Monday, 5 May 2014

Addison's Birth Story

I thought I would write this down, before I forget the details and it becomes a haze in my mind. I tried to keep it relatively PG and also give a bit of background leading up to the birth. 

Addison's first photo

I have high blood pressure. I think it is hereditory since doctors can’t find anything else wrong with me. It’s high, but not quite high enough to medicate long term. But since it is high, it is called ‘hypertension’ and as soon as I found out I was pregnant I was classed as High Risk and referred to specialists at Christchurch Womens Hospital for regular appointments alongside my usual midwife care.

My pregnancy was pretty textbook, and my blood pressure remained stable. Extra scans showed that Addison was growing well, smack bang on the median line for growth. However, when I got to the 36 week mark I had a big dizzy spell and was admitted to the hospital after a blood pressure check from the midwife revealed my blood pressure was reading pretty high.

I was sent to the assessment room in the birthing suite and hooked up to the CTG monitor to make sure Addison was doing ok. All was good there. I also had a million blood pressure checks which left me with pinch marks all over my arms. The consensus overnight was that I had no other symptoms of pre-eclampsia so I was put on some blood pressure medication and sent home.

Proud Mummy, Addison around 3 hours old

At the routine specialist appointment the next week, there was a big jump in the level of protein in my urine, another symptom of pre-eclampsia. I was sent for another scan and more CTG monitoring. The specialists decided that because I was presenting with more than one symptom of pre-eclampsia, and I was past the 37 week mark, that they would induce me on Friday, 2 days after that appointment. It made me bang on 38 weeks which I was happy with. I know induction isn’t the preferred way to go but I have been aware that this was probably going to be the outcome from early on so I was mentally prepared for this fact.

On Friday we turned up at the hospital armed with a tonne of stuff to keep us occupied, as well as things we would need since I wouldn’t be leaving the hospital until I had a baby. The first step in my induction process was the insertion of a thing called a pessary which is a strip that contains a slow-release hormone called prostaglandin which helps the cervix soften and start to dilate. It gets inserted and left there for 24 hours and if nothing happens then they insert a new one until things start moving. We were prepared for the long haul of waiting even though waiting two or more days seemed so difficult.

The day was spent with me resting and Dave and I watching a lot of DVDs inbetween regular blood pressure checks and CTG monitoring. Around 7pm that night I began having some little niggles that felt like someone pressing down next to my hip bones and pulling in tightly then letting go. These happened about 3 times per half hour. I mentioned it to the on duty midwife and she told me to wait until they were less than 5 minutes apart and I couldn’t talk between them.

While I was getting those niggles and during one of my CTG monitoring times, they noticed that Addison’s heart rate had dropped significantly. This got them on high alert and I was put on the monitor full time. It consists of two elastic straps that go around your tummy and they hold in place two large round disks. One goes down low so it can pick up baby’s heart rate and the other goes at the top of your uterus to measure contractions. It also picks up baby movements as well. It prints all the information out on a graph as time goes by to give a picture of what is happening in my tummy.

Squishy Addison less than 12 hours old
During this process I was moved from the assessment room to a birthing suite. They also stuck an IV line in my hand – which was almost more painful than labour! I didn’t have anything put in it but it was just to get me ready in case things ramped up. I had to have another internal examination to see if the hormone was working and far out it was painful! I freaked out the midwives and doctor because I was screaming so loud and had to try some gas to get through it. It didn’t work for me though but we got through it in the end. The result? No change to my cervix. No dilation at all. My theory about the pain is that it was caused by the hormone and did something to my bits to make them extra sensitive. The positive from that examination is that the doctor must have pushed the hormone strip back into its proper place because after that my contractions got stronger.

After a couple of hours I was able to be taken off the monitor and I hung out in the lazyboy to try and get some sleep through the contractions. Yeah right. Dave was in a chair next to me and he drifted off and managed to sleep for an hour or so while I squeezed his hand through the contractions. They were relatively painful and strong enough for me to need to concentrate to get through them but still not strong enough to be classed as established labour.

Sadly I needed to have another internal examination because of the way I was progressing and I was dreading it. I sucked on the gas to no avail and screamed the place down again. The result this time? 2cm dilated! I had mixed feelings, all that effort for 2 lousy cm but also stoked that things were progressing and my body was beginning to do its own thing. At this point the doctor recommended that I have an epidural because they would need to examine me at least a couple more times and the contractions were getting a lot stronger and there was a chance the labour could go on for another 12+ hours. I didn’t think I could handle things going at this pace for too much longer so I agreed to the epidural.

There was another lady in labour that was on the verge of needing to be rushed into theatre so I was put second in line because mine wasn’t urgent. By this stage my contractions were getting intense. I was doing pretty well and able to control my breathing through them but I was starting to make a decent amount of noise though them. I was then told that the staff were about to change shifts and I would have to wait another 45min or so until the new anaesthesiologist arrived and got ready for me. They had also called my midwife at this point and she arrived and started getting Dave organised with cold flannels for my head and other bits and pieces.

I was half sitting and half lying on the end of the hospital bed when I felt some pressure that reminded me of the baby kicking. I felt a small pop and then I felt like I had wet myself and realised it was my waters breaking. I told my midwife and she was surprised but glad because it meant my body was progressing by itself.

Not too long after that I was sitting on the edge of the bed leaning on Dave and yelling through each contraction. I was able to start off breathing through but then I lost control and felt like I needed to push. I yelled that fact to the midwife and her and Dave were trying to get me to fight the urge and breathe. Because there was no way I was fully dilated at that point right? I tried a bunch of different positions but none would help me fight the urge to push so I ended up on my back on the hospital bed but sitting up a bit. I was yelling for the anaesthesiologist and my midwife decided to do a quick internal check to make sure I wasn’t dilated so we knew where we stood. I wasn’t bothered about this one because my contractions were pretty painful by then. It turns out I didn’t have to worry because my midwife had a super surprised expression on her face and said that she could feel the baby’s head pretty far down the birth canal and I could go ahead and push because I was about to have a baby!

So all thought of epidurals went out the window and I got to fully focus on pushing. I went for the gas but my midwife told me to stop using it so I could fully focus. The pushing part of labour I wouldn’t really describe as painful. It was a lot of effort but I could feel that my body was achieving something and the contractions helped everything along. I’m not sure how many contractions it took from that point to have Addison crowning but it was only a few. Dave was able to watch her come out and was absolutely overwhelmed. I was too focussed on pushing but I remember the look of amazement on his face and the excitement and encouragement in his voice as I pushed her head out.

Slowly opening her eyes
The coolest part was being in two phases of mind. One was so focussed on pushing and doing what my body wanted but there was another part that could hear the support from the people in the room and the instructions they were giving me. I was told to pant and push gently and also to hold the head in between contractions rather than let her go back. I found this surprisingly easy and it was no time until her head was out. The worst of the pain was when her face came out. There are some pointy bits there like her nose!

The next push was to get the rest of her body out and I was told to give a huge push and then it was the weirdest feeling ever. She came out along with a tonne of fluid and my tummy felt empty. I couldn’t feel much of anything happening down there so I just relaxed and breathed while they did whatever they needed to do. The cord was around her neck and they needed to cut it pretty quick so that happened and then Addison was put on my chest. I was in a bit of shock and stoked that I had a baby but it felt so surreal. Everything was a bit of a blur. I was told to do a couple more pushes to deliver the placenta and that was another weird feeling, but all went well there too. Addison was ready to feed and she latched on like a pro. Then I needed to be stitched up because I had a second degree tear so Dave got to have some skin to skin with Addison while I sucked on the gas. Luckily they give you a local anaesthetic while they stitch you so it isn’t as bad as it seems. It took a while though but I was just a bit zoned out and watching Dave and Addy have cuddles.

Because Addison came out so fast (9 minutes total of pushing) she retained a lot of fluid and mucous in her lungs. After her first feed she started to turn blue because she was choking on the fluid and my midwife had to take her and help her to clear some of the fluid. This same thing happened another two times over her first 24 hours of life. The worst time was when we were in the maternity ward and I noticed her starting to turn blue. I grabbed the nurse bell and pressed it a good few times and about 5 midwives rushed into the room and ended up taking her to the resuscitation room and suctioned out the fluid. Dave was with me for that episode and he went and watched the drama happen while I stayed behind in my bed, mostly because I was too sore to move that quickly, and also because it would have been too traumatic to see.

The third time it happened was when Dave was out getting lunch. I saw her turning blue again but this time the midwife was able to get her breathing properly just by turning her over and giving her a good rub down. That night she managed to cough up the rest of the fluid and we haven’t had any problems since. Now we are at home she has settled in and is still feeding well and gaining a decent amount of weight each week.

Overall I am really happy with how my birth went. I was aware from the start of my pregnancy that I would most likely be induced so I was able to prepare myself for that experience. I am really stoked that I was able to have a drug free labour and that I was able to breathe through the majority of the contractions. I am also glad that I was able to listen to my body and know when and how to push my baby out. It has been really neat to see how my body heals and produces milk and does all the crazy weird postpartum stuff. I am grateful to my midwife, the staff at Christchurch Women’s Hospital and mostly Dave for being such a wonderful supporter and being so cruisy and able to adapt with all the different drama that went on. Welcome to the world Addison! 

The Chiles family.


  1. Very cool birth story....I do love hearing how everyone's experiences are so unique ...hope it's all going well mama....

    1. I know! I always read other peoples and wondered how my own would play out. It was a very awesome experience!

  2. sitting here, having read your story, and eyes are welling up with tears. on one hand, it's because i'm really glad your labour went well - for all the beginning troubles (only 2 cm? about to get an epidural?), i suddenly found myself reading about you pushing and crowning and i was, like, "wow, that came on fast!" i don't know if that's how it felt to you, but from here, it does sound like a birth well done, and i hope you're proud of yourself.

    but on the other hand, i'm welling up because i'm remembering mine. i also know what a prostaglandin strip feels like, and how they frowned when my baby's heart rate was dropping, and those belts around my belly to measure vitals, and how they talked about more drugs and an epidural (which i both got) - and, of course, full-on screaming, the loudest i have ever screamed i think!, when they did an internal examination. but unlike your birth, i ended up in a surgical theatre nevertheless, worn out and ill. and so i well up because i can almost "feel" what some of that stuff must've felt like to you, and i feel so, so, so relieved that you guys managed to do it differently that i did. proud of you all!

    and your photos of course - it's my anticipation that i'll be in those same rooms in just a few short weeks, and one day i may also write about how it all went.

    so i'm doing a bit of a stalking thing here, reading all the posts and commenting where i feel like i've got something that needs saying. hope you don't mind =)

    and i hope you are all doing very well at home.

    1. I am so grateful that I avoided all the intervention, I am very aware of how close I came to my story being totally different. I was determined not to be disappointed though, no matter what happened. I am thinking of you and hoping that you end up with a birth you are proud of and happy with, whatever that looks like!

  3. So lovely to read a natural birth story- unfortunately I didn't have that option due to hip problems and placental abruption. Glad to hear Addison is doing so well!

  4. Amy, you should be so proud of yourself! Well done, incredible birthing Mama! So pleased Addy's here safe and all's well that ends well. You and Dave did a great job. xx


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