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"The placenta looked like an old-fashioned crown"

Melissa was booked in for an elective Caesarean. Nineteen days before her due date, she was doing the housework when she noticed her contractions were two minutes apart. After an hour of labour, she gave birth to her baby boy.


Melissa & Hudson

A birthplan is a wildcard. We knew we were having a boy. We had already named him Hudson. I was booked in for an elective Caesarean because my obstetrician thought the baby’s head was too big to pass through the birth canal. But nearly three weeks before this date, I went into labour. The day before the actual birth the movement was incredible. It was as though the baby was trying to get out.

I woke up at 3am the following morning and sat on the toilet for about an hour pushing, with nothing. I awoke again at 6am and sat for another hour. Then my waters broke. It wasn’t the huge gush I expected.
I went into Jason who was watching golf and said:
“I think I’m having the baby”. He said: “No man, it’s Braxton Hicks”. It was nineteen days before the due date. We rang the hospital and I was told not to come in until I was unable speak. I was screaming on the phone. Some obstetricians like you to have the majority of labour at home until the contractions are a minute apart and you are unable to speak.

I had a shower, a cup of tea, rolled around the floor like Orca, packed a hospital bag, Jason interviewed me on video camera then made me another cup of tea and a cheese sandwich and I sat there watching golf. I wasn’t really watching it so instead I thought I’d do the housework. It’s an absolute fable to clean the house before labour ready for your return; your guy is at home for a week by himself and by the time you get back the house is trashed. Anyhow I vacuumed, did all the dishes and rang friends with my contractions two minutes apart. I could still talk. We rang the hospital again and was told to come straight in. I left the house, leaning on pillars, doing my quick breathing. The breathing techniques they teach you at antenatal classes are fabulous.

So I’m walking along, behaving normally for a few minutes, then suddenly I’m stopped still, doing quick breaths.
It was 15 minutes to hospital. We went straight to the birthing unit, onto a machine to monitor the foetal contractions. They then wanted to do an internal but I wouldn’t let them near me. I snapped my legs shut and wouldn’t move. I was still clothed and wasn’t sure what was falling out of me at that stage. They eventually coerced me and found the baby’s head was already there.

I was asking for drugs but was told that by the time an anaesthetist arrived it would be too late. They asked me to push but I refused and started crying, rocking and moaning. The head was still there but I wasn’t pushing the baby out. They gave me gas that helped a little. Jason also grabbed the gas and had some. There was also a full bar in the room so he’s now having a drink and we are arguing over whether or not he is allowed to watch sport on television.

My first midwife I swear was straight out of a prison of war camp. We didn’t click at all, so I asked for another one. Finally the obstetrician arrived wearing a green hat and robe with a huge trolley for all his instruments. All I could think of was a Mr Bean movie, and couldn’t stop laughing.

In the labour room with me were Jason, Mum, four midwives and the obstetrician. The most annoying thing in the world is that everyone is telling you to push, and that’s just what you’re doing. They told that if I didn’t push the baby out they would go in and get him. So I started pushing. You feel like you are going to push your pelvis out. It’s so exhausting. You could pass out between contractions. And my labour was quick! I couldn’t imagine going on for hours and hours.

Jason was still smashed from gas, laughing his head off, running through the entire breakfast menu they brought for me. My mother is washing her hands 50 times a day and telling me stories of my birth. I believe you snap into a coping mechanism. Once the baby starts moving it’s as though it’s saying ‘mum, gotta get out of here!’
They asked me if I want to get naked and I’m thinking, ‘no way! I’ve got breasts like Bessy the Cow’.

I’ve still got my paper hotpants on and when the obstetrician had a bit of a fiddle, he had to divide the central panel of the paper hotpants. There was talk of an episiotomy. I thought,
‘Holy Jesus’.
Jason’s saying it will be all right and I’m screaming:
“ It’s not your vagina!”
That was the last I spoke until giving birth.
I had another contraction that anaesthetised the area, and at the peak of the contraction the obstetrician cut me. The timing was perfect.
The baby came out and they gave him to me and put him on my chest. He was 3 kilos (six pounds) at 19 days premature. I cried, and everyone was crying. I remember noticing that the bed was covered in blood. They offered me a shower but I refused because I’d had my hair blow-waved the day before. I knew I would have so many visitors and if I showered it would wreck it and would look like pubic fuzz.

The placenta looked like an old-fashioned crown. Jason thought it looked like offal. He took the baby while they patched me up.
It wasn’t painful but it wasn’t pleasant. I had 29 stitches that took twenty minutes and five local anaesthetics. Mum came over and talked me through it.

A good obstetrician makes all the difference. Basically he’s just there to catch the baby and do the repair work. He really was brilliant. Suddenly everything was cleaned up. I was dressed in my own clean pyjamas, drinking French champagne. The pain had stopped. I was given a frozen condom to put in my underpants to help the swelling. But when it melted the stitches itched. I had to keep changing them.

We were left alone with our baby for an hour. Then they came back to do tests and told us everything was fine. Because he was so little I had to power feed him. He was also jaundiced and had to have regular light treatment for the first three weeks. It was distressing watching the medical staff prick his heel when testing beliruben levels. After the birth I got ahead of myself up and was up jumping around ringing people. My back snapped out of place and I ended up on floor, writhing about screaming for medication. The anaesthetic had worn off a bit and I completely fell apart.

The third day was the worse. I had hot, inflamed, stinging breasts that were so large they couldn’t attach Hudson. I had one midwife extracting milk on one breast and the another attaching the baby on the other breast.
It felt like I had a bladder infection of the breast.
They were asking me if I was okay and I was yelling: “No”

I was constantly being milked by different people or trying to attach my baby. The midwives told me not to worry and said the milk would soon be flowing like champagne. I breast-fed for one month but it wasn’t an easy process for me. They sent me to breastfeeding school twice.

I was depressed, the pain relief was reduced and going to the toilet was an acrobatic procedure. Oh, and my uterus contracted every time I breastfed. My nipples were cracked and burning and I was bleeding like a beheaded pig. In hospital all you want to do is go home, when at home you want to be back in hospital. Going home was the scariest part. It was worse than the labour. But you cope. You cope because you know there’s light.

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