“Sprog Dogs” Birth Story

Ella Lifschitz, born at Genesis on 23 January 2016.

The main thing that consoled me was speaking to a doula named Taiya who in essence, told me that when something that traumatic happens and causes pain, it is an EXTERNAL force. Contractions/surges are made WITHIN/FROM me, so they can never be more than I can handle, because they ARE ME. And yet here I was at 41 weeks, knowing that the inevitable was close.

I had been in prodromal labour a few times before #SprogDog was born. I saw my midwife, Sue, at my 41 week appointment. She was surprised I had even reached 41 weeks because she was convinced that #SprogDog would arrive around the 29th of December. She offered to do an internal and a stretch and sweep if I wanted, but I declined. If the cervix was not favourable, a stretch and sweep would be of no assistance, and dilation could easily change so was not really an indicator. I remember bringing Marc to the appointment because I was feeling so emotional that Sue would recommend to start inducing but, of course, Sue said I had another week before it would even be a consideration. I was convinced we would have to end up inducing this stubborn child.

On Thursday the 21st of January, I had 2 contractions during the night that woke me up. On Friday morning on the 22nd at 9am, I started getting contractions, but they were irregular in timing. At 4pm that afternoon they started becoming regular at around 10 minutes apart. I was in constant contact with Sue, who recommended I get some rest before things started warming up, but it was Shabbos and we were to have dinner with Marc’s huge family. And so we did. And I didn’t think I would be able to sleep anyway. No once noticed that I was having contractions every 10 minutes – they were painful, but not unmanageable at this stage. I thought it may be prodromal labour again. We went home after dinner, and Marc stayed up with me for a while as I laboured in our bed – mostly moving from a side-lying position on my left, to all-fours, or on my knees holding the wall during the contractions. He was exhausted so I suggested he go sleep, which he did – the WHOLE night, as I laboured on my own, never waking up as I moaned or moved positions.

At 2 30am on Saturday the 23rd of January, after sending Sue pictures of my contraction timer, she suggested I take 2 panado and get in the bath to see what happens to the contractions. I was feeling an intense amount of pressure in my pelvis, and I struggled to find a comfortable position during the contractions. The contractions waned a bit, and Sue suggested I try sleep, and to message her if I needed her. She asked if I had messaged my doula, which I said I did the night before.
I managed to get a bit of sleep in between contractions but it didn’t last long. At 5 30 I messaged Sue telling her I am not coping as well with the contractions, and she suggested I have another bath for an hour. I saw my mucous plug at this point. I got in the bath again, but the pressure in my pelvis was increasing. My contractions were not necessarily textbook – some were more intense, some lasted longer – so I really had no clue what was going on, and I’m a midwife nogal! And then Sue said, that we are going to be meeting my baby today!

We decided to meet at Genesis at 7 30am. I messaged my doula Brenda and she said she will meet us there. After getting out the bath at 6 30, I went to wake Marc up – telling him we are going to meet Sue to see what is going on. I go to the bathroom and come back to see that he has fallen asleep again!! So I wake him up, telling him we are having a baby TODAY, and then he jumped up with a start and a bewildered look on his face

We got our prepared bags (3 of them, which Marc thought was waaaay too much but there was 1 for the labour, 1 for the baby and 1 for me), and tried to sneak out the house, but then Marc’s sister woke up to go to the bathroom, so we told her that I am in labour, and that we are on the way to Genesis to meet #SprogDog and would let her know when she was born. We told her not to tell anyone because we didn’t want to be bombarded with messages. I messaged my mom as well, also requesting to be left alone and would inform them when we were ready. On the ride to Genesis, I had 3 strong contractions very close to one another, conveniently as we had to go over speedbumps. I told Marc if I was only 2cm dilated I would cry. We arrived at Genesis and my colleagues asked me if I was even in labour as I apparently appeared very relaxed and the contractions then spaced out for a while. “I think so” I replied. We were taken to our room (Juniper) and I began setting it up.
– I had my placenta flower which Muneera’s mom gave to me that she was given when she was pregnant. We arranged for it to immediately be put in water. (It opens up as you dilate).

– I wore my birthing necklace that was made at my Blessingway which contained 3 beads from each woman that was there – blessings each for me, for #SprogDog and for the birth– I had my candle that was from the Blessingway that people had written on words for the birth, and lit that. It is supposed to stay lit until baby is born, encompassing the room with its wishes
– I lit 2 vanilla candles to set the ambiance of the room. I heard later that you could smell them down the passage!

– I stocked the cupboard with food fit for labour for myself, as well as to keep Marc going. This ranged from soup, nuts, dried fruit, peanut butter, sucking sweets, granola bars, oats, fruit bowls and digestive biscuits, as well as 5 liters of coconut water for rehydration. Genesis also offers a fruit juice, water and energade.
– I had #SprogDog’s Birth Plan, which I had shown my doula and midwife previously to the birth.
– We had the cord stem cell collection kit ready for collection immediately after the birth.

– And a polaroid camera for the fun of it, as well as my DSLR.
– I also had gifts ready for my midwife, doula and Genesis midwife.
Sue arrived and put me on the CTG and the contrations were only measuring as a mild 40 – but I told her it couldn’t be – they felt stronger! #SprogDog was very happy though. Sue did an internal. Hooray, I was already 8cm dilated! She was so impressed! Baby, however, was somewhat posterior, and I was feeling pressure in my back and front, so the plan was to try turn the baby. Brenda recommended we do some stairs as it is a useful turn to get baby out of the posterior position.
But there were many people as it was a Saturday, so we decided to go to Zoo Lake instead – at 08h30. I took deep steps at about 45 degree angles to try help turn #SprogDog’s head into a better position. Whenever a contraction would come, Brenda would press up against my belly, or put pressure on my back. We saw a lot of ducks on our 2 hour journey.
We got back to check and see what was happening at 10h30. The placenta flower had opened up nicely and I thought we had made nice progress. We checked baby quickly on the CTG and she was still very happy. But when Sue checked me, I was still 8cm. She suggested to rupture the membranes to help speed up labour as I had not progressed and get #SprogDog to position better as the walk did not help. The procedure was not entirely pain-free, but I then felt a gush of fluid between my legs, and Sue proclaimed that it was clear, which she was not expecting as we were postdates.
They had already started filling up the bath at this point. I went to go sit on the toilet for a bit and we were going to then take a shower, but within 20 minutes of my membranes being ruptured, I
could feel a shift in the intensity of the contractions and had some slight urges to push. Sue checked me again, and I only had an anterior lip remaining! I got into the birth pool at 11h00 – the water was almost piping hot – it gave a little bit of relief.

We tried to push past the remaining rim as Sue tried to move it over #SprogDog’s head, but it was excruciating, and we didn’t make progress with that. At 12h15, I still had a rim remaining, but it was becoming more oedematous. Sue reco
mended to give Aterax and Buscopan IVI as it helps to get that last bit remaining out the way. The Aterax made me feel seriously unwell, as if  I  was having a heart attack, but the feeling passed very quickly. Ten minutes later I started to feel an urge to push, and at 12h42 I was fully dilated, with an asynclitic OP. I started pushing, and Marc was fantastic at giving me coconut water to hydrate me, and putting a cool cloth on my forehead that felt like heaven. He was a constant support. Victoria, the Genesis staff midwife and my friend, arrived as well to assist in documentation, and was a great support as well.

Sue continued to listen to #SprogDog’s heartbeat in intervals, and #SprogDog was as happy as could be, which reassured everyone in the room. But an hour and a half passed, and it felt like there was little progress. My contractions were irregular, and far apart. Sue went to speak to Dr Maasdorp (my gynae), and I remember begging her not to leave
me. I was also scared that he would suggest a caesarean section. I had changed 
Sue told Dr Maasdorp that she was confident that I would birth.They put up a drip of Ringer’s Lactate with 5 units of Syntocinon to help augment the labour in the second stage. The contractions started intensifying and becoming closer together. Sue’s fingers assisted in getting a proper urge to push, as well as direction as to where I should be pushing.

I was tiring. The contractions were strong, and I had not slept properly since Friday morning, and it was now Saturday afternoon. They gave me a towel to bite on during contractions. I squeezed Victoria’s hands. Brenda kept massaging my back with every contraction. Sue told me to feel #SprogDog’s head – “There is caput!” I hastily gasped as I felt the swelling on my baby’s head inside me.  Sue reassured me and jokingly told me that I would be “kaput”  if I kept saying things like that.

The emotions in the room became tangible. Sue and Victoria had started crying – I believe Sue because I am a very close friend, and #SprogDog is her godchild, and the birth was imminent, and Victoria because she said that in that moment, she could envision her own VBAC with this team and it put her mind to rest (she says she will write something for me about my birthing experience, because by this moment I felt almost dead, and could not remember much). Ella’s bouncing heart rate continued to reassure everyone.

I was pushing as hard as I could. Sue said she was lucky I did not ask her if #SprogDog had rotated, because she hadn’t and was now in the LOT position (giving me the widest diameter). I was done. I asked for a caesarean section as they all laughed and said I was almost there and I could do it. A few pushes later and my daughter’s head was crowning. And I panted that I was tearing… After her head was out, they asked me to push again, and I pushed with the same intensity that I tried to get her head down, and #SprogDog shot out in one go and into Sue’s welcoming arms. I had pushed for one minute shy of 2 hours. Sue then handed me my daughter…
“Oh she is beautiful” I heard Sue say, as my perfectly formed baby lay in my arms, and Marc and I looked at her with awe and with wonder. And she was. She barely cried and was already looking at our sensory world with, as we now know to be, is her serious sense of FOMO (fear of missing out).
We then clamped the cord and Marc cut the cord, so that we could collect the stem cells. #SprogDog was given to Marc to do skin to skin, while Sue collected the stem cells. I then birthed the placenta and was grateful that there was no bones in it! It was a small placenta that we then put away for Shannon to collect it later to encapsulate it. I quickly dipped back in the water  and told Sue I had torn, and she told me she would check it and that I must leave my vagina alone. Marc was meanwhile phoning family to tell them
that all was well. 
I got onto the bed as Sue confirmed I had a one degree tear and sutured it, while I looked at Marc holding our daughter, and the love in his eyes as he looked down on her. It was he sexiest I have ever seen him . Sue then weighed and measured #SprogDog while we bathed in joy.
Victoria then helped me to latch Ella and we managed so without a nipple shield which I was so surprised. It was my second greatest achievement that day, and I think in my whole life. We all spent the golden hour together. After #SprogDog fed, I showered. My parents had apparently already arrived at the hospital before she was even born (against my wishes, as they were apparently worried, and my dad walked out when he heard me screaming with every contraction. Fortunately no one told me while I was in labour)!

They then came to meet the new addition. And then everyone else did, because we wanted it to be controlled in hospital then uncontrolled at home.
And they loved her.

Ella, born on 23/01/2016 at 14h41 in water, unmedicated, weighing a healthy 3.12kg, length 51cm and head circumference 34cm, apgars of 9 and 10.

Written by mom and midwife Timor Lipschitz.