Lessons in strength #5: Match the pain! Match the pain!

Miss the riveting lead-up? Part 1 here, 2 here, 3 here, 4 here.

We went to bed after a shower around 10.30pm. Toby went to sleep and I lay in the dark feeling the contractions getting stronger, and closer together. I was trying to keep track using the app on my phone but it was getting more difficult. At this point I was Calmbirth breathing and also using the hints from the Birth Skills book – I was trying to conserve my energy by lying down, but I needed to keep moving to deal with the pain. I did this by rubbing my feet together – back and forth, back and forth – and also concentrating on the feel of Finn’s flat bear. I’d had it under my pillow the last few weeks, as instructed by Toby’s mum, who’d given it to me (it gets your smell on it which is a nice comfort to a baby) – but now it became a way for me to connect with Finn, and an extra distraction. I held it under my pillow and rubbed the fur and sent positive thoughts to my baby and told him we’d be just fine.

Don’t worry, I can be your birthing partner for a couple of hours!

After a couple of hours I couldn’t lie down anymore so I got up and had another, longer, shower. I splashed and stomped around in the water – another Birth Skills suggestion – and then got out and put on clothes I’d be wearing to the hospital. (Note to newbies: make sure it’s stuff you won’t mind throwing in the bin after. Trust me on this.) Toby got up around this time and I laboured in the lounge room a bit longer – still using my Birth Skills exercises, especially the “match the pain” mantra which had me thumping the couch through each contraction. We were also using a heat pack, switching it from front to back as needed.

Around 2am I rang the hospital and said I thought it was nearly time to head in. The midwife on duty said, “If you think so dear,” and then I had to hang up to roll my eyes get through another contraction. We got our things together and headed out to the car. I remember having another massive contraction standing on the front porch, in the freezing cold, holding on to the post, and suddenly feeling like I had to push. But I was able to resist it and get into the car and had a long, foggy trip to the hospital. I held the heat pack to my belly; I remember the yellow street lights through the fog and I remember banging the car door through contractions. Match the pain indeed!

We had to go to emergency at the hospital since it was out of regular hours, and I remember standing just inside the door leaning against the wall having a huge contraction while Toby ran to find someone to help us. By this point I  was probably getting close to transition – making the animal noises, barely able to stand or speak, contractions coming thick and fast. I dropped the heat pack and I couldn’t bend down to pick it up, I remember feebly kicking it along the hallway and asking Toby to please pick it up. Toby and another bloke (I assume a nurse? No idea at this point) helped me into a wheelchair and we got in the lift. I had another contraction, hoping I wasn’t about to have the baby in a lift (every pregnant woman’s nightmare), and squeezed Toby’s hand for dear life. I probably made some very dignified noises as well – this is the point of labour where it really is like the movies.

“They get a pretty raw deal don’t they,” the bloke said to Toby.

We got up to the labour ward about 3 am and I was so relieved to be there. Another woman was already in labour and as there were only two midwives on duty they were calling for back-ups. I saw Alison, who’d been my favourite midwife after only one appointment (and not just because she’d complimented my beautiful belly skin and told me it was because I ate a lot of good fats), and had a rush of hope that she’d be with me, but she wasn’t – which was fine, because the midwife who ended up with me was awesome. The first midwife we met in the room handed me a cup and asked me to wee in it. Then she told me she wanted me up on the bed to take my blood pressure and make sure I was in labour.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t laugh in her face but instead dutifully went to the bathroom where instead of weeing in the cup I just had a bunch of contractions while sitting on the toilet hanging off Toby’s neck. I managed to tell the midwife that yes I felt like pushing but yes I was able to resist, which satisfied her that I was in labour and she didn’t ask me to do anything silly again. That midwife left at some point when the back-ups arrived and another took over, I think her name was Carlene and she was the director of the ward so I felt like I was in good hands. I hated being on the toilet so I got up on the bed on my hands and knees and basically stayed there. I met the doctor on duty, a woman about my age called Dr Bek, who told me I was awesome and then left me to it. Dr Davis also arrived at some point, and oh I was so happy to see his smiling face appear in front of me with some encouraging words. I think I said something along the lines of “I told you I was going to have this baby soon” but I can’t remember much except my relief that he was there, and that Dr Bek also seemed a normal, pleasant person.

After about an hour of fun & games it was time to start pushing. Not that I figured that out for myself, because everything had been feeling pretty ordinary and I was still trying to resist because no one had told me otherwise yet. But remember my promise to myself that I was going to do what the doctors and midwives told me? That meant that when Dr Bek said to me “Okay Dot it’s time to stop breathing, you need to push this baby out!” I did exactly what I was told.

To be continued…

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