Claire's Birth - part iii {labour takes off}

Where we last left off, the syntocinon drip had just started. Hubby was hanging out in the recliner and checking his phone, while I was sitting up in the bed with my music on, already starting to feel the contractions taking off. I still had the CTG belt on, so I was watching the monitor to see if the contractions were strong enough to register on the chart - and they were! I laid there fascinated for a little while, watching them rise and fall in tune with the pains.

I remember remarking to Jase that I had forgotten just how uncomfortable contractions actually were, and then soon after, that they felt very close together. I assumed it was because they were being artificially induced, and so I was getting the full hit of them all at once, rather than building up gradually. With that said, the midwives came in at around 9.30am, confirmed that baby's heart rate was much better now, and that she was tolerating the drip just fine so far - and they notched it up a dash.

She then showed me how to unhook the drip, so that I could go to the bathroom and walk around if I wanted to. As soon as I stood up off the bed, I had a contraction that was sharp enough to need hubby's help to stand through - it was so intense it almost took my breath away. It took me at least fifteen minutes to get to the loo, because I was having them pretty close together. I'd sit down, have one. Reach for the toilet paper, have another one. Stand up to finish, have one more. As we headed back into the room, I asked if I could have a fitness ball to sit on, as I really didn't want to be lying down.

After I was situated on the ball, I had the midwife lower the bed down, so that I could lean forward on it with my arms during the stronger contraction. This was about the point where I told hubby that either I am a massive wimp whose pain threshold has marginally lowered since the last birth, or that they felt completely different this time around. He rubbed my back for me while I did figure 8 hip rolls on the ball, leaning forward and breathing through each contraction. I was still aware enough to want to use my phone, but there was zero signal in the delivery suite, so I stuck to just playing music instead.

I'd read a hypnobirthing book in the weeks before, hoping to take some strategies on board with this particular labour. One of my biggest regrets last time was that I got all the way to the end before having the epidural; I was hoping to get through without it, but simply wasn't able to because of the length of labour & the eventual use of the drip to finish things off. That said, I was under no illusions; if things got too intense, I'd definitely be okay with asking for one again this time, should I feel I needed it. Things were different, after all: an induced labour, a larger baby, and the drip from the get-go. For now though, I stuck to the breathing exercises I'd practiced and hoped for the best.

Those contractions - wow. They were hard and fast, and breathing through them took every bit of effort. I'd have one, take a breath and relax, and then feel another one coming not even a minute later. Worst of all, because of my position on the birthing ball and the constant hip rolling that was helping me cope with the pain, the CTG monitor wasn't registering the contractions on the screen - so the midwives weren't actually able to see what was going on from their external monitoring. I worried they wouldn't realise how strong they were, so we buzzed them in & asked for some gas and air.

Jase mentioned how fast they were coming along, and the midwife sat and monitored me first hand. She said that she didn't need the monitor anymore, and that she could tell by my breathing that things looked like they were progressing well. She hooked up the gas and air, and left us once again.

The contractions continued hitting hard and fast, and I felt like I couldn't keep up with them. The idea with the gas is that you inhale as they start to build, so the actual effect is already taking place by the time the contraction reaches its peak, and then let it go as the wave settles down. Well, I was barely feeling the effects before another one would hit, and I was struggling big time. I felt really helpless; was I really this bad at labour? I'd only just started for goodness sake - how was I meant to get to the end without an epidural if I couldn't even last half an hour with the gas alone?

As well as the constant contractions, I'd started having a gush of fluid with every one - to the point where I was leaking all over the fitness ball and the floor. It felt good to let it come out, so I didn't stop it, but it did make me wonder just how much fluid I'd had in there altogether. {Seriously, if you added the amount I'd lost a the initial rupture of the membranes, plus the constant gushes with each contraction, it must have been pretty epic.} The fluid leaking out seemed to make the contractions feel more intense again, so I told Jase that I thought it was time to start organising the epidural - I was done. The control I'd been hoping for was going, and I was getting a bit panicked.

Hubby called the midwife back in again, who told me that in order to get the anaesthetist organised, they'd need to do an internal and make note of what my progress was. It was about 10.30am at that point, and it had only been about an hour and a half since the drip had started - so I was nervous it was too soon, and that I wouldn't have dilated much further than that initial 3cm. That said, I was contracting so strongly, that she thought it was worth checking. It took me at least ten minutes to get myself positioned on the bed, and ready for the cervix check.

It was about this point that I started making this guttural groaning sound - it's not a sound I remember ever using before, so it must come from somewhere pretty deep. I don't know why, but it helped me get through each contraction, and I remember the sound of it well (though I doubt I could replicate it now.) Internal exams while in labour are the worst, and even though my midwife was gentle, I was so preoccupied with worrying that I'd still be stuck at 3cm, I felt every single stretch and movement.

She announced that I was around 6-7cm, and then as I had another fierce contraction {while she was still in the middle of the check!} my cervix decided to open to 8cm, with baby's head right there. I watched the midwife yank her gloves off and immediately call my OB from the phone in the room. She came back to my bedside, and told me it was too late for an epidural, and that I'd be just fine - Jase was holding my hands and trying to get me to calm down and breathe. For some reason, gas and air makes time seem to slow down & makes me get a little bit loopy, so I wasn't quite sure if I'd heard her right. Did she say 3cm? Hubby told me that no, she said 8cm, and I couldn't believe it.

Honestly though, it was all I could do to groan my way through each contraction at that point. Things stayed slightly fuzzy from that moment on, but I remember the midwife telling me to listen to her, listen to my husband, and to push if I felt like pushing. She then rang the OB once again - so she must have realised things weren't far off happening. Not long afterwards, I looked up and saw my doctor running through the door. It was time!

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doahleigh said...

Oh my gosh, this is bringing back so many memories. So much of how you described your contractions was like my first labor. The way you described trying to get to the bathroom is exactly how I described trying to get out of the tub. I stood up, had a contraction, stepped one foot out, contraction, another foot out, contraction, grab a towel, contraction, dry off arms, contractions, dry off torso, contraction. And so on. They were hard and fast and I never caught a breath for about 12 hours before finally asking for an epidural.

And the guttural sounds? Yeah. I describe myself as a wild animal. I could never replicate those noises now!

Love reading this story, especially knowing how hard you worked to get to this moment!

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