The 19th of July 1999 was the due date, well that was the date that the doctors predicted. Alas as it turned out this was not the date Levi blessed us with his arrival. Ten years later and he is still doing his own thing when he chooses.
The joyous news of Levi being conceived not only gave his father and myself a feeling of ecstasy but the whole family and our friends were just as excited. At the same time I was promoted at work to a senior position. The position was very stressful and demanding on my time and energy. Colleagues had also taken maternity leave and returned to the corporate world so my story was not uncommon.
The birthing plan this in hindsight is what I should have been researching and working on rather then business concerns. The plan basically was once labor starts head off to hospital and let the professionals take over. Maybe not quite so brief but there wasn’t much more to it.
We were booked in at the local public hospital. At the time the hospital ran a program called Shared Care which meant you could stay with your local doctor until 12 weeks then see the midwifes at the hospital until full term. Assuming there were no complications. The midwives were very supportive and they reported directly to the obstetricians.
Due date came and went with no sign of a baby coming. Even trying the old remedies such as sex, long walks and spicy food made no changes. After ten days over the due date the hospital decided to admit me and start the inducing process. This made me nervous I really wanted my baby to come when he was ready however they had installed concern in me that maybe there was something wrong. Once again I willingly took the advice of the professionals and went along.
The hospital asked as to come in at 10pm with my bag packed. We arrived in the maternity ward and the nurses on duty directed me to a room where another lady was waiting for the induction process. The ward was extremely busy that night it seems a lot of babies had decided to arrive. There were a lot of woman crying out in pain and the cries seem to ring through my ears.
An hour later my husband decided to go home and get a good night sleep. Shortly after a nurse placed a monitor on my stomach then applied gel to my cervix. This was to gently start labor and not stress the baby at all. It was one of the longest nights just waiting and hearing the noises around me.
At 6am the obstetrician who started his shift came into my room with great urgency yelling at the midwives. He asked for an update on my status and without any explanation he proceeded to try to break my waters. A glimpse of a long sterile object I managed to see before it was thrust upon me. After a few minutes of excruciating pain I said “what the hell are you doing”. His reply was a grunt and he then got up and yelled something at the midwife.
Next thing I was in a birthing suite and a drip placed in my arm. After interrogating the midwife she explained this would definitely bring labour on. The power of the drug saw my cervix go from 2cm to 10cm dilated within minutes. Now I could feel how all the woman the previous night were experiencing.
My husband arrived after his relaxed night sleep. He entered the room and realized what was happening but all he could say was where is the toilet? He has very sensitive bowels and when faced with any emotional pressure an instant run to the toilet is needed. The midwife in disgust directed him out of the suit to find one.
Within half an hour the obstetrician burst into the room and read the report from the monitor. He then exclaimed surgery now the baby is in extreme distress. No surprise given the drugs that were inserted into my body and the fact that by now I was extremely anxious. My first reaction was fear and uncertainty what if there was something wrong.
As they wheeled me out of the room my husband returned from his little trip. By this stage I was hyperventilating and very scared. While preparing me for surgery the option of an epidural or general anesthetic was offered, I managed to say epidural. The midwife needed to show me how to breathe while they inserted the needle in my back.
Then we were in theatre and a sheet was placed in front of my face to prevent me seeing the operation. With my husband beside me trying to reassure me they knew what they were doing as he watched on above the curtain. From the expressions on has face and the tugging in my stomach this was enough to give me a visual of the invasion.
The doctors and nurses were gossiping amongst themselves in the most casual manner. It felt like my body was a lump of meat and they had done this so often that no one realized I was a person with another person in my tummy.
It was only an hour ago when nothing was happening and to process what was happening it felt surreal.
They pulled my baby from my tummy but there was no sound and from the sheet I couldn’t see anything. After screaming at these sterile people for an explanation a midwife came to my side and said they were just checking him out and it wont be long. What felt like a lifetime then finally my ears heard Levi’s first cry.
The midwife brought him over to me and our eyes interlocked with the most amazing unconditional love. And before I could say anything they took him away apparently to check him and bath him. All I could say to my husband was don’t leave his side and look after him as they went from my vision, that dam sheet. Then it hit me all my baby ever knew was me, and my body now he’s in this sterile world with strangers.
An intoxicating feeling of guilt and regret of how he needed me but I was nowhere to be heard or seen.
My insides were put back into place and I was wheeled into a recovery room. Finally someone listened to my concerns of needing to be near my baby. It was explained that until the epidural had worn off regulations are that I had to stay in recovery. A drip of pain relief was inserted into my arm this made me feel sleepy.
Apparently it was another hour before I was reunited with Levi. By this time the drugs had really taken affect so I don’t really remember much of this time. Levi weighed 5 pounds 8 ounces and looked like he needed a good feed. Apparently when babies are under weight its normal practice to comp feed, breast and bottle. By the time I had fully regained consciousness his feeding routine was breast then bottle. His father enjoyed this as he was able to feed as well. And I felt disempowered with having no control over my babies well being. Combined with the guilt from not being there when he needed me or not knowing what was happening to him.
Having a catheter and unable to sit up from my stomach being cut opened meant that I was bed ridden for the first day. There were streams of people coming in with gifts and Levi was passed around like a new toy.
Why did I allow this to happen? A combination of ignorance and seeking information from friends who I now realize had no idea. Since then I have been fortunate to meet mother’s that have more of a holistic view and how birth has happened for centuries before medical intervention and the media interfered.
Should I be blessed with the chance to give birth a second time you can be sure it will have no resemblance to this story.
A Mother now better informed