Friday, March 13, 2009

The birth of Devon Hannah - Part 2.

Okay. Are you sitting on the edge of your seats? Suitably tense? Ready for action? Okay, so here we go.

As some of you know, my EDD (expected due date) was Friday 13 February and of course, like any hippie with some knowledge of numerology, I kept going through which dates I liked and which I didn't. I don't like odd numbers, I didn't want the same birthday as someone else and I wasn't particularly fond of having my baby on a Friday the 13th either. But of course, none of that was going to be up to me, coz this baby was coming when it was coming... or so we thought.

I went along for my regular obstetricians appointment with a few weeks to go and everything was fine. Until Dr Claite mentioned my belly length had been bigger than my weeks during my whole pregnancy, of which I was wholly unaware. To the uninitiated, the length of your belly from your pubic bone to the top is usually the same amount of weeks you are, e.g. at 26 weeks, you usually measure 26 cms. And apparently I was slightly higher with my measurements, which usually means a bigger size baby. So Dr Claite decided to send me off for an ultrasound to get a size estimate.

I was lucky enough to get in straight away and David measured the length of the femur and other bones and also checked the internal organs. I asked him for a guesstimate when he was done as he's experienced and knows what he's on about. He said, well it looks to be about 10 pounds! I freaked out. I said How accurate is that? He said, well the machine calculates it based on the measurements I've taken, so it's pretty spot on. Also, there seems to be an anomaly with the kidneys as one of them is quite enlarged, but the Dr will tell you about that. I was in shock. I left and was in tears by the time I reached the car. I rang Shane but he couldn't really understand my warbling through the sobbing, so I drove straight to my Mum.

Mum was standing at the hatch at the Post Office and as luck would have it, she was chatting to Debbie who was my ante-natal teacher first time round. I babbled to them both what had happened and Debbie was fantastic, soothing me and encouraged me to go home and ring the obstetrician straight away, which I did. Dr Claite said we'd wait and see what the head obstetrician said at my regular midwife appointment the next week.

Shane came with me this time and the Dr said we'll send you for another ultrasound next week, 2 weeks since the last one and we'll compare the measurements and see how much baby has grown. This could just be a growth spurt but if it has increased, you may need to be induced early or have a caesarean. This had Shane and me on edge for another whole week, not knowing what was going to happen. So after the next ultrasound, Dr Praba compared the results and then said, this is strange, there's been a mistake because the measurements are smaller and that's not right, the baby doesn't shrink so obviously the first ultrasound wasn't done right. However he then said I was still quite big and as Cassidy was 8 pound 3 ounces and this baby was already around that weight, he would prefer to book me in to be induced. So he scheduled me for Thursday 12 February at 4pm. It was strange that weekend knowing that by the next weekend FOR SURE, our baby would be here.

It was also strange because, although I could have gone into labour naturally at any moment, we sort of stopped expecting and were just... waiting. My hospital bag was all ready to go and I had to prepare a bag for Cassidy who was staying at Mum's for a couple of nights. So on Thursday afternoon, we dropped Cassidy off at Mum's place and drove to the hospital. It was a pretty quiet drive; I was very, very nervous and shed a few tears but tried to keep calm.

We got settled in our room, then got moved coz the TV didn't work (God forbid!) and at 5pm, the midwife and obstetrician came in and put the gel on my cervix to start labour. (For anyone reading this who is squirmish, sorry, but I'm writing about the birth now so this will get pretty detailed). Within 10 minutes I had my first contraction as apparently this gel starts 'the niggles' which is basically an hour of contractions while it dilates the cervix. Sure enough, at exactly an hour later, everything stopped. So Shane and I had tea and had an awful nights sleep because the airconditioning wasn't working properly, plus poor Shane was on a mattress on the floor and ended up with a sore back all night.

We were awake pretty early and while I was having breakfast, around 7am, my contractions started again on their own. They niggled me on and off while I ate and were pretty regular at about 6 or 7 mins apart. At 8.30 we were moved into Delivery Room 2 and Dr Praba came and broke my waters. Wow, that's a weird feeling. You don't feel anything until the rush of warm water which is quite nice, but man, it kept coming and coming. And every time I moved, more would gush out. After a while, we decided I'd be comfortable standing up, as I was determined not to sit or lay down for the whole labour again, plus moving around helps bring things on. When I got off the bed, I leaked even more, so I waddled my way over to have a shower.

While I did this, Shane, my knight in shining armour, cleaned up the floor and bed as the midwife was out of the room. I wonder if they even realise he did this, he went along the whole floor with wet paper towels and a towel and cleaned it all up so no one would slip.
I told him how great he was and we had a little conversation about partners and how there were blokes we both knew who just wouldn't be able to cope with cleaning that sort of thing up, let alone deal with watching their partner go through this. And then we agreed that we both knew some blokes who definitely could handle it and it was nice to know that about them. Funny the little observations you have in quiet times. We were sort of in limbo, knowing things were about to get quite intense.

I stayed in the shower for ages under the hot water and Shane stood with me while I held the rails and rocked through the contractions. It definitely did feel better to be up and about and after a while I went back into the room and stood up, leaning on the bed while Shane rubbed my back. After a couple of hours of this, the contractions were becoming more painful and I was getting very tired very quickly. The midwife Nicola suggested I lay down on the bed on my side to rest and that I could use the gas if I wanted; after a few more contractions I decided this was a good idea. Shane was wonderful during this, he never got worried or panicked, he just kept up a constant stream of encouragement, made sure I had water and let me grab his hand or shoulder (and at one stage, his hair) to hold onto while I breathed with the contractions.
The gas is weird, you have to start inhaling it a bit before the crest of the pain, but if they hit you quickly, you're often puffing away and nothing is working, then the contractions die off before the gas hits you. It was hard to anticipate and to time my inhalations right. All the while I had the monitors around my belly checking the baby and the contractions and Nicola regularly checked my pulse and blood pressure, which was a bit too low. By now the contractions were 2 or 3 mins apart and lots more painful. When it worked though, it was great and after the first few, I rolled my eyes at Shane and told him I'm off my head! Of course, he thought this was hilarious, judging by his hysterical laughter. Nicola was great, she kept up lots of encouraging talk and Shane did too and that really helped me to concentrate through the pain. Once, I said to Shane, if there's anything you want to ask me, now's the time to do it coz I'll say yes to anything! And another time, Nicola commented on how well I was doing, to which I replied, Oh yeah, I think I'm fucking brilliant!

We had a bit of a panic moment though, as I misjudged the end of one contraction and the start of another and had too much gas; and I fainted. I remember sucking in and then my hand falling away. Shane was sitting with me and said, Tracey? Tracey? He calmly said to Nicola, Um, she's out, she's unconscious. Nicola RAN over and started shaking me, shouting my name and I was trying to mutter, I'm awake, I'm awake but I was too out of it. After I recovered, Nicola said that was a bit too close for comfort, it shouldn't be happening and your blood pressure is getting lower and lower, so let's call the obstetrician and if you want we can give you an epidural. Shane and I both agreed; I was incredibly tired by now. It was about 2pm so I'd been going for about 7 hours. The obstetrician checked and I was only dilated 3 cms; I remember feeling incredibly disappointed and that I had ages to go yet.

The anaesthetist came about half an hour later and I sat on the edge of the bed so he could get at my back. He waited while I had a contraction and I remember thinking, thank god, that'll be the last one I have to feel. He gave me a local and then started trying to give me the epidural needle which goes between L3 and L4 in your spine. But he couldn't find the space between them and ended up doing it between L4 and L5 which is quite rare apparently, only 5% of women have enough space there to use. He told me later he ended up looking in my file and seeing I have mild scoliosis (crooked spine) gave him the idea. Weird ay, but meanwhile I ended up having about 5 contractions while he thought of this and each time I was thinking, is this the last one, is this the last one? Man, I was ready to bite his head off and yell, JUST GET THE EFFIN THING IN THERE ALREADY!!

However, it was soon done and then aahhhh, painless. I tried not to fall asleep but both Shane and I dozed on and off for nearly an hour, it was nice just to rest in the quiet and the new midwife Cynthia came on. At about 3pm they checked me again and I was only 2.5 cms dilated. I wasn't progressing at all, so they decided to give me the drug in my drip to help bring the labour on and then check me again at 6.30pm. I had wires and cords all over me, I looked like Frankenstein. I remember too after checking me, Cynthia said that there was meconium in my waters. Meconium is the baby's first poo and it can be dangerous if it happens while they are still in the womb, as it sometimes means the baby's in distress. Cynthia didn't seem too concerned about it though as all my vitals looked good, so I tried not to worry about that too much. Looking back, I wonder if I should've kicked up a fuss.

Later on I realised I could feel the contractions although I wasn't having any pain with them, just the tightening of my belly. I mentioned this to Cynthia and she decided to check my dilation again, this was just after 5pm. She checked me out and said, guess what? I said, I'm fully dilated?, hoping against hope. Cynthia smiled and nodded and said yep and also, the baby's head is right here, you're fully engaged, it's nearly time to push!

Well, that woke us up! I sat up further in bed, got heaps of pillows behind me for support and Cynthia told me how to push. I had to push 3 times during the contraction and keep my muscles tensed when I took in a breath so the baby didn't slide back in. I had Shane on one side and Cynthia on the other and at the next contraction I started pushing, taking 2 breaths during it and getting lots of encouragement from my posse of 2. After 5 pushes like this, Cynthia said, the head's right there, you want to feel it? I looked at her in amazement and said Yes! and put my hand down and felt the warm soft head right there, wow. I looked at Shane saying, Can you see? and he was nodding.

She said okay, now with this next push the head will come out so when I say stop, you stop pushing immediately okay? I said yep, gave a push at the start of the contraction and Cynthia immediately said Stop. And so began the worst couple of minutes of our life. Cynthia said, The cord is around the baby's neck. Shane, when I say so, I want you to push that red button there okay? Shane said yes and got ready but stayed at my side. I'm not sure when she said it but the comment was also made how blue the baby was. Cynthia tried getting the scissors under the cord but it was wrapped really tightly and also the baby had her hand up against her face. Shane could see her trying to cut the cord. Cynthia asked Shane to hit the button and the obstetrician Damian and another midwife came running in. Damian came straight over and said to Cynthia, Cut it, just CUT IT, raising his voice. She managed to squeeze the scissors under and cut the cord without cutting the baby, they turned her slightly and then with one more push, out the baby came. Cynthia pulled her up and put her on my chest; as I mentioned before, I wasn't expecting this and it was the loveliest surprise. Shane said later my eyes were huge! She started rubbing the blue baby with a towel to get her blood circulating, I saw her eyes blink and relaxed a little and tried seeing past Cynthia's hands to see what sex the baby was. I asked if it was a boy or girl and she said, it's a girl. And I was hit with the biggest jolt of happiness ever, and said Hello Devon Hannah!

After 5 or 10 seconds, they took Devon away and put her in the humidicrib as the pedeatrician arrived, then the 3 of them started working on Devon to get her to breathe. Shane says he remembers the midwife tapping out time on the side of the crib, as she counted either how long Devon had been without oxygen, or the beats for CPR. We're not sure as we couldn't see past them to what was happening. We could hear them saying, Come on bubba, breathe, breathe.

Cynthia stayed working on me to make sure the placenta came away okay. Last time, I had 'retained' placenta which means it doesn't come away naturally and the Dr had to take it out surgically, so I lost of lot of blood. Luckily I was already in the theatre as Cassidy was an assisted forcep delivery, so it wasn't as bad as it could have been. I was concerned about this happening again this time; I remember being pleased when Cynthia said it had come out unassisted and whole. Then we watched the Damian and the pedeatrician and midwife working on Devon and getting her to breathe. She had a tiny little oxygen mask over her face, so scary.

I said to Shane, get the camera; I just knew I wanted a picture of her... in case, and in case they took her away. Shane wouldn't, when I looked at him, his face was white and he held his hand around his neck; I think he thought I hadn't realised what was going on. He came around to the other side of the bed and sat on the stool. He said, I feel faint, so I told him to put his head down on the bed and I rubbed his back while I watched them work on Devon. We were both crying by then. I said a couple of times, Is she okay? Is she okay? and the second time Cynthia said, Yes she's fine now. The atmosphere relaxed and I could hear the panic was gone from the voices of the staff with her. One even commented about how much she was pooing and that it was good. I could see them wiping her clean and her moving her arms around and was so relieved; I knew deep down she was going to be alright. And then we heard a little 'wah'.

The midwife called Shane over and said Come on Dad, you want to cut the cord? so Shane got to do that this time. He cut the cord close to the belly button like they showed him and says now he remembers it being really hard; obviously the umbilical cord is made of pretty tough skin. After a few more minutes of being checked, they happily gave her the all clear. We could hear her making noises and the midwife wrapped her up and put a little bonnet on her head to keep her warm. They gave her to Shane who had the first cuddle and finally some colour started to come back into his face. The midwife took some photos and he then brought her over to me. I took my singlet off so I could hold her skin to skin and Shane lay her down on my chest. We spent ages like this, I just couldn't stop kissing her and gazing at her. Shane rang both our Mums and his brother and mate, while I unceremoniously had my legs put in stirrups while Damien stitched me up. Well, she was 9 pounds, so you can imagine.

Cynthia and I were chatting later and she said she suspected something wasn't right as when I stopped pushing between contractions, the baby was being pulled back in, which is often a sign that the cord is being held back. She also said how proud she was of me for following her instructions so well, I did a good job and pushed really well, so I was insanely proud of myself of course.

Mum and Cassidy soon arrived, the camera came out and heaps of photos were taken. Devon was eventually weighed; 4085 grams, as per the above pic. We were all struck with how much she looked like Cassidy. She has the same long dark hair, same nose, lips and chin and big wide eyes. One thing I will always remember is the intense pride I felt when told I had another baby girl, as well as the fear in Shane's eyes as they worked on her. I know someone who lost their baby at birth and I still cannot imagine going through that intense labour and delivery only to not have your baby at the end of it. I cannot thank the Dr's and midwives from that night enough. The whole thing felt so surreal and yet I just knew she was going to be okay. Mother's instinct perhaps?

Well, that's the whole, long, long story. Devon is 4 weeks old today as I write this and she is growing into a big girl. I haven't had her weighed yet but she would easily be 10 pounds already. She's a hungry hungry girl and is already out of her 0000 clothes. Cassidy just dotes on her, we all do. What can I say? I'm in love.

One more thing. On the wall in the delivery room was a pretty framed painting of a beach. The name of the painting? Devon Landscape. Must've been a sign huh?

Tracey x


Gem said...

I like how honest your stories are and births are such a wonderful yet painful experience. My fifth child was due on the 14th Feb (Valentines Day) and yay she just made it in!...12.07am she was born. Her future boyfriend/husband has no excuse not to forget her birthday, and neither will I!

Good Luck with Devon she's a cutie!