Thursday, 25 May 2017

Labour and Birth Story


“Birth is a mystery. Words are not enough.” - Marie O'Connor

I still can’t believe how my labour and birth story turned out in the end. Everyone tells you it hurts, but they don’t tell you the emotional rollercoaster it is, which for me, was a lot worse than the pain of labour. For a start, I had gone 11 days overdue (when everyone – even my consultant, thought I’d have him early). That takes “being fed up” to a whole new level.



Overdue

My midwife appointments timings were a bit funny. I’d meet with her (or someone else) every Monday and I’d hit a new pregnancy week every Wednesday. So I had my 39 week appointment when I was actually only 2 days away from my due date. That annoyed me a huge amount, because it wasn’t taken seriously that I was actually due in 2 days meaning that I wasn’t offered a stretch and sweep (which to my surprise I actually wanted at this point because I really fed up of waiting). She instead told me that he was very engaged and would probably be here any day now. A week later, I was still pregnant and now a week overdue, so I brought my mum along to my midwife appointment for support. I was adamant to leave with an induction date in a few days.

This time, however, it was a different midwife. She was very shocked I hadn’t had a sweep yet or been given an induction date. You see, this midwife thought I shouldn’t have gone overdue because of the size of me and Noah, but my consultant knew best and didn’t agree (more on that later!)

So she obviously offered me the sweep. This is where we hit the first obstacle... She tried to perform the sweep, but couldn’t because Noah’s head was so low down that she couldn’t reach my cervix. And due to this, it was extremely painful for me. But when your mum says it’s nothing on the internal examinations you’ll have in labour, she is right!) Seeing as that failed, I was disheartened and quite annoyed. I'd had to experience that discomfort, without it even bringing me any closer to meeting Noah. She booked me in to be induced on the Monday (making me 12 days overdue!!), to which I was extremely unhappy with. 12 days overdue? What a joke. But I felt a little positive with the fact I’d at least be in labour Monday/Tuesday and soon to meet our little boy.

I went home and I ate the spiciest curries, the juiciest pineapples and drank copious amounts of orange juice (because it USUALLY causes diarrhoea for me which can induce labour *sorry for the overshare*). I walked for miles. I bounced for hours on a yoga ball. We done the er… deed. And nothing happened.


Contractions begun

…UNTIL, Friday night! I actually got really ratty and was in a really bad mood. I’m not sure what it was, likely just being fed up of still being pregnant? Hormones? Just me being my moody self? But I just wanted to be left alone. So I went to bed at 5 pm and shut out the world. I tried to doze off to sleep, but couldn't seem to switch off the feeling of anxiety and almost, an angry feeling inside. 9 pm came and I was getting pretty fed up of lying in bed and had started to experience some pains in my belly. Contractions.  They were different than any of cramps or pains I’d had in pregnancy. I just knew they were the real deal. They weren’t painful, but they grew in intensity and stretched across my entire belly from left to right and lasted around a minute, coming every 10-15 minutes. I stayed in bed for a while longer, telling myself they will be probably stop soon and this isn’t labour (because I’m miss negative nelly). I texted Chris and told him I think I’m having contractions (I had sent him away in my bad mood earlier!) Then, my drunken father, who had been out with friends for a curry, came home with a vindaloo curry (another labour inducing tactic), so I ate that and went back to bed.

A few hours later, I went to the toilet and lost my mucus plug. Probably the most exciting toilet trip I have ever had in my life. I rang Chris excited because I knew this meant labour was definitely coming soon. He hurried over and ended up falling asleep (grrrr!), while I laid awake anxiously waiting for the fun to begin.

It didn’t.

I got up the next day, had a shower, put on a nice (but comfy) outfit and did my make-up, you know, in case I go into labour, I wanted to look nice. Chris went out for the day to run some last minute errands and I sat in the garden with my mum, dad and uncle as it was lovely day. The contractions were a little closer at 7-10 minutes apart, lasting for a little longer and a bit more uncomfortable, but nothing too major. As soon as Chris came home, we researched how to speed up the contractions. Walking seemed to best bet. So we spent the entire afternoon basically walking around the village. My contractions were getting more painful but not any closer together, so we decided to call it a day and bought some magazines for me to read after dinner. My appetite at this point was a bit funny so I just ate some plain pasta (with lots of pepper!) to keep up my energy levels.

This is when the fun really started to kick off. The contractions were now 3-5 minutes apart, but still not that painful. I was still laughing and joking through the contractions, but there was barely a break between them (well, so I thought – active labour is when there is NO break). Everyone panicked and got my bags together and MADE me go to the hospital.


From Birth Centre to Delivery Suite

We arrived at the Birth Centre, where they read over my notes and told me I couldn’t have my baby here (!!). You see, at the beginning of pregnancy I tested positive as a Strep B carrier so was to have IV antibiotics in labour, but my consultant hadn’t prescribed them (after being told 3 times to do so!). As well as this, all the growth scans and concerns about Noah and me in pregnancy, I had to be monitored more closely, which couldn't be done in the Birth Centre. It was quite frightening as the lady seemed very worried for me and annoyed at what had happened and that they had let me go this far overdue. She decided to examine me before taking me to where I needed to go. I was a few cm dilated and not in that much pain, but she said I needed to go to delivery suite nonetheless to be closely monitored.

I arrived there with Chris and my mum and met with my midwife for that night, who as sure she’d be delivering my baby. She was lovely and seemed genuinely excited to delivery our baby Noah.

She attached the continuous fetal monitoring thing (whatever it's called?!) and put the needle in my arm for the antibiotics – which wasn’t the most pleasant experience. She put it in my left wrist first, but because I have the most difficult veins, she couldn’t get it in properly. So she had to put it in my right wrist instead, leaving me with two very sore and bruised wrists - but once the pain started to kick up a notch, I wasn't all that bothered!


The good stuff

I found walking around helped me during the pain, but as it intensified I had a go on the gas and air – which might I just add is amazing stuff. I loved it! Occasionally, I had a little too much and spaced out after the contraction and it was a bit scary. But I soon got used to it. Chris even tried it a few times! So I kept that up during the contractions and bounced on my ball or walked around in between. So far, so good.

I was thinking labour really isn’t that scary or painful, just exhausting. They done an internal examination about every 1-2 hours, which I HATED and would literally have a fit any time anyone wanted to come near me. It hurt me more than the contractions because Noah’s head was so low down and I found they just weren’t careful enough. So, I literally begged them to be so gentle and from that point onwards, it really wasn’t so bad – so don’t be scared to have a little moan (or plead!)

I was dilating well, but as I hadn’t had any sleep for 2 days and was exhausted, the Midwife suggested I have some pethidine so that I could rest between contractions instead of laughing and joking around like I was (oops) because she knew I needed energy on the last leg to push. I agreed because I wanted to just do what was going to best for Noah and having pethidine wasn’t a deal breaker for me.

And it was perfect. My contractions were getting closer together, but I was able to rest in between them. I was dozing in and out of sleep and waking every 2-3 minutes for a contraction and then dozing back off again. It didn’t reduce the pain of the contraction, but just abled me to rest and sleep.


I started pushing?!

This was when everything really went downhill. I was dilated to about 8 cm now and the contractions were getting a little stronger, but the problem, once again, was that Noah’s head was very low down, he was ready to poke out, but my cervix wasn’t quite ready for him.  So I ended up involuntary pushing without really knowing. When they done my internal examination, they found that my cervix had swollen and was less dilated than before.

I WENT CRAZY. I mean literally, crazy. I was off. I cried. I screamed. I went mad. It’s all a bit of a blur. I remember throwing up when Chris had gone to get some air and my mum almost throwing up seeing me throw up! I remember a number of midwives coming in trying to calm me down. But I just wasn’t having it. I just could NOT calm down. I don’t know what it was, I was just so exhausted and after being told I’d be pushing in 1-2 hours, to this going up to 3-4+ hours, I couldn’t handle it.

I was all over the place and riddled with anxiety, so much so that I couldn’t handle my contractions. The midwife kept asking me if I wanted an epidural to calm me down, but I was adamant I didn’t want one. The midwife gave me 5 minutes to calm myself down or she’d be back again and advised if I haven’t calmed down, I basically NEED to have one.


I done what I said I wouldn’t

I hated myself, but I couldn’t calm down. I just couldn’t do it. I don’t know what it was, but none of that hypnobirthing stuff helped. I couldn’t calm. I spoke to Chris and I decided to go ahead with the epidural because I was so scared and anxious and just could not think straight. At this point, my mum had left for some air with my dad who was waiting outside, because it was pretty tough. I cried because I thought she was disappointed that I was having an epidural! We were all so against having one.

The anaesthesiologist came in and I had to keep very still while he performed the epidural. It’s funny, but I actually didn’t care. I could see Chris was full of worry when we were reading the consent form (which I couldn't even focus on to read) and when he was putting the needle in my spine, but I just kept very still and it was done!

I calmed down and I was happy. I was sleeping between contractions, which when I actually looked at the time, I was asleep for 30 seconds to a minute because my contractions were so close together, but I felt well rested. It was actually really surreal. Every time I opened my eyes and looked at the clock, it had been a minute since I last looked butI felt like I’d slept for an hour at least.

The next problem was that the epidural only worked down my right side. Not a problem because I still felt my contractions – I wanted to feel them in a funny way, but the issue was that I now couldn’t walk around and go to the toilet. So I had to have a catheter. Although, at this point I didn’t care, I just wanted to have my baby.

A new midwife now came on shift as it was morning. I don't even remember saying goodbye to my midwife! There were now two (or maybe three?) of them, who were really lovely! Now it was the waiting game... They examined me again (really carefully! as it was someone different) and it was good news.


It’s time to push!

Oh it was like music to my ears. “It’s time to push”. The epidural had really worn off which I was SO happy about so that I could feel the contractions and push. The pushing stage only lasted 9 minutes, but I’ll be honest, this was the worst stage of labour for me, albeit, the shortest.
I didn’t know how to do it. The midwife kept saying “push from your bum, like you’re doing a poo!” but I just felt like I was doing it wrong. I started to lose my calmness again. Nothing was happening. Then the contraction stopped and the wait for the next one felt like FOREVER. I felt like a failure. Like I couldn't push my baby out and that's it, he wasn't going to come out safe.

At this point the room began to fill with doctors, midwives; specialists etc. and I just remembering looking at mum amongst them all with tears in her eyes and I knew it wasn’t good. I panicked again. I cried. I couldn’t do it. Noah’s heart rate had dropped, my contractions were slowing down and there was no sign of him. They kept saying one more push and then we need to do something to get him out. I pushed so hard and really, really tried. But there was no give. Then there was a head! It was too late for an emergency c-section so it was down to me to get this baby out. They used ventouse BUT (another problem!) when they put the suction cup on his head and pulled, it fell off!! It was the weirdest feeling ever and I was so, so frightened for him. So they had to use forceps.


He’s here!

This bit is a bit of a blur. The next thing I remember is pushing and there he was on my chest! At 11:24 am on the 9th April 2017. The only way I can explain the skin to skin is that he was “dumped” on my chest and it felt so heavy. He was all bloody and it was quite gross but incredible at the same time. But before I even had a chance to cuddle him, he was taken away from me and cleaned up and checked over. Then we heard his first cry as he was being cleaned up!


He was then passed back and put on my chest and Chris, Noah and I had the most amazing first cuddle. It was truly beautiful. But that enjoyment lasted all of 5 seconds (OK it was a little longer than that). They gave me the injection to deliver the placenta (I asked for natural, but due to complications, I couldn’t). I had to give a big push and it was out. I definitely felt some kind of relief once that was gone.

In the midst of lovingly looking at this beautiful boy we had created and I'd just given birth to, I realised they were stitching me up and the room was still full of people still all around me looking *down there*. I had quite a bad tear (obviously) so needed stitches, which once again, filled me with anxiety. They spent OVER ONE HOUR stitching me up, with it “going wrong” and having to be undone and calling other people in to check it. It was horrible. All the while, I had a temperate, was feeling extremely nauseous and just wanted to cuddle Noah and sleep.


Chris ended up taking Noah off of me because I just couldn’t hold him anymore whilst this was happening and I was feeling so unwell. He dressed him and the midwife weighed him. All of this is a bit of a blur, I only remember these moments from pictures taken. Once the stitches were over with, the midwife said I could shower. But problem: I couldn’t walk. I was so dizzy and weak, so I had to have a bed bath... Which by the point, I actually did not care whatsoever. Labour takes away any pride you may have that’s for sure. Luckily enough, Chris had left the room for some air! As it would of been quite embarrassing him witnessing that too.

The midwife then tidied up and asked if I wanted to breastfeed Noah. Honestly, all I wanted to say was no at that point because I was that exhausted. I felt terrible because deep inside I wanted to, but at the same time, I really just "couldn't be bothered" as harsh as it sounds. But I did. And let me tell you, it was the most amazing feeling in the world, feeling him latch on for the first time. I can't describe that feeling. It was the most special feeling in the world and I'm so glad I said yes.


And that’s it! From contractions starting on 7th April at 9 pm, to active labour beginning around 11 pm on the 8th, to a beautiful baby boy being born at 11:24 am on the 9th. It’s been great to get this down and kind of re-live it all a little bit, because it’s all a bit of a blur now. Pregnancy, labour, those first few weeks. I feel like he’s been here forever and I don’t remember life before we had Noah. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. But let's just say, those magazines we bought in labour weren't read then and haven't been read now!



Oh, and I still want another baby in the future. So it wasn’t all that bad.
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