Our beautiful little baby is no longer a baby any more. At 16 months he’s a walking, talking little whirlwind. A beautiful whirlwind. It’s about time I wrote about his birth story!
I’m not sure why it’s taken so long to write this. I was incredibly lucky, I had an almost enjoyable labour and birth. Despite it ending in a c-section, I don’t feel like it went ‘wrong’ or am disappointed in it. I wouldn’t choose a c-section if I could help it (recovery isn’t easy!) but it was right for me at this time.
When I was 38+6 I had my final midwife appointment in the surgery on a Friday. My blood pressure was higher than they wanted so I was sent to the hospital for monitoring.
A few hours later and I was ok to go home, with a home visit from the midwife booked for the Monday after the weekend, and strict instructions to keep an eye on how I was feeling and to go back to the hospital if anything changed.
Monday morning, around 8am, I got up to go to the loo (I was fairly lucky during pregnancy, there was very little disturbed sleep for frequent peeing, but I’d be desperate by morning) and when I sat down there was a big whoosh. I knew I was desperate to ‘go’ but it felt different. I waddled back to the bedroom to go back to sleep, but it just felt risky. So I found one of those terribly comfy (sarcasm alert) maternity pads, got dressed into a comfy top and jogging bottoms and went downstairs. I decided that I’d leave Mr H sleep as long as he could. It was the last lie in he was getting for a while and I wasn’t sure what was going on.
I set myself up in the living room, drink and snacks on the side table, birthing ball (complete with a towel over it just in case) and a John Barrowman concert on Sky Arts…the start of labour has never been so glamorous and stagey!
By the time the midwife came to visit, around half 9am, I was certain it was my waters and not just a big pee, and I’d had some very minor contractions. The midwife and student were greeted at the door with “good morning! My waters have broken!” And that’s how poor Mr H found out too! He was walking to the loo upstairs when he overheard us! Not sure that’s the best way for your husband to find out your in labour but it was very calm and not very soap opera worthy.
I can tell you that a student midwife learning to use one of those ear trumpet things to listen to the baby, whilst having your first ever contractions, is less than comfortable! But at least I helped 😀
After some checks it was decided I was ok to stay at home for as long as I wanted/could as long as I kept checking my temperature, and if I felt dizzy or fluttery at all I was to go straight to hospital. Though how you know if this is different to labour anyway I have no idea.
Once the midwife left, Mr H came down to check that he hadn’t been dreaming and I confirmed that yes I was in labour. My main concern was to finish sewing the nursing pillow cover I’d started the night before! Mr H went out to get some work stuff sorted whilst everything was still calm, and I set up at the sewing machine, keeping my handy iphone to hand to time the contractions. I’d have finished that cover too if I’d cut the pieces out properly the night before, but I’d done one piece the wrong way. It’s still not finished even now!
Mr H made me lunch and loaded up the car with the bags. I watched the Take That musical ‘Never Forget’. It was all a bit surreal really.
When the iphone app told us contractions were pretty close, a quick phone call to the hospital confirmed we should go in. The pain was all in my lower back (I’d later find out that he was back to back) so sitting properly in the car wasn’t easy. I was hanging on to the handle above the door for dear life, trying to hold myself off the seat. I remember saying to Mr H that if it turned out that I was only a cm or two then that would be ok because it wasn’t that bad yet. But when I was first examined and they told me I was indeed one whole cm dilated I nearly cried. I’d heard of people being 1cm dilated a week or so before they went into labour!
I couldn’t be admitted as I wasn’t far enough along, and I couldn’t stay in the hospital any longer, it was too hot and stuffy. But to go back home was risking being stuck in traffic if we needed to come back. So for about an hour I laboured in the hospital car park. I couldn’t sit down so I was pacing around the car (and throwing up next to the car. Very attractive.) and making Mr H take photos of me, my last bump photo.
When I couldn’t handle it any more we made the very long walk back into the hospital. It was only a few hundred yards away but it took forever, because every 10ft or so I’d have to stop for a contraction. They were very close together and a lot more painful than they had been.
The second examination, it had to be better right? 1-2cm at a push. I think I did cry at that point. It wasn’t more pain than I could handle, but to be only just 2cm was pretty heartbreaking by then. It was about 5pm by now. I voted for a shot of pethadine. There didn’t seem to be much else they could offer as it was too early to be admitted so no gas and air. I was at risk of pulling the sink off the wall whilst clinging on during contractions, apparently it had happened the week before and it was fragile. So at least the pethidine helped me nap for an hour, I could lie down and doze between contractions. During contractions I was flapping my arm at Mr H for him to rub my back. I was too sleepy to use actual words.
It didn’t seem long before it had worn off and I was requesting more. But another examination was needed first. I struggled with this. I could either stand up or lie on my side. Sitting or lying on my back was not an option. You could see the midwife was thinking ‘here’s another over dramatic’ who won’t lie down properly for the examination she needed for the pain relief she was asking for. There was the firm ‘if you don’t lie down I can’t examine you, so there’ll be no pain relief’. I tried. I got there eventually. If I wasn’t more than 2cm I think I’d have throttled the poor woman. “Do you want the good news?” I remember thinking if this is not actual good news that I’d kick her in the face! Labour can make you very violent. “You’re 7!” I cried with happiness. And was quickly whisked away to be admitted.
Then came the miracle stuff. The gas and air. I’d heard how it made some people ill and they couldn’t have any. I took two puffs and floated away into a hazy bliss. The room started spinning and I felt the most drunk I’d ever been. It was great!
The next few hours passed in a haze. Somehow I remembered the student midwife (different from the one in the morning) was at one of my consultant appointments. But apart from that I was in my own little bubble.
I don’t really remember being told I’d reached 10 centimetres, but I do remember the pushing. A lot of pushing. A LOT of pushing. But I had no real concept of time so it was hard to tell how long I’d been pushing for. I did however manage to ignore a contraction. I’m pretty proud of that in a weird way! It felt like the contractions were nonstop, and it turns out that they were coming two at a time rather than evenly spaced, which explains the feeling of constant pushing. So for one particular contraction, when the midwife checked the monitor and informed me I was having as contraction (like I didn’t know) I flatly refused. “I’m not” is all I kept saying, and somehow managed to stay as still as possible whilst repeatedly denying that there was a contraction.
Eventually I got to the point where I was too tired to push properly. I could feel how low the baby was with each push, but I just couldn’t get past that point. The midwife could even tell he had hair! But as my contractions were coming two at a time I was tiring easily for the second one, and having too much time before it came again. There was talk of giving me something to regulate my contractions, but as time went on I was tiring and baby’s heart rate was dipping slightly, so they asked if I’d go to theatre and possibly have a forceps delivery or a c-section. I would never have elected to have a c-section, but I wasn’t against it either, so it didn’t feel too scary.
Despite it being an ‘emergency’ it didn’t feel like one. The room didn’t fill with panic or raised voices or people running around. I did have to sign for consent which is frankly ridiculous when you’re high on that much gas and air.
Getting in to theatre my emotions did increase when I realised that Mr H wasn’t able to be in the room for the spinal. It was also pretty difficult to sit in the right position and stay still when all the pain increased in my lower back when sitting and the contractions and therefore need to push were still going strong. A few firm words from the anaesthetist had me sorted though, and she apologised after if she had upset me (which she hadn’t) but she said she didn’t want it to get out of control.
Once the spinal was in the surgeon said he would prefer to do a c section for time reasons, and because I’d already had growth scans in the later part of pregnancy and baby was measuring two weeks ahead. I don’t regret the c section as such, but recovery is hard! But I feared forceps more and didn’t fancy trying them and then needing a c section. If there is a next time, and I find myself in the same position, I would definitely opt for the forceps in the hope that recovery would be better. Fingers crossed for a vbac if there is a baby 2.
As I said though, I don’t have any regrets about my c section, I feel it was right for me at the time, and was actually helpful in learning about how I feel for any future births. And I certainly don’t feel like it ‘went wrong’ which is nice.
With Mr H by my side (looking rather fetching in his scrubs) and a lot of pushing and shoving of my insides (“it’ll feel like someone’s doing the washing in your belly” yeah, the old fashioned way by beating it against some rocks!?) our beautiful boy was pulled into the world. I remember asking Mr H where my baby was when they brought him round for me to see. He looked so tiny and I was expecting a whopper! At 7lb 4oz he was teeny tiny to what I was expecting!
Mr H tells me I went very pale and started shaking. To me I just felt relief and happiness that my boy was here. Turns out I was happy, but I was also losing a litre and a half of blood! Oops! But I didn’t even notice, or know anything about it until going through my discharge info a few days later. But it still didn’t feel like it was some scary emergency. It was lovely. In a strange way.
I can honestly say that I enjoyed my labour and birth, however off ‘plan’ it went, and I love looking back and remembering it all.
Did your birth go the way you’d hoped? Did you enjoy any of it?
Mrs H xxx