Thursday, June 22, 2006

A Birth Story

I’m going to post this now, even though it’s Grumble’s second (second!) birthday on Sunday, as we have a super busy weekend, what with parties for her etc. I’ve always loved reading the birth stories of others, and have wanted to share my own, but for reasons you shall soon discover have been a little trepidatious about it. So consider this your warning: if you are in any way squeamish, and cannot handle gory, grisly details, go have a hunt through the archives and read crafty goodness. For the rest of you: A Birth Story.

The Galumph and I were lounging around at home one Tuesday evening. Actually, Galumph was lounging, and I was doing my best beached whale impersonation. The main topic of conversation that week has been: when is our little one arriving? At some point in the evening I visited the toilet, and had finished my business and was pulling up my pants when I felt a tiny trickle. “Oh my sainted aunt”, I thought. “It’s finally happened, just like the books said it might – I’ve lost control of my bladder!”. After cleaning up, I went back into the lounge room where I felt yet another trickle. My face must have said what I was thinking, because Galumph immediately said: “What’s up?” My answer (embarrassing in hindsight, I can now admit) was “Well, I thought I’d wet myself, but maybe it’s… happening!” "Happening?" said Galumph. Gush. "Happening", I said.

So, we rang the hospital and they told us to come on in so they could check me out. All the way there I was “Gee, I thought when your waters broke it would be this big gush everywhere, but this is nothing!”. Ahem. A walk around the block to the entrance of hospital soon helped the gushing on it’s way – so much so that when we finally got into the building the second thing the nurse said to me was “Would you like a nappy?” Oh yeah, I guess so.

After being checked out, and the nurses ascertaining that although I was having contractions they were so minute that even I couldn’t feel them, we were sent home, and told to come back either when the contractions were five minutes apart, or Thursday morning.

Ahh, the innocence of first time parents. Neither that night nor the next was there much sleep to be had, as every twinge was timed and noted. However, nothing major did happen (besides me getting tired – oh, why didn’t I sleep whilst I had the chance!) so Thursday morn saw us, bright and early, at the hospital. We were shown into our birthing suite, and by 11 that morning I was hooked up to the inducement hormones. For our entertainment we had brought along the latest Harry Potter book to read, plus Trivial Pursuit cards, but thanks to the trigger happy finger of the nurse who kept amping up how much hormone I was receiving, it wasn’t long before they went out the window.

As those of you who have been induced know, it’s a fairly painful way of giving birth as your body doesn’t have time to adjust to the hormone levels properly. It wasn’t long before I was gasping “Gas, gas, gimme the gas!” and breathing in as hard as I could when it arrived. This continued until 6pm that night, by which stage I was feeling both majorly vomitty from all that gas and in so much pain from the contractions that I couldn’t even stand up – my legs were giving out from under me. I asked a nurse how much I had dilated – after all, how much longer could this possibly go on for, and cried, actually cried when she said “3cm”. Three? Seven more to go? NOOOOOOOOOO! This pain must cease, now!

Due to an allergy, Pethidine was out of the question, so the cry had changed to “Epidural! Epidural! NOW!”
And then it came. Like a hand from above, flicking a switch, the pain went. I have no recollection of this, but am told by a reliable source that I actually had a snooze! Soon, however, it was all action stations go. I had dilated, by 3 am, to the full 10cm, and now it was time to push!

So I pushed. And pushed. And then, just to make things fun, pushed some more. Every two minutes, in thirty second bursts, for over two hours, I pushed. The nurses weren’t happy – this child need to come out, they were saying. Finally a doctor came in, assessed the situation, and said to a nurse “Right – hold these forceps. I’m going to get the vacuum pump”. As soon as she left the room the nurse looked conspiratorially around, muttered “I don’t think we’ll need to be doing THAT”, whipped out her scissors and did the fastest episiotomy this side of Texas. And then, in the blink of an eye, my beautiful daughter was out in the world.

I’ll never forget those few moments. She was so quiet, and oddly still. She seemed to just want to lie quietly, and take in the world before uttering a sound. She lay on my chest, and rolled her huge big eyes over to me. “Hello, Bump!” I said. The Galumph stood over us, doing one of his monster huge grins, then I handed Grumbles to him, so the nurses could inject me with the hormone to speed up the delivery of the placenta.

So there I lay, waiting for the placenta to come out. The nurses began to look a bit worried when it didn't emerge, and started physically contorting my torso, trying to get it to come out. Finally, somebody saw it, and gave a huge pull, and out it came. Actually, most of it came out. I’ll never forget the horrified look on the nurse's, and doctor's, faces when they saw the huge chunk missing from it. I’ll also never forget the sound of my blood, suddenly flowing in a huge big hemorrhage, hitting the ground. Suddenly the room, which only moments before had been full of peace and new life, was action stations. A nurse frantically wrapped gauze around the unused forceps, and inserted it into me in a bid to stop the bleeding. For a few moments all was quiet, then that huge gushing splattering noise when she removed them and more blood hit the ground. In the midst of all this a code orange was announced somewhere in the hospital. Most of those in the room left frantically, fearing the worst, but in a few moments were back by my bedside. I asked one of them what a code orange was, and the answer was “It’s bad. But you’re worse”.

This is where things started to get blurry. I was losing so much blood, and so quickly that I was beginning to shut down. Around me things were happening in a crazy hurry – nurses were unhooking me from the hormone drip, a bed was being brought in, somebody was telling my husband that I would need surgery, now, the beautiful anesthetist who had earlier given me the epidural was by my side, telling me that he was going to do some stuff, but not to worry, it wouldn’t hurt. I latched on to him, and told him what was worrying me the most: I was so cold. So, so cold. I know everybody has stuff to do, but could he please fix the cold?

Thank goodness he kept his cool. He knew what the cold meant. If I hadn’t had been going into shutdown, I would have known what the cold meant. It was the strangest thing, the losing blood, and the beginning of the end. I’d always imagined that you remained fairly clear mentally when death strikes, but I now know this isn’t the case. It was like all parts of me were resigning themselves to the fact that they were going. My sense of humour, my curiosity – in fact, all of my thoughts, all the bits that made me me were disappearing. I had no questions about what was happening to me – I just wanted somebody to make the cold go away. The anesthetist took me by the hand and told me that he’d just sent somebody out to the warming machine, and that they were going to get me some warm toasty blankets. Could I wait? Of course I could. And I held onto that thought has hard as I could.

The next second I was being moved over onto the bed to take me down to surgery. In my second last moment of clarity I looked down at the nurse who was trying to take my singlet top off, even though I was hooked up to drips and the like, and calmly told her to just cut it off me. She gave me a funny glance and then did so. In my last moment of clarity, I quickly took off my wedding rings and gave them to the Galumph, who had been standing in a corner, horrified, the whole time. I told him I loved him as they wheeled me out of the room, but, alas, didn’t even hear his answer. This bugged me the whole time I was going down the corridors, but I was distracted as they wheeled me into theatre. As they were setting up around me, another team came in with an emergency caesarian. “We need this theatre now!” they said. “Tough luck”, said one of my surgeons. “It’s OURS!”. My very last thought, before they put me under, was ‘Yay! My team won!”

To work they went. They cut me open to find out where the bleeding was coming from. It turns out that the placenta had been embedded in the uterus, so when it was ripped out it created a huge wound. For three hours they operated, trying every trick in the book to stop the bleeding. Finally, they began to sew me up, thinking the op had been a success. One of the surgeons had a last peek in before they finished the sewing, and was mucho alarmed to discover that the hemorrhaging had recommenced. Quickly undoing me, they tried again. By this stage I had been given over 18 units of blood – not bad considering that the human body only has 14 units in it. I’d drained myself one and a bit times over! Unfortunately, with all this blood loss, I’d also lost all my platelets, and the other goodies that enable the blood to clot. As one of the surgeons told us afterwards, every time they tried to stitch me up, it just created another hole for the blood to spurt from. I was, literally, a human version of a sieve.

The call was made: the only way to save my life was to remove the entire uterus, and fingers crossed at that risky move. Whilst the surgery was under way, one of the team was downstairs, telling my husband, who at this stage had been left in a room by himself with Grumbles for over three hours, that ‘your wife only has a 50/50 chance of making it out alive’. The Galumph, understandably, sat down and cried. Alive, however, is how I came out. I remember waking up, and seeing all these faces hovering over me. One doctor was actually stroking my hair, prompting me to think: Good God, it must be bad if they’re touching my hair. I’m sure they never do that in the movies! The head surgeon came over, and gently told me that she was sorry, but they’d had to do a hysterectomy. I said “Ok. Thank you!” She looked puzzled, and explained exactly what one was, to which I replied “Yep. Thank you!” I instinctively knew how close it had been, and was just so pleased to be there that they could have cut off an arm and I’d have been cool with it.

That night, however, was the most horrifying night of my life. I was put into the high dependency unit, and, even though there were two nurses there the whole time, for some reason I couldn’t see them, and thought I was all alone. The room was very very dark, and I was attached to a machine monitoring my breathing, as my lungs had become quite depressed due to all the anesthetic. Each time I was about to nod off, my breathing would become quite shallow, and the machine would beep at me until I breathed normally again. And each time I thought I was going to die, all alone. The Galumph came and visited at about 3 in the morning, and after that I perked up. Soon it was morning, and that afternoon I was moved to a room of my own and soon began to make huge progress. I must admit, however, that it was a huge shock to discover that I couldn’t physically walk for a few days. I’ll also never forget my dad’s face when he came to visit me – he looked ten years older, and all I could think was how sorry I was to have put him through it.

I’m going to end this by saying how lucky I am. I’m lucky I was in a big metropolitan hospital – if I had have been in a smaller one I would be dead for sure, as they wouldn’t have had enough blood to give me. I’m lucky I had such an amazingly talented team of 16 to operate on me. I’m lucky to have my husband, who was just so indescribably wonderful during the entire ordeal. I’m lucky to have my super sister-in-law, who did Subway runs when I couldn’t stand the hospital food any more, and helped my dad through it all (no wonder he has such a huge crush on her!). I’m lucky to have my sister, a nurse, who explained the situation beautifully to everybody, banned all visitors until she thought it was prudent for me to have them, and did lots of organising on our behalf. And I’m especially lucky to have my Grumbles. Sweetie, I’d go through it all again in a heartbeat, just to have you in my life. Happy birthday, my love.

Myself and Grumbles, 1 day old.


  1. Anonymous8:53 pm

    Wow! I've been reading your blog for a couple of weeks and here was I, expecting some more news on where to get funky buttons or something of the like! As I've been reading about your life I've thought to myself, what a lucky girl but hey, you really are lucky aren't you? Thanks for sharing the story. xx

  2. Oh My! I am speechless. There are no words. Happy birthday to all of you.

  3. Anonymous11:06 pm

    Blimey, Jorth. Thanks for telling your amazing story. What a blessing that you and Grumbles are here to tell it. Happy birthday! xo

  4. Anonymous11:37 pm

    Oh jeeezzzzzzuuussss???? Im so glad you didnt open that can of worms on our first date!!

    Thats is the most AMAZING Birth story I have ever heard, oh myy looordy. I my sister reads this its going to send her into a mental meltdown....

    Happy birthday wishes to your little lady, I shall be gifting her for sure.

  5. Anonymous8:35 am

    Well yes I just read it and I am having a is only 8.30 and I am weeping like an old woman (also due to immense pain from last nights netball) What a shocking,powerful,horrific post with the best ending ever - A Healthy family walking out the hospital door.Happy Birthday.

  6. I have e-mailed you my comments but in the emotion of the moment I forgot to say - you both look so beautiful and peaceful. What a beautiful baby.

  7. Anonymous9:07 am

    Well a story like that deserves my first real post (Shannon you don't count). I'm at work reading this, crying and almost vomiting. That is an amazing story, you are brave just to share it, let alone go through it. Hope your daughter has a fun and happy birthday.

  8. Anonymous9:40 am

    Okay, now that I've stopped shaking enough to type, I just feel like one lucky girl that all I had was an emergency ceaserian. Happy Birthday to two lucky girls. What a reality check hey Mrs Davey!

  9. Wow, you are one amazing, precious woman and you deserve a husband and a baby to match.

  10. oh my god, at the start of your story I was comparing how similar our birth experiences were... the water, the waiting, the inducing and then wow, what a story, amazing!!!! I've shared birth stories now so many times with all my playgroup Mum's but never heard one quite like this! And what an introduction to your blog, but don't worry I'll be back to visit for sure,because your now unforgettable!

  11. I've been reading your blog, too, for a couple of weeks. WOW. what a story. I'm a threatre nurse and have been on the other side of the drapes in a case like this, but I have just cried like a baby. Thanks for sharing this touching story. Happy Brithday Grumbles and to you two as well.

  12. Oh my, an amazing story. I'm glad you are here to tell your story. It's strong and inspiring women like yourself who remind me of the uniqueness and fragility of human life and the strength of spirit that you obviously have, especially taking such courage to re-tell it. Thanks!

  13. Anonymous9:29 am

    Thank you for sharing your amazing birth story & beautiful photo. I cried too. Sometimes I forget that giving birth is still one of those times when the forces of life & death are both close at hand. I'm so glad that you & Grumbles made it through! Yay for modern medicine.
    Happy Birthday! xox

  14. oh gosh. I'm crying. I'm so so glad all is well. That goes without saing doesn't it?

  15. Thank you for sharing your amazing and scary birth story. Your last sentence was so touching!
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY to your beautiful daughter "Grumbles" (I am sure she has another beautiful name!)...and a very big hug to her very very precious Mum!!!
    I am glad you are here too!

  16. Wow your birth story gave me shivers!! how very scary for you and your hubby so so glad it all came through OK - your baby girl is Adorable!! and she is super cute now at 2!! time goes by superfast doesnt it?

  17. Anonymous1:01 pm

    I'm completely speechless. Which hardly ever happens. Just stumbling through here tonight, feeling clumsy and emotional, so I'll just say: I wish you all great peace and happiness. xo

  18. oh my L,
    Yes I remember this story, and this time I read it I cried even more 'cause I have now met you. What a miracle your baby girl is, and YOu have so much to offer the world that's why you are still here xx

  19. I am just back from the tissue box.
    Hisb asks if I am ok, I can only nod furiously, big-eyed and teary. He knows better, I can't speak.

    OMG - I can't believe this story. Mine was no walk in the park, yet i've heard better and worse .. but this ... this takes the cake.

    I am so glad you are here, and so glad you were thankful and not one of those 'litigation' types that put all our good docs out of business.

    You're amazing.
    And a good mummy, and that's the main thing :)

  20. Thank you for sharing. I had no idea you went through such an ordeal. Your daughter and husband are very lucky to have you.

  21. Anonymous8:08 pm

    My goodness, what an amazing birth. You and Grumbles were both very lucky that day.
    Best wishes for Grumbles 6th birthday!!


  22. Oh my goodness, what an ordeal for you all. your obviously mean't to be here and you were blessed with a gorgeous gift xxx

  23. bravo! for sharing such an incredibly personal and scary birth story. phew. and you have admirably brushed over the recovery process which i doubt was a walk in the park but your focus is totally on the beauty: the babe, the husband and the health.
    lovely to 'meet' you today... perhaps we'll make it to coffee one day. xx

  24. Debbie Slater12:52 pm

    Would I be able to talk to 'offline' about your experience?

  25. Anonymous9:14 am

    Ah L ...what a heart-wrenching post ... I'm reading it here on the tram - YEARS after you wrote it ... I hope that little one reads it one day ( yes, yes I know she is old enough to read now - but maybe not that just yet - you could tell her though ...) and realises not only how lucky she is to be alive but how lucky she is to have 2 such loving parents , who love her so much and are able to provide for her so well in all kinds of ways. Thank goodness we also have amazing and readily available health care in this country !

    I know you continue to treasure your little one - now I know why!

    Happy life to you all

  26. Anonymous8:24 pm

    Marc Goodman UBS And Bіll, can yоu give us two thіngs on that ωhich is why this actually аpply.
    'A few days later, Bushra duly arrived at the party, Gilbert was watching election returns on a TV in his luxury bunker down the hall from the Cavs locker room. 21 July business 20 XXMr. Companies also undertake the creation of a focused message presented in an attractive business manner.

    my page - internet marketing workshop

  27. Anonymous9:21 pm

    Its not my first time to go to see this site, i am visiting this website dailly and take fastidious data from here all the time.

    Also visit my site - bmi chart for women

  28. Anonymous12:24 am

    Thanks for your personal marvelous posting! I quite enjoyed reading it, you
    could be a great author. I will ensure that I
    bookmark your blog and may come back later on.

    I want to encourage you to continue your great job,
    have a nice afternoon!

    Here is my site diet plans

  29. Anonymous1:01 am

    First of all I would like to say great blog! I had a quick question that I'd like to ask if you do not mind. I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your thoughts prior to writing. I have had a difficult time clearing my mind in getting my ideas out. I truly do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally wasted just trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or tips? Cheers!

    My blog - diets that work fast

  30. Anonymous5:44 pm

    wow, i just read this i guess... 8 years after you wrote it. it made me cry a little. so glad you came through the ordeal alive and well. i had always wondered why you only have one kid (she's so cute that i thought you would want at least a couple more) and now i understand.


Leave a comment! Make my day!

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.