Three weeks ago we welcomed our sweet baby girl into this world. It is amazing how time flies, it only feels like yesterday that I was heavily pregnant, yet it's strange to think of a time when we didn't have her with us. Matt has had the last 3 weeks off work on paternity leave so we've enjoyed some precious time together, creating new and beautiful memories as a family of four.
Today I wanted to share Everly's birth story, which was so very different to the calm birth I'd envisioned. It was fast, intense and traumatic - a precipitate labour - a term which I was blissfully unaware of until it happened to me. A world apart from Henry's birth, and relaying it here will be cathartic for me. I never shared Henry's birth story on the blog, as it was a sacred time that allowed us to heal somewhat after the heartache of delivering William and Noah, knowing that they would not survive. It was a natural birth, without gas and air or an epidural. It was calm, controlled. I breathed through the increasingly intense contractions, slowly and steadily, keeping focused. Everly's birth was also completely free of pain relief, with labour only lasting for 2 hours instead of the 10 it took for Henry to arrive into the world, yet the intensity of it meant I would gladly choose a longer labour again.
This is our story, her story...
November 20, 2015
8 lbs 3 oz
The day of Everly's due date arrived on Friday 20th November, along with our 40 week check with our OB. We had our usual biophysical profile scan done, which checked how our baby girl was doing, then the non stress test, which also reassured us she was doing well. We arranged to have an induction on the following Monday, before our OB checked to see if I was dilated at all and told me I was at 2cm. She joked that the threat of an induction can often bring labour on - who knew she would be right! After our appointment, Matt and I went for a walk around our neighborhood, enjoying the sunshine before he headed back to work.
When Matt arrived home at 5.30pm, I was resting on the sofa, enjoying watching Henry have a wild time running around with his granny and grandad. When I mentioned to Matt that I'd felt some period-pain type cramps, he asked if I thought I was in labour, and I answered that I was unsure. Little did we know that just two and a half hours later, we would be holding our baby girl in our arms. Around 6pm, the uncertainty had left and I knew I was in labour, as I was having regular contractions with definite stops and starts that I was able to time on my pregnancy app. Matt called our OB and she told us to come to the hospital. Just after putting Henry to bed at 7pm, my waters broke - a slow trickle rather than the sudden gush I'd experienced with the twins and Henry.
Between my waters breaking and getting into the car to make our way to the hospital, the pain level and frequency of the contractions sped up at an alarming rate - from being comfortable just an hour earlier to contractions so painful I was unable to talk through them. We arrived at the hospital and entered the waiting room, ringing through to the ward to let them know. And then we waited... and waited. I was hunched over from the pain, wishing they would hurry up and let us through so I could have an epidural as planned and relax a little. My contractions were coming close together - I remember feeling a flicker of concern that I'd had 5 or 6 whilst waiting there for 10 minutes or so. Still nobody came to get us, so Matt rang through again and warned them my contractions were very close together. We waited some more and I was getting increasingly frustrated, knowing I needed antibiotics on an IV for at least 4 hours before birth if they were to prevent Group B Strep from passing to the baby. At last someone came to collect me; thankfully with a wheelchair, because at this point I could barely move from the pain. I was taken to triage, where a nurse handed me a gown and told me to undress. I don't think she was expecting me to do so right there and then in front of her, but the pain was so severe I wanted to move things on as quickly as possible, so I'd stripped off in a matter of seconds.
Then, much to my horror, it was on to the admin side of things. An endless list of questions, so trivial and meaningless, which should have already been known. Then an error on the system, further delaying me being checked to see how dilated I was. The nurse had no sense of urgency, no concern for my pain levels or interest in checking the wellbeing of our baby with foetal monitoring. Matt was repeatedly telling her that I needed antibiotics as soon as possible as I'd tested positive for Group B Strep, and that not only had my waters already broken, but we suspected there'd been meconium present. Still she slowly meandered around the room, as if I wasn't writhing in pain just a few feet away. Matt began to answer the questions for me, I was in too much pain to talk, my contractions had just a few seconds break between them and I was struggling. Until the nurse said to Matt, "I need her to answer," and I wanted to slap her for being so ridiculous.
15 minutes later and still neither the baby or I had been checked. I was tired of waiting.
"I want an epidural," I muttered between contractions.
Then the words I couldn't believe I was hearing...
"We have to check you're in labour first," she replied.
And it was then that the panic rose in me as I realised that this woman did not understand what was happening to me, that time was running out, that this all consuming pain that had swiftly descended upon me would not be relieved. The contractions were on top of each other, one after the next, relentless. The slow, controlled breathing that had me labouring peacefully with Henry was rendered useless in this situation. The pain had me curled into a ball, clutching Matt's chest into me. I began to shake uncontrollably, and I found myself murmuring desperate pleads. "Someone help me. I need help. Why won't anyone help me?" I felt out of control and completely alone in a world of pain.
"I need to push," I said with panic, as the uncontrollable urge to bear down took over my body. And finally, FINALLY, this woman took a look between my legs and saw our baby girl's head, and it dawned on her that not only was I truly in labour, I was about to have this baby in a matter of minutes.
No time for an epidural, no time for an IV, no time for the antibiotics which would help prevent my baby from contracting Group B Strep from me during the birth. She pressed the emergency call button. Suddenly there were people filling the tiny triage room, voices urgently discussing where to take me, the words, "she won't make it there on time," and my bed was quickly being wheeled out into the corridor and into a delivery room.
Thankfully, we made it into the delivery room and the doctors and nurses were frantically trying to gown up and get everything ready, all the while telling me to to puff rather than push. As soon as they were ready, my feet were in stirrups and I was given the go ahead to push. Although the pain was horrendous, it was a relief to be in the final stage - I knew the end was in sight which meant the agony would be over. The white hot pain washed over me each time a contraction rolled in. There was mention of an episiotomy, another voice answering that there wouldn't be time. The doctor was getting her instruments ready as fast as she could, but it was too late. After a total of just three contractions and six pushes later, our daughter was born. A second degree tear, but sheer relief once her head was out. And then she was in their hands, our tiny darling girl, her throat being cleared with a bulb syringe so she could let out that beautiful cry we'd all been waiting for.
The whirlwind of what we had just experienced stilled for a moment as she was placed on my chest, that cherished moment I'd been waiting for. We stayed together like that for a long time, her and I, chest to chest, the rhythm of our heartbeats against each other. She found her way to my breast entirely on her own, latching on and suckling as if she'd been doing it forever.
A few hours later, Everly was taken to the nursery to have her stats checked and Matt and I were left alone in our room. It was then that the overwhelming shock and trauma of everything that had just taken place had time to settle on my mind, bringing with it the sting of tears.
Henry meets Everly
The following day, Henry came to meet our newest family member. What a precious moment - our children meeting for the very first time. I knew that Henry would adore her, and from the moment he laid eyes on her, he has loved her. Kisses, cuddles and strokes of the hair were given in abundance and his face lit up with a smile when she opened her eyes. I am so excited to watch them grow up together and develop a special relationship.
With the speed and trauma of Everly's birth, recovery this time around has taken a lot longer than with all the boys. After William and Noah, I was physically fine and able almost immediately. With Henry, it was a few days of pain after an episiotomy before I felt back to normal again. This time around, it's taken a few weeks to feel as though I'm on the road to recovery.
I was discharged from the hospital 2 days after giving birth (Everly needed to be monitored for signs of Group B Strep for 48 hours as I hadn't had time to receive antibiotics during labour), and instructed not to lift anything heavier than our newborn, not to drive for 2 weeks, and I should only walk up a flight of stairs once a day max, so it was difficult being unable to care for Henry and Everly in the way I wanted to. Simply getting in and out of bed took great care and was very painful, and walking was difficult for at least a week - I had to take it extremely slowly.
Three weeks on and I'm feeling good again, and it's lovely to be able to play around with Henry again and be more active in my involvement with him. Everly has taken to breastfeeding really well, just as Henry did, and I'm thankful that I've had no pain or difficulties with getting her to latch on. I'm hoping to continue breastfeeding for at least 6 months, preferably a year, it is such a beautiful and bonding experience between mother and baby.
Thank you so much for all of the kind words and congratulations over the last few weeks. We are so overjoyed and thankful for another blessing in our family, and I'm looking forward to sharing our journey as a family of four.
Labels: baby, birth, Everly Rose, rainbow baby