21 September 2006

Special Delivery #1

The making of Mitchell - the morning
Even though I'm a huge fan of planning things, it was a very strange feeling arriving at the Delivery Suite at Royal North Shore Hospital on the morning of the 31st of August. Casually strolling up to the reception desk at about 8am, it still hadn't quite sunk in that I was actually there to go into labour, give birth and take a baby home.

After introducing myself and hubby, we were led to the waiting room while they prepared my room and found the midwife who would look after me for the morning. We picked up some magazines and went through the motions of flicking through the pages, all the while feeling like this was happening to some other lucky couple. Soon we were introduced to Sue The Midwife, who took us into Room 1 and organised a gown for me, took my blood pressure and some wee, and set me up on the bed. Still not quite real...

The passage of time throughout the whole day was a bit distorted, but I think I only waited about ten minutes before the obstetric staff specialist, Dr Nicholl, came to see me, and he explained the way things would work out:
1. Canulation, shortly followed by a prophylactic dose of antibiotics (a must for any heart surgery patient undergoing an invasive procedure)
2. Artificial Rupture of the Membranes (ARM) - such a touchy-feely term, isn't it?
3. Commencement of the Oxytocin drip to start contractions
4. Pain relief
5. Pushy-pushy
6. Baby!

A few minutes later, Allan, an anaesthetic resident arrived to explain a little about what was involved in an epidural block. It was decided that I should have an epidural sooner rather than later, because the less stress placed on my heart, the better for everyone's health. No argument from me - I had been keen to have an epidural from the start.

In the back of my mind, there were three stages of the process that I was concerned about:
Firstly, the canulation. I've had a canular inserted for various reasons more times than I care to remember, but for some reason I still hate it. It's just a bit icky.
Secondly, the ARM. From what I'd read and heard, this could be as vaguely uncomfortable as an average pelvic exam, or as painful as the contractions themselves. I was just a little nervous about how it would feel.
Finally, the epidural. I honestly wasn't too concerned about the risk - they don't add up to much statistically - but I'd heard from other mums that they'd had painful experiences with the insertion of the needle, and some had less-than-satisfactory results.

Concerns or no concerns, I'm a pretty good patient, and there was no turning back now...

8:30am - Canulation Time
This is never as bad as you think it's going to be. Unless you're scared of a little thing like a needle being stuck in your wrist. Which I'm not, fortunately. Sue managed a fairly average job, however. My Paramedic husband almost stepped in to help when warm globs of blood started squirting out of my arm, but thankfully Sue managed to get it all right in the end, and clean up all traces of her slight clumsiness. Phew. Concern Number One: outta the way.

8:40am-ish - The Crochet Hook
Dr Nicholl, whose manner and approach put me completely at ease, showed me the water-breaking stick and explained the process of membrane-breaking. Like any well-performed procedure, it was all done before I knew what had happened. And unlike a couple of stories I'd heard from friends, it wasn't at all painful. Concern Number Two: busted.

8:50-ish - Back-Stabbing
I was introduced to Dr Parsons, the anaesthetist who would administer the epidural. He seemed to be another doctor with the perfect bedside manner. He explained the procedure in detail, then moved me into position, bent over on the edge of the bed. Because I was a little worried, hubby dutifully held both my hands while I concentrated on staying calm. Unfortunately for him, that was the same moment that my body decided to expel an almighty gush of amniotic fluid. Ew.
The local anaesthetic that Dr Parsons administered was only a tiny prick, and after that the epidural only felt like a vaguely gross tugging and cracking of my vertebrae. Concern Number Three: Pah!

The doctor invited hubby to watch the procedure; an offer that was enthusiastically accepted. He administered a 'test dose' of anaesthetic to make sure that the catheter was positioned properly. My right leg felt entirely numb, while my left felt only mildly tingly. After a brief re-adjustment, Dr Parsons left, to return when I requested pain relief.

A little later, around 9am, Sue started the Oxytocin drip - it was all beginning! Dr Nicholl, the obstetrician, asked me if I'd like pain relief right away, or if I'd rather wait until the contractions kicked in properly. I told him that I'd like to experience a few contractions, because I was curious to know what they felt like. He mentioned that, with an induction, contractions often kicked in with more oomph than with a natural labour. The Tough Black Belt in me said, "no worries!"

Still pregnant...

To be continued...

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