Renee, epidural, posterior baby, deep transverse arrest, emergency caesarean

I wrote this birth story when my little boy was 8 days old. I haven't read it in a couple of years but felt it was important to share as its great to hear birth stories in all shapes and sizes. "This is not my birth story it's my birth novel which I've written so I'll remember forever. Even though Ben and I had done so much work planning for an intervention free, natural birth and I was listening to my Calmbirth tracks every day, everything that we didn't want to happen, happened, I'm still so grateful everything worked out well and we tried our hardest.

My Obstetrician had been hinting for 3 weeks prior to my due date for an induction which I explicitly told him I did not want without a valid medical reason. I thought that by going private, I would have an Obstetrician who was on 'my side' and would do what I wanted as long as we were both safe. He was using different scare tactics every week, 'the baby is going to be big' (a 5kg one apparently), 'the fluid around the baby is low', 'the placenta is deteriorating'. He would say these things off the cuff when I would decline an induction and never with any supporting evidence. At my 39 week appointment the OB was going to 'pencil' me in for an induction the following week (I would have been 40+4 - and wouldn't have agreed!). He wanted me to deliver before Easter he said (turns out he was going away). I scheduled an appointment with my Acupuncturist straight after that appointment so she was able to work her magic and I could refocus and get my mind back on track.

I had only a few things on my birth preferences. To not be asked if I wanted an epidural, to progress naturally without intervention if myself and baby were ok, physiological third stage, delayed cord clamping and skin on skin immediately after birth. Unfortunately, none of that happened :(

The day before my 'guess date' I had a regular acupuncture appointment then we walked around Ikea for a couple of hours. I felt great. I had a bath that night and had no indications of any pre-labour. We started watching a movie but Ben was falling asleep within ten mins so I said we should just go to bed. He even joked he couldn't believe we were going to bed at 9.30 on a Saturday night. I laid in bed watching Dawson's Creek on my iPad while Ben fell straight to sleep. Within half an hour I was getting cramps which took me about an hour to figure out they were contractions. The first hour I had 6 and they were going for at least 60 seconds. Ben woke at 11pm cos he could hear me groaning and breathing through the pain and at this point they were between 5-9 mins apart and between 45-90 seconds long. He decided he should pack his bags for the hospital. I kept saying I think we should call the hospital, it's not supposed to be this quick! (I also kept saying I wanted to make cinnamon scrolls. I had all the ingredients and was looking forward to making them when I was in early labour but was struggling with the intensity of the contractions at this point). I was breathing through each contraction while leaning over the bed. At 2am I finally said I think we should call the hospital and they said I was fine to come in then or continue to labour at home. I decided to stay at home as long as possible so went and had a bath and told Ben to go back to bed and try and get some sleep. I went into the spare room and just rested between contractions until about 5.30am when Ben woke again.

The drive to the hospital sucked! I had to get Ben to pull over after the first contraction so I could get into a better position in the back. It took us around 40 minutes to get to the hospital and it was about 7.30am by the time we arrived. We got set up in the birthing suite. I was the only one there and had a great Midwife. I was bouncing on a fitball and she said she could tell by my face that I wasn't in established labour because if I was I wouldn't 'look like that'. She called my Obstetrician for an update and did and internal and said I was 100% effaced and 4cm! I was super pumped at this point. My baby had always been anterior from 35 weeks and was now posterior which is why the contractions were all in my back. I was labouring away fine on the fit ball, using heat backs to alleviate any pain. My Obstetrician came in at midday to check on me and said I was still only 4cm. It was decided they would break my waters to see if anything started. It was at this point I decided to ask for an epidural as the back pain was unlike anything ive ever felt. The Anaesthetist had to be called in so I didn't get the epi til about 2pm and at which time they also hooked me up to the synto drip (30ml) to help things along quicker. The baby didn't like the synto so it was decided to turn it off after 15 mins and let me progress naturally. My epi was a low dose so I was able to move my legs, go to the toilet and get into diff positions etc while still on the bed.

My Obstetrician checked me again at about 6pm and said I was 7cm and baby had now turned sideways which was better than posterior and it would most likely move anterior as labour progressed. It was at this point he started hinting towards a Caesar but we told him we were happy to continue as we were as both me and the baby were fine. He was annoyed that he would have to wait at his office and said he'd be back in two hours.

At about 9pm my Obstetrician returned to check me again and at this point the epidural had worn off and I was in so much pain so he ordered a top up immediately. I was then found to be fully dilated and asked if I could feel the urge to push but because they topped up the epidural, I couldn't feel anything and the fetal monitoring on my belly wasn't working. We all kind of waited a bit until I could feel the sensations and I started pushing on my back. As time went on and the epi wore off I was able to get into a better position kneeling over the headrest of the bed which was upright at this point. The pushing sensation was really weird but I could feel that it wasn't really doing anything major as each contraction felt the same. The Obstetrician did another vaginal exam and found the head still hadn't engaged and was quite high up. I had been pushing for about 90 mins at this stage and the baby's heart rate was becoming quite erratic and not recovering after each contraction. At this stage after 24 hours of active labour, We decided the next step was to try the vacuum and if that didn't work, an emergency Caesar. From then on it was all systems go as people were rushing around prepping me, increasing the epidural dosage and whizzing me down the lift. I remember thinking Ben looked cute in his blue scrubs. At this point with the epidural dosage up so high, my arms started to shake uncontrollably and laying down I became really sleepy. The curtain was put up so we couldn't see anything and the Obstetrician set up the vacuum. When they told me to push, I had to try really hard, even though I couldn't feel anything to push while the Obstetrician pulled and turned the baby at the same time. Even though I couldn't feel anything, there was a weird pulling sensation I could feel from the vacuum. We tried 5 times over 2 contractions and the Obstetrician said the baby still hadn't moved so they would need to go ahead with the Caesar. The next bit went really quickly and before I knew it I could hear suction which I mistook for a cry but Ben said it wasn't then all of a sudden at 11.41pm someone said 'we have a boy' and we heard him cry. All my adrenaline kicked in at this point hearing his little cry and the Paediatrician brought him around the curtain for us to see. We both had tears in our eyes as we saw our fair haired little boy. Ben went over to see him as they cleaned him up while he screamed and screamed. He was grey, had an APGAR of 5 and his breathing was shallow. They wrapped him up and placed him on my chest so I got to talk to him. I know it might sound silly but I am sure I saw the recognition in his eyes when I spoke to him. They gave us a little tube of oxygen to hold near his nose. I was feeling weak and exhausted and couldn't hold him any longer and his breathing hadn't improved so they decided he needed to go to the Special Care Nursery.

Ben stayed with me which I was happy about as I was scared and slipping in and out of consciousness. We stayed in theatre for a while and then was wheeled straight to the ward at around 1am. Ben went straight to the Special Care Nursery to visit the baby while I fell straight to sleep. He came back not long after with photos and videos and then we both went to sleep. At around 5am a Midwife brought the baby in for his first breastfeed and my first proper hold. I made Ben turn the lamp on and I remember asking him to take photos of our first feed together.

My 'big' baby boy was born on his guess date weighing 3.40kg and 50cm long.

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Renee Bradfield, Perth WA

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