This is the sequel to my last post, in which I described my first birth. So here is the sequel. Son Number Two.
This pregnancy was not only a little earlier that I had
planned idly speculated about in a desultory fashion, but also more eventful, as I went to hospital twice with infected gall bladder, or blocked bile duct and what they describe as ‘chemical irritation’, which essentially means my gall-bladder was eating itself. I can tell you now (Spoiler alert!) that neither of my two experiences of labour were anything like as painful as those galling experiences. Ho ho.
Anyway. My last few weeks of pregnancy were fairly eventful, in a slow way – my grandmother died at the age of 93, and so many of my family came and stayed with me because I live some hours closer. This was quite stressful as I did the anxious stressy host thing, and bustled around a lot. I also had a bad cold. And an eighteen-month-old to look after.
So at 37 weeks pregnant I ended up in antenatal again. A&E was funny – a really good way to get through Emergency very quickly is to tell them that you are 37 weeks pregnant and have severe abdominal pains. “Oh,” the triage nurse said, ‘Are you sure you aren’t in labour?”
“Yes, I’m sure. I’ve done labour before; I’ve had cholecystitis before. I can tell the difference.”
“Let’s get a doctor to see you right now.”
“Just give me morphine. I don’t care how much it makes me throw up.”
A doctor came to see me, and said that they would whisk me straight to delivery suite.
“I’m not in labour.”
“Are you sure? Any contractions?”
“Really. I’m not in labour. I know what it feels like, and what it feels like is not like cholecystitis.”
SO they whisked me to delivery suite.
An anaesthetist came to see me. “Are you in labour?”
“No. I have cholecystitis. Please give me drugs.”
“Where do you work?”
“Er…I bake biscuits and cakes. Why? Does that have something to do with my condition?”
“No, I just thought you sounded really familiar with medical terminology and I wondered if you worked in the medical industry!”
Just give me morphine
Anyway I finally got to see a midwife, I had a CTG, I was finally believed that, indeed, I was not in labour. My parents-in-law visited me feeling anxious as they were flying to America next day. My husband had just started a new job and couldn’t really get time off. My dad doesn’t drive. My mum was in Finland talking about social capital with a bunch of European statisticians. Luckily my mother-in-law rang her lovely and wonderful sister who agreed to drop everything and come over from the Blue Mountains and look after Son Number One for an indefinite period. (She ended up staying for two weeks, and then leaving a few hours before my Mum came up from Canberra.)
So that was kind of a relief – I hadn’t wanted to ruin my in-law’s trip to America.
Anyway I spent some time in that sort of hospital limbo – being fed..oh no – NOT fed. I was on nil-by-mouth and saline, morphine and antibiotic drips for days.
A surgeon with long yellow teeth and a long yellow face came to see me after a few (I really can’t remember how many) days of endless dehydration and morphine headaches, vomiting constantly and begging the midwives for icecubes to suck. It was a nightmare.
He cheerily told me that they wouldn’t bother seeing if they could induce, they would just keep me doped up and wait for the stone to move, or the pain to go away, or whatever. And then after the baby was born they’d operate. I burst into tears and said that I couldn’t bear more days of nil-by-mouth, headaches and vomiting constantly, I just couldn’t.
He sneered and said, as he turned away, ‘Well you’re in no danger of wasting away.”
Ouch. Even the wardsperson was a little stunned by his casual rudeness. I was 37 weeks pregnant, so noooo not a sylph. (Not that I was anyway. But I weighed the same at the end of my pregnancy as I did at the beginning, which I would have thought that fat-hating doctors would be pleased with at any rate.)
Hospital food was surprisingly good after days and days of nil-by-mouth, followed tentatively by clear liquids, followed by ‘free fluids’. It’s a good way to make mass produced menus designed by a nutritionist who has been beamed directly from 1953, more appealing. Starve people into submission first. Also – in Maternity and Antenatal – no menus. You gets whats you’re given.
One day in antenatal ward the woman opposite me was picking through her breakfast tray with her lip curled in disdain – I asked her if she would like my fruit as it was a banana and I don’t like them.
“Oh,’ she said, slightly embarrassed, ‘Actually I know it’s a bit weird, but I only like bananas when they are still bright green.”
“Well!” I said, ‘You’re in luck today!”
Anyway after the stone moved and my gall bladder stopped dissolving itself with digestive enzymes (an amazingly painful process) I was able to go home, but was asked to come in for another delightful cervical exam. I had had one a few days earlier only to be told that I wasn’t ‘ripe’ yet. Nooooice.
I went home and frantically made masses of cakes and biscuit dough for the freezer – enough for about 6 weeks running of our market stall. My husband’s aunt stayed to help me out and look after Number One Son as I was feeling a little battered.
I then went into hospital again for a cervical exam – they told me that I was ready to go and they made an appointment to have me induced two days later, on Sunday morning.
Aunt went home, and a few hours later my deliriously-tired mother arrived – she had arrived back in Australia a couple of days earlier, got a lot of work done, and rushed up to help out. For which I am still endlessly grateful.
In the middle of a nice chat I had a contraction. And then ten minutes later I had another one. Ah, I thought. Cervical exam FTW! No need for induction!
Anyway I spent the evening talking to Mum, giving Son Number One cuddles, and then trying to sleep in between ten-minutes-apart-like-clockwork contractions. At exactly five hours after they started, they switched over to five minutes apart. SO I rang the hospital, who were extremely lacklustre about my miles apart contractions until I mentioned my previous two-hour labour. That galvanised them into interest. “Why yes indeed, do come on in,” they said.
I organisedly woke up Mum, told her we were leaving, calmly picked up already-packed-bag, calmly walked down two flights of stairs in the dark, and got into the car. In between five-minutes-apart contractions, of course.
I calmly went through the after-hours entrance to Delivery, which entails walking through what would appear to be a large maze. Ok, maybe being pushed in a wheelchair though what would appear etc etc.
Went into Delivery and struck it unlucky with the room with the old CTG monitor. So I’m sitting up on a hospital bed, one arm out one way while the nurse tries to canulate my arm (remember last time when I had to have antibiotics in case I happened to have a strep infection which might transmit to the child while in the birth canal? Same thing again)…which ended up not working. I prefer my right arm to be stuck full of large needles for…well…hygiene reasons, but I had been draped in drips for two weeks and my poor veins were a little tired, as well as being full of holes. (I think I had eight canula scabs at that stage.)
Also I had to actually hold the CTG monitor on my tummy, as it was an old one without velcro straps. I was sitting there with one arm out being stuck with needles, the other arm holding a monitor to my tummy, while I was having my blood pressure tested as well.
When the baby’s heartbeat sped up I said, ‘Hmmm, we’ve got some good acceleration there.” To which the midwife made a face at me and said, ‘You’ve been here way too long!”
I was getting bored. I was sitting there, contractions after contractions, almost merging into each other, but nothing was happening. There was no bloody show, my waters hadn’t broken, my constant hints of ‘Goodness, my back really hurts,” were being ignored. (I later found out that one has to specifically request drugs, as they won’t offer them unsolicited. I just assumed that they had some Higher Purpose and thought I was coping without. So I thought I had better not let them down, or something.)
I even said to the midwife what was wandering in and out of the room (I was sharing her with the labouring woman in the next delivery room), “I just don’t think anything is happening!”
I am so impatient. I mean, for crying out loud, I’d been there for maybe 40 minutes? After the previous 5 hours of fairly painful but relatively-untroubled labour. Not what anyone would define as a marathon, or anything.
However, being impatient, I was actually eager for her to give me a cervical exam to maybe give me some indication of how long I might expect things to last.
(Actually eager for a total stranger to stick her hand up to the wrist in my lady-parts – it’s amazing the horrible places parenthood will take you.)
The next little while was a little rapid and confused. Firstly I said, ‘I’m glad you are giving me an exam, because I just don’t think anything is happening!”
Next she said, ‘Oh….kay…..you’re…only…seven…centimetres…dilated, so…it…will…be…quite….a…while…yet…OH MY GOD! That was your membranes rupturing! OH MY GOD! THAT’S THE HEAD! Quick! [to my husband] Press that button on the wall! No THAT ONE! I need another witness!”
That took two minutes. Literally two minutes from the time she told me that I was seven centimetres dilated, to the midwife handing me my baby.
Then she said, ‘Heheh, ‘I just don’t think anything’s happening!’…hahahha!”
Anyway my husband went out to the car to get some of the carefully-packed market biscuits and cakes – we weren’t going to make it to the markets that day we decided…to give to the midwives on duty, and he overheard her boasting about my lightning delivery on his way through. Ha!
No tearing or stitching either! Just a lot of canula wounds! (Of course, as seems to be inevitable, the baby wasn’t in the birth canal long enough to be affected by a potential strep infection, so again the antibiotics were a complete waste of time and extra nuisance for me – ever tried breastfeeding when you have less flexibility in one’s wrist due to a big canula needle stuck in it? Not to mention snagging the damn thing on everything. Ugh. Still – I suppose I deserve some inconvenience after my absurdly easy births.)
Unlike Baby Number One who came out asleep and wouldn’t feed properly for ages, Baby Number Two came out yelling and demanding food, and hasn’t really stopped in four years.
And that is definitely the LAST TIME I ever do that.
(Oh, and yet again I managed to give birth while in the half-sitting up, knees apart, soles-together cervical exam position. At one point in that two minutes, the midwife said, ‘You can move your legs now, you know.”
“UGH NO I CAN’T URGGHGGGHHHHH.”)