I’ve read so many inspirational birth stories. The women who have been honest and open about their labour and birth experience in the hope they can inspire and encourage others on their journey. Everyone’s birth stories are beautifully unique. Pregnancy, labour and giving birth is something I still can’t believe I’ve achieved. It seems so long ago now, when I look at my daughter, that I first saw her on a six week scan. She was only a little bean but you could see her heart beating. It was like a little light on the screen and it was strange but even so early on I felt her presence looking at her. I couldn’t wait for the day when I finally met her and held her in my arms.
So nine months on and the week of my due date finally arrived. Hurrah! I was so desperate to go into labour, even though I was petrified! I’d felt a bit “funny” all week. Our midwife appointment was on the Monday and I’d mentioned I thought I might have a urine infection as I kept needing the loo and felt uncomfortable. The midwife checked my urine and said it’d have to be sent away to be tested so she couldn’t give me anything for it yet. On the Thursday the pressure was worse and I started to get pain in my bladder. I phoned the hospital and they told me to go over and they’d have a look at me. My observations were normal and the Doctor examined me and monitored the baby’s heart rate, which thankfully was absolutely fine. The Doctor thought it was the baby’s head lowering into position in the pelvis which made perfect sense but I was glad they checked everything.
At around 1am on the Friday morning I was woken up by cramping pains in my lower back. This continued throughout the day but it was bearable, just like normal period pains but a little more uncomfortable. I’d also passed my mucus plug so I knew things were starting (this was a momentous occasion for the Hubby, he’d been waiting to shout “it’s the mucus plug!” for months.) I phoned the hospital and they were reassuring and told me to take warm baths and paracetamol and what to look out for. I was relieved that something was finally hapening but I was also nervous and scared. I managed to do the ironing and kept sitting down for regular tea breaks! That night I just couldn’t sleep. The pain was getting worse and I couldn’t get into a comfortable position. I sat on my birthing ball and Hubby downloaded the contraction app which helped a bit but to be honest I had nothing to compare the contractions with so I’d no idea what was mild or strong! Every one just felt painful. I popped my TENS machine on and we phoned the hospital at 2.30am and they told us to go down. I was examined and it was confirmed I was 2cm dilated. The midwife was lovely and she said I was breathing great through the contractions and to go home and try and get some rest. So off we went, me feeling pretty disappointed that baby wasn’t coming just yet. Hubby went to bed to get some sleep and at 5am I text my mum. She came round and sat with me and she stayed until around 3.30pm. She was amazing. She made food, drinks, helped me shower and ran me a bath. Hubby sat with me and poured jug fulls of warm water over my bump. I was in the bath for hours! The water was helping with the pain and I was using breathing techniques to stay relaxed. But I’d hardly eaten a thing as I felt nauseous and was feeling pretty knackered. And it was only the beginning! At 5.30pm I was sobbing in pain with the contractions. My TENS machine had helped to some extent but it wasn’t having as much effect as before. Hubby phoned the hospital and the midwife he spoke to said she didn’t think much was happening at this stage. I started to feel quite panicky so were told to go down. I was so upset when I was told I was only 3cm and that I’d be sent home again. I burst into tears and sobbed “it’s been sixteen hours since I was last examined, that can’t be right!” She checked again, and bless her, she went bright red and said “oh, I’m sorry, you’re 4cm and I can stretch to 5cm.” Well that’s a big difference from 3cm I thought! “I underestimated how well you were doing! I thought things were only just starting!” the midwife chirped. “Have a wander around, see if that gets things moving a bit more. We can’t transfer you to the delivery suite until your 6cm dilated.” I was offered pethadin but I didn’t want this form of pain relief so I refused and continued with my TENS machine. I was really surprised that I had no pain around or over my tummy area, it was all just in my lower back. I was asked if I wanted the birthing pool as it was free and I was so relieved! The water seemed to help the pain so I felt a bit more relaxed knowing I’d have the pool. I couldn’t wait to get in! We saw a few people when we walked around the hospital. I felt so exposed, I felt like people were staring at me. One lady looked really sorry for me when she said “oh, good luck ducky”. I just thought please don’t let it be as bad as her facial expression is making it out to be!
Back on the ward I was examined again and I was 6cm dilated (“thank goodness for that!” I thought). Finally we were taken to the delivery suite. Our room was so relaxing, the lights were dimmed and there were twinkly lights around the room. There was a sense of calm and Hubby and I both looked at each other as he said “This is really nice amd our midwife seems lovely. I think we’ll be ok. We can do this.” It was the boost I needed. We put some relaxation music on and as my contractions were strong now I got into the pool. Our midwife, Deb, was so lovely, she was very relaxed and it felt like we’d known her for ages. We talked and made a few jokes which lightened the mood. She offered me the gas and air, which I was apprehensive about at first in case it made me sick but after a few goes I was hooked! I think I was in the pool for around six hours or so. I felt very uncomfortable in my lower back area but I was really surprised at how well I was doing in the water with just gas and air for pain relief. I had no idea what to expect before going into labour but I felt surprisingly in control. I used some of the hypnobirth techniques such as visualisation and deep breathing, which really helped to keep me focused. Deb massaged the area in my back where the contractions were which was really soothing and helped to ease the pain a little. That night the clocks went back which I couldn’t believe! It felt like an extra hour in labour! I kept looking at the clock and asking Deb how much longer it’d be until I had my baby. I was so tired now and kept drifting in and out of sleep. All of a sudden I found myself sitting on the side of the pool being told to try a few pushes. I must’ve nodded off or something but I can’t remember how I got there! At this point I felt quite empowered and motivated. All I wanted was to see my baby’s face. I couldn’t wait. Deb asked if I had the urge to push but I didn’t. She kept checking me using the mirror. I tried a few different positions in the pool and then another midwife came in ready to help deliver our baby. I sensed that something wasn’t quite right after even more pushing. I’d been in labour for 48 hours and I was exhausted and teary by this point. The midwives decided to get me out of the pool and onto the bed. And that’s where things went downhill. As soon as I stood up I was in excruciating pain. The contractions were right up my bottom. I was told to push so I did with all my might. The midwives exclaimed that they could see our baby’s head and that spurred me on even more. Hubby was so encouraging and kept saying “go on babe!” when I was pushing and “her head’s right there!” This went on for ages. Eventually something in me snapped and I started swearing and asking why she wasn’t here yet as they’d been saying they could see the head for hours! (The actual sentence was more expletive and had quite a few swear words in it!) I kept saying that I felt traumatised. I suppose this was the gas and air and exhaustion talking but I remember feeling a sense of impending doom. I couldn’t explain how I was feeling so it just came out as “I feel traumatised”. I felt trapped in a tunnel and I couldn’t see the light. I was in so much pain and I had no idea if my baby was ok or when I’d see her. Deb said the next step was a drip with drugs to make the contractions stronger. I flatly refused and said they needed to get the baby out. I was so unbelievably exhausted, upset and angry. The midwife who had joined us later said “why are you feeling like this? Is it because labour isn’t what you thought it was going to be?” Looking back now this was such an insensitive thing to say. I’d never had a baby before! After a while the midwives said they thought the baby was OP position (back to back) so they requested that I was checked out by a Registrar. I had to push so she could see what was happening during my contractions. This was one of the most challenging experiences of my life. When you’re going through so much pain and you have no choice but to grit your teeth and go through it, it was so challenging. She decided that I’d need to go to theatre. If they couldn’t get the baby out using the ventouse method then I’d need a C-section. Hubby was so worried but when we got in there I was just ready for it to be over. I had a spinal and the relief was glorious. No more pain! A few pushes and finally our baby girl was delivered. The ventouse method worked and she cried as soon as she came out! She was put on my stomach for a few seconds then taken away to get cleaned up. Both Hubby and I burst into tears, it was such an amazing moment, absolutely life changing and I’ll never forget how special it was. We had just been through an incredible experience. We had shared it together and worked as a team to get through it and it had made us even stronger. Hubby was there, right by our baby’s side, watching everything. Even though I was so out of it I kept looking over. I was being stitched up and Hubby was now holding her in a blanket. The midwife had put a knitted pink hat on her head, she looked adorable. The expression on my Husband’s face at that moment, well, I’ll never forget it. He was so in love with her. He looked so amazed, like he couldn’t actually believe she was here. She was his little girl. The fact that I couldn’t hold her straight away was hard but I was just so relieved it was over! Once we were on the maternity ward she was in my arms and I didn’t want to let her go. She was so alert, staring up at me with the deepest blue eyes. She was so delicate, so beautiful, I’d never felt so in awe of anything. I just felt complete. All of that pain had been worth it. And the journey had only just begun… 💖