Friday, May 31, 2013

Dear Ella - Your Birth Story

The day of my induction I was filled with conflicting thoughts. I was excited to meet you although I would not be having the birth I had planned. But as much as I did not fear the actual process of birth, I had trouble believing that things would go right for us given all the road blocks that had been thrown in our way during the pregnancy.
We arrived at the labour ward at 5pm and Grandma, Daddy and I settled into the room armed with many bags of things to sustain us through the long night ahead – 12 hours with a foley bulb in if I was dilated enough or perhaps the same amount of time with cervadil. They examined me, ready to try and place the foley bulb and found I was already 3cm dilated! The midwives and Drs were happy and excited saying this never happens for a first time Mum at my gestation. They decided to send me home and have me come back in at 7am rather than break my waters and have me labour through the night. The Dr gave me a stretch and sweep and we went home and tried to relax – it felt like an anti-climax but I was also excited thinking that perhaps I wouldn’t need any interventions. My body could do this! Daddy and I retreated to the bedroom because Grandma and Great Grandma kept looking at me like I was a bomb about to go off everytime I made a noise. We watched some TV, cuddled and Daddy gave me a massage. Despite my best efforts that night, I didn’t go into labour and my waters remained intact. When I got up in the morning I had started to lose some of my mucous plug and became excited that perhaps I had dilated even more overnight.
Back at the labour ward and a check revealed I was still only 3cm. I was disappointed but determined. The midwife ruptured my waters with a great deal of effort and to my great disappointment there was meconium in them – you had pooped you little imp. This changed the whole birth plan right away - I was no longer allowed to labour without any augmentation – I would have to go straight onto the hormone drip. I asked if they could keep it on a very low level and they agreed. When my contractions began it was 10am and I handled them well, walking around the room and bouncing on the birth ball. I had to consent to monitoring because of the drip but had organized to have to wireless monitor – it was a struggle from the start. It was supposed to make it easier for me to move around but every time I moved it kept cutting out and finally I had to have the wired monitor on as I continued to bounce through contractions on the ball. I ate some grapes, drank some juice and picked at my lunch but after that I didn’t eat again. Every time I stood I was losing amniotic fluid in big gushes but my contractions which were coming every 2 minutes were ‘too short to be effective’ and they turned up the hormone drip. I began laboring on hands and knees on the bed which felt very good but in this position none of the monitoring would work and the Drs came in and told me I had two choices – lie still so the monitoring worked or consent to internal monitoring. I chose to labour on my back to spare you from having your head punctured. My relaxing music stopped and I didn’t notice and my oil burner stayed in my bag.
Lying still on my back was torture and made the contractions hugely intense. It was now 5pm and I had now been contracting every two minutes for 7 hours but a check showed I was only at 5cm. Having made so little progress made me really disheartened and I was starting to doubt that I could do it. I had clearly stated in my birth plan that the midwives and Drs were not to offer pain relief but Grandma and Daddy could see how exhausted I was getting and urged me to try some gas to take the edge off and I consented around 6pm. The gas relaxed me a lot – made me cheeky and stoned – and helped me focus on the task ahead and regain my confidence. I was a little bit rude, swearing about how hard things were and making comments about how fat some of the nurses were. This had an effect on the contractions which started to last longer and every second contraction my body began to push involuntarily which made me feel quite confident that I was making progress. 8pm found me at barely 7cm and the midwife made the decision to turn up the hormone drip making the contractions even more intense. I couldn’t stay still, the gas stopped working, you had turned so you were posterior and I couldn’t stop myself pushing during the contractions which was making the lip left on my cervix swell. The Drs came in and told me they were having trouble finding your heartbeat – my student midwife Tina told me later that they were pushing for a C-section at that point – and they convinced me to agree to internal monitoring.
By this stage I had lost control. I had told myself I would be calm and cool but I was screaming my lungs out. Daddy and Grandma took turns leaving the room for breathers because it was hard for them to see me like that. Nana (knitting) and Grandad had spent most of the day in the waiting room and Grandpa joined them once he finished work and they were all hanging out for updates. I was exhausted – I had now been contracting every two minutes on a high level of hormone for 12 hours – and, desperate not to have to have an epidural I consented to pethadine. I really regret this because it was useless, making me sleepy between contractions but doing nothing to help with my pain. Before the pethadine kicked in the midwife convinced me to try the shower, hoping I could stand up in there and get things moving but my legs would not support me, the pain was too intense. In the depths of my contractions I would forget who and where I was but tried to look up at Daddy and smile to reassure him I was still there and even when I couldn’t form words I would look up at your heart monitor when it changed rhythm and Grandma would tell me you were fine. Daddy and Grandma took turns trying to make me drink water. Nana, Grandad and Grandpa decided they needed to go home and sometime during this time Daddy managed to sleep on a bean bag through my moans.
At 12am I was checked again and was 8cm, still thick. The midwife told me that based on my progress so far she would estimate that it would take me three or four more hours to dilate fully. After 14 hours of contracting every two minutes I had a decision to make. I could see Daddy, Grandma and the midwives having worried discussions over in the corner, I had no more energy, and I had screamed so much my throat was raw. I felt broken and helpless and I knew that I didn’t have another 3-4 hours in me. Daddy and I started talking and he told me that he supported any decision I made, that it wasn’t failing, that I had endured so much and fought hard – especially considering my lack of stamina from all those months of bed rest. I felt like a fool, like I had failed. In my head I could see my birth plan with every second line crossed out. An epidural was always something I had been insistent I would never do but at this point I truly felt that even if I made it to 10cm without one I would have no energy to push and would end up with a C-section anyway.
At 1am, after 15 hours I got an epidural and cried the entire time. When the epidural kicked in the room visibly relaxed. I was no longer screaming and Daddy and Grandma were visibly relieved to see me not suffering any more. With the pain gone my midwife was able to help me maneuver into some different positions and I was able to get a couple of hours sleep while they raised the hormone drip to its maximum. At 3am they brought in an ultrasound to check where you were and found that you had moved out of the posterior position and were engaged and a check showed I was fully dilated. I dozed for a while longer and then asked for the epidural to be dialed back so that I could feel the contractions enough to push. At 4am I was ready to push.
I could feel the pressure when a contraction started and I began to push. I finally felt as though I had some control and could do something to bring you into the world. Exhaustion and my empty stomach caught up to me and I was sick and few times and the midwives joked I should keep going because it was pushing you down further. Grandma asked if I wanted a mirror and I said yes. It was great motivation to see you moving further down the longer I held the pushes and I even felt your head. Grandma remarked that you had dark hair! When your head was about to come out, the midwife helped Daddy put his hands around your head and I started to do little pushes. Daddy helped support and guide your head out and once it was out the rest of your body came in one quick push.
At 4.43am after almost 19 hours of active labour, you - our Ella Quinn - were born into your Daddy’s hands.

Pregnancy Thoughts - November 2012

Hi baby girl
So much has happened and I think its time I wrote it all down. But I sometimes don’t know what to say. Mostly I’m afraid that what I say here will make you think that my feelings about my pregnancy and my feelings about you are the same thing – but they are polar opposites. Here goes:
Two days before we were due to go to our appointment to find out if I had Cholestasis I got a call from the hospital. I did have it and they wanted me in there the next morning for tests. I went in with Grandma and and they told me that my liver function tests were so high – 600 – that someone should have called me the day I had the tests done (which was almost a week previously) to tell me to come in. They did blood tests and a CTG which is where they put straps on my belly and sensors to measure your heart. You didn’t like it much at all and kept wriggling away from the monitors. We had to wait hours for my blood tests and when they came back my liver was still so bad that they admitted me to the hospital and I spent that night getting poked and prodded, having blood taken and having CTG’s on you. You passed every test with flying colours. They let me out the next morning but told me I would have to come back to the hospital twice a week for bloods and CTG and back other times for appointments with Drs to check on you.
I made it a week and a half out of hospital. During that time I got lots of things ready – washing all your clothes and nappies because I knew now you could come anytime. We went to have a 3D scan of you and it was awesome – I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures. Me, Daddy, Grandma and Grandpa, Nan and Grandad, Uncle Daniel and Aunty Jess all went. You were so cute – yawning, sticking your tongue out, blowing bubbles and smiling – everyone had huge smiles plastered on their faces to see you and the ultrasound lady kept talking about what a happy baby you were.
A week after this – the Sunday just passed – Daddy and I went to the assessment place at the hospital to have blood tests and CTG as normal. But about lunch time my back started hurting really badly and by dinner time I was screaming and crying in pain. Daddy rushed me back to the assessment unit and I got even worse – screaming and making the craziest noises. It hurt so bad I can’t even explain it properly. The womens ward was full and where we were couldn’t give me strong enough medicine so they sent me to the labour ward where they gave me tablets and injections to help me. They checked to see if I was in labour too – I wasn’t. I was on a bed and Daddy wouldn’t leave my side so he ended up pushing some chairs together to try and find somewhere to lie down and finally lying on the floor with my jacket as a pillow to try and sleep. About 3.30 in the morning they finally gave him a blanket and a bean bag and he managed to get comfy enough to sleep.
In the morning they transferred me to the womens ward – where ladies go after they have their babies – and I got seen by the surgery Dr’s and the Obstetric (pregnancy/baby) Drs. They were all a bit puzzled about what was wrong with me but started me on IV antibiotics. I had an ultrasound and they thought my gallbladder was a bit inflamed but the next day they decided that couldn’t cause the pain I was in. They gave me a VQ scan – which involved me breathing in some weird gas then going into a machine- to check for blood clots in my lungs and an MRI – which was like being strapped down and pushed into a coffin. A little bit after that my specialist – Dr Jeffries – came in and told me that the ‘inflammatory markers’ in my blood were really bad (they are supposed to be 40 and were 120) meaning I had a really bad infection.
An hour after that however ANOTHER Dr came in and told me they thought that blood test result was a delayed reaction to an infection that they had already killed off with all the antibiotics they had pumped me full of, that my LFT’s looked really good and that I could probably go home on Friday morning (that’s this morning). We were so happy, Grandma was ringing to tell everyone the good news. Then Grandma and Daddy went home for dinner.
Soon after that Dr Jeffries came in and said that my bile acids (the other thing they test for with Cholostasis) were ‘sky high’, he was still worried and thought I needed a lot more monitoring before they could send me home and that I would have to stay till at least Tuesday!!! I was very sad because its not fun being in hospital and I missed my bed and getting to spend every night with Daddy. Daddy and I hadn’t spent more than two nights apart at a time since we’d moved in together (1 when I was in hospital for HG, 1 when I was in hospital the first time for Cholostasis and 2 when Daddy had a business trip in Melbourne) so the fact that we’d spent 4 nights apart and would have to spend at least 4 more was not good.
This morning the Dr’s came and told me that they do think it was my gallbladder that had the infection – even though they couldn’t make it show on the scan – and maybe sometime after you’re born I might need to have it out. They also told me I might be able to go out on ‘day leave’ this weekend which means I can go and spend the day at home as long as I come back and sleep here at night so that makes me a bit happier. Daddy has been here all the time – cheering me up, bringing me TV shows, giving me back and foot rubs and cuddles – he even left work early yesterday because I was feeling sad. Grandma has been here a lot too – leaving work early and taking the day off so I wouldn’t be alone and bringing me flowers, teddies, water and clean PJ’s. Grandpa took the day off to be with me one day too, Aunty Jess came to visit the other night and Aunty Kathy is visiting today. Nan and Grandad were planning to come and visit me in the hospital tomorrow but hopefully I will be on day leave and they will have to visit me at home.
After all that drama I want to talk to you about two things: My pregnancy and you. How my feelings about them are so different and so separate. I will start with the bad stuff:
My pregnancy…..has felt like a nightmare. It’s been like there’s always been something waiting around the corner to attack me. I always wanted to be pregnant, to be a mother. When I knew I was pregnant the first intention I had was to eat healthy and to not take any medications at all. Then the HG reared its ugly head and I was having to take strong anti vomiting medicine and eat unhealthy things if I could eat at all plus I had dehydration headaches so bad I had to take panadol. My body started failing me so badly that Daddy had to do EVERYTHING plus work full time and we ended up having to pack up and go and live with Grandma and Grandpa. Around 21/22 weeks the HG started getting a lot better (although its never totally left) and although I was left weak and with wasted muscles I thought that just maybe I would get to experience a real pregnancy for the last part of it – the kind where you are glowing and happy and love being pregnant. I pinned all my hopes on redeeming myself as a woman and a mother through the process of or your birth – I would have the most natural, wonderful birth anyone had ever seen – no inductions, no drugs, no nothing. Just me showing that although pregnancy had me beat, my body could at least do that part of things right. Then the Cholostasis came along and not only did it mean more drugs in my system but my dreams of a birth that was not induced and was totally drug free were dashed – I knew they would have to use drugs to induce me for you to be born safely. Then this infection came along and I had to consent to strong antibiotics, painkillers and scary tests with radiation, just to keep my body going.
Every step of the way, all I’ve been able to think is ‘I failed, I failed, I failed’. I failed to eat healthy, I failed to keep medications out of my system, I failed to keep us from having to have potentially risky tests, I failed to provide a safe environment for you where you could grow till you were good and ready to come out on your own – I failed. I won’t have that exciting moment where I realise you have decided its your time to come and see the world – it will be a scheduled date in hospital where we are forcing you out before you are ready. I failed. My pregnancy has been a horrific, stressful, traumatizing time full of sickness, pain and tears of disappointment.
Now let me tell you about you:
No matter what was going on with me you’ve been happy, your  little heart beating away strongly. I used to worry about you so much before I could feel you move. But then there you were and you were STRONG and full of personality! You would kick at my bladder and cervix when I did something you didn’t like and freeze like a statue when anyone else tried to feel you kicking in my tummy. You gave me a few close shaves, kicking wildly at my bladder when I was on the way to the toilet. You finally let Daddy feel you and it became our nightly ritual, to lie in bed together before he went to sleep, Daddy’s hands on my tummy, both giggling as we felt you busy in there. Daddy still talks to you all the time and I really believe you know his voice now. The other night he was feeling you kicking and moving and exclaimed “I cant WAIT to play with my little girl!” he is so excited to meet you! You don’t like the Doppler, ultrasound or CTG – you kick it away all the time. The other day the CTG monitor was on and I was trying to push it in to hear your heart better and you were actually pushing back with your elbow! In the early hours of this morning a student midwife was having trouble finding your heart and after a while you got fed up and kicked her Doppler 5 times as if to say “Wrong end silly! Stop worrying my Mummy!”. You get quite cross if I rest my hand on my tummy while looking at my phone and kick it away. You get the hiccups sometimes now and its funny to feel the little bumps they make. You have so much fire and spirit and attitude and I’m sure that’s whats kept you so healthy and strong in there. I don’t blame you at all for the way this pregnancy has gone – Its my body that’s been crappy, you have been amazing. I love you so much and whether I’m letting you read this at 16 or 26 I want you to know that although I wish I’d had a lovely, healthy, happy, pregnancy theres still not one thing I have gone through that I wouldn’t go through again to have you here. I’ve had to be brave, I’ve had to endure, I’ve had to lose a lot but my reward for that is going to be the best thing I’ve ever done, the person I love the most, the most amazing little girl in the world – my reward will be you…and how could I not be happy with that?
Everytime I go to sleep, through every set back, every failure I’ve had one thing to say:
“Alright Universe. You got me again. But as long as I get a healthy baby  at the end of it all, we’ll call it even”
Love you little punkin.

Pregnancy Thoughts - October 2012

To my teeny tiny womb monkey J
I have been having deep thoughts today baby girl. This may be silly but…I’m wondering if you’re going to like me. I know you will like your Daddy – who wouldn’t? He is calm and placid. He is easy going, easy to get along with and he NEVER yells. I’m different. I’m loud and passionate, I get very excited, very angry, very happy – I have big mood swings in each direction and then as soon as they have arrived they are gone. I get obsessed with things –with issues that mean a lot to me and I call them out loud and clear regardless of other peoples feelings. Daddy is a study in level headedness and I am a collection of extremes – which is why we fit so well together. I’ve heard people say they hope you are like your Daddy not me but I’m not sure. I will love you – I do love you no matter who you may turn out to be. But in a way I kind of hope you are more like me because I never want you to feel like I steam roll you, like I talk over you, like you have no voice around me. If you’re like me we are probably going to fight – huge screaming arguments – and you’re probably going to run to Daddy…I think he will be your calm, your safe place, your safe harbor. But I hope you always know that however extreme my emotions, however passionate I might be…there is nothing I will ever feel more strongly about than you.
No matter what, you will always be the daughter I always wanted.
65 days till my ‘due date’ (of course very few babies ever come on their due date) and I can’t wait to meet you, to hold you in my arms, to kiss your nose and tell you just how much I love you. I’m tearing up just thinking about it little love.

Oh baby girl
I’m having a hard time again and I need to talk to you. Its 7am and Ive been up since 3.45am. For the last couple of weeks I have been really itchy all over – doesn’t sound so bad compared to all the other things you and I have been through but it sucks. I itch so bad that I cant sleep, cant think, I just want to scratch myself all the time. The worst thing about it though is that it might mean something really bad for you and me. I’m being tested to find out if I have something called Cholestasis. If I have it, it means a few things. For me it means that I will have a much bigger chance of bleeding too much when Im giving birth to you. For you….it means your chance of being still born is a lot bigger so they will want to get you out as soon as your lungs are mature enough.
I have to wait a week to find out but….God I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry my body is letting you down yet again. I feel like no matter what I do, my body is turning on you. When I first found out you might need to be induced early I was thinking about all the plans I had for a natural, intervention free, birth. But now I cant help thinking I want you OUT! Not because I’m  not willing to go through anything and everything I can for you but I want you out of me so my body doesn’t have the chance to hurt you anymore! I don’t only feel bad for you I feel bad for Daddy too! He doesn’t deserve this. If he had fallen in love with any other woman then he wouldn’t have had to go through all this crap – he wouldn’t have had to nurse her through HG, become the sole breadwinner, move in with his in-laws, deal with an invalid girlfriend and now deal with a frustrated and scared girlfriend who wakes him up itching madly and worry about whether his baby is going to be okay.
This sucks so bad. I just want you to be okay. I just want to hold you and look into your eyes. I just want you to be safe. I love you more than anything.