My birth experience

June 28, 2009

We didn’t plan to get pregnant. But Penny wasn’t an accident either. I stopped taking birth control 6 months before we got married. I’ve heard it takes 3 months to get birth control out of your system, and we figured even if I got pregnant right away, 3 months pregnant at the wedding was acceptable to us. I didn’t get pregnant until 7 months after our wedding.

For the first time in a few years, I’d actually motivated myself enough to go to work out with my best friend. We were talking about if I could be pregnant. I was having pain in my lower stomach that felt like the day before I’d get my period. I always had bad cramps, and the day before I’d start getting a dull ache. That’s what it felt like all the time. And my breasts were very tender. I had 2 pregnancy tests that I had taken about a week and a half before, which showed up with VERY faint pink lines. I chalked it up to the fact that they’d been sitting just inside an open window all winter. The day after exercising with my friend I went and bought a pregnancy test. And it was positive! Court was cleaning the litter box when I tapped him on the shoulder and held up the test. He kind of shrugged and said, “Yeah? And what does that mean?” I laughed and told him I was pregnant! I was due December 24th (of all days in the year…)

I was late (according to the doctors). But I was going to a Low Risk Obstetrics Unit, and one of the doctors explained that if I refused to be induced 10 days past my due date, I would be considered high risk and wouldn’t be able to give birth there anymore. Court has had 2 day surgeries at their hospital and we really liked all of the staff and how friendly they were. We told them we’d be back to have our babies there. I tried…

We drove to the hospital in High River (an hour away) for 8am Saturday morning, January 3rd, to be induced with Cervadil (to ripen the cervix and hopefully get me dilating). Before we left, they said I was having contractions about 11 minutes apart, but I couldn’t even feel them yet. We went home, putzed around a bit, then I had a nap. When I woke up I was having contractions, but wasn’t too sure they were contractions. I didn’t want to get Court worked up for no reason, but they seemed pretty close together, so I asked him to time them. 2 minutes apart and lasting a minute each! I called the hospital to ask if I should come in. Of course they said yes. It just seemed strange to me that there was no build-up, so I didn’t really believe I was in labour. Once we got to the hospital they checked me out and unfortunately I still wasn’t dilating very much. They also had 3 women in their delivery rooms already, with only 3 rooms in the hospital.

They kept me overnight, using morphine and laughing gas to get through. Because of the cervadil, at one point I was having 4 or 5 contractions one on top of the other, with no break in between. I remember trying to push my head through the bathroom wall because it hurt so bad. I remember vomiting once because of the pain. But they’re distant memories now. The morphine might have slightly helped, but not so that I’d remember it now. The laughing gas was interesting! I would use it all the way through a contraction, and the next, and the next, until I’d just about pass out. I had to start using it for the contraction, then switch to oxygen in between. Trying to get comfortable and get some sleep was not fun. I am not a back sleeper, but every time I tried to lay on my side the contractions would get stronger. I should have clued into this at the time, but hindsight is 20/20! The next morning my contractions were down to 20 minutes apart, a little bit more dilation (but still only 3 cm), and I wasn’t hurting during the contractions. At one point the nurse asked me if my water had broke. I said no, but she said my bed was wet. So I’m one of those lucky ones whose water broke and didn’t even know it!

After the anaesthetic guy, obstetric surgeon and on-call doctor had a talk, they decided that for a number of reasons, they didn’t feel safe delivering Penny there. Mostly because of how much water I was retaining would make it hard to put any drugs into my spine. They shipped me off to the Rockyview (allowing us to get ourselves there, not by ambulance).

Rockyview was also very busy and we had to wait for a delivery room. But I did get some measure of priority because I’d already been in labour overnight and my water had broken the night before. We got into a delivery suite about 8pm, got on the epidural and oxytocin and started from there. Sometime between midnight and 7am (I’m not too sure when…it was pretty boring) they got me started on pushing during contractions. It feels like it was only maybe 10 contractions, but they told me it had been two and a half hours. The doctor was concerned because I wasn’t progressing at all and started talking about vacuum extraction. I had let my epidural wear off a bit so that I could feel the contractions and push, and all of a sudden the doctor said yep, we’re doing the extraction. I didn’t have time to get the drugs back up so it hurt like hell. Penny made her very delayed appearance at 7:26am on January 5th. For those keeping track, that’s 47.5 hours since I was induced with the cervadil (but about 24 hours of labour, and maybe 3 or 4 of active labour).

They got Penny out and took her to clean up and I guess I just lay on the bed for about an hour and a half while they stitched me up, pulled my placenta out for me and dealt with a major hemmorage. I knew something was wrong but they didn’t say anything, so I didn’t even want to ask. Court just stayed with me and held my hand and talked me through it. I had to make him go take pics of Penny.

My birth experience didn’t turn out the way I’d wanted it. I didn’t want an epidural, but I wasn’t against pain relief. I know that if you get an epidural, you’re more likely to need other forms of medical intervention, and I just didn’t want to go down that road. I wanted to deliver in High River, and ended up in Calgary instead. I wouldn’t have opted for a vacuum extraction (who would?), but it is better than a cesarean. Since Penny was born, Alberta has started covering the cost of midwives ($3000-$3500). Midwives have hospital privileges, so you can have home birth, in a birth centre or at a hospital with a midwife. This is the route I’d like to go for the next time. I’ll also look at having a doula, but they aren’t covered so I’ll start saving now.

I want to move around, I want it to be more natural than it was. But more than that, I’d like to be in the comfort of my own home for the recovery. It was more of a stress for me to be sharing a room with a screamer who wasn’t getting enough to eat, and having a migraine that the hospital couldn’t give me any drugs for. I want to prepare myself better for the next pregnancy and birth, including yoga to limber up, and hopefully having less of a pre-pregnancy weight than I did this time. It’s a process I’m going to start now, in hopes of having an experience I want next time.

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One comment

  1. that’s quite the birth experience! i have had 2 very different birth experiences now and i will say that while different (one wonderful out-of-hospital birth, one totally unexpected hospital birth), there were good things in both…

    the best thing we did was save for midwives each time… if it wasn’t for those ladies, i would have ended up with a section for my last birth… getting in with a practice now will be more difficult (more people wanting their services now that they’re covered), but i know many people who’ve been on waiting lists and eventually get in…

    (ps: if you’d like an invite to my blog, let me know)

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