Life is what happens while you make plans. My plan was to have a natural home water birth. I had to reassess that plan when at 35 weeks I had a sudden increase in amniotic fluid which is also known as polyhydramnios. I was getting bigger at an excessive rate. I could literally feel stretch marks developing over night. The excess fluid meant that I was at a higher risk of having a cord prolapse during labour. A hospital birth became the safest option.
At 37 weeks I started having contractions, and went into false labour 3 separate times, lasting an average of 6hours each. On Sunday October 7th I woke up after a night of false labour without feeling any real contractions. My midwife Emma checked in with me and suggested we do fetal monitoring at the hospital sincet I hadn’t been feeling her kick as often.
So after a morning spent at the tiny Wellington aquarium and playing on the beach with Ivy and Boby, we made our way over to the hospital. Following the monitoring, Emma checked to see if all of the contractions I had been experiencing had done anything. She found that my cervix was still closed and long. Shortly after, the doctor came in to do a quick ultrasound and talk to us about our options. It was suggested that our safest option, considering reduced fetal movement, was to induce labour. The doctor told us that they had an induction opening that very night and suggested we try the balloon catheter* method to induce labor as it doesn’t have any added hormones.
I felt overwhelmed as it dawned on me that I’d have to spend the night in the hospital. This would make it my first night away from Ivy EVER, and that I’d be having this baby within the next 24hours.
I set up camp in the delivery suite and spent my time waiting for the doctor by watching videos my husband was sending me of Ivy looking for me while he was trying to put her to sleep. I cried. At 22 hours Sunday, the doctor came to see me, inserted the balloon catheter*, and did some monitoring to check baby’s heartbeat.
The next day, the doctor woke me up at 7am and told me that they’d be taking the balloon out. She came back a couple minutes later and said that since it hadn’t actually been in for 12 hours they were going to wait a bit. At 7:30 she was back with a midwife. She said that they were going to go ahead, take it out and break my waters.
When the doctor removed the balloon, my cervix was completely flat, and I was dilated to 3cm. She broke my waters, which was like a Niagara Falls of amniotic fluid, and made sure baby’s head had dropped to completely eliminate the risk of a cord prolapse. The midwife inserted a PIV line and told me that the next hour would determine what would happen next. Either my contractions would start on their own and I would go into spontaneous labour or they would give me an I.V. drip with Oxytocin (Syntocinon)to provoke labour.
They left me with the call button and went to phone Emma. At 8am I got my first contraction. At 8:20 I hit the call button! I told the midwife on duty that my contractions where coming on top of one another and were quiet strong. She said she’d be right back and left to call Emma to make sure she was on her way. At 8:30 I texted boby (who was on his way and had stopped to get me a hot chocolate per my request) asking him where the hell he was because the contractions were killing me.
Boby and Ivy arrived 7 minutes later, my contractions were coming on hard. I asked the midwife to fill the tub for me and tried my best to breath through each contraction. It kind of becomes a blur after I got into the tub.
The contractions were violent and I remember asking Boby to call the midwife because I needed pain relief. I was NOT given any! I didn’t want anyone touching me! I was completely unaware of my surroundings, and all I could do was lean my head against my arms and stare at the white wall of the tub. I kept breathing with gulps of air through each bone shattering contraction as they continuously broke over me in waves. The pain was other. The only way I could deal with it was by telling myself each wave was bringing me closer to her ( and by making feral sounds and cursing, A LOT!).
In the midst of this Emma arrived! I instantly felt a degree of relief. I had been harboring the fear that she wouldn’t make it to the hospital in time, and that I’d have to deliver the baby without her. She sat down next to the tub. She reminded me to breath, and gently told me that if I wanted I could redirect my energy towards pushing instead of using my voice if I felt like I needed to push ( to which I remember thinking « anything to get her out faster » ).
I vaguely remember hearing episodes of “The Magic School Bus” in the background. Ivy was in the room! We had no one in Wellington who could watch her. It’s only in watching videos after the fact and talking to boby that I realize how unfazed she was by all of it. She was content watching her show and would occasionally come to the tub and dump water in it.
Around what must have been the middle of transition, I told Emma and Boby that I needed to get out of the tub as my knees were starting to get sore. They helped me over to the bed. I found temporary relief in laying on my side. Then I felt acute, specific pressure and told Emma I needed to use the restroom. She told me that I didn’t and that what I was feeling was baby’s head. She was spot on. The next thing I knew I was pushing! I heard Emma tell me that she was pressing the call button to get the other midwife.
She came in as I pushed. I could feel baby’s head crowning, determined to end the pain and get this baby out I silently promised myself I’d get her head out with the next contraction. As the wave started I pushed, hard feeling every ounce of the ring of fire! Emma reminded me to go gently. Baby’s head was out, I reached down and felt the top of her head, it was almost over. I think I pushed the rest of her out with the following contraction, it was a bit of a blur. Baby was holding her hand up to her face so her arm got stuck. Emma ( she’s amazing) helped to free her arm and let way to the rest of her body…
Zelda Esmé Marino was born at 10am on the dot. She was placed in my arms as I cried from euphoria, pain, relief, you name it I was feeling it all. It was such a cathartic moment, I had done it! Not at all how I had pictured it but still naturally and she was here! Safe and sound, a beautiful 3.2kg girl covered in vernix. OURS. With Zelda in my arms, I looked up to see my husband holding our first born and in that moment I knew our family was complete.
I am choosing to share my birth story because I believe in normalizing birth. Please be sensitive to how personal this is and remember that every birth is different.
*If you’re not familiar with the balloon catheter method of induction it’s a catheter that they inverse and insert into your cervix then fill the balloon with saline solution . This puts pressure on your cervix, slowly stretching and opening it. It doesn’t hurt but does cause quiet a bit of cramping.