Tuesday, September 07, 2004
Part 2
OK where was I? Oh yes, on the loo...been there a long time!
Eventually, the instructions changed to don't push as I started to - entirely involuntarily and impossible to avoid. After a good while of this, me getting more and more frustrated with my rubbish pushiness, So-san decided I could get in the water although it was a little early (7 cm dilated?). Still compos mentis enough to notice that Cameron had changed into shorts not his trunks and to send him back to get changed! A change of midwife shift saw Kondo-san on duty while So-san popped home for a bit.
The water was wonderful but I continued to push with each contraction, try as I might not to: I clearly remember trying so hard to just breathe and not push, thinking I had managed, then failing and having a good push each time. Not a clue how long this went on for but eventually So-san came back to tell me that they thought I might be having pushing contractions (no, really?) - but an examination showed that I was still just 7 cm dilated. Disappointed and starting to ask (not entirely unseriously) for drugs and/or a transfer to hospital for a c-section just to get it over with.
So-san decided we had to try something different: I was to put my head down, hold my breath and PUSH every time I felt the urge, while she tried to open things up. Well, it feels like I did that for about 6 hours yet also about an hour; I have no idea which is more accurate. But boy, did I push! I got out of the pool after a while because they thought it wasn't helping so there I was pushing with all I had and bellowing like a cow, Cameron behind me feeding me bananas and water and holding the basin for me to puke in, So-san doing I know not what, Kondo-san pushing on my tummy (I had bruises from that for a week). At some point, So-san went to ring Keiko the friendly acupuncturist but by the time she arrived, I was past needing acupuncture so she just held a leg (!) and later, bizarrely, took photos. I wasn't really prepared for that and neither was Cameron - the pictures are very odd, I am obviously far and away and unaware but Cameron, behind me, is obligingly gurning for the camera.
Just as I was beginning to think I had no more strength and it would never end, everybody started getting excited and I could feel that something had changed: more pressure. A wee while later, I put my hand down to feel the top of a head - the softest thing I have ever felt in my life. And then I was allowed back into the pool for the final few pushes.
Standing and climbing in was interesting as it felt like the baby's head was right there! In the pool I came over all Mabel Lucie Attwell (why her? Perhaps I mean Enid Blyton?) oh my goodness oh my goodness (rather gratified and surprised to find me not swearing my way through labour actually). One more push had the head out - I felt a face! Then the baby gave a wriggle and a twist by itself and seemed to swim out of its own accord. I leant forward to scoop it up but So-san reminded me to leave it under water until it was ready. We gazed at each other (Cameron too) for long minutes before somebody suggested I find out what sex it was. I couldn't be sure, the cord was in the way, but I thought, a girl. And Cameron said a girl!
Then she started moving her mouth so we lifted her up out of the water and climbed out of the pool. Cameron cut the cord while she lay on my tummy (more photos and we named her. Maggie, then? and Sakura?) then I had to stay lying on the floor while they took her off for the weighing, measuring, dressing and phoning home ritual. I spoke to somebody but I can't actually remember who - my sister, perhaps? Then they brought her back to me and we just lay being happy. I am sure she didn't cry even then; not until much later.
I remained sufficiently a scientist to ask to have a look at my placenta (like a very very large liver, it was extremely interesting!) and they told me that neither it nor the baby looked like she was actually overdue at all. An hour later Kondo-san came and had a feel of my tummy; much muttering then they decided I needed a catheter and withdrew something like a litre of urine...all very impressed with the size of my bladder - like a camel! An hour or so later I was asking to get up: they said I could stay downstairs that night but I felt OK so wanted to go up to our room. Very shaky on my legs and I had to crawl up the steep stairs but I made it! So-san came in and made up a futon for Cameron (Maggie and I had the bed), showed me how to feed Maggie and change a nappy (I knew nothing!) then we all went off to sleep.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004
ferret world Posted by Hello

Sunday, June 27, 2004
Birth (part 1)
The story really begins on Thursday March 25th. I had an unavoidable hospital appointment for 11.30 the next morning, at which they were almost certain to insist on an induction - given that I was 2 1/2 weeks overdue - although I had every intention, if everything was still looking fine, of asking them to leave me until Monday. The Thursday was spent, as the entire previous week had been, employing 'natural' methods of induction: a session of fetal monitoring (oh your baby is strong. But sleeps a long time!) was followed by massage - because my stiff back was stopping the baby getting out - o-kyu* and a visit to the acupuncturist who this time left some small pins in my lower back and once again refused payment unless I had to have the baby in hospital. I was eventually allowed home for curry, pineapple and a good dose of castor oil, agreeing to meet So-san at the hospital the following morning. Miserable.
*o-kyu = moxibustion; days earlier I had even in desperation submitted to 'direct o-kyu' (where the burning bit of twig is placed directly on the skin. 100 times. Like torture) and o-kyu to the top of my head which was apparently very hard and thus preventing the baby from coming out.
4 am Friday, I woke with contractions and a show. Yay! But still not sure whether I'd have to go to hospital or be allowed to the clinic. Went back to bed and dozed between contractions, coming about every 10 minutes, until the alarm went off and Cameron got up for work. Decided I should mention it to him...
We decided he should still go to work as planned, meeting me later at the hospital if I still had to go there or at the clinic if not. Around 8.30 I rang So-san and told her I thought she could cancel the hospital appointment! She was very excited and we agreed I'd pop along to the clinic around for a spot more monitoring and we'd see what he hospital doctor said. 10ish, there I was at the clinic with my 'small labour bag' (lots of towels; tupperware containers, use to be revealed; fashion magazines*; CDs; lots of cash; clothes for Cameron; wash stuff). The monitor showed that yes, I was having contractions (I knew that!); the hospital doctor agreed that I didn't have to go in (and was apparently very excited and pleased for me) and the rest of the day is a blur. I know I was shown to my room; I know I looked at pictures in Vogue; I suspect there was more massage and o-kyu and brown rice and measurement of blood pressure but I really don't recall. I know I kept ringing Cameron (so perhaps he has a better idea of what I was doing) and telling him not to bother coming; I know the contractions weakened as it got dark; and I know I was eventually allowed to go home for the night. I was told to eat whatever I liked (pizza was good) and to come back in the morning or sooner if I needed to.
*These did not actually appear on the list I'd been given.
Pizza, ice cream and Moulin Rouge while Cameron timed contractions (although it was actually very difficult to say when they started and finished). We went to bed but I was up again at 1.30 - I was curling up in pain every 10 minutes or so and I couldn't see the point of keeping Cameron awake - at least that way one of us might be functional in the morning. I spent the night pacing in circles around the kitchen, sipping hot water and listening, oddly, to Elgar, or leaning over the back of the sofa. At least in that position I could doze off between contractions. It was a long night. Early the next morning I got in the bath, where I did manage to get an hour's sleep.
The taxi ride back to the clinic was long and uncomfortable. Being terribly British I didn't want to make a fuss in front of the driver so I gripped Cameron's hand very tightly and gritted my teeth through the contractions.
Most of Saturday is also a blur (you didn't want a detailed account, right?!). Late morning we were sent out for a walk; I have no idea what we did before that. I kept having to stop and lean on things - lampposts, trees, Cameron - while trying to be inconspicuous and not make a scene. I know I was sick and terribly embarrassed about it (thus not in 'real labour' yet). We made it to the local park where the cherry blossoms were absolutely at their peak. Pink blossom, blue sky - so beautiful. Up and down the paths, we found a small temple. Heading back to the clinic we passed the fabulous shop 'ferret world' and visited a bakery and a combini for chocolate milk and high-calorie snacks; past caring by this point I was bent double in the shops. Wonder what they thought? (Of course, being close to the clinic, they maybe have it all the time.)
Hours must have passed back up in my room, mostly kneeling on the floor so I could bend over onto the bed with contractions and insist (rather snappishly I expect) that Cameron push HARD! on exactly the right bit of my back. So-san kept popping in and telling me how great it all was. Sometime in the afternoon we went downstairs to see the birthing pool, which was being shown to a prenatal class. Cameron got more from the demo than me as I was too busy leaning on a bookshelf in the next room trying not to groan and scare the pregnant ladies. Anyway, we decided to definitely try the pool (we like to make decisions at the last minute), an idea we'd been toying with for months.
Later on, a masseuse from next door came to see me. I think So-san was o-kyuing at the same time and this was the point all dignity left as I hauled myself to all fours with each contraction. 'Great', said So-san. 'Great' again, as I vomited profusely. Goodness knows how long after that was spent sitting on the loo but at some point my waters broke and the intensity, well, intensified. A good job the bathroom was largish as there were three of us in there - me, So-san telling me to open my eyes, relax my shoulders and BREATHE, and Cameron feeding me chocolate and bananas (eating on the toilet, yuk!).

Monday, March 22, 2004
I've got until friday to get it out! Which means they aren't exactly going for my story about wrong dates (that would give me weeks more!) despite much hmm- hmm-ing and nodding when I recite it, but I feel happier than I did yesterday - a whole 2 days longer.
Baby did a lovely job on the monitor, everybody exclaimed how genki it is, so I felt very proud. It was rather nice actually, sitting in a darkened room in the hospital listening to about 5 babies' hearts all beating away. The worst bit of the whole experience was the sweet milky tea I was given, so that can't be bad. My midwife carefully researched which doctor I should see by ringing all her contacts, and found one who was very sympathetic - in fact she was lovely and drew me an annotated picture of the baby so I knew what the scan pictures were measuring (according to the scan it is 2.9 kg. According to the midwife's prodding it is 3.9 kg. I reckon it should be somewhere in between...). I turned down the offer of a caesarian for today and stuck firmly to my 'dates are wrong' routine and added some pleading. If it hasn't come out by friday I have to have a pelvic x-ray and an internal exam - if my cervix is ripening then I should be allowed to wait over the weekend but if not I have to choose between induction (with seaweed sticks - don't ask - and a drip) or a c-section.
Oh and I've to spend this week being monitored daily, so no fun daytrips for me. Still, I reckon it's worth it. Come on baby!

Friday, March 19, 2004
Game plan
I'm fine, the baby's fine, we're all fine. Cameron's fine. The cats are fine. The midwife kept saying 'why won't your labour start', which I really couldn't answer (because the baby isn't ready yet not being good enough.) I've started a 'maybe my dates are wrong' campaign in a last-ditch bid to stave off induction (anyone who is wondering why I have this fear of induction and who is tempted to suggest it might be the best thing, please read this and this and bear in mind that induction will involve giving birth not at my nice friendly clinic where they all know me but at a big scarey hospital where the doctor speaks little english. Of course I am more than happy for this to happen if it is for a medical reason but doing it because the calendar says I'm 2 weeks past an arbitrary date - which (as Kate pointed out below) could be up to a week wrong seems illogical to me. Nobody has ever been pregnant forever, right? Actually, if I was a week wrong in my calculations that would be a good thing as it would significantly reduce the exposure to alcohol it had received as a cluster of cells!)
I'm going to an acupuncturist this afternoon who has promised to use big needles (!) in the hope of starting things off, then back to the clinic for more monitoring and a dose of castor oil tomorrow. Joy. Back to the clinic for more monitoring Sunday, then into hospital for monitoring Monday. The plan at present is to induce Wednesday but I am rather clinging to the hope that if the monitoring shows the baby is still fine and happy then that can be negotiated back still further.
In the meantime I am stomping up and down stairs and drinking raspberry-leaf tea by the gallon. It is nasty so must be doing some good!
Oh, the monitoring. I just sat with my feet in a foot bath while a small physics-lab type machine recorded the baby's heartbeat and my contractions (not sure how it does the latter). I am having some! But they are teeny weeny. They didn't affect baby's heartbeat - this is a good thing, but hardly surprising given that I wouldn't have known about them if the monitor hadn't picked them up. Baby had a good long sleep (30 minutes) which worried her - they usually sleep for 20 minutes it seems - but it didn't seem unusual to me and it woke up for a long time too so I think it's just on a slightly longer cycle than average.
Cameron is supposed to be popping back to the UK next weekend for a wedding - if I'm not home from the clinic and my mum and dad aren't here (or if the baby hasn't arrived!) then he'll have to cancel. Maybe it just doesn't want its daddy to leave it so soon after birth so is waiting to spoil his plans?
*sorry Max. Cervices and contractions. I'll blog about my webcam and beer again later if you like?

Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Hmm. Another checkup tomorrow and she wants to do some sort of monitoring, see if the baby is still fine. Not sure what this will involve; she was pretty vague when I asked, but they will attach some sort of...monitor...and see what happens during a contraction. I did ask how she proposed producing said contraction (seeing that if I was having them then I probably wouldn't need to go for the checkup) and she just said that I would be having them by then. Fairly unsatisfactory but I let it go at the time. Now I'm wondering. I could be there a long time if she's just going to wait for one.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004
41 bloody weeks