39 + 4 weeks
I felt good but tired. During the past 3 nights I had only slept for a total of 10 hours. I tried to rest as much as I could now but kept waking up. I vomited and the contractions picked up again. We called our back-up midwife and she offered to come in at 6 am to administer the syntocinon drip (artificial oxytocin) so there would be at least one familiar face when the real contractions start.
From then on everything went really quickly. The contractions got stronger and stronger. Jordie was an amazing birth partner and helped me through every contraction. We walked around, I hang off him, we bounced on the ball, we even danced. When the contractions got even stronger, he messaged my lower back. I remember that very time I had to go to the toilet Jordie came with me and held my hand.
With all the walking around, the CTG often couldn’t track Sasha’s heartbeat which freaked out all the midwives and doctors. I was given the choice to either stop walking around or get a fetal scalp electrode. This was (apart from the whole induction process) probably the hardest decision for me to make. I did not want a spring to be screwed into my baby’s head but on the other hand even I was freaking out now as soon as I couldn’t hear Sasha’s heartbeat anymore. The back-up midwife made a good point: my baby can’t have a good birthing experience if I don’t have a good birthing experience. And I won’t have a good experience if I’m constantly worried about my baby’s life (thanks everyone for making me so scared, grr). So even if the electrode isn’t a nice thing, it might be better to get it and then be able to move around freely and not to worry than being stressed every time the CTG doesn’t get a signal. Unfortunately the electrode also meant I couldn’t be near water. I had already accepted that the hospital didn’t want me to have a water birth because it would have been harder to get me out of the water in case anything had happened but now I couldn’t even have a shower!
I got into the swing of things nevertheless and only half realised when my midwife and doula came. I am very grateful for my amazing birthing team. Although we were in the hospital, from around 7 am onward, I had only those people in the room that I trusted and wanted around anyway.
Jordie and Mary took it in turns to give me water (and pineapple juice that Mary made), message my back, sway with me or just hold my hand while my midwife kept an eye on the syntocinon drip and kept the hospital record up to date. It was also her who seemed to know whenever I felt like giving up due to a more painful contraction because in exactly those moments she told me things like “You can do this”, “You are strong” or “You’re doing an amazing job”. It’s crazy how much a few nice words can motivate you to keep going!
During the breaks I sat down on either a gym ball or an inflatable birthing chair or in the end lay down to rest a bit. During the contractions though I had to be upright. Either just walking around, hanging off Jordie or leaning over things.
I knew before that once you reach transition, contractions get most intense and painful and you feel like giving up. I knew exactly when I reached transition because it was exactly like that. Only that I didn’t believe that I’m already there. I was thinking: what if this isn’t transition and I’m just a wuss who can’t handle the pain because of the induction? There must be a reason why people who start with an induction are more likely to get pain relief or even end with a cesarean.
I changed from walking around to being on all fours on the bed. Between contractions I was resting over the birthing chair. I only believed that it’s almost over when Jordie whispered in my ear: “Maybe you should take your pants off now, Sasha will be here soon”.
The pushing phase was much longer than I expected it to be and I remember saying to Mary that I don’t want to do this anymore and can’t even look forward to holding Sasha in my arms. Fortunately this didn’t last very long although the last few contractions were more painful than I thought they would be.
With every contraction I could feel Sasha’s head coming out more but also sliding back in after the contraction. It felt like 2 steps forward 1 step back. But then, 8.5 hours after I got the IV drip, all of a sudden and kind of unexpected after waiting for so long, Sasha’s head was out. I was expecting a short break now, probably even a minute or two, but just as unexpectedly, her whole body came sliding out just seconds after the head. Luckily our midwife saw it coming and helped Jordie catch her. They handed her through my legs to me and I was holding my baby in my arms. All the pain was just gone and there was this feeling of utter disbelief. I did it! I gave birth to my baby! And I didn’t need any pain relief!
The first few minutes
Sasha was covered in vernix, way more than I had ever seen before. And although my midwife didn’t seem worried, Sasha didn’t look that well to me. Her body felt a bit floppy and her breathing was shallow and irregular. Again, my midwife seemed to sense my worries and tried to calm me down by saying that she was still attached to the placenta and would get enough oxygen that way.
I turned around and lay down. I wanted Sasha to crawl up to my breast but I’m still not sure if I think it was the right decision. It felt like it was taking her ages. She was crying the whole time and I’m wondering if I shouldn’t have helped her more. Also the vernix was so sticky that she seemed to be glued to me. In the end she did make it to my breast but had problems latching. Our midwife helped us a bit and she finally drank. She fell asleep pretty quickly and was just lying on my chest. It wasn’t until hours later that I handed her to Jordie.
My placenta came straight away. I did not have any contractions, actually I didn’t really notice it. I was in bliss and had only eyes for my baby. I remember the midwife saying that the cord had stopped pulsating so Jordie cut it. I was too tired to care about the cord tie that I wanted to use instead of the plastic hospital clip. Our midwife showed Jordie and Mary the placenta. I didn’t check it out until much later. I was just in awe about my baby and what the both of us, with the help of our amazing birth team, were able to do!