Labour of Love

Genibean

Dear Genevieve,

The night that you were born, or rather early the next morning when I was all alone in my hospital room and couldn’t sleep, I wrote about your labour. I didn’t want to forget anything so it was possibly a little more for me than it was for you. Therefore, I thought I’d write you another version. The cliff notes version. Which is still kind of long. Brevity is not exactly my strong point. So here it is…

Your labour was:
7 hours long! Which was totally shorter than I expected. I don’t count the going into hospital on Sunday night to have tape inserted because it did diddly squat for me. I figure the labour actually started at 9am (when they broke my water and inserted the Sintocinon drip – with difficulty) and ended at 4:01pm (after 2 hours of pushing) when you were born. And I managed it with either my incredibly intuitive and talented body or perhaps that was with the blessing of my fairy midwife because Debbie told me first thing in the morning that my baby had to be born by 4pm because that was when her shift finished and damn if you weren’t born not 60 seconds after that!

With regards to intervention:
I didn’t have any. At all. So I’d have to say that I am actually a little bit proud of myself. I’d also have to be honest and say that the no drugs thing was a little more by accident than by design but that’s not the point. I wanted to go as long as I could without pain relief but I was fully prepared to ask for some if necessary. By the time I was ready to ask for it though, I was also ready to push. So no epidural for me. And thankfully, no intervention on the OB’s part either.

What came as a surprise:
The pushing. When I started pushing, the midwife made the comment that I’d already finished the hard part and the pushing was the easy bit. My first thought was “what planet do you live on ?” but you know what, initially she was right. As soon as I was allowed to push, I didn’t feel the contractions as severely and it got a little easier. Then of course I got further into the pushing and it got harder again.

And what I’d never realized before was that “pushing” would entail taking a deep breath, holding it and bearing down like I was doing a number 2…three times per contraction. Rapidly expelling a breath and inhaling again only to hold and push made up a good part of the exhaustion/pain/”over it” factor. And had me turning purple apparently.

The 2 HOURS of pushing. So I know I don’t have much right to complain because I had it a lot better than many other women but when I got to the pushing stage, I must admit, I thought it would be a lot shorter than 2 hours. Maybe that was an unreasonable expectation but I still thought I’d be done with that part quicker than I was. So it was probably a good thing that I was too tired to look at the clock.

The sounds. In the last half an hour before pushing, when the contractions were really bad, I was no longer able to breathe through them and started moaning through them instead. It wasn’t voluntary as such, it just felt necessary. This was nothing compared to the pushing sounds though. When you are holding your breath and pushing really hard, it’s really easy to get tired and allow little bits of air escape. When they go past your vocal chords, you get these weird guttural sounds which usually got me told off for pushing through my throat not out my bottom!

The aftermath. For some reason I figured that after I’d done the hard yards and delivered the baby, I would more or less be left alone. And in a way, I was because they whisked you off to special care with your father in tow and other women in labour required the presence of all the midwives on the floor. I was literally left alone for quite a long time after your birth but every time the staff did come back into the suite it was to check under the covers to see how much I was bleeding, to give me an injection to make me bleed a little less or to press hard on my stomach to make me bleed a little more. And that whole pressing on the stomach thing happened throughout the week as well so they could check on my uterus which was, I have to say, less fun than having to roll over and drop my daks so they could check my stitches.

What wasn’t a surprise:
Modesty went out the window. I had been told by more than one person that you get to the point where you just don’t care so it didn’t come as a shock but it was something I noticed. Like when I sat on the floor of the shower, naked, as midwives came and went. Or like when I had my thighs splayed wide open to push when they came to introduce the afternoon shift midwives to me and my first thought was go away – I’m busy here.

There’s no such thing as personal space. You kind of expect that when you’re about to push a whole person out your hoo-ha, professionals might need to get their hands down there. Which they do. Eventually with a frequency that might be somewhat perturbing if you weren’t so utterly occupied and exhausted and wishing it was all going to be over quickly. First it was the tape, then it was the two attempts at breaking my water through to the monitors they placed on your head and then the “help” in stretching me for your skull. I’m just thankful I never had to watch it.

Battle wounds:
The tear. I was a little worried about this prospect before the labour because I had heard some horror stories. I believe I got off lightly though. I had a second degree tear but it must have been relatively small because I only ended up with “two long stitches”. Apparently I bled a little like a stuck pig during the labour however because Sparky ended up on the floor. Almost passed out. He wasn’t able to avoid the business end during the pushing stage and whilst he coped with everything else he saw in those 2 hours, the sight of all the blood had him feeling faint as sight and sound started to fade away.

The haemorrhoids. Seriously, these sucked and nobody warned me about them! I expected discomfort after giving birth because I’d passed the equivalent of a melon out my clacker but I didn’t expect the feeling that I’d pushed a golf ball out my butt – which was still there. Every time I took a step I felt them jolt and pull and sitting down on hard surfaces was extremely uncomfortable. I’d walk and sit very gingerly in hospital and sometimes I’d need to lie down instead or perch on the edge of something to even be vaguely comfortable.


The swelling.
No one warned me about this either. One minute I was happily pregnant and round and the next minute, I looked in the mirror and sheesh! – I had bingo wings, more chins than I knew what to do with, a muffin top and a case of cankles in training. I had circles under my eyes and several places where I had red patches because I had actually burst the blood vessels under my skin. Pregnant women are supposed to look like they’re “glowing” and I thought that women who had just given birth were supposed to look…well…less puffy.

The loss of my pelvic floor. I always used to tease one of my cousins because she could never sit through a movie at the cinema without getting up at some point to go to the toilet. I kind of figured – how could you not hold it for an hour and a half!?! Now I know. In hospital, you are never far from a bathroom so it wasn’t so much of an issue but since “coming home”, I have been out a couple of times and very quickly realized that I need to go to the toilet. Like RIGHT NOW. As in I’m not sure I could walk the 100 meters to the nearest amenities without actually eliminating my need for them in the first place. On more than one occasion I have desperately wanted to “hold myself” like a little kid to ward off impending disaster. I figured that might look slightly inappropriate however so I usually just stand very still and cross my legs tightly for a long moment instead. And thank God I’m still wearing maternity pads instead of normal ones!

The aches. I remember what my body felt like the day after I had participated in my first pole dancing lesson. Now my arms didn’t feel quite that bad but since I had been pushing you out for two hours and subsequently pulling my thighs towards me for two hours, my arms were pretty damned tired by the end of it. And then over the following days i had to get used to holding you while you fed which added further stress and tension to my shoulders. They spend a lot of time helping you to get a good latch in hospital but not so much on correcting the holds so of course over the next couple of days, changing, showering and holding you through every feed were occasionally remarkably uncomfortable!

Weight
And that my dear, was your labour. Then you were there, all 3.705 kilos of you in your 51cm body with your 36cm head. Which according to your dad was decidedly cone shaped when you came out but that wore off quite quickly because I never saw it. I think I was at the wrong angle to see it when you were born and then they whisked you off to the special care nursery and I didn’t see you again for a couple of hours. I filled in the time however by calling family and friends and letting them know that you had arrived.

Alles Liebe,

Lexelah

Advertisements

Week 41

Belly 41 Weeks

Dear Button,

Well now we’re at 41 weeks. And apparently you’re quite happy and showing no signs of wanting to come out whatsoever. So far this week, I have been to the OB on both Monday and Friday during which I was told that everything was still quite firm so I would need to come into the hospital on Sunday night to get the gel and tape inserted – which is where I am now.

I also came to the hospital yesterday to have a CGT scan during which the midwife told me you seemed perfectly happy and now, a day later, I’m admitted and double tagged and I have had another tracing scan which pretty much tells us you are still perfectly happy. Thing is though, the OB has decided that it is nearly time for you to come out.

So today may be my last full day of being pregnant. The last day that Sparky and I were just the two of us, without children. I have had a weird feeling through most of the day like I should be doing something but I didn’t know what. So I spent the day watching TV, washing up and getting some washing out on the line so Sparky would have underwear whilst I was in hospital. I put more music on my phone, did some stuff for work and packed my bag for the hospital. There’s nothing like leaving things till the last minute.

I managed to lose it a little on the way to the hospital and couldn’t quite keep the tears at bay. To be honest, I am a little scared about what is to come but now that I’m in hospital and settled in, I’m ok. Right at this moment I feel like I will be able to take things as they come. Of course, when my water actually breaks (or is broken) all bets may be off but I guess I’ll have to cross that bridge when I come to is, as I must.

Apart from that, the week hasn’t really held anything new. Well apart from the fact that I thought it was fun to answer the “so when are you due?” question with “oh, last week!”. But in general, the massive itchiness of the belly and the legs seemed to wane somewhat which was great. There also may have been slightly more gas this week even though my diet hadn’t changed. Oh well, I got a bit of my own back on the dog! Then there was a bit of a heatwave that wasn’t so great at all. A couple of people suggested that those few days would have been perfect ones to be in the completely temperature controlled hospital but you obviously had other ideas. All in all though, the week seemed to go quickly and here we are.

I guess I’ll be meeting you shortly.

Alles Liebe,

Lexelah

Week Forty

Dear Button,

So, you were officially due today but as yet I have received no inkling that you are ready to come out into the world. I can’t really say that I’m all that cut up about it though. Sure, we’d love to meet you and its currently like 40 degrees outside and thats pretty hot for a pregnant lady but theres still a part of me that is nervous about whats to come and a little scared of everything changing. I’ll admit it.

I have known people who have been totally over being pregnant long before me and who have been doing all the things they suggest to bring on labour. They have been out walking with one foot on the curb and one in the gutter, eating curries, drinking special tea and doing what got them into this situation in the first place but I have been content to wait. Good things come to those who wait, right? At my OB appointment in the beginning of the week, Sparky asked how long do we actually wait before intervention and it was suggested that we go ahead now and book a future induction date – just in case.

The OB suggested that either the Friday after I was due or the Monday following that might be good days and so I told him I was pretty cool with the following Monday. Having another weekend at home during which I can get things done make Sparky do things sounded like a good idea and as I said, I’m not in a rush. He wanted to make sure I understood that should I get sick of being pregnant before then, an induction on the Friday might no longer be possible but I think I’m ok with the Monday. Of course, if the rest of the week is also spent in forty degree days, I might rethink that but then I’ll just have to deal with it.

If that heatwave happens, then the sleep will be the worst of it. My problem is not so much the belly though at the moment. I don’t have sore hips or an aching back either and the waking up to turn over has merely become par for the course. My big issues at present are a) not being able to sleep on my back during the heat and b) the itchy legs which no cream seems to be able to fix! The belly is still itchy too but I have to say that the last couple of nights, it has paled in comparison to my legs which have been driving me up the wall. I no longer look forward to going to bed at night because it doesn’t necessarily signify an extended period of rest. This last week it has meant several hours lying awake trying to get relaxed, comfortable and not itchy – not on my back – which in the hotter weather can seem pretty bloody impossible. I’m not a back sleeper normally but not having that option for the past couple of nights has been noticed. Perhaps I should be thankful though that I find it so very uncomfortable on my back however because its actually quite unsafe for you. Wanting to do something and wanting to be able to do something are slightly different things…

Anyway, the interrupted sleep has been an ongoing theme this week but there have been a few one off occurrences like the afternoon where I had fairly strong discomfort on one side of my lower abdomen and I couldn’t lie down for a few hours. It wasn’t a contraction and it wasn’t centralised but it was rather discomforting. It was also tiring to go through but it hurt to lie down and I ended up propping myself up in bed with my head back and my mouth hanging wide open as I tried to snooze. So very attractive, I know. It didn’t get any worse though or evolve into something else and after a while it just went away. I didn’t feel it again so I’m hoping it was one of those things.

And speaking of one of those things, something that kind of snuck up on me was the lack of breath capacity I now have. Which is not really news to be honest (and I’ve known for a while that walking up stairs will leave me puffed a lot sooner than it used to) but I didn’t realise till recently that blowing up a balloon was going to be so damned hard. Now don’t get me wrong, I can still actually do this but far out, I didn’t realise it was going to be such an effort. But I guess thats what you get at going on nine months pregnant. Sometimes its the little things…

You are:

  • Officially fully cooked but still hanging in there

I am:

  • Hanging right in there with you

Alles Liebe,

Lexelah

Week Thirty-Nine

Dear Button,

We’re almost getting to countdown point now. People have asked if I am “over it” yet or have been telling me that this point will be coming soon but I have to say that I haven’t reached it yet. Sure, its not great that I can no longer sleep straight though the night. I wake often to roll over which is a lot more effort than it sounds. I am also not quite as relaxed as I used to be – or maybe that was more relaxed…?

The crazy pregnancy hormone phenomenon means I have more relaxin flowing through my body to help make it looser for your arrival but it is this that I think is making me a little more uncomfortable at times because theres not quite as much support for working muscles as there used to be. Or I could be completely talking out my backside but what I do know is that sometimes when I finally go to lie down in bed, its not ahh…rest for my weary bones, its more argh…I still need to find just the right position because this first one is like REALLY uncomfortable!

So there are a few more aches this week and a couple of times, I have stretched before getting into bed. It probably would have been a good idea for me to be doing some sort of yoga for the past couple of months but, you know, lazy. And still tired. Although I’ve been logging into my work emails and doing some small bits and pieces throughout the week, I have been on maternity leave and the days just fly by. I was a little curious as to whether I’d be bored on my own but I’m really not. I nap now and then and I don’t feel up to much more than pottering round the house and watching dvd’s. I haven’t been all that successful at banking sleep but at least I seem to be banking a little rest.

You are:

  • 4/5ths down according to my OB and although its anyone’s guess, I think you’re still happy cooking in there
  • Making my once clear amniotic fluid pale and milky as you shed the greasy, white vernix caseosa that has been protecting your skin

I am:

  • Tired
  • Occasionally weary or achy
  • A bit disappointed that I don’t enjoy a hot shower like I used to

This may sound a little strange but one thing that I kind of miss are really hot showers. For weeks and weeks I have been trying to get rid of a skin irritation on my legs and whilst the doctors at the medical centre seem to think that yet another cream is going to fix it, Gil the midwife suggested this week that if I still have the irritation, any treatment is probably going to be palliative at best until you are born. So I have been suffering through itchy legs as well as an itchy belly and steaming hot water doesn’t seem to be that good for either of them. For some reason I thought I might enjoy the sensation of running water over my belly but I really don’t. So in general, I no longer have long hot showers. Unless I’m washing my hair which still takes ages.

My Pregnancy Misconception: So I haven’t had one of these for a while and in fact this one is linked to another one I had before. I originally thought the happy hormones that stopped you shedding your hair like an animal would kick in as soon as you were pregnant. Which they don’t. I then thought that once they kicked in that they would hang around doing their thing until you had the baby. They don’t. I am apparently back to being able to provide a head of hair for a barbie doll every week as I leave a trail of long dark strands behind me. Bummer.

Alles Liebe,

Lexelah

Week Thirty-Eight

Dear Button,

How are you doing in there? Still cooking along nicely? Well, I’ll tell you what, this week really hit me like a ton of bricks and I have started to feel really far along. Up until now I had been quite happy at work. Making the hour commute in early, working through lunch as I tried to make sure I was passing on everything I needed to and then coming home occasionally a little late. And during this week, Monday was very much the same I guess but then for the rest of the week, I was kind of stuffed.

The Tuesday was actually my last day of work because it was Melbourne Cup day and my whole team at work was celebrating together. So the day as far as work went, was actually pretty much of a write off but in a way, what should have been more relaxing turned out to be more work. At least for a pregnant lady. The venue was loud and crowded and hot. The music was blaring and I felt like a grandmother before I’d even become a mother cause I just wanted to say can you turn the damned music down! It also didn’t help that you had to ask for water and juice constantly. They were apparently happy to bring heaps of booze around but weren’t prepared to leave jugs of the softer stuff on the table. Then there was the food.

I couldn’t eat the entrees. Which didn’t really phase me. Pate, oysters and scallops are not really on the allowed list. Well, the seared scallops might have been ok but I was a bit dubious of how hot they would be by the time they got to me so I didn’t risk it. One waitress offered to find out if they could do some vegetables but then I never heard from her again so I guess not. Anyway, there was bread but when I asked for more olive oil which had run out, I never heard from that waiter again either so dry bread was all I had until after 3pm when the mains came out. Which I think was kind of pathetic. And whilst I could eat the main, I couldn’t have the salad so I was still kind of hungry.

I stuck around to be with the team and I guess about an hour later, they decided to bring dessert. After at least a third of the table had left to go home or back to the office. So that left a number of desserts lying around with no one to eat them and I could have really gone to town and made up for all the food I didn’t have earlier but after I’d eaten one, I couldn’t really stomach another so I left as well and went back to the office. And I guess it was a mark of how tired I was that I wasn’t really firing on all cylinders when I went back and everything was taking me twice as long.

To jump back a day, I had actually gone to see the OB on the Monday and he seemed concerned that I was still at work. He wanted to make sure that I understood I needed more rest and should be making time to basically do nothing. I wasn’t to race around for work then go on maternity leave and race around at home finishing the nursery and anything else that I felt needed doing. I need to make sure I have enough energy left by the time the labour comes around. I do get that although I can’t exactly say that I spent my first day of maternity leave chilling out (I spent almost the whole day cleaning). At least I realised ¾ of the way through the day that I was dog tired and I needed a Nanna nap though.

I was also very aware for the rest of the week that I just wasn’t up to a lot and therefore dialled it back. Of course, the puppy doesn’t always make it easy to sleep and Sparky doing late shifts at the cafe doesn’t make it easy to go to bed early either but at least I’m not physically very active any more. Now I’m trying to take it easy and wait until you’re ready to show up. Or the OB decides that you really should come early. Either way, its not really my decision. And I did have a little pause moment this morning.

I’m fairy used to you moving about throughout the day. Sometimes its little bumps, sometimes its hiccups and sometimes you really stretch and its kind of uncomfortable but I pretty much always feel you first thing in the morning and last thing at night. This morning though you were really quiet. I started moving about and I didn’t feel anything. I poked around my tummy for a bit and I didn’t really feel anything. So I got up, had breakfast and a shower and just when I was starting to wonder at what point do you call the hospital when you’re full term and you don’t think you can feel anything that I felt you move. It wasn’t anything major but it was movement. So I figured that was ok. Maybe you just took a long nap.

You are:

  • According to my OB an “average” baby at this point – I remain sceptical
  • Slowly descending (although at my last OB visit you still hadn’t engaged)
  • Practicing fetal breathing and making fists in preparation for the outside world

I am:

  • Exhausted
  • Really starting to get a little peeved that I’ waiting on Sparky for some of the stuff in the nursery and the house because I can’t do it myself
  • Getting at least a little nervous about how its all going to go down, you know, when I’m not too tired to think about it
  • Feeling really chunky – in the hips and backside, chocolate is not a good friend…just a tasty one
  • Watching a lot of The West Wing – just so as you know

Alles Liebe,

Lexelah

Downsides

Dear Button,

You know what sucks about being pregnant? Well, a lot of things suck really and a most of them are different for each person but it almost seems to me that some things are unavoidable. Like the towel thing.

I have decided that I would be in the market for a pregnancy towel if there was one available. Obviously not so in the market that I’ve googled it to see if the issue has pissed off someone else enough to come up with a product but I do notice that every time I take a shower, wrapping a towel around myself afterwards is not always a convenient state of affairs and it doesn’t matter what size the towel actually is either.

Obviously, the normal bath towels were small and not quite up to the job before I got pregnant but now that I am at the end of pregnancy, even the bath sheets are no longer sufficient. Nor is my bathrobe. Sure, I could go out and buy like a size 22 bathrobe so there would be enough towelling to go around my middle but then I think I’d lose my shoulders or something. My bust is definitely not big enough to sustain (or support) that much more material up top. My boobs are bigger than they were, sure but they’re not that big!

So I wrap my bath sheet as tightly as I can around my bust and tuck the end into itself to form a sort of dress. Instead of the tube dress effect however where the bust measurement is somewhat akin to the hip measurement and you get a straight up and down looking dress, my belly measurement is way bigger than my hip measurement. This means that it wouldn’t matter if my rear end was the size of Texas because I already have an a-line thing going on, which, and I don’t know if this is just me, seems to make it all the more easy for the towel to fall off somewhere between the bathroom and my getting dressed. Which can be kind of inconvenient.

But this isn’t the only thing that is inconvenient at this late stage of pregnancy. I have also decided that centrifugal force is not my friend. This probably sounds a little strange but let me explain. Sparky and I like to argue in the car. We argue at home too as all married couples do I guess but when we are both in the car together and not actually looking at each other, sometimes it is a little easier to be more candid or pull the passive aggressive act on each other and Sparky is not real good at driving sedately when he is narked at me. As a consequence, his more aggressive driving usually sees him shorten his braking distances which both frustrates and freaks me out occasionally and he takes corners faster than he normally would. Here is where my problem starts.

I will be sitting quite comfortably in the passenger seat of the car and as anyone knows, when you take a corner fast, the centrifugal force pushes your body out and you start to lean towards the outside of the car. Kids often like to exaggerate this effect and play “corners” when in the car with their parents to either annoy them or for the main purpose of ramming their shoulders into their siblings as some sort of retribution for a nominal slight. When you’re heavily pregnant however, your body still leans but all of a sudden you’ve got this additional protrusion that doesn’t have the same support as your back and shoulders. And it wants to “lean” a little further than the rest of your body. And its really uncomfortable. Perhaps I should be thankful that we don’t have one of those really fancy cars that like to molest you around corners and compensate by pushing in the edges of the seat to cushion you around corners – then only the belly would be moving!

I guess the last thing is actually something I could probably fix by not participating in or picking fights with Sparky in the car but lets face it, thats not really going to happen because nature can indeed sometimes be a cruel mistress.

Bis dann,

Lexelah

* I would give credit for the image if I had the faintest idea of who created it

Week Thirty-Seven

Dear Button,

This week was more of the same. I’m still waking up through the night. I’m still getting the urge to scratch my belly like theres no tomorrow and I’m still generally tired. I’m also still looking incredibly ungainly and unladylike when I have to get up from the couch or the floor. It would quite possibly be quicker and easier to just get on my side first and then push up with my arms like I do when I get out of bed in the morning but no. It tends to be legs out and knees bent to brace and push from one end and arms spread either side behind me to help heave my body out of its resting place on the other. Perhaps with a little groaning or grunting involved. You know, for effect.

I vaguely remember the time when I started noticing that it was a lot more uncomfortable to move the way I used to previously. My abdominal muscles had started to go and it was like hmm…this isn’t so easy any more. Now, it just plain isn’t possible. The muscles around my stomach have apparently separated to sit either side of my stomach to make way for you and therefore coughing and sneezing are unpleasant for a whole new reason. I must say, I am kind of looking forward to getting my body back, or at least part of it. I have been told that it doesn’t end up feeling quite like that because I get to replace the alien in my stomach feeling with the milk cow with udders feeling – but at least you get to lie on your stomach whenever you want to…well, unless you’re boobs are engorged and they hurt.

This week has also been my last full week of work and I have been told “I don’t want you to go” and “can’t you just put it off for another twelve months or so” and despite the fact that I have mixed feelings about going on maternity leave (I am looking forward to you of course but I also enjoy going to work each day), I don’t think I’d be up for another twelve months of the belly. In all its itchy glory. Or the broken nights of sleep. Or even the fingers and ankles that are starting to feel a little thicker than they did before. Work has quite possibly in part been a way to keep my mind off the huge changes ahead and what getting there will actually entail but I think I’d rather face that than the perpetuation of the current status quo. As easy as this pregnancy has comparatively been, I’m glad I’m not an elephant.

You are:

  • Probably no longer covered by the down coat of lanugo that covered you from 26 weeks
  • Also no longer covered by the protective whitish substance vernix caseosa (you have apparently swallowed this and are storing it in your bowels to become your first poo!)
  • Full Term Baby!

I am:

  • Starting to feel more uterine contractions here and there which I’m told are Braxton Hicks
  • Not able to eat quite as much food in one sitting as I could before
  • Kind of resigned to the fact that I may not get another good nights sleep for the next 10 years

Bis dann,

Lexelah