Here we go… grab a cuppa as this is likely to be a long one… It’s taken me nearly 7 weeks to write 😉
If you were following my pregnancy updates, you’ll know:
– I was suffering from high blood pressure
– I was hoping for as natural a birth as possible
Routine high blood pressure check
So at 39+6 (may 1st 2014) I went for a regular BP check and consultant appointment at the hospital (3pm). My other half was with me, and unusually we’d gone in 1 car rather than meeting there in separate cars…. handy because… my blood pressure was ‘through the roof’ (I think it was about 180/110)…..
Suddenly from a routine check, we were in a small, hot room with about 5 staff telling me I needed to get my BP down… funnily enough, that had the opposite effect so after a quick chat with the doctor (which randomly included her checking my reflexes!) I was put in a wheelchair (more randomness as I was still feeling absolutely fine!!) and wheeled up to a delivery suite in the consultant-led unit!
Despite me telling my OH over the last few weeks that I wouldn’t let them keep me in, and I didn’t want to get induced as it was unnatural… when I was hooked up and was being told by a consultant and midwife that they wanted to induce me because of the risks to my health if I went home (fit/stroke if it turned into pre-eclampsia) I really felt like I couldn’t say no and that this was the best result all round.
I remember saying to her that I’d never get through labour if I couldn’t handle the pain of the sweep, but she explained that my cervix was still tucked up well out of reach and wasn’t quite soft yet hence the uncomfortable feeling (which passed immediately after). (I’d also been given Lobetemol tablets to reduce my blood pressure)
That was about 7pm and while she was doing that, dear OH was getting me my bags from home and a McDonald’s for dinner 🙂
Then we had to wait….. my OH went home about 9-10pm and at 11pm I was moved to a ward which they call the ‘induction ward’… nothing was happening so I was hoping for sleep…
Alas, they were waking me up to check my BP every few hours… and I was surprised to hear other women being induced, and then going into labour. There were only a couple of women on the ward but with just curtains between us you could hear everything including the loud, chavvy couple who turned up about midnight and shouted updates out of the window at their family below before going into labour about 3 and moving upstairs at 4….
So Friday morning (due date) nothing had happened and I knew I had to wait til 7pm before they’d induce me again. I sent my OH to work but we had a walk around the hospital before and after work. In the meantime I’d discovered the hospital had free WIFI so I downloaded the Great Gatsby and watched that, downloaded loads of music for labour (didn’t end up listening to any of it!) read some magazines, ate the (surprisingly ok) hospital food and just chilled.
Considering the panic when they admitted me the day before, they left me to my own devices on this day and only checked my blood pressure a couple of times!
So far this was all quite surreal – I’d gotten a bit emotional before getting induced as it was all just such a shock and everything had happened so quickly. Despite the bad night’s sleep I was starting to think it was a good idea they’d brought me in as just being in hospital and hearing other women go into labour was at least preparing me for my labour and I guess ‘normalising’ the hospital experience for me (I’d never been in hospital before!)
Friday 7pm, lovely Rachel informed me that she couldn’t induce me again yet as the delivery suites were all busy so we’d have to wait a few hours… She took my pessary out, gave me another sweep and said my cervix had softened slightly but still wasn’t dilated…
So more waiting… can’t even remember much about that evening but again, didn’t get much (any?) sleep and at 2am Rachel woke me to monitor my blood pressure and contractions and then induced me again at 3am (this time was a gel as opposed to a pessary, which can then be given every 6 hours) – by this point I was 1cm dilated and had started losing a bit of my plug.
Here we go……
At 6am, things started happening… I started getting cramps, I had some diarrhoea and as I was on the floor hugging a birth ball, I threw up… my body was getting ready. I called my OH and he arrived in time for me to get an anti- sickness jab about 7am and saw (smelled!) my waters break about 8am. (I was on the bed, I heard a loud pop and then felt a huge gush… very strange feeling!)
From what I remember the next couple of hours were among the toughest – due to being monitored I had to stay on the bed, despite me always having wanted to walk around in the early labour stages. My contractions were getting stronger, but I had to wait to be seen by a doctor… when they’d finally done their rounds and came to see me the paper in the monitoring machine had run out so they had to refill it and wait for longer… aarghhgh!
I think I’d just started on the gas and air when they came back in, checked my monitored results, checked me over and by now I was 3-4cm dilated so they were happy to send me up to delivery. This was about 10am.
TENS, Gas and air
In the delivery suite, we met and clicked straight away with our lovely midwife Laura. The 3 of us seemed to work well as a team, my OH was fantastic – he was in charge of holding the gas and air, and giving me water, rubbing my back etc.
I forgot to say, we’d put a TENS machine on my back a few hours prior – we didn’t really use it properly as after a while I stopped pressing the ‘boost’ button but we left it on during the entire labour on a low setting – it was a strange sensation but I’m pretty sure it took away the lower back pain that I’d started getting when my contractions had started.
At this point I have to tell you I thought gas and air was AMAZING – I never expected it to be so effective but I loved it and loved the slightly woozy/high feeling I got 🙂
If we timed inhaling it right, I could get through a contraction without feeling any pain. If we mis-timed it then I felt it but it wasn’t too bad (I say that now!!). The only issue I had with it, is that in all my yoga classes we’d been practising long breaths out, but using gas and air I was told to take a long breath in and a short breath out, so I did get a bit confused on occasion!
Not long to go…
By 11-11.30am I was 7-8cm dilated (so things had progressed very well and quickly all morning!)…..I asked if I needed any stronger pain relief but the midwife was confident I’d get through it on gas and air as I’d gotten this far. I vaguely remember that every contraction I was getting the urge to push and she kept telling me to hold it back…
By 12/12.30 I was fully dilated and ready to push 🙂
Cue me panicking after holding in the urge for so long… ‘I don’t know how to push!!’
And despite my preparation into calm, natural labour – from somewhere I got this instinct to be pushing as hard as I could (including having my OH in a headlock!) and as loudly as I could (I vaguely remember sounding like a very loud, primal animal!) .
Again, similarly to the induction ward, in the delivery suite I’d been on my back on the bed for the most part hooked up to the machine. (At some point as baby got lower down- I the baby’s head was hooked up with a monitor to mor accurately keep an eye on their heartrate. During this pushing stage she was happy to take me off the monitor, and ecncouraged me to try some different positions. Despite me practising these in yoga, and telling my OH that I didn’t want to give birth lying down, it’s funny how you get hit by a confidence crisis – and as I’d been lying down for so long it felt like the right place to be!
Here he is!
Luckily he got me to stand up so we did some pushing with me leaning on the bed (and him) I’d been pushing for about 40-45 minutes when she told us that the head was about to come out and it might sting a bit… 3more pushes and he was out… our beautiful baby boy was born at 1.35pm – what a wonderful, life-changing feeling! We didn’t know if we were having a girl or boy but had guessed it was a girl all the way through so it was a real surprise that it was a boy 🙂
He was perfect – healthy and gorgeous! (Weighing 7lb 2oz) Me on the other hand….
Epidural and 3rd degree tears
Laura gave me the jab and delivered the placenta while baby was on my chest. I remember seeing the placenta (yuck!) but I don’t remember delivering it – my OH tells me I was in lots of pain. Once the placenta was out, Laura tells me I’ve torn and goes to get a doctor for a second opinion…
Turns out I had 3rd degree tears – ouch! Again, I don’t really remember the pain and it’s funny that very early on in my pregnancy, tearing was one of my fears but the reality didn’t seem that bad (oh thank you gas and air!)
I had also lost a lot of blood (not sure how much – my records weren’t updated properly) so was starting to feel faint/tired on top of the woozy feeling. To stitch me up they needed to take me into theatre and give me an epidural.
I couldn’t believe the irony! I got through labour just on gas and air, but was now going to be given an epidural!!! Again, going into theatre was another fear… I was in there for an hour and half in total (it takes a while to make sure the epidural has worked) and I must say I had an excellent team in there – they made me feel so at ease, and we were joking around and chatting (I guess they do this to make sure I stay alert etc but for me it was relaxing!)
Finally, I’m stitched up and on a recovery ward where daddy and a hungry baby were waiting for me. On top of worrying about me, daddy had to put a nappy on and clothe our baby while I was in theatre 9he had to run to the car first as the post-labour bag was in there!), and vacate the room with all of our bags… also as baby was hungry he’d been suckling on daddy’s finger, nose and neck, bless!
Finally we were a family, and over the next few hours both sets of grandparents came to visit. I had to stay in overnight, with baby next to me, in a shared ward (so cue 3rd night on no sleep with babies crying!!) – again, a special time just me and him and me feeding and holding him.
I had a catheter in and also had the pleasure of getting cleaned by nurses (by this point I have NO dignity left!) and didn’t get out of bed until the next morning by which point I was desperate to come home – after packing all those toiletries I didn’t use any of them as I just wanted a shower at home! We had to wait a while to be discharged – originally they wanted me to have a ‘bowel movement’ first but I think they wanted the bed just as bad so after handing me a huge bag of medicines, we came home about 3pm – just over 24 hours after giving birth 🙂
This story is so long it needs a summary!:
- Everyone tells you this and it’s true – there’s no point having a very prescribed birth plan as anything can happen and you just have to go with the flow!
- I felt some disappointment at having to use gas and air (who was I kidding that I could just breathe my way through it!) and tearing (did I not push right? Did I not do enough pelvic floors?) even though we think he came out with his hand next to his face so it couldn’t be avoided – anyway, we can’t feel any disappointment – labour isn’t a competition against yourself – once baby is out, safe and sound, forget about the how’s and why’s and just focus on your beautiful little bundle of joy 🙂
- I think trying to stay calm and stay positive helped me get through labour – I recommend NCT pregnancy yoga for this!
- Us mums-to-be getting our hospital bags prepared – I guarantee you that you won’t use half of the stuff in there and you will think of stuff you didn’t pack! My essential items were drinking straws (I drank a lot of water all the way through labour), hair bands, face mists and a hanky with lavender oil on which I sniffed regularly during labour.
- A huge thank you to all the staff at UHW, Cardiff – I feel like I had excellent care and having gone through induction, gas and air and an epidural I feel like I will be ready for anything if I have another baby!
- An even bigger thank you to my other half – he was the dream birth partner, soothing and motivating me, supporting me and being practical by holding the gas and air, giving me water etc! Thank you and I love you so much x x x
If you’re still reading this, wow! Thanks for reading, if you’d like to read more birth stories check out this round-up of blogger birth stories that I compiled.