Thursday, February 08, 2007

Fifi's Birth Story

To start from the top, we had originally planned to have a home waterbirth. At 20 weeks, I was told my placenta was low lying, but as it had plenty of time to move up, we continued with our homebirth plans. However, when at 32 weeks we discovered it was still low, we began preparing ourselves for the possibility of a c-section. The 35 week scan showed it was still low, and the 36 week scan showed it was a definite marginal placenta praevia. At this point, we knew there was no other option except a cesarean. A planned section was scheduled for Friday, 2 February. I was under strict orders, however, to head straight to the hospital if I experienced any uterine activity or bleeding whatsoever.

On the Monday prior to the scheduled date, Scott and I went to the cinema to spend some fun time together. When I stood up at the end, I had an incredibly strong cramp in my lower abdomen. I thought it was probably just how the baby had positioned herself during the film and tried to walk it off. The pain instead just got worse. Since the cinema is just down the road from the hospital, Scott declared we were going straight there. It was really embarrassing explaining to the guy at reception why I was there without having called ahead or having brought my hand-held notes. I was taken to the labour ward and admitted overnight for observation.

The following morning, an obstetrician checked me over and declared me fine to go home since I'd experienced no more pain or any bleeding. I was relieved. Scott and I grabbed a quick lunch and headed home. At home I poured myself a nice, hot, relaxing bath. Five minutes in it, though, I felt like I needed the toilet. And that's when I had the first gush of blood. One hour and forty-five minutes after being discharged from the hospital on that Tuesday, I was readmitted. I spent an agonising 3 hours on the horrible monitor in the labour ward while the doctors tried to decide what to do. They finally decided to 'wait and see' and admitted me to the maternity ward. As soon as I got there, I had another massive gush of blood, but not realising I was supposed to keep it, I flushed it down the toilet and called a midwife. She told me never to flush or throw away anything as they are unable then to acertain how much blood loss I had. So once again, they said they'd wait and see what happens.

That night I passed some more blood and a large clot. I called a midwife to look at it who said, 'Oh that's normal.' 'Normal for what?' I asked, incredulously. 'It's just bloody show.' I looked her in the face and said, 'I have placenta praevia. I don't think bloody show is a very good thing at this point, is it?' She said she'd take it to show the other midwives.

No one came to see me about this clot. When finally the painkiller people came around, I asked for a midwife to come see me. The midwife told me it was just a clot and nothing to worry about. 'We just want you here in hospital so if anything happens we can take care of it.'

As you can imagine, at this point, I was in a proper state. What were they waiting for? A hemorrhage? A point of no return? I decided myself I would go ahead and fast overnight just in case a section could be done immediately. I knew that as soon as I ate something, they'd tell me they would've gone ahead and sectioned me early except that I'd eaten and now I'd have to wait. I was so worried all night. I felt something was very wrong and no one was taking me seriously. I prayed so much for Fifi that night and thought the most awful thoughts. I was a wreck.

The next morning, I didn't see a midwife until 9.30 and I didn't see a doctor until 10. I was starving. The doctor told me they were just going to 'wait and see' and possibly try to fit me in tomorrow (Thursday). When she left the room, I pulled the curtain and burst into tears. A student midwife, who was absolutely wonderful, must've heard me sobbing (though I was trying to do it into the blankets so I wouldn't be heard) and came in to try and console me. I don't know if she then told someone, but five minutes later, the same doctor came back in and said, 'Don't eat your breakfast. We're going to take you now.'

After that was a whirlwind of activity. I phoned Scott and my midwife Allison. I was shaved. (I had to cancel my wax appointment to go into hospital.) I was prepped with horrible drips in the back of my hands and given a sexy hosptial gown with no back to wear. My wedding rings (which no longer came off) and my tragus ring were taped up. Scott arrived just in time for me to be wheeled down to the labour ward.

Getting prepped for surgery was scary. I'm only thankful that I wasn't in labour at the time; my heart hurts for women who have to be prepped for emergency sections in the midst of contractions. It's horrible. A spinal anaesthesia was inserted in my back (oowww) and multiple other things. I have to admit though, the feeling of losing feeling in my legs was pretty cool. The anaesthetist did loads of interesting tests to see if the feeling in my abdomen was fading, like pouring cold water on my arm and then on my belly to see if it felt the same kind of cold, and pinching my belly hard and then pinching my arm to see if it felt the same. (It was amazing, I could feel a vague sense that there was something being poured on my belly or that my belly was being slightly touched, whereas the feeling in my arm upon the same treatment was so vivid.) My lower body felt like a rubber chicken. Finally, they hung the drape, Scott came in in his scrubs and the surgeons went to work.

Scott and a midwife talked to me throughout the procedure to help me stay calm. All I could feel were vague sensations of being touched. Next thing I knew, the anaesthetist told me, 'They're about to deliver the head.' And then, though I couldn't see anything, I heard a tiny cry. Scott and I both cried with her. They brought her around, all bloody for us to see, then quickly wiped her off and wrapped her up in a blanket. They placed her on my chest (my neck really, as there wasn't really any room). It was unbelievable. I couldn't believe she was mine. She was just this little person that I'd never met before but had known for nine months. She didn't cry at all, just stared and blinked at us. Scott held her for most of the time. At one point, I got incredibly nauseous and started throwing up, which was stressful and frustrating because I couldn't feel my stomach muscles as I threw up and felt like I was going to choke because I had no control over the urges. Finally, I was sewn back up, given my baby and wheeled out of the operating theatre with many well wishes and whatnot.

In the recovery room, they put Fifi directly on my chest for skin-to-skin contact, and once the nausea and everything was fully passed, they positioned her on my breast. She latched on perfectly right away and fed for an hour. Finally, they allowed Scott to go tell my midwife, who'd been waiting nervously for two hours outside, that all was well. Allison had worked herself into a state as well, as by the time Scott was finally given the okay to go out, it had been over two hours, and she was thinking the worst. She came in to give me a hug and everything and then had to leave to make it to an appointment. She was understandably upset and so were Scott and I that no one had had the courtesy to tell her that everything had gone perfectly and baby and I were fine.

After that, I went back up to the maternity ward where they kept me until Friday. Allison came by every day for my postnatal checks. Once I had the baby, being in hospital wasn't bad at all, as I had tons of support and a million people to ask first-time-mum questions. I was told I'd be discharged on Saturday or Sunday, but the midwife on staff on Friday told me I could go home then. So on Friday afternoon, we took Fifi home and started our lives together as a little family for real.

All in all, though nothing really went according to plan, it's so true what everyone says - it doesn't matter how they come out, as long as they come out healthy and safely. I don't regret what happened now. I'm just glad my little Fifi is healthy and made it into this world without any danger and trauma. It no longer matters so much that I had to have a c-section. I have my beautiful baby, and for that I thank God so, so much.

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