So, here it is. The story of how my first baby came into this world! It’s long (very, very, very long), frank and to be honest, it’s just as much for me as anyone else, as I wanted to write it down before I forgot any details myself! Feel free to read on if you’re interested / bored / pregnant yourself (delete as applicable!) and if you’re a mum who’s written a birth story, I’d love to read it!
If you’ve been following my pregnancy, then you may remember that our baby boy was due on February 28th of this year. However, like most in their first pregnancies, that date came & went without so much as a twinge!
L: Noting down contractions. R: A few hours before going to hospital. Attractive, eh?
I was due to be induced on Monday 12th March, but luckily, my contractions started naturally at about 7:30am on the Friday before. Well, at least that’s when I realised they were contractions! You see, there are many things that can (& do) happen to a woman in pregnancy, that they don’t really advertise. It’s not all nice, big, round bumps and glowing skin. Or even morning sickness! Nope. Sometimes pregnant ladies suffer from, err, excess gas. And I’m not going to lie, I thought it was trapped wind. Lovely, eh? I had two or three pains throughout the night and didn’t think much of it, because they were so sparse & mild. When I woke up in the morning when Ashley left for work at 6am, the pain was still there and coming and going a little more often. Everyone who I’ve spoken to who has had a child before, told me:
When contractions start, you’ll just know. You will.
Well, evidently, I didn’t! It wasn’t until I spoke to my mum on the phone a few hours later, that I thought this could be the start of my labour.
Contractions are really hard to describe, but the closest thing that you might be able to relate to, is period-pain-like-cramps. I had them low down in my womb AND across my lower back, which was really generous of my body! At this point though, they weren’t excruciating at all. I had breakfast, watched TV and ran myself a bath. By 10am, when I was more sure of what was happening, I thought I’d better tell Ashley that I thought things had finally started. He was surprisingly calm and managed to stay at work all day— & it’s just as well he didn’t rush home, because the pain didn’t really get any worse for the rest of the day, so we wouldn’t have been rushing to the hospital.
By the time Ashley was home at 7pm, they were coming and going quicker, but they weren’t regular at all and only lasted 30 seconds or so. I’d been noting down times, but Ashley took over and he phoned the hospital to check when we should think about coming in, to which the midwife said when they’re every 3 minutes and lasting about a minute. That felt like bloody ages away, seeing as it’d taken me all day to go from 15 minutes to around 8! We pretty much got there though and at 2:30am, my parents came to take us to the hospital. Before I was examined at around 3am, the midwife told me that if I wasn’t dilated enough and didn’t have three contractions in the 10 minutes that she was monitoring me, I’d be sent home. Not what I wanted to hear! I was there and I wasn’t leaving without my baby! Luckily Byron felt the same, as I was 2cm & had four contractions! She did a membrane sweep and stretched me to 3cm, which is just as disgusting and uncomfortable as it sounds I’m afraid, but it was over in a flash.
My contractions weren’t strong enough yet to go onto the labour ward, so I was put on the antenatal ward at 5am and told to try and get some sleep (fat chance.) I wasn’t allowed anyone to stay with me, which was horrible. I understand why it’s done, but it can be a bit of a lonely place, and I think you really need & want familiar people around you at a time like that, especially when it’s your first baby! I couldn’t understand why the other women on the ward were able to sleep through their contractions, until I realised that this was the ward that I would have been going to on the Monday to be induced, had labour not started spontaneously— so their contractions hadn’t even started yet! I did try and sleep, but it wasn’t happening. One of the midwives suggested going on all fours, but really, who can sleep like that?! My centre of gravity had shifted & I felt like I might topple over. Another suggested paracetamol. Yeah, PARACETAMOL. I think I gave her my “Are you kidding me?!” face, because she explained that it takes the edge off for some women, so they can catch some shuteye. I was against it at first. My rationale was that the pain would seem (and probably be) even worse when it had worn off and I’d be in an even worse situation. I gave in eventually though & said I’d try it. She was handing over to the day midwives and I was told they’d bring it to me, but it never came. Typical! I didn’t ask anyone about it though and took it as it was probably meant to be!
Ashley and the rest of our families arrived at about 10am and that’s when things start to get a little hazy. Being in the same building for such a long time and not seeing daylight can really throw you, so I had no sense of time! Contractions were definitely getting worse & I could no longer talk while I had them, but I had my own way of breathing through. Apparently I was dealing with them really well— perhaps a bit too well! The midwife would pop her head in now & again to see if I wanted pain relief, but I always refused it. It was this that lead them to think I probably hadn’t progressed much yet. We basically waited around all day and I expected some sort of internal examination to see if I was dilated, but understandably they want to intervene as little as possible. This seems a bit risky though— what if I had a really high pain threshold and was almost 10cm?! As soon as I purposely made a bit of a fuss about the pain though, they examined me, and if my memory serves me correctly I was around 5cm. Walking up and down the corridor to speed things up was getting tiresome and the pain was getting worse, so when they offered me gas and air, I took it. Let me tell you now:
If you’re offered it, take it. I’m glad I waited as long as I did, as the relief was SO much better. I wasn’t using it properly at first and thought it was rubbish, but it wasn’t until she examined me and I was sucking on it like a bitch, with deep-breaths that it really kicked in. I’ve never felt anything like it! I was light-headed, my lips tingled and I quote,
Ashley, I feel all… flippety-floppedy.
Thankfully, it didn’t make me feel sick! The midwife told us that we’d be moving to the Birth Centre shortly, which was good news as we wanted to go there rather than the labour ward— and also because there was a really loud & annoying woman next to me, who was screaming blue murder despite only being 1cm. Up until that point I’d been dead against water births, but now I was having second thoughts! Once again though, there was some kind of breakdown in communication with their hand over and we were told it’d be safer to go to the labour ward, as our baby was big. We got there late Saturday night (I think!) and I soon decided that I wanted an epidural. I just couldn’t fathom how that was going to come out of there, with just gas and air. It’s just as well I had it too, as I wasn’t allowed to use my beloved gas and air when I was pushing! Not cool.
L: Just arrived on the labour ward and hadn’t slept for almost two days! R: Having my epidural put in. Still rockin’ the attractiveness.
Ashley stayed with me in our private room, on potentially the most uncomfortable chair, ever. When the anaesthetist came to put in the epidural, he ran through all the risks, one of which was “it might not work.” HUH?! I’d set my mind on it, so it HAD to work. Luckily it did, after his THIRD attempt of putting it in my spine. I wasn’t impressed, as it’s not exactly a comfortable procedure (although the midwife putting the canula in my hand hurt more!), particularly the bit where an electric shock goes down the left side of your body. I had to have that three times. I crossed my fingers on the third one and it seemed to do the trick! We both managed to get a little sleep, but I have NEVER seen anyone as tired as Ashley. At one point, he walked across the room for some water and actually fell asleep. Walking. Who knew that was even possible?!
The midwives changed shifts at 8am and soon after I was told it was time to start pushing. I could feel my contractions again, but they weren’t painful, which was great, as it meant I didn’t have to be told when to push & could do it of my own accord. I think I was pushing for about an hour, when she decided to get the doctor in to help me out. A whole team of them came in at one point while I had my legs up in the air, but I genuinely couldn’t have cared less! I gripped Ashley’s hand and pushed with all my might, until it felt like my head might actually explode, but baby wasn’t budging. In one contraction, you’re told to push, take a quick deep breath, then push again & repeat a third time if you can. That’s great if your contractions are lasting a minute, but mine had started to dip to 30 seconds long, so I had ventouse aka a suction cup, put on Byron’s head so they could help to pull him out. I’d been dead set against ventouse or forceps, but in the moment, I think you’d give anything just to get the baby out!
I didn’t scream at all throughout labour, which I was impressed with! I did shout “Fuck!” as his head came out, but that pain only lasted a few seconds and then Ashley could see his head! By this point we were both crying and things got even more emotional when in the next few seconds the rest of his body followed and our little gem was plonked on my chest. I have never cried so much in my life! It is the best, most indescribable feeling in the world. After he was given a little wipe over, he was given back to me for some skin-on-skin and lots of cuddles. It was only then that I realised the doctor was sewing my stitches and getting rid of the placenta and other nice things! It was completely painless, partly because of the epidural, but mostly because after 41 weeks and 5 days of being pregnant, our boy was finally here and he was a great distraction!
L: Big, chunky, wrinkly baby! Just a few seconds old. R: Cuddles after we’d all calmed down a bit, from all the crying!.
After a lot of waiting, a bed bath (I have never felt so sweaty and disgusting, ever), putting Byron in his first little outfit and visits from family, we were taken to the post-natal ward, where I had to stay overnight (again, without Ashley) so B could be monitored, as the little tyke had pooed inside me. This was the least enjoyable part of the whole ordeal. I felt skanky and tired and wanted my own bed at home. The midwife didn’t come around to see me until midnight and we spoke about how I was getting on with breastfeeding. I’d tried to feed him again a few hours before, but he didn’t want it and just slept instead. My maternal instincts told me that this was fine, but she wasn’t having any of it and made me push his head on my boob, while he was screaming and crying. She made me blow in his face to keep him awake, and it was just a horrible, horrible experience. I’d expected them to be pushy about breastfeeding if I’d decided to give him formula, but not if I was actively feeding. In the end she left me for a while and asked if he’d fed, when she came back. I lied, just to get her to go away! Her and another midwife also argued in front of me about whether my catheter should still be in or not, which wasn’t so reassuring. To make matters worse, I’d originally been told I’d be going home at 11am the next day, but they made me wait around until 2pm. I was so pissed off & tired, that I cried my eyes out when my mum & Ashley got there!
Despite the aftercare, giving birth was amazing and I’d do it again & again! And that my friends, is the story (well, essay) of the beginning of our family.