Ella's Birth Story

Tuesday 22nd April 2014, 22h00
Wyn and I are on the way to the hospital, for me to book in and settle down, so that the induction can be started in the early hours of tomorrow morning.
I had a wonderful “last pregnant day” today – this morning while Mia was at school I did some last grocery shopping, went for a last check-up at my gynea, finished off some admin work, then fetched Mia from school.  We went to my sister’s house for lunch with my parents, and then back home for a wonderful snuggle nap with Mia.
My in-laws arrived in the early evening, and we all went out for a steak dinner at Cattle Baron. (This is what Wyn and I did the night before Mia was born too!)  Then back home for me to collect my bags and say goodnight to Mia.  Luckily no tears, she’s very happy to have Oumi and Oupi with her.
I’m filled with nervous excitement – this is it! It’s time!

Tuesday, midnight
I’m all settled into the labour room.  Had to sign a whole lot of paperwork, and I have a friendly, elderly nurse looking after me.  I’m dressed in the hospital gown already, and they’re going to give me a sleeping pill now so that I can get some rest before the induction medication gets administered around 4am.
I got strapped to the foetal monitor machine, so cute listening to baby girl’s heart rate!  My blood pressure is a teeny bit high, around 140/85, but not concerning.
Wyn stayed with me til now, but he’s going home for some shut-eye too.  He’ll be back at 6am again. Wish he could stay here!

Wednesday 23rd April 2014, 5am.
Some sleeping pill, didn’t really work, I dozed on and off, but not a good proper sleep. Oh well!  The nurse woke me up at about 4h15 and put the drip in, which was quite painful, as the first vein she tried didn’t work well, so she had to redo it.  Then she inserted a gel vaginally, and told me to get some rest again, the anaesthetist will be coming at 6am to administer the epidural.
Couldn’t get much rest, morning tea time in the hospital is 4h45! Yawn. Let me eat a rusk.

Wyn’s here, and the doc has arrived for the epidural.  Eeeek! Even though I’ve been through this before and know it’s not really painful, I’m still nervous.  Avoiding looking at any of his instruments!

Epidural has been done, my legs are all numb and tingly, such a strange sensation.  The worst part of the epidural is the initial local anaesthetic injection which really stings, but after that I didn’t feel much except a pressure on my spine.
The anaesthetist tested it by using an ice-pack – letting me feel it on my arms and then on my legs and tummy.  My legs could feel the pressure but not the cold, however my tummy could feel the cold.  He adjusted something on the drip, and seemed satisfied.  In hindsight, how I wish he tested the icepack again!
My left leg is completely numb, can’t move it at all, my right leg has pins and needles, but I can move the leg and wiggle my toes.  I remember it was the same with Mia’s birth.
The nurse inserted the catheter, and I’m constantly strapped to the machine measuring baby’s heart rate and my contraction activity.  The nurse says the induction medication has definitely taken effect and I’m in the early stages of labour.  Yay!

My gynea, dr Jacquie Grassie, popped in just now, and manually broke my water.  Luckily the epidural has taken effect and I couldn’t feel a thing.
Wyn’s going to the coffee shop for some breakfast, and I was also brought breakfast, I was quite hungry, but didn’t want to eat too much, so didn’t have the toast or yoghurt, but enjoyed the scrambled eggs, bacon and mushrooms.
Now we wait!

Modern technology is so wonderful.  So nice to be able to send instant messages via WhatsApp to my mom and mom-in-law, to keep them updated on how I’m doing, and to find out how Mia is.  Have posted a pic of me in the hospital gown on Instagram and on FB, and getting so many good luck wishes.
The doc has checked on me, I’m having about 3 contractions in 10 minutes.  Baby girl’s head hasn’t dropped enough yet though, and I’m only 3cm dilated.  Doc has said she’ll be back in an hour, and if I haven’t progressed enough we’ll have to do a C-section.  The nurse has added something to my drip to help speed things up.
Such deja-vu, as this is exactly how it happened with Mia’s birth, and things suddenly happened very fast then, so I’m keeping the faith that it’ll happen now too.  However, I wasn’t prepared for the next turn of events…

I’m starting to feel the contractions.  It started as a mild crampy achey feeling, but has progressively been getting worse.  This isn’t supposed to happen!  That’s why I had an epidural done!  At first when I told the nurse, and she asked me how I would rate the pain on a scale of 1 – 10, I said a 4.  But it got worse, very fast!  Ouch ouch ouch!
The nurse turned the intensity of the epidural up, but it didn’t help at all.  I don’t know what went wrong with the epidural, but although my legs are numb, I’m feeling these contractions spread from my sides all around my back and grip me in a vice that feels frozen in time.
Somewhere through all this, I told Wyn that we are definitely not having any more children, I am done after this!

I’m literally in tears.  I’ve never felt pain like this before in my life.  It’s all-consuming, white-hot pain, it feels like I’m physically being torn in half.  This is way past a 10 out of 10 on the pain scale.  This is indescribable.
I’m moaning, my eyes are rolling back in my head, I’m swearing, I’m asking the Lord to help me, I wish I could just pass out!
Poor Wyn, there’s not much he can do to help me, he’s wetting facecloths for me to wipe my face and the coolness definitely helps momentarily.
The contractions grab me, get worse and worse until I think I’m going to faint, and then release me – but they’re getting more and more regular and more intense by the minute.
Dr Grassie was here now, she said she’s so sorry, sometimes the epidural just doesn’t work right.  She did an internal examination, and said I’m 8cm dilated, it’s happening, I must hang on for another hour.  She’s on her way to theatre to do a C-section and will come back to me afterwards.
Not sure if I can handle this for another hour…

The nurse has been watching me in wide-eyed alarm, and said she wants to do another internal exam to see how things have progressed.  Then, she looked even more wide-eyed, if possible, and said she can’t even do the check properly, baby’s head is right there, we’re ready for action, she’s going to get dr Grassie out of theatre before she starts the C-section.
There’s a flurry of activity as the room is prepped for labour and birth, and the midwife and paediatrician arrive.  I am beyond caring who sees or hears what, and with each contraction I moan, swear and cry and ask for help.

I’m pushing with all my might.  This is so hard.  I don’t know if I can do this.
Wyn’s standing by my head, I’m supporting my knees, and nurse and paed also by my knees.
Someone counts through each push.  It’s so exhausting. 
I don’t know if I’m even doing this right.  The doctors and nurses are cheering me on however, so maybe I’m doing okay.
Dr Grassie said she’s going to use the suction cup to assist in guiding baby out.
I’m pushing as though my life depends on it.

Dr Grassie says, “Okay Jess, here she comes, reach down and pull your baby out!”
Pure instinct took over, what an amazing experience, I reached down between my legs, took hold of my baby by her shoulders, she slipped out of me and I lifted her up onto my chest. “Oh baby, oh my darling little baby!”
And just like that, the pain of the contractions was gone, and pretty much forgotten too.

This moment, right here, is what it’s all about, the whole journey of pregnancy, the process of labour – it’s this little miracle, this human being that has grown inside me for nine months, that makes everything worthwhile. I am filled with such love I could just burst.  Thank you Jesus.
I look at Wyn and he’s looking on, amazed, and just as much in love.  I told him, that was amazing, I will do it again in a heartbeat!
After I cuddled her for a few moments after birth, the nurse and paed took her to a little crib next to my bed and checked her over.  All fine!  She weighs 2.8kg – tiny little one! She’s 50cm long. She scored 8/10 and then 9/10 on the Apgar test.  The paed is happy with her condition, she doesn’t need to go into the incubator immediately, Wyn and I can spend some time cuddling her and staring at her.

Welcome to the world, little Ella Jill Viljoen.  We’re so happy you’re here and part of our family. We love you to the moon and back!

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