Next week is the best week of the year. We have D’s birthday to celebrate, my birthday to celebrate and now- R’s first birthday. It has always been a special time of year for me, and now even more so. I really wish I had written my birth story a year ago, I think it would have been an incredible thing to do but there you go! So here it is, a year on – the story of R’s birth.
R was due on the 7th of October, and I was bloody humongous at this point. Excited I dragged D out for a long walk hoping to get things started.
The 8th and 9th of October (D’s birthday) passed without incident. On the morning of the 10th, my birthday, I was booked in for a stretch and sweep. When the midwife realised it was my birthday she apologised, but we both agreed it would be a great birthday present if it got things moving! I have to say I found the stretch and sweep remarkably inoffensive, however my midwife did remark that I was being extremely calm. In her own words the ‘rummage around’ she did would have unsettled most people, but I am a stubborn little thing so I laid back and thought happy thoughts.
She said that I was already 2cm dilated (WHAT THE FREAKING WHAT?!) and that she was touching babies head. YES it is very weird to have someones hand up your vagina and to hear them say that. Even though you know there is a baby coming out of there, it is a most peculiar thing to hear.
As she removed her fingers (gross), she showed me there was blood on the glove (double gross) and gave me a pad to wear to walk home. This she explained was very favourable, and she said she thought I would be meeting baby very soon. She then checked his positioning again, and actually felt my uterus tightening – which was why I was already dilated. I couldn’t feel a bloody thing, and she was amazed that I was so calm and fine.
I was made up after the stretch and sweep, convinced that R was on his way!
I went home, and that evening part of mucous plug began to come away. Yes it’s as gross as it sounds, it’s like your vagina has blown its nose in your pants. I thought YES this is it I am certainly going to be in labour any minute now.
The next day, I was so weary, so tired, and felt really really down. Nothing was happening. I felt no different. No more snot was in my pants. I was so mopey that D’s boss kindly sent him home from work to look after me. So we ate pasta, snuggled on the sofa and binge watched Freaks and Geeks.
That evening more of my mucous plug went, and if I thought the vagina blowing its nose was gross well this was a whole other level. It was horrific, like the biggest bogey in the world had crawled into the toilet like a slug.
I was so excited I saved it on a bit of toilet paper to show D. That’s weird right? But I didn’t believe anything was really going to happen so we went to bed.
At about 3.40am, I heard my phone PING. It woke me up so I reached over to get it…and felt a big gush of wetness. I stood up and awkwardly waddled to the bathroom where I did a massive wee. Oh god… had I just wet myself? Or was it my waters? Cue sitting on the toilet googling how to tell if it was pee or amniotic fluid.
I didn’t know what to do so with fresh knickers and pjs on I went back to bed. Half an hour later I was up again and as I sat up whoooooshhhhhh, that was definitely my waters!
I woke up D, told him what was happening, stuffed a sanitary pad in yet another pair of fresh knickers and went to call the hospital as I had been instructed. Hmmmm, this was a bit worrying. No one answered the first time I rang, or the second, or the third. I tried another number. Nope, nada. Back to the first…. and try the second again for good luck. Back to the first, and after fifteen minutes I got through to someone. Who told me I had the wrong number, gave me another one to call then hung up. Awesome. When I finally did get through to the right place I was asked if I was having any contractions. I had felt nothing at all so was told it was likely nothing would come of it, they booked me in for an induction the following day and advised me to get plenty of sleep and rest over the next 24 hours.
I hung up as D thundered down the stairs with the hospital bags. He was dressed, and had hurriedly brushed his freshly washed hair – fully prepared to go to the hospital. LOL LOL LOL. Calm down oh keen one, we aren’t going anywhere yet.
Too excited to sleep, I made myself a raspberry tea and bounced around on the birthing ball. It was as I was doing this that D noticed something. I had been given a helium balloon by my colleagues on my last day of work four weeks ago. It had been slowly drooping over the past few days, hovering just above the floor. D had nicknamed it the ‘prophecy balloon’ saying when it hit the floor I would go into labour. We both stared at it as it lay flat on the floor…. this was it… the baby was coming!
… except nothing was happening. I bounced on my ball, we watched Netflix and then ohmyholyfuckwhatwasthat. This was not the ‘mild period pains’ I had been told I would start off with. This was someone grasping me around my middle and pinching towards my spine HARD. Oh and then it went. That my dears, was a contraction.
My contractions started coming every three-five minutes, quite fiercely and quite regularly. I spent a lot of time walking around, and heading upstairs to the toilet because the squeezing sensation and pressure made me feel like I needed the loo.
Plus, with my waters already breaking (and no one tells you this) there was just constant goop coming out of me. The waters, more of the mucous plug, god knows….it was gross. I couldn’t sit with a wet pad against me, so I kept paddling off to the loo for a little clean and a refresh.
As the contractions were coming fairly regularly we called the hospital again. They told us not to come in, and that there was a midwife doing the rounds so she would pop in to see us, assess me and advise us further. Ok great. In the meantime, they said to have some paracetamol and maybe take a bath.
WE HAD NONE
Cue call to D’s dad to bring some round. Chauffeur driven paracetamol, how fancy.
In the bath things didn’t seem so bad, Danny poured water over my lower back, rested hot flannels on me, and on all fours with the water soothing me I dd feel better. But before long I felt quite cramped and uncomfy.
Back out, and oh my god these are strong and fast now. I can’t remember this phase so much, I know I went into the bedroom and knelt with my face and arms on the bed. D wanted to go to hospital. But stubborn old me insisted on waiting for the midwife. I just remember thinking that I didn’t want to go to hospital and be told to go home, I was sure the midwife would tell me what was going on and help.
By now the pain was a constant pressure in the base of my back, and the contractions were dragging from my back down into my bum. The midwife arrived, and came to sit on our bed. I have a really vivid memory of her as I was so happy someone was there to help. She talked to me and asked me how I was feeling, noted how long the contractions were apart and how long they were lasting. I wasn’t much use as I couldn’t talk through the contractions at this point and was in constant pain. I remember I was gritting my teeth and breathing in and out in a funny way just to get through them to try to talk to her. She then sat back and said she couldn’t examine me at home, that I could go in to hospital if I wanted but that I would probably be sat there for another eight hours or so before things got moving.
I wanted to cry. I felt like I was quite far on and without even examining me she could tell I wasn’t. I trusted her, after all she’s the midwife, she knows her shit right?
Fast forward half an hour and I was on the toilet as it was the comfiest place. The pains weren’t letting up. Fuck the midwife, we are calling the hospital and going in.
So we called the hospital, I was gasping out how I felt in between the pain, and the person on the other end said to pass the phone to my partner. ‘WHAT?’ D says. The next thing I know he’s calling an ambulance.
Pain and pressure in your bum guys apparently means you are having a baby NOW. And at that point I panicked. The pain levels went through the roof.
An ambulance and a rapid response car turned up so before I knew it I was on all fours, given some gas and air, and four men are staring at my vagina.
After a few more contractions, it was decided that baby wasn’t imminent. So they helped me down the stairs, popped me on a stretcher and we were away with blue-lights flashing to the hospital.
On arrival I was eight cm dilated, and asked if I wanted to get into the birthing pool. HELL YEAH, this is the bath I’ve been dreaming of. Butt naked, with some Lush spray spritzed around, Enya playing, and all the gas and air I could get my mitts on, I was ok again. I lay in the pool, feeling the contractions roll through my back, but they were bearable and I could feel my body beginning to push down with each one.
After three hours they wanted me to go for a wee. So I lumbered out like an actual beached whale… but I couldn’t pee. A catheter was popped in and they examined me. Ten cm dilated, YES!
It was time to push. I cannot remember what position I started in, but I was told to push down into my bottom like I was doing a poo. So I did. GOOD JOB! and again… AMAZING, the head is right here! And again. And again. And again. And again….
My urine had come back with ketones in it, I was running on empty, so in between pushes I was having orange juice tipped by the litre down my throat.
I was sweating like the most extreme workout you can imagine. It was running down my face, between my boobs. Everywhere.
Push again! Keep going! Push!
We changed position. Changed position again.
I went on the birthing stool, almost like a little low down toilet with handles and no bowl. The midwife brought a mirror so I could see his head. Now seeing your vagina cracked open with what looks like a bloody melon peering out, and your bumhole doing its best to turn inside out is a) awful and b) amazing because that’s your baby and you are so nearly there!
Except I wasn’t.
Every time I pushed no more of that little head was appearing. It had been over an hour, I couldn’t feel the contractions anymore and honestly, I was done in.
To spice things up a bit, we were told the hospital was on security lockdown. There was a patient with a weapon on the floor below. I don’t remember being told this, I just remember knowing it and being like whatever, ok, lets just get this baby out.
But it was starting to become a problem. I was getting really tired, had been pushing for a long time, and it was beginning to look like I needed help.
They got me up on to the bed, on my back, in the one position I really really didn’t want to be giving birth in. I didn’t care. My legs were put up in stirrups, one stirrup was broken so D had the task of physically holding my leg up, whilst also trying to comfort me.
I was told that we would push ’til ten to five (which would make it two full hours of pushing), and if by then I was no further on we would move to an assisted delivery.
Well believe you me, I tried, I pushed like my life depended on it. I had no contractions, nothing to guide me except pain, and the thought of getting my baby out.
The midwife decided to perform an episiotomy, and me and D differ on this point. He thinks they were going to move me onto a ward, but I remember being told they were going to have to do it there and then as baby needed to come out now. They numbed me with some local anaesthetic, and were waiting for it to take hold when I thought. FUCK THIS SHIT. And I pushed.
I was so pissed off at the whole stupid situation, at the baby who wouldn’t move and the stupid shitty artwork on the walls with ‘breathe’ and ‘serenity’ stencilled over them. BREATHE AND SERENITY? I’M ABOUT TO BE SLICED OPEN FROM HOLE TO HOLE.
So I pushed.
And then his head popped out, looking up at the world.*
My vagina round his neck like the worst fur coat ever. And then I pushed again and felt his whole body slide out of me, and in a rush of warmth and wetness he was placed on my chest. He was filthy, his head was shaped like a traffic cone and his ears were squashed like a miniature lightweight boxers, but he was perfect. Totally perfect.
I cannot describe the feeling that instantly lit up my world, but I knew that everything was worth it. Everything I had faced, the long and painful labour, and everything we would face as a family was worth it. This was love. This was pure pure love.
I turned to D and said ‘I could do that again’.
D nearly fainted.
Welcome to the world little R.
*Despite little man’s position being textbook perfect up until two days before being born, he turned and came out facing upwards which apparently only 5% of births do. The midwife thinks he turned in labour which prolonged it, and also meant he got stuck in the birth canal. This is what caused the pain in my back and bum and explains why I never felt contractions across the front of my bump.