I have really been struggling with writing the birth story of the little bird. First, I felt too emotional. Then I just got over it but to be honest, the most difficult part were not my personal feelings but the fact that the whole experience felt similar to watching one of those twisted movies. You know, that type of movie where the same plot happens again but with different decors and side actors. No joke. It’s a long story and it comes in two acts because there is no way that I can talk about the two day labour I went through using only 500 words 😉
1st Act: Of Peruvian Mountain Chants
I was lying in bed and watching the movie Little Women. I knew that I was probably spending the last night before meeting my baby. I already had had soft contractions during the past days, topped with the strong urge to have our house cleaned. When lying in bed, I suddenly started to feel my belly contracting but there was also something new which was like a burning sensation on the outer side of my thighs. I tried to sleep but woke up at some point and figured out after taking a hot bath that this was the real deal. Early in the morning, I called my midwife to let her know that I was in labour but also to check what we should do. The plan was to give birth at the birth hotel, a cozy location that allowed to experience a natural and peaceful birth. Should we go there or stay at home for a little longer ? My midwife left the decision to us. As we had moved into our apartment just recently, we took a taxi to our happy place, the oasis of joy where we thought we would meet our baby.
When we arrived the contractions, which had come so far every 5 minutes, suddenly slowed down. I was not dilating yet. Not disappointed but confident that time would bring what was needed, I continued having a long contraction here and there but that was it. To speed up things, we went out walking but this did not really help. My midwife then tried some natural remedies. Lying sideways on the edge of the bed to let the belly hang loose. Massaging my back while singing something that sounded like Peruvian mountain chants. Manually stimulating my cervix. Nothing worked and the whole process just seemed to be paused so she suggested to break my waters. I agreed and the contractions directly kicked in. BAM! The pain on my outer thighs went from that gentle burning sensation to as if someone was crushing a cigarette on my legs. However, with each contraction I was breathing deeply and remembering my mother’s words. “Just take each contraction like if it’s a wave and ride with it.” I started to open fast. 1 cm. 2 cm. 3 cm. My midwife positioned her tools, the crib and clothes for once our baby would be born. Around midnight I was 4cm dilated…and then it stopped. I took a hot bath but the 4cm remained. I spent the whole night breathing through the contractions while my man and a doula (my midwife had called someone for support) were massaging pressure points on my body. My midwife even tried a rebozo technique. Still, the 4 cm remained.
At 10am, after taking a long shower and producing deep sounds like a champ, I felt that I was really surrendering and unblocking the dilation. However, the result was still 4cm. That’s when I started to loose faith. That’s when I thought WTF and condemned this so natural birth approach. I felt that something wasn’t 100% ok. I wanted fast and efficient help so we decided to transfer to the hospital instead of calling an acupuncturist to assist as suggested by my midwife. We left the birth hotel and the little baby crib stayed empty.
Entr’act: The longest car drive ever
When we entered the tiny car of my midwife, I started to have a contraction and panicked. I couldn’t stay calm in that seated position. Moreover, with my waters being broken I lost one gush of liquid after the other. I just had to get out of there. Luckily, my midwife told me to focus. Without knowing that this was a trigger word from my hypnobirthing excercices, she managed to put me in a relaxed state and I stayed calm until we arrived at the clinic. However, what took only 15 minutes felt like the longest car drive ever.
2nd Act: When I entered the zone
Once my midwife had transferred my file to the hospital she left. I knew that she wouldn’t be in charge anyway as the hospital staff took over so I had told her to go home and get some rest. The team that consisted of a gynaecologist, her assistant, the head of midwifes and a nurse, decided to put me on a drip with oxytocin to generate stronger contractions. I was exhausted and afraid of unnaturally strong contractions so I accepted but under the condition to get an epidural first. I received one needle in my left hand, two belts on my belly to monitor my contractions and was connected to a machine that regularly measured my blood pressure. Not to forget the catheter. The anaesthetist arrived and put the rest into place. I could feel the cold fluid running through my back. Slowly my vagina started to feel numb…wait, my vagina? Who has contractions in their vagina ? Of course, the anaesthetist was already gone so I had to wait and breath through my contractions while the nurse looked at me, saying like a robot that “childbirth is hard work”. You can’t image how much I wanted to punch her in her face in that moment. Instead, I looked at the big monitor that recorded the frequency of my contractions and saw that I always had three of them in a row, thinking “Ahh, I don’t actually suck at breathing. They’re just bloody long.”.
After what felt like an eternity, the anaesthetist came back and added some fluid. Nothing changed so she decided to set a new epidural. I could feel the cold fluid running through my back. Slowly, my feet started to feel numb…wait, my feet ? The anaesthetist looked at us with her big brown doe eyes, saying ” I dont’ know. It’s not working.” and I started to cry out loud like a little girl. Lies, lies, all those stories about epidurals had been lies ! The team suggested to give me remifentanil and I agreed. Another needle was inserted into my body and I received a remote with a button. Every time I pushed that button the drug would give me relief for 1 minute. When I pushed this button I entered the zone. I was high and happy. I still felt the contractions but didn’t care. It was 9pm and the perfect moment for my man to lay down and get some sleep. However, apparently I was so high that I was smiling but forgetting to breath so the nurse ordered my man to remind me to keep in- and exhaling.
Here and there, someone from the team came in and checked how I was progressing. 7cm. 8cm. 9cm. It worked. At 1am, I was at 10 cm and I felt that my baby was coming. However, the assisting gynaecologist stated the opposite. We also heard that the midwife on duty was occupied with another birth. The waiting game continued. While the assisting doctor and my man were scrolling up and down on their tablets, I felt like a wired-up cow that was feeling the need to do the biggest poo ever. Around 3am, I could hear a newborn cry. The door opened and the midwife on duty and nurse finally entered the room. I asked for a birth stool but thanks to the damn epidural I was obliged to stay in a horizontal position. I took a deep breath and started to push, remembering the Kegels I had done and imagining visuals like the opening of a flower. Everything progressed well and the nurse prepared the little crib for the baby. I thought that I was getting there but then I saw my midwife taking out a scalpel, telling me that she would have to do an episiotomy to get my baby out faster as his heart rate was dropping. As said was done and she pulled out my baby and put him on my chest. Instead of relief, I felt a horrible pain from the cut but was happy to finally have my baby with me. However, as he was not breathing well, he was taken to the NICU straight away, accompanied by his dear father. I stayed in the room which I hadn’t left once since our arrival the day before. The little baby crib stayed empty.
The nurse, who was a very friendly man, helped me to wash myself and brought me breakfast before rolling me on my bed to the NICU to see my son. At the NICU, I layed on my bed watching my baby who was in a small heating bed. I touched his back and slowly started to fall asleep.
Luckily, the reason for our son’s breathing problem was just a small infection that could easily be cured with antibiotics. 18 hours after his birth, he was taken to my room and we could finally meet and start our bonding time.
I hadn’t been scared of childbirth. I had been informed. I had been prepared. I had had my wishes on how I would have wanted to live this experience and welcome my child into this world. And then, it all came differently. I got everything I didn’t want to. No mobility. Wires all over my body. An episiotomy. My baby separated from me.
I deeply miss those precious skin-to-skin moments that I guess every woman is longing for while being in labour but at the same time I am greatful that we were in the right location and my son was so well taken care of. Moreover, I also value that the hospital staff did not mention a single time the possibility of a c-section but trusted in the ability of my body to deliver my baby naturally.
I have always been patient and I think that those 48 hours have definitely proven how high my level of patience can be. However, what I really have learned is to let go…let go and accept that there are moments where you don’t get to control a single fuck because it’s life!