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My Birth Story

My Birth Story

Posted on: Sunday 20 November 2022

Trigger warning: birth.

Initially I wasn't sure whether I wanted to share my birth story or not, as it wasn't (and still isn't) something that I felt particularly positive about. However, after steering clear of birth stories while I was pregnant, I've read a fair few since giving birth myself and found them really helpful with coming to terms with my own. 

I think there's the impression these days that giving birth naturally is the superior option, and if you manage to do that you've somehow achieved a lot more than someone who didn't manage to do that, which made me feel like I'd somehow failed at giving birth, despite the fact that I did indeed give birth. So I want to share my birth story to maybe help people who feel a similar way, because if you've given birth, however you've done it, that's one amazing achievement.

I went into labour at 40 weeks + 4 days. I'd been getting pretty intense Braxton Hicks contractions every night for a few weeks so when I went to bed I didn't think too much of it when they immediately started up. After maybe an hour of them being quite intense and stopping me from sleeping I told Matthew I was just going to pop downstairs to sit on my birthing ball and time them just in case, although I wasn't really convinced anything was happening. Once downstairs I was pretty shocked to find that my contractions were only 2-3 minutes apart and after 15 minutes of timing them my app informed me that our baby was coming and that we should go to the hospital! 

When I went upstairs to tell Matthew we were both a little sceptical as to whether it was really happening because it seemed to have come on so quickly, but I was in definite pain and having to breathe through every contraction. We got dressed and got some bits together that we needed for the hospital before I rang triage. They told me to go in to be assessed, but I was only 2cm dilated when I was examined so they told me to go home and come back when my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart...the problem there being that they already were so I wasn't quite sure how I was supposed to tell when I was ready to go back in!

At home I had a bath, but couldn't really relax because my contractions were so close together and I was worried I'd end up leaving it too late and the baby would come at home (I needn't have worried about that!) After a couple of hours at around 4am we rang triage again and they said we could go back. Luckily I was 4cm dilated when examined so they said I could stay.

We were shown to a room in the birth centre, which was pretty much what I had imagined; birthing pool, mood lighting, comfortable looking bed etc. I got in the pool, Matthew put the spa playlist on that I'd chosen (my hopes that I'd feel like I was in a spa were probably a little too high) and I was given some gas and air. I've heard that you either love or hate gas and air; although I can't say I hated it, it really didn't touch the sides when it came to pain relief and I found it much more useful just breathing through contractions, but I ended up doing a bit of both. 

Our first midwife and student midwife were only with us for a couple of hours before the shift change, then the midwife and student midwife who were with us during the day were absolutely amazing. They were both so lovely and super encouraging and they generally left us to it in the room on our own, just coming in to check the baby's heartbeat every 15 minutes.

After a few hours in the pool and an examination that confirmed I'd only reached 6cm I was getting really tired and finding it difficult to deal with the pain as the contractions were still coming thick and fast so I asked for more pain relief. I decided to try meptid, which meant that I had to come out of the pool as it can cause drowsiness. I was kind of gutted to be giving up on my dream of a water birth, but I felt like my labour was going so slowly and I still had hopes that I'd give birth in the birth centre. I sat on the birthing ball for a while (my idea of timings in all this is rather hazy!) and Matthew suggested I tried eating something. I attempted one peanut M&M for a bit of energy and almost immediately retched so eating was out of the question!

When I reached 8cm dilated and my waters still hadn't broken the midwife decided to break them for me. I barely felt it when she actually broke my waters, but I had a contraction just as she'd done them; I'm assuming they would have tried to catch my waters in something, but the timing (and the fact that I asked her to please remove her hand from inside me while I had a contraction) meant they went absolutely everywhere (probably the only time in labour I laughed); me, the midwife, the bed and the floor were all absolutely covered. 

At around 4pm (I think) I felt like I was getting nowhere and asked for more pain relief. I decided on diamorphine (this may actually have happened before I had my waters broken but I really have no idea). In hindsight it's easy for me to say I'd have chosen not to have had diamorphine because it really knocks you out and meant I was quite tired when it came to pushing, but at the time I really felt like I needed more pain relief and it meant I managed to get a bit of rest. I laid on the bed with my gas and air and essentially managed to drift off between contractions. 

I have no idea how long I laid on the bed for, but at some point I got up to the toilet and while there suddenly had the urge to push. It is the weirdest feeling and luckily the midwives came in at that point to check the baby's heartbeat. They were very eager to get me off the toilet so the baby didn't end up down there and the midwife decided to bring my examination forward by an hour to check whether I was actually dilated enough to push. I was 10cm so she said I could go ahead and do an hour of non-guided pushing, which basically just meant I breathed and leant into my contractions when I had them. 

Once that hour was up the midwife started to guide me through pushing. She checked that I was pushing correctly and said she could feel the baby's head coming down when I pushed so I was. After another hour there was still no baby and the midwife said that I would have to go onto the labour ward because they couldn't take the risk of the baby becoming distressed and they couldn't tell why the baby wasn't coming out. I was so tired by this point I really just wanted them to get the baby out of me however they could!

The labour ward is a bit of a blur; there were suddenly lots of people examining me, sticking things in me and generally milling about. I was given a drip of something (oxytocin maybe but I'm not sure why!), then they discovered that the baby was back to back and at an angle where their head wasn't able to move round to where it needed, hence why my two hours of pushing hadn't got me anywhere. They kept encouraging me to push, but I found it really difficult because they kept needing me to be flat on my back to examine me properly and I'd been used to being upright in the birth centre.

I have no idea how long we spent on the labour ward, but they decided I needed to go to theatre and they would try forceps. They said if forceps didn't work they would be removing the baby via c-section so I they needed to prepare as if that's what they were doing. All sorts of form signing and talking through of disclaimers and risks happened, but I barely listened because I just wanted to go to theatre and get the baby out! 

We finally got to theatre and I was popped on a bed and prepared for an epidural. Just as they were about to do it they were called away to an emergency so I had to sit and wait for them to deal with that. I have no idea how long they took, but it didn't seem too long before they were back and preparing me again for an epidural. The epidural is the weirdest thing, I literally could not feel a thing in my entire bottom half and it took me a while to realise that the two strapped up things high in the air were my legs! I had an episiotomy, which thankfully I couldn't feel them do due to the epidural.

I felt quite chipper at this point as the pain had gone and I knew we'd be meeting our baby soon. The midwife (it was a new one at this point, the ones we'd had throughout the day finished their shift while we were on the labour ward) had her hands on my belly to feel when I had contractions because I wasn't able to feel them anymore and when I had one she told me to push. On the second push, with the help of the forceps the head came out and Matthew told me he could see it. The rest of the body was stuck inside because the baby had lifted its hand up (waving hello I'm sure), but it came out in the next contraction. Our baby was placed on me then lifted up so we could see whether it was a boy or a girl (he was a boy!) and we both cried with a mixture of happiness and relief (and possibly shock).

Matthew cut the cord and our baby boy was taken away to be cleaned up, checked over and weighed. Because we were in theatre we missed out on a lot of the things we'd wanted (delayed cord clamping, skin to skin, and I'm pretty sure they just dragged my placenta out because I never even saw it which I was kind of disappointed about) but we were just relieved by that point. Once I'd been cleaned up our baby boy was placed on me again for some skin to skin (and to deposit his first poo on me!) and I was wheeled to recovery. 

I could go on, but I suppose that's the end of the actual birth story! After my initial contractions at around 11pm, Bobby Jude was finally born at 9.22pm the following night and he is an absolute delight.


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