Hail Ceasar - A Birth Story With a Happy Ending
How an emergency cesarean saved my baby's life
“He’s engaged nicely”, “He’s positioned really low down in the pelvis”, “It’ll be a text book natural delivery” – my gynae’s words echoed in my head as I felt the next contraction. I have to be honest, the contractions weren’t all that bad. This was probably due to the fact that I’d opted for an epidural after the first ten minutes of labour. It’s not that I’m a coward, it’s just that I don’t believe in going through all that pain if you don’t have to. I mean who has root canal these days without an anesthetic? Get my drift?
Gut wrenching, doubling over, uncontrollable pain is no longer necessary, thanks to modern medicine. Oh, I’m as natural as the next girl. I wanted the whole natural birth thing, I wanted my partner to cut the cord, to cradle the little guy in my arms immediately after delivery and to put him to my breast in the first half hour of his life when his latching reflex is the strongest, I wanted all that. But alas, it was not meant to be.
I was six centimetres dilated and in the middle of the latest Jilly Cooper when I noticed a difference in the baby’s heart rate. The squiggly line on the monitor next to me was dropping at an alarming rate. Jilly Cooper went out the window and I yelled for my partner, the doctor, the nurse, anyone who was in the nearby vicinity. Something was wrong, I could sense it. The healthy rate for a baby’s heart beat lies between 120 and 160. I had been plodding along at a normal 140. Like he’d said, text book stuff.
The next thing I know, the monitor is beeping and flashing and showing 80 in big red numerals. The sister comes speeding in and hoists me very inelegantly (bare in mind that my legs are useless at this stage) onto my side to try and shift the baby’s position. It didn’t work. The beeping got slower and the 80 changed to a 79, then 78…
I started to panic. The nurse shoved an oxygen mask over my face and told me to breathe deeply. I sucked desperately knowing that my baby’s life depended on how much oxygen he got now.
The gynae was called and he luckily worked in the building and was there in about five minutes. I was unhooked from various drips and plugs and sensors and the epidural in my back was squirted up to its full impact. Up until then it had been a fairly mild dose as I wasn’t too far advanced yet.
Through my haze of panic, I heard the words ‘emergency caesar’ and ‘now’, in rapid succession. No! This wasn’t part of the plan.
“Where’s the husband? Get the husband,” someone shouted, and I just remember trying to say he’s at Pick ‘n Pay buying a microwave but it came out as a hyperventilated gurgle. We’d suddenly realised that in order to use a microwave steriliser one needed to have a microwave.
Suddenly I was surrounded by bright lights and nurses and one of them asked me if I’d been shaved. The Brazilian that I’d had the day before in anticipation for the natural birth was removed with one practised flick of the razor and I was left looking luck a plucked chicken. Oh well, no time for my delicate sensibilities. My baby was in trouble. By now I was thinking, ‘how long has it been?’ ‘Can he still breathe?’
An anaesthetist and paediatrician appeared out of nowhere and then I heard my boyfriend’s voice and he was dressed in a green robe with a white mask across his face. It was suddenly all too ridiculous and I wanted to laugh but afraid that if I did it would turn into hysteria, I averted my eyes and focused on the blurred image of what was happening that I could see reflected in the bright silver light above me.
I heard my gynae’s voice, calm despite the chaos around us, “Ready? Okay let’s go…”
Then he put his head down and cut…
I remember holding my breath thinking ‘please let him be okay’. It felt like forever since the monitor had plummeted and the race to save my baby’s life began.
The tugging was horrendous, I felt like my insides were being ripped out of me. I suppose in reality that’s exactly what was happening. I groaned and tried to hang on but the pulling and shoving was too much. Tears started pouring down my face. The anaesthetist appeared behind my head with a gas mask.
“Take a deep breath,” he instructed fitting the mask over my nose and face.
I did as I was told and the last thing I remember hearing before blackness enveloped me was the welcome sound of my baby crying.
Later, when I came round I was told that my baby’s umbilical cord had got stuck between the baby’s head and my pelvic bone, so as I dilated and the baby moved further into the birth canal, so his oxygen became more and more restricted. He wouldn’t have made it if not for the quick action of the gynaecologist and the nursing staff.
I didn’t get to hold my baby in my arms immediately after he was born, his first feed was from a bottle and the first person to hold him was my boyfriend. I only got that honour 12 hours later when I came down to earth from all the morphine that they’d put me on. I decided then and there against any more opiate painkillers and opted instead for high doses of Stopain, which let me tell you aren’t nearly as effective.
I felt like I’d been rammed by a train but I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the doctors and nurses that had saved my baby’s life.
As I held the little fellow in my arms, I knew that it was all worth it and I’d go through it all again just to experience this moment of happiness.
I can’t deny that I felt cheated and disappointed in the way that it had all turned out, but I also realised that there was nothing I could have done to prevent it and if I allowed myself to feel bitterness and anger, the only person I was hurting was myself. I decided to accept the way things had happened and to put the experience behind me, and to thank God that everything turned out alright in the end.