After FOUR rounds of hardcore prodromal labour, we weren’t sure if Luella was ever going to come out or just keep crying wolf. While all the practice definitely helped us for the real thing it also exhausted us. Round three started on the 10th of July. Because I thought moving to the Birth Centre sooner rather than later might help me relax more and keep the contractions going, and because we wanted advice if they stopped, we headed in that afternoon.
I was of course disappointed when they stopped in the early evening and I’d not dilated past the 3cm I was at for my midwife appointment the day before. Figuring we could just go home and rest it off again I was further disappointed when I had to stay strapped to a CTG machine because the baby’s heart rate was fluctuating too much. She was moving like crazy, I explained but that’s protocol and we were stuck there for hours. By 10 or so that night my contractions started again.
Concerned this was these were real labour contractions and worried I needed rest, an angel of a midwife, Fiona ordered me a soak in the tub and a shot of morphine. Though I didn’t really sleep it did relax me and after a stay overnight with contractions only 15 minutes apart still, they sent us home.
We got in a two-hour nap or so, and after lunch they kicked into gear again, coming sooner. We braced ourselves, still not knowing if this was the real thing. I laboured in the dark on my yoga ball into the evening and it got harder as the dreaded back labour set in. It was so much worse than the contractions themselves. As they got closer together I started feeling them lower in my pelvis and this time we were pretty sure it was time to go in for real at around 10pm.
Lucky for me Fiona was the midwife on duty again that evening. She checked me and I was at 6-7 cm. The real deal! Then came the bad news. The baby was in a position with her spine against mine that would not only ensure me a great deal of back labour, but her head was moving on and off my cervix which was why my contractions kept changing in pace. So Fiona set into action a plan to move her.
We tried just about every trick in the book. At one point I was leaning up against a wall in the shower, hands over my head, right leg on a stool, circling my hips during each contraction while Jim sprayed me with the hot water. After hours of this, still 7cm. Then we tried a new position with me on all fours, resting on a yoga ball. We tried manually breaking my waters. We tried leaning against a table, circling my hips. Still 7cm.
Finally at 7am Fiona told me she wanted to try for one more hour and that if the baby still hadn’t moved she probably wasn’t going to do it on her own so they would need to induce me to increase the contractions. “And I wouldn’t recommend this without an epidural.”
She and Jim had both worked so hard to give me the labour I wanted that I knew this wasn’t trying to just rush me along. Despite my best efforts at a natural birth, my body needed this. As the back pain got worse I threw in the towel and at 7:30 they transferred me to the labour ward.
What happened next was a flurry of activity. An epidural also means an IV drip, a catheter, and of course there was also that syntocin to administer. Very medical suddenly. But once it set in, man oh man. I didn’t feel a thing. I could still feel the pressure of each contraction and I was so glad to not be feeling the pain from them. They told me to give it several hours to see if I dilated. “Try to get some rest” they told me. Fat chance.
12:00 rolled around and success! Fully dilated! The baby wasn’t quite far down enough yet though so they told me to give it another hour and then it would be time to push. Just past 1:00 they took the epidural out and brought in the OB. There were some signs of increased heart rate that concerned them, so the doctor stayed close at hand.
At 1:30 my new midwife Sigrid told me it was time to push. She and Jim each grabbed a leg and I made a pretty laughable effort. I couldn’t feel a thing and was not doing it all right so she coached me through it. Three huge pushes each contraction. They could see a tiny bit of the baby’s head but after an hour, there was still not much progress. The OB decided I was likely going to need the vacuum. I still couldn’t feel anything and figured he was right.
Finally after a bit more pushing and a little doctor assistance, I could feel that something was happening. I closed my eyes during a big push and then heard Jim say “Oh my God, Sharon!” I opened my eyes as the doctor lifted her up and placed my little girl on my chest. No longer an abstract being in my belly. Pickle was now Luella Ruby.
I looked over and Jim was crying and I immediately burst into tears as well. All I wanted to do was touch this tiny new person. I nuzzled my chin against her forehead and this is still my go-to move when I want comfort from her. She was white and gooey but felt amazing. She let out a wail – that lasted forever.
We tried pretty quickly to get her to feed but she was just far too unsettled. Poor darling had a headache. The activity and days that followed were an emotional roller coaster, but that’s a story for another post. This story is about the birth of Luella Ruby and the indescribable love her Dad and I felt the moment we first saw her.