My pregnancy began as a bit of a surprise…

I guess I was one of the lucky ones. My pregnancy and birth experience were fantastic and pretty much trouble free from go to whoa.

My pregnancy began as a bit of a surprise, although it shouldn’t have been!.

My cycle had always been irregular, and pregnancy scares were common, and up until now, unfounded. I was feeling really run down and tired when I first did a home pregnancy test. This came up negative. A week later, and still no period, so I did the second in the packet… again, negative. A few days later, I thought I had better go to the doc’s to get checked out…. symptoms – period overdue by 3 weeks, tiredness, sore breasts and feeling very run down. Doctor did another pregnancy test, and told me that I definately wasn’t pregnant. Another week passed and I went back to doctors again who did another test, which still came up negative. Back home another few days later I did another home test (this was becoming quite expensive!)… this one came up with a very faint positive reading…. I didn’t really believe this, so back to the doctors who confirmed that after 6 pregnancy tests, YES I WAS pregnant!

As I said, this was an unexpected, but not unpleasant surprise.

My pregnancy was basically trouble free. I felt fantastic the whole way through, and the only people who actually worried about me were the doctors and midwives attending me at my antenatal clinics. I had a low platelet count, which wasn’t a symptom of my preganacy, as I had always had it. This had no affect on myself or the baby that I could tell. The only other ‘problem’ was odema of the feet, ankles and fingers, which lead to the midwives fearing pre-eclempsia. Again, this was unfounded, as my blood pressure was perfect the whole way through my pregnancy.

I was a week overdue, and suffering through an extremely hot summer when I went into labor. For the past week, I had been wishing that labour would begin, so that I could go into the air conditioned comfort of the birthing centre I was to attend.

The first inkling that I had, that labor may be imminent was a strange feeling of pressure between my legs when I sat down on my favorite foot stool… I guess the baby had finally descended and this was the discomfort I was feeling. A few hours later while watching a video, I had my first contraction… sort of like a period cramp, but not really. It didn’t really hurt, so I wasn’t actually convinced it was labour. When these ‘cramps’ kept coming, I assumed that this must be it. From 8.30pm until 2.30am I stayed at home, obtaining relief from a warm bath. At around 2.30am my contractions were between 1 and 3 minutes apart, so it was decided that even though the pain was very manageable, we had better go.

When I arrived at the Family Birth Centre, it had obviously been a very busy night, as there were no free rooms available, and they had had to convert a consultation room into a labor room for me. I didn’t really care at this point as I was concentrating on my contractions which were becoming more intense, but still manageable. The contractions had actually slowed down a little to 3 –4 minutes apart, and I was actually managing to nap in between them! I was feeling vaguely nauseous at this point, so declined the use of gas, as I was sure that this would probably make me feel worse. I had decided from the beginning that I would like a drug free birth (as most people do), but certainly did not discount the possibility that I would need drugs, and I was not going to decline them if the pain got unbearable. So it was not martyrdom that I was seeking by going drug-free, I just didn’t really need them!

I was transferred to a proper room at around 7.30am the following morning, and was examined as being dilated 8 cm. This was the first time I had been examined, and I am grateful for that, as I may have become disheartened if I had of been told 5 hours ago that I was only 2 or 3 cm gone. Within a half an hour I was getting the uncontrollable urge to push. This was the worst part of the labour, not being allowed to push when every fibre of my being was screaming, “PUSH!”. I was not examined again for another hour and a half, and when they did, I was told that, YES…I could go with the energy and push to my hearts content!

For me this was the best part of labour. Being in control, and actually being able to work with my body was an incredible, intense and strangely pleasurable experience. In between contractions I was chatting to the midwives and compared to the tiredness I had experienced during the first stages of labour, I felt very wide awake and aware.

I had opted to give birth on the birthing stool, and this was fantastic. I had gravity on my side, and my partner to support me from behind. The midwives assisted with a mirror and a torch. The batteries on the torch gave out halfway through a contraction, and my boy-scout partner came to the rescue with a pocket torch that he carries with him everywhere.

The contractions had now slowed right down to anywhere between 3 / 4 up to 7 minutes apart. The midwives commented that this rest period between the contractions was good, because the babies heart rate was dropping alarmingly after every contraction. They said that this gave the baby a chance to recover during this ‘rest’ period. Suddenly, the contractions started coming on top of each other, for several minutes I was pushing furiously without break. The midwife actually asked whether I was sure they were contractions! Strange question really…. It was at this point that the midwife decided that for the sake of the baby’s health, it would be wise to perform an episiotomy, as her heart rate was still dropping quite dramatically after each contraction, and was beginning to take longer to recover.

As there wasn’t enough time to prepare a local anaesthetic for the cut, the midwife told me that on the next contraction she would cut me, and that I shouldn’t feel it because the intensity of the contraction should override it. How wrong she was. When she cut, I screamed, and this was the most painful part of the whole labour and birth. To my surprise and relief, my daughter then just appeared to drop out of me, and the next thing I knew my baby was in my arms, and all pain was forgotten.

The aftermath of the episiotomy was also pretty painful, particularly when I got a nasty infection that had me in tears several times due to the pain… I’m sure the ‘baby blues’ also had something to do with these tearful episodes. Thankfully a course of antibiotics cleared it up pretty quickly, without too many side affects.

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