"The fact that I was haemorrhaging didn’t alter the incredible excitement and joy that I felt."
My birth plan was pretty standard. I wanted a vaginal birth. But I wasn’t going to argue with any health professional who recommended otherwise. I wanted to use whatever form of pain management suited me when, and if, it became necessary. I felt that it was important not to be too rigid or obsessive about how I wanted to labour and give birth.
I basically just wanted everything to go relatively smoothly and quickly. I’d had a fairly cruisey pregnancy, apart from bad morning sickness at the beginning. I was just desperate to get this child out of me and into the world.
Three weeks before I was due I got up one morning and there was a small clump of brownish mucus in my undies. Retrospectively I know must have been the ‘show’. At the time I thought that I was probably just being overly-enthusiastic and dismissed it. I went over to my mother’s house to do the weekly cleaning and cleaned ferociously for five hours, as only a nesting expectant mother can. The house was positively sparkling, pity my own house wasn’t. I felt achy and tired after I’d finished. My back was so sore that I thought I must have really overdone it. I was actually in labour but at this stage I had no idea.
That evening I went out for dinner with my partner and a friend. Just as our Thai banquet was set down before us I felt a snap crackle-pop sensation between my loins. My waters had broken and began to pool in my chair. It felt as though I was pissing myself – so undignified. I squeezed my legs together and made for the door, instructing my partner to fix up the bill and meet me outside. He sat there dumbfounded for a few seconds then whirled into action. Or should I say he stood up and started jerking his arms around not knowing quite what to do. I stood outside the restaurant in the car park as my waters gushed down my legs. I looked at the ground and realised that my waters were bright red. It was blood, and lots of it. I knew that greenish waters were a sign of foetal distress but I didn’t know quite what to make of the ‘bloody road kill’ spattering the asphalt around me.
I remember thinking, ‘this is not good, but shit, I’m going to have a baby within the next twenty four hours – how exhilarating!’ The adrenalin and endorphins kicked in with a mighty bang and I was unable to wipe the stupid grin off my face. I rang my parents who lived around the corner from the restaurant and asked them to bring down a big stack of towels. The blood and waters kept rushing forth and they did not look like letting up. I was going to ruin the upholstery of the car if I didn’t have towels under me.
When my mother arrived and saw the waters her face fell a mile. I told her that everything was fine, that I was going to have a baby, and that she had better wipe that terrified look off her face because I really needed her to stay calm. I rang my father-in-law in Bendigo who is a paediatrician and told him about the blood in the waters. He calmly suggested I head straight in to the hospital. On the way to the hospital I was as cool as a cucumber.
The fact that I was haemorrhaging didn’t alter the incredible excitement and joy that I felt.
At the hospital the midwife undressed me and observed my blood loss. When I asked her anxiously if everything was okay she pretended that she didn’t hear me. Probably not a good sign. When I pressed her for an answer she said that we would have to wait and see what the doctor said. I sat on the toilet and watched big clots of blood pour into the bowl. I was beginning to get frightened and impatient.
Two young female doctors took me to a delivery room and pushed and probed and prodded. They inserted a catheter and drip and asked me how I was coping with the contractions. I told them that I wasn’t having any contractions. They said that I most certainly was and indicated the rise and fall on the monitor. I was in labour and I couldn’t even feel it.
Apparently I was already 2cm dilated.
The doctors gave me oxytocin and wanted me todilate quickly as they were concerned about my blood loss and were unable to determine its source.
Soon after I was given the oxytocin I began to feel the contractions. They felt like nothing I had ever felt before but they weren’t very strong and were therefore quite manageable. An hour or two later I hadn’t dilated any further and I was still steadily losing blood. The contractions were fairly strong and close together.
Because I wasn’t dilating quickly enough and was still haemorrhaging, the baby began showing signs of distress. The doctors advised an emergency Caesarean.
I had spent the last hour listening to the labouring woman in the next room howling in blood-curdling agony so I can’t say I was terribly disappointed about needing a Caesarean.
As I was given a spinal epidural I had a big contraction – it was hard to stay completely still as instructed. Immediately afterwards I began to feel nauseous and I thought I was going to be sick.
Within minutes I saw my baby’s bottom rising up out of my stomach. The testicles confirmed that I had had a boy, what I had expected all along. My partner and I gazed awe-struck at the sight of our son while the doctors sowed me up. I was sent off to recovery for an hour while Dad took our baby to get weighed.
Having an open mind about my labour helped me to adjust to the premature birth of my baby and the emergency Caesarean.