[Before I write Max’s birth story, I’d just like to point out that it was an extremely drawn out process. I spent 2 nights in hospital at 34 weeks because I started having contractions and they had to monitor both Max and myself. Once they finally discharged me, I was put on temporary bed rest until 37 weeks when I entered the ‘safe zone’. Everyone was surprised that I even made it to my due date without giving birth, let alone going as overdue as I did.]
October 17th, 2015
Michael and my dads birthday. I woke up at 6am and called ahead to Rotorua Hospital to let them know we were about to make the hour journey over. I had done this for the past 3 days, each day they told me not to come, they didn’t have room for me and to try again tomorrow.
Once again, they told me to try again the next day as there still wasn’t room for me. Holding back tears, I told them I was two weeks overdue, I had to come today. Poor lady, she had to speak to her supervisor to make sure it was okay if I went over. Her supervisor, however, had the nerve to ask why I hadn’t called earlier and I shouldn’t have left it until I was exactly two weeks overdue.
I should have known that was the start of a horrible, long day.
At 10am, they did an internal to decide which route of induction I needed to go down. I was nearly 5cm although not in labour, so they decided to break my waters and see how it goes from there. Unfortunately, that threw my birth plan completely out the window – I was hoping for a water birth but discovered there was meconium in my waters so instead Max had to be monitored constantly via a wire they screwed into his head and taped to my thigh. Within 10 minutes, the contractions came on thick and fast. I wasn’t expecting that, if I’m being honest. You always hear stories on how you start feeling niggles and then you start timing your contractions to see if they’re close enough to be considered ‘labour’. It wasn’t like that at all. It was knock-you-to-your-knees contractions from the outset.
After a couple of hours, I requested the gas and air for some pain relief. More hours went past, and by 4pm I felt I was ready to start pushing.
They let me get off the bed and squat down next to it. I was there for maybe 20 minutes but that got too hard. So I moved to the toilet. My midwife had told me that it was really common to give birth on the toilet, you’re in a more comfortable position and your body naturally opens up more. Still no luck.
By about 8pm I was exhausted. It had been 4 hours since I started pushing and I was in so much pain. I think I had been asking for an epidural for a while now, my gas had run out and I had been waiting a good hour for a refill and I just needed a break from the constant contractions.
They eventually let me have Remifentanil, which was a experience in itself. One of the side effects is it lowers the levels of oxygen in your blood, so you have to be monitored constantly. When your levels drop, an alarm on the machine goes off and generally whoever is around has to give you a bit of a slap and tell you to breathe. Or maybe the slap part was just something Michael enjoyed doing?
At about 10pm, they hooked me up to pitocin as I wasn’t quite fully dilated. By that stage, they had taken the Remifentanil off me, as I kept falling asleep and not doing what my body was telling me to. There were two midwives in the room, trying to get me to push, but I was too exhausted. I started sleeping through contractions, and I completely lost the urge to push. Most of this time is a blur to me – a blur of people yelling at me, telling me I wasn’t doing it right, threatening to get a surgeon in (which by this stage, was all I wanted.)
I ended up having to be in stirrups which is by far the worst position to be in while in labour. There was so much pain in my back and my anxiety was through the roof. I felt trapped, so I tried to pull my feet down and put them back on the bed. The next thing I knew, my entire body felt like it was on fire, and then I felt cold – if you could feel colours, I felt white. I would later learn that this was the moment I most likely fractured my tailbone.
Just before midnight they called a surgeon. He didn’t arrive until 1am. He took one look down there and the first thing he said was ‘this baby isn’t coming out on its own’. Like where the hell were you 6 hours ago?! By this stage I had been pushing for approximately 9 hours, I had all pain relief taken off me and I hadn’t eaten since breakfast.
I was told they were going to have to do an assisted delivery, and Max was going to have to be suctioned out. I was also told that it had to be done quickly, Max’s heart rate was doing crazy things and there were now more people in the room setting up and getting ready to take Max away. As the surgeon was getting all of this things prepared and I was preparing myself to FINALLY have my baby in a few short minutes, I had that white coloured feeling again. I looked at mum with wide eyes, asking what had happened. I saw she had tears in her eyes and she told me it was just the baby. I tried to look down and I saw scissors – they had cut me. Without being told, without having any form of pain relief, they performed an episiotomy. Before I could even get my head around what had just happened, the surgeon was telling me to push as hard as I could while he pulled.
At 1.24am on the 18th of October – weighing an almighty 10pounds 5ounces, Max Jonathan James Louder was born.
Recovery was horrible. I felt like I had been hit by a truck 50 times over. People were telling me to sit down and relax, but it hurt so bad to sit. All of my stitches healed after about a month. My back took until I was approximately 7 months pregnant with Ava to feel better. But, I got a beautiful baby boy out of it and I wouldn’t change that for the world.
Ava’s birth story isn’t as full on (thank god).
When I was a couple of days past 37 weeks, I had my first stretch and sweep. Her weight and size had been closely monitored my whole pregnancy because Max was so big. I had multiple scans (which was extremely lucky as Ava was stubborn during the 20 week scan and wouldn’t show us if she was a boy or girl), and it was concluded that she was going to be a decent size baby. I had 3 sweeps all up, the last one being the day before she was born. My midwife (different midwife from my last, I must add) had told me to expect to have her either that night or the next day.
At 11pm I had a bit of a show, and started getting small niggles every now and then but I ignored it and went to bed.
23rd November 2016
Michael and I took Max for a long walk in the morning. He had taken the day off as well as my mum, since we pretty much knew today was going to be the day. While we were walking I was still having weird fluttering feelings but nothing bad. When we got home, Max went down for a nap and we played Mario Kart for a couple of hours. I started timing the feelings I was having as I noticed they were getting stronger. Just before lunch, my mum, nana and cousin came around with some food. I was enjoying my croissant while bouncing on my swiss ball and then I felt a small gush. I had sprung a leak. I text my midwife to let her know, and we planned to meet at the maternity ward at 1pm.
We left home and I stopped to have a chat with some other people staying in our apartment block, and they commented about how I looked like I was ready to pop. Their faces were priceless when I said I was actually in labour and on my way to the hospital! Then the most typical thing happened… we ran into road works. The road was closed so we had to go the long way. I *think* that’s when Michael started stressing a bit.
As I was getting out of the car, I had my first almighty leg-buckling contraction. From where we had parked to the doors of the maternity ward, I had 3 more strong contractions. The lovely midwives working there knew I was on my way and had the water running to fill the pool – I was going to be able to have the water birth I always wanted.
I got in to pool and used gas and air periodically during my contractions. The biggest thing that helped me was watching the ripples in the water as I breathed through them.
The whole experience was amazing. Obviously I was in an insane amount of pain, but I kept my cool pretty well. It wasn’t invasive, it was just me in the pool, my mum was putting cold flannels on my face and Michael was holding the gas for me in case I wanted it. I will admit, I did cry when it was time to push. I think I was just so scared that I wouldn’t be able to do it like last time.
I pushed for half an hour and it was over.
At 2.44pm, Ava June Louder made her swift entrance into the world, and I was able to grab her and pull her up to me. She weighed 9pounds 6ounces, a bit bigger than expected, but she was tiny in our eyes. She was born at 38 weeks 5 days which made her fall into the 100th percentile for her weight, which would usually mean she had to be monitored and tested for diabetes but because of my ‘history’ of big babies it was determined she was completely fine. I had a small tear on my episiotomy scar, but as long as I didn’t cross my legs or do yoga any time soon I could get away with no stitches.
I almost cried when Michael got to cut the cord – something he wasn’t able to do with Max. I almost cried again when an hour and a half later I walked to my room from the birthing suite without any help. I showered without any help. I was able to sit up, get up, move around and lay down without help.
I went from giving birth in a room with bright lights, surgeons, and a team of people ready to take my baby away from me, to a dimly lit room, in a pool with my music playing and the closest people I felt I had next to me.
Everyone’s birthing experience is different, and every birth is different. I went from one extreme to the other. Thinking I was literally going to die to thinking I could easily do that again.
…But I have no intentions of ever doing that again.