Day 0 -or- the folly of expectations…

Our lives changed on the 25th of January, 2011.  We really didn’t expect it.  Not on that day.

It was Tuesday morning and we had our 39wk OB appointment at 9am.  After bub flipping breech at 37wks, we’d had a (so we thought) successful ECV at 37w5d.  She had been head down at our 38wk appointment a few days later, so we thought we were free and clear.

We turned up for our 39wk appointment ready to talk about the birth plan.  But before we did that, we had an u/s to check on bub.  As she was preparing, the OB was giving some initial thoughts on our birth plan (all supportive) and saying how rare it is for babies to turn around after a successful ECV, so we shouldn’t have to worry about her position any more.  The very first view on the u/s proved her wrong.  Bub’s head was jammed up under my ribs again, just on the other side now!

To make matters worse, there was nothing but fluid down low in my pelvis.  This was the greatest concern for the OB.  If my waters broke, there would be nothing to stem the flow and the risk of a cord prolapse was high.  Her recommendation was a c-section that day.  Within minutes she was on the phone to the hospital to get a spot in the schedule for us and managed to get one at 4pm.  We were told to go home to collect our bags and head straight to the hospital.

(I was going to leave this part out, but I think I’ll add it in to remind me.
It was about 9.45am by the time she had our c-section booked in.  I was told I needed to fast for 6 hours, so I wasn’t to eat or drink anything after 10am.  She then asked when I’d had breakfast, which, unfortunately, I had skipped that morning.  So I was told that I MUST eat something ASAP and then start the fasting.  We stopped at the cafe on the ground floor for breakfast on the way out.  I ordered pancakes with maple syrup and ice cream.  It was the only time I ate ice cream the entire pregnancy and it was the last thing I ate before she was born.)

I have to say, I was terribly upset about the morning’s developments and left the OB’s office in tears.  In the range of (healthy) delivery options, a c-section was my least preferred one.  What I wanted was a natural birth; I didn’t even want pain meds if I could manage without them.  What I got was the complete opposite.  I still get upset about this 6 weeks later.  I still feel like part of the pregnancy experience was stolen from me.  I’ve never been in labour and I have no idea what it feels like.  Maybe I’d have hated it and this intervention was a godsend?  Or maybe I’d have been one of the lucky ones who found it easy?  I hope I get to find out one day.

But I digress…

So, after breakfast, we headed home to finish packing the hospital bags.  DH was cranky as hell, which I’m guessing was because he was as freaked out as me.  He wanted to rush, I wanted to take my time – there was lots of yelling…

We arrived at the hospital before noon and my room had not yet been vacated by the previous occupant.  We waited downstairs at reception for a while and were then taken upstairs and had to wait in the patient’s lounge.  I even had my blood taken in the patient’s lounge…  But eventually we could move in and try to prepare for the afternoon ahead.  Nurses and midwives came to take my temperature, blood pressure, etc, and they also did a CTG to check on bub.  The anaesthetist visited us to consult before the operation and we were struck by her incredible efficiency and confidence.  (DH was also very impressed by her work during the operation, but I wasn’t paying attention then.)

When we were left alone for a while I managed to take a few last photos of my belly.  They’re really the first ones I took that I felt really looked like I was pregnant.  I know others thought I looked pregnant earlier, but I didn’t.  So, here’s the last belly shot, taken in the ensuite of my hospital room (38w6d):

Not long after 3pm, we were taken downstairs in preparation for the big event.

When we first arrived downstairs, we encountered a young woman who asked the midwife escorting us whether we already had a baby catcher for our birth.  The midwife didn’t seem to know, so the woman stuck to us like glue and became our self-appointed baby catcher.  She kept asking everyone connected to our case with a slight air of desperation until someone finally told her she could do it.  She took some photos of us as we waited downstairs in our “hospital chic” outfits (as I like to call them, ie hospital gown for me and scrubs for DH) and also took photos in the operating theatre.

A few minutes before 4pm we were taken into the theatre.

I know they told us in the antenatal classes that there were a lot of people involved in a c-section, but walking in and seeing (what seemed like) a cast of thousands in that room was daunting.  So many people to bring one tiny baby into the world.  A stark contrast to what a natural delivery would have involved.

I had never wanted an epidural.  I never want another one!  As it took effect, my blood pressure dropped and I started vomiting.  Unfortunately for DH, they put the bowl on the same side of my head as where he was sitting.  I spent the entire first part of the operation vomiting.  Then she was born.  I spent the rest of the time in that room crying.

(By the time we started the c-section, she had turned around to a transverse position, supporting the OB’s diagnosis of “unstable lie”.)

I barely got half a glance at her before she was taken away to be measured and checked over.  DH went over with her to watch and I listened to her crying from across the room.  Then she was brought over and her head was placed on my breast and I got my first proper look at her.

While they were finishing stitching me up, DH took our beautiful daughter through to recovery.  I followed soon after.  In recovery we were able to get some proper skin-on-skin contact and give her her first breastfeed.  Once there were signs of me being able to move my feet and legs we were wheeled back up to our room.

Since she was born after midday, they counted that first day in the hospital as Day 0.  We were discharged and brought her home on Day 5.

Amber Emily Rose was born at 4.07pm on 25 January 2011.  She weighed 3.32kg (7lb 5oz) and was 52cm long.  When we woke up on that Tuesday morning, we didn’t expect to be parents that afternoon.  We didn’t expect to be told we had to have an emergency (can I call it that?) c-section that day.  We expected to have more time to prepare.  We expected to have to wait longer.

But we got one thing right; we expected her to be beautiful.

(yes, we dress her in blue sometimes.  *shock! horror!*)



8 Responses to “Day 0 -or- the folly of expectations…”

  1. Hi Jen

    I’m sorry about your ordeal. I also desperately wanted a natural, drug free birth. What I go was a vaginal birth (forceps, 4th deg tear and more) but far from natural with every complication imaginable. I needed years to recover emotionally and almost as long physically. Get counselling if you feel you need it. I understand feeling robbed of the birth you wanted. almost 7 years later I still feel this way and if I should get another chance I’ll try for my natural birth again.

    If you have another, find an OB supportive of a VBAC and give yourself another chance.

    For many weeks leading up to the birth, I had all the signs of a fast easy labour. What I got ended up being a 22hour nightmare with a very sick bub at the end and me with a cut at least as big as that of a caesar but in different place.

    Time has helped. I can now watch births on TV or hear about them with burting into tears or having a panic attack but I still want my chance to give birth on my own. Sadly with the increasing gap between birth, my chances of the complications I had with DS which could largely be attributed to a “first time” labour are increasing.

    Your daughter is simply beautiful and FTR I did have the odd girl thing on DS too! *lol* Congratulations on your long wanted baby and surviving such a traumatic ordeal.

    • Thanks Alex. Our OB said she might send me for an x-ray (or was it u/s?) to check my pelvis in case there’s an anatomical reason for her unstable lie. If there’s no problems found she said she’d support a VBAC next time.

  2. After reading about your battle for years, it was wonderful to finally have a birth story from you – even if it wasn’t the one you wanted.
    I truly hope you get another shot at it, if you intend to have another baby.

  3. P.S – she’s such a cutey pie!!!

  4. She is so, so beautiful!

  5. Yah! A big congrats to you. She is a stunner. Welcome to the world Amber.

  6. Congratulations!! She is gorgeous!! I am sorry that you ended up with the C-section. )-: I had to go that route with my 1st as well….same reason. But I have had 3 successful VBAC’s since then! Hope you are recovering quickly & enjoying being a mama!!!!

  7. She’s gorgeous!!!

    Huge hugs for not getting the birth that you wanted.

    Happy hugs for Amber though, she’s beautiful!

    Sue xx

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