I want to start with a little background of our family’s situation going into this birth. We are a family with an active duty service member where we live in an isolated location. I have a nueromuscular dystrophy called Charcot-Marie Tooth Disease (side note: it has nothing to do with my teeth). CMTD is a degenerative condition that will affect me a lot more later on in life that it will in my child rearing years. Unfortunately, this condition also makes me statistically more likely to require a c-section, so during both of my term pregnancies my doctors and insurance company have erred to the safe side. Due to the isolation of my current residence, my insurance insisted that I travel from Alice Springs, Australia to Adelaide, Australia where if there were to be any emergencies with either myself or the baby I would be closer to a wider array of medical services. That is not to say that the hospital in Alice Springs is inadequate. It is a perfectly respectable hospital. Though, to be fair, if a big emergency had happened they may or may not have been able to handle it. I tried to fight the insurance to stay, but due to some snooty lady claiming that the NICU at the Alice Springs Hospital was not “up to her standards”. I found myself packing my husband, myself, and our 5 year old up and traveling to Adelaide at 37 weeks. Where we commenced to cool our heels for another 4 weeks.
My doctor and I decided to induce me on October 1st as we wanted to wait until at least 40 weeks before we rushed my baby out into the world. My last appointment with the doctor before the induction day was the 29th of September. I was pretty exhausted by this point. We were in a foreign city where our only way around town was our own two feet or a needless cab ride. The walking was not a problem, but at 40 plus weeks pregnant two city blocks felt more like 20 city blocks with a baby that felt like it was going to just drop out of my hoo-hah on her own.
Luckily, we had another family forced down in Adelaide at the same time as us to deliver their baby (There must be something in the water in Alice Springs!) so we dropped our 5 year old off at their hotel on the way to the hospital the morning of October 1st. The three of us were very excited and nervous. I’m sure we all had a different feelings going into that day, but we all couldn’t wait to meet the newest member of our family.
Husband and I arrived at 7:30am right on schedule to have my waters broken by the doctor. The plan was to have Doctor break the waters then I would walk around for 2 hours to try and get labor going without cintocin (the Australian equivalent to pitocin in the USA). Husband took me on a course through the hospital that had me go up and down the same flight of stairs 3 times then out and around the outside of the building in a lap then back to that same flight of stairs another 4 or 5 times then back to L&D for some water then to do it all again. Thankfully, for my exercise intolerant self, I only had to do that route twice before my two hours were nearly up. My midwife wanted to check Baby’s heart rate so I got to settle on the bed. I was saved from having to endure the walking route a third time! My midwife didn’t like how Baby’s heart rate was to start me on the cintocin. Meanwhile, I started getting contractions, but these were weak only about 12-15 minutes apart. Certainly nothing to write home about.
Around 11 the doctor gave the go-ahead to start the cintocin even though the baby’s heart rate wasn’t where the midwife wanted the heart rate to be. I remember the midwife being very nice. She would joke with us and even brought in food for me when the lunch service went around even though the doctor wasn’t keen on her patients eating while being in L&D. When the cintocin started my contractions went almost immediately from mild to huge and just a couple minutes between. Husband was very supportive and held my hand through the contractions and kept me smiling when I wasn’t breathing through the contractions. I was very nervous going into this that the pain would be too much. With my first child, I was cussing loudly and writhing on the hospital bed. This time I was much calmer. I was able to focus on breathing and listening to Husband keeping my family back in the USA up to date with my progress. I was able to laugh at their responses and hold a conversation with Husband. Labor this go around was a much easier experience for me. After almost 2 hours my midwife suggested that I take “the gas” as my contractions were getting stronger so my sanity was slowly starting to fray. I agreed to the nitrous oxide. Just in time because the next contraction was longer and more painful. As I got used to the breathing tube and breathing deep enough to hear the machine rattle I tried to keep up conversation with Husband. It wasn’t very long before the contractions were coming too close together, and I gave up talking altogether. I holed in on myself as a contraction would come on I would listen to the rattle that the N2O made as I breathed in, and whimper for my Husband’s hand. I remember every time I opened my eyes Husband was on his phone or had a camera in my face. I don’t think I was upset by this. I found it funny, though there was no way I could convey this at the time. The N2O had me in a pretty woozy state. I had given up trying to do much of anything by this point. While my eyes were closed I was thinking about the Princess Bride. I don’t know how my mind made it to Wesley, Buttercup, Fezini, and Indigo Montoya, but there you have it. I basically just watched the movie from memory with interruptions from my contractions.
Time with the N2O was moving at weird intervals. In the moment, it seemed that my eyes would close for hours at a time, so I would try to talk to Husband and the midwife, but I would close my eyes again and drift off. Eventually my contractions progressed to a point where I could only focus on them even with the N2O when they came on. The midwife suggested giving me a shot of a muscle relaxer. She asked during a bad contraction so I just nodded yes. I don’t know if I would have agreed in between contractions. I think from the time they started me on the N2O and the muscle relaxer only about 15 or 30 minutes had passed. It was not long, though I didn’t realize it. After the muscle relaxer the midwife said it was time to check my progress. She had said that I was only at 5cm and my cervix was not effacing as it should. Then she proceeded to yank and tug down there which hurt like hell. She said she had to “go looking for it”. I was not happy that she did it, but she was the midwife so I let it go.
Husband kept asking me if I was feeling pressure after the midwife did her recon to find my cervix. I shook my head no. My doctor came in shortly after Husband started asking me about pressure. When she checked me I was at 8cm and she must have done the same “go looking” for my cervix as well. It hurt just as much when the doctor went tugging on me as when the midwife did it. Shortly after this I started to feel pressure. It seemed like it was GO time.
I remember Husband calling in the midwife. She kept saying if I felt like pushing to just go with what my body wanted to do. My doctor had not arrived back yet, but she had been called. Husband was at my left shoulder holding my hand and being supportive. I believe he was sending text messages to my family back home, but had to abandon that as it was time for things and it was a go, go, GO situation. The doctor came in and took away my N2O. I must have whimpered.
“Klutzy, I need your wits about you now. It is time to push,” Doctor said.
It was 2:20pm. I had Husband at my left shoulder and the doctor front and center to deliver the baby. My midwife that had been working with me all morning was at my left leg then a new midwife came in and was at my right leg. They kept telling me to push. I felt like I was in a weird position to push the way they wanted me to. I kept wanting to arch my back, and I needed to push where my back would not be doing this. I wanted to hold on to the bed or the rail and the midwife at my right leg kept putting my hand behind my knee. Husband, the midwives, and the doctor were all urging me to push correctly. I was just in a total state of confusion. Things were moving too fast for me to respond to what was happening. I would look at Derek and then the doctor. With all their urging, I decided to look at the doctor while I was pushing as she was the one that seemed to be the most demanding person in the room. She had always been no nonsense during my earlier appointments, and I remember during the delivery she sternly told Husband not to tell me to push at a certain point. Once I focussed on the doctor I got the hang of how they wanted me to push. Looking back, I don’t remember if I yelled or not. I imagine that I must have been breathing at the midwife on the left’s prompting and then a warrior’s cry when it came to delivering my baby. I know I ripped my IV out of my hand during the pushing and delivery. I don’t know if I can convey properly the hectic nature of what was happening around me.
Seven minutes after I started to feel the pressure I delivered my little Roo. They plopped my purple baby on me as they started to asses me and deliver the placenta. It was amazing to hold my baby right away. (I had not gotten to hold my first baby right away). She was so purple at first, but her color mellowed out quite quickly. Doctor delivered my placenta, then pronounced that I had not torn or even gotten a graze. She said that I had done very well. She went over when to expect her over the weekend and that was that. The midwives cleaned up during my conversation with the doctor. Once the room was back to a calm state they took Roo to do up her measuring and a rub down to take off most of the vernix. She was 3.81kg and 51cm (8.4lbs & 20in). After her measurements were taken Roo was back in Momma’s arms for her first feeding.