The short version – X was born by an assisted delivery at 8.57pm on a cold February night in 2014.
The full story is long, and potentially triggering to anyone suffering from PTSD, or issues with blood, so if you’re ok with that, scroll on past these lovely pictures of teeny tiny X…
Now, consider yourself warned. Beyond here, there may be no going back…
On a Monday at the end of February 2014 at 10pm, we were sat in our lounge in our rented house watching One Born Every Minute. I was bouncing away on my birthing ball because my back was KILLING me. I was having tonnes of Braxton Hicks, and could not get comfy for the life of me. This was day two of basically having had enough of being pregnant – everything hurt, my ankles were swollen, I had almost permanent sciatica and cramp in my calves. I thought I was ready to have this baby now. Little did I know…
10.45pm and we get into bed. 10.50pm I jump out of bed having just heard a pop and felt a gush… “Wake up (my husband goes to sleep scarily quickly sometimes…), my waters have gone!” “Wha…?” “My waters have gone…” I continued as I legged it for the bathroom. I always thought that your waters went and, well, that was that. It would be like a balloon popping, it would empty and that’d be the end of it. Nope. Sat on the loo, this water just pouring out of me in gushes, I phoned the Labour Ward. As I’d not had any contractions, they suggested I put a pad on, and headed in to be checked out, but then we could go home again. It took me an hour to get ready to go out – I was soaking through pads and clothing and an alarming rate. The Midwife on the phone had reassured me that as long as it was clear there wasn’t a problem – only that I’d constantly feel like I was wetting myself. Joy.
We eventually got out, hospital bags in the car just in case, and we headed to the ward with me sat on a towel folded over several times. At this point I just felt peculiar – until we got about half way to the hospital, when I had a real twinge. It felt like bad period pain, which suddenly struck me full of fear – I’ve had awful periods my entire life (I passed out from the pain a few times), and if this was my first contraction, how bad were the rest of them going to be??!! I had another as we parked up at the hospital, this one lasted longer and hurt even more. Blimey, I thought, perhaps this will all be over pretty quickly?! Sadly, I was very, very, very, mistaken…
Getting out of the car was hilarious (not). This was February remember, I am soaked in amniotic fluid. It was fricking cold, and uncomfortable walking all the way over to the maternity block. I vividly recall standing at the reception, yet more water flooding out, waiting to be seen. Finally, we were ushered into an examination room, where I was having more contractions. They were far easier to deal with when I was stood up and swaying. I peeled my leggings off and hung them up in a vain attempt to dry them off. I gave up with the pad and just stood on a bed pad instead. A BRUTAL midwife came to examine me; she didn’t stop when I said I’d got a contraction coming, so I had to tell her stop completely. She dismissively told me that she couldn’t even reach my cervix so it would be a long time yet. Go home. (Miserable cow. I cried when she left.)
So go home we did about 2am. I phoned my Mom. The contractions were of a fairly even pain now, and were starting to come more often, but they weren’t regular. There wasn’t a chance I was going to get any sleep though – they hurt way too much, and while not regular they were still every few minutes. I paced the living room until 5am, when it all got a bit too much. The contractions were now around 2/3 in 10, and they HURT. Nothing seemed to be helping, not pacing, not bouncing… so we phoned the labour ward again. This time I spoke to a lovely midwife who suggested we came back as I obviously was worried and in pain. Thankfully this was the same midwife who greeted us when we arrived, and she was gentle and calming. She examined me (without being brutal) and said I was only 2cm. I cried again. She gave me some co-codamol and said she would recommend going home, but I could stay on the Maternity Assessment Unit if I wanted to, if it would help me feel better. Yes, I said, then I didn’t have to worry about travelling backwards and forwards as being in the car hurt even more.
8.20am I finally reached 4cm and could go to the delivery suite. 8.20am, you read that right. I have currently been contracting for 8 hours. 4 fricking centimetres. I have 4 contractions on the way to the suite. My Mom turns up at some point, but I can’t remember what time! It all rather blurs into one from here on in, but this is from what I can remember, plus my birth notes:
11am – I agree to Gas and Air, I don’t like it very much, it dried my mouth out and made me feel unpleasantly drunk.
12.20pm – 5/6cm *sobs*
2.30pm – still only 6cm. I started to panic a little now – I’m into hour 14, and I’m knackered, having not slept since 7am the PREVIOUS day. By this point I have been awake 31 hours straight, and haven’t eaten since… I actually can’t remember.
3pm – They decide I’m not progressing, so they want to put me on a Syntocin drip to encourage the contractions into a regular pattern, and suggest a shot of pethidine because the contractions are going to get stronger.
4.30pm – I’m standing, holding onto the side of the bed, leaning forwards. The cannula in my hand hurts between contractions because they put it in a stupid place. The gas and air makes my voice sound funny and my throat is horrifically dry. My leg is still sore from the pethidine and I’m losing touch with reality.
4.55pm – 7cm. They finally tell me that X is Back to Back. My heart drops – this isn’t going to be over any time soon.
5.25pm – 8cm. There’s no cord in the way, or placenta. Just the wrong side of my X’s head.
5.35pm – X’s heart rate is struggling because we’re both knackered and dopey off the pethidine.
6pm – they put a clip on X’s head because they can’t keep a trace as he’s back to back, and I’m not exactly the smallest woman in the world. It takes a million attempts and keeps falling off. I’m feeling pretty violated by this point, and I lose count of how many people examine me. I agree to an epidural.
6.20pm – I am now 4 in 10, with very little break. They try to site the epidural but I am struggling to sit still because it hurts so much. They keep asking if I’m having a contraction, and in my head I was screaming “Yes, this is a FUCKING contraction!!!” but all that came out apparently was “uuuuuuurrrrrrggggghhhhhhh!”
7.30pm – I have now reached the border line to “continue and observe” ie. any worse and the doctors are called.
7.50pm – New Midwife – she’s awesome – realises I’m hideously dehydrated, and struggling – calls for the Registrar to come in asap. Turns the lights down, warms the room up, and gets us ready to bring a baby into the room!
7.55pm – 10cm!! Full dialated. I don’t remember much about this, but I do remember someone telling me to push. So I did. Gosh it felt good to be able to do something. I’d been stuck in this stupid room for 11hours, just being told that I had to stand still and deal with the pain, strapped up to a monitor. There seemed to be a lot of people in the room, I certainly remember a lot of noise.
8.25pm – they put me in stirrups – yuck – to try to help with the pushing, as X was facing the wrong way. I should probably point out at this point that the epidural has not worked well, if at all, and I am still in agony. Pushing felt like relief. The notes here say I was pushing well – I take quite a bit of comfort from that…
8.47pm – With developing concerns for X’s heart rate, and the fact that I am now literally so tired I can’t see, they tell me they want to perform an instrumental delivery – forceps. They numb me, as the epidural might as well not be there, and then in two pulls…
8.57pm – X is born! The Doctor was amazing -I pushed damn hard as she pulled him out, and I did feel him go. Then she had to leg it to an emergency theatre case. Because of the concerns over his heart rate, I didn’t really get to hold him – as soon as his cord was cut by Hubby, he was rushed off to the doctors for review – he was fine, APGAR scores of 9.
This is where things get a bit hard to talk about.
I delivered my placenta, and then came the blood – it wasn’t from internal sources as far as I know, but the episiotomy and a tear had ruptured a vessel and blood was spurting everywhere. Hubby describes it as looking like a murder scene. It took two midwives to sew me up (one of them was the lovely midwife who had admitted me that morning!), with one leaning in with the gas and air, who told me to “suck on that ’til it feels like your face is going to fall off!” – I could feel them stitching. And all the while I was looking at the far end of a huge delivery room at my tiny, screaming son, all alone on the incubator bed thing.
The rest of that night is a total blur. Oddly, I seem to deal with the trauma of the actual birth quite well; gas and air is supposed to be pretty good at preventing PTSD! However, the time I spent in hospital afterwards has left me with nightmares and panic attacks. I know there are women out there with far more difficult births and far worse outcomes, but we each react to our situations differently. My stay in hospital lasted 3 days, and I hated all of it. Next time around, I will certainly do things very differently. So that’s that.
There is more story, including our troublesome breastfeeding journey, there are more trials and tribulations, but the main thing is that X is here, I am here, and if we survived that experience without too many physical and emotional scars, we can get through bloody anything.