August 12th 2015, my goddaughter and niece, Mollys 4th birthday. It was looking like there would be a strong possibility that my daughter and niece would share the same birthday. If not, Ruby’s birthday would be a day after Mollys – funny, as my birthday is actually the day before Mollys mam, my sister Michelle. As I ate the breakfast that was served to me in the delivery suite – a banana, toast and my one coffee of the day – I remember thinking how lovely it would be if Molly and Ruby shared the same birthday and if not, how cool it would be if their birthdays fell in the same way that both myself and my sisters did. I also remember thinking “I wonder how Michelle’s attempt at the Doc.Mac Stuffins cake went that Molly had asked for”. Ever since I made Mollys birthday cake for her 3rd birthday – a three tier pink castle – Molly had requested that I make her 4th birthday party cake. A Doc. Mac Stuffins Lambie Cake. Something I had happily agreed too – I had been looking forward to the challenge that making this cake would bring. However, two days before my inducement, when it was pretty obvious that I wasn’t going anywhere until my bundle of joy was born, I got a panicked phone call from my sister asking “how the hell am I going to make a Lambie cake?!”. I had every faith that she could pull it off and sent her some pictures for inspiration, along with some notes on how I was planning to do it. (In the end she bought one). Ultimately I missed Mollys party as it was on the 12th, my inducement date. That is also why Andy was later than the agreed time of 10am, he was at the party dropping off Mollys presents! He rocked up at 11am when everything was well and truely kicking off.
So, after my breakfast, I was hooked up to every monitor possible and placed on a drip to kick start the labour. About twenty minutes after that my waters were broken. Let’s just say that that was something I wasn’t prepared for! I just thought whenever your waters broke that that was it. Wrong. Everyime you move, there’s more. It just doesn’t stop. I found it so uncomfortable, and trying to get off the bed and to the bathroom was a nightmare. At this stage I foolishly remember thinking “gosh, this isn’t too bad, I’ve no pains at all yet”. But, I spoke too soon. Shorty after this I started to feel little pains that felt like they were traveling up from my pelvis and into the centre of my stomach. Very quickly the pains intensified with very little time between each contraction. I was adement that I didn’t want to be lying in bed, so the best that my lovely mid-wife, Sonya, could do for me was place me on a Pilates ball sitting right under my monitor. This did help a little. At this stage I was starting to worry as Andy hadn’t shown up yet and things seemed to be moving faster than I expected.
Eventually, an hour later than we had agreed, Andy arrived. I was so relieved and I immediately felt a little relaxed. Well, as much as could be expected. But the contractions were starting to get really bad and the position I was sitting in wasn’t having a great affect on Ruby’s heart rate. So, much to my disappointment, I was moved up onto the bed in a upright seated position and given gas and air. As a result of the gas and air, the next 6-7 hours are kind of a blur. I remember parts of it. I remember constant pain and thoughts of “God, I didn’t think it would be this hard!” Along with, “Orla, you can’t get an epidural or else you’ll loose the bet with Andy and have to fork out €100!”. I remember having no space between my contractions to regroup, all this time I was still only at 2-4 cm. It got so unbearable that Andy had to politely ask them to turn the speed of the drip down. They did, however I don’t remember it making much of a difference. So eventually after eight hours on gas and air I hit a wall. I just realised that at 5cm, it was only going to get harder and more unbearable. So I asked for an epidural. By the look on Andys face when I asked for it, he was relieved. The pain was tremendous. I asked him if I had to pay the bet and of course he said no. I also couldn’t believed that I had actually asked for epidural. The thought of a needle going into my spine terrified me. But the pain was worse.
It took what seemed like forever for the anaesthesiologist to arrive. When she did, I sat up on the bed and did everything they asked me to. I wasn’t allowed to use the gas and air when they were administering the epidural and I wasn’t aloud to move if I got any contractions. Of course, I got two huge and very painful ones during the procedure. It was awful trying to stay still. But once it was in, they got me to lie down on my side while it worked it’s way to the lower part of my body and then the other side so that it would spread out evenly. They told me stop using the gas and air at this time too. It was then that Andy filled me in on all the crazy stuff I had been saying for the past eight hours while drugged up on gas and air. Apparently I was half out of it, when not screaming the place down. And having conversations with imaginary people who weren’t in the room. To be honest, I half remember some of it. What I remember most is kind of half dreaming and having a conversation in my dream and then coming through a little and trying to continue the so called converstion with Andy! Funny when you think about it, but also very embarrassing.
Now that the epidural was in, I really thought it was going to be plain sailing until they told me it was time to push. I really thought that I would be able to sit up and read a magazine or something. Again, I was so wrong. I was pain free for less than an hour and then I started to get pressure pains from the contractions which were every bit as painful as the contractions themselves. I couldn’t believe it. I was still at 5cm and remained there for a very long time while the pressure pains where at their worst. I begged the nurses to turn up my epidural drip. So while I waited for the anaesthesiologist to come back and access me, the nurses put me back on the gas and air which helped hugely. When the anaesthesiologist arrived, I remember she came up really close to my face, with such pity in her eyes and asked me in a really sobby way,”so are you in a lot of pain?” – I nearly knocked her out! Of course I was! She could hear me screaming with the pain. Why did she think she had been called back up? Then she asked me if I was using my top up button for the epidural and I said no, because I was saving it for when I really needed it. Well, she looked at me as if I had ten heads. Apparently there was a button I could press every 20 minutes to top up the pain relief – but only to a certain level so that you could never accidentally overdose. Now, I remember the nurse saying something to me about that when I was still under the effects of the gas and air. However, in my dosed up state I misheard her and thought you could only use it the one time. I have a really clear memory of thinking – jeez, I better save that so! Needless to say, I was slightly embarrassed at my mistake and so annoyed with myself. Andy quickly took the button and spent every twenty minutes until it was time to push, pressing the top-up button. I have to say it did help a little, especially paired with the gas and air. I could still feel the pressure pains but they much easier to bare.
At some stage between 12am and 3am on the 13th, my temperature spiked and the nurses started flustering around me and I had to be started on antibiotics via a drip. Apparently this is something that can happen when you’ve been in labour for so long with broken waters. I’ve since been told that you ideally shouldn’t be in labour for more than 16 hours with your waters broken as it isn’t the best for baby, hence why my temperature was spiking as I was in the 16th hour of a dry labour. At this stage I also heard the nurses start to talk about a Caesarian section. Knowing what I know now, they probably should have gone ahead and done the section at that stage. But for some reason they didn’t. Two hours after this, after 18 hours of a dry labour, it was time to push. I was exhausted, but at the same time it felt like the time had flown by. So the midwifes helped me into position and I started pushing. They also turned down my epidural slightly so that I could feel my contractions to help me push with more efficiency. I didn’t do too bad, I had her out in 40 minutes. However, it could have been longer if the lovely midwife from Cavan hadn’t of come in. You could tell she had been a midwife for years and new exactly what she was doing. She was so confident…and scary! In a good way. She told me to stop screaming, to put my chin on my chest and to hold onto my legs tighter. I did. You could tell that there would be no messing with her. And about 5 minutes after, my beautiful Ruby Rose was welcomed into the world at 3.13am on August 2015 weighting 8.11. In that moment I just remember feeling a huge tidal wave of relief. That she was here, the labour was over and that I actually did it! I got to hold her straight away for skin to skin contact. It was absolutely the best moment in my life. Love at first sight is a real thing.
The midwifes took her to weigh her and check her Apgar score. Once they had a little nappy on her they asked if Andy would like to hold her. He said no! He was too scared. But between myself and the midwife, we got him to hold her for a few minutes. All the while I was delivering my placenta – which I forgot had to be done! I was also being hooked up to yet another drip. It was something to make sure that my uterus contracted correctly after the delivery due to the position and size of my fibroid. Ruby was then given back to me so that I could have a go at breastfeeding her. It kind of worked, but not really (the main problem I faced during my breastfeeding journey – a story for another blog).
Eventually I was given some tea and toast and then myself and Ruby were wheeled down to our ward. Andy was told to go home. Even though I was absolutely exhausted, I was terrified to go to sleep as I wanted to make sure Ruby was alright. But eventually I passed out somewhere around 5am. At 7am I was woken by the nurses and told that I needed to feed Ruby so that they could check her blood sugars. Something that is routine when the mother has had gestational diabetes. So I sat up and gave it ago. Something that I horribly failed at. Ruby was roaring and I couldn’t get her to latch on. To be honest, I had no idea how to do it. So I rang the bell and one of the nurses came in. Whoever she was, she was lovely. I completely broke down crying. I was tired, overwhelmed and upset that I couldn’t feed Ruby. I was also worried because she needed to be fed so she could have her sugars checked. I had already texted my mam to come up to the hospital. I wasn’t coping very well really. I felt like I had been hit by a bus. So when she got to the hospital she suggested to just give Ruby formula so that she could be checked out and continue to try breastfeeding. I had been thinking about doing that anyway, so I was delighted that she was also suggesting it. So that morning my mammy stayed with me, helped me shower, change and feed Ruby. Like any good Irish mammy, she looked after me well. Andy came back at about twelve with his mam. Everyone took turns with Ruby and helped me out. I am so glad my mam was there, as she was the one who spotted one or two issues with Ruby and mentioned her concerns to every doctor who came to do routine checks on her. Thankfully she did, as I don’t think I would have noticed Ruby’s blue arms and legs as soon as mam did. But I will go into that story in my final birth story post. We had a long and scary three weeks ahead of us. But thankfully with the support of each other and family, we got through it.
Until the next blog.
The Irish Mammy x