I can proudly say I’m a father to a beautiful, and more importantly, healthy little boy. It was a long wait, especially the last 30 plus hours, but the final scary minutes was unexpectedly hurried. I nearly missed it, and can’t thank the staff involved (all 12 of them or more) for making what could have been a disastrous outcome, a little blessing. An emergency C-section was not something we had planned for, or even crossed our minds, as everything about the pregnancy had been normal up until giving birth.
I’ll try to be brief, not really my forte, but basically this is what happened.
Around about 3am on the Wednesday before, my partner started getting much more period like pain, and by later that morning, 10am or so, her contractions had become much more regular and consistent. The intensity of them slowly increased, and they didn’t fade away like previous ones had. The show was finally on the road, so to speak.
By 5pm we thought it best to call the hospital, luckily, we lived just around the corner, so they told us to come in. After a few tests, they concluded it was still a little bit away (2cm cervix dilation). They offered us to stay but going home seemed to be preferred. We were utilising a public hospital, so we thought why take up much needed space. It was great to be home too, especially for pain management, plenty of shower time and nudity involved, which you really don’t want made public. At about 11pm, my partner’s waters broke, but it wasn’t sweet smelling, like it should be, and after a call to the hospital we headed in. The non-sweet smell, and yellowish green colouration was because our boy had defecated whilst in-utero. Our onsite mid wife decided to induce. Luckily we had discussed our pain management plan beforehand, speaking with a friend who is an anaesthetist, who reassured us about the benefits and disadvantages of an epidural, we decided to go with the jab sooner than later. A big factor he said, is that once you decide to have an epidural, it may take an hour for it to be administered and become useful. If you want it, then remember that. Also, he perhaps fatefully said that they are great to have in case of an emergency. As we were to find out, this was invaluable advice.
Our birth suite was very comfortable, even a lazy boy for me to recline on, which I used with pleasure, whilst holding my partner’s hand. We were allowed to bring in snacks, jerky is a must, and other items to help soothe the tension of the labour. We watched some TV, and a movie ‘The Day After Tomorrow’, now that I think about it, it seems a little fateful too.
Mainly though, we were happy just chatting, and listening to the comforting beeping of Bianca, the machine that monitored baby and mum’s heart rate. Another strange detail actually, as Bianca, is my partner’s sister’s birth name (Tia Yanta!). I like seeing such signs.
At about 4am Thursday morning, I decided to get some sleep. Marilyn seemed ok, and the epidural had gone smoothly. I slept and awoke a couple of hours later, to the midwife and doctor discussing something that caused me concern. Whilst I was asleep the boy’s pulse rate had been dropping every time my partner had a contraction, to nearly half of what it should be !! They brought in an ultra sound and found that, even though the boy was upside down and in the right position, there was one slight problem. His head was tilted up, rather than down on his chin, so each contraction would extend his neck backwards. For such a small detail, it complicated matters immensely for a natural birth.
My partner’s cervix was starting to swell from irritation on one side, luckily the epidural was already in, as the pain would have been way more severe for her, and likely to cause more stress on our boy. All we could do was nervously wait to see if his position would change, this was not in our initial plan.
The doctor after some time came back into the room (they work tirelessly in Public Hospitals, due to these little surprises), read the charts spitting out of Bianca, and decided to do a lactate test. Especially so as there was blood colouring in my partner’s urine, visible in her catheter.
A lactate test involves a tiny blood sample taken from the child’s head and testing it for lactic acid levels. If the boy was still receiving nutrients from the placenta it would be low, if not, it would be high. There were 3 outcomes pending on levels. 1. Wait some more to see if his position changes. 2. Organise a C-section for a couple of hours time. 3. Emergency C-section. Our level was 5.5, it was too high, things were about to become hectic.
The doctor quickly stood up, told me not to worry and the rush began, and not only from my tear ducts. Seeing the room flood with people shouting stats and medical jargon, with my partner being prepped and whisked away was too movie like for my liking, and I have never been fond of dramas. Marilyn was strong and mouthed ‘I love you’ as she disappeared down the hall, with midwives and others hovering over her. I was alone after all these hours, and lost.
Another doctor took me by the hand comforting me, with the good old ‘she’ll be right’ aussie attitude, and lead me to the changing room to get into scrubs. I was not thinking straight, putting pants on my head, and hair nets on my feet. Finally, I was ready, and literally jogged down to the operating theatre. Jogging in, my heart dropped, Marilyn was on the table, stomach open…don’t look left, don’t look left, I made my way to behind the blue curtain, safe from any images I didn’t want burned into my mind.
Marilyn was thankfully awake (if she hadn’t had the epidural she would have missed the birth as she would have been put under), and looking stable, there appeared to be a person for everything. A man who was just there to explain what was going on, asked me to sit down. 10 seconds later we could hear crying. The boy was out!!! I couldn’t believe it, it was so surreal, after 9 months, 30 hours of labour or so, no pushing, no crowning, he was just…out. 10 minutes ago my partner and I were holding hands, watching the doctor do a test.
Now here he was, amaze-balls (in more ways than one) !
He was then taken over to a table to be checked, pipes cleaned of any possible poo remnants, and taking general measurements. The strangest thing was that amongst the excitement, I noticed his balls were huge, seriously huge, like a grown man’s!!!
My partner from her vantage point, lying on the operating table, getting stitched up, thought he had a tumour, thankfully not, I was told this happens a lot due to fluid retention. The staff were great and had brought my camera in, I’d forgotten it due to the rush, and so was able to document this case of big balls for his future 21st. The fluid build up probably had nothing to do with it, but the little guy certainly released some, in the form of pee, all over his new medical handlers. Nice one I thought, if only I had the camera switched to video.
Anyway, what a day, what a ride, and I am so, so, thankful, that we were surrounded by experienced and professional staff. A free service mind you, well done Queensland’s health system! I can only give them praise, for their help, care, and service. Pre checks, classes, birth suite, onsite midwife, epidural, operation, post-op after care, post checks of baby, vaccinations, breast feeding services, what to do once home, and a free beanie!
All done professionally, all done with the utmost care and heart. To think I heard someone complain about having to pay for parking, I nearly said something, but hey, I had just become a father, I’d let that one go. Thank you functioning health system and thank you RBWH. From my experience, I would never even consider home birth, it could have been much different and not so, well, clinical.
I hope all who read this, don’t have to go through an emergency operation for birth like us, but it is what it is, and this little guy is a reminder of not just our love, but the love of others too, in all their chosen roles.
Tip of the Ice-Blog #5
When there is so much at stake, we all get nervous, which can lead to us being a little rude to the people that are trying to help. I noticed in the hospital a lot of media about not abusing staff, when I asked about this, I was told it is a frequent occurrence. I was shocked. Worry can of course lead to anger, but I feel if we can’t do things ourselves, then we need to rely on experts and trust they are doing the right thing. No point venting frustration on hospital staff, as they like you, just want the best result for all involved. Stay calm, ask questions, and like the old adage ‘don’t bite the hand that feeds you’.