True stories about birth and giving birth

Day 386: I’m in a vacuum (Bence’s birth)

Day 386: I’m in a vacuum (Bence’s birth)

I was sitting on the cloakroom counter in a very quiet cinema. Gábor was standing in front of me, embracing me. I cried, we talked and contemplated whether we should just walk up a hill, hide from the world and burrow ourselves away. Then we could wait peacefully for me to give birth. We just felt that’s what we should do and the feeling reached us again and again but we had to shoo it away knowing it was impossible. Although this feeling overwhelmed us we knew in despair that we couldn’t hide away. So I just cried, contemplated and desperately hoped that our Baby would come before the ultimate date that the doctor gave us.

Actually the show had already gone; I had frequent Braxton Hicks contractions a week before the “due date”. It was evening. I was sitting on the bed, Gábor behind me, holding my bump. I was trying the breathing techniques and I felt they worked. It was good being together with Gábor and I was very happy that I was going to give birth. We rang the midwife, Gabi, and told her where we were. We kept measuring the time. The contractions were stronger now and I was welcoming them. We decided it was time to go to the hospital. The family was excited, so were we.

We got changed, Mum and Dad drove us to the hospital by car. At the hospital all four of us went up in the elevator to the ward where our midwife was already expecting us. She took me to the preparation room and Gabor and mum and dad waited outside. After completing lots of documentation my blood pressure was measured (I always worry what they will do to me if it’s not right) and then they admitted me to the ward. Then it was time for the CTG; I felt very insecure. I’ve always been dreading the hassle of the preparation, a time when Gábor can’t be with me. Meanwhile the contractions… I don’t really know, became insignificant, they melted away. I was lonely, insecure and very scared, not knowing what they will do to me.

Gabi made a big difference though. She was calm, caring, familiar, smiley and encouraging. She tried her best to do the CTG herself but the midwife on duty wouldn’t let her and was already fixing the machine on me. She was fumbling around my belly. She grabbed my private parts and mentioned that there was some fat there. It was humiliating listening to this whilst being tied down, half naked, on my back in amongst contractions, even if they weren’t too strong.

So there I was, lying humiliated, listening to the “da-dam” sound of the machine, watching the paper slither out, trying to understand what the curves on the reading meant. I tried familiarizing myself with the birth room, examined the gadgets, I was trying to feel better. Gabi came back. She told me that the contractions tricked us, they are not the real ones but as we are already here, we should stay and wait until they get stronger and she encouraged me to try to sleep. The others were sent home. It was hard saying goodbye to Gábor. Do I really have to spend the night without him??? I was allocated a bed and I slept surprisingly well.

The next day Gábor arrived early to make my life more bearable. We prepared to stay long term. We suffered in the awful conditions but we were together and that was good. By the evening we decided that I should leave the hospital and I discharged myself. It was wonderful going home. I appreciated everything at home so much. Then another week passed without any incident.

One morning we went to see the doctor, Éva, at the hospital. She examined me. Although she had done this type of examination several times before over the last couple of months and although I was expecting it, it still hurt. She said I was to stay at the hospital and wait to see whether the labour would start by itself. I was very glad for this news – so they wouldn’t induce me, they would wait for it to happen naturally. I told this to Gábor. He waited until I was taken onto the ward again and then left to carry on his business – he was looking for wooden flooring at the time. Gabi gave him the direct telephone number by my bed. He kept calling me during the day. In the meantime the doctor changed her mind – if the labour didn’t start by the evening she’d induce me. I was glad again – then I don’t have to lie here without anything happening, I can give birth. I had Braxton-Hicks contractions all day but infrequently and without pain. I’m doing crosswords and resting. It’s so hot. I’m eating sour cherry and try to make the room more comfortable and friendly. My roommate is going home with a baby and another one arrives with a bump.

As night falls Gábor arrives. Will we get the alternative labour room? We do but preparation first! It’s not too bad, I’m not dreading it any more. The place and the situation are familiar by now. Gabi examines me but it doesn’t hurt. She says that nothing has changed, I’m still dilated to two inches, just as it’s been for the past week. We agreed in advance that I wouldn’t have an enema but she says she has to administer it now. I can tell that she doesn’t want to do it, she was just instructed to by the doctor. I even agreed it with Éva that it wouldn’t be done. In spite of this it doesn’t bother me after all.. She informs me about everything before she does it: what she will do and what I should do. She apologises before she sticks the pipe up my bum! Her quiet voice and attention feels so good and the enema is not that bad at all, there is nothing unpleasant about it. I’m walking afterwards and go to the toilet as she instructed me to. Actually the whole process was quite nice. I just go back to my room for all the things I prepared for the delivery room. Gábor comes as well and we march in the room.

Gabi says we should get comfortable. It is around 8 pm. We light only two candles. We check the furniture and test the birthing chair. The atmosphere is nice and light and I’m having some infrequent, light contractions to increase the mood. We feel good, we are a little excited and I feel tipsy. Sometimes the staff come in the room but then leave immediately.

The doctor enters the room to induce me. She says hello, she likes the atmosphere. His eyes need a little time to adjust. I was informed during the day about the procedure of inducement: during a contraction the amniotic sack is stretched and it will be pierced with a metal instrument, it won’t hurt. Fine. Still, I’m a little scared. The doc is nice and she is smiling, as much as she can. Whereabouts do we live, she asks. I’m grateful for her, I feel she is understanding, she is trying to make the wait a little easier. We answer her but meanwhile the contraction she was waiting for arrives. They place a bedpan below me and rupture the sack. It doesn’t hurt indeed. Warm water flows out of me. I get relaxed. Then as I’m still in the hands of the doc it suddenly really hurts, the way it hurt during the examination but much, much more. Gábor stands above my head all through this. I grab for his hand, it’s hard to find it but finally I get hold of it and I’m squeezing it very tight.

What is this? They said it wouldn’t hurt, I just got relaxed so this caught me off guard. They say the waters are green. No need to worry but according to the protocol we have to leave this room and go to the traditional one as we need to follow the baby’s heartbeat. They say it calmly. I say fine and go as if this was the most natural thing ever. We move. We are looking for a place for the candles. Gabi says we can place them anywhere but as soon as we put them down she adds, oh, not there, the sterile equipment is there. They wire me on the CTG while I’m sitting on the birthing bed. Gábor learns how to use the remote control of the bed.

The contractions are stronger, they definitely hurt and they are frequent. Gabi tells us that the contractions need to be recorded for 15-20 minutes, that’s how long I have to stay on the bed, after it’s done I can get up and even stand by the bed if I want. Fine. The machine is broken, Gabi is annoyed that we got this one. It beeps really loud at the peak of each contraction and it won’t stop until Gabi presses a button. It’s very distracting.

The 15-20 minutes passes and I stand up. My water drips, Gabi says it will go on like this. I get some cotton balls between my legs. It bothers me, I can’t move without it falling out. Sometimes Gabi changes it, sometimes she instructs me to change it. It’s difficult. Where do I have to throw it? Where is a new one? These problems don’t allow me to pay attention to myself – I try to though. It hurts more and more.

When a contraction comes I start the learned breathing technique. I practice it, I start doing it fairly well and when I succeed, it hurts much less. I focus on this. I lose my connection with time. In the beginning I squeeze Gábor’s hand but it seems to make it worse. So I leave it, close my eyes and breathe regularly. It really hurts. Break. New one. I can hardly bear it. ”Fine.” – I say to myself, then I give myself to the pain, let it take me and let’s see what happens. It comes, I breath, let it take me as much as I can; sounds are leaving my lips while breathing out and I raise both my hands.

Sometimes Gabi tells me to let my shoulders down. She helps and I feel she is right – I want to relax but when my shoulders are up I’m still tense. I do it this way from then on. I feel that it’s a little but it still is at the edge of bearableness. Sometimes it’s beyond – when I don’t succeed with the breathing. Then it’s horrible. The pain gets more intense, the contractions are more frequent, longer and stronger. When a contraction starts that’s when I have to focus. If I can’t catch the breathing pattern then, then later when the contraction is really strong I can’t get into it.

I fall behind and I feel that the pain drives me mad. On one occasion I lean on the bed, shout and say “It hurts!!!” “Pay attention to the breathing, the breathing.” – Gabi urges me. “That’s all I do!” – I say. This one passes, I succeed the next time. I really have to focus on it.

The machine doesn’t sleep in the meantime. I’m tied to it, I’ve only got a square foot to move on. I accept it, I don’t feel that it bothers me. The machine is still broken; it beeps at the top of each contraction. It drives me crazy! Gabi jumps every time to switch it off but as soon as it starts I feel I go crazy. And it goes on like this, every time, relentlessly. Gabi suggests that I try the ball so I do so but it hurts even more that way. We can forget about it. I’m left with standing, breathing, lifting my arms and making sounds. Sometimes I have to sit on the bed so the machine can record. Gabi says the documentation is needed. Then I get off because it’s much better standing.

We try a few things with Gábor but I can’t bear his touch. So he is just there and that is very good. If Gabi is not in the room he stops the beeping, gives me water, a hundred times if I ask. Half a movement is enough for him to understand what I want. Once someone touched my belly in the middle of a contraction. Horrid! I brush the hand off with my eyes closed, thinking it is Gábor’s. “OK, OK, OK.” – says Gabi. Oh, so I was rude with her then, I think, but then I shrug my shoulder – I don’t care she shouldn’t touch me either.

The doctor enters. She makes me lay up on the bed. I have to let her know when the contraction comes, she would examine me then. I’m lying on my back, the contraction comes – oh, how bad it is this way! I tell her about the contraction. She examines me. It hurts inexplicably, horribly. It is like being stabbed by a knife. The cervix barely progressed. What? I’m in despair. I thought we were going ahead well, it hurts, of course, I’m in labour, everything is fine. She says she’d come back shortly and examine me again. I fear it in advance. She’s coming again. Lying up, telling her when the contraction comes. This is real sadistic! I have to volunteer information to her on when to skin me? I tell her, she examines, I struggle, grabbing Gábor’s hand. It didn’t progress.

She says the cervix is very tense and they need to relax it. Then re-start the labour with an oxytocin injection. She explains everything. I can choose whether to go ahead or wait more. It feels good that she explains everything and I am able to choose. I choose to wait and continue like this. I’d like it to go naturally. I trust that it would. Gabi supports me, I can tell, she thinks too that this way is the best. The doc leaves the room.

She comes back shortly. She asks Gabi whether she administered the injection. No. She tells her off quietly: “Give it already, she’ll wear out.” Gabi rustles for a while, postpones it as long as she can but eventually she administers the weaker one into my right hip. It doesn’t help, everything remains the same. That leaves the stronger one. I want it in the same place. This one works. The whole process calms down and eventually stops. I sit up on the bed so the machine can record. I rest and fall asleep.

The doctor comes in. They hook me up to the drip. I was dreading a situation like this but now I don’t see anything special in it; I’m all stoic. I can’t stand up from now on, they say. We are talking with the doctor. I tell her how much I appreciate that she informs me about everything in advance and I can choose whenever possible. She smiles as much as she can. She asks me to let them know when a contraction comes so they can set the drip. I do and they set it stronger and stronger but the original feeling is not coming back, these are not as strong as those were.

Sometimes they lay me on the bed, examine me, I struggle, squeeze Gábor’s hand. These are terrible, horrific and I’m dreading them in advance but otherwise I’m stoic, the things are just happening with me. After each examination I request in despair that they re-set the bed to sitting position as lying is awful. Gábor always re-sets it straight away. Once I ask to pull it even further but someone misunderstands me and sets it to laying position. I’m in a middle of a contraction and become completely desperate. Gábor lets them know straight away, grabs the remote control and sets it the way I like it.

Eventually it gets very strong. They say I can push if I feel like it. I don’t but I push anyway, this is why I’m here after all, isn’t it? When I push it hurts even more. This surprises me. At the course we were told that the second stage doesn’t hurt any more. This goes on like this for a few times, then they instruct me to turn to one of my sides, lift my upper leg and when the contraction comes, push. Do this through a few contractions and then change sides. They explain something about the baby getting into position. It’s not easy to do it and of course it is terribly painful. I’m tired and it’s difficult to roll on the narrow bed with my big bump, the CTG and the drip. Gábor helps, holds my legs up. Examination comes after a few rotations. The usual terror. I feel like a half butchered cow that is even being tortured.

I remain on my back and told I can push with the next contraction. Gábor helps holding my head, the doctor stands on one side, Gabi on the other. They push both my legs towards my neck with their hips. I’m very surprised but I find it a smart technique. I like the harmony between them. I am pushing, trying to do it the way we were taught on the course. I can’t do it straight away but I get the hang of it after a few trials. I’m surprised that it is painful. The contraction arrives, I push and then it hurts even more so I have to grab all my strength to be able to push in spite of the pain, more and more and more. But I manage. I’m told I’m doing it right.

Éva says we’ll need a man’s help here. They call out the door, I can see that the corridor is bright from the artificial lights, in here it’s nice semidarkness. A handsome young doctor comes in. I’ve seen him before, during the preparation. He stands on my left. I am told that he is going to press my belly at the next contraction. Fine – I say and the doctor is very sympathetic, handsome and his smile is very supportive. The next contraction is approaching, head up, legs lifted, I push, he pushes too. It’s not awful but it is terribly painful. I’ve had an episiotomy in the meantime. I was told when but I didn’t feel it. I’m gathering strength in the break. I look deeply in the doctors eyes. He looks back, smiles, I gain a lot of strength from that. The next one arrives. Then a break, I collect my strength, the doctor even praises me. The next one. During one of them the baby is born. I can’t feel it at all.

They say they need to treat him, they cut the umbilical cord and I can’t have him on me. Fine, then treat him! I can see that they are gathering around the child in the corner and doing something. I’m lying down. And that’s it. Not a lot is left in me. I am surprised how small my belly is and I say it but Gabi says “weeell” and I can tell by her voice that it’s not that small but to me it is very small now. Gabi pulls the placenta out of me by the umbilical cord and shows it to me. Gábor looks at it too, says something but I can’t see it any more I’m so tired.

After a while they are showing a dressed-up baby, telling me to look at it and that they are taking him to the incubator. They take him and Gábor goes with him. This calms me a little but I feel terribly lonely. Just like if my head has been cut off. Where is he??? I want to shout into the nothing I am in. Where is my baby??? Where is everyone??? I loose connection with everything, I’m in a vacuum, a part of me dies. Gábor comes back after a while but everything remains so distant. “Do you know that it’s a boy?” – he asks. “I know now.” – I reply. “Then his name is Bence.”

Ó. Á.

Eszter > > >
Eszter’s birth from another angle > > >
Rebeka > > >

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