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Christina's Birth Story

29th September 2001
Weight: 5 lbs 8 oz
Length: 18 inches
Head Circumference 33 cm

The memory of giving birth to my first daughter, Christina is so fresh in my mind, it could have been yesterday. From 28 weeks into the pregnancy onwards, my blood pressure was high, and my baby was failing to thrive, therefore, at 38 weeks, with a warning that I would have a small baby, labour was induced.

I arrived at the maternity department of the hospital at 8.00 am to be checked in. At 9.00 am, I was given an internal examination and told that my cervix was posterior and very unfavourable. This meant that I would have to have prostaglandin gel inserted to help me ripen up. The first application of this gel was at 10.00 am. I was expecting it to be an uncomfortable procedure, but I hardly felt it at all. I was then informed that they would check my cervix for progress in six hours time (which didn't impress me), because induction can be a very long, slow process.

During the six hours, I began to have weak, period pain type contractions and niggling backache. The midwife offered me some paracetamol at this stage, but I declined. I thought that if I needed pain relief now, what would I be like when real labour kicked in?

Six long hours later, a new midwife had come on her shift. She did the internal examination, and to my horror, she informed me that I was only one centimetre dilated and not ready for my waters to be broken artificially to start labour, or for a pitocin drip to be put up. I was mortified because I knew that I would have to have another pessary and wait another six hours!

Finally, at eleven o clock in the evening, when yet another midwife had come on her shift, I was examined again, and the midwife said that even though I still hadn't made much progress, she would try to break my waters. She produced a long plastic rod with a curved end and inserted it into my cervix, I suddenly felt a gush of hot fluid (which at the time felt like the most horrible feeling I had ever felt), but IT WORKED!!!!!!! I was really pleased that things would soon be moving on.

Not long after my waters had been broken, the weak period pain contractions became more intense, but they weren't coming at regular intervals. Just over an hour later, I was told that I was going to be put on a pitocin drip to strengthen and regulate the contractions. It was then that they advised me to have an epidural because apparently induced labours are more intense and painful that natural labours because the contractions go from practically nothing to really strong straight away with no build up. So, I agreed to the epidural.

I chose to sit up straight as the huge needle was inserted into the epidural space in my spine. The midwife told me that it would take at least ten minutes for the bottom half of my body to become numb, and from now on, I would be confined to the bed (which I was used to anyway because of all the fetal monitoring I had to go through during the whole experience).

At 12.15 am, the drip was put in place, and then quite suddenly, I felt the real pain. I can vividly remember the most excruciating backache, I just could not get comfortable at all. I kept thinking, "oh well, I can deal with this, the epidural will kick in soon", but it never did. Wave upon wave of seriously painful contractions washed over me, and soon I realised that I was one of the unlucky ones for whom the epidural doesn't work properly. I was only numb down my left side.

I can remember the contractions getting closer and closer together until it seemed like they were on top of each other, I couldn't tell one from the next. It was so painful, but I didn't shout out once. I couldn't speak from the pain. Finally, at 5.00 am, the midwife said that she would examine me and if I was less than 6 cm dilated, she would call back the anaesthetist to see if there was anything else he could do for me. However, it was unnecessary, I felt so lucky. She performed the examination on me, and informed me that not only was I fully dilated, but she could feel the baby's head really low. She told me I could push when I felt the need.

I was really excited at this point, but I was full of trepidation too. Would it hurt? Would I tear and need stitches? And I have to admit, my first attempt at pushing were pretty half hearted, as I had absolutely no urge to push, and I was terrified of ripping.  Then I thought about it rationally, the baby had to come out one way or another. That's when the real hard work began.

Like I said before, I had no urge to push, I can only attribute that to the epidural taking the urge away even though it didn't take properly. I have had another baby since without the epidural, and let me tell you, the urge to push was so strong and painful it took my breath away, I had no choice but to push!

I gripped on to the rails at the side of the bed. I really had to bear down every time I felt a slight contraction and hope that it was working. I really felt like the baby wasn't moving down at all, however the midwife assured me that the birth was progressing normally and finally she said that she could see the baby's head.

I was told to concentrate, and to pant so the baby's head could be born slowly, but I couldn't feel her coming out at all. I had no stinging or burning sensations. I had no idea how quickly her head was coming, but I think I did well because there was no tearing at all. I then heard the midwife say "one more push and you will have your baby". I can also remember her saying that the baby had a head full of dark hair.

I pushed one more time, and she slid out of me. I heard her cry and the midwife cut her cord and handed her to me. She was beautiful, all 5 lbs 8 oz of her. She was so tiny, I was petrified of dropping her at first so my father, who came for the birth took her from me and held her for a while. My mother was also there and took her turn too.

Christina had Apgars of 9 and 10!!! I was so proud of my little, beautiful, dark baby. And I still am to this day.

from Jessa xxxxx

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