Wednesday 28th August 2013 – the long awaited expected date of #babyparry had arrived and like most Wednesday mornings I was up at 5am for Wednesday morning swim squad. After a late, anxious night of thoughts of parenting and the future it was a little more difficult to role out of bed but it had to be done.
We were booked in to go to hospital at 8am to be monitored and decide whether Nina was to be induced. You may ask the question “why induction on due date?” It’s because of two risk factors that had been identified.
1. Baby had been scanned in the last weekend the fear was that growth was not as good as it could have been and
2. Nina is what’s classed as “an old mother” (I know I will get a punch when Nina reads this)
Any one of these on their own would have meant we could take the wait and see approach but together, it’s just safer to monitor closely.
The obligatory post swim breakfast with the crew had to be cut to a brief coffee in order to make it back home on time for the trip to hospital. When the phone rang in the cafe I expected I was in a bit of trouble for being late already but the croaky voice on the other end said “I think it’s started…..” I came off the phone to 3 sets of eyes staring at me expectantly, “she thinks its started” and all the eyes lit up. I ordered a coffee for Nina and set off up the road to pick her up.
Hospital at 8.20, only 20 minutes late so not so bad for my timing, we were directed to the Piha ward and put on the ctg monitor. This listens to the heart beat of the baby, monitors movement of baby and senses tightening of the uterus (start of contractions). 30 minutes on the machine and we could see some fantastic signs that things had started. With every baby movement there was an increase in heart rate, just like jumping on a bike for 10 seconds, tightening was happening every 5 minutes and were light in intensity but were there. Scan finished it was time for an examination. This was a nurse and glove job and result came back as 2/10 which meant there wasn’t much happening but a decision was made to keep doing what was being done and let things progress naturally so walking was on the cards.
We decided to take a trip to Pak n Save for some bits and pieces then head home for lunch but on arrival at the house I found I had left my keys in the hospital room (I was not a popular boy) so an impromptu chip roll picnic on the deck and it was back to hospital for 7 rotations of the pond on the hospital grounds.
The next scan stared at 1.30 and this time the heart rate again was doing exactly what we wanted but the tightening wasn’t happening. Everything had come to a halt.
After a second nurse and glove experience it was decided to help things along. A gel was introduced to the cervix which is meant to get the body to simulate contractions and Nina was again monitored for 30 minutes to make sure the gel was doing its job. I left Nina to it for a while whilst heading into work, having a shower, a bite to eat then back at about 5pm to see how she was going.
I came back to Nina having intense pains every couple of minutes that lasted about 20 to 30 seconds. The nurse had decided that this was the effect of the gel as the pains were coming from the lower belly and not just below the rib cage. We took another wonder around the building, stopping every couple of minutes for Nina to deal with the pain and me to do, the only thing I could do, rub her back. As a husband you do feel a little helpless with your wife doubled over in pain and there’s nothing you can do.
A short stop in the entrance lobby of the hospital to watch Home and Away and a couple of toilet stops for Nina to deal with the cramps then a slow journey back to the ward (with a couple of lunges in for good measure as can be seen below). Not prescribed but a fun interlude in an otherwise traumatic walk;-)
Back in the shared room the pains started to intensify. Another visit from the nurse and again she said it was the gel doing its job. This worried me a little as we had been informed this process could take 4 days and many more applications of the gel. I really didn’t want to watch Nina go through this for 4 more days:-(
At 6.30 the pain was still very intense and there was no walking it off or changing positions to ease. Nina had been sick, so any pain killers she had been given had come straight back out again. After she had been sick the best thing was to head to a bath. We were directed through to one of the birthing pools which is shared by a couple of birthing suites and left to it but before Nina would jump in he bath she had to go to the toilet. It was here we saw some blood start to appear. We had been told about ‘the show‘, but this didn’t look like we had heard so a quick (calm) check with nurse Jo and all was good. “Jump In the bath to help” was the advice and off we went.
The bath was a welcome relief for Nina until the pains kept coming. For me this was really the point I started to worry, she had plenty more show in the bath the pain seemed much more intense. “3 more days of this would be really bad news” I thought to myself. This is also where I felt most helpless.
What could I do, where was I supposed to be, should I call the nurse back in. “Nina’s instincts are always right” I thought to myself “she is not quiet about what she wants” so I decided to listen to Nina and support where I could. Cold flannels after every cramp, cup of water with a straw at the ready. Nina was in the bath for about an hour or so, she wouldn’t drink which was really worrying me, she couldn’t really communicate which had become a concern but millions of women go through this right? So just “listen to your wife” I thought. She started to get really hot and the cold flannels weren’t doing anything. Even when I applied them to the veins that run around the neck (learning a from my IM experience), she had to get out of the bath.
That in itself became a bit of a task as the pain would only go away for long enough for her to get one leg out before hitting again. Finally out of the bath, her temperature would not come down. She said she was burning up and needed to lie on the floor.
This reminded me of the feeling I had during the bike on IM. Sick to the stomach, dizzy and pains through the stomach and the one thing I learned from that was, GET COOLING no matter what.
On the floor she went (on a wet towel) and first thing I did was cold water on a new towel and lay that over the top of her. I realized this was working when Nina said she would take a drink of water and the pains were getting a little further apart. It seemed like we were getting out the other side of this ‘gel doing its job’. There was even time for a quick joke. “Remind me to tell Kerry (our midwife) that the corners of the floor could do with a bit of a scrubbing” Nina joked as she lifter her head off the cold concrete.
It was then that Nina said she could feel a lot of pressure to push. “PUSH???? Not yet” I said. “I can’t help it” she replied.
“Pushing? Now?” I thought to myself. This isn’t meant to be. In my mind I thought of that cervix not being open (diallated) properly and if she started pushing now there could be damage to Nina. “Blow” I said. Nina looked at me strangely. “Blow” I urged again. Again, the blank look. “I have to push” she said. “No, not yet”. “Blow, wh-wh-wh-wh-wh-wh-whhhhhhhhh” I urged and Nina copied. It seemed to work and she didn’t push any more.
Again another urge to push and again “Blow, Blow, wh-wh-wh-wh-wh-wh-whhhhhhhhh” (making it up as I go along and hoping it was going to work) and again she copied and again it paused the urge. “I need to get the midwife”
Nina agreed so we tried to move Nina to the middle of the floor, away from the door to the birthing sweet. It was while we were moving that Nina asked me to check ‘down below’ as it felt like something had popped out.
Upon inspection I could see a little balloon sticking out. “Mmmmm Something not right here.” “Yep Nina, it looks ok but I will get the midwife to check anyway”. The balloon was the size of a fist and gave me an inkling that this wasn’t just cramps from the gel but could be a lot more.
Out I went for the third time in the night, gathered myself in the hallway. “Hi there, something is happening that I would just like someone to check for me please?” This is where the nurse looked at me with a cheaky grin and said “you are going to be trouble tonight aren’t you” exactly the same way I would treat any customer to have a bit of a laugh. “I do try” I said “have to keep you busy, hehe”.
It was later that I realized that the nurses must see husbands running into the corridor all the time with an ’emergency’ and when they get in someone has dropped a pen or something. Husbands tend to get ultra sensitive and protective so tend to over react.
It must have been some sight for the nurse because once we were in she was confronted with a woman lying on her side in fetal position on the floor. “oh, darling, what are you doing on the floor?”.
I explained that something had popped out and I would like her to look. “Mm, I can’t really see, let me get a light.”
Now, being a boy, I had a little play with everything when I came into the birthing suite. Turned on the overhead light that’s on a swivel, shone it at the wall, made shadow puppets before turning off again net in case someone came in and caught me playing whilst Nina was suffering in the toilet.
My arm instinctively went for the light and pulled it into position. She turned it on after a bit of fumbling and had a quick look.
This is where I wish I hadn’t had all that experience running a restaurant in massive services where the pressure to keep things under control was, well, not quite life or death but if you lost your cool the whole service could turn to lot and there would be a lot of unhappy customers, staff and bank balances.
Maureen, the midwife, in an ultra-super calm voice, almost in slow-mo said “ok darling, why don’t you get up on the bed so we can examine you?”
It was then I knew ‘It’s on’.
Slowly we made our way on to the bed, it did take a couple of minutes but Nina made it then it was time for nurse-with-gloves inspection again. “Ok darling, it looks like you are about to have your baby” again, ultra calm. Outside she went and Nina and I heard “Jo, can you call Kerry, Nina’s midwife please” (not so calm now, eh). Lol.
After a bit of work Maureen and I managed to get the monitor back on Nina just to check the baby’s heart beat, which was strong and performed exactly as was needed. When a contraction came the heart rate dropped then would come back up to 135 when Nina was relaxed.
It was at this point that the reality of the situation became much bigger than just Nina and I having a baby. I looked down and could see the Caul (amniotic Sac) with what looked like black hair showing through and thought about what was about to happen. Our lives were about to change forever. We were about to have another human being dependent on us for the rest of our lives. OMG.
It was then that Nina asked “what should I do?”
“Just keep doing whatever feels best” the nurse answered.
“But it really hurts”.
“That’s your baby trying to come out, just give us a push”
One big push and Nina finally let out a scream and the head popped out, still in the sac. In one motion the nurse popped the sack and our baby shot out as if it was at the bottom of the super slide at water world. Within seconds and without being wiped a clean baby was placed on Nina’s chest and then the little whimpering started.
It was about 20 seconds later that Nina asked “Is it a girl or a boy?” “You will have to look” replied the midwife. “I don’t want tooooo” Nina moaned, still in shock from the pain and still coming back from ‘that place in her mind’ she went to in order to deal with the pain. “Comon, you will have to find out” The nurse held the baby up so we could have a look, Nina couldn’t see but I got a good look. As this happened baby let out a proper cry and Nina said “it sounds like a girl”
Sure enough Our Baby Girl was born!
Reflections of the birth and what can be taken away from this.
After much discussion with Nina and our midwife (who didn’t manage to make it to the birth but just made it in time for the placenta) there have been a few things come out of this.
- My wife is amazing for being so calm and working through the whole thing by herself. She practically gave birth without any help and all the nurses and midwives have given her props for that. The only downside to this was she didn’t get to be ‘fussed over by everyone’ which is part of ‘your right when giving birth’ explained our midwife.
- The nurses at the hospital may have been a bit too relaxed when we saw things were moving along. I didn’t want to be the husband who kept running out every 5 minutes to get the nurses and I know Nina didn’t want me doing that either but when they came into the room when Nina had the show they could have checked her to see how fast things were moving along. Even if they had checked on us 1 hour into the bath may have helped a little. I did get the feeling and it has been explained that what Nina did was pretty much unheard of though. The tests they had performed earlier in the day had showed that she probably wasn’t going to give birth for a few days yet so things to move that quickly is something else.
- Most importantly – we have a very good baby girl who listens to her mum already. Nina had said that she wanted baby on the due date, she wanted a clean baby and she wanted an easy birth which by all accounts, it was. Good girl.