Monday, 1 September 2014

My son's birth story: how he was born 36 hours later

Mr Toddler is turning two in less than a week. Two. 2. T-w-o. It feels like I was just looking at the positive on the pregnancy test and now, I have a rambunctious little toddler running around. He's a curious little guy, who still enjoys a good ole cuddle (as long as we bribe him with something normally forbidden like a television show). 

In honour of his upcoming birthday, I'm going to be sharing something a little different this time - his birth story. I'm also going to try to give a bit of insight into the Dutch system and how things work around here. I posted a little while back about prenatal care in the Netherlands if you want to know more. 

Here in the Netherlands, all expecting mothers go to a midwife or midwives. Generally speaking, you would only go to a gynecologist for high risk pregnancies. The midwives you see will deliver babies in a hospital or at home. Natural approaches to delivery are advocated. That being said, if an intervention is necessary, the midwives react quickly and do what is necessary to keep baby and mama safe. However, if an intervention is necessary, the hospital midwives will likely take over, and if surgery is necessary, the gynecologist on call will come. 

During my pregnancy, I saw my midwives regularly. We went to an office with several midwives, and whoever was on call during your labour would be the one that would deliver the baby. They therefore made sure to schedule appointments on a rotation so the mommas could meet each midwife. I really liked all of them, and liked that the answers to my questions were always consistent - no you don't need an IV, you don't have to deliver lying down on your back, you can eat, walk around. No, you don't need a c-section just because you're short (Yes, a doctor actually told me that when I was pregnant and visiting family in the US. No, that is absolutely not true.)

You see, I'm terrified of needles. They make me panic and usually end up with me fainting. While we had planned a hospital birth, it was important to me that I would still be able to get the natural birth that I wanted. 

After nine months of cookin', my due date (6 September) was approaching. I was going from scared, nervous, excited, terrified, and thrilled all at the same time. While I couldn't wait to finally hold my babe, the thought of actually getting him out seemed unbearably daunting. And then on Monday, 4 September, I noticed I was getting slight cramping every ten or so minutes. I ignored it. 

On Tuesday, I noticed that feeling was coming back every now and again so we called our midwives. The midwife on call came to our house to check on how things were progressing. This is one of my favourite parts of the Dutch medical system. The doctors or midwives actually go to you. So a nine month old pregnant lady, dealing with obnoxious amounts of pain and discomfort doesn't have to drive 45 minutes or what have you to go to the hospital to see if maaaybbbee it's go time. They come to you. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes... 

We were feeling pretty excited at that point. I had made my husband watch countless hours of baby classes online. I made him learn how to massage my back and apply pressure to ease contractions. We actually attended classes held by the birth centre. We had this under control! We'd be holding the babe soon!

But it wasn't time. I felt disappointed and decided that my kiddo wasn't going to come until closer to two weeks past the due date and got on with life, which meant laundry, cleaning, and watching more delivery stories. And knitting. 

I went to bed, absolutely convinced that babe would be cooking a while yet. I ignored the tightening feeling that was coming every 5 or 6 minutes. I ignored that I had to go to the bathroom every 6 minutes, and absolutely and totally ignored the fact that my waters had been leaking. 

After a sleepless night, I told my husband that I wasn't feeling well and had really bad back pain. He suggested it was contractions, but I told him it was probably a bladder infection and maybe we should go to the doctor. I mean, obviously, given that by this time it was actually my due date, I had had contractions on and off all night, and I my waters were leaking (no pop though!), it was not labour. Obviously. 

So I did errands, insisted to my husband that we go see the doctor because I was not in labour, but had a bladder infection (What the what??), and I got more cleaning and laundry done. 

The tightening feeling I was getting around my belly area was coming more intensely, and was happening every two or three minutes. My husband said we should call the midwife because it's go time! I said, 'pssh. nooooo.' and did another load of laundry. Apparently, I really enjoy washing the loads of laundry that had piled up because I was so hugely pregnant. 

If we can just have a break to think about the quantity of hours that had already passed - it was about a day of what I had convinced myself were not contractions. 

My husband ignored my insistence that this wasn't labour and called the midwife. She came over and said that we would be holding babe that day or the next. She said to relax, gave a few more pain management tips, and said she'd be back in a few hours. 

Okay. I got this. The contractions got worse. I used the coping techniques I had learned - got on all fours (which really helped!), listened to my husbands reminders to breathe (which was also helpful because I held my breath and that made it worse), and nearly killed him for actually attempting to penetrate my no touch bubble. All of those massages that I had insisted he learn went out the window. He was no longer permitted to touch me.

By 18.30 (6.30 pm), we sat down to a lovely dinner my husband had made, and my contractions were starting to get really intense. Okay, they were already past intense. They were horrible, but I was managing with the coping techniques I had listed above. It was definitely do-able and the breaks in between still allowed me to relax and rest. I still didn't really believe that it was labour though. 

My awesome midwife came during dinner. She checked on progress and said we had to go to the hospital and said the words that I was fearing the entire time: an intervention was necessary. My waters had been leaking for a while, my contractions were serious, but I wasn't dilating quickly enough. Medicine was necessary and I would be transferred to the hospital midwives. I broke down. Sobbing, hysterical, and absolutely terrified. 

My natural birth wasn't going to happen, I'd have to deliver on my back, I would need an IV, and my lovely midwife wouldn't be able to deliver my baby, but a stranger would! I wasn't able to do what my body was built for - have a baby. Cue serious break down. So while my husband packed the car (he still wasn't permitted to touch me), my midwife gave me a comforting hug, reassured me that she would get us settled and would even come back to see how things were going, that babe would be safe, and that I was still a woman. Okay. Slightly more confident, I hobbled over to the car for the literally two minute drive to the hospital. 

We got settled, I got something that was similar to pitocin, which made contractions absolutely unmanageable. First of all, being on my back was horrible. That was absolutely the most painful position for me to have contractions in, but my motion was limited because I needed to be monitored due to the medicine. I got a morphine pump to manage the extra pain due to the medication for helping me to dilate (The name is something long and Dutch). I was able to rest and calm down a bit. 

By 2 in the morning on 7 September (ahhem, all in all, it was 33 hours of contractions later! but the horrid-oh-my-word-how-can-I-live-through-this types of contractions had only been happening for about 8. 

And then, I felt the absolute worst possible pain you could ever imagine. It made contractions seem like nothing and I thought that the hospital midwife was absolutely daft for even uttering these words: You can't push yet, she said. You see, I was stuck at 9.5 and while my body was naturally starting to push without me doing anything, so told me to stop it. Um... how? So, you know those scenes in movies where the delivering lady screams her head off. That so happened. My morphine pump was useless, and not only did I refuse to have an epidural, it was already too late anyway. 

The scariest bit of it was I knew what was coming next. She said I needed to be at ten about an hour ago, and I knew that if I wasn't allowed to deliver soon, that it would end in a c-section. While I do want to say that the general contractions were do-able, that pain of being told I couldn't push when I had to was awful and I was not able to deal. Luckily, the OB on call said to just let me have a few pushes, and to see what would happen. 

A few pushes was all it took, and the babe shot out. Oh, and the pushing was medicine free, but it brought a lot of relief and was absolutely manageable. Again, nothing during the entire labour and delivery was even comparable to the 'don't push yet' feeling. 

Throughout all of this ordeal, my dear husband was running back and forth to the sink to get me cold water to drink in between contractions and pushes. Once he brought me warm water. He got yelled at and I still remind him about it today. Seriously. Don't bring me warm water in between pushes. He again had to frequently remind me that I also needed to breathe. 

And then this happened: 

It was over and I got to hold our little cutie. It was all so worth it.

Oh, yes, I was boobin' him all up in the publiks. Okay, normal spelling: I nursed him at my university! We stopped by to pick up some necessary paperwork for my visa, said hello to professors, and grabbed a drink in the cafeteria. I nursed my babe. It happened. No one cared. I even nursed him at the US consulate, and the Dutch Immigration Office. Other, braver souls, had boobed their kids without nursing covers. I wasn't that capable at that point (he was two or three months old here).


To summarise my very long winded birth story: 

  • Nothing will go as planned
Seriously, everything happened differently than what we had discussed, than my plans, than what I had expected. 

The pain? Even though it took a really, really long time to get from start of labour to delivery, it was manageable for almost the entire time. I thought I would seriously go mad from the don't push crap, though. Hubby and I have been talking a lot about having another baby, and I already know my birth plan, but that's a whole other story. 

If you read this entire post, you deserve a virtual cookie! Happy Tuesday everyone! 

Thank you so much for stopping by!