Crap at pregnancy… not so crap at birth?!

It’s been a month now since my little girl made her entrance. I’ve strangely missed writing the blog. I haven’t updated it because… well… I’m not pregnant any more. In fact, given the story I am about to tell, I think it’s safe to say that birth is probably the only bit of pregnancy that I wasn’t rubbish at. After having the shittest pregnancy known to man (and woman), I sort of expected the birth to follow the same pattern. After the placenta praevia drama until 36 weeks, I was declared normal, low-risk and able to use the local midwife-led unit, or even have a homebirth if I so wanted.

With the Boy I had been induced at 38 weeks so had no idea what my body did naturally if left to its own devices. So, I was expecting to go massively overdue, and end up with a crap birth as well, to round off 42 potential-weeks of shitness.

It would seem my girl had other ideas.

From about 36 weeks I was getting occasional twinges of my cervix, but I thought nothing of it. At 38+0 I was grumping furiously about the house, raging at still being pregnant, and in so much pain that I was regularly reduced to tears. I was getting practically no sleep at night because the pain in my hips was so bad.

I was lying on the sofa, 11.30pm at 38+2 and suddenly there was a sudden clunking feeling inside the bottom of the bump- like when a tendon pings over a bit of bone. I said to H “I don’t know what the fuck she’s doing in there but that was an almighty clunk!”. I then moved slightly and felt a small glug of fluid. Without saying anything I went up to the bathroom to check whether this was indeed my waters. When I wiped there was a pinkish tinge to the fluid, and more fell out. Yup. That would be them then. I put a pad on, and went downstairs to tell the husband.

Tried phoning the hospital but they were engaged. Called the Mothership as she was 90 minutes away and was booked for childcare purposes, to warn her that there may be a phonecall in a little while if things kicked off – which at that point, they hadn’t.

Called hospital back. It did sound to them as if it was my waters (no shit, Sherlock). Put a pad on, go to sleep and call us back in a couple of hours if you’ve soaked a pad through. As soon as I put the phone down, I started getting crampy feelings across the bottom of the bump.

I went upstairs, crept into his room and packed Boy’s Trunki with some clothes, and even stole 2 of his 4 normal cuddly companions from his bed just in case we had to decamp in a hurry. Went to bed with my hypnobirthing playlist on shuffle. By now it was about 12.30am.

Dozed for about an hour. At about 1.30am I got up with the thought that I’d forgotten to pack PJs for the Boy. Went to the loo (a minimal amount of more waters) and back to bed. Couldn’t sleep now, and was getting steadily more uncomfortable with each contraction. They were about 15 minutes apart by now. At about 2.30am I woke up H and asked him to help put the TENS machine on.

By 3.15am I realised that I no longer wanted to be alone, so summoned H to come and hold my hand. At about 3.30am we called the hospital back and they said to come in so I could be checked over. 3.45 we called my Mum back and said we needed her to come and get the Boy.

At about 4.30am H decided that we really should be going to hospital now, but I took some convincing. I didn’t want to go wake Boy and then have him going to the hospital, but H was insistent. So, he called my Mum and told her to make her way to the hospital rather than come to our house. We woke up the big-brother-to-be and loaded him and the rest of the freakshow into the car. I am so glad that it was early in the morning – I wouldn’t have liked the whole street to see me in this state. Wired up to a TENS machine, shuffling, looking a right state.

I got into the back as I had more space to move around. The car seat was really comfortable because it pressed the TENS machine in much firmer contact with my back. I cursed the bloody speedbumps that cover half the town though! And how shit the council are at doing anything about the bloody potholes. OUCH. We left the house at 5.01am.

We got to the hospital at about 5.15. Got to the Midwife Led Unit, and was shown into one of the birth centre rooms. This was good. Then they said they wanted me to move to a side room to be checked over. WTVF? I’m in labour you idiots, I’m not making this up! Student midwife assured us that midwife would be with us “very soon” and that they weren’t expecting a “labourer” to come in to be checked (?!). 45 minutes later with some additional nagging on the call bell, midwife agrees to come and check me over.

Midwife examines me and tells me that I am 3cm. Thank GOD. I realised I was in actual labour and that I wouldn’t be being sent home. Mum arrived, and abducted child. He burst into tears just before she got here – hearing Mummy making a lot of noise by now and having to be so very good (which he was) was clearly becoming a bit much for him. Child now gone, I could relax (read: shout) a bit more. MW tried to get me to have Entonox but I didn’t want it as I felt sick.

Was told at this point that Delivery Suite was FULL (there goes my epidural if I needed one) and that some unreasonable bastard was already using the pool (bang goes the patchouli oil waterbirth). My verdict: got H to call the lovely Mrs M as she had agreed to come and be a 2nd birth support for me if needed. Before this I had thought “I’m not coping here, I’m heading towards an epidural”, and the last thing I wanted to do was give her a call and then have her come all this way only to see me have an epidural and end up in theatre. I thought at this point “FUCK. I need someone here who I know can tell me to buck up and convince me I can DO this”. Mrs M was duly summoned.

Time was now 6.37am. Mrs M helpfully gave H some tips to pass on– drop shoulders and breathe out during contractions.

Was shown back to the birthing room (gits. Walking hurt at this point). Set up iPod docking station with the Birthsense Hypnatal Relaxation music on loop. Really started to go into myself between contractions here. Was sitting on the edge of the bed, trying to zone out. When I had a contraction I felt like I needed to get my weight off my arse so was holding myself up by my arms. I was shrieking a lot now with each contraction (with Ike I mooed, this really was different) as well as doing virtual press-ups. Was unable to breathe out and drop shoulders, but when I was able to for even a moment, it felt good.

New midwife shift came on, and at handover they agreed to get me some pain relief that wasn’t Entonox. H had been brilliant about advocating for me here – when they offered I was just able to say “no”. He explained why I was saying no- it made me feel sick for hours after I stopped using it last time. I had no desire to ever feel that way again! Opted for a shot of diamorphine. And they also said they’d give me a shot of Stemetil (anti-emetic) to stop me feeling sick. Marvellous! Warning – had forgotten how much stemetil jabs bloody STING (top tip – when they are injecting you, wiggle your toes on that leg – it helps). New midwife who was lovely said that she’d re-examine me at 10am to see how I was progressing.

TENS machine kept falling off now. Time was about 7.15-30 by this point. H kept “tasering” himself trying to get it back on. Midwife taped it on with sticky tape. Much better! Continued with the press-ups while seated. Actually nodded off between contractions at a couple of points. Everything was sort of pleasantly warm and fuzzy, and the colours whenever I opened my eyes were bright and in soft focus. That would be the diamorphine then! I had my eyes closed most of the time. I hardly opened them. At some point just after 8am I started shrieking properly and yelling “Noooooooooooooooo” through contractions as I thought “I really need to do a poo… Oh GOD I know what this means!” having read enough birth stories describing the same!

Midwife then said she needed to examine me – Time was now about 8.15-20ish. I wasn’t keen on this idea, but she was reasonably firm about it, so I consented.

I managed to lie down on my left side and be examined. Declared to be fully dilated. All this time I was thinking “I don’t think I can do this…” but then another contraction would arrive and I’d think “well I got through that one”. The entire time we had been in the birthing centre room, H had been next to me, giving me words of encouragement and generally being bloody fab and supportive – physically and verbally and mentally.

I tried changing position to being kneeling on a mat on the floor, and my arms (glad of the break from doing press-ups every contraction) and head and shoulders resting on the bed. This was ok, but during every contraction my knees were sliding outwards sideways (think box splits) and my stomach nearly touching the mat I was on. I was pushing by this point, but it felt really unproductive. Midwife suggested the use of a birthing stool. I said yeah why not, so she assembled it all and got me to sit on it with H behind me.

This bit was much more productive. Gravity helping, no pressure on the right bits, but it also felt so… strange to be pushing and for something to be moving towards my perineum. For one or two contractions I was utterly distracted by the fact that I had shat myself, but could not wipe my arse due to positioning on the stool.

I got over that bit and ended up lying back onto H and literally pushing back into him which felt like it was helping a lot, though for a few contractions it felt as if I was pushing her down and she was retreating back up when the contraction stopped. At this point it was 8.40am – I commented that she’s racing her brother – he arrived at 38 weeks, 3 days, 8 hours and 42 minutes.

Next few contractions were absolutely amazing in a “hoooooooly shiiiiiiit that’s what they mean by Ring Of Fire…” kind of way. Before I knew it, her head was out. She had the cord looped loosely around her head and shoulder. Midwife unlooped it without any bother at all.

Next contraction and a couple of pushes, the rest of her was out. My god that is an ODD sensation. Absolutely indescribable. But she was delivered onto my stomach and all of the contractions just… stopped. She had a really good shout. 8.52am. The most pregnant I ever was, but only by 10 minutes!

Midwife said just before I delivered that I was bleeding so she asked if she could give me syntometrine, which was fine, and placenta was out after 7 minutes according to my notes. I wasn’t really paying much attention. I was staring at my new baby. H declined to cut the cord, so I did it instead. First pair of scissors I used were blunt- Only got halfway through it – then they passed my the episiotomy shears – by Jove they worked (!).

I absolutely couldn’t believe that I had done it all by myself (with a cheerleading team, and people physically holding me up at times). Total wave of euphoria and disbelief that I had had an actual baby, with virtually NO drugs. Had some lovely skin to skin time with her, and waited for her to stop shouting!

At this point Mrs M showed up, which was actually lovely timing. Maximum gore and she didn’t flinch. LOL.

It was lovely to have her there and to be able to show off my new baby, and for her to be calm and unflappable. H went to the car to sort out parking, and so Mrs M was much more use than him and took photos. H is totally not down with the gore element of birth too, so when he got back his job was now baby cuddling rather than supporting me.

All very relaxed and happy atmosphere, midwife examined me – this time with the use of gas and air (stemetil meant it no longer made me want to heave. Yay!) and found I had a small second degree tear and 2 grazes (symmetrical ones apparently).

Suturing bed was then found, and Mrs M did a cracking job of handing things to midwife and breaking the tops off glass bottles of things, and witnessing the counting of swabs, needles, etc. Tear was stitched, and one of the grazes – to stop them healing together. Gas and air was so good that at a couple of points I could no longer find my own mouth with the mouthpiece thing. It does weird things to your voice though – makes you sound like Darth Vader. Especially when you say “Luke I am your father”. Errr. Yeah…

After I had been stitched up Mrs M then did an equally important job of cuddling Polly while I had a shower, and H helped me not fall over from jelly-legs.

Tea and toast for 3 was then produced, and Polly had a good feed too!

Was then put in a side room on the postnatal ward, waved goodbye to Mrs M and that was it!

I still can’t believe that I had a baby yesterday, and have already been on a solo shopping trip with her to John Lewis (to pick up wheeled board for pushchair and a new crib mattress).

Couldn’t have been more different to the Boy’s birth, and it just makes me love both my children even more for what they represent of their births. I love my boy and how he had to contend with being so battered and bruised on the way out and being so stoic about it all, and my girl for doing it Her Way, and taking absolutely no prisoners!

Polly and her Mum

Look, I'm not feeling sick any more!

If someone had told me in the darkest depths of my depression in 2010 that I could be This Happy – I’d have thought they were lying.

All through the sickness, the pain, and the misery of being pregnant – I can happily say that having a birth as great as this, let alone a baby as gorgeous as she is has made it all worthwhile.

Me, Ben and Polly,

First picture with Mum and Dad - 24 minutes old.

I guess at this point I can admit who I am too – my name is Rachel, I am 31, I am married to Ben and we live in Reading, Berkshire, UK.

And I have two gorgeous children, Isaac and Polly.

 Ike and Polly
Brother and sister
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Bugger me, I only went and had a baby!

In short, the little minx turned up this morning, in a very timely fashion, ensuring that both of my pregnancies ended at 38+3, hers literally only 10 minutes longer than her brothers.

Shall tell all just as soon as I am out of hospital and have a proper keyboard at my disposal.

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Let the waiting commence.

Um, yeah, so that moaning I’ve been doing about everything for the past 48 hours? It may have been The Arse.

The Arse is a phenomenon well known amongst the online community I frequent. It refers to the very end stage of pregnancy, and the absolutely foul, vile temper and associated hormonal wailings that you get in the last 24-48 hours before you go into labour. At the point where you would rugby-tackle someone to the floor to prise open their hand if they offered you a rusty, blunt spoon to do your own c-section, and have either been raging or in tears- that’s The Arse.

At about 11.30pm there was an almighty “clunk” from inside the bump as I was lying on the sofa. I said to the husband “I don’t know what the fuck she just did in there but there was an almighty clunk”. I lay there for a few more minutes, and then decided to go to the loo, at which point there was a glug of fluid. I went to the loo, and wiped, and sure enough- more clear fluid with a pink tinge. Went downstairs and called the hospital. Bastards were engaged. Called my Mum. She’s booked for childcare duty, and lives 90 mins away by car. Called hospital again. They said it might be just late pregnancy fluid discharge. Felt like saying “um, no. I know what that’s like and This Is Different.” we agreed that the plan of action would be to put a pad on, call them in a couple of hours if I’d soaked a pad. They’d arrange for me to come in and be checked.

When I was on the phone to them, there wasn’t even a hint of there being any contractions.

2 hours later and I’m taking pauses between typing as I need to concentrate on breathing. Not much else on the waters front though- mainly because I’m lying down, so gravity’s not working.

The irony? The Boy was induced at 38+0 and showed up at 38+3. I had a carefully planned blog entry lined up for later about how, once it was past 8.42am, 38+3, I would now be the most pregnant that I’d ever been. Is the competitive little minx trying to race her brother?

This could take a long while yet though I’ll keep you posted.

Keep breathing.

TRP. Xx

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Crap at being patient

Lying in bed, considering how uncomfortable I have to be before the pain forces me to get up.

I’m crap at waiting, as well as everything else. We’ve got the cot built (a bedside one), clothes washed, nappies ready, muslins (no, autocorrect, I did not mean Muslims) laundered, car seat set up and ready… And now I just have to wait. Which I’m shit at. I’m only 37+6 as well.

I have been keeping myself amused by making a patchwork quilt for someone who I know off an Internet forum I hang out on. She’s been diagnosed with cancer so we thought we’d make her something to cheer her up when she feels like shit and needs to just loaf on the sofa.

One of the squares on it- a saying from within our little community- says “this too shall pass”. In my case, it’s true as well.

I just wish it would pass a bit more bloody quickly, that’s all.

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Made it!

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I can’t believe that it’s taken me 37 weeks of being crap at pregnancy to get around to downloading the WordPress app for my iPhone.

I am celebrating the downloading of said app, and also the fact that I’ve made it to 37 weeks, and also that baby is head down, and that my placenta has moved enough to no longer be considered placenta praevia, and that I’ve been signed back to the care of my local midwife and GP… By treating you to a photo of the troublesome bump. God willing, it won’t be there for long (or at least if it is there for a lot longer, it will be filled with cake and not baby!

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TMI Friday

I coined this expression with regards to the much more well-known red and white striped restaurant a few weeks back. I went with the Long-Suffering Husband as it is one of his favourite “Porn Food” locations (Porn food, for those who do not know, is food that makes you feed a little seedy and dirty, but for some reason it hits a spot that other, probably healthier, food cannot reach). Whenever we go, I sort of resign myself to needing a bathroom within 30 minutes. For some reason, no matter what I eat there, within 30 minutes I am in uncomfortable need of a bathroom, and (warning, it’s about to get graphic) can easily shit through the eye of a needle.

Today we didn’t go to TMI Friday’s, but retaining the TMI and Friday aspects of this blog title, I have another TMI problem. I can no longer tell when I need a bowel movement. I have to go to the loo and sit there and consciously relax all of the right muscles and see whether anything happens. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it happens 2-3 times in a day and then not for a few. It’s horrible. Is there anything at all that this baby hasn’t taken control of?!

She’s got her own bottom shoved up under my ribs on the right hand side. Very uncomfortable. I think very uncomfortable sums up just about everything at the moment.

I can only sleep until about 4am until I need to turn over in bed because my hips feel like I’ve been kicked by a horse. Turning over is a hell of a fuss – first of all any movement makes me emit noises of stifled sobs. I have to roll onto my hands and knees and turn over that way as rolling over on my back hurts my back too much. And then I have to rearrange the bolster cushion to make sure it’s between my legs, and then make sure the duvet is over me, and that the wedge cushion is under my bump. And then it’s only about 40 minutes before I wake up in pain again and have to repeat the process until 8am when, still emitting sobbing noise, I give up.

Thank God I have an osteopath’s appointment booked for Wednesday.

I spent Wednesday in glorious tranquil Bath Thermae Spa. I can highly recommend floating around in warm water in a state of neutral buoyancy, with one’s husband, enjoying a few hours without children (apart from the one smuggled in under my swimming costume). We brought our wedding anniversary forward by 2 weeks as there’s something else supposed to be happening in July. Apparently. The only problem about being relaxed and almost weightless is that you feel like you weigh about 90 billion tons more when you get out. Sob.

Scan and consultant’s appointment on Thursday 30th. Until then it’s watch this space, I guess.

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A mixed bag

Today was 34-week-scan-day.

I left home just after 11am to make it to the hospital/get parked/placate toddler/waddle to Maternity ultrasound in time for my appointment at midday. Sure enough, parking was a nightmare, followed by whingy toddler (strapped in pushchair, a wise decision), and we made it with about 5 minutes to spare.

If you take a toddler to an appointment like this, 3 top tips: 1. strap them into the pushchair – it’s not because they can’t walk, it’s a restraint device! 2. Take snacks. Silence can be bought, and the price is food. 3. If you have an iPhone, firstly, make sure it is insured, and secondly, load it with a few toddler games. This will get you through lots of boring, sitting waiting around time.

Went into the scan room at about 12.20 (having bartered 3 sausage rolls for reasonably compliant behaviour from The Boy).

And Lo! She was head down. Little. Minx. I have been suffering with her head under my ribs until YESTERDAY. And she turns. The night before the bloody scan.

One problem down, one to go.

Placenta is over the left hand side of bump, so no wonder I haven’t been feeling any movements over that area.

“Ok, there is the placenta… but I can’t see where it is because baby’s head is in the way. Would you mind if we did a TV scan?”

I replied in general terms that I don’t bloody care what goes up there right now, I just want to know what’s actually going on.

The sonographer switched to using the probe, describing it as probably being “a little uncomfortable, but not as bad as a smear”. Either I have a wizard’s sleeve, or a really high discomfort threshold because that was NOTHING like a smear (which, last time I had one, 3 months post-birth, reduced me to tears). So ladies, don’t be afraid if you get asked to have a TV scan. They really aren’t that bad at all.

The thing I was most concerned about was the bloody MARVELLOUS view The Boy had of everything the sonographer was doing with the probe. Sob. I sincerely hope he doesn’t choose to recall that little sequence of the day and tell anyone later.

Sonographer was able to see the placenta, and said it was about 13mm from the exit. Clinical protocol at this hospital means that it has to be 25mm away before they are happy and consider you to be low-risk. So, she immediately added my name to the list of the consultant’s clinic and sent me off to wait and see the consultant.

The riot act was then read to me by said consultant. Any hint of bleeding – call or come straight to the hospital, get someone else to drive. Any hint of waters leaking – straight to hospital, get someone else to drive. Have you packed your hospital bag? No? Do it. Today. Don’t go anywhere which is ridiculously far from a hospital. Clinic appointment and re-scan in 2 weeks, but if there is the merest hint of anything being wrong when we see you, we’d probably like to keep you in, so bring your hospital bag with you. If nothing were to move from this point, best and safest option is a section.

All rather scary then.

Called the husband at work. Repeated the above. He was, um… relatively silent. He called back about 2 hours later and was much chattier and had got his head around it, and everything would be fine. He admitted that he was more than a touch shocked and one of his team took him out for a coffee to allow him to “restore factory settings”. Bless.

So, next appointment is on 30th June. Consultant and Scan. So I get to see her for a 4th time. The picture from today looked like she was pouting a bit.

No idea where she gets that from…

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