I love a good birth story. One Born Every Minute is one of my favourite TV programs. True story; When I was pregnant with the big one they were filming the very first series at Princess Anne Hospital and I was asked if I wanted to take part. I politely declined. Mainly because I kept thinking about being in the board room at work and wondering who had seen me on TV legs akimbo, mooing like a cow. But thankfully people do say yes, so I get to watch.
Anyway, I have never written my birth stories and I keep meaning to. Then I discovered that Sian who blogs at Quite Frankly She Said was running a series called Beautiful Births. And the rest as they say is history. Sian is publishing part two of my story today which you can read by clicking here.
Part one is of course my first experience of giving birth to my now, never-stops-talking 6-year-old, The Big One.
He kept me waiting. 10 long, very grumpy days. And it was 10 days filled with twinges and regular, painful, braxton hicks, and the constant wondering “Is this it?”, “should I start timing?” Of course when it’s your first you don’t have a clue what labour is going to feel like, or when it is the right time to go to the hospital. I never found that little gem of advice, “you just know” to be very comforting or helpful.
Day 9 3pm
I had a sweep. She had to stop halfway through because I had a contraction. I was informed that I was 2cm dilated and the baby would be here within 24 hours. Eeeek! Suddenly after 10 days of willing / pleading and trying to bounce this baby out of me, I wasn’t so sure I was ready. So off I toddled home, only stopping to have another contraction on the way.
When the husband returned home from work he was greeted by the sight of his
beached whale wife straddling her birthing ball and puffing her way through contractions. I despatched him to go and do the food shop as I didn’t want to come home from hospital to an empty fridge. He dutifully went with a somewhat concerned expression on his face and a promise that I would call him if the contractions got closer together.
The contractions were regular but I was coping with my tens machine so decided to stay at home and watch Gok. I mean if a girl needs to know how to look good naked, what better time, right? At 9pm we phoned the hospital to tell them we were on our way and left the house rather excited that we were finally going to meet our baby.
Why oh why did no one warn me about the car journey to the hospital. Seriously? A confined space + contractions + bumpy roads = Me screaming like a mad woman at the husband to “get me to the @*!#$@! hospital.”
After arriving and all the initial checks were made I was told I was 4cm so could stay. We were left to get on with it for a few hours. What I remember from that time is not being able to get comfortable. With every contraction I paced, or bounced, or got on all fours. Nothing helped and the contractions were coming so fast. I would have 30 seconds to recover before the next one came. The husband was amazing at counting me through them which really helped.
Day 10 12am
My waters broke. The husband knew someone whose waters broke in a quite a dramatic fashion. So for the last 3 weeks he had been making me sit on towels wherever I parked my behind. This was met with much protest and raised eyebrows from me, but he kept talking about having to clean it up, so I sat on a towel to keep him happy. When it happened I was expecting Niagra Falls. Instead I remember saying, “I think I’m leaking” and a small trickle of water ran down my leg. Seriously? Is that it? I’ve been sitting on towels for three weeks for that?
It was time for some drugs. Unfortunately Gas and Air made me sick so really wasn’t helping and it was at that point that I asked for an epidural. I felt like such a failure, and in truth probably a part of me still does, but the pain had gotten too much and I still had a way to go at 7cm.
Now in the movies, women scream for drugs and they get them. In real life women scream for drugs and about an hour later they are administered. By the time Liz (I will never forget her name) came in to give me my epidural, I had left the building. Metaphorically of course. I have no recollection of signing the paperwork. The husband says that for quite a while I was absent. I had just taken myself off to another place in my head to get through it. My memory of this time is pretty hazy.
I remember them telling me I would have to be still whilst they administered the epidural, but the contractions were coming so fast I was terrified I would move. In my head I was very clearly saying to Liz, the husband, and Anna (the midwife) “When I feel a contraction coming I will say ‘now’ so you can stop what you are doing”. Apparently in reality what I kept saying over and over again was “now” “now” “NOW”. As you can imagine this caused some confusion. “Now” what?!
What I also hadn’t realised (should have probably giggled less and paid more attention in those antenatal classes) was that epidurals don’t have an instant effect. At first I thought I had been conned. Or maybe I was going to be one of those really unlucky people that is immune to all drugs. But thankfully after 20 minutes it took effect and I was back in the room. Liz came to check on me and I declared my undying love for her. Although in her line of work I am sure this is not the first time this has happened.
The monitor started showing that the baby’s heart rate was dipping. A doctor came in to check us out and a clip was placed on the babies head to get a more accurate reading. That was my first undignified moment. Being manhandled into a position that meant they could attach the clip. Although the baby’s heart rate was dipping it was coming back up again quickly so they decided to let me carry on. What’s strange is I never felt worried or scared. I honestly felt like I was in safe hands and I was happy to whatever the medical staff advised. Quite clearly they were far more expert at this than me.
A slight moment of panic when the midwife pressed a red button and the room filled with people. The husband caught my eye and we both tried to reassure each other with nervous smiles. The doctor informed us that the baby wasn’t recovering quite so well. The good news was that I was 10cm dilated. They decided the best option was to take me to theatre. They would prep me for a caesarean, but I would be given three attempts to get the baby out myself with the assistance of some
giant salad tongs forceps.
So off we went. To a very bright room with a lot of people in it who kept smiling at me and reassuring me that everything would be ok. It all felt a bit surreal really. I didn’t really have any control over what was going on, but I knew that I was going to see my baby soon. It’s such a cocktail of emotions that nothing compares to it. Excitement, fear, worry, nerves, happiness. It’s no wonder it takes a while for our hormones to settle down after birth.
I was prepped for the c-section which basically meant I was numb from the neck down. It’s very bizzare having to push when you can’t feel a thing. But with the husband holding one hand (now in his fetching scrubs) and the midwife holding the other and telling me when to push, I gave it everything I had.
Suddenly there was this wrinkly and very bloody baby on my chest. Then there was that moment when time stops and you wait and you wait for them to cry. That few seconds feels like minutes and kick starts the brand new ‘parental fear’ that will forever live in the back of my mind. The baby cried. Oh the relief!
My husband looked to see what we had. A little boy. A fairly small one weighing in at 6lb 9oz. But he was here. There were tears. He was passed to the husband to hold whilst my body began to shake so much I thought I was going to bounce off the bed. I was told it was all perfectly normal and not to worry. Whatever they were now doing down there seemed to take forever and I wanted so desperately to hold my baby boy.
The reason the baby’s heart rate was dropping was because the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck and loped across his chest like a seatbelt. Probably from all those somersaults he had been doing on the inside.
Finally he was placed in may arms and we were wheeled out of theatre and left to bond with our beautiful little boy.
Afterwards I found out that I had lost a lot of blood, 1 millimetre more and I would have needed a transfusion. My blood pressure was very low, even after two saline drips! Because of this if I ever had another baby I would be classed as high risk.
I would never say that my first experience of birth was traumatic. There were scary moments. Did it go to plan? Well yes. My birth plan was to take everything as it came, and to trust and follow the advise of the experts. That’s what happened. Was it the birth I had hoped for? No. It all felt so surreal. I didn’t feel like I had done it. I felt like they had got the baby out rather than me doing it. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I also know that there are a lot of mums who feel the same as me. I felt like I hadn’t really experienced giving birth. And it’s a feeling that stayed with me until I got my second chance, which you can read about in part two.
Then and now. My firstborn. The Big One.
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