The Birth Story

At around 9pm on Wednesday the 5th of May it all began, with Jaicey having her first contractions. At first, we didn’t know if they were just Braxton Hicks contractions, but after half a dozen 60 to 90 second contractions at 20 minute intervals we knew it had started. I’m not sure whether it was nerves or excitement that hit us first, but after a warm shower we jumped in bed to try and get some rest - the contractions were 7 to 15 minutes apart now, so we thought it was progressing quickly. Overnight, Jaice had a good hour of sleep between contractions, knowing that she would need the energy the next morning. We had also called the birthing suite to let them know it had started. Our name went up on the board - and the waiting game had begun.

We woke up around 6.30am to rougher contractions, so sat down and watched Little Mermaid - as you do. Immediately the contractions were 3 to 5 minutes apart until around 10am, with a few random longer intervals. Throughout the morning we called the birthing suite a couple times, and with their advice decided that we would try and stay home as long as we could cope. However despite knowing that labouring at home is much better, the increasing intensity in the contractions and some 2 minute intervals - or less - we went to the hospital. By this point contractions were sometimes back to back.

After an assessment we learnt we were only 2cm dilated and only partially effaced to 1cm long. We got a stretch and sweep done to try and encourage it along, and were given some Panadeine Forte - and sent home. We understood, even though we were a little deflated. However seeing our midwife Alisha there, who also taught our CalmBirth course, gave us a little pep in knowing that that was totally okay. 

Going home after the point where we already thought we should go in made it a lot harder to know when to REALLY go in. We knew we needed more regularity in contractions and much more intensity - much to Jaicey’s dismay. The Panadeine Forte helped though, and after a good bath, allowed 20 to 30 minute snoozes on the couch between contractions (for both of us).

Jaice had some Panadol - but that didn’t help much - and by 9.30pm, over 12 hours since it started, she first mentioned the possibility of changing the birth preferences from fully natural, to wanting gas and Morphine. Fairly small changes, but it surprised me nonetheless. Being on the outside of what was happening and not being able to experience it first hand, all I could do was encourage her that no matter what she chose, it was okay. The intensity was ramping up tenfold, so we called the birthing suite again. We knew what they would say - that if we go in and the assessment doesn’t say 4cm, we may be told to go home again. We held off, and Jaice tried to sleep on the couch, and I tried to get a few minutes of sleep sitting next to her. We were told a few times to head in if it’s getting too hard to cope at home, yet we tried to push it as long as possible. 

Jaice woke up and said in a stern tone - “I need drugs”. We decided to go in. 12.30am, Friday morning. 27.5 hours after it all started. 

The midwife there was brilliant and super encouraging, however even though Jaice was now fully effaced, she was still only at 2cm. Given the pains she had been feeling, this was super hard to hear. We were given time to talk about it, and some more Panadeine Forte with a gentle sleeping pill this time. We would have liked to stay, however the midwife’s encouraging talk, and the thought of food and a weighted blanket finally meant we were heading home yet again, and at around 2am jumped into bed yet again. Not without a few tears.

All night, contractions continued. Jaice still slept fairly well considering - we didn’t get out of bed until around 10am! Regardless, Jaicey hadn’t really progressed much in my eyes, for the level of intensity that was needed. A hot bath, some food, and about 2 seasons off Friends later, Jaicey had begun to slip into her first crisis of confidence. Between contractions she was stoic and steadfast, but during back to back contractions wanted all the drugs and would vocalise and moan painfully with each wave. At 1pm it became unbearable, so we went in, with the notion of finding gas and possibly Morphine. 

After much anticipation however, Jaicey had dilated just enough to allow us into a room - 3 to 4cm. Not nearly as much as we had hoped given the intensity and that she had been labouring for so long, however we were elated to know we were getting a room and didn’t have to go home. 40 hours since the start - We would be meeting our little man that night!

The room was lovely, with a large double bed. I cracked out the diffuser and got to work creating a safe homely space for Jaicey. Though I’m not sure she saw much - her eyes were closed most of the time as she sucked on the gas, or as we called it - the Nang tube. A few hours later, around 5.30pm, the effect of the gas wasn’t cutting it so we opted for a shot of Morphine. We mastered our breathing techniques and visualisation to the point that we’re pretty sure the midwives were impressed. Long deep inhales followed by long and strong exhales focusing on the feeling of release. I touched her face and squeezed her shoulders, hands and hips, and she responded by exhaling and following my instructions to “soften the face”, “relax the jaw”, and “feel tension melt away as you release”.

She was so good at this I called her the contraction boss. Every time I watched her breathe in with the peak of each contraction, I felt such a strong sense of pride watching her scrunched brow soften and relax as she exhaled, and her shoulders relax and drop as she visualised the downward flow of energy and feeling of release. Though, another shot of morphine was still needed. The gas was non stop.

A couple hours later around dinner time, we had another examination - 5cm. We thought we were doing much better than that given how intense and frequent the contractions had been. So, even though it was a bit of progress, we were silently concerned, considering it took 5 hours to dilate just one centimetre more after being told that they often like to see 1cm per hour. Knowing her waters were still intact - though not an accurate milestone - was weighing on the mind too.

By this point Jaicey was heating up, getting sweaty and really struggling through every contraction that had been back to back. We couldn’t even make it off the bed to go to the bathroom before the examination. The mix of exhaustion and Adrenaline caused her to shake, often at times uncontrollably.

At this point when the midwife said it was progressing really slow, she suggested breaking the waters to get things started. We’d been thinking of that for a while anyway, but when we were told that the contractions would increase in intensity and get closer quite drastically - given how difficult it was, we made the hard decision to elect for an Epidural. A Cannula was inserted to administer fluids, and we laid to rest whilst the Anaesthetist was called in. This was the exact opposite of what the original birth preferences were - however we both knew it was necessary.

What happened next was completely jarring. The safe and homely environment with dim lights and oil diffuser that we’d been imagining for months, became intensely medical, as the atmosphere was blotted out by fluorescent white lights, an anaesthetics team and a cold hospital gown. The gas was out of reach and Jaicey had to get in an uncomfortable hunched over position for the Anaesthetist to access her back between her vertebrae. He had to run to an emergency as Jaicey was getting prepped, so she ended up sitting there cold and exposed, shaking from adrenaline, dealing with more and more contractions for another hour. Her temperature was also up, along with her blood pressure and heart rate, which was cause for some concern as a doctor came in to help assess.

Whilst we waited, it was quiet. Jaicey had become comatose through each contraction and wasn’t really on this planet at all. However there’s no doubt that the silence gave us both time to process what was happening.

Eventually, the Epidural procedure was underway, and Jaice squeezed my hands through the contractions, whilst having a needle being pushed into her spine - trying to stay still as tears welled up in her eyes. I found myself tearing up myself, completely in awe of her bravery and strength, whilst my heart broke for her and the pain she was in. On one hand, the pain would soon be dealt with - but on the other hand, the internalised sense of disappointment and the impending thoughts of “what if we did something different”, crept in.

For the next while, nurses and doctors fluttered about to monitor Jaice as the Epidural took hold. A catheter was inserted, to add to the melange of tubes already taped to her. 1.2L of Urine was drained immediately, which explained a lot. She couldn’t pee because of the pressure of bub, and bub couldn’t move because of the pressure of the pee.

Jaice, despite laying perfectly still with her eyes closed, by now had a heart rate up near 135bpm, and was sweating quite a lot as her temperature was still up. I had to continually feed her ice chips to try to bring it down otherwise they would need to inject antibiotics - another step in the cascade of intervention. The doctor came in and inserted the Amniohook to break her waters to speed up the contractions, with the plan to inject Syntocinon - an artificial hormone to speed up labour - however bubs heart rate was starting to climb. The doctor and the midwives were walking in and out and discussing many things that didn’t make sense to us, and we got lost in the medical lingo - but it was easy to pick up on the vibe that something wasn’t quite right. The doctor came in and with a tone of absolute endearment, told us that bubs heart rate was too high to be able to safely administer the Syntocinon, and that the safest route would be to perform a C-Section. Even though we both quietly knew, and both had discussed it prior that it would be okay, it still hit like a ton of bricks. My heart was torn for Jaicey - she’d been so brave and so strong for so long, and tried so, so hard. I was worried she would be hard on herself - though I was also hard on myself, thinking that I didn’t do enough to help her pull through. 

With a brave nod and “okay” from Jaicey - just before 6am - the prep began. 

Forms were signed, risks were disclosed, the lights were dimmed and Jaice was able to finally rest whilst everything was getting sorted, and the theatre staff were being called in. The feeling from the Epidural site and down was basically gone, and with a cold towel over her forehead she managed to close her eyes and take a break from the gruelling barrage of contractions. As she lay there, no doubt quietly processing what was happening, I sat in a chair next to her, held her hand and looked at her in absolute awe and adoration. There are no words in any language I know that could possibly express the huge sense of pride I feel for her, or the love I have for her. The midwife suggested I curl up on the other bed and get some rest, but I couldn’t bear to leave Jaicey’s side.

Jaicey at one point woke up, squeezed my hand and motioned me closer. She told me that  even though it was a very common procedure - if anything was to go wrong, to choose our little boy. I felt everything inside me crumble and collapse at the thought of that. A million possibilities suddenly shot through my mind - however somehow I managed to keep my composure, and offer a gentle smile.

Eventually it was time. Four hospital staff came in and transferred her to another bed - no easy feat for someone that’s just had their legs turned off. Just outside the door Jaicey vomited, missing the bag. This really couldn’t be over soon enough. She was wheeled to the operating theatre by a team clad in scrubs - and I couldn’t help but tear up and the sight I was seeing.

Once they took Jaicey to the operating theatre I was taken aside to dress up in scrubs, and asked to wait. They wouldn’t let me in until they were happy with how the procedure was going. It felt like hours, as I was left alone in a deserted part of the hospital - wondering… what if something really did go wrong?

Thankfully I heard my name and I was taken inside. The doors swung open and I was greeted by a groovy upbeat playlist being blasted through the theatre, and to a team of operating staff laughing and having a good time. Jaicey was awake and offered me a smile before closing her eyes again. I sat next to her, held her hand under the warming blanket, and waited.

At this point I was so focused on how she was doing, that it surprised me a little bit when I heard a little cry echo out! I was told that the head had just been birthed through the incision, and soon after that, the screen was dropped and our little boy was held up in front of us - blood, balls and all!

Suddenly - it was real. My eyes welled up, and a nurse even put a hand on my shoulder and asked if I was okay. It was finally coming to an end - and at 0647 on the 8th of May 2021, Eden Robert Mascenon came earthside. This stubborn little guy had made the decision that he wanted to make an entrance - and that he did. 57 hours after labour began.

He was cleaned up and placed on Mum’s chest for skin to skin. After a while, Eden and I were taken up to the maternity ward whilst Jaicey was stitched back up and kept in recovery for a while.

Next thing you know, I’m sitting by a warm window in the gentle morning sunlight, in a quiet, peaceful room - with our little boy curled up in my arms, in absolute tranquility and peace. Eden was surely a perfect name for this 3.77kg, 54cm long bundle of joy. Just in time for Mother’s Day.

What felt like forever, had finally come to a close. Our little boy was here - and so began the next leg of this huge, incredible, beautiful journey as a family. Well, after Mum’s recovery that is.

Here’s to you little man. We love you.

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