Harrison’s Birth Story – Born at 34 weeks

It was a Friday morning, and I was at my first childbirth education class. We were talking about the difference between real and Braxton hicks contractions when my contractions begin. My denial begins here. I just thought “I’m not in labour, it’s too early, and the contractions aren’t real.” I continue to have contractions for the entire two hour class and decide that I’m not going to tell anyone because they are probably nothing…My denial continues. I catch the train home from Melbourne and then catch the bus home. This whole time I have been having contractions so strong that I had to stop walking until it was over! But, I still didn’t think they were contractions. This went on all day and the pain got worse and became more

regular. But, I still did not think it was contractions. Still in denial. By the time my Dad got home at 7pm the contractions were 5 mins apart. I was timing them and it still didn’t click! At 9pm, I thought I might call my mum, who was out in the city, but like usual she never answers her phone. Then I thought I might call the Women’s, just for their opinion and they told me to come straight in. So, I went inside and told Dad that I have to go to the hospital…again. So he took me to the hospital…but not before dropping some videos back at Blockbuster!

We get to the hospital at 9.30pm and mum is already there waiting. They take me into emergency, take one look at me and send me up to delivery. There, the CTG monitor is strapped onto me and now I can no longer deny having any contractions because I can see them on the monitor!!! After a couple of hours of monitoring, they decide to see if I am dilated, so they do an internal. They inform me that I’m not dilated, but am definitely having contractions and that they were going to just wait and see what happens. And that if I did go into labour that they weren’t going to stop it. I still don’t know why they did not try and stop it, or give me any steroids. So, they gave me some panadol (like thats going to do anything!) and we wait. Then at 3 am, they come in to do another internal and I am 4cm dilated…I am in labour!!!! They move me into the delivery room. By this stage, the CTG is increasingly annoying me. I have to lie straight on my back as every time I move, it loses the baby’s heartbeat, which is not an easy thing to do when you are having contractions.

They give me pethidine, which does absolutely nothing. So I just keep on labouring. By this stage, I am starving but they won’t let me eat. My aunt arrives at about 5am. My sister comes at about 6.30am. It is now 8am and I am exhausted.

No sleep, contractions 1 minute apart, only 6cm dialated!!! Then, just because I am having so much fun already, the baby turns and is now posterior, which was extremely painful. They ask if I want an epidural as then at least I won’t have to deal with the pain of the contractions as well…I say ‘hell yes.’ It takes 40 minutes to get the epidural in and then….heaven!!!

At 9am, they ask me if I want my waters broken. I say no and that I’ll just wait for them to break themselves. 5 minutes later my ob comes in and says “we are going to break your waters.” They think the baby is distressed as my BP is high, heart rate is high, my temp is so high and I am sweating so much that you could ring out the sheets and my urine is full of blood (It turns out I had chorioamnionitis, but no one told me this until my 6 week post-natal check and by that time I already had a secondary infection).

It’s 12pm I am plodding along nicely…still in a ton of pain and then they inform me that I am fully dilated (finally) but that my contractions have stopped. So…in goes the oxytocin. By this stage, I have 4 IV canulas in, and my hands are bruised like you would not believe. It takes two hours for the contractions to become regular again. An upside of the oxytocins was that the strength of the contractions was able to turn the baby back from the posterior position. In this time, I managed to have a little sleep but forgot to push the button for the epidural, so by the time it was time to start pushing, I could feel my left side.

I pushed….through one contraction, and I was the worst pusher on the planet!

Then, he stopped breathing so they calmly said to me, we have to get him out very fast with the forceps and to push when they said. At this stage I just burst into tears…there was 10 people in the room (me, my mum, aunt and sister. 2 midwives, 2 obs and 2 paeds) and everyone just startedrushing around.

Then, at 2.41 pm Harrison was born. He wasn’t breathing and he was blue and limp…I remember it like it was yesterday. They rushed him to the paeds and then what seemed like an eternity…but was actually 4 minutes later, they said he was ok. His APGAR’s were 4 at 1 minute and 6 at 5 minutes. He was perfect. He weighed 2300 grams and was 47cm long. About ½ hour later they were ready to take him up to the SCN. I got to hold him for 2 mintues and then he was taken away.

I couldn’t see him for another 3 hours as I had to wait for the epidural to wear off. Then, I finally saw him, I got to hold him that night, but didn’t hold him again for 4 days after that. He was so small in the isolette, but looked massive compared to the other babies. He just needed some cot oxygen and couldn’t control his temp at all (he still can’t control it properly and goes very blue when cold). He had very low BSL requiring glucose infusions. He also had pretty bad jaundice. He couldn’t suck at all! He was transferred to Sunshine hospital SCN when he was 5 days old. I heard him cry for the first time when he was 6 days old. He went into an open cot for the first time. We started giving him bottles, but he would fall asleep, so the rest had to go down the NGT. We were finally making progress, and the NGT was taken out, but then the reflux started the minute he went onto all bottle feeds. He was 10 days old then. He went down to 2050 grams and kept throwing up entire feeds.

The NGT went back in, he was on scheduled, not demand feeds and we were back at square one! We changed his formula to a thickened one, and he went on Zantac. After a few days, he was back on demand feeds. Finally, when he was 3 weeks old , which I know isn’t much but was a lot to me at the time, he came home weighing 2440 grams.

Now, Harrison is 2 years old. There have been quite a few dramas along the way with him being admitted to hospital twice before he was 6 months old. He suffers from Chronic Malabsorption and is intolerant to dairy and soy. He has a bad chest and we are currently trialling flixotide to see whether he has asthma. For the first time, his weight is in the 25th percentile. Developmentally, he is ahead of his peers.

There has been plenty of tears and disappointment along the way, but I would not change a thing. He amazes me every day with the new things that he has learnt and is my life.

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