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Katie And Jonah, Homebirth To Surgery

Jonah

Where to start. I’m not exactly sure what the date is today, though I’m pretty sure it’s Thursday. I do know it’s about 11.20 am and Katy is sound asleep to my right. Held in her right arm with her head cushioned on Katy’s breast is our child, also sound asleep.

At 1.34 am on Tuesday the 11th of March, Katy’s waters broke. I was asleep and woken by Katy saying my name. I looked at her and she was standing at the head of our bed, a small puddle of water at her feet, she was a little frightened and I went to calm her. I felt excited, we’d been waiting so long for this moment and so it began, and it did.

She drained the rest of her waters into the bath while she was trying to clean of the first lot, it came out like wee, just a stream. Her contractions began shortly afterwards, strong and frequent so we called Lisa, our midwife. At first she told us to try and go back to sleep and wait until the contractions became stronger, which can take some time but we didn’t even make it back into bed before I called her again. Katy’s contractions were too strong to contemplate sleeping. Lisa came over, we had planned a water birth at home but we couldn’t fill the birthing pool because the hose didn’t fit the laundry tap properly. So we filled the bath. Katy’s contractions were coming hard and fast, I was with her constantly trying to get her to breathe and relax her body, which was hard for her because contractions are apparently very painful. She felt it most in her back, and we suspected this was because baby’s back was against hers. We moved around the house from living room to bedroom to bath, all the while Katy would tense up, screw her face up in the most amazing display of pain I’ve ever seen and scream out and try to maintain control over her body.

Katie

It was about 1:34am on the 11th of March, the morning of our 1 year anniversary, I had just been to the toilet. When I got back into bed I had a really bad pain in my lower back and couldn’t lie down so jumped up and walked around the bed and then I felt water running down my legs, “Jonah! My waters just broke!” He got out of bed as well and got me a towel to stand on. I was a bit scared and he comforted me, and said that it was ok and baby was on its way!! We went into the bathroom to wash my legs and when I got in the bath, more water came out; it was just like a tap had been turned on! My contractions began shortly afterwards, so Jonah went and rang Lisa our midwife and she said to try and get some sleep and call her when the contractions got closer together and stronger. We tried to go back to sleep but the contractions were too strong and frequent. They were already about two minutes apart. So we rang Lisa again. It was about 2 o’clock when she got there. She suggested we go for a walk to help get things moving.

Jonah

We started this in darkness with candles lit, but soon the sun rose and the candles went out. Katy drank plenty of water and we each had a hot cross bun. We went for a walk early that morning, mist was hanging in the air and it was cold. The construction workers done the street watched us as we made our slow way, stopping all the while as contractions came and went. I can’t remember much more specific about that day, except that at some time we went for another walk. Then the sun set and it was night again, I lit the candles and we waited. Katy was still experiencing hard contractions when her family turned up with some food. Lisa didn’t let them in but soon enough we each had a bowl of warm pumpkin soup and cannelloni. We ate between contractions, which conveniently eased off a bit, and then continued just as we had.

Katie

When we got back she was setting up the pool. As she was setting up the birthing pool, she said to me “you’re contractions are so close together I don’t think we’ll get this pool set up before your baby comes!” But she did get the pool set up and I was still having contractions, Jonah lit all the candles in our house that we could find, but we then discovered that the hose to fill up the pool wouldn’t fit on our taps. So we filled up the bath and I got in there for a while.

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After a while in there Jonah and I went for another walk down our street to try and change the baby’s position, it was early morning and it was cool outside and starting to drizzle, nice and cool in the middle of the heat wave. We didn’t get very far and couldn’t walk fast because I was having contractions every 2 minutes. We got back home and I sat back in the bath again. It was so nice and warm in there, and I had Jonah and Lisa pouring water on my shoulders and talking and breathing me through each contraction.

Jonah

Not sure when but some time, and I think it was around 11 or 12, as we neared a day of hard labour, Lisa became concerned. She had expected that with the intensity of the contractions right from the start that the baby would have been out within a few hours. We were close to 24 hours of full strength labour. Lisa asked to do an examination, Katy let her, knowing that there was not much else we could do.

Katie

Lisa, being concerned that I hadn’t had my baby yet but still having regular contractions at 2 minute intervals, asked to do an examination. So Jonah hopped in the bath and I lay on my back against him. Lisa did her examination and said she could feel the baby’s head at my cervix and it had swelling on it, and that my cervix was 9 cms dilated, 1cm short of how it should be. It hurt a little bit when she did this.Feeling a bit disappointed, we got out of the bath and Jonah sat on the lounge chair and I sat on a bucket, with my back leaning against him. We sat there for a while and had lots of contractions.

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My parents came over and brought a box of food that they had prepared for us, Lisa didn’t let them in, but accepted the food and we had pumpkin soup and cannelloni. Lisa suggested that we try to lie down and get some rest in between contractions. So they set the bed up nicely and Jonah and I lay down together with him behind me rubbing my back every time I had a contraction and talking me through them. Lisa was pretty tired as well because she’d been at births all weekend, so she had a nap on the couch. My contractions hurt the most in the lying down position. But I did sleep in between them. After a while I decided I couldn’t take it any more so I got up and walked around the kitchen table. Soon night time came again and Jonah went around and lit all the candles once more. We kept moving from bath, to walking, to sitting on the chair and bucket, to lying down in bed. But nothing seemed to get our baby out.

Jonah

By now we were all exhausted and we went to the bedroom so we could lie down. The contractions were more painful lying down for Katy but lying down meant that we could get a little rest in between contractions, Lisa also hoped that by taking pressure off the cervix it might dilate fully. I think we managed an hour of sleep that night (or morning) between contractions, no more at least. I slept with Katy, putting pressure on her back with the contractions. She found that there was considerable pain in her back and so whenever she was contracting we would put pressure or a hot towel on her lower back to try and ease the pain. I tried to comfort her in her obvious pain.

We moved from the bed, I’m not sure what happened next, but at sometime, Lisa says around six, Katy, who had been putting off what we all knew needed to happen again, agreed to having another examination.

We were out in the lounge room with Katy sitting on our trusty bucket and myself behind her. Supporting her and putting pressure on her back. Lisa examined Katy, finding that the cervix had not dilated any further, she felt the head of the baby and found that the cervix had swollen where baby’s head had been pushed against the pubic bone, making it less likely that baby might squeeze out.

Katy’s contractions slowed down with Lisa’s examination, so we just waited. When one did come we all put in an effort to try to get baby’s head to move beyond the cervix and to turn around as Lisa thought it was facing the wrong way, we gave it 2 contractions, but nothing changed

Katie

Lisa then said to us “we’ve tried everything we possibly can; it might be time to start thinking about going to the hospital. There’s not much else we can do except just keep trying and waiting.” She went outside to give me and Jonah some time alone to talk. We both looked at each other and started to cry. We both knew that the hospital meant our natural birth would be sabotaged. At the hospital there was no kindness, no love, I would be filled with drugs and we wouldn’t be able to hold our baby straight to our naked bodies and talk to her. We knew they’d want to take her straight away and wrap her up and cart her off to the nursery like every other baby. But what other choice did we have? There was no “alternative hospital” which would carry out all the normal hospital procedures but still let us be together straight away. My cervix wasn’t dilating and without going to the hospital we would only have to wait and who knows how much longer it would go on for, or if it would even stop. So, we made the decision to go to hospital

Jonah

Lisa gave her opinion, but we were already aware of our only other option, go to the hospital and get an epidural or a caesarean, we both did not want a caesarean. We stood there looking at each other both feeling overwhelming emotions. We cried, and between contractions and sad comforts, we decided we would go to the hospital and get an epidural first and a caesarean last.
The birth we had hoped for was slipping away slowly.

Katie

Lisa came back in and we told her what we’d decided. She told us that they’d either want to give me an epidural or a caesarean, and considering I’d already been in labour for almost 30 hours she thought they’d most likely want to give me a caesarean straight away. Together we decided we’d like to avoid the caesarean for as long as we could. With the epidural, we were hoping that it would relax my cervix enough for it to dilate the extra centimetre and I would be able to push our baby out and everything would be, as Lisa says, ‘hunky dory’.So Lisa rang the women’s and children’s hospital and told them we were coming down, while Jonah and I started gathering spare clothes and toiletries and baby clothes. It was about 7:30am on the 12th, when we made our way down to the city in peak hour traffic. We followed Lisa down, and I called my mum to tell her what was happening and when she answered the phone I burst into tears and could hardly tell her what was happening. She said to call us if we needed anything and she would come straight down. She said she loved us and we hung up.

Jonah

We packed some things, clothes for the baby, baby’s blanket, Tubbies and Bomwi and a few clothes and toiletries before we took off.

Lisa took her van and I drove Katy down in her car. She was still having contractions. She called her mum to tell her what was happening, crying as she explained that we had to go to the hospital. Her distress was plain, we were both very sad and exhausted. She texted Tobiah for me.

I parked at the hospital car park and slowly we made our way into the hospital. We found Lisa and got Katy a wheelchair. Following someone we made our way to a room in the labour ward.

It was around 8.30 in the morning of the 12th. The first person we met at the hospital was Kristy (or Kirsty), a very nice midwife who asked some questions and inserted the gel-co in Katy’s arm. A gel-co is one of those things that feeds into a vein and has a little tube coming out from it, which ends in an ‘injection jack’ so that different substances can be injected into her without the need for individual needles.

Katie

When we got to the hospital Lisa found me a wheel chair and we went to ‘Women’s Assessment’ where we met a crabby nurse, who led us to our room in the labour ward. Luckily she wasn’t going to be our midwife, and we met Kristy who was our cheerful, lovely midwife. She gave me a gown, took my blood, put a gel co in my arm and attached it to a drip with a liquid substance in it to hydrate me. Then we told her we’d rather have an epidural first before a caesarean, and she said she’d organise it straight away and went out the room. We then met the assistant anaesthetist who told us the risks with epidural and what she’ll be doing. I sat on the edge of the bed holding on to Jonah, Kristy and Lisa, with my back curled and head face down on my chest.

When ever I felt a contraction coming on I had to tell the anaesthetist because I wasn’t allowed to move while they were putting the epidural in. It was very hard not to move while she was doing it and having contractions at the same time. She tried several times, but couldn’t find the right spot in my spine. So she went off to get the head anaesthetist to get him to do it. He was much rougher than the girls and didn’t seem to even care that I was in labour. But he did get it in the first time.

Jonah

First Kristy took blood, and then Katy was administered a salty solution to hydrate her. Sometime after and between contractions we informed someone that we wanted an epidural first and a caesarean only if that failed. Lisa had expected that the hospital would disagree and would want to do a C-section first but they were very good and arranged for the epidural straight away. The anaesthetist arrived and she explained what was involved in an epidural and the risks involved and then got started.

They made Katy sit on the bed, the worst position as far as pain in labour goes, and then she was asked to bend forward and arch her back causing more discomfort because of baby. She was quite scared and upset and I sat in front of her and held her hands, I was worried for her and the pain she was in. I felt like things were starting to go badly, Katy was suffering so much and I didn’t want her to. She was scared, I knew that but no one else seemed to have a full appreciation of it.

Katie

Then I could relax, I lay down and they strapped monitors to my stomach so they could monitor the baby’s heart beat and my contractions because I could hardly feel them myself with the epidural in. We lay there for a while to wait for the doctor to come so we could talk about what’s been happening and about the possibility of a caesarean. She came straight from her surgery, Doctor Cathy Love. She was very nice and funny. She wanted to do an examination herself, and I was a bit sick of them and knew it hurt, but I let her, and discovered that it was no where near as bad with the epidural.

She discovered the same thing as Lisa, that I was 9 cms dilated. She tried to push the cervix over the baby’s head as well, but couldn’t get it over. She then asked if she could do an ultrasound to have a look at how our baby was lying. So they brought in a machine and put it on my stomach, we could see our baby floating around in there and blowing bubbles and looking quite happy with herself. Cathy said that our baby was not in the normal head down with her back towards my stomach position, instead she was with her back against my back making it more difficult for me to be able to push her out, especially being only 9 cms dilated.

Cathy suggested that we try a drug called Syntocinon to bring the contractions back to how they were before the epidural. The only bad thing about it was that if the baby started to get stressed out and the contractions had pushed the baby out half way through the cervix, we would have to have an emergency caesarean. Everybody left the room to give me and Jonah a chance to talk about what we wanted to do. At any time we could always have an elective caesarean, but we wanted to try everything else before we had to have a caesarean. So we decided to have a round of the Syntocinon. We talked to our baby, telling her what was happening and what we’d decided and thought was right, and asked her to come out before we had no choice but to go with the caesarean. Jonah let everybody back in the room and we told them what we’d decided. So Kristy got us started on the drug. It was a 2 hour round, and since I still had the epidural in and couldn’t feel the contractions, I fell asleep holding Jonahs hand.

We woke up just before the 2 hours was up, it was about 5 pm. Cathy came in not long after we woke up and did another examination only to discover that nothing had changed, except the swelling had gone down. The head doctor, Dr Brian, came in to talk to us and check up on us, and he and Cathy agreed that since our baby had shown no signs of stress at all, it would be ok if we wanted to try another round of Syntocinon. They said that there may be no change, and that if there isn’t after that round we would have to make the decision to do something else. They gave us some time to talk again. We were both crying, and telling each other that it’ll be ok. We talked again to baby, asking her to come out soon. Everyone came back in the room and our new midwife, Susan, gave us the second round of Syntocinon. I had another sleep during the 2 hour round, but Jonah stayed awake with his hand on our baby. The 2 hours were up, and there was still no baby.

Cathy came in and asked to do another ultrasound. She said our baby was still in the same position and hadn’t moved down at all. It was 7 o’clock. We knew that we were given no other option but a caesarean. Cathy told us and everyone left the room again. We told baby what was going to happen, and that we’d see each other soon enough. Then me and Jonah were crying and tried to be ok, but we were both scared and upset. Our homebirth had taken a different course, and now our chance for a vaginal birth had been taken away as well.

Jonah

Things calmed down a little then and Katy became relaxed and comfortable. Kristy fetched me some toast which was good, considering the only food I had eaten was the night before, it was close to 11 by now, I think. We waited some time, I can’t really remember if it was a lot or a little, but eventually Cathy or Dr Love, who had been in surgery, came to visit. We liked Dr. Love and her assistant Adele. She came to do another examination to re-asses the problem and determine a solution. Katy was frightened about the examination because they had been so painful before, when Lisa had done them at home. Cathy was good though and talked Katy through it and she probably felt better and in safer hands as compared to the painful ordeal of the epidural insertion, which I appreciated, personally feeling traumatised by the rough and insensitive treatment of Katy. She let Cathy perform the examination and Katy felt nothing beyond slight pressure because of the epidural. Cathy found exactly what Lisa had hours earlier. Katy was 9 cm dilated and the baby appeared to have her back against Katy’s and her head facing up. Cathy also did an ultrasound to determine the position of baby. Cathy explained that our options now were to have Syntocinon (I called it sissypiss because we could never remember what it was actually called) or the caesarean. She explained that Syntocinon was a synthetic imitation of the hormone glosamyne (I think) which triggers the contractions of the uterus. The hope with using it would be to boost the contractions again to their original strength and hope that either the cervix would dilate or that the baby might turn in the uterus to a better position. The risk however would be that the sudden strength of the contractions might stress the baby out and jam the head in the pelvis, both of which would require an emergency caesarean. We also talked about the ceaserean, in case we had to have one in an emergency or if the sissypiss didn’t work. We asked Cathy if it was possible to not have the placenta cord cut immediately after baby was born. We had planned to leave it attached until it stopped pulsating. She said it should be possible.We were given a moment on our own, we were both upset but sissypiss seemed a better option, it meant that we had exhausted every option before choosing a caesarean. We decided to talk to Dr Brain (I think), the head of something important, who Cathy had said would see us. When the people came back we had another talk to Cathy who said she had talked to Dr Brain and he had recommended the sissypiss before cesearean. Just in a small dosage because the baby was currently showing no signs of stress, she had a good heart rate and was contracting regularly, we decided on sissypiss and asked for a moment alone. We talked to baby, asking her to please help us deliver her and to not become distressed by the sissypiss. Then the drip was inserted and we had two hours to wait.

I’m not sure if it was now or had been earlier but Kristy got myself and Lisa some more food. I got a sandwich, fruit salad, yogurt and juice, which was all much appreciated. After eating that, if it was then, Katy and I went to sleep. I woke up before Katy just as Cathy came to check on us. By now it was late afternoon. Cathy came back again after our hospital midwife, now Susan, stopped the sissypiss. She gave Katy another examination to determine any changes. Unfortunately there were none, besides the cervix swelling gone down, but it had not dilated. This time Dr Brian came to visit us and because the baby was showing no signs of stress he had no objections to giving Katy another two hour round of sissypiss. There was another ultrasound during that visit, I think. We decided to have the sissypiss although we were informed there was little chance of change. This would be our last shot and we were willing to take it on the small hope that a miracle might occur. Again we talked to baby and urged her to come out and again we began to wait. This time however I was determined to stay awake and keep one hand on baby to help her. It was around 5:30 pm I think, when that second round began. Katy slept again and all was calm. I think it was during this session of sissypiss that Cathy came to check up on us. Katy was asleep and so she talked to me for a bit. She said that I had found a ‘good one’ in Katy, I agreed.

Close to 7:30 Cathy came back to check on us again, I knew what she was going to tell us. There was no change and so there was only one option left.
It was exactly what we both hoped it would never come to and we both felt overwhelmed and upset and scared. We’d come so far, been through so much and Katy had suffered so much pain and it had all come to this. We tried and tried to reassure each other, we had done absolutely everything we could have, we had tried every option. We had both hoped for a homebirth where our child would be born to candle light, and without stress. She would come out easily and we would hold her immediately to our bare skin, there the three of us would share the beauty of the moment. But a series of unfortunate events had led us here, to a hospital room with Katy on a bed, and epidural in her back, fluids in her arm, Bomwi beside her and me. Our consoling thought was that we would see baby soon.

Katie

We let everyone in again, and suddenly it seemed there were so many more people around. There was Lisa our midwife, Cathy the doctor, and the surgeon who would perform the caesarean, Cathy’s assistant surgeon, susan our hospital midwife, another hospital midwife who I’m not sure who she was, a new anaesthetist who would put a stronger drug in me to make sure I had no feeling for the caesarean, his assistant anaesthetist, and us. Cathy went away to get ready for the operation. They gave me a cap to wear and Jonah a cap and some clothes as well. The anaesthetist put the anaesthetic in my epidural tube, Susan gave me some liquid to drink for heartburn and everybody seemed to be talking at once and getting a bit excited and crazy about the caesarean.

Jonah

Then it was all on. The ensuring events passed in a strange way for me, it all seemed to start up again as everything was being prepared for the caesarean, I felt removed. Lack of sleep, adrenaline and a mix of apprehension and excitement blended together into a strangely urgent feeling inside me.
The anaesthetist came with a heavier dose of anaesthetic to completely knock the feeling out of Katy’s lower half. He was Indian and spoke in Indians funny way but seemed ok. Susan took jewellery from Katy and administered her with a drink for heartburn, Katy overreacted to Susan saying it tasted gross and couldn’t drink it, while everyone was trying to get her to take it I went and put on a set of scrubs and a red hat so that everyone could tell me apart. When I came out again Katy had taken the heartburn remedy and we were ready to go, it was close to 8 pm on Wednesday the 12th. I grabbed my phone and in the building urgency and tearful adrenaline I texted Tobiah, saying we were going in for a caesarean. Then I followed Katy out of our room and down various corridors. I held her hand as we went and things felt ok, we still had some control. Katy and I joked about myself looking like JD from Scrubs, Cathy mentioned at some point that I looked good in them and we talked briefly about Scrubs. Soon enough we were met by Kelly, the assistant anaesthetist, and she asked a few quick questions before we all moved into the operating theatre. It was basically like what you saw on TV or Scrubs right down to the radio playing Nova 91.9, except that my girlfriend was about to have a caesarean, I almost felt all her fear and pain and was desperate to be closer to her, to comfort her. But the hospital did not allow for it at this time, I was myself weak from adrenaline and all her fear and lack of sleep. I took a seat at the edge of the room by the radio and watched as they slid Katy off the hospital bed and onto the surgeons bed which looked awkward and painful. Soon enough I was able to move closer to Katy and I sat at her left, behind the curtain with my face close to hers. The anaesthetist, his assistant and Lisa were on our side of the curtain, while on the other side there was Cathy, Dr Brian, Susan the midwife, Adele and two others we didn’t know. It began sooner then I realised, the anaesthetist was telling Katy she would have the baby soon and showing her his watch, it was about 7:55 pm.

Katie

We were taken to a different room to do the surgery with big bright lights and a few more people. By now I couldn’t feel my legs or move them at all. I was moved onto the operating table, which was much smaller than my hospital bed and they tilted me to the left which made me feel like I was going to fall off at any moment, and they suspended both my arms out at either side of me. Jonah and Lisa were on either side of me, talking to me and trying to keep me calm and tell me everything was ok.

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Even though I couldn’t feel it, Cathy and her assistant had already started to cut open my stomach. There were 5 layers to get through, and on the 4th layer I started to feel something more than just people touching me. It was painful, and everyone suddenly started telling me it was ok, but no body sounded confident and it just made me more scared and worried and in more pain, and I passed out. I woke up not long after to the sound of a baby crying on what I thought was the other side of the room.

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Even though it still sounded like it was not near me I realised I was having my baby and that it was some where near me. Our baby had been passed to Jonah at 8:10pm on the 12th of March. He had put her on my shoulder next to my ear. I had missed her being born, if you could call it being born. I was so groggy and didn’t really understand what was going on, and Cathy had already started to stitch me back up. I later found out that the reason why I passed out was because the anaesthetist had put morpheine into me with out asking and my body didn’t handle it well and so I passed out, and made me groggy when I woke up again.

Jonah

Lisa was saying something and I probably was too. We were all trying to keep Katy calm but we were losing our last desperate grip on control. Everyone was speaking at once, reassuring and reassuring again and reassuring so much that we were actually exacerbating the situation. Suddenly Katy was feeling pain, she could feel the surgeon beyond the ‘pressure’ she should be feeling. By that time Cathy was three layers into the incision and only two more to go. All the reassuring was actually distressing Katy. The anaesthetist, instead of giving a numbing anaesthetic in the epidural, gave her a sedative in the gel-co. It served little purpose except to make Katy completely incoherent, she could still feel the pain and she told us so in long slow speech but the anaesthetist insisted on more sedative. Soon enough Katy passed out.

Katie

The nursery people were eager to take baby away to the nursery, and Jonah tried to keep our baby with us for as long as he could. He took baby over to them and they wrapped her up and said she had shallow breathing, which I’m not surprised about since she was only 5 minutes old and this is the first time she’s breathed. Jonah brought our baby bake over to me and put her cheek on mine and told me our baby was here. I asked him “is it a girl”, and he said “yes, it’s a beautiful girl”. I was so happy, and excited. All I wanted to do was hold her to me, but because they had put my arms out at my sides, I couldn’t. The nursery people told Jonah they had to take our baby to the nursery now. So Jonah went with them reluctantly. He stayed with our new baby and Lisa stayed with me, comforting me while they finished up the stitches. I was so upset because my baby had been taken away from me and I couldn’t be with her until I’d been stitched up and gone to recovery and then to my new room in the postnatal ward. Where as in our home birth we would have held her straight to us until we were ready for her to be checked on by our midwife and then stayed with her always. When they were stitching up the 2nd layer I could feel it and it hurt a lot, the aneasthitest offered me a drug that would put me to sleep, and I said no to it because it was pointless to put me to sleep when the operation had already been done. I didn’t care about the pain to much; I wanted to see my baby in no worse condition than I was already in. When they were finished everything, they wheeled me to the recovery ward. Lisa stayed with me the whole time.

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During the whole operation I was speaking in long slow speech and kept forgetting I could open my eyes. In the recovery ward, I slowly became normal again, I began talking normally and opened my eyes now and then and saw things properly. I once told Lisa that she looked like a Cyclops because it looked to me like she only had one eye! While I was here, I was handed a piece of card with all my baby’s details on it as if it was my baby itself, and I treasured it like it was my baby as well. Everyone kept asking me what her name was, and for some reason I kept telling them it was Evelynn (about 3 weeks later we named her Reikaya). After a while, I was wheeled to the postnatal ward and left there with Lisa for a while. I told her I wanted to see my baby and Jonah and could she please find them. So she went to the office and asked them to ring the nursery and ask when they were coming back. Lisa came back and said he wasn’t far away. She waited with me for a while and then went to find our belongings. She came back with them and Jonah and our baby weren’t back yet. So she said she’d go and find them, and left me in my room. I was scared and alone.I lay there for a while and I think I may have fallen asleep. It was 10:45 when I woke to Jonah’s voice. Finally my baby and my partner were in the same room as me and I could see her and hold her. She was hungry so I held her for a short while and then fed her. Straight away she knew what to do, how to get food. She was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen and I was so glad to be seeing her. I was angry that it was 2 and a half hours since she was born and I hadn’t been able to see her, or touch her, but I was glad that she wasn’t alone all that time, that Jonah had been with her. Jonah rang his twin and told him that he had a niece, but he wasn’t interested, and it made Jonah a bit upset. Together we spent time with our daughter, touching her, talking to her, just being with her. In the end, it wasn’t until 2 am that we went asleep. It was just over 2 days that we had been awake, and I was exhausted from all the labour and the operation, so it was a very welcome sleep.

Jonah

Soon enough though the paediatrician was getting anxious to get baby off to the nursery because he thought she had shallow breathing and needed some oxygen, I don’t blame her, she was about 10 minutes old. Susan brought over a portable incubator and I placed her in there and Susan closed the lid and we moved out of the operating theatre and down a few corridors. I was worried about Katy and the removed state she was in, I knew she was terrified, or at least I would be if I was in her position, but Lisa stayed with Katy so at least she had someone she knew in the room. I also knew that she would want me to go with the baby, above staying with her, so I did.

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It occurred to me as I walked alongside my baby, being pushed by Susan down a hospital corridor inside a plastic box that the human had even tried to imitate love. In his desperation to seek a way to control and monitor every aspect of the human functioning we have gone as far as to replace a mothers loving warmth and security with a box. The box can be monitored though, it can be cooled or warmed, you can give oxygen or whatever, ‘just in case’. We reached the nursery. My responsibility as a father to protect my child fired up as Heather, the nursery nurse, took baby from the incubator and weighed her on cold, plastic scales, she was crying and I just wanted to hold her. She was then taken to another incubator in the nursery where her breathing and heart rate could be monitored, and they were. I could hardly stand being there and watching my child in that box but I made a compromise, I would remain in some skin contact with baby constantly with my hand inside the box.

I refused the routine disposable nappy and watched as baby’s temperature was taken from under her arm pit, inside her anus (apparently the only way to measure “core” temperature) and heart monitoring pads were placed on her feet. I sat there with her for a long while, just waiting. I was feeling strangely elated, sort of powerful and protective. The room was fairly peaceful, there was another baby there; baby Win, who would cry every so often. Not surprising considering he was left there completely alone. After a while the midwives changed over and the new one came and took her temperature again and tried to put a disposable nappy on her. I refused it again and we put a cloth one on instead which she taped down because we didn’t have any safety pins. By now she was out of the incubator and into a cot. The same cot we would use for our entire stay. She was wrapped quite tightly and she settled down. We were moved to the other side of the room, not exactly sure why now. Her hear rate continued to be monitored and it was interesting to watch the graph continuously changing depending on her movement or if she cried. Sometime then the placenta bag broke and it bled on some of the wrapping so we changed those over and put a new bag over the old one. The midwife went to feed Baby Win, so for a long time I waited there, holding baby. It crept past 10pm and I began to feel anxious. The midwife received a phone call from post-natal; it was Katy wondering where we were.

I knew she would be missing me and I knew she would be scared in the foreign hospital environment. I felt I should be there too, to protect her and ensure she was being treated properly. I also knew we were losing precious moments for the mother and baby to bond. In time, Lisa turned up at the nursery. I was glad to see her, she told me that Katy was ok and that she was missing me. She also said that though she knew I had wanted for both myself and the baby to remain with Katy she was glad we had gone because the surgery continued to be traumatic. Katy had felt more pain and the anaesthetist had continued to avoid using the epidural until Cathy was stitching up the last incision when he offered to put her to sleep, she refused. There was little point by then as it was almost over, and she really didn’t want to be put to sleep.

Then Lisa went, and I waited, again. Some time then baby appeared to be looking for food so I gave her my knuckle to suck, which she did. There was another phone call from post-natal, by now it was past 10:30. It wasn’t much longer before we bundled baby back into the cot and moved off. I was a little bit apprehensive; I felt as though I hadn’t seen Katy for days, the trauma of the operation had warped my sense of time I think, along with little sleep. I didn’t know how she would be, I can’t remember if she was alone when I arrived. I think she was.

I took baby out of the cot, I can’t remember if she was awake or asleep, I gave her to Katy. Katy was still a little disorientated because the morphine was still in affect. She was very pale when I arrived but she still looked like Katy, she seemed to have a sort of serene beauty to her. I called Tobiah, it was exactly 11:20, I told him baby had been born by c-section but he didn’t seem overly interested, which didn’t help me. It seems to have been his attitude from the beginning, which hasn’t helped me.

Sometime soon, I can’t remember when, a midwife turned up to take Katy’s blood pressure, temperature and baby’s temperature. After that the midwife showed me around the post natal ward. There were the bins for soiled linen, the nursery where your baby could be put in if you didn’t want them to sleep in your room, the pantry and the linen trolley. When I got back we were informed that I wasn’t allowed to sleep in the room with Katy and my child because it was a shared women’s room. I was told I should go home and get some rest and come back in the morning. I’d do more good that way. I couldn’t imagine leaving Katy or baby at that time, I was acutely aware of how afraid Katy was and how great our child’s need was. I was not leaving, considering there wasn’t anyone else in the room with us that night I saw no reason for me to leave, so I didn’t.

Later that night, and I’m not sure what happened between though I do remember took off my scrubs off at some time, I went out to the pantry and got myself some toast. I’m not sure when I dozed off, but it was probably past 2 am. I’d been up for just over 48 hours.

The next two days are harder to piece together. At the time I was unsure of the day it was, my phone had died sometime that morning and I hadn’t brought my charger. Robby was the first person to visit, at about 11 am I think. He just walked in, out of visiting hours. We had a little chat about something, I was glad that he was the first to visit, I like Robby. He left and I was out getting Katy and myself some toast, it must have been past 1 pm by then, when I came back none other than my parents were in the room. Katy and I had discussed earlier that she might like to see her family that day even though we’d decided not to show anyone baby for one week post birth, but nothing had gone to plan I guess. I’d been contemplating whether or not to ask my parents down. I was reluctant because mum and dad had never been as supportive as they could have been about the pregnancy or about Katy. I felt that it was not there right to be there then but they had come none the less, stealing our time with baby.

Walking in and seeing them there I felt sort of betrayed and annoyed, again they had taken things into their own hands and had arrived without my consent or knowledge. They didn’t stay for too long and things were ok, baby began to feed.

Later Katy’s family came down, and I think Lisa was there too. I’m pretty sure Marcus was there as well, he’s been the best so far with the whole thing. Later dad came back with Mahalia, he left her with us and went to collect Tobiah, Mahalia’s was good too, she doesn’t really care enough to have an opinion about it all. Daddy came back with Tobiah and Marcus came back with Jess. Daddy’s slightly annoying because there is a way he thinks it should all be done, and expresses his opinion with little appreciation to the fact that the choices are mine now.

That night I stayed with Katy again in the shared room, another midwife told me I wasn’t allowed to and another patient did arrive in the room later in the night but I stayed nonetheless.

Near lunch time of Friday I decided to check out the hospital cafeteria because I had been eating nothing but toast from the ward pantry until then. On my way down I was called by Katy, she told me they were moving us from the shared room to a private one and that they had taken baby, so I rushed back up to the post natal ward and waited with baby until everything had settled again. Then I went to get some food.

It felt weird to sit in the cafeteria and eat. Looking around me I saw all the other people, I wondered what they were here for and if any of them knew what I had just been through. With such little sleep I was feeling slightly inexplicably strange.

On Saturday we were visited by yet another midwife, she had come to do a heal prick on baby and test for four impossibly (‘but still possible’) rare diseases. We refused the test, neither of us wanted it and we didn’t want our newborn baby to be put through unnecessary pain. The midwife didn’t understand, she told us every baby in Australia had the test, which is entirely untrue, besides we didn’t care, we weren’t having it. I was beginning to get frustrated with all the tests and checks the hospital wanted to do, they were invading and destroying with all their fears a very precious space and time. We had already said no to the hearing test, heal prick blood type test and Katy didn’t want the Anti-D injection, which they really didn’t like because Katy is rhesus negative.

That Saturday we wanted to leave, we asked to go around 11 that morning, at 5:30 that night we were finally out of the hospital after being visited by everyone they could find advising against leaving and explaining the rhesus negative and rhesus positive stuff every time, just in case we were too stupid to have understood the last person who explained it to us.

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In light of our circumstances I think we did the best we could. We wanted a beautiful home birth but we had a traumatic caesarean, however, we refused all the tests and Cathy kindly made it possible to keep the placenta attached. We had intended to cut the cord after the birth but somehow we never did and we went through with a full lotus birth after caesarean.

11 responses to “Katie And Jonah, Homebirth To Surgery”

  1. Pamela

    an amazing, emotional story. it’s so good to tell this type of experience.

  2. Midwifery is catching

    WHat a raw and genuine story – thankyou for sharing.

  3. Emz

    You guys are amazing. You didn’t let this experience destroy you and it has made you stronger. That serene beauty Jonah wrote about- you all eminated that when i met you at a gathering at Lisa’s a few weeks ago.
    I wish you every happiness for the future.

  4. Faerylandmom

    This is one of the most moving birth stories I’ve ever read – partly because the daddy’s point of view enriches it so much.

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It was amazing. You both are amazing. And your baby girl is gorgeous!

  5. Katherine

    I have just read your story with tears streaming down my face. Thank you for telling your story; my own is similar but I still (2.5 years later) don’t feel brave enough to tell it. You have such strength and your daughter is very lucky to have you as parents.

  6. Amie

    Thank you for sharing that story, there is such beauty in it, even though your birth didn’t go according to plan. Congratulations

  7. Jennifer

    Thank you for sharing your story. It brought tears to my eyes as I remember my own story very similar to this that happened just 10 months ago. I still have anxiety when I think about our birth experience. But it is somehow comforting to know there are others out there that understand how I feel. Praying for a VBAC for my next baby! Thank you again for sharing your story. I appreciate it SO MUCH! :)

  8. hannahfaerie

    Wow my beautiful friends, I had know idea how much you went through! Thank you so much for sharing. Love and blessings to both of you and your amazing daughter.

  9. Anonymous

    Hi there,
    I too had to go thru almost the exact same story, not once….but twice.We tried for 2 homebirths and ended up with 2 emergency c/sections.Both for posterior position like you.
    I have since studied ways to turn posterior babies.You can google this ,it is very interesting.there are ways.I wish they’d used them on me!still traumatised after 5yrs.
    I’m past having any more now most likely, but if ever it did happen again,I’d like to find someone who knows about how to turn the baby if need be.We have two amazing girls that inspire us everyday!
    You told your story so beautifully…thank you so much.xx

  10. Anonymous

    I'm sorry to hear you didn't achieve the type of birth you wanted. Glad to know you had a beautiful baby regardless.

    Just wondered why you would refuse the Anti-D injection. The risk of the effects on your subsequent children is real, and something that I figure shouldn't be ignored.

  11. Anonymous

    Thanks for sharing your story. I too planned a hb that ended in caesarean, so I can relate to some of your feelings. Yet to see this story on a hb site just brings back the reality of birth or life as such. Some things just happen and we will never know why ? Once again thanks for sharing!