Aila’s birth story begins on Good Friday, the 22nd of April. I began having contractions 15-20 minutes apart sometime in the morning, timing them quietly on my phone. They were quite mild, but really, about the same intensity as the contractions I had during labour with Liam. However, these were painful in front, unlike with Liam, where I felt most of the pain in my back. At 3:00pm, it was off to mass with Mum and Richard, while Shaun and Liam stayed home. Richard drove, as I really didn’t feel up to it.
As Father Pat prostrated himself at the altar at the beginning of the service and we all knelt, I had a ripper of a contraction, through which I just concentrated on a candle in front of me. I did the same through the other 4 or 5 contractions that I had during mass. The obstetrician I saw in the clinic at the hospital tells me that she saw me at mass and said a prayer for my VBAC, as she felt it would happen over the weekend.
After mass, the contractions seemed to stop, so I figured that it was another of the false alarms; having had a few over the previous 3 weeks.
After dinner the contractions picked up again, and I could no longer hide them from Shaun and Mum. I had a shower for some pain relief and went to bed around 11:00pm with a bean bag to try to get some sleep. By then I was having contractions lasting just over a minute, every 10 minutes or so. They continued like this over night, with me breathing through some of them, and needing Shaun to rub my back through others.
I tried to let him sleep as much as he could. Between contractions I managed to get some sleep in, and even managed to dream. Around 6:00am the contractions became even stronger and started coming 5-10 minutes apart and lasting about 90 seconds. I had a shower, and by 8:00am I could no longer stand to be at home. So rang the hospital and went in after having a cup of tea and some bickies.
On admission around 8.30am, the midwife examined me and found I was about 2-3 centimeters and put me on the monitor to check Aila’s heart rate, and to see what the contractions were doing. After calling the obstetrician on call, she was happy with the trace and took me off the monitor to have a shower and walk around a bit.
The shower was great as it had a dual shower head; one on my back and one on my belly where most of the pain was. My contractions continued much as before.
The obstetrician arrived at 10:00am and tried talking me into a repeat c-section. Then examined me and I was 4 centimeters. He then broke my waters without my consent and said that for a second baby, he would expect the rest of my labour to go for no more than 4 hours. He would reassess me at 2:00pm.
After the obstetrician left, the midwife took me off the monitor again to walk around and go to the loo. The contractions continued at the same rate, but became stronger. By 1:00pm I could no longer just breathe through them, and I was given the gas.
We had the radio on, and the combination of the radio and gas made for some very funny conversation. I asked Shaun if I was talking really slow, or did it just seem like it to me? Turns out I was talking really slow. And I got the munchies and wanted maccas. I also started to get emotional and cried for no reason.
At 2:00pm, the midwife assessed me and despite the increase in activity, I was still only 4cm. The obstetrician was called and I agreed to have a c-section, and cried and cried. I was inconsolable.
After that, the contractions got even more painful and intense, and I barely stopped breathing in the gas. It’s quite a blur due to the gas. I remember rolling on the bed in pain, gripping Shaun’s hand hard (I felt as if I was going to break his thumb), and grabbing at Shaun uncontrollably.
I also remember my body pushing, despite my brain trying to stop it. I remember midwives coming in, but not what they did. I also thought it incredibly unfair that I was in so much pain, if I was only going to have a c-section, what was the point anyway?
The wait for theatre seemed endless and finally the obstetrician came in to have me sign the consent. I also remember the anesthesiologist coming in at some point and, finally, it was off to theatre. I was in so much pain and so affected by the gas that I couldn’t transfer myself to the bed, so the hover mat was used, and I had the portable gas to use until the spinal went in.
The spinal went in and was such a relief. I dropped the gas mouth piece and my head became clear. It was then that the obstetrician examined me and found that I was fully dilated. Those contractions that had made me use the gas so much, well, I guess that was transition!
So the forceps were sent for and I was transferred into theatre and onto the bed where my legs were placed in stirrups; quite surreal to see my knees up so high but feeling as if my legs were straight out in front of me. I asked if I could have the cord left until it stopped pulsating, but didn’t receive any acknowledgment.
Shaun was brought back in and sat next to me. The obstetrician told me it was time and that the midwife would help me sit up and to push when he told me to. Three pushes and Aila was on my chest at 4:55pm. I had actually done it! I had had a successful VBAC! I had done what I knew I could do all along, and what my body knew I could do, even though for a while I didn’t believe it.
The obstetrician cut Aila’s cord immediately, before she was placed on my chest. I was given a quick cuddle before she was checked out and placed back on my chest for some skin to skin and a first chance at feeding. The theatre staff took some photos while the obstetrician delivered the placenta.
After that, Aila went over to the crib to be checked by the paediatrician and I asked the nurses what the obstetrician was doing now, and was told he was sewing up my episiotomy. Episiotomy? What episiotomy? “How many stitches,” I asked. All I got in response was, “A Lot.”
Soon Shaun and Aila went back to the ward, while the anaesthetic reg tried to stabilise my blood pressure as the spinal caused it to drop, and the OB typed up his report without saying much more than, “Congratulations.”
Off to recovery where I was given more meds and fluids to bring up my BP and then, finally, back to the ward. Aila weighed exactly 4kgs, (8lbs, 13ozs) was 51 centimeters long and had a head circumference of 35centimeters. I got to feed her again and just stare at her while Shaun called his family to share the good news; last they had heard I was going to have a c-section!
Mum and Richard brought Liam in to meet his baby sister. He was fascinated. They didn’t stay long, and after they left, Shaun had his first cuddle of his daughter, then went home to get some much needed sleep.
While it wasn’t exactly the VBAC I had imagined, I had achieved my goal. And everything that I had done in preparation was worth it.