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Great birth – but after…by Kate

I’ll set the scene. First time mother, very detailed birth plan, great pregnancy.

As with all pregnancies the due date of delivery takes on an almost sacred place in your life. Everything you do is calculated around “the date” including the rush to renovate the home to accommodate a new baby. What possessed us to decide to take this on when I was already 4 months pregnant is beyond me. Of course we were assured by the builder that all would be finished by “the date” and naturally it wasn’t. So I found myself sitting around the table of my parents home eating dinner on the evening before “the date”. My husband and I had been moving around a bit trying to make sure that we didn’t stay too long at any one person’s house and if they had a bed to sleep on that was a real bonus. In addition to the normal bags that were required for a semi homeless couple, I also had my dutifully packed hospital bag that went with me every where.

As we began to eat dessert I felt an overwhelming urge to clear my bowels so I quietly left the table and went to the bathroom. Feeling much better I returned to join the family only to laugh at a joke and felt a trickle of water. Thinking I had just done a small wee I once again quickly exited to the bathroom. As soon as I sat down I felt this enormous gush of water and realised pretty quickly that my waters had broken and I was in fact going to have a baby.

For weeks I had been asking my sister what a ‘real’ contraction felt like because I’d been having them pretty regularly and I thought they were pretty intense. The only thing she kept saying was, “you’ll know when you’re in labour I promise”. Well hooley dooley she was right. I’d had a shower and was getting ready to go to the hospital when it hit, I couldn’t move, talk or breath. I launched into labour with contractions at 3 mins apart. Needless to say we hopped into the car and headed straight to the hospital.

Despite having very intense and close contractions I was in for a very long night. Having had incredibly low blood pressure throughout my pregnancy, to the point where my doctor said I’m nearly dead, I was surprised when it went through the roof as soon as I went into labour. So after 5 hours of battling to lower it with drugs etc I had to throw out the birth plan and have an epidural which unfortunately slowed down the progression of labour but did instantly bring my blood pressure down.

By about 8am the next morning I was ready to push and the epidural had worn off so that I could push effectively. I had the most amazing midwifes supporting me as well as my wonderful husband, who’s hands have probably never recovered from the squeezing they received. At 9.08 I held my baby girl in my arms. I can’t tell you the joy that I felt as I looked at my beautiful child and gave my baby her first breast feed I finally knew what I was placed on the earth for.

Then the drama started. I was prepared for the delivery of the placenta as I read birth 101 but I hadn’t read anything about the placenta NOT coming out. Apparently the umbilical chord just pulled away from the placenta and I was now heavily bleeding. The medical team went into action and all of a sudden there was a real flurry of activity and I was signing forms while I watched my husband holding our daughter.
I was whisked off to theatre and remember being wheeled past my parents who were in the waiting room. Instead of someone telling them that they were grandparents they had a nurse ushering them away telling them to wait for further information on my condition. Not quite what they had hoped for.

Apparently the surgery went as well as could be expected but I lost an enormous amount of blood. Leaving me feeling pretty lousy for a good week after that. I don’t think I realised the possible consequences of what had just happened until the anaesthetist visited me a couple of days later and said “well of course you would be dead if you had had a home delivery”. I think this made me reassess child birth. Although it’s a natural process that women go through, it certainly is not without risk to both the mother and child. I’ve gone on to have a couple more babies since then and the same thing looked like it was going to happen again but my OBGYN was definitely prepared for it and did a manual removal of the placenta on the bed – not a pleasant experience but a hell of lot better than surgery.

You know one of the greatest parts of my story; I delivered on “the date”.