“Labour doesn’t hurt. It’s just an intense pressure that your body tells you is pain because that’s what you have been told to expect”
Yes. I am ashamed to say that I actually uttered these words. And uttered them a lot. To anyone and everyone that would listen. Nobody was brave enough to contradict a heavily pregnant deluded me, although in hindsight the smiles and sympathetic head tilting (especially from my mum!) should have warned me! Well let’s just say that karma bit me on the ass with that one!!
Now that Baby B is 9 months old, I thought it was about time to write my birth story. So Dad – here is where you need to stop reading. You too mum. For any first time pregnant mummies to be who are reading then please also stop reading and check out Ina May Gaskins Guide to Childbirth – it really is an amazing book which will prepare you really well for childbirth.
I’d had a relatively uneventful pregnancy although I had experienced the usual morning sickness, stretchmarks, varicose veins, SPD and carpal tunnel syndrome. At 41 weeks Baby B was still nowhere to be seen so my midwife gave me a stretch and sweep. It was uncomfortable but fine (no worse than a smear) and I was elated when she told me that Baby B was so low down that all I needed was a couple of contractions and out she would pop!
A few hours after the sweep I noticed that Baby B didn’t seem to be moving much and things just didn’t feel “right”. So at 1am we called the midwives who told us to go straight to hospital for monitoring. We rushed straight in, and were so relieved to hear Baby B’s heartbeat on the monitor. However, the doctor and midwife were concerned because Baby B’s heart rate was dropping during braxton hicks and was not very “variable”. I was told at 2am that they needed to induce labour immediately. Eeek!
Now having planned a natural waterbirth at a midwife centre, I *may* have had a little meltdown at this point. So Mr B managed to convince them to let us go home for a few hours and then come back at 8am when the induction would start. Going home was the best idea ever as Mr B was able to give me a pep talk and I managed to get my head around the fact that I would be having my baby in a hospital (I hate hospitals due to a botched appendectomy I have had previously resulting in sepsis which nearly killed me).
So 8am arrives and we get led to a bed on the induction ward. And 9am, 10am, 11am, 12pm and 1pm pass with no start of the induction….! Finally at 2pm they tried to break my waters but were unable to so instead they inserted a pessary to induce labour! Hurray, surely Baby B would arrive soon right?! Ha! At 8pm when nothing had happened they transferred me to a ward and sent Mr B home. Queue another mini meltdown! I was convinced that labour would start and I’d be alone without Mr B! Overnight I had terrible backache and couldn’t lie down or get comfortable. I put my Tens machine on and tried to get some rest but it’s fair to say it ended up being one of the longest nights of my life waiting for morning! However I wasn’t really in pain – I did just feel discomfort (a bit like really bad period cramps mixed with constipation!)
Mr B arrived the next day and we stayed on the ward ALL DAY waiting to see if the pessary was going to work…! At 4pm they took me back to the induction suite and told me to go to the toilet and take the pessary out (Mr B was horrified!). They then attempted to break my waters again and this time they were successful! Hurray! Labour contractions started pretty much immediately every 4 minutes lasting 1 minute. As Baby B was back to back, my contractions felt like back spasms and I didn’t feel anything in the front of my bump at all which really surprised me. Over the next hour the contractions progressed but were manageable and I enjoyed the gas and air and bouncing on my birthing ball at this point. I also used some of my pregnancy yoga positions to relieve the pressure on my spine, as well as my yoga and hypnobirthing breathing techniques to ride through the contractions.
An hour after my waters were broken I was moved to a private room where they wanted to put me on a syntocin drip to accelerate labour. Given that I had only been contracting for an hour, contractions were increasing and I had not been examined to check dilation I refused the drip. Midwife must have loved that ha! Eventually after much negotiation, I agreed that they could put me on the drip if I could have an epidural first. In all honesty, when I made this bargain I didn’t actually need the epidural as I was fine with gas and air and wasn’t really in any significant pain. However I was fearful that the drip would intensify my contractions to an unnatural unmanageable level and that I wouldn’t be able to cope, especially because I was having a “back to back, induced labour” which I had heard are notoriously painful (including from some of the midwives looking after me! #nothelpful) and I had planned a “natural” waterbirth.
Having asked for the epidural at 5pm, I didn’t actually get it until 1am due to lack of anaesthetists! By this time I was still coping ok with the contractions from a pain perspective but was so exhausted after being awake for the past few nights that I practically kissed the guy once he’d put it in!
As soon as the epidural was in, I felt absolutely nothing in my legs (I didn’t realise this wasn’t normal!) and managed to get some rest from 1am until 7am when I felt no contractions whatsoever – bliss! Imagine my surprise when they examined me at 7am and told me I was fully dilated! Hurray! I couldn’t believe it – I was going to push my baby out!
It was agreed that we’d have a little break for something to eat (Mr B not me!) and then I would start pushing. This stage is all a bit of a blur but I remember being really desperate to start pushing and meet Baby B! It was also difficult to push because I couldn’t feel any contractions so couldn’t work with and listen to my body a la Ina May Gaskin. I ended up pushing for 3 hours at which point they scanned my belly and discovered Baby B was stuck and I had to consent to an emergency C Section. At this point the epidural wore off and I was panicking so tensed up and felt scared and in pain. I was whisked to theatre where they gave me a spinal and asked if I would try pushing again so they could try forceps. They gave me an episiotomy and on the next contraction I pushed as hard as I possibly could and Baby B was finally born at 12:43pm with the assistance of forceps. After 58 hours in labour, it’s fair to say that the relief I felt was overwhelming!
The placenta was removed manually by the obstetrician which meant that I couldn’t do the delayed cord clamping that I had planned. However I am so happy about this because it meant that Baby B has been able to save lives by donating a grade A umbilical cord (stem cells) to the Antony Nolan trust! This makes me overwhelmingly happy and Baby B got a lovely certificate and keepsake babygro from the Anthony Nolan trust to say thank you! Baby B has also thrived since her birth so the lack of delayed cord clamping has not hampered her whatsoever. If I am lucky enough to have another baby then I will definitely plan to donate the cord blood again.
After the birth, Baby B and I enjoyed a lovely cuddle whilst I was stitched up and we were then wheeled to recovery where I nursed her for the first time, ate a delicious piece of toast and then puked up everywhere!
So there you have it….Baby B’s birth story!