This post probably should have been one of my first! It’s one I’ve been meaning to write for absolutely ages. There are so many little details that I don’t want to forget as the years pass by – almost four already. So, with it now being Little Miss’s birthday month, here it finally is – her birth story.
It all began on Tuesday 27 March – three days before both my birthday and due date. I woke early that morning with a mild crampy feeling and when I went to the loo, realised I’d had a show.
I knew this didn’t necessarily mean I would go into proper labour instantly, and even if I did it was likely to take a while, so we carried on as usual. I’d read the books and been to NCT classes, I knew what I was doing – or so I thought!
The husband went to work and I went over to my morning midwife appointment as planned. I was still only getting the odd crampy sensation at that point. This continued throughout the day and by about 4pm the pains were starting to feel more intense though still very bearable.
Things carried on much the same that night. We let the hospital know and they predicted they would probably be seeing me in the morning. I bounced on a birth ball a bit while watching TV. At some point late that night I think I cracked open the TENS machine. I felt excited but calm, in control and relieved that something was happening as I’d been dreading the prospect of going overdue – though had assumed I would as I wasn’t convinced they had my dates right.
I slept a bit that night, not wonderfully but I managed to get some rest. Then we got through the morning – using the TENS machine, distracting myself, keeping mobile like I’d read in the books and learnt in the classes. This was ok, I thought. I can cope with this (it gets more interesting later!).
After lunch we both felt it must be time to go the hospital. My contractions were getting stronger and closer together. This must be it, I thought. And dare I say it, I was probably feeling ever so slightly smug at how well I thought I was dealing with what, I thought, by now must be full-on labour pain.
Only two centimetres – you’re kidding me!
And so we arrived at the antenatal day unit. The midwife examined me and pronounced that yes I was in the ‘early’ stages of labour – and congratulated me on being two centimetres dilated. TWO! She seemed happy with that. I definitely was not! Two measly centremetres! And then it started to dawn on me that I was not as in control as I thought. My sense of calm was somewhat premature. My body was only just getting started. Sh*t!
The midwife initially suggested we went home for a bit. But given that we were over half an hour drive each way from the hospital (and the husband was pretty nervous about the possibility of an in-car, roadside delivery), there was no way either of us planned on leaving that hospital.
So she moved to plan B and offered to give me a sweep to try and speed things along.
Let’s just say it did the trick.We were sent off to walk around the hospital corridors for an hour or so to see how things went. They went painfully! After several episodes of me leaning over various walls, ledges and garden benches as the pain started to overwhelm me, it became obvious that the sweep was having the desired effect.
By the time we went back to the antenatal assessment ward I was feeling sick and pretty desperate. They offered me gas and air, which I couldn’t get my hands on quick enough. I was hot and sweaty and have vague memories of pretty much stripping off by the bed, cubicle curtains wide open, not giving a damn who could see me!
I feel sorry for the women who were on the ward for observation that day and not yet in labour. I didn’t do a very good job of selling it to them. My sense of self-awareness had long left the building! A healthy dose of realism was all I had to offer.
They hooked me up to monitor to check the baby’s heart rate and my husband did an annoying thing I’ve since seen repeated by other men on One Born Every Minute. He kept looking at the machine and telling me when contractions were starting to build from the change in the wiggly line. The only useful aspect of this was his being able to suggest when one might be coming to an end.
Anyway, while I might have scared/annoyed/amused the other women on the antenatal ward, my hollering finally got me admitted to the labour ward (And, on a serious note, I do stand by it as a coping mechanism – yelling propelled me through the birth of my second baby too!).
Making an entrance on the delivery suite…
So at 5pm exactly, my labour was finally deemed ‘established’ and I was granted access to the delivery suite. One of the first things I did when I got into my room? Threw up down the back of the bed! That’s gratitude. The midwives, as they were throughout, were wonderful and kind and quickly cleared everything up without a murmour.
At this point I seriously started to question my all-natural birth plan and ability to get through labour without stronger pain relief. I started to make inquiries about what an epidural would entail. They put my name on the waiting list for an anaesthetist to come and see me. It was suddenly so much more appealing.
It was incredibly busy that night on the labour ward – we were later told that we were the last to be admitted and if we’d been any later we would have ended up being transferred to another hospital. And it wouldn’t have even been one of the next closest hospitals as they were full too. We could have ended up in London or over in Kent.
As it was, the busyness helped me. With the delivery suite at full capacity and several emergency c-sections happening, there wouldn’t be an anaesthetist free to see me any time soon. This, it transpired, was a turn of luck (I know that might seem an odd choice of words). It forced my hand and put me back on track with our original plan. My mindset had to shift – knuckle down and get on with it, the pain will pass.
By the time an anaesthetist became available, I’d got through the hardest bit, with the unflinching support of my husband. I had been very sick and had struggled to keep any fluids down for a few hours, which hadn’t helped when I was wavering. But at some point I was offered a drip to rehydrate me, which was a huge help. I got some strength back, felt more in control again and, knowing I’d now got to 8cm dilated, I was happy enough to carry on as I was.
Finally she’s here
At 9.49pm our baby, a beautiful daughter, was finally born (we hadn’t found out the sex beforehand). My hospital notes described my time in labour as just 4 hours 49 minutes – I beg to differ! But, overall, I can look back and say I was blessed with a straightforward, intervention-free delivery.
Looking at my notes from the time, apparently my waters didn’t break until 9.15pm and the second stage of labour (the pushing bit) lasted 29 minutes.To me that last bit, which I’d expected to find hardest, wasn’t so bad. Knowing I was so close made me feel so much better. The time went quickly.
Little Miss was perfect, weighing 7lb 8oz (3.4 kg). She aced her Apgar score – 9 at one minute and ten at five minutes once her little hands had pinked up. It was wonderful to be able to hold her straight away.
Of course, we were completely elated. And overwhelmingly relieved that she’d arrived safely. I’d found pregnancy a huge mental challenge. Physically everything had been fine but having suffered a late miscarriage 16 months before, I had been terrified that things could go wrong. Much of the time I just counted down the days, willing myself through it.
I was amazed at how quickly we decided on her name. We’d had a clear front runner for a boy – which we used two years later – but several potential girl’s names were on our list and we’d by no means made up our minds. Beforehand it had felt like a such a big decision to grapple with, hence we had decided to wait until we saw her. I imagined it taking hours, possibly days, so we were both surprised when very quickly we had a moment of clarity and agreed within the first five minutes of her arrival.
Our first night
After an hour or so finishing up in the delivery room, I was wheeled through to the post natal ward. I was given the option of walking round – hell no! I’ve just pushed a baby out thank you, I’ll be putting my feet up now, thanks!
I got settled on the ward and then all too soon the husband had to leave. Well, he was politely thrown out as those were the hospital rules back then.
I remember having a hunger like I’ve never felt before. Mars Bars were consumed – along with all the other energy-rich snacks I’d packed, thinking I’d be eating them during labour.
Then alone on the ward, once I’d satisfied my chocolate craving, the enormity of it all hit me. That night was such a mixture of feelings. I felt pretty invincible, amazed that I had got through it all unscathed and without an epidural. I felt proud of what my body had achieved. I had, with my husband of course (as he’ll be reading this!), created the tiny little, living, breathing, perfect human bundle laying next to me in her hospital crib.
But along with the euphoria, I also felt a huge feeling of responsibility. Of course, I expected this but you can’t quite imagine it until you’re finally left alone with your new arrival.
Within twenty minutes of me finally laying back in bed to try and rest and get some sleep, Little Miss gave me an ill-timed dose of reality on the joys of parenthood to come when she suddenly started coughing and spluttering and threw up a load of phlegmy green muck. “Ah yes,” said my friend, who’d given birth to her third daughter the day before me, when I replied to a text later in the middle of the night “that happened to me, they don’t warn you about that”. Too right they don’t. For a moment I was terrified that Little Miss was seriously ill. But apparently it’s very normal, she was just clearing out nine months of muck. And so began the first of many outfit/bedding changes/clean up jobs.
After that, I was too scared to sleep in case Little Miss needed me again. So I vowed to stay awake all night – and ordered three new parent books on Amazon in the early hours! I was on the hunt for the best possible manual to go with this new thing in our lives
I was relieved when morning came. I managed to successfully navigate through breastfeeding and a major nappy change, and then Daddy came back. Little Miss passed all her checks and we waited to be discharged to go home – which took all day as the place was so busy. Both sets of grandparents and one new aunty and uncle came to the hospital. I continued to be absolutely ravenous and wolfed down all available food!
Finally, almost 24 hours after her birth, we left the hospital. Little Miss looking far too small for her car seat, me sat in the back next to her. On the drive home I finally got some rest. And then our parenthood journey truly began.
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