lj-music: Sarah Vaughan – Detour Ahead
Thirty-four hours in labour and I have produced a healthy baby. Sounds like such a simple sentence, but the magnitude of the thing is mind boggling.
Let’s break it apart… thirty-four hours of labour!!! What started around 3.30am on Monday the 4th of September, with thunder and lightning, didn’t end for me until 11.12am Tuesday, the 5th of September… when DAYO arrived!!!
And although I was afraid of the labour, the delivery, all of that stuff… I have to tell you, it wasn’t that bad. The pain was pain, me ain’t going to lie, oui? However, it was bearable pain. The thing that did me in was not the pain of contractions, not even the pain of pushing. What was exhausting was the length of the labour.
I laboured at home all day, and kept my candles burning on my Egun shrine for Dayo all day, and right up until I left for the hospital. I rested and napped as much as possible (which is good because I needed that conserved strength.) My mother made me some good soup, and I drank loads of water. In fact, my contractions stopped altogether for a few hours, which I was either worried about, or at the very least concerned I was having a false alarm. I don’t know if that’s normal, but it didn’t seem to me like I was having a prodomal labour.
My mother did her best not to hover. She was actually very good, and everything was good until about 2.30pm or so when the contractions started again. They were still coming ten, sometimes fifteen, as long as twenty minutes apart. I knew it wasn’t time to go to the hospital but my mother was doubtful… she began to get nervous as the day drew on. She came and asked me if I didn’t think it was time to go down, and I tried to explain to her that if I went down there now, they would send me home because I knew that the contractions needed to be coming every three to five minutes and lasting at least a minute long.
When one of my oldest girlfriends called to say she was coming to look for me, and I told her I was in labour, she decided to come over anyway. I don’t know what my mother said to her outside before she came into my room, but she came in and was trying to bully/scare me into going to the hospital. I had to stand so firm to get them BOTH to understand the time wasn’t right. It was a hard fight for a while. My mother was trying to play it off like she wasn’t really that bothered I was labouring at home, but she was worried. My friend kind of pissed me off too, because she was stirring up a hornet’s nest… and at any rate, I was determined not to go to the hospital too early. Besides, I wasn’t really in bad pain.
I called the doula (BLESS HER… more on that later!) and when I explained to her the state of the contractions, she agreed with me that it wasn’t time to go yet. She spoke to my mother to try and soothe her, but instead it sent her further into a sulk. I told my friend I knew both my mind and my body, and both of them were saying it wasn’t time to go yet.
At any rate, I stayed put.
The doula came by around six or seven o’clock. She crawled into the bed with me, and we sat talking… I tried to take a nap, but Budz and his lovely Baby Mama came by with their ADORABLE baby, and brought me some more chicken noodle soup, which I microwaved and ate while the contractions kept coming. While they were there, we played with the baby (who is just a trip and a half!) and we talked and watched “Extreme Makeover” (my mother is addicted to house beautiful shows…) and talked. By this time, nearly nine o’clock, my contractions were approaching five minutes apart, and while all concentrated in my cervix, were still not ‘painful’.
After Budz, Baby Mama and baby left, the doula and I went back into my room… I blogged, I searched the Internet, I put on my music for Osun and for Yemoja, and sang and danced. The doula said to me, “I have to tell you, just so you know… your contractions are coming every three to five minutes long, and lasting a minute, a minute and a half.”
So I waited another twenty minutes, and told my mother I was going to get ready to go to the hospital. She called my brother’s best friend, and the doula and I started gathering up my things. The Hospital Bag was already packed, so it was just to pick down my laptop, gather up a few last minute things and wait for my brother’s best friend to show up. I took another shower, and dressed slowly.
There was no traffic on the way down to the hospital. The contractions were coming every few minutes, but they weren’t bad. The pain was all concentrated in my cervix and nowhere else, and had been that way all day, and remained that way let me tell you.
We got to the hospital, and went in through Accident and Emergency and they wheeled me up to the labour ward. When we got there, the midwives asked the doula to wait outside. I planned to say she was my sister, and insist that she stay with me, but they wouldn’t let her back in until they had admitted me.
I refused the enema. I refused to be shaved. Of course, the midwives didn’t like that. They were overwhelmed with labouring women that night (being that we were two days away from full moon) and there was no bed for me, so I hopped on to the bed that I would eventually deliver in.
I was admitted around 11.15pm that night, already in labour for almost 24 hours. When they checked me, I was about six centimetres dilated. I was terribly fussy. I did that six centimetres on my own!
: sigh : A long night later, with the doula (Bless her!) rubbing my back and keeping me hydrated and helping me to focus on my breath, and suggesting other positions to try. I must say, I fought her about getting out of the bed. My knees were rubbery and watery, and I didn’t feel able to stand. Although right up until a couple hours before I delivered, I was still walking down the long hallway to go to the bathroom.
Yet, my labour went on and on. It was delayed so long, because my water simply would not break… isn’t that funny for a daughter of two waters? Ai ya!! The lovely Nurse Gaskin, who was checking on me all night, went off shift and all the nurses were replaced by the day shift. They ejected the doula yet again while the ward was being handed over, and she was gone for over two hours. I had asked someone the time, and they told me it was about 9am or so. I was like “WHAT?!” I’ve been doing this too long.”
At some point during that time, I got a rush of some kind of fluid and I called the nurse and told her I thought my water had broke. She checked me and said, “No, your sack is still intact. I think it was probably just a strong show.”
I nearly burst into tears… I literally begged the nurse/midwife (a nice English lady incidentally) to do it for me. The night nurse didn’t have something to break the bag (she said) but the English lady slid two fingers up there, and poof, when the bag broke it gushed! Don’t know how I could have mistaked the feeling. I thought an ocean had been let loose.
Then the contractions came fast and strong, but even as painful as those were, it wasn’t as bad as thought it was going to be. I didn’t need pain medication, because by the time it occured to me to ask for some, I was already already nearly nine centimetres dilated and there wasn’t any real point. The doula came back about 40 minutes after the nurse broke my water for me.
Two hours or so of these hot and hard contractions, and chile I was begging to push for what seemed like ages, but the nurse kept saying, “Don’t push!” I still had an anterior lip, and wasn’t ready…
My mother called while I was there, and I heard the doula tell her that I wanted to push, but that the nurse wouldn’t let me push. Now, unbeknownst to me, my mother got on the phone and called my obstetrician, and begged him to do something, anything at all, although what he could have done I don’t know, the midwives run the labour ward and they only call doctors if something is wrong. At any rate, the Sister who runs the labour ward came and saw to me after the doula came back. She kept telling me not to push yet, because I wasn’t fully dilated yet, I still had this little lip right?
Chile, I pushed hear! Just not very hard… little pushes to relieve the pressure and to encourage that anterior lip to pull back. I had to get the child out, because by this point I was knackered. I had been in labour for more than 30 hours (time got a little fuzzy on me after my water was broken) and I just had reached what I thought was the limit of my endurance. I just wanted to get the little guy OUT!!
You would think after all that time, that the baby would be in distress… my little man was good. His heartbeat was strong, strong right up to the end.
Now I had the overwhelming urge to pee, and a few hours earlier had managed to go on the bedpan before Nurse Gaskin went home, but now I sat on the bed pan for ages and nothing would come out. What’s more, my big full bladder was blocking our boy’s passage. So the lovely Nurse Brathwaite pulled out a catheter kit and proceeded to thread it into my poor little uretha. It was uncomfortable no joke, but all that pee came out. (Incidentally, since the catheter I pee like gangbusters now! Like it opened my uretha just that much…)
After my bladder was drained, and the catheter removed… one of the doctors from the antenatal clinic who had been checking on me came and put in an IV drip to pump fluids into me, because she said I’d been going for so long. It was great, because although I had been drinking water all night, after a few minutes I didn’t feel thirsty anymore.
Nurse Brathwaite gave me another half hour or so, and when she came in to check my blood pressure and the baby’s heart rate again, I begged her to let me push, because I could feel the baby’s head start to slide down. It felt like pressure, just enormous pressure. I was in pain, but the pain was superseded by pressure, and the pain continued to be manageable. When Brathwaite checked me, I was fully dilated, and the delivery team swung into action.
A table was wheeled in with sterile equipment, another midwife appeared from somewhere, Brathwaite and the other nurse put on sterile gowns, they put some kind of pad underneath me and all I kept thinking in my head was, “This is it, this is it, this is it, this is it, this is it!”
The only time I needed medication was at the bitter end, when they gave me a shot of oxytocin to make the contractions stronger so I could push. I think I was lucky because I had had so many years of agonising, awful period cramps, that debilitated me for days, and kept me doubled over often led to black outs, vomiting green bile, and breaking into cold sweats it kind of prepares you for pain. Labour to me felt like really intense period cramps and funnily enough, even better than the cramps in a way. Even the delivery the baby passing out, didn’t hurt the way I thought it would. To me, it didn’t even hurt the way period cramps hurt, because all my pain was concentrated in my cervix. I didn’t hurt anywhere else.
The doula said later that she didn’t think I would have the energy to push, because I’d been in labour more than 33 hours by this point.
And at last I could PUSH!!! Except, I had no idea what Brathwaite was talking about, “Push through your bottom, you’re pushing in your throat.”
It took me a couple of pushes to figure out what she meant, but chile, once I understood what, where and how to push, four or five pushes and he came out! I don’t think I pushed for more than fifteen minutes.
He did something the midwives were all astounded by. The senior midwife said she hasn’t seen anything like it in all her years of delivering babies. After his head came out, she tried to grab him under the shoulders to help him out with the next contraction and he wriggled away. He then turned himself 180 degrees and then slid right out.
Unfortunately, between the wriggling and turning around, he tore me up. Not too badly I understand, but later it would take a whole HEAP of injections to anesthetisise my punkie and a whole heap of running stitches to put everything back into place, which in some ways was worse to me than the delivery! All those needles!!! In my punkie!!
Not only that, the baby passed meconium on his way down the passage. So after he came out, they whisked him away, and because my glasses were off, I didn’t even SEE my child. He had to go into an incubator, and they had to call the pediatrician and it took almost two hours before they were satisfied he was alright and they cleaned him up (sorta) and brought him for me. The doula had to go take a picture for me and bring it back, because I just wanted to see his face.
He was utterly beautiful. Honestly. I’m not biased! He’s a gorgeous baby. He had a full head of hair, ghosts of eyebrows and he was red, red, red. He’s going to brown down to a nice caramel colour, you can see it around his fingertips and his ears. I asked the doula, “Aren’t newborns supposed to be wrinkled and squished?” But my baby was beautiful from the get go.
He was 8.11lbs, and 21 1/4 inches long. Isn’t that cool? He’s a BIG baby! I look around the ward where I am, and I see these tiny little babies, I kind of look at my baby and think… WOW! How was all of him up in me? How did I manage? It’s no wonder I peed constantly, with this big ass baby sitting on my bladder!!!
: sigh : He’s beautiful. I know I keep saying that, but I can’t wait until his newborn face gets settled… because if he’s this pretty now, I can’t imagine how sweet he’s going to be when he really gets really baby-cute. I’m going to have to make sure he respects God, because it looks like I have one good looking little fella on my hands. Everybody keeps saying he’s so sweet! And he is.. one sweet little baby.
On Wednesday afternoon, when the pediatrician examined him she told me he looked a little yellow. Now most babies are born jaundiced, but in Dayo’s case it was fairly severe. Apparently when he was coming down the passage, some of my blood mixed with his. I’m O positive, he’s AB positive. So there was an enzyme in my blood that began to break down his red blood cells. His poor little liver couldn’t flush out the enzyme, so his bilirubin levels went way up above the normal level.
So he had to get phototherapy, and he spent about 36 hours under a special light that helps rid the body of the excess bilirubin by altering it, and made it easier for his liver to get rid of it. When my boy started to have bowel movements, they were copious and dramatic. He had these little gauze shades over his eyes, and he cried for the first few hours under the light, but there was nothing I could do and eventually he settled down. I had to give him extra formula in a cup, and breastfeed a bit more. It was strange… I couldn’t look in his eyes and that made trying to figure out what he needed a little harder for me.
I was originally hoping to get out of the hospital on Thursday, and indeed, I was discharged, but with the baby still under the light, we spent another uncomfortable night in the hospital. The next morning, they repeated the blood test and his bilirubin levels had come right down under the line, but they needed to test again twelve hours later to make sure they hadn’t gone back up again. I guess they needed to make sure his liver was processing the bilirubin.
Chile, every time they stuck him to get the blood I cried. I just couldn’t stand to see it. It’s hard enough seeing my own blood, but my baby’s blood kind of undid me. When they were done, I’d snatch him up and kiss and cuddle him. Poor little guy.
We were so hoping to be home by Friday afternoon, but the lab computers that process all the the blood tests broke down and the nurses on the maternity ward don’t release anyone after 6pm. So when the pediatrician came and told me that she couldn’t discharge the baby without that final test result, I just sat there and cried.
What followed was the worst night I had with the baby to date. The baby cried ALL NIGHT!! I mean I literally did not get any sleep. He refused to lay in his bassinet, he only wanted bubby and just refused to sleep. Maybe he was sensing my distress and discomfort of having to be in the hospital another night, maybe it was just a rough night.
When the sun started to lighten the sky, is when my boy decided to fall asleep.
Around 6.30am, the pediatrician (God bless her!) came and discharged the baby, because the test results finally came back. I hugged her and thanked her, bleary eyed and in tears again, then I turned on the dying cell phone and called my mother and asked her to come for me.
The nurses wanted me to wait until 10.30am, until one of them could come and give me ‘discharge education’ and walk me downstairs, and because right now ‘the ward is being handed over’ and there was no one to do it then. I asked her if there was anything legal I needed to sign, any documents I needed to hand over or be given. She said no, so I told her well I am riding out. I’m not simple or stupid, and I heard the ‘discharge education’ talk given in my section of the ward the day before, and got all the NIS forms etc. so I am out of here.
I went and packed all my stuff up, went and took a shower. By the time I got back, my brother was outside the ward and I handed over all my stuff over to him, and changed the baby’s clothes and wrapped him in the blanket his great-grandmother made for him, and I walked my stitched up ass out of the hospital. Gingerly of course, but I walked out of there.
Of course, the baby slept ALL DAY!!! It was amazing… like a log! I actually got some sleep!!! And oh my god, it was so good to be home. I had the best shit of my life, ate some proper food, read my email and all the lovely messages from everyone, it was great! Five nights in a narrow uncomfortable old ass hospital bed with evil pillows in the BOILING HEAT with NO FAN or NO AIR CONDITIONING was torturous, so to lay down in my own bed with my own pillows and shit in my own toilet was like the most luxury I had had all week, in a week of standing over toilets and wiping every surface of the sitz bath chair down with anti-bacterial wipes before I could sit.
I also need to eat a little crow. I was really afraid of QEH: the labour ward, the delivery nurses/midwives… the whole experience of the public hospital. Yet, after being through the whole experience, I can only complain about the quality of the facilities, not the care. The care was excellent!!
The difference for me at least during the labour was that I had the doula with me… I feel for other sisters that have to go through the birth and delivery experience without someone there pulling for them, and that’s the one fault of birthing at QEH, is how reluctant they are to allow someone to come and stay with the mother. They themselves for the most part leave you to yourself. They come in, check your blood pressure, check the fetal heart rate, take your temperature and that’s it. They don’t offer much encouragement, don’t talk to you much unless you engage them and they’re too busy with other patients to keep you hydrated or keep your spirits up or remind you to breathe.
Having the doula there with me (a beautiful elfin sister with dreads all down her back) there with me during the labour, encouraging me and keep pumping fluids down my throat, and holding my hand, and cracking jokes and talking to my mother, and keeping her notes…. I don’t know, it just seemed more doable with her there. The fact that it wasn’t as painful as I thought it was going to be, made the long, long labour more bearable.
And the midwives were great! Nurse Brathwaite, Nurse Gaskin and most of the nurses on the maternity ward were lovely. There were one or two that I thought were bitches (one in particular I nearly curse stink like shite at 6am one morning) but for the most part they were all lovely people.
The doctors were also great, and socialised health care is without frills, but they were thorough and for that I am grateful. So while I wasn’t very comfortable, I still had a great labour and delivery, and the baby and I were well taken care of and I didn’t have to pay a cent.
It’s interesting because if I was still going to The Birthing Centre, I would have had to go to the hospital anyway and I would have ended up paying for EVERYTHING!!!
So there you have it… that’s pretty much my birth story.