This one is a tough one. Reading it brings back a flood of memories and what ifs. Far out! Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I am traumatised by this whole thing and it did affect my relationship with Beren that is a constant battle.
Wednesday 10 July 2002
Started to get some serious contraction pain along with ‘period’ cramping through the night that actually kept me awake most of the night. Andrew called work to say he wouldn’t be in.
Contractions were regular every 30 minutes for a few hours, then nothing. It was exciting at the time (Andrew)
Thursday 11 July 2002
Contractions continued through the morning but with not much rhythm to them. Had our ante-natal appointment so went to that as normal and the midwife said it was false labour..... didn’t feel too false.
This continued on and off for next two days.
Monday 15th July 2002
Woke early with bad cramps and strange sharp pains in tummy. Ended up screaming house down for 1/2 hr around midday until Andrew could get me to the shower. Tried to sleep in afternoon for a while. The night bought more contractions that were getting stronger, and lasted all night resulting in very little sleep.
Went top hospital at 2pm and they said there were contractions happening with the pain. They monitored Kelli for an hour or so then did an internal. This revealed 1cm dilation but they said this could have been from past curettes. Nevertheless knowing that there were contractions with the pain was a relief for Kelli and once again I was getting excited, thinking this was the beginning. She was sent home with panadeine forte and temazepam. They didn’t help (Andrew)
Tuesday 16th July
Actual due date. Again contractions through the night and all day. They reached 3min apart around 7pm so we raced off to hospital. Got to hospital to find I was still only 1cm and no effacement. The midwife took it upon herself to do a stretch and sweep without consultation, it was extremely painful and I was most unhappy. Due to lack of sleep they gave me pain killers and sleeping pills and I stayed at hospital. Ended up in a bean bag on floor and dozed on and off. They said if this continued I would be exhausted and they suggested an induction. I was booked in for Thursday morning to give us a day to see if things could progress unassisted.
Once in hospital they also offered a night of morphine induced sleep in order to cope with the pain and rest up for real labour when it happened. Kelli decided against the morphine though it was fairly strongly suggested. As she wasn’t in labour they didn’t offer for us to stay but we did ask and they allowed it. Kelli used the bath early on and that was very effective in softening the pain of the contractions. In fact they nearly stopped. But once again the medication didn’t help. The first lot she actually threw up on an empty stomach but the second lot she fought through the nausea and kept them down. Not sure if they helped. She did get some sleep. In the morning they didn’t check her again. They talked about induction but I didn’t like the idea as she hadn’t slept well. They were fully booked for the morning and way so they booked for Thursday morning with breaking of waters to start with. Again she was sent home with more drugs. (Andrew)
Wednesday 17th July 2002
Arrived home from hospital armed with drugs again. Tried to relax through the day and only had mild cramping until early evening. Waters broke at 6.40pm and I took tabs and had a hot shower then went to bed. Awoke a couple of hours later with strong contractions and the night began again! Tried the TENS machine for pain relief and found it worked a bit. Tried nipple stimulation on both sides for 30 min each side and it got the contractions stronger and a little closer together, around 7minutes. A they got stronger the TENS machine electrodes decided to give up the ghost so I was suddenly alone. Waters constantly annoyed me as they hadn’t gushed but was a steady trickle that meant constant changes of pads and underwear. It got to the point where I shoved a towel between my legs.
By 3-4am I was exhausted again and tried lying on by side on cushions between contractions and getting up on hands and knees for them with Andrew rubbing hard on my lower back. This continued all morning with the contractions staying irregular and varying between 4 and 10 minutes, but increasing in strength.
Before the nipple stimulation the contractions had virtually stopped again. After the first few minutes they started again and gained strength as we continued. I am convinced this was where real labour should have kicked in. The contractions were increasing in strength and stronger than they had been, just not a consistent length of time in between. When we got to the hospital around 7.30am we found that she had dilated another centimetre only with the nearly 5hrs of labouring. At this stage we were ready for the induction. We agreed that for some reason it wasn’t happening on its own. (Andrew)
Thursday 18th July 2002
We called the birth centre at 7am and filled them in on what was happening and they advised us to go in so I could be assessed. Called both sets of parents to let them know what was happening and headed off to hospital.
Once at the birth centre they examined me to find I had only dilated to 2cm and suggested I be induced. I didn’t really want this but due to exhaustion I decided it was the best chance I had for the vaginal birth I had wanted before I became too exhausted (isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing).
They moved us across to the delivery ‘suite’ and Dr Davenport came in to put the drip in for the oxytocins. This was started around 8.30am at 40ml and the contractions hit pretty fast and strong at about every 4min. Fortunately Claire the birth centre midwife was able to find some electrodes for the TENS machine and Andrew put those on my back. After 30min they increased the drip to 80ml and instantly they started coming faster and stronger and eventually were back to back with no rest in between. I remember asking the time at 11am and telling Andrew I could only go on til 11.15am then I would have to stop and take something, this was my way of getting through the 15min in the hope I could do another 15. Claire was very helpful in getting me to concentrate on my breathing as I was panicking quite a bit. I asked for a bath in the hope that it would help the pain or at least slow down the contractions and Claire went to get it ready. Her and Andrew helped me across the hall and into the bath but it were not comfortable and I found it wasn’t wide enough as I wanted to keep my knees apart in a semi-squat. I stayed in there for about 45min and as the pain got worse I started screaming but was still conscious of trying to stay grounded so that I was now fighting this impulse. I ended up asking for gas as the pain had become intolerable at this stage. Andrew asked if I was really sure about it and I think I may have yelled abuse at him! Claire handed me the mouth piece and explained what to do. After about 3 breathes I threw it away as it made me feel as though I was suffocating. I desperately wanted to get out of the bath but with no break from contractions it was difficult to summon the energy. Eventually they got me to stand and Claire checked the baby with the sonic aid and after using the toilet and resting my legs while sitting, they got me across the hall to the ‘suite’.
I was finding it difficult to stand and ended up kneeling across a beanbag with pillows. The urge to push was coming at this stage and Claire asked if it was a choice or my body. I told her I just had to! I told them I couldn’t do this anymore but Claire assured me that this was not going to take hours and she had started getting things ready for the delivery. I was finding it hard to kneel up by now as I was so tired and my body felt like it was about to give up completely.
From my memory it was midday when Claire did an internal, she didn’t like what she found obviously so I asked her what was going on in there, knowing that Kelli wanted to know too. She4 said that after that extra 3hrs of almost constant and incredibly painful contractions the cervix was only 3cm. Kelli knew then that she could not last until 10cm and beyond to the birth so she asked the midwives her options. By this time Louise and come to double check. They offered pethidine and were discussing an epidural among themselves when Kelli screamed out “epidural”, I was thinking the same thing, because at this stage I couldn’t foresee how long it would take to deliver from this point. Claire had slowed down the drip a little before 12 but they were stilling coming hard and fast with little break and as it turned out little result. Something was going wrong and though I didn’t want to think about it in the back of my mind was the possibility of a caesarean if things didn’t progress. Before midday I was very expectant of a normal delivery, imagining the baby starting its move up the birth canal with each contraction. Now we waited for the pain relief as the contractions once again slowed in consistency and even pain, as if her body new it wasn’t working (Andrew)
I have lost track of time from here until 2pm. Claire asked if I wanted to be examined to see what was happening. I agreed as I thought if we are really close (which I thought we were) then I can go on and it will be the encouragement I need. This wasn’t to be so, I was 3cm, the cervix was only partly effaced, thick in some places and the hind-waters hadn’t broken. Claire went to get another midwife to come and see and in that time the hind-waters broke too. Louise examined me and agreed that nothing was happening. Because our birth plan had asked for no pain relief to be offered none was. I asked what the options were from here as the cervix was becoming damaged. They said the next step would be pethidine. They discussed between themselves that an epidural could be done straight away considering the circumstances. I didn’t want pethidine as it would affect the baby too much and I figured if I had to have a c/s I would need an epidural anyway. Apparently I yelled out epidural but I don’t remember. Claire turned the drip down to 60ml which slowed the contractions a bit and then went off to organise the epidural. It seemed to take forever but must have only been about 30min.
I was moved to another room and Dr Tan came in with another midwife, Trish. Gillian also came on shift and took over from Claire in this time too. Dr Tan put the epidural in my back between contractions. I remember feeling absolutely terrified while it was being done. I sat on the edge of the bed with Andrew kneeling in front of me and reassuring me. All I could think was ‘one false move and there go my legs’. At 2pm the epidural started and the drip was increased to 160ml. A monitor was attached to my belly to keep track of the baby’s heartbeat and the contractions. I tried to sleep but was too emotional and wired up to really relax. I dozed and chatted with Andrew and the midwife. I was hooked up to tubes everywhere and my left leg was ‘alive’ as was my bladder where the catheter was and I was in a little pain from that.
At 2pm Dr Tan put the drip in. I remember his final comment being “I hope I put it in the right place hahaha”. It didn’t work totally but as Kelli could no longer feel contractions I figured that it had done what was necessary and best to leave it at that rather than fiddle around with it. The midwives, after stuffing around with Kelli’s position and machines and tubes for ages put the drip up to 120ml then after a little while up to 160ml. I think that is as far as it went. Going by the monitor, which may or may not have been working correctly the contractions went up in intensity again, but then also petered off again after awhile. We didn’t talk about the labour much, just chattered away idly as the hours went slowly past. (Andrew)
Around 4pm Gillian asked if I wanted to be examined again but I declined and she let it go. At 6pm she got a phone call from Dr Davenport and said she would have to do one then so we did and found that I hadn’t progressed any further and the cervix was even more swollen. Andrew and I looked at each other and knew instantly what that meant. Gillian called the doctor back and he said he would be in straight away. A caesarean was organised. By now both of us felt relieved that this would all be over soon. I also felt completely spun out by what was happening, it didn’t seem real somehow.
During one of the several turns Kelli was subjected to by the bumbling midwife she was asked if she wanted an internal. It was still early on at this stage however she decline. Mostly because she was still feeling the invasion of the catheter, which she felt going in despite the epidural. The midwife was going to check Kelli at 6pm but at 5.30pm the doc rang and said she should have done it at 4pm so we said for her to go ahead. That was when we found the cervix had not dilated any further and was now getting rather swollen. (Andrew)
Dr Davenport came in and examined me and agreed that a caesarean was the only option as my body wasn’t responding to the oxytocins and my cervix was taking a beating from the babies’ forehead. At 7.15pm we were taken down to the theatre. I had an argument with the surgeon about the use of antibiotics as I didn’t see the point in having them for no reason and he gave in. They then wheeled me in and started topping up the epidural and prepping me. Dr Lee then informed me that I had a fever and explained that I was high risk for infection and blood poisoning so should have some antibiotics. I gave in this time as I didn’t want the baby to be at risk either. I kept asking for Andrew as he wasn’t allowed in until they were ready to begin. The anaesthetist assistant stood by me and explained everything that was going on as they had put a screen up and I couldn’t see a thing. I had asked I could watch but they said no.
Andrew was bought back in and I waited anxiously for the first cut. It felt like a pencil being dragged across my stomach. There was a lot of pressure but no pain and this took a few minutes, with running commentary from the assistant. Then it began to feel like a tug of war as they started to pull the baby out. Andrew could see around the screen but I could only imagine what was happening. Next thing I heard a cry and they were holding this blue/green creature above the screen for me to see. Andrew said it was a boy and it took a few seconds for me to find the relevant bits to confirm this. Beren Charles Schultz Fontana came into this world at 7.48pm. They quickly took him away to wipe and wrap him due to the cool temperature in the theatre. Andrew went over for a quick look and some photos and then came back to me. Gillian bought our beautiful boy to us and he was put on my chest. I cried and laughed at what was there after such a long and hard time. The grin on Andrews face is a memory I will hold forever. Beren laid there wide eyed and turning his head at all the sounds. He was so alert despite the noise and bright lights. I held him until the shivers from the epidural set in and I had to hand him back to Andrew.
The male birth centre midwife came in and explained to us how the caesarean operation would go and told us to stick up for our rights in the operating theatre. He was the best of the lot I reckon, putting us at ease and assuring us that it would all work out for the best. I was the last person allowed in the OR however and while I was waiting for them to set up I sat in my chair and couldn’t help wondering they would just bring me a baby at the end of it all. I finally did get to go in and take my place at the head of the table with Kelli. They seemed to take forever to cut through the flesh to get to the baby and then there was the pulling and tugging. I couldn’t see much and concentrated as much if not more on the beloved mother. I did see him come out, pulled by the surgeons’ hands on both sides of his head. The hair looked matt black and was plastered on his head from all the birth juices. Then came the rest of the body and from the ribs down he was covered in poo. I could just make out his balls, which was good because I guess the shit would have covered up a girl and I would have been left wondering. Then the doctor decided Kelli would like to see also so he leaned over the screen and showed the dripping Beren to her. I said it was a boy and amongst other words I heard Kelli say his name. I was reluctant to leave Kelli at all, even while the baby was being cleaned but they called me over for a photo. I came straight back and Beren was soon handed over. Kelli held him mostly until she tired and we watched and talked I felt a wonderful loving glow. For all the effort and pain there was no question that this moment was one in a million. Never to be repeated. What had led up to it had to happen and therefore it was all good and proper and fated. I was in the moment with my son and Kelli. All was well and good and perfect. We managed to keep the baby with us the whole time after that. They talked about taking him up to the nursery to get weighed etc but I didn’t let him go. (Andrew)
It seemed to take forever for them to finish sewing me up and cleaning me up. Andrew was whizzed off and they wheeled me up to recovery soon after. Beren was put straight to my breast with as much skin to skin as possible. He was weighed and measured much later in our room. He came in at 8.8lb and 51cm long and 37cm head circumference. Gillian and the other staff tried to follow our birth plan as much as they could and the fact that they respected our wishes was appreciated.
The mode of arrival of Beren wasn’t as I imagined or wanted. Even though I was open to the fact that this may happen it was still a shock and will take time to get over. I do feel cheated and at times feel that someone just handed me a baby and “here this is yours” as I did not feel him come from me.