Here is the fourth in my giving birth series. Real birth stories, from real Mums. If you enjoy this I will be posting a different story every Thursday so make sure to pop back each week for a new one.
Thank you to the Mum who wrote this weeks story and congratulations on your lovely water birth.
Age of Mum: 32
1st/2nd/3rd or more baby: 2nd
Gestation born at: 39+3 (by my dates but 40 + 3 by theirs, which are wrong lol)
Any pregnancy complications: spd, sciatica, low by
Type of delivery: Vaginal, water birth
Length of labour: 9 hours from waters breaking to birth but 2 hrs 25 mins from first contraction to birth
Pain relief: gas and air
Any other methods used ie water/hypno birthing: hypno birthing (of a fashion) and water birth
Weight of baby: 8lbs 14.5 oz
Sex of baby: Boy
Who was present at delivery: Babies Daddy
Complications during labour: None
Did you feel informed about your choices during labour: Yes my midwife was amazing and urged me to go as natural possible
Complications after labour: none
My labour with Little Monkey was a positive experience so this time around I was absolutely terrified. Not of the pain or actually getting the baby out, but because I knew how good it could be I didn’t think it could go as smoothly this time around. I was wrong though and this time it was even better. I should warn you at this point that I am one of those women who really enjoys labour; I hate pregnancy but I’d do labour every day of the week.
There are some quite spooky parallels with both of my births. My anti natal appointments have been on a Thursday with both pregnancies and both times in D-Day week I’ve been offered a sweep and stretch. I was always of the mindset that I would try to do everything as naturally as possible and just let nature take its course.
Sod that! In 32 degree heat with SPD and horrendous sciatica I wanted that baby OUT. After a brief ‘disagreement’ over my dates (how one can be pregnant before a period and with 6 negative tests is beyond me, but who am I to argue with a professional, eh?) I agreed to a sweep and I allowed my midwife to book an induction date while silently praying that baby would make an appearance of his/ her own accord. I hopped up on the bed (hopped? Ha, more like heaved) and spread ’em so my midwife could get to business.
“Two centimetres dilated already, I think this baby will arrive soon.’
Now at this juncture I should question the midwifery term ‘soon’. Does it mean today? Tomorrow? In the next hour? When pressed she wouldn’t commit to much more than ‘oh definitely before induction.’
Two weeks. Great. Cheers love.
Thursday and Friday passed as total non-events but I did ensure my nails were painted, brows were plucked and hair was looking glam, just in case.
The husband belongs to an athletics group, his best friend is the fastest 800m woman in the UK and an Olympian and they like nothing more than plodding around local beauty spots together. Personally I think they’re a bit mad but some locations are lovely for a walk and a picnic so often Little Monkey and I will accompany them. With both pregnancies, the Saturday after sweep day, the husband has had a training session at Worthington Lakes (small claim to fame is that Sir Ian McKellen used to live there) so I’ve gone for a good walk to blow the cobwebs away and hopefully get the baby moving. Both times it worked and resulted in sending me into labour.
This time I had Little Monkey as my sidekick. Off we went, strolling along side the lakes, collecting conkers and looking at the pretty autumn leaves. We stopped for a snack and a drink and spent a while watching two squirrels chase each other though the trees. As the runners passed us, doing laps of the lakes, someone would always shout out ‘is it time yet?’ Luckily they’re a nice bunch of people, otherwise I might have been tempted to kick one of them in the lake.
I did know, both times, that this walk would produce a baby. Don’t ask me how but I do believe that spending nine months so closely linked with your little person creates a bond that is hard to explain. It’s like a psychic connection.
By Sunday night I was quite pissed off, to be frank, but this reassured me that baby would be moving soon. I’d had a shower and was just heating up some milk for Little Monkey in the kitchen when I felt a little pop and a gush. Not a lot, not gallons but just enough to make me think it was more than a dodgy pelvic floor. I rushed (ok, I waddled) upstairs to the loo. In fresh undies and PJs I decided to dry and straighten my hair (still in the vein of looking fabulous after birth) and left the husband to clean the kitchen. I should point out that I hadn’t told him that my waters had burst, I knew he would panic and I really wanted that kitchen cleaning.
I bounced about on my birthing ball and watched The X-Factor, willing the pains to start. Once the husband had finished I told him my waters had gone and he, of course, went into panic mode.
“Shall we go then? Phone delivery and I’ll ring your mum and then we’ll go. Are your bags packed…”
Woah. Hold on there. It’s a bit of amniotic fluid, calm down.
I had no intention of lying on a hospital bed, hooked up to the monitor only to be sent home again when I could just wait it out at home and go when the time was right. So I went to bed.
At 2.30am I was woken up with the most horrendous pain. I was having a lovely sleep as well so it did take me by surprise and it took a few seconds of mild panic to figure out what it was. When I realised I decided I’d changed my mind and I didn’t actually fancy another baby. I closed my eyes and willed it to stop.
Ahhh, that’s better. Back to sleep. Just drift off back that lovely dream of…wait, no hang on, there it is again. Agony. I glanced at the clock on husband’s side of the bed. 2.32.am. That can’t be right.
2.34am. Really? Are we sure? I shook the husband. My best friend lives around the corner and was my ‘middle of the night’ Monkey sitter until the morning when my mum would come round and take over. I made husband ring her and she was with us in less than 5 minutes. She came upstairs and watched me breathing through a contraction.
“Get out of this house and go to hospital, I am not delivering a baby here.”
Sensible advice and for once I didn’t argue with her. By the time I’d got dressed, got the bags in the car and done a few emergency loo trips for the ‘clear out’ it was 3.30am and we were on the way to hospital. The exact same time we left the house with Little Monkey’s labour as well.
We got there in under ten minutes and the contractions were still coming every minute. No build up, no easing me in, no rest just BANG BANG BANG every minute and lasting for 45 seconds. I’d seriously changed my mind by this point.
As we arrived husband got the bags and ran for a wheel chair while I waddled towards the doors, we whizzed upstairs to delivery and as we arrived I had definitely considered an epidural. The nice and natural birth was out the window, this was bloody painful.
A lovely health care assistant let us in, took one look at me and took us into a delivery room. It was small and stuffy and there was no pool.
“I want a water birth!” I breathed. This had always been my plan and having had one with Little Monkey I knew it would work wonders for pain relief. The HCA marched us round the corner before anyone else could book the room and set the pool running for me. Then in walked Linda; an angel in a blue uniform. An ex accountant who’d had a career change she was a proper, down to earth, straight talking midwife. She was brilliant.
She glanced over my notes and handed me the gas and air. At once I started to feel woozy as I leaned over the bed but she rubbed my back and I started to feel a bit more in control. Once she’d examined me (7cms thanks very much!) she disappeared for a few minutes. She’d gone to read over the notes from my previous birth and when she came back in announced that I was getting the birth I wanted, no questions asked and no wimping out. I think she knew that I was in a lot of pain, far more than I remember from last time. My last birth had a lovely gradual build up of pains and his waters didn’t burst until the very end, this waters breaking at the start malarkey was a whole different ball game.
As soon as I stepped into that pool my head was clear and I knew I could do it. It was 4.15am when I got in and after every contraction I was checking the time. Husband was in this for the long haul; he had his snacks, his drinks, his phone all ready for a good 4 hour stint but Linda, baby and I knew better. After about twenty minutes of floating around and contracting the pains started to gear up so I asked husband to put my playlist on. Last time I’d downloaded Bon Jovi’s acoustic album but he said he’d divorce me if he had to listen to another 4 hours of the man of my dreams crooning away so I obligingly created a ‘Songs For Labour’ playlist. Luckily for me Bon Jovi featured quite heavily.
As I focused in on the words of ‘In These Arms’ and blocked everything else out I found myself much more able to cope with the pain and control my breathing. I’d tried hypno birthing after my sister in law lent me her CD and although I liked the principles, the whispery sing-song voice of the woman telling me to imagine waves and beaches and other such bollocks really wound me up. Jon Bon Jovi was far better at calming me down.
Next up was ‘Don’t Want To Miss A Thing’ by Aerosmith. I knew baby was close as the pain was starting to become unbearable. The husband was still blissfully unaware and when I said, in between two contractions, “it won’t be long” his response was “don’t be daft we’ve only been here half an hour.” Famous last words husband because as the song ended I was starting to push.
The next song was ‘Always’ by Bon Jovi and I took this as a sign. Little Monkey was born to this song, it is my favourite song of all time so if ever there was a time to be born, it was now. I pushed and focused on the words and tried to control his delivery but he had other ideas and whooped out before the end of the first chorus. I scooped him up from his little swim to the surface and held him up. He took one long, lingering look at me and opened his mouth to cry.
It hadn’t occurred to me to look between his little legs to find out if he was a boy or a girl, we hadn’t found out but I knew he was a boy and had done since about 15 weeks,I just felt it. As the moments passed with Linda congratulating us and the husband -well I don’t know what he was doing, I was far too caught up in my little man – we sang to each other. I sang him the rest of the song he’d been born to and he sang to me in his croaky just-been-born voice. I cuddled him close, keeping him in the water to keep him warm and waiting for his cord to stop pulsing and delivering all his blood to him. I was totally oblivious to anything else in the room. As I looked at my little one I noticed that the dim lights had cast a shadow over his slightly swollen eyes, making him look like he had two black eyes. We’d been deliberating over names and had decided on two; Edward David or Oliver David. Right at that moment I decided his name was to be Little Panda. By coincidence his first outfit had pandas on it.
Oliver David was born 8lbs 14.5 oz which was less than I expected. He had his first feed in the pool where he latched on for minute before my after pains kicked in (why does no one warn you about those?!) but once we were on the bed I let him crawl to the breast, watching his little head bob up and down, mapping my body in search of milk. It was amazing to watch and was something we carried on for weeks afterwards. His first morning feed was always a ‘help yourself’ arrangement.
The rest of our day passed blissfully. Linda insisted on a fully physiological third stage, so I delivered the placenta in the pool where I relaxed for a while (yes, in a bath of blood but I was so tired I couldn’t care less) until the after pains got too much for me. She kindly administered painkillers and sent me for a shower and then tucked Little Panda up in bed with me to keep us both warm.
Although it was a quick delivery and the intensity of the pain had scared me, it was exactly the kind of birth I’d wanted. As natural as possible and fully informed. I feel blessed to have had a midwife who was hugely in favour of hands-off midwifery and allowed me to do whatever felt natural to me. Although she did warn me that next time I’d be as well to prepare for a home birth!