Saturday, October 15, 2011

Abigail's Birthday

My pregnancy with Abigail was the hardest one of all.  It was fraught with drama both physically and emotionally.  I was sure that the poor baby was going to come out somehow damaged by all the stress I was under during the 9 months of her residence.  Fortunately she emerged unscathed (so far as we can tell) and has been my most chilled out baby so far.

For the first 20 weeks of the pregnancy I had no medical care except for the initial visit to the doctor to confirm the pregnancy about a week before the hideous sickness fell.  For the third time I managed to weigh less right before delivery than I had at the beginning of the pregnancy.  But unlike the other two pregnancies I was packing up a house in the first few weeks.  Now the damage that Emily had done to my back and hip during her time in utero had not really gone away but to make it worse I wrenched my back badly trying to lift a heavy box.  

I wasn’t able to get any treatment during the pregnancy so as the baby grew so did the pain from this injury.  I was reduced to having to crawl up the stairs to get to my bedroom because I couldn’t lift my left leg onto the next step.  All up it was probably the hardest and least enjoyable pregnancy, if you could call any of them remotely enjoyable at all.

I had to travel quite a distance to my appointments and this time I had to do it alone since James couldn’t get out of work to take me.  During these appointments I had to take Emily and Kaitlyn along with me.  They completely charmed the receptionists at the obgyn’s office.  It got to the point that when they saw my name on the list of patients for the day they had the paper and stickers all ready to go.  The girls would be given stickers then they would get water from the water cooler while simultaneously entertaining the whole office with their amusing stories.  When we would go in to see the doctor they would be allowed to help measure my tummy and see how much the baby had grown.  They had a great time.

When we got towards the end of the pregnancy the doctor would want to do internal exams and I wasn’t all that keen to have the kids watching if it could be avoided so I asked James’ dad to come and sit with the girls while I had these appointments.  Unfortunately the first time they did the internal exam I hadn’t known about it in advance so the girls were with me.  The doctor was very good and used his body to shield them from seeing too much.  I was highly amused, though, when Abigail was about 8 months old and I was changing her one day Kaitlyn stood in the middle of the room with a shocked look on her face and said “Mummy, that doctor put a thing inside you and he didn’t take it out.  I think its still in there!!”  while pointing at my crotch.  I calmly explained that it wasn’t there anymore and that he had taken it out.  She would not believe me.  I told her that I would definitely be able to feel it if it was still there.  I’m not sure that she even believes me now but she hasn’t brought it up again.  She probably thinks I’m still walking around with a speculum in place!!

We finally made it to the last weeks and I was again delivering the baby in the United States.  I was keen to have a drug free delivery again because I had enjoyed it far more than the medicated one I had with Emily.  I was open to the idea of having pain relief if it was needed but I preferred not to be offered anything directly.  The hospital we were using was very open to this approach and were wonderful about it.

As with the other two pregnancies I had a long latent phase (that’s what they call the part where I had 5 minute contractions for weeks!!)  I was getting tired of being pregnant and really just wanted it to be over.  Mother’s Day was coming up and I didn’t want Abigail to come out that day.  I think it would be pretty bad to have a baby on Mother’s Day, that’s a day to be pampered not to be screaming and carrying on.  In my opinion the only thing worse would be delivering on my own birthday.  That would ruin the day for life, at least Mother's Day shifts around a bit date wise.

I made it through Mother's Day without giving birth but it really felt like the baby was close the whole day long.  I did manage to enjoy a home made foot spa using the baby bath we had found in our belongings.  My feet were, of course, joined in the ‘spa’ by two pairs of little feet to the point that the overcrowding caused many drips onto the floor and the final departure of my own feet.

The next morning, after timing contractions for much of the night, we decided we should bite the bullet and go to the hospital.  This time we were quite a long way away and with all the roadworks on the way it could take over an hour to get there.  We called ahead and they wanted me to be assessed at my doctors office first which is attached to the hospital.

We went there and were greeted by a midwife I had never met before.  She set me up on the monitor and left me hooked up there for 20 minutes.  When she came back she looked at the tape and said that she didn’t think I was in labour and that I should go and walk around the mall for a couple of hours and come back later.

I was very disappointed.  James had taken a day off work which he would not get paid for and if the baby wasn’t born I felt like that was a complete waste of time and money.  We dutifully walked around the mall for a few hours.  James took pity on me and bought me a new handbag which did cheer me up a little bit.

We went back to the doctors office and found that there had been no change in my cervix at all and the midwife still didn’t think I was in labour even though I could feel pretty strong contractions.  She called the doctor who was at that moment preparing to do a c-section on someone else and he said that he would be more than happy to break my waters for me if I wanted.  I would just have to wait for a few hours while he operated.  I was happy with that.  I was more than ready to have this baby out.  The midwife was visibly annoyed by this turn of events and made it very clear that she did not think I was in labour and that going ahead and breaking the waters was not a good idea.  

I left the office in tears as we went back for another stint at the mall while we waited.  I was so upset that the midwife thought I was making the wrong decision.  We decided to have lunch while we were there.  Couldn’t hurt since we’d be in the hospital for goodness knew how long trying to get this latest sproglet born and I am sure their policy on the no eating in labour thing was still in place.

When we arrived at the hospital we were checked in and immediately hooked up to the monitors again.  This time we could see the contractions as they happened on the computer screen set up next to the bed.  We could see the definite peaks and troughs that coincided with my pain.  The nurse came in and asked if I could feel these contractions.  I assured her that they were very apparent to me and she said “wow, these are nice strong ones”.  I felt like having her call that other midwife and letting her know that I was having contractions after all.

After a while another nurse came in and looked a little confused.  She was trying to take some vital signs and when she tried entering them on the computer she saw that I had apparently given birth a while before that.  When she looked at me she saw that my belly was definitely still full of baby but the computer was sure I had already delivered.  Then I noticed that the record it was showing was that of another woman who shared my birthday except that she was 10 years younger than me.  I was flattered that they thought I could pull off looking 10 years younger while in labour but in order to fix this problem they had to delete all my previous beautiful contractions and start afresh.

They did this and aged me 10 years while I kept labouring on.  The doctor was taking a while coming in to do the water breaking business but he finally arrived at 4.30 pm.  He had a hard time breaking my membranes but finally managed it and before we knew it those contractions were getting pretty strong.  He suggested that if I didn’t progress fast enough I would need to be hooked up to the pitocin again and I didn’t want that at all.

The doctor checked me again at about 8.30 pm and I was progressing nicely.  He had another woman in the room next door who was having her first baby and she was already pushing but he said he thought I might have mine first.  I felt a bit sorry for her because I felt like I was a little ways off.  I mean I was still able to smile and joke with the doctor and hold semi intelligent conversation at this point.

I decided to try out the bath thing again since it had been so soothing when I had had Kaitlyn.  I was able to move around a bit but they had these monitoring things stuck to my belly so they could make sure the baby was doing ok at all times.  Every so often as I moved around the thing would slip off and they would rush in thinking something had gone wrong.  I was even able to wear these things in the bath.  

I got in the bath and the contractions got really intense.  It got to the point that there was no break between them and the nurse started to get a bit worried.  She told me it was time to get out of the bath but I didn’t want to.  She said I needed to get out because the doctor couldn’t fit in there to deliver the baby and she was pretty sure I was getting a bit close for comfort.

Apparently I was rather belligerent about the whole exiting the bath deal.  James tells me he had to forcibly remove me from those blissful water jets and I was not happy about it at all!! I made it about halfway back to the bed before I was sure the baby was falling out.  I stopped and told the nurse I couldn’t make it to the bed, I needed to get the baby out right now.  Between her and James they managed to get me back on the bed and the doctor rushed in.  By this point he was running between my room and the woman next door who was still pushing away.  He sat down on his little stool and checked me out before announcing that I was 8 cm.  I was a little disappointed because these pains were getting really intense and I didn’t think I could cope for much longer.  Then the doctor asked if I would like to try pushing.  I was a little surprised but my body heard the word ‘push’ and started doing its own thing.  There was no stopping me once I’d got going.

Once again James was given a leg to hold while the nurse held the other.  As I pushed I screamed out “I can’t do this”.  The doctor (who is himself a father of 5) patted my leg and said “yes you can, you’ve already done it twice before”.  Couldn’t argue with that kind of logic could I? I pushed again and felt that familiar ‘ring of fire’.  One more push and she was out.  I couldn’t believe how quick that had been.  They placed her on my tummy and I looked down at this precious little girl and then I had to ask James if it would be ok if he put my leg down now.  I was starting to get the shakes.

As I held Abigail I started to cry, it was the first time I had been moved this way by the birth of one of my children.  I looked at James and said “its over, its really over”.  The nurses looked at each other knowingly thinking I was talking about the labour but James knew what I really meant was that the pregnancy was over.  It was by far the worst one but the reward was worth every minute of pain it caused.

At that point another nurse burst through the doors with a shocked look on her face.  She was the delivery nurse and was supposed to be holding the leg James had been left with.  Apparently the nurse in the room is supposed to press a little button to alert the delivery nurse to come in at the proper moment.  Unfortunately the moment was such a short one that the nurse hadn’t been able to get to the button in time.  This poor woman had completely missed the delivery and was alerted by the sound of the baby crying.

The doctor did his thing cleaning up and taking care of the placenta and stuff then stripped his gloves, shook James’ hand and said “congratulations, I hate to deliver and run but I must move on to the next one”.  That poor woman in the room next door was still pushing!!  He dashed off and left us in the hands of the very capable nurses.  

I was a bit curious about one aspect of all this.  I asked the nurse “why did he have me start pushing at 8 cm?  I thought I had to get to 10?”  She replied “oh, by the time you’re onto baby number 3 your cervix is so used to it that you can kind of open it up the rest of the way with the first push, don’t worry dear they just kind of slip through”.  It reminded me a little of the Monty Python sketch where the woman is having her 20 something child and it just drops out on the floor as she’s standing at the kitchen sink.  

The nurses were rather impressed that I had managed to deliver this baby with no pain relief at all.  Not even any laughing gas like I’d had with Kaitlyn.  Actually I was a bit impressed by this as well.  It felt good knowing that even though I didn’t seem to do so well carrying these babies at least I was able to get them out relatively easily.

So we were finally able to welcome our newest family member.  Abigail Naomi Jones arrived a few days late, despite the fact that according to that one midwife I wasn’t even in labour, at 10 pm on the 10th of May 2010 weighing in at 8 lb and 21 inches in length.

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