I’ll start this off by saying this may well be a slightly unrealistic version of labour – I’ve either gotten extremely lucky, or I have the pain tolerance of a god, but I don’t think my labour could have gone better had I wrote it myself. Our little boy was born on the Friday 21st October at 3.15am – and I think I speak for both myself and Jordan when I say we’ve never loved such a little person so quickly or so much. At this point, I’m exhausted, mentally, physically and emotionally, but I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. Labour was my biggest fear, but my biggest surprise. Here’s Baby J’s story.
I was due on Friday 14th October 2016, and had quite literally counted down the hours until it rolled around. As soon as I hit the 37 Week Mark, I commenced ‘Operation Baby’: pineapple, curries, endless hours on the birthing ball, sex and red leaf tea out of my ears. Regardless, the 14th came and went, and nothing happened. The 15th also, the 16th, heck a full week went by and I had absolutely nothing. Not so much as a ‘bloody show’ or a Braxton Hick, but all of the frustration in the world. I was booked in to see my midwife on the Wednesday, and on seeing her, my blood pressure was sky high compared to my measurements at the start of my pregnancy and I also had protein in my urine, so with the pre-eclampsia risks, they brought me up to the day unit the following day, to be monitored. Essentially, my bloods were taken, blood pressure monitored, and baby checked over, as far as I was aware, everything checked out. Either way, I was told given that I was a late booker, with high blood pressure and protein in my urine, I was to come in the next morning to be induced. Hallelujah! It was still more waiting time, but it was a date, and that was all that mattered to me.
At this point though, something weird was going on. I’d never had Braxton Hicks, and early labour hadn’t been a thing for me, but I was starting to get pretty noticeable cramp on/off. This was going on throughout the 3 hours I was in the unit, but I didn’t want to say anything for fear of not being given an induction date… Low and behold, I went home, and the tightenings continued. I don’t really know how to explain the pain – but looking back, chances are I was in early labour for a good few days, with just really really mild ‘period like’ pains, pains I assumed were just part of my body preparing for labour – not actually labour. I left the Maternity Day Unit at around 3pm on Thursday the 20th – and Jordan decided to head into work for a few hours, a decision which I was extremely happy about. I’d said all along – when I go into labour, I want to be alone. I don’t deal well with sympathy, I don’t like being coddled, and if I’m in pain, I’m generally a grit my teeth and wait for it pass sort of person. Birthing partners for me are just someone to dig my nails into in the last stages…
Our texts went a bit like this at quarter to five went like this:
At this point, my ‘contractions’, which I still couldn’t decide whether or not were real contractions, had gone from 6 minutes apart to 3 minutes, and were lasting around a minute. I was still completely comfortable though, and just preferred to spend my time in the bath. The timings scared me though, as my app – Contraction Timer – kept flashing red and telling me to get my ass to hospital now… First time labour problems and a mum who had been induced so wasn’t all that knowledgable about contractions and so I resorted to phoning triage at 7.21pm. My notes say that in my first call I state that I’ve had paracetamol an hour ago, I’m coping well and contractions must be extremely mild, as I spoke through one on the phone, and that I was advised to call back when contractions are stronger or foetal movement is reduced. Fab. At this point, I was pretty much now convinced I was in labour – but I still wasn’t really letting on to Jordan or my mum, who were my two birthing partners. Again, I just prefer to be left alone and it was easier for everyone if they didn’t really know the extent. Slowly but surely, they progressed, and after Jordan forced me to, I phoned again at 9.15pm, and was pretty much brushed off again – the midwife said they can normally tell how far gone someone is by how they are talking, and I was still far too calm, and didn’t seem distressed at all, so once again, was told to call back when labour establishes. Roll on 11.15pm. Not coping – didn’t want to stay at home any longer and those 2 paracetamol weren’t really doing all that much, this time I didn’t give the unit a choice, and told them I’d be heading in soon, cue an extremely uncomfortable car journey strapped to a TENS machine that only worked to distract me mildly.
I got to the hospital for just after midnight, and was met fairly hostily: the midwife was lovely, an old neighbour actually, but made it clear that after she was done examining me I’d probably be sent home, to wait for real labour. This was my worry all along – I didn’t want to waste anyones time, and I was embarrassed at the prospect of coming in claiming severe pain when I’m 1cm dilated. She arsed about a bit for lack of a better word for around half an hour before I was finally examined – giving me a stronger pain relief tablet (paracetamol again no doubt) in the meantime. My waters still hadn’t gone, but I was leaking fluid and had been for a few hours, which was a promising sign. I’ll probably never forget the look on her face as she examined me internally. Seconds after starting she said ‘it’s a very good thing we brought you in: how far along do you want to be?’, my reply was simply ‘far along enough that I don’t have to go home!’. I was 8, almost 9cm dilated. Thank the lord – now give me my epidural please! That was the only thing written on my birth plan – epidural as early as humanly possible, but I was basically told to get rid of that idea very very quickly, as epidurals take a certain amount of time to work – a certain amount of time that I just didn’t have. This little bub was coming and he was coming quickly, drugs weren’t an option anymore, and so my greatest fear of a natural labour was to be realised… absolutely fantastic.
I was given gas and air to use, and absolutely hated it. 100% hated it. I’d tried laughing gas on holiday and couldn’t do that – what were the chances of me being able to use it when I actually needed it? On my second contraction I had whilst using the gas and air, I brought up just about everything left in my stomach and projectiled into a sick pan, down myself and into Jordans’ shoes (which made it all a bit entertaining, especially if you know Jordan personally, you’ll know his gag reflex is second to no-one’s and he can’t even brush his teeth in the morning without stifling vomit). Sorry Jordan! Either way – I was allowed a morphine injection at this point, and from here everything goes a little bit hazy. The morphine injection did nothing for the pain of the contractions, I just got very very tired. If allowed, I’d have just gone to sleep there and then, I was pretty much dozing through my contractions, and was more frustrated that I wasn’t allowed to sleep than anything else. I’d been moved up to the delivery suite at this point – and it was like nothing I’d ever imagined. I was simply in a dark hospital room, one midwife sat at the bed on my right hand side, Jordan and my mum standing at the left, with no-one else to be seen. I always assumed labour would involve being surrounded by doctors, midwifes, nurses, legs in stirrups and wailing to the high heavens. It was just not what I’d expected in the slightest. At 2.15am I was hooked up to a drip to try and burst the last of my waters – again, the midwife fully warned me that I probably was not as dilated as it would seem. My pain wasn’t that bad, and chances are, my waters were bulging and pushing against my cervix, when they burst, I’d probably contract back down to a nice 4cm – allowing just enough time for my epidural I craved so badly.. if only eh. My waters went, and with it any chance of pain relief. Fully dilated, half asleep, and it was time to start pushing.
Thinking back, I remember just having an overwhelming feeling of lethargy – I just couldn’t be bothered. I had so much pressure, and the contractions were picking up so I was definitely uncomfortable now, but I couldn’t be bothered to push. That’s the only way I can thing to describe it. The morphine jag had made me so sleepy, and there was nothing I wanted to do less than expend energy getting this baby out, not that the midwife was having any of it, she told me to push, so I pushed. I think that’s one of the reasons my labour had gone so well up until this point – I had no expectations of what I wanted or needed (other than that epidural), so I was so open to anything the midwifes said. I made a point of trying to do everything they said, for fear of doing something wrong that would make it worse. Waiting for the contractions to push was the worst part – another misconception I had. I assumed you pushed all the time, until you had no energy left, or the pain got too much, you just kept pushing. No no, there is nothing more frustrating, than spending 30 seconds pushing, only for a contraction to ease up and to have to wait a minute for another. Patience is not my strong point in the slightest, and I just wanted to meet my son by the end. I was tired, I was frustrated, and I was in pain (finally), and I just wanted it over with. From what I remember, the pushing part was probably somewhat comical to watch. From Jordan’s description it was like something out of a horror film, but I can’t say he’d have had the best perspective, so it’s understandable. I was pushing all in for about 20 minutes – the pain can be likened only to the biggest poo you’ve ever done in your life. That is literally the only way I can think to describe it – they call it the ring of fire, and now I understand. There’s no way to sugarcoat it, it’s absolutely hellish, but the minute the midwife starts telling you how she can see the head, or describes his hair, it’s forgotten. I very nearly had a heart attack during this stage, as after his head was delivered, he was silent – again, a misconception from the movies that they scream the minute they reach cold air. Baby J was absolutely silent. I was terrified and tried to sit up to get a good look half way through which probably wasn’t my best plan. It gave me the push I needed though, and he was delivered just a few pushes later. The relief when I heard him cry for the first time was like nothing I’ve ever felt before. If you’d have told me who overjoyed I’d be to hear my child screaming, and I’d have told you you were crazy, but it was honestly indescribable. I got the injection to deliver the afterbirth, and it came seconds later from what I can remember – at this point I think I was too immersed in the little life we’d just brought into the world.
I’m not sure how, but I managed to get through with only a scratch, without being able to use gas and air, and minus my epidural – the only downside to my labour was the new shoes I’m probably going to have to buy Jordan after my sick pan debacle… Baby J was delivered at 3.15am, I was discharged by 10.00am and bundled up at home for lunch. It still feels surreal – that’s not what I had labour pegged for in the slightest, and I now most definitely have unrealistic expectations of what child birth is like, I won’t even deny it. That could not have been a less complicated birth story had I penned it myself, and I’m so grateful for that, and the perfect little life it brought with it. It’s amazing how much of the little things you forget so quickly, and I’m glad I’ve actually wrote this down quickly-ish, just for the sake of being able to look back on it. For now though, I’m off to enjoy the time I have with our little cuddly newborn while he is still a little cuddly newborn. Thanks for reading,