I'm not really sure how to describe labour or the process of being induced. But I will, because one day a mother in the same position as me may be reading this and may be scared or feeling anxious about what to expect. It's not just any labour and delivery, it's the delivery of a baby way too small and early to survive in the world, the delivery of a baby born sleeping who had passed away in the comfort of their mummy's tummy as they listen to her heartbeat and the lovingly words of his parents.
We were originally sent to a women's health ward within the hospital but were left waiting in a kitchenette as they hurriedly tried to locate a bed for me (I remember standing outside the kitchenette as two male workers stood inside and discussed their working conditions - it would seem the world was still moving forward, whilst we stood still).
Eventually we were informed that the procedure was going to have to be started in the birthing unit due to no beds being available in the ward. We understood this and to be honest preferred the privacy and getting to know the amazing midwife who would deliver our boy.
We were in birthing suite 3 and our midwife, Bronwyn introduced herself lovingly. This is a photo of a quote that was on the wall of the room I would deliver Sebastian in:
I was induced by a doctor who inserted two tablets internally in me at 8.30am. I had to lay still and flat for the next half hour. I was told that I could be waiting for a long time and that every three hours from this point, they would provide me with another dose until he arrived. I suddenly started getting really bad cramps about 45 minutes after that. It was worse than period cramps, but I think it was worse because it was constant. Not to mention my heart was breaking into a million little pieces as the reality of the situation began to hit me. I took one last photo of me being pregnant, the last day Sebastian's body spent in my tummy:
About an hour later, my aunty, mum and her partner arrived. Not long after that my dad and step mum came too. They all sat in the room with me and James. They were forced to make small talk until the labour progressed whilst I frequented the bathroom due to a side effect of the medication.
My Aunty informed the midwife that my cramps had started and she asked me to rate them out of 10. I found this really hard because they were worse than I had ever experienced but I knew they were nothing to what was to come and I wasn't sure whether it was as bad as it was because it came on so suddenly and without warning. I gave it a 7 and the midwife left to organise a dose of pethidine for me (I was able to choose pain medication as there was no risk to our baby any more, however my selection was limited as I'm allergic to morphine and I really hadn't done any research on my options or attended any birthing classes yet - let's remember I was only 20w2d at the time).
It would be another hour or so before the pethidine would be administered and to be honest I can't remember whether I was given that before or after the second dose of the other medication, but they both were administered at some point and I became really sleepy in between the cramps. The cramps were much stronger after that.
Lunch had arrived at 12 and I couldn't eat, my cramps were too bad and I had no appetite, especially for hospital food (it was baked veggies and roast beef with delicious mango mousse for dessert - which I ate at 2am). My family took turns at getting something to eat as i laid in the double bed with my husband lying next to me who drifted in and out of sleep (we hadn't been sleeping very well at all this week, so I let him rest). My cramps were getting worse and I found a heat pack really helpful. However I had a fever and the midwife was becoming concerned as my temperature reached 39 and I was shivering. My parents took turns sitting next to me, holding my hand and stroking my head. In between contractions I would cry over what was happening and I would keep telling Sebastian how much I loved him and how sorry I was. By this stage i was feeling numb from the drugs and the midwife was giving me antibiotics and taking blood tests to check me for infection.
By 1.30pm I was declared as in labour and the midwife started prepping the room and warning me about feeling like I needed to push or use the toilet. I was given gas to help with the pain - I would struggle with this as it dried my mouth and lips and didn't feel like it helped that much - when I look back I realise the times it didn't work was because I wasn't inhaling hard enough or was breathing too fast on it.
My family were instructed to buzz the midwife back if these symptoms started.. After a few false alarms, she was eventually buzzed back and supported me to use the toilet (well a bed pan on top of the toilet) so she could see what would come out - I believe my water had broken at this point as a gush of liquid filled the pan..
The sensation to push came not long after (although I wouldn't say it was what I expected, it was more so if I started pushing I felt relieved from the cramps, it's not that I actually felt like pushing myself) and I alerted the midwife that something had come out. By this stage my dad, step mum and mums partner had left the room and I was surrounded by my husband, mum and aunty. We had previously discussed that it was just my husband who was to be in the room, but honestly we were both upset and I didn't care if they stayed anymore (my husband was glad they stayed as he didn't know how to support me whilst keeping his own anxieties in check). A second midwife had also appeared to support Bronwyn and I was given another dose of pethidine (which is a needle in your butt cheek -FYI)
So what came out? I wasn't sure as I had no idea how big the baby would be at this early in gestation, it felt significant and with the looks the midwives were giving each other and the amount of time they assessed what it was, I became a little concerned (and my husband had a panicked look on his face, he was really worried about something happening to me, especially as we were given statistics of women dying during labour previously). It turns out it was part of the umbilical chord. It had broken inside and parts of it had come out before Sebastian. It was clear that Sebastian had definitely passed as he was no longer receiving oxygen. This was repeated a couple of times and eventually I just kept pushing.
The room was pretty quiet, my mum and aunty were telling me I am ok and explained what was happening. They held the gas close to my mouth as I laid with my eyes closed holding my husbands hand. I remember thinking how much I wish this wasn't true and how much I wish I could just have another week being pregnant. I hated that I was in this position.
At 3.24pm, the exact same time I was born, I gave one more push and little Sebastian came out and entered the world sleeping. He didn't come out in a slow, rehearsed way you see in the movies with full term sized babies, he sort of shot out and landed on the bed between my legs, splashing the midwives with amniotic fluid. You never see a baby get delivered in a movie where there is no crying.. Delivering a baby in silence is more heartbreaking than anything I can remember.
A few minutes passed and I couldn't see what was going on, the room was completely silent as i tried to sit up and look. I watched the faces of my family as they looked at Sebastian's lifeless body put into a little dish and covered with a cloth. Their eyes filled with tears, they tried to reassure me that I did well and that it was over and he was ok. But I knew they had seen him, I knew their hearts were broken as they watched their son, grandson and great nephew leave the room with the midwife. I felt pretty empty. I had envisioned my son being born and having my husband cut the chord and me nursing him on my heart as we said hello. But none of that was able to happen and the midwife warned me he had suffered some trauma to his head.
The cramps came to a complete stop and the midwife put a needle in my leg to ensure the placenta came out. It was only the midwife and my husband now in the room as my family decided to wait outside as I was prepped for surgery to remove the stubborn placenta. My temperature was still high and the midwife's concern now was my health and safety. I really didn't want surgery, I wanted to meet and spend as much time with my son before they would have to take him away.
Thankfully, 45 minutes later the placenta arrived. But I still had to await any more retained material due to the chord being in pieces. I was eventually cleared from needing surgery as everything appeared in tact - thank god! And now I just had to wait for the midwife to prepare Sebastian's body so that we could meet him for the first and last time.
The room emptied and James and I were left for an hour lying on the bed reflecting on everything that had just happened. I tried to prepare myself as best as I could, I needed to look perfect to meet my little man and all I wanted at that point was to hold him and tell him how much we love him.