The Misadventures of Kai and Pixel »

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The Birth Story

Mama and SonLabour = Torture

Having survived the ordeal, I realize now that nothing can prepare a woman for the intensity of labour. Nothing I read or heard came even close to the experience. My discomfort hiking the Milford Track was just that: discomfort… Now looking back it seems that I did read that labour pain has been scientifically equated to torture. That sounds about right.

If you were reading the blog, you will know that they decided to induce labour after I reached 40 weeks. We went into the hospital on the morning of May 11th to have the hormone placed next to my cervix. There is no guarantee that this method of induction will work so we just crossed our fingers and hoped to get everything over with as quickly as possible.

We both had naps that afternoon and by five o’clock I was having some mild contractions. However, I had been having the Braxton Hicks contractions for weeks and I wasn’t sure that I could sense a difference. So we just took it easy, had dinner, and I watched TV. By 9 o’clock, I was starting to be in pain and we decided to call Mitzi, our doula. As soon as we called her, I started having some bleeding and we called the hospital and they told us to come in right away.

Mitzi met us at the hospital and my contractions were getting stronger and stronger. They were “doubling” and “tripling” which means that I was having some 3 minute contractions which would peak several times. They removed the hormone from my cervix in the hope that the contractions would settle down.

This is where it starts to get blurry for me. Two residents checked my dilation and the first one said that I was 3 cm dilated and the second one said 1-2. In my mind, I stuck to the one to two as this was the furthest I would have to go.

The best laid plans

It became quickly apparent to me that no amount of mental preparation could alleviate the pain and soon I was quite convinced that I would not be able to do this for hours. I was figuring that the worst to come. Also, unfortunately, the contractions were mostly in my back which is supposed to be more painful. My commitment to natural childbirth was quickly abandoned in my mind. I think that when you are in pain like that all you want to do is have it stop. I started asking for the epidural. Now it is possible that because I was induced the labour was more intense. I would like to think so, but I suspect that every woman feels that her labour is intense, no matter how it happens…

At that point, we were still in the assessment room and were waiting for a delivery room. While I rocked on the birthing ball, my waters broke all over Andreas. At this point, I suspected that the baby might be in a difficult position given the back labour and the early rupture of the membranes. I really started begging for the epidural. The doulas (Rebecca, a student doula, had joined Mitzi and us for the delivery) convinced me to try to get into the shower and that the hot water would help. Andreas got in with me and sprayed water on my back. Neither of us have any idea how long we were in there. They also promised me that I could have an epidural once we got to the delivery room — that was all my mind needed to get through the pain.

As we got to the delivery room and they hooked me up to the IV, the anaesthesiologist arrived. Andreas, although I hated him in this moment, requested that we see how far I was dilated before we went ahead. We were all in complete shock when the nurse checked and discovered that I was fully dilated… The nurse (Heidi) was terrific. She told me that I could go ahead and get the epidural, but that I had already done the hard part and at this point the baby would probably be quite affected by it if I went ahead. She also told me that I was only about an hour away from delivery and that I should start pushing.

The Pushing

Andreas told me later that he could see the wheels in my head turning as I processed this. I couldn’t quite believe that I actually was going to be able to do this naturally as I intended and that things had progressed so quickly. Once I started pushing, I stopped thinking about the epidural and the pain did diminish somewhat.

About one hour into pushing, Heidi checked again and noticed that the baby was facing sideways and that the widest part of his head was what I was trying to push through. She suggested that I be moved onto my side and that I try pushing in that position in order to realign the baby. Miraculously, this worked and the baby turned around into the right position. They rolled me on my back and we were into the final stretch.

After two and a half hours of pushing, Heidi told us that we could continue for a while longer, but that we were going to have make some choices soon as I would get tired if I had to continue much longer. I don’t really remember the choices, but I think that someone suggested that we check our progress again and Heidi once again said that we could do it and that the baby was on the way.

I was at my most animalistic at this point — I’m pretty sure that it was evident to the entire obstetrics ward that someone was delivering naturally. I was screaming, moaning, wimpering as loud as I could. I had a birth attendant (the two doulas, Andreas and Heidi) on each limb and with each contraction they gave me the traction I needed to push.

Once I saw the doctor enter the room, I knew I was going to do it. Everyone was telling me that they could see the head and that he had lots of hair and that I just needed a couple of more contractions to get him out.

The moment that he slid out of me, the pain stopped. It was surreal as I went from my animal state to being rational in a second. I started to cry from the relief and I could hear the baby cry so I knew he was OK. When they gave him to me, I was overwhelmed at the sight of him.

As the doctor stitched me up and we held the baby, we started speculating how big he was. Everyone was guessing 9 lbs, but I knew he was going to be a 10 pounder. I watched as they put him on the scale and the numbers climbed… 10 lbs 2 oz. I think that I said to Mitzi: “this is going to give me bragging rights for a long time…”

Breastfeeding for the first time
Nurse Heidi shows us how to breastfeed for the first time

The moral of this birth story

I think that when we are in pain, we will do anything to find a way out. This is why torture exists, after all. If someone had offered me a way out of completing the Milford Track hike, I would have taken it too. I knew that I would ask for the epidural, but I just didn’t know how serious I would be about wanting it.

I am so grateful to all of my birth attendants for listening to me, but postponing the epidural until I tried a few things. Although I wasn’t happy at the time, I am so grateful to Andreas for insisting that Heidi check to see how far I was dilated before I got the epidural. If we hadn’t done that, I would have had it for nothing. And I am very grateful to whatever force in the universe who decided that there would be no major complications and that the labour would be swift.

If I accomplished my goal to have this baby naturally, it was not through my own will power. I got really, really lucky and I had the right people around and favourable baby/mom conditions… This isn’t to say that I am not going to exercise my bragging rights for the rest of my life.



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