Super quick overview as I’m not sure if I need to include a trigger warning or not. In today’s post I talk about my birth story in detail, how it started, the long hours it lasted, the scary moments and how it ended with an emergency c-section. It was a long and hard labour but so worth it. I don’t look back on it negatively, I see it as a positive experience and just a day later I was ready to do it all over again.
The main reason I’m writing this post is so that I can look back on it in years to come.
So, baby boy has just hit the 6 month mark.
This time last year the world of labour was totally new to me. I’d never watched One Born Every Minute (still haven’t) and all I really knew were the movie-style births.
Reading the stories of others really opened my eyes to how different labour is for everyone. It quickly became a new obsession towards the end of my pregnancy.
In the run-up to my due date I read many stories on blogs, watched YouTube videos and read one positive birth story each day from the Positive Birth Company FaceBook group.
I’ll tell you more about the Positive Birth Company in a another post but let me give you a real quick overview. I found their online course very useful. Siobhan’s videos helped me to understand what happens to your body during labour and how to deal with the different aspects of it. I liked that it was video based and watched one video each evening in the run-up to my due date.
Despite being equipped with a birth template from the course I decided to go without. I didn’t have a plan. Actually, I didn’t have anything written down at all.
My ‘plan‘ was to simply play it by ear. Saying that, I was hopeful to use a birthing pool…..SPOILER, that did not happen.
I started writing this post the day after my baby boy was born. I made lots of little notes in my Notes app as I didn’t want to forget anything. There was a lot going on and it was all too easy to forget the little details. I don’t know about you, but those tiny details are sometimes the most important. It’s one of the main reasons I’m writing this post.
With time, things have become less hazy. I’ve referred to my notes app, checked the time stamps from Phil’s messages to our families and edited and re-shuffled this post many times.
So, let’s start with the basics.
Little baby boy was due on the 7th March.
I’d had a very enjoyable pregnancy with just a couple of visits to the hospital to monitor his heart rate (all was well).
The 7th March came….
I received daily texts from our nearest and dearest asking for news. It was so warming to see that everyone else was just as excited as us for the birth of our baby.
Things had been beginning to rumble for a week or so. Actually, I’ve just checked my notes app for the 100th time on my phone and from around the 27th Feb I was starting to notice significant changes.
One of the strangest things that I never really got an answer for was that on the morning of the 27th Feb I felt what can only be described as an elastic band snapping in my upper abdomen. Can anyone shed any light on what this may have been? I also had a lot of lower back pain that night (a sign of things to come, let me tell you).
On the 28th Feb I felt sick for most of the night, this was a pattern that would continue for the next week or so. This was the point where I started to slow down a lot. I went for much shorter walks in the day and spent a lot of time working from the sofa or in bed.
Then the 11th March came around. By this point I’d had over a week of what I presume were Braxton Hicks (these are a bit like practice contractions). I was fairly sure that this was going to be the day that we headed to the hospital. I had a midwife appointment on this day and she scheduled me in for an induction a week later. She also asked if I’d like a sweep but we agreed that we’d see how things went as there were lots of signs of movement.
The days went by slowly.
I ate pineapple, ordered spicy curries and did lots of walking.
Then Thursday 14th March arrived.
By this point I was ready for baby X to make his appearance. I wasn’t at all sick of having him inside me but I was very keen to meet him. Plus I hadn’t really slept much over that last week.
Things started from the early morning but really began to kick-off around 6pm.
I settled in for a lazy evening of Netflix with Phil – Always Sunny in Philadelphia to be exact.
I was sure that these contractions were the real deal. They were coming more consistently than they’d done on previous days and seemed to be progressing throughout the day.
I tracked all contractions in the Freya app – a recent launch by The Positive Birth Company.
At 20:15 I called the hospital and was encouraged to take a couple of paracetamol and try to ride things out at home. I did as suggested, knocked back a tablet and took a relaxing bath.
It got to 23:43. I was still tracking the contractions whilst we watched Netflix. It was at this point that I really wanted to go into hospital to be checked over. I’m not sure why, I just had this feeling.
Luckily, the hospital called back at midnight to see how things were progressing. They suggested taking another bath and drinking lots of water. I could have spent most of my time in the bath because it helped to ease the pain which was intensifying in my back.
My contractions were still a bit erratic so we continued to wait things out at home. Phil ran another bath for me. I covered myself in my favourite Clarins oil and tried to relax as best as I could.
Somehow, I’ve no idea how, it got to 2:23PM and that’s when we ordered our Uber and took the short journey into the hospital.
It was raining heavily as we bundled the car seat and my hospital bag into the car. I remember holding hands and feeling excited that this would be the day we’d meet our baby.
By this point I was desperate to be in hospital. Little did I know the LONG road that lay ahead.
The usual happened upon arriving in the hospital.
They checked my heart rate, took a urine sample and asked us to take a seat in the waiting room.
We were then ushered into a familiar room. One we’d been in previously just a month or so before to have our baby’s heart rate monitored. The same thing happened. They took out the familiar blue and pink straps, wrapped them around my stomach and began to monitor our baby.
This was all happening because I’d mentioned that he hadn’t moved much for a couple of hours. He’d been moving wildly towards the end of the night, his favourite time to be awake (like his mummy) but had then gone quiet in the early hours.
I was still hopeful for a water birth but had been warned that if baby boy didn’t perk up they’d have to give me an IV which would then rule out a water birth.
It wasn’t long ’til they popped a cannula into a vein in my hand with a liquid solution (I’m not sure what exactly) to try and get baby boy to perk up a little. It was at this point that I was told I wouldn’t be having my baby on the midwife-led unit and instead I had to waddle down the hallway to the labour ward.
So, off we went. At the Jessop Wing the labour ward and midwife let unit are right next to each other, literally just down the hallway. They can sometimes be totally separate buildings.
As we neared the room I noticed the name or perhaps it was just an image to identify the room was of daisies, quite fitting really.
This was to be the room we’d spent the next 13 ish hours in.
I basically spent the day with labour pains in my back. I had the drip in my hand, I had straps around me to monitor baby boy’s heart-rate and then I’d get these super intense contractions in my lower back. OMG they were so bad at this point.
I sat on the bed.
I knelt on the bed.
I faced the head of the bed, knelt towards it with my head down.
I walked around the room with my drip – once they’d finished monitoring him.
I had a birthing ball to sit on.
Nothing would ease the pain.
I kept thinking about the wonderful warm bath I was missing out on. I knew I was in the safest place though. I had a wonderful midwife who was very attentive and made me feel safe. I also had Phil who was with me every step of the way.
Looking back I can’t tell you why I was adverse to having any pain relief. I didn’t have anything against it beforehand and I certainly don’t now. I do think there’s a lot of talk around labouring through without any pain relief and this can sit in your subconscious. I think this is a topic for another post.
Anyway, it got to around 3PM and I suddenly remembered that my auntie had said not to try and power through and to go for the pain relief.
So, after a chat with the AMAZING anaesthetist team I finally decided to have an epidural.
I made that sound like it was an easy decision.
I felt scared and nervous about my decision. Would it harm my baby? Would it harm me? Would it hurt? Perhaps it wouldn’t work at all (it’s not guaranteed for back labour).
I think I spoke to the team a couple of times and then…
I went for it.
I mentioned before that the anaesthetist team were fantastic and they really were. I really wish I knew the name of the woman who helped me through each step of it.
It didn’t take long for the process to be done and almost instantly….
I was like a different person after the epidural.
I was buzzing and amazed at how calm and relaxed it made me feel.
The pain was gone (for now) and it was wonderful. If only I’d had it earlier in the day.
I chatted with my midwife and Phil. I enjoyed my pain-free calm before the storm, not that I knew it was coming.
I don’t think there was long between having the epidural and my sudden urge to push. It came on very suddenly. I don’t think the the midwives realised I was fully dilated but yes, I was.
So, with every surge I had to push. By that, I mean I literally HAD to. You can’t really decide not to. Your body just takes over.
During this time I had a couple of doctors come in to see what was going on.
There were a lot of different hands diving inside (urgh) me to see what was going on. I remember a few mentions of baby’s head being swollen and that he’d done a poop from the stress.
Suddenly Phil was handed a set of scrubs. My midwife was throwing hers on and I was being wheeled off into theatre.
While all that was going on I was still having to use all my energy to push. There’s no break even if things look like they’re taking a different path.
It was all very ER like.
They wanted to get the surgeon to check me out and potentially use forceps to help our baby out.
Apparently his head was swollen. A lot of what was said is really hazey. I just don’t remember the exact details of what was happening.
In all honesty, I was very nervous.
I was scared.
The surgeon, who I’d seen earlier in the day (he came to check baby’s heart-rate) checked me out (more hands diving inside me).
During this time I’d been reunited with the wonderful anaesthetist team who were trying to top up my epidural in preparation for forceps or a c-section delivery.
My midwife also finished her shift during this high-stress moment and was switched out with another midwife. I actually found this really hard to deal with.
It quickly became clear that the epidural top-up wasn’t working.
My surgeon checked me once again and decided I’d be having a c-section. Brilliant news! However, he then continued to say that it would be via general anaesthetic because they needed to act fast and the epidural top-up wasn’t working.
C-section – fine.
General anaesthetic – alarm bells starting to go off in my head.
I was was already shaking but I’m pretty sure it got worse once I heard this news.
Phil was ushered out of the room as they began to prep me for surgery.
I was shaking uncontrollably at this point. That wasn’t very fun but I had a lovely nurse holding my hand and talking to me as well as the fantastic woman from the anaesthetist team.
I knew I was in good hands, literally.
Side note, who knew there’d be so many people in the room when you go into theatre.
Everything happened quickly although at the time I’m not sure I felt that way. I had to sign a piece of paper agreeing to the general anaesthetic and then a mask was put over my face. I kept trying to pull the mask off and talk, I bet that was frustrating for everyone involved.
Then I woke up.
It was done.
As soon as I opened my eyes I saw Phil. Then I noticed the mask on my face (which I kept trying to remove) and then I turned and there was a little crib with our tiny baby in.
I remember feeling excited to see what he looked like but I was also fighting back against my super heavy eyes. I was so tired from the GA and I couldn’t find any words.
P says we were in the recovery room for around an hour before being wheeled up to the ward. The first photo of X and I was at 21:50 so I’m pretty sure I had him in my arms as we were wheeled up to the ward.
We spent a few hours together. This was probably between the hours of 10PM ’til 1AM. Phil dressed baby X, I cuddled him, we took lots of photos and I clearly remember asking the midwife if I could finally eat the Jelly Babies that were in my bag.
Phil went home that night, well, the early hours of Saturday morning. Although I’d have loved him to stay I was pretty out of it and he just wouldn’t have got any sleep. It made sense for him to go home and get a good rest and return the in the morning with coffee.
Nurses were in and out checking me, my blood pressure and Xander throughout the night. I was in a deep and very strange sleep. Waking briefly to agree to the midwives giving X formula because I was in no state to try and feed him.
The following morning the drugs had finally worn off. I was able to keep my eyes open for longer than a few minutes and I could finally sit and cuddle my tiny baby.
I’ll talk more about how I felt and what happened during the following 5 days in hospital in another post.
I must point out that the care from the staff at the NHS was brilliant. I felt well and truly looked after. Again, this is something I’ll cover in another post.
The best day was when we finally got to go home.