I continued throughout the day to manage the contractions with deep breathing/panting, Panadeine Forte and swapping locations between the bed and the shower. I found the shower was a great source of comfort. The hot water acted as a soother on my back and the gravity of standing helped to assist the progress. My contractions were still quite irregular (but ranged between 2-5minutes for most of the day). Every now and again a really strong one would hit and I would shout out and moan and thrash about and call out to Andee "Can you time this one!! ARE YOU AWAKE? ARE YOU TIMING IT??" By about 4.00pm the pain started to become unbearable, all the pain had moved into my bottom and I could not find any relief during the contractions. It didn't matter how I stood or sat or lay I had to scream... it was time to go!
I shouted to Andee that we needed to go back to the hospital. He was still reluctant at this stage to believe it was "WEAL LABOUR" as the lovely coughing doctor had told us that unless the contractions were exactly 2 minutes apart every time then it is not considered "established labour". That instantly sounded like a pile of rubbish to me as I was pretty sure my body wasn't born with a "timer" to ensure it was "exactly 2 minutes apart! and surely every woman labours differently.
I was in agony trying to find some clothes to cover myself with to get to the car. Andee had disappeared to the toilet and was taking his sweet time,,, I started shouting "Andee we need to go NOW! If you are going to be a couple of minutes then I will need to get back in the shower as its the only way I can cope!!! COME ON!!!". When Andee finally appeared from the toilet he was holding his belly and pulling a face. I started losing it....
Bron: "WHAT? WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?" (angry eyes, I am going to murder you face)
Bron: What? its not nothing
Andee: I don't want to say
Andee: Ive got stomach cramps...
Bron: WHAT THE F#$K? (This is where my F-bombs begin and really continue until our darling is born). Let me just take a moment to say... if there was EVER a relevant time in your life to SWEAR LIKE A TROOPER IN BATTLE, ITS IN LABOUR!!! (and I guess in battle...).
Andee: That's why I didn't want to say anything...
(Bronwyn gives piercing death stare, NO WORDS are relevant for the husband right now...)
Bronwyn: We have to go NOW!
I had a contraction on the way up our steps to the car and 3 further contractions in the car on the way to the hospital. My window was wound all the way down for optimum air flow and our race thru the 4.30pm traffic had me screaming out the window when the contractions were in full swing. I wasn't aware of whether we got any strange looks from fellow drivers or passer-by's but I am sure we did. I could not actually sit on the chair (as the pressure and pain in my bottom was too strong) so I was arching my back and had my butt lifted off the seat. As we turned right into the street of the hospital Andee put his foot in it again...
Andee: The contractions are still not every 2 minutes like the doctor said they would be...
Bron: WHAT are you trying to SAY? (woman possessed eyes)
Andee: I just don't want you to get your hopes up, this probably still Isn't REAL labour...
Bron: Andee just SHUT UP! (spitting venom face)
Andee: Well its just..
Bron: STOP, JUST STOP TALKING!
Andee: I am just trying to..
Bron: ANDEEEEEEEEEEE, STOP TALKING!!!!!!! IF THIS IS NOT REAL F-ING LABOUR,,,then I don't know anything, I just need you to be supportive right now AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!
Andee: Do you want me to drop you at the emergency entrance? and I'll go and park the car?
Bron: YES! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! F#$K!!!!
I made my way into the hospital and up the stairs by myself heading as fast as I could toward the birth suites trying not to alarm or hit passerby's as I did. By the time I made it to the reception desk of the birth suites I couldn't hold it together any longer. 16.5 hours of labour, no sleep, no food and only Panadeine Forte for pain relief had done me in.
My butt felt like it was going to explode, a watermelon was pushing its way down and was going to split me in two. It felt as though the skin between my vagina and anus was literally going to be torn apart by the slow force of a watermelon.
Nurse: You must be Bronwyn? your husband rang ahead to say you were on your way.
Nurse: We will just take you thru to a room and examine where you are at
Bron: Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!! NNNOOOOOO!!!! AH! AH! AH! I need an EPIDURAL NOW!
I WANT PAIN RELIEF! HELP! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!
Nurse: Okay, lets just check you over, so what time did you start having..
Bron: AHHHHHHHHHHHH! AH! AH! AH!
Nurse: Okay, let's try to get you on the bed and have a look..
Bron: AHHHHHH! AH! AH! AH! HELLLLPPPPP! HELP!
Nurse: Okay perhaps we should just skip that and give you the gas to try out?
Bron: YES! PLEASE NOW!!!!! AHHHHH!!
(Nurse quickly hooked up the gas and passed it over to me as Andee arrived from parking the car)
Bron: How do you use this thinggggg! AHHHHH!!
Andee happily gave me a demonstration of how to use the gas and I quickly learnt how to continually breathe in and out of the device thru the entire contraction. I was amazed that whilst the contraction lasted I could not feel any effect from the gas at all (although it was definitely working). But the moment the contraction slowed I could suddenly taste the gas which made me gag and the effects of the "happy gas" would start to take hold (tingles in my feet, cold sensation in my body, sound would dull and my head would start to drift into another world). As much as I wanted to drift into that "other world" the taste of the gas would make me too sick (how unfair!!). However I didn't have to wait long until the next contraction, to me it felt like 10 seconds in between each time now (perhaps it was longer,,, but in my memory it felt like it was only a few breathes of normal air in between the agony now). As I got the hang of the gas and could just cope surviving thru each contraction ("surviving" being the optimal word here as I was still yelling and thrashing about like a mad woman). The midwife was finally able to examine me and thankfully announce I was 6 cms and the baby wasn't far away!! THANK-HEAVENS!! Even though with every minute the pain became more unbearable I knew now "the end was nigh!!!" (and had a smug moment of satisfaction inside, underneath all the layers of unbearable pain! that I WAS IN "WEAL LABOUR!! take that DOCTOR COUGH FACE, MIDWIFE WITCH-COW-BITCH and my UN-BELIEVER HUSBAND").
My world became divided into two spheres, one was just completely crazy, I was a mad woman, "Insane in the Membrane", thrashing and yelping, ripping off my clothes, moaning, rocking, sighing, drooling and swearing. There was NO DIGNITY, there was not one ounce of care for who walked in the room or for what was dripping out of where (and to tell you the truth not really any concept of who "was in the actual room" and "what WAS dripping out of where" anyway).
The second part of my world was still me, it was a fleeting continual dialogue in my head of "my thoughts" and anyone who knows me well, knows this dialogue has a pretty wicked sense of humour. So although I couldn't covey my thoughts to anyone else at the time I was thinking some pretty funny things. For instance I could tell that my actions (had they not been combined with excruciating pain) were FRIGGIN HILARIOUS! I wished I had someone taking video footage of my facial expressions as I sat perched on the edge of the hospital bed, half standing to alleviate the pain in my bum and sucking on that gas with all my might! With each breath of gas I would start with my chin to my chest and then I'd throw my head back to the ceiling sucking with all my might (like I'd somehow be able to fit more gas into my lungs with such a huge effort of motion). Each time I reached the furthest flung back position (and I guess the highest point of the gas's full effect) my eyes would fix on some kind of device on the hospital ceiling (perhaps an alarm? or a fire sprinkler?). This ceiling device had a number or something on it and my eyes would fixate on this same point with each thrust back. I could tell I looked insane...
I also had a running commentary in my head about the people coming and going. All of these exact thoughts are a blur now, but I know at the time I was judging every doctor and midwife on how bloody slow they were, or stupid, or ugly, or dumb! (or all of the above) lucky for them I was sucking too hard on the gas to be able to actually abuse them verbally. Also I knew these people were the key to getting more drugs... so perhaps attacking them verbally (or possibly physically) was not in my best interest.
So I had mastered the gas, we knew we were in "WEAL LABOUR" and I was waiting for my epidural. The midwives kept saying to me "the anaesthetist is on her way, she is just caught up at the moment... she shouldn't be long, but if this baby comes in the meantime we will handle it just fine".
It occurred to me that this was like every episode of "One Born Every Minute" where the bloody anaesthetist is always "caught up" and takes flaming forever to arrive!! I felt like it was a conspiracy, they didn't want to give me the drugs... maybe they were trying to "save money" or they just wanted to see if I would push it out without the epidural in the meantime... or maybe they enjoyed watching people in pain?? I wanted to kill someone, I wanted to kill myself!
Around this time I started to notice my voice had become reeeeeaaaaalllly SLLLOOOOOOWWWW
and reaaaallllyyyyy DEEP! This was due to the "not-so-happy-gas" (imagine the opposite effect of helium). I sounded like a stoned Darth Vadar, an ANGRY stoned Darth Vadar, Darth Vadar NEEDED DRUGS NOOOOWWWW!! The gas was not cutting the mustard, I was loosing my patience with waiting for the epidural, I wanted to kick people with my mind powers... I ripped the gas out of my mouth and shouted!!
Bronwyn: (cue slow-mo angry stoned Darth Vadar voice)
"Wherrrrrrreeeee's thhheeee Faaarrrrrrkkkiiing Anaesthetist??"
Nurse: oh dear, sorry I will go and check for you again
Bronwyn: (starts sucking back on the gas straight away)
Before I could get the epidural they needed to insert a cannula into my hand for a drip. Unfortunately I was extremely dehydrated and it was making it very difficult for them to find a vein. Two midwives and one doctor later (each making 3 attempts) left me with bleedy hands and again NO patience or decorum, I ripped the PRECIOUS, PRECIOUS GAS out of my mouth momentarily to shout at the doctor...
Bronwyn: (cue slow-mo angry stoned Darth Vadar voice)
"FOOOORRRR F&*K'S SAAKKKKEEEE!!!"
Doctor: Oh, sorry dear, looks like we will have to leave it and ask the anaesthetist to put it in for us
Bronwyn: (I was thinking hmmm, really perhaps after the 4th, 5th, 6th or 7th attempt you could have decided that!! but no let's torture this woman a bit more... lets go for 9 attempts to shove a plastic tube into the non existent veins in her hand before deciding to let the "REAL PROFESSIONAL" handle it!
FINALLY! the GOD-DAM ANAESTHETIST enters the room! she floats in looking like a super model, wearing super fitted jeans, heels, a fancy smancy blouse and flawless make-up. She stops to flick back her bouncy smouncy ive-recently-been-blow-dried-hair (I shit you not, I am being serious, this is not an illusion, she was all styled up like Dr Grey off Grey's Anatomy... or Nina Proudman from Offspring). No wonder we had to wait 3 hours for her to arrive! she was shooting a GOD-DAM TV SHOW!
Luckily she was super efficient, cannula in the hand first go, giant scary needle prepared, forms signed, hunched over in the stay-as-still-as-possible-even-if-your-having-a-contraction-position-otherwise-you-could-become-a-paraplegic. I always envisioned getting a giant needle in your spine would be ridiculously scary and painful... but honestly I had no time to be scared, what could possibly be scarier than right now! I hardly felt the needle at all, it literally felt like someone flicked my back with their finger, there was a little bit of pressure and it was done. Ahhhh, finally now surely the pain would just fall away and I could have a break, a deep breathe, a moment or two of peace before the pushing began... Why wasnt the pain stopping? waahhhhhh I starting sucking down hard on the gas again with all my might. One of the midwives tried to pry the gas away from me...
Nurse: Okay, youve had the epidural now, so its time to put the gas down
Bronwyn: No, Noooooo, No, No, No, don't, you can't take it away from me (shaking my head like a homeless crazy woman being pried away from her "plastic bag trolley").
After this point Andee tells me we were left alone in the room for most of the final hour. To me it felt like about 3 minutes... I just continued to suck down on that gas and thrash about in agony. I don't have much memory of this time,,, all I know is it was hell, it felt like being tortured to death over and over and over and never being allowed to die. Right towards the end bub's heart-rate dropped right down really low and Andee called out to one of the midwives to come and check. The midwife came in calmy, fiddled around with the fetal heart monitor and then hit the "EMERGENCY" button. The room was suddenly filled with people, they were shouting at me to move onto my side and then onto my back. I could hear them say "okay we need to get this baby out NOW!", next thing I know my legs were up in stirrups and a doctor was talking about maybe requiring either forceps or the vacuum. I shouted "Vacuum!" as I had heard a few horror stories about the forceps. They started asking me to push, I had no idea if I was actually pushing or just filling my cheeks of with air and holding my breath?? But literally 5 pushes later and our little man arrived. All the pain stopped instantly, the chaos turned to calm, I was floating in a surreal bubble. They placed our little man onto my belly and Andee tells me he cut the cord (although I don't remember it at all) and then he was bought up to my chest. I didn't know what to think, I couldn't take my eyes off this little squirmy bundle, who are you? hello little stranger... are you really mine? How is it possible? Andee and I hugged and kissed, I thought I would be teary but I wasn't at all... I think I was just SOOOOOOO relieved!! It was OVER! he was here safely and the floor had returned back on the ground, the ceiling back in the air I HAD SURVIVED!!
Meanwhile the midwives are doctors were busy down in the nether-regions (although honestly I don't remember a thing). This is where I was grateful that I had had the epidural as a few friends had described the placenta birth and stitches as being quite painful. I don't remember a thing, I didn't even see anything going on, I was just transfixed on our sweet little warm bundle of life. Andee made the phone calls to my folks, his dad and his mum. I could see Andee getting choked up over the phone as he shared our most exciting news. This little man was the first grand-child on both sides of the family and was such a source of joy, excitement and possibility of endless new memories and adventures yet to be made.
After the phone calls were made and the doctors and nurses finished up the nasty nether-region business. I was struck by something... I WAS SOOOOO DAM HUNGRY!! and of all things I was craving a glass of wine (possibly a bottle) I remember saying out aloud "I could SERIOUSLY murder a glass of shiraz!!" (after I said this I did think these nurses are going to think I am an alcoholic! ha ha). Unfortunately by this stage of the night dinner was well and truly past, so the nurse went hunting around for food. She returned with a cold salad and chicken plate, which I DEVOURED like a ravenous wolf... which relevantly brings me to our sons name "Wolfe" (pronounced Wolf-fee) or perhaps when he is older it will just be Wolf with a silent "E".
Wolfe Forrest Napiorkowski had arrived, the world was his oyster (or perhaps his Wolf den). He was perfect and soft and tiny. He smelt of that lush baby smell. His eyes were wide open, exploring this vast and bright new world. He didn't really cry and when he did they were more like puppy squeaks.
As I sit here typing up the end of "The Epic Journey called Birth- PART 3", I have just realised that today is exactly 4 weeks since Wolfe was born. I have tried to steal free moments during feeds in the middle of the night or short breaks whilst he has been asleep during the day to type up my story. Friends had explained to me prior to the birth that the memory of the birth is so fleeting (which could not be more true!). Perhaps this is nature's way to ensure the human race is preserved... to ensure we go back for more. Straight after giving birth I remember saying "next time MUST be an elective caesarean", the next day I thought "If I had the epidural earlier, and if I didn't have haemorrhoids at the time I could cope" and now four weeks on........................................ "bring it on! I survived once" (I am a slow learner and a sucker for punishment).
The memory of the birth now is surreal, it is now so blurred in my mind that I sometimes had to ask Andee questions whilst writing this story! I really wanted to capture as best I could my exact feelings and thoughts during this experience. But it really is indescribable... and every person's experience is going to be so different (and probably each subsequent birth will also be so different). I think I coped knowing that I would survive, millions of women had done it before, it would eventually be over (after possibly a few days of hell) and that in the end I would receive the most precious gift (and best of all...I even got to take him home! and keep him!!!)
Hilarious facial expression!!! This is the money shot!
Bub's head was already out and the body was on its way. I had to share as my face says it all!
The calm after the storm
Proud dad's first hold
Wolfe Forrest Napiorkowski
Born at 8.16pm on the 20.02.2014
and so a new journey begins, a journey called motherhood...