My son was a much awaited and desired baby.
After 2 years of trying and 2 miscarriages I was elated to discover
I was pregnant again!The pregnancy progressed well and I loved being
At about 30 weeks my blood pressure started to increase slowly.
I had never had blood pressure problems before and was concerned.
The obstetrician assured me that a slight increase was no concern
but that he would monitor it closely.
I was very excited to give up work at 35 weeks - thinking I would
have 5 weeks at home to get a nursery together (I know - I'd had nine
months to do it!) However I found I was getting tired very easily
and unable to do much. I was suffering from pre-eclampsia more seriously
than I realized.
Thank God for family!My in-laws and my husband's sister came and
stayed with us and did the nursery and all the preparations in one
weekend, while I directed from my lounge!
By this time I was seeing the obstetrician every two days. The obstetrician
sent me for blood tests and an ultrasound and I also went onto blood
The tablets kept the blood pressure from rising any further and kept
it stable (still very high!). The obstetrician was concerned at to
the effects on the baby's growth but the ultrasound indicated a normal
sized baby. We agreed to wait another week - with me resting at home
- then we would induce the baby early.
So, after only 3 weeks at home, I found myself booked into the hospital
for an induction. I was given the gel late Thursday evening and told
to sleep. My husband went home and I tried to sleep (those beds are
so uncomfortable). I wish I had, as it would have been the last full
night's sleep I would have for a long time.
Even at this point I was adamant on a natural labour. I was more
flexible about drugs as I knew I may have to have them to reduce the
blood pressure during labour. But I was insistent I did not want a
caesar and had not even read anything about them. I was na•ve and
uninformed and I regret that.
The next morning I was getting back pain and a little bit of cramping
but no 'labour' so they inserted the gel a second time. The nurse
put a monitor on my tummy for the baby and we waited. Labour started
within the hour - but quite comfortably. She had some issues with
the baby's monitor and seemed concerned that it was slipping. Then
her concern increased and she called for the obstetrician.
I was beginning to worry. My mother in law rang and she was concerned
I sounded breathless (I am an asthmatic). I told her that was the
least of my worries - my husband had not yet appeared and something
was worrying the nurses.
The obstetrician came for another look and checked me over. He advised
us to keep going and he would come back in a little while. My husband
appeared and we moved to the labour ward.
By now contractions were about about five minutes apart but I had
not dilated beyond 3 cm. I had a show and when the obstetrician checked
my dilation my waters broke all over him. I thought it was all moving
However, every time I had a contraction the baby's heart rate would
plummet - it was very erratic and they were concerned the baby would
not survive labour. Being my first labour, and as my body had not
been ready for birth they believed it would be about a ten hour labour.
So, having not even entertained the thought of a Caesar, I found
myself being prepped for surgery. I had never had surgery before and
was terrified. There was some debate about whether I should have a
general anaesthetic or a spinal block - due to my blood pressure and
asthma. But fortunately a spinal block was inserted so my husband
could stay with me.
My husband is very squeamish and had said to me previously that if
they mentioned the 'C' word he would be out of there!But in my hour
of need he was there. He held my hand the whole time. He even took
the camera in and took some photos. He was so excited and emotional.
They delivered the baby and the first thing the obstetrician said
was "the ultrasound lied" - he was only 2.4 kg. My husband looked
and me and said - "we were wrong - it's a boy" and then my son was
whisked off and checked and wrapped.
They held him up to my face and took some photos - everyone exclaiming
how beautiful he was!Only the other night (2 1/2 years on) my husband
said to me that he was surprised how unemotional I seemed at that
time. He was the one who felt all the emotions I should have. I could
not get excited - I just felt numb and sad. I get upset even now thinking
of it. That should have been the most beautiful moment of my life
and I was just numb.
They explained that he had the cord wrapped around his head so he
was losing oxygen - hence the distress!Aside from that and a tongue-tie
they assured me he was perfect!
My husband took my little boy down to the nursery where he sat and
held him for 2 hours until I appeared. I was in recovery for a long
time as they were short of staff to take me back to the ward. I lay
there in shock, feeling sick and upset. All the while the nurses kept
commenting to me on my beautiful son - but it all seemed so unreal.
When I finally got to hold him - hours after the birth - I couldn't
take it in. It seemed unreal and I felt so detached from him. We tried
to feed him but I couldn't get him to take the breast properly. For
days I struggled with him. He would seem to feed but was constantly
hungry and would not sleep.
I was so out of it I did not realise the nurses had had to tube
feed him and had to suck all the meconium from him as he had swallowed
so much. For days he had black stuff coming from both ends - poor
I got up fairly quickly and was moving around the next day - surprising
a lot of people. But my heartache was my inability to feed - I felt
such a failure. I think it really added to my failure to bond with
him due to the Caesar.
After a week I went home. By the time we left hospital he would not
even try the breast and I was bottle feeding him. So I expressed every
three hours to try and get weight on him and supplemented him with
formula. It took me another month before I could breastfeed him and
it amazed everyone that I persisted that long. I am glad I did as
it assured me I could be a 'good' mum despite everything that had
I look back now and realize I was closer to PND than I realized at
the time. I was adamant I was just sleep deprived and could cope and
everyone believed me.
I was not angry at the doctors for what happened. On the contrary
I was thankful for the care and attention we received (under the public
health system) and grateful they did all they could to keep me and
my son healthy. However I do resent the fact that my birth was not
a lovely experience and I still get upset when I think over how unprepared
and unemotional I was. It took me a long time to bond with my son
and I am sure a lot of our 'issues' with feeding and sleeping go back
to those first few hours.
I have gone back to the same obstetrician for my second baby as
I feel I can trust him. He kept me informed and always treated me
like a person. He is monitoring me for pre-eclampsia and encouraging
me to try a VBAC. However this time I am doing my homework and doing
all I can to prepare for all eventualities! Hopefully this birth will
be a different experience no matter what happens.
*Images of Royston's Birth