This is part two of my birth story, and a very long post. I feel I should give you fair warning before you continue reading. I am very honest about the way my birth went – this means it’s graphic, it’s gory and not pretty at all. I do not want to scare anyone who is pregnant, or thinking of having a baby, I just want to tell my story, the way it went. Everyone’s birth is different – some may have easier births, some will have difficult births, some will go exactly as you imagined, and some will not. However, the end result will be the same – a beautiful baby.
I also feel I should give fair warning that there will be some photos of me with no make-up on after nearly 3 days with no sleep, and of me breastfeeding – if either of these will offend you, please look away now!!
If you missed my last post, you can read the start of my birth story here.
I woke up on Wednesday morning after a reasonable night’s sleep. It was quite noisy on the ward – there was a lady in labour who was obviously in a lot of pain and not coping well, so she was awake for most of the night. It was also difficult to get comfortable on the bed, as it was quite narrow and I was very large! I also wasn’t shown how to adjust the bed, and so I was sitting up for most of the night. I woke at about 7, and knew Craig wouldn’t be allowed on the ward until 9am, so I sat and read my book for a while. My breakfast arrived just before Craig did, and then the midwife came in to do my morning checks just after 9am – she checked my blood pressure, my urine and did an internal examination to see how dilated I was. I was gutted to hear I was only 2cm – I’d been that way for a week now. I was starting to feel my contractions now though, although they weren’t regular and weren’t particularly painful either. I was hooked up to the monitor to keep an eye on my contractions and the baby’s heartbeat. I was told the doctor would be round to see me after 10am, to assess whether my waters could be broken. Once my monitoring had been completed, we had to wait for the doctor. I read some of my book, spent some time on my phone and discussed baby names with Craig. I hadn’t told many people I was in hospital, so I was getting lots of messages asking if baby had arrived yet. We decided not to tell many people I was in hospital. One of my friends knew as her sister was due the same time as me, and had seen me at the first hospital, and heard the nurses talking about me. I also told my parents, and siblings, and Craig’s parents and siblings. I didn’t tell any other friends though, and we decided to stop replying to messages so we could just concentrate on what was happening with the baby (although we ended up worrying a lot of people as we didn’t reply for so long!!).
The midwife kept coming in to check on me, and apologising that we had to wait so long for the doctor. I had my lunch at 12.30, but still hadn’t seen the doctor, and I was getting restless! I had to be hooked up to the monitor every two hours for 30 minutes at a time, which meant I couldn’t really get up and walk around, so was literally tied to the bed! This was exactly what I didn’t want when I imagined my birth. I wanted to be able to walk around during labour but because of the monitoring, I wasn’t able to. The midwife came back at 2pm and was surprised the doctor still hadn’t been to see me. My contractions had started on their own, but they weren’t very strong, still just mild twinges and weren’t bothering me at all. The midwife said she would examine me to see if I had dilated any further and if they should give me a pessary. At this point, no-one had mentioned a pessary, I had just been told that I would have my waters broken, so I told the midwife this, who then replied that I was always going to be given a pessary to start my contractions before my waters being broken. This was the thing I found most frustrating – there seemed to be a lack of communication between different midwifes and doctors, and between the health professionals and myself and husband.
I was examined and noted to be 3cm dilated – so heading the right direction, but ever so slowly. The midwife went away and came back at 3pm. She had spoken to the doctor, who had decided not to examine me herself, and told the midwife to give me the pessary. She told me another midwife was going to come along shortly to give me the pessary. The midwife who came back was lovely, but seemed very nervous, and this made me nervous! The pessary (which is a tablet or gel) has to be inserted into the vagina, and I have to admit, this was quite uncomfortable. I think this might be because the midwife had made me nervous so I was more tense, as all other examinations had been fine – not exactly enjoyable, but not painful either! Thankfully, it took about a minute for the pessary to be inserted and then it was all done! I was told that I would be examined again in 6 hours to see how far along I was, and I would continue to be monitored every 2 hours.
For now, I was free to go for a walk and try to get things moving! I quickly got dressed and virtually ran out of the ward as I was so desperate to get outside and breathe some fresh air! Luckily, being July the weather was nice and it was warm and sunny when we got outside. My contractions quickly got a lot stronger and closer together. Although painful, I was so glad as I hoped this meant I would be meeting my baby sooner rather than later! We went for a long walk around the hospital grounds, and discovered an outdoor ping pong table! Craig got very excited at this (me, less so!) but sadly there weren’t any bats or balls. He was gutted! I could barely breathe through my contractions now, so wasn’t too disappointed if I’m honest. It then started to rain, so we quickly went back inside – well, as quick as I could waddle! We then slowly walked around the hospital until it was time to go back to the ward for monitoring. I was hooked up again, and all was fine with baby’s heartbeat. My contractions had steadily got stronger, which showed on the monitor, but to be honest I didn’t need a monitor to tell me they were stronger! We then just had to sit around and wait until I could be re-examined to see if I’d dilated enough for my waters to be broken.
This was probably the worst thing about having such a slow labour – boredom. I couldn’t go very far because I needed monitoring every 2 hours. We didn’t have very much in the way of entertainment. Craig had a nap whilst I read my book. Looking back, I wish I had tried to nap more, but I’ve always found it hard to nap in the day, and especially so on the ward where it was so noisy with women in labour. We had to wait until 9pm before I could be re-examined. I’d had my dinner, gone for another walk and then just sat around waiting. The midwife came to see me before the end of her shift, and examined me a little early at 8.30pm. I still hadn’t dilated anymore, so I was given another pessary. The contractions were stronger still, so I was offered some pain relief in the form of paracetamol, which I declined. I figured that they were only going to get worse, and at the moment I was coping fine.
Usually Craig would be sent home at 10pm, but because there was a chance they were going to break my waters, he was allowed to stay until my next examination at 2am. My contractions were getting stronger now, so I got in the bath at midnight. I wish I had done that sooner! It was so lovely, and really helped to dull the pain. I was in there for about an hour! It was lovely to actually clean myself and wash my hair – I hadn’t had a shower since Tuesday morning and every time I’d gone to have one earlier in the day, I was told the doctor was coming to see me. I finally got out of the bath, and went back to my bed. The downside of washing my hair was I couldn’t dry it because the other women were sleeping, so I plaited it and put it in a bun. The midwife came in to see me to see if I was ready for my waters to be broken – this meant another examination. It was just gone 2am, and I really hoped they were going to do something…but alas, apparently my cervix was still too high. I felt really disappointed at this point, having been in hospital for over 24 hours and still no progress had been made. To make matters worse, Craig was sent home and I was told to get as much sleep as possible. This was rather difficult when my contractions were in full force, but I did manage to get a few hours.
Craig returned at 9am the next day, and I was not in a good mood! I’d not had much sleep, and was not getting fed up that this baby had still not arrived! I’d had my breakfast and the midwife said the doctor was coming to see me at around 10am. I was examined by the midwife, and I’d dilated to 4cm and my cervix was soft, which meant I was probably ready to FINALLY have my waters broken. The doctor came in at 11am and examined me, and confirmed that I was ready for my waters to be broken, 42 hours after first being told they were going to be broken!
The procedure to have your waters broken is quite simple – the midwife will use a long stick type instrument (obviously not it’s technical name!) with a hook on the end which is inserted into your vagina and your waters are then popped. It was a strange experience, I was expecting a real gush of water but it didn’t really happen. The doctor asked me if I’d had any leakage, which I hadn’t, as there wasn’t much water. The doctor left and then the midwife helped me get cleaned up and changed, and then popped me on the monitor for half an hour. I kept myself occupied mostly by eating as I was so hungry! Craig and I also sat discussing baby names. As we didn’t know what we were having, it was definitely harder to think of a name. We had two girls names picked out, but found boys names really hard! I was convinced we were having a girl though, so we weren’t too bothered about picking a boys name.
After my monitoring had finished, I was encouraged to go for a walk. I didn’t want to go too far as I was in a fair bit of pain by now, so we just paced up and down the corridor outside the ward. Unfortunately, halfway down the corridor I had a sudden leakage of waters! I had to hobble to the nearest toilet before half my insides were on the corridor floor! For some reason, Craig decided to come in the toilet with me, and then spent the whole time heaving in the corner at the sight of my waters leaking out of me. It was funny because I said if he couldn’t cope with that, how was he going to cope with actual labour! I don’t really know what I expected my waters to look like, but they were quite thick and gunky – not a clear liquid like I expected. I told the midwife about it but she said it was normal and not to worry.
Craig helped me back to my bed so I could properly clean myself up, and then I had to go on the monitor again. At this point I was offered some pain relief, so I took some paracetamol. Again, I didn’t want to take anything stronger as I knew the pain would get worse. I had decided before the birth that I did not want an epidural. I wasn’t sure if I wanted gas and air, I was open to trying it, but I thought it would make me feel sick. I can’t say the paracetamol did anything, but it may have masked the pain of stronger contractions. Now my contractions were pretty much constant, I was told they would move me to the delivery ward shortly, so I had to stay hooked up to the monitor. My contractions were mostly in my back, and when the midwife felt the baby, she said he or she was in the back to back position. This meant the baby’s spine was against my spine. This often meant more painful contractions because they are all in the back. This is where my lifesaver came in – my hot water bottle! By this point, my contractions were very strong and I was making some strange noises – a bit like a dying cow!! My only regret is not having two water bottles, as every time I had to take it off for Craig to refill it, I was in so much pain!
The midwife again asked if I need more pain relief – she said she could tell my contractions were stronger because she could hear me out by the nurses station…that a bit embarrassing!! I declined again, and said I would wait until I was in the delivery suite. I was eventually moved to the delivery room at 12.30pm on Thursday 9th July. I was confident I would have my baby by the end of the day – the midwife wanted me to have the baby by the end of her shift at 8pm, so this was my goal!
At some point, I had to have a cannula put in – I believe this was so if I needed any drugs, it was all there ready to go. A doctor came in to do it, and it was put in my right hand. This was a bit of an ordeal. I’m not particularly squeamish, but the doctor wasn’t very good at putting the cannula in! I tried not to watch, but he took ages to do it. I could feel a warm trickle down my hand and saw blood pouring out of me! This made me heave a little, and I had to look away. I’ve always been told that I have rubbish veins, and getting blood out has always been difficult, so I think he just found it hard to get a vein up! Finally he was done, and I could clear myself up.
Craig packed up all of our bags to be moved over, and the midwife put some very flattering compression socks on me to contain the swelling in my legs. They made me walk to the room, which was quite difficult as I was in a lot of pain, but I made it! I was introduced to my new midwife, and Craig was told to make himself comfy.
The midwife asked for a urine sample, so I went in to the bathroom to produce one. The midwife said I should put some disposable knickers on, so I asked Craig to come and help me. Unfortunately, I hadn’t tried these on beforehand, and they were tiny!!! I couldn’t even get them up past my thighs. So Craig had to ask the midwife if the hospital had any spare. I had to wait for what felt like ages in the bathroom while the midwife found me a pair – I put them on (well, Craig put them on, I couldn’t bend down!) and then the midwife asked me to get on the bed so she could examine me!! So, off they came again!! I was 5cm dilated at this point – the number was going up, but ever so slowly. I’d been in the hospital for 44.5 hours, and having strong contractions for 21.5 hours.
Because my cervix wasn’t dilating, I was put on the hormone drip to help me along. I had to have another cannula put in, as it needed to be on my left side! It took the midwife quite a few attempts to get it in (again because of my crappy veins) but once it was in, she flushed some water through to make sure it was ok, and it just all collected in a big lump in my hand – god it was painful (even though I was having strong contractions, this still hurt!!). So it had to be taken out and another doctor came in and did it for me.
I was hooked up to the monitor permanently now to monitor the baby. I was starving as I hadn’t eaten my lunch, but was told I wasn’t allowed to eat anything. I had to have a catheter put in, and was told that my water intake needed to be monitored, so I had to ask every time I wanted a drink and could only take a few sips.
So this is where it goes into a blur. I started on the gas and air as I was in a lot of pain, probably due to the drip as it is known to make your contractions more intense, and as I had to be hooked up to the monitor, I was basically left on the bed to get on with it (not in a bad way, but there wasn’t much anyone could do, I just needed to be left to dilate). At one point I had an urge to push, so there was a bit of a commotion as the midwife wasn’t in the room. She came rushing in, telling me not to push as she needed to examine me to see if I was ready. It was so hard not to push, as your body just has this urge and there isn’t much you can do about it! Craig was at my side as I was huffing and puffing, the midwife said I could push if I needed to, so I just let my body take over and do what it needed to.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. As quickly as the urge came, it went again. The midwife examined me and I was only 6cm dilated! So nowhere near ready to push anyway. I got a bit frustrated at this point as I really thought it was nearly over. I had no idea of what the time was, the clock was behind my head and I couldn’t quite see it when I leant back, so I had to keep asking Craig the time. The only other indication I had was the sun going down – it was brilliant daylight when I went into the delivery room, and then all of a sudden it was pitch black. I remember feeling very drunk on the gas and air, my mouth was so dry from all the sucking but because they were monitoring my water intake, I couldn’t have much to drink. My lips were so dry, so I kept having to ask for my lipbalm. The midwife commented on how polite I was the whole way through! At some point there was a shift change, and my final midwives were Barbara and a student midwife called Katie. They were lovely, although again just left me to get on with it, examining me every few hours to see how far along I was.
After hours of being in the delivery room, the monitor suddenly started beeping. The baby’s heartbeat had dropped too low, and this indicated some distress. The doctor was called to come and assess me. He examined me and said I was still only 7cm dilated, after nearly 30 hours in labour. I’d been on the gas and air for so long, I couldn’t tell you my own name, so the next bit is a slightly blurry! I remember being told to go on my side – this was incredibly difficult, not only because of my massive bump, but because of the pain. The midwives and Craig helped moved me – apparently this was to stop me from pushing. My body wanted me to push, but it wasn’t physically ready.
At this point, Craig and I had a decision to make. The baby was getting in distress, and I was exhausted. I hadn’t slept for over 24 hours, and hadn’t eaten since 9am that morning. The midwife said we had two options. I could continue labouring for another two hours, and if no progression had been made, then I would be taken to theatre for an emergency caesarean. Or I could opt to go straight for an emergency caesarean right there and then. I honestly couldn’t think straight, and it was difficult to make a decision. Craig said it was completely up to me, but he thought I should go for a caesarean now, as I’d been in labour for so long, even if I did get to the pushing point, I would have needed further intervention as I don’t think I would have had the energy to push the baby out. The midwife said it was my decision, I just needed to make it quickly, so they could prep theatre if they needed to.
I decided to go straight for the caesarean. I had already been in labour for days, and no one could accuse me of not trying my best, and giving in too early. The doctor came back and asked me to sign a consent form – to this day I have no idea what I signed. I’m sure he explained it to me, but I have no idea. Craig was taken off to get dressed in scrubs, while I was taken into theatre to be prepped for surgery. I remember asking if I could take the gas and air with me, as obviously I was still having contractions, but was told no. I think I may have cried at this! I remember being wheeled down to the theatre room, and was introduced to the people who would be assisting with the surgery – I only remember Dr Adams, who would be doing the actual surgery.
The anaesthetist came in and the midwife helped me to sit up. Because I hadn’t been given an epidural at any point during my labour, I had to be given a spinal block. We had to keep stopping because my contractions were so close together, and they couldn’t administer the spinal block when I was having a contraction because I had to stay very, very still. I was given the injection, and then suddenly Craig was at my side. They sprayed me with cold water and I had to tell them when I could feel it. They started at my toes, then moved up my body until they got to my chest, which is where I could feel it. Then I just had to wait for it all to happen.
I don’t remember much of what happened – I could hear the people in the room chatting away, some were laughing, and joking which was quite nice and it didn’t make it feel so serious. I could sense Craig sitting next to me, but we were both so nervous we didn’t really talk. The next thing I knew, the baby had been born. I don’t remember there being a cry, so the first I knew of it was Craig saying:
“It’s a boy!” and then,
“He has hair!”
Which made the entire room laugh.
Our beautiful son was born at 03.13 on Friday 10th July 2015.
We had fully been expecting a girl, so we were both so shocked that the baby was a boy. As Craig is bald as a coot, we were equally surprised that the baby had hair!! Craig later told me that he hadn’t realised the baby had been born either. He said one of the doctors came up behind and said so do you want a boy or a girl, to which Craig replied we suspected it was a girl, and the doctor said, “Well turn around and have a look” and he looked round and he was holding the baby! He eventually did cry, and Craig went over to see him whilst they were cleaning him up, and took a few photos. Then came the weigh in.
We could see he was a big boy. Craig and I were both 9lbs when we were born, so I kind of expected a big baby. My bump had measured exactly on point the whole way through my pregnancy, but the last week of my pregnancy, my midwives had all been mumbling about having a big baby. The doctors and nurses all took a guess of what his weight was before he was put on the scales, the biggest weight being 9 and a half pounds. There was a loud gasp as the baby was put on the scales.
He was 10lb 3oz! I never imagined he would be so big, I couldn’t believe it! This labour had just been shock after shock.
Baby was wrapped up and put into my arms for my first cuddle. Whilst it was a lovely moment, a mixture of being high on drugs and exhausted meant that I don’t remember it much, but I’m glad my husband took the below photos of us:
Once I’d been stitched up, I was wheeled into the recovery room. We were met by the two midwives who had been with us up to the birth of the baby, and another lady who I think was a recovery nurse. She asked me lots of questions, none of which I can remember apart from my name and address and date of birth! She then asked if I wanted to breastfeed, which I did, so she helped latch the baby on to my breast. I was half lying down, but baby latched on first time and fed for quite a while. I was so pleased, as I’d heard how hard breastfeeding can be, so I was pleased the first feed went well. I was feeding my son when our first family photo was taken – I know I look absolutely awful, but in my defence I’d been awake for nearly 48 hours! But I love this photo as it’s our first one together.
I don’t know how long I was in recovery, maybe an hour or so, but I was then taken to the post-natal ward. By the point it was 5am, and unfortunately Craig was told he had to go home. I was quite upset about this – I’d just had our son, I couldn’t move because of the spinal block, and needed my husband’s support. He was told he could come back at 9am, and it just seemed a bit pointless for him to drive all the way home for a few hours, and then have to come back.
But, it was finally over. After 4 days in hospital, nearly 48 hours in labour, 7 different midwives, 1 consultant, endless hours of monitoring, a midwife-led unit, a day assessment unit, a labour ward, a delivery room, a theatre room and a post-natal ward, our baby was finally here!
Now we had to decide what to call him…