Even though I was aware it was coming, I was in shock when the midwife said it was go time. I think the realisation that we were about to meet the little human that had been growing inside me for the last nine months really hit. By this stage I was exhausted; pain free but the most tired I have ever been in my life. I really was a little concerned that I wouldn't be able to push ‘properly’ given that I had no feeling whatsoever basically from my sternum down to my toes. The next contraction came, and whilst lying on my side I was instructed to push. Helen the midwife was providing great encouragement and giving me confidence that I was indeed pushing down in the right place and also providing enough oomph to get the baby down and out. The first couple of contractions were good – I felt tired but strong enough to concentrate on what I had to do. As the time and contractions went on though, my energy levels started to fade dramatically. By this stage I had been at the hospital in birth suite number five going on twelve hours, and could barely stay awake. I can vividly remember during one of the contractions (where I was encouraged to do five big push-till-you-run-out-of-breath pushes) forgetting who I was, what I was doing and basically losing consciousness. I was delirious and wasn't sure I’d be able to push the little man out but perked up when the word caesarean was mentioned due to the amount of time I’d been at it. A few more contractions passed and we were told that he was a big one and had a good amount of hair. I was so surprised and proud of trainee daddy. He had always joked that he would be waiting in the hallway during the labour and would come in and have his photo taken when the baby was out and had been cleaned up. Instead, I noticed (in the few odd times I had my eyes open) that he was down the ‘business’ end checking out what was happening as well as providing great support and praise during the pushes. The pushing was tough – I’m sure a few more frown lines were engrained in my forehead from the exertion expelled over that hour and a half. It was giving me a headache which was distracting me so I told trainee daddy to put a pillow over my face. He did say when a new person walked in to the room they were slightly confused why my ‘support partner’ was seemingly suffocating me. My pushes were from a combination of lying on my side and a sort of supported vertical squat. I was given the opportunity to view what was going on downstairs by looking into a mirror placed under the ‘exit’ but politely declined the offer; or maybe I gave a horrified ‘no thanks’ reply. Even if I did want to see the progress/hair/head, I did not have the energy (or my glasses/contacts) to focus.
After about an hour of pushing, the doctor mentioned that she may need to perform a vacuum delivery if I wasn't able to get the baby round that final bend as he was becoming distressed due to the amount of time it was taking (we later found out he was very close to having to be sent to Brisbane). The pushing was not working as effectively as required because bub was in a very awkward position to make his way through and down the final hurdle. The doctor and midwife did say my pushes ordinarily would have been more than sufficient to push a baby out who was in a normal position. Unfortunately, this baby was not in a normal or ideal position. Being the overly competitive person that I am that ‘threat’ really spurred me on. Over the next few contractions I believe my pushes were a thousand times more effective and I believed that I might have been able to avoid the vacuum. Unfortunately though time and exhaustion got the better of me and the doctor attached the vacuum to the baby’s head.
Before I knew it ‘congratulations’ were being thrown around the room. With the epidural I did feel the sensation of the baby coming out (and also when my waters were broken hours earlier) but did not feel any pain or feeling. This means I didn't know that I had done what all women are afraid of doing (yes, my husband saw my poo (he didn't want me to include that) and also didn't know that I had ‘torn’ (second degree). When the baby was shown to me I honestly thought he looked like a fat Asian baby or very much like his dad’s uncle Paul. His head was extremely big and his cheeks were huge. He was whisked over to the table to be attended to by the paediatrician as he had swallowed some of the meconium (his own poo) in the womb and was having a little trouble breathing. That five or ten or fifteen minutes went by so slowly. The other doctor was down at my end stitching me up and telling me who knows what. I was too shaken, exhausted and worried that I failed to really listen to anything she was saying. After the placenta was born (with the help of the injection to make it come quicker) the little human was brought over to me and placed on my chest. It was a surreal moment – very foreign. He did make his way to the boob to have his first feed and then just lay there for some time.
Once he fell back to sleep I was able to have a sleep too. Trainee daddy took this photo – I think it shows just how zonked out we both were.
I really don’t know how safe it is to let such a worn out new mum (and dad) look after such an important little thing after such an ordeal. I can’t remember what we did or didn’t do in those next few hours in the birth suite but we survived. I was able to have a shower about three or four hours after he was born (I was still pretty numb but my legs were strong enough) and that was one of the best showers of my life. We then made our way down to the ward to start the next part of the journey – looking after a newborn.