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!
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.
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.