for a test??? This would also mean that I’d need to lay down… on the bed. After some convincing and a lift from Darren, I was on the bed, squirming around like a wriggly worm. I saw no way for this nurse to get an accurate reading and clearly, so did Darren. He decided to brave it out and asked for her to check how far along I was. The sister was hesitant but decided to give us this one. I have never seen someone move so quickly! I asked what was wrong, and she sang the words I longed to hear – “time to get to delivery.”
I honestly have no idea where the sister disappeared to but somewhere deep inside, I found a second breath and asked my hubs where the delivery room was. He and I walked side-by-side to the delivery, listening to another woman screaming from the other room. I lifted myself on to the delivery bed, for the nurse to come in very surprised by the fact that I managed this pursuit – but nothing was going to stop me, this baby was coming and that’s all I needed to know to get me through the next few moments.
My delivery room was filled with complete madness as there was a baby in an incubator whose mom had been moved to another hospital. I had people coming in and out, trying to figure out where this baby should be moved to.
In government hospitals, you don’t usually have a doctor in the room for delivery, it is handled by the sisters but the female doctor, Dr Hendricks, who admitted me to hospital happened to be on duty and seemed to take a liking to my hubby and I, so decided to assist with the birth. It was on my second push, when two male doctors, who I had encountered in the last day, one of which told me I was only 4 cm dilated not even 1 hour, 45 minutes previously, came in. They both looked at the sister and asked what I was doing? In my head I thought, “What am I doing? What, is this not how other women do it? Am I doing it wrong? The movies showed this position!” But after she responded with, “It’s time” and he asked, “Are you sure?” I figured he was referring to how quickly I reached 10cm. I heard one of the doctor’s ask my husband, who sat behind me, aiding me with support, if he could see the head. He said, no – which prompted me to say, “Don’t you dare look!”
3 quick pushes followed by 1 long push, 10 minutes later – and my son was born at 12:56pm on the 28th of February.
As he shot out, I asked the doctors if he had a penis, both male doctors who still stood, in what I can only imagine to be an undesirable viewing position, laughed and said, “yes, why?” Relief sunk in, and I responded that I wouldn’t need to repaint his nursery. I then looked up at Darren and asked if Axl had 10 fingers and toes, to which he responded yes. Okay – all is fine, now hand him over!
Nothing can take away just how amazing it is to hold your child for the first time.
Axl weighed 2,95 kgs and was 53cm in length. He is completely healthy and such a content baby. Although I had my own round of complications to follow, with excessive bleeding, I had a great team of doctors who worked on me and ensured my discharge the following morning.
People often put down government hospitals and I realize that it is the mind-set that you have, upon entering the hospital. You can choose to be a patient from hell, complain about everything and be treated horribly or you can go in, show gratitude towards each person that you encounter. Each of those doctors and sisters are people too, they have very little resources yet they deliver hundreds of babies per month. They know what they are doing and take precautionary measures to ensure the safe delivery of you and your child. I don’t have an experience of private care to compare my stay too, but I can honestly say that there is no way I can flaw the hospital or clinic in anyway. There was a time when I apologised for my behaviour when they tried to give me the drip and I wouldn’t sit still, the sister smiled and said, “Don’t be silly, this is my job.” But I could see how happy it made her, to actually hear that from a patient. It was great that before I left the hospital, the female doctor who helped deliver said to Darren and I, “I don’t think I have ever meet such a sweet couple, you guys have made my day.” Later that evening, when my complications begun – she volunteered to give me her opinion on the case and even offered to do my stitches, despite it being a sister’s duty. Afterwards, she sat cradling Axl and spoke to me for an hour or so about general things, she then gave me the greatest compliment and said, “I have never seen someone so silent during child birth.”
The reason that that meant so much is, I walked in there telling myself that I didn’t want to be the person who made a scene. I have a terrible history of not managing pain to the best of my ability but in the past, those pains were unavoidable – this was all my doing. It took 8 months to conceive and 38,5 weeks to get me here, this was all me and I had no one else to blame. I could swear at my husband, but it took two to tango. Why chase him off, when really, he is the only one there who is going to help me through it.
Everyone told me that after you see your baby, you’d forget the pain. They are all lying and you should not believe them! But, when you get to hold this bundle of pure perfection, it sure makes the pain worth it.