“If you want to make God laugh tell him your plans.” Folk Proverb
This time last year I was exactly 40 weeks pregnant with BiP. I was huge, uncomfortable, scared, excited and totally organised. So I thought. As part of this week’s review of the last year I thought I’d share BiP’s birth story.
The best laid plans … My bag was packed, actually my bagS … I had so much stuff it looked like I was moving house. I’d read everything I could get my hands on, I’d done all my classes, the nursery was picture perfect and I’d mentally written my birth plan. My plan? To go into labour naturally, arrive at the clinic, see how far I could go without an epidural (I made sure I’d done all the paperwork to ensure that, if I wanted, I could have an epidural), I’d be moving around the room working through the contractions, I’d give birth in the position that I felt most comfortable in and I would leave with my nether regions intact. Pretty easy going birth plan. I knew that I did NOT want to be induced, be strapped to a bed and deliver flat on my back with my legs in stirrups and I definitely, under any circumstances, did not want an episiotomy.
The reality… by the time I reached 40 weeks, BiP’s due date I was in agony. The sciatica that had plagued me for much of pregnancy had become excruciating. I couldn’t walk without searing pain, I needed help getting on and off the toilet (nice) and I couldn’t get into the bathtub to take a shower without help. Oh, and I couldn’t sleep. I was miserable.
I’d been prescribed home visits for a midwife to come to my house every 48hrs to check on me (an excellent service provided free of charge in France). My stats were all good and BiP was fine but she could see I was rapidly going downhill physically and mentally. I requested a sweep (stripping of the membranes) at 40w1d as I was already 1.5cm dilated and I spent the whole day doing everything I could to help things along; I walked miles in pain but it was for a good cause, I ate a whole pineapple, aubergine parmigana, had a spicy curry (it just gave me heartburn), bounced on my ball, studded out my poor husband, etc I did EVERYTHING short of downing castor oil and vodka. NOTHING. Not even a promising contraction. She obviously wasn’t meant to come.
The next morning I was a mess – I’d overdone it and I was in agony (something I deeply regret). By Monday morning the midwife arrived to find me in my bedroom, having not slept more than an hour or 2 in 48hrs, crying my eyes out in just a t-shirt – I was in too much pain to get my underwear on. She decided to make the call to my gynecologist and recommend an induction. Her fear was that if I was to wait I wouldn’t have the energy to push. At this point I was 2.5cms dilated and anterior – BiP was ready to come any moment. My gynecologist agreed to the induction the following morning. I cried my eyes out. I had failed.
D-day … I slept all of 2 hours the night before my induction. I cried. I cried a lot. What was I doing? I didn’t want this. I could wait, but no, I couldn’t, the pain was intolerable. I prayed my contractions would start and my waters would break as I climbed the stairs to the clinic but they didn’t. We arrived at the clinic at 7:30am and I was admitted. The midwife came and told me to get onto the delivery table and strapped the monitoring belt on to my gigantic belly and they put the needle into my hand. I cried. I wanted to go back, I could, but I couldn’t. Then they started the Pitocin at 9am. My husband was by my side the whole time (except for when he snuck out for a coffee around 10am and a midwife decided to tease him and tell him that his daughter was already here – the look on his face when he saw me still very much with BiP in utero was priceless!) Then the contractions started, mildly at first and then stronger. Then around 11am they came and broke my water. It was the weirdest sensation and my bump became noticeably smaller! All the time I am strapped to a monitoring machine lying on my side.
Umm … someone get me an epidural! After my waters broke the contractions became harder and harder, I was sad they broke my waters but who was I to say anything considering I’d scrapped my birth plan? The midwife kept saying “Oh it’s your first baby, things take time”. I sent my husband to call her back to tell her I really needed the epidural and she reluctatantly checked me and ran out to get the anesthetist – I’d dilated 2 cms in 45 mins!
In comes the anesthetist! A real character who’s favourite sentence in English was “I’ll be back” obviously learnt from the Terminator! He struggled to get the epidural in because my bump was so big I couldn’t lean forward and my sciatica didn’t help. Every time I had a contraction my waters gushed on the floor and I had to laugh! At this point I was cursing the midwives for not telling me that if I sat up my contractions were more manageable!!!! It took a while for the epidural to kick in but when it did it was great! It was the first time in months that I could lie on my back with ZERO pain. I did find it weird seeing my belly tense up with each contraction and not feel anything, it was so unnatural but at this point I was more than ok with it. I had decided that if I did have to have any intervention I would go all the way with it.
Time to push! Within 3 hours the midwife checked me and I was fully dilated. She repeated “Oh it’s your first baby, things take time” and she wanted me to start pushing. I was on my back, legs in stirrups – I pushed twice and she told me to stop! She dashed out the door and 30 mins later my gynecologist arrived. It was showtime! I couldn’t believe that BiP was actually going to be born! In came the midwife, the anesthetist and the puericultrice (I think that is a kind of midwife but don’t know the exact translation, she is responsible for weighing, dressing and care of the baby). So here we go.
We all look at the screen and with each contraction I push. Then I rest. Push. Rest. Then it get’s fun. My gynecologist obviously got a major buzz from deliveries so he started yelling “Poussez! Encore, encore, encore, encore!” (Push, again, again, again, again) but no words would ever describe the enthusiasm in which he yelled it – My husband and I were laughing so hard! In between pushes they were all talking and laughing which made the atmosphere amazing. The anesthestist asked my gynecologist if he was a football fan by the way he was yellling to which he laughed and said he was too busy to follow football – the delivery room roared with laughter once again. Time push again.
“She’s blonde!” The gynecologist cried as BiP was crowing – Blonde? Excuse me? I am dark haired, so is my husband – again, laughter ensued! I pushed again. At this point I was feeling more which was better because I felt I had more control. Next thing I feel is “snip” and then “snip” – OMG – I turned to my husband and said “he just cut me!” I freaked out but there was no time to worry about it as it was time to push and this time BiP was here!
She was placed on my chest the second she was born and she found her way to my breast and immediately latched on. I couldn’t believe it – she was here, she was perfect (kinda, she had a bit of cone head from all that pushing). She was born at 16:55 on the 27th April 2010 weighing 4 kgs (8.8lbs) and 50cms (20in) long.
She spent 2 hours on my chest and my husband cut the umbilical cord.
The end of life as we knew it … but the start of something incredible! So that is the story of BiP’s birth. It was everything I never planned or wanted but it was perfect.