It’s certainly true what they say: no two birth stories are the same. The last week has been one of the most emotional and tough of our lives…and now we have the most beautiful baby boy (I know everyone says that about their own) and we couldn’t be happier. In true spirit though, I want to be honest about what happened between Sunday 8am and Wednesday 1.25am, because it wasn’t a fairytale and it wasn’t straightforward – things happened that we could have never predicted or prepared for.
Eddison was measuring “big” in relation to where he should have been on his growth chart, so at 38 weeks, we went in for a growth scan. The ultrasound measurements indicated he was in fact bigger than expected and we were therefore flagged as “high risk”– maybe naively, we thought that there would be some inconsistencies with the results. Now at this point, everything we had prepared ourselves for went out of the window. After a meeting with the consultant, we were told that the baby wouldn’t be born on the ward which we were originally expecting, nor would Lis be able to have a water-birth. In addition, the consultant told us that our “high risk” status made us susceptible to concerns regarding the baby. Stillbirth and various other words were thrown around and a routine growth scan soon turned into a very serious event.
We had to make a decision – medically, so we had a plan and morally, as parents for our child. Luckily, the midwives and maternity support team at the hospital were absolutely amazing (at this point and through out our time with them). With all of the information presented to us, we were able to make an informed decision. It was hard and having to adapt so quickly and it was scary, especially considering we have no medical knowledge. We decided to be induced at 39 weeks…
Lis was upset. She had got her head in the right place for a midwife led birth, using hypnobirthing and a bath – she had come to terms with the birth and was relaxed and ready. After the consultant meeting, this confidence was abolished. We were suddenly in unknown territory and Lis was sad. She was mourning the loss of her hypothetical birth and was so worried about how a less natural delivery may affect the baby. As a dad, I totally get it. My ability to adapt as an observer is significantly more simple, because I was just watching. Elissa however was scared that she wasn’t in control anymore and all of the preparation we had done went out of the window.
An induction isn’t guaranteed to work – obviously. We got that. On Sunday morning the process was started and by Tuesday midday, Elissa was on the drip. We were so well looked after in hospital, but it was so hard. I think the thing that got me was the unknown; how long would it take for things to kick off? What was going to happen? Is the baby actually ready to come out? Sleep wasn’t easy to find and again, as an observer, I felt powerless. At Tuesday midday, it all kicked off. Once the Syntocinon hit Elissa’s system, the ball started rolling – quickly. Everybody responds differently to it. From where I was standing, it was like watching somebody on a night out go from the first bar to the Taxi rank in about 40 minutes. Zero to wrecked in a matter of minutes. From no contractions, Lis was having 5 every ten minutes in 40 minutes. She did it for 5 hours with gas and air with little or no break between contractions. I have never felt what I felt during this time. Watching somebody you love go through that much agony is completely against your nature. Besides supporting, there is so little that you can do to take it away. The pride and emotion I felt for my wife during those 5 hours was inexplicable: words can’t describe it. At this stage Lis was 4cm dilated, but the baby was asleep (chilling – standard!) so she was advised to move to the bed. Now at this stage, unbeknown to us, Eddi decided to roll over so he was back to back. After another hour, Lis was in agony with lower back pain and she opted for an epidural. She felt defeated and was very emotional. She wanted to do a drug free birth, but something had changed and we now know what – Eddison’s roll had moved his head into a funny position, so it was pushing on her pelvis. After another 4 hours, Lis hadn’t progressed. Still 4cm.
Two choices were presented to us. 1) Give it another 4 hours 2) have a C-section. Lis was still in pain – the epidural seemed to be wearing off, but we opted for choice 1. The epidural was in fact wearing off – it malfunctioned for 2 hours so the last part of labour was grueling. Lis had Eddison pushing into her pelvis and the epidural wasn’t working. Our birth plan had gone to shit and the situation was spiraling out of control. At the final check, Lis hadn’t dilated any further and we had to make a snap decision. The baby wasn’t distressed, but he wasn’t coming out. It was a C-Section or nothing. During the first stages of labour I felt the overwhelming pride, by the end I was so proud I was tearing up. I was strong for Elissa, but inside, all I wanted to do was take her somewhere and stop all of the pain. I’ve never been one to give up or quit – ever…but I just wanted it to be over for Lis. She was so calm and collected. The pain she had been feeling was bone on bone pushing – it must have been excruciating. As the surgeon ran Elissa through the risks and got her to sign the forms (mid contraction), all she said was, “Come on then, when are we going?!” Absolute trooper.
We pied off the NCT session on C-sections – how ironic. As we entered the surgery room, I was in a state of complete flux. Disinfectant and bright lights completely juxtaposed the calm and relaxed environment we were hoping for. The surgeons were spot on. I was so scared for Lis, but knew it was the only option. As they operated on Elissa (I’m getting emotional writing about this) we had a moment that lasted an eternity. I just looked into her eyes and she stared back – in that moment my heart just stopped…and then we heard a cough and a cry from the baby. The relief and anticipation as the curtain was lowered so I could announce the sex was completely indescribable. He was here and safe. As the surgeons fixed Elissa up, Eddison was put on her chest, skin on skin and there were three of us. As the hospital staff busied themselves sorting things out, it felt like the only three people in the world were me, Elissa and the baby.
Would we have preferred to have the hypothetical birth we had planned for? If I was asked 2 weeks ago I would say yes. If you asked me now, I would say I honestly don’t care. Looking into my son’s eyes as he makes weird mouth movements wishing I had boobs, I think things are meant to happen how they happen. We have a healthy baby boy who we absolutely adore… looking back at it, there isn’t anything that didn’t contradict our birth plan in terms of delivery…but actually everything else we wanted we got. We are so thankful.