Well, V is one year old today and I have been thinking a lot about this time last year. So, to mark the occasion I have decided to publish my birth story which, because of the farcical nature of some of it I can laugh at in hindsight, but at the time, it wasn't quite so funny!This was a much briefer story in terms of time than I anticipated. After being told through much of my pregnancy that, because of my high blood pressure (a pre-pregnancy thing as well) I would probably have to be delivered early, probably by C-section, I didn’t expect to get to my due date, let alone have just a four hour natural birth experience from waters going to birth, with a labour of 1 hour 14 mins!
I was due to see my consultant at 10.00am on 16 February – the day after my due date - to discuss what would happen next – most likely an induction ASAP. However, I didn’t make the appointment!
As usual I couldn’t sleep very well, and one minute I was watching the Winter Olympics in bed, the next I felt something warm and wet gushing down my legs. It was 5.39 am and I will never forget the feeling of OMG – I think this is IT!
I woke my husband gently and, after establishing that I hadn’t just weed myself, we both ran round like we were in some kind of French farce, even though I had been packed for weeks!
I phoned the Delivery Suite who told me to come in so they could check that my waters had actually gone and then I would probably still be able to make my consultant’s appointment!! Yeah right!!
I was getting regular period type pains which were quite painful and I just assumed this was what happened! The first midwife I saw confirmed the waters had gone and explained what NORMALLY happened, which was that I would now be sent home and if labour hadn’t started properly in 72 hours they would induce. Having not been in labour before I didn’t know what to think. They were the professionals so I felt I should believe them, but at the same time I was in a lot of pain every few minutes and didn’t think I would GET home!
At 6.30am I was put on the monitor which was very uncomfortable and then from about 7.30 am onwards there was a bizarre two hours which consisted of me being in bad pain which, from all I’d learned seemed like regular contractions, but being told that it was early days!
Luckily they moved me to a delivery room to wait to be assessed by a doctor before going home and I started to ask for pain relief because it was that bad. I mentioned the epidural I needed to have because of my blood pressure and the midwife said she would examine me to see what, if any, stage I was at and so which pain relief I could have at that moment - BUT - due to infection risk, if she did that they would have to induce within 24 hours. She was quoting from the rule book but I was pretty convinced by now that it was all going to happen soon! If I hadn’t been in so much pain I would have laughed – it just wasn’t clear to them that I as well underway. I think they thought I was a first time mum just making a fuss – they were very nice to me about it though!
Anyway, at about 8.15am she examined me and I was 3 cms. As I couldn’t have an epidural until 5 cms she said she would examine me in about another 2 hours and did I want to “mobilise more” or “go on the ward” – WTF??!! Mobilise? I was already on all fours grabbing at the gas and air which was lovely – but rubbish as pain relief!
My husband was hilarious – he was worried about me tearing his shirt and I told him I could tear what I blimming well liked! Afterwards he told me I sounded like a prehistoric bird screeching and taking flight! I think that Jurassic Park was also mentioned at one point!
Another half an hour or so of me being in pain and swearing etc went by and I was desperate for pain relief and worried about my blood pressure. The midwife got the midwife in charge to do another exam as I said I wanted to push. I DESPERATELY wanted to push but hilariously (looking back anyway!) I said I thought it could be a poo!
After another weird conversation about whether it was baby or number twos the midwife in charge examined me and said the immortal words – “this baby wants to come out – PUSH – you are fully dilated!” No sh*t Sherlock! At last – they believed me! 3 cms to fully dilated in about 45 mins! She then said – “I’m sorry – it’s too late for an epidural” – the thing I had been dreading as it was that which was supposed to keep my blood pressure low!
Then the “fun” began as all sorts of people started running about bringing in equipment for the newborn. About 15 minutes later after a few pushes, my beautiful daughter arrived and I was handed a purple looking bundle weighing 5lbs 11 and a half oz. Small but absolutely fine and gorgeous! I said “Hello baby” and most remember her beautiful eyes looking up at me and, randomly, her tiny but perfect nails on exquisite little fingers!
The placenta came out about 20 minutes later and then they spent about an hour or more doing a few stitches while I stared at my baby! I have to say that this bit probably took longer than my labour - it really wasn't fun when all I wanted to do was concentrate on my baby. I remember worrying that my discomfort would have an effect on her.
The midwife had to get a doctor to do the trickiest ones and that was when I learned not to argue about football with a Man United supporter, when that supporter was a doctor with a needle and thread and was pointing them at your nether regions!
V then had all her checks and Vitamin K injection and was weighed, then daddy dressed her and had his first cuddle.There followed tea and toast, a hot bath and a lot of people telling me how quick it had been. The midwife said that Mother Nature had taken over. My blood pressure had meant that I always needed a quick labour and Mother Nature sorted that out for me. Ironically the one BP reading they managed during my labour was the lowest it had been for months- if not years!
I couldn’t believe it was over and I couldn't believe that we had a gorgeous daughter. Even now, a year on I sometimes look at her with complete amazement that I managed to grow an actual person inside me.
I have NO idea how people manage longer labours or push out bigger babies but I guess there is more time for pain management – I take my hat off to you all.
The staff at the hospital were lovely – despite their surprise at me not being exactly text book. Afterwards I couldn’t stop apologising for being so demanding and insistent that birth was imminent but they are used to it. It was certainly an experience I will never forget!
Before I gave birth I think I was in denial and never really read much about other people's labours. Afterwards I couldn't get enough of these stories so it's only now that I realise just how lucky I was - although if I'd been sent home it may have been a whole different tale, probably involving the back seat of a car!
I have also now finally realised how important birthdays are for the mum as well because it is the anniversary of what is probably the most amazing and incredible day of your life. I would therefore like to apologise to my own mother for not acknowledging this before and so, as it's my own birthday next week I will make sure that I rectify it in some way!
So there we go - that was how it happened. As it is highly unlikely that I will go through it again, I am very pleased that I managed a natural labour with only gas and air, but, as long as I had a healthy baby at the end of it, I would have accepted any decisions or intervention needed - except perhaps, being sent home!
My top tip therefore is trust your own instincts and argue the toss if necessary - or just scream a lot!