Friday, 28 February 2014

Henry's Birth Story

After the jump is Henry's quite long birth story, it's very personal to me and as such I haven't really shied away from anything. Giving birth is not glamorous by any stretch of the imagination so there are things in there that might be seen as TMI but all perfectly normal when giving birth to a human! I feel quite nervous about this but here we go!

Tuesday the 15th of January dawned and at 38+6 weeks gestation I was feeling very fed up. My bump ached when I stood up and was so heavy I thought it might just fall off me it was hanging that low. I had originally thought I might go into labour early but as the days passed by I had kind of given up hope, despite being driven mad symptom spotting. In fact, I had got ridiculously excited on the Saturday after some strong Braxton hicks but those quickly died off leaving me fed up and very frustrated.

The previous night I had spent on the sofa as my partner had decided it would be a fab idea to paint the bathroom with strong smelling anti-mould paint. I was finding it hard enough to breath as it was but the fumes were choking me so I decided to sleep downstairs. The night had been uncomfortable but even in our bed it wouldn't have been much better as I was so heavily pregnant at that point everything was uncomfortable! I would wake up randomly multiple times a night and not be able to get back to sleep for a few hours and when I did I'd get a leg cramp, or need the loo!

I spent the majority of the morning on the sofa watching daytime tv and eating copious amounts of cereal. BBC breakfast, homes under the hammer, the one with the bailiffs and BBC news. Out of curiosity had googled my chances of going into labour (21.19% apparently!) which I texted to Loz, but convinced it wasn't going to happen laughed it off and discussed going to the cinema in the evening the day after.

Seconds Old-Our First Family Portrait!

After having a shower I decided that I couldn't waste all day browsing the internet and being suckered into day time tv so after being given a sock monkey making kit by a friend I dug it out and decided watching a Harry Potter film a day till my due date would be nice. For some reason the disc for the first film was missing and at that point I hadn't got the second film so I opted for the third film instead. So much for a film a day!

Harry had just found out Sirius had betrayed his parents and I was just in the middle of turning the body of the monkey inside out when Lawrence text saying he was on his way home from work and that we'd have to make do with a home made curry on Wednesday as there was nothing on at the cinema either of us wanted to watch. I'd just put my phone back down when I felt a huge amount of pressure down below, like baby burrowing down, swiftly followed by a pop and what I can only describe as the feeling of peeing myself.

I leapt up from the sofa in shock. I wasn't wetting myself I realised, nope I had no control over it. No doubt about it, my waters had just gone! Luckily we had laminate flooring because my first reaction was to stand in the middle of the lounge and start to text Loz "Holy shit..." but I realised it probably wasn't the time for texts and rang him instead.

The conversation went something like:

HIM: Hi lovely, everything ok?
ME: Yeah. Um, my waters have gone?
HIM: Really? Oh wow. Really? That's fantastic!
ME: Yeah. I'm excited!
HIM: I'm on my way home now. Oh wow, this is it!
ME: It's happening!
HIM: Love you be there asap
ME: see you soon!

I then rang my mum with the news. She wished me good luck and said all the family would be thinking of me but she wished I didn't have to go through labour! After having been through it four times, I guess she knew what was about to happen because I didn't have the foggiest what was in store. 

I remember feeling very shaky with nerves and excitement as I went upstairs to the loo to inspect. I wasn't really sure what I was expecting to find and I realise in hindsight I should have made sure it was my waters but it was such a gush I knew it couldn't be anything else. There was some liquid left in my knickers which looked clear with a pinkish tinge so I peeled them off, put on a fresh pair with a pad on and went downstairs to wait for Loz to arrive home. 

He came bursting through the door not long after, sweat on his forehead breathing deeply. He'd ran all the way home from the station but was breathing so hard it sounded like he was about to give himself a heart attack so I had to tell him to calm down, take a seat and breathe. The irony!

Looks like he's smiling!

I told him I'd ring the hospital whilst he cleared up the kitchen as I'd made a bit of a mess and didn't want to come home to a bomb site! I phoned through to labour ward and told the midwife who answered that my waters had gone around 20 minutes ago--they asked for all my details and the colour of the fluid and told me to make my way in sometime in the next two hours to be checked out, but that there was no rush and I'd probably get sent home and asked to come back after 24 hours if things hadn't progressed as that was usually what happened!

I spent the next 10 minutes helping tidy up a bit, but had to sit down when I got my first contraction. It was really painful, like the worst period pain I'd ever felt. Ever. I started to time them at around 7pm using an app on my phone and they were coming quite irregularly- 15 minutes, 4 minutes, 10 minutes, 3 minutes, all lasting around 50 seconds. We decided we'd head into the hospital for around 8- 1.5 hours after my waters had broken or thereabouts allowing time for Loz to grab a bite to eat and us to gather my stuff together.

I went on a frantic search for my MP3 player so I could download a few relaxing tracks to put on for when I was in the birth pool, something I had been meaning to do but thinking I had plenty of time, never got round to! I managed to download two tracks, but couldn’t find my MP3 payer. At this point my contractions were starting to get closer together and more painful and I just knew we needed to go and get checked out. I told Loz I wanted to go as the contractions had started getting closer together, I also said I didn't know how I as going to cope as they hurt so much! We debated about taking the bags with us, but decided to leave them at home as I was sure that we would be sent home for at least some of the evening as I couldn't have progressed that quickly in such a short space of time.

We gathered everything together and made the move-we only live 10 minutes from the hospital so it didn't seem a big deal that we walked there (especially as neither of us drive anyway). I made a head start whilst Loz locked up the house. He soon caught up with me as I was waddling like a penguin-but halfway there Loz asked whether I had my green maternity notes-the one most important thing that I thought I would have remembered! Apparently not. 

By this point the contractions were getting really strong and had built into a rhythm of one every few minutes lasting a minute in duration (according to the contraction timer)-there was no way I was going back to the house so I sent Loz running back to grab my notes whilst I waited in a bus shelter. Yup, a bus shelter. Luckily it was dark and the buses don't come along very often but as I stood having a contraction in the dark on my own I did wonder what on earth I was doing.

In his hospital cot

Before I knew it Loz had returned with notes, having run all the way there and back (again) and off we went. I was clenching his hand as we walked but I was determined to get to the hospital as quickly as possible so that I didn't have to labour in public! Eventually we made it across the back entrance of the hospital an in the maternity entrance. People were coming out and out of the corner of my eye I could see them eyeing me knowingly. I think my panting and slight oohing at the pain gave it away-that and my bump. 

For some reason the maternity ward was on the upper floor of the hospital but instead of taking the lift I took the stairs. I seem to remember thinking I didn't have time for waiting for lifts and I wanted to keep as active as possible having read this was the best thing to do in labour! A lady very kindly held the door open for us at the top with a smile on her face. I think she was a midwife but the pain was distracting me from the details.

 Finally we reached the door of the maternity ward and buzzed. No answer. Buzzed again. No answer. I was getting impatient, swaying my hips from side to side in a bid to ride out the pain that was gripping me. Loz was telling me to stay calm and be patient but it was very frustrating not being able to get in, especially when one Dr came out but we still had to wait to be buzzed in! Finally after what seemed an age someone answered and we were let through.

There was a family sat in the waiting bit just off the corridor as we whizzed past towards the reception where they were expecting us. Green notes were handed over. Then for some reason they couldn't decide who would have me. I was feeling a bit annoyed at their lack of action-they were so relaxed about our arrival even though I thought it was pretty obvious I was having contractions. I stood swaying and letting out what I can only call vocalised breaths of pain whilst they decided.

 Finally I was taken over to a bed on the labour ward to be examined-but apparently there was no hurry. I sat in the chair by the bed and kicked off my shoes. There was a lady opposite who was getting told how how her induction was going to go and I could see her eyeing me nervously from across the room as I squirmed in the seat as I had another contraction. I asked Loz to draw the curtains round the cubicle because the lady and her family opposite were starting to stare and it was making me feel a bit self-conscious.

Tiny hand gripping my finger

By this point the contractions were coming thick and fast, lasting 45 seconds to a minute each and coming every minute. My blood pressure was taken and the midwife explained what was going to happen- that she would examine me to see whether my waters had definitely gone and whether I was dilated -I was also to be strapped up to a monitor to check baby was doing fine and we would go from there. She also asked for my birth plan. It all starts to get a bit hazy as the contractions really stepped up, but this was at around 8:30. I'm not sure what time we'd actually arrived at the hospital. 

She asked me to go to the loo and do a urine sample but I just couldn't go-little did we know this was because his head was so low it was actually stopping me from going! The examination wasn't as painful as I had expected-uncomfortable but not painful like I had read about. Whilst she was examining me I had a contraction and she asked whether she could check again how many centimeters I was dilated and confirmed I was 3 cm. I remember feeling massively disappointed at this but I was in so much pain at that point at the contractions were coming so fast all I could do was breath and vocalise through them.  Loz got the tens machine out and with help from our midwife put it on so I could have some sort of relief. I also took two paracetamol to take the edge off. Neither really provided much relief,the tens was just a weird sensation that distracted me a little.

My contractions by this point were like being hit by a wall of intense unrelenting pain.They had peaks and troughs, the pain would gradually build and then slowly get less painful. I remember saying that I wanted a water birth and luckily the room was free. We discussed how we'd left the bags at home as we thought I'd be sent home so the midwife instructed Loz to go and get them as we wouldn't be going home after all! We were having a baby!

We'd move to the birthing suite with the pool in after baby had been monitored for 20 minutes. Those 20 minutes lying strapped in one position were agony, though I still managed to text my Mum to let her know I was in active labour. I stopped timing my contractions at this point as there wasn't much point! Thankfully Spud seemed to be handling the contractions well and the midwife was happy to go ahead with my water birth. 

The vest and sleepsuit were newborn (up to 7.5lbs) but swamped him!

Loz was back with the bags in no time after running home for the third time that night! I hastily pulled on my leggings to protect my modesty and waddled down the labour ward and towards reception. I had to stop at one point and sway against a wall through a contraction and at this point I honestly did not give a frig amount what kind of noise I was making. The midwife told me I was doing well and to take my time if necessary. 

We made it to the delivery suite and it as lovely. Big pool, bean bag and mat. However, I was more preoccupied with whatever my bowels were doing at this point it literally felt like my innards were going to explode out of me and I started over towards a door (not knowing where it was going) muttering furiously about how I might explode and I didn't know what was happening. Loz trailed after me through the door and the midwife shouted to guide me into the toilet on the right.  I proceeded to sit on it, leggings down by my ankles, telling him I was in so much pain and I needed to do a poop for at least ten minutes. Again, I didn't really care at this point. You don't tend to care when all the sensations your body is going through is new to you and admittedly quite scary. 

I was on the move again, minus the leggings. Mum had text me saying that I could be in it for the long haul only being 3 cm and I was annoyed. The midwife had asked whether I was ready for the pool to be filled with water and got me a birthing ball for the mean time, but I couldn't bare to have my legs open that wide so I slumped onto the mat with the tens machine, creeping up the intensity off the electrical pulses and vocalising the pain through breathing whilst the pool got filled up. I wasn't one of those women who screamed and swore I just did a lot of groaning and moaning and breathing the pain out. You know it hurts when you have to make noise to deal with it! The midwife said she didn't think I'd be long! I texted mum back telling her the contractions were on top of each other and that the midwife reckoned I didn't have long left and Loz was saying he couldn't believe I was just leaning back on the mat texting away. However, the pain now was something else, I was on my knees bent over the mat, but it wasn't helping and so I needed something else as the tens was quite pathetic! I needed Gas and Air!
The picture we sent round to announce his birth!

The midwife showed me how to control it and I remember Loz crouched in front of me as I inhaled four blasts. My vision went a bit blurred, then I felt really light headed and I grinned. And then I felt sick. Oh so very sick. Then I said I was going to be sick. The midwife ran for a bowl and threw it to Loz but I had already projectile vomited all over the floor and my leg. I kept apologising as the midwife got a cleaner in and helped mopped up. She said she preferred poo over sick everytime so I apologised even more. Gas and Air was definitely not for me and I didn't try it again as I don't like throwing up at all. 

Still waiting for the pool which took 20 minutes to fill, I was stood up swaying and rocking from one foot to another, occasionally leaning on Loz for support and crying that I couldn't do this only for him and our midwife to tell me I was doing SO well and I WAS doing it. The pain was blinding and I put the back of my hands to my forehead a lot in some sort of attempt to block out the pain. I can't really remember "seeing" much of the room we were in or what was happening as the pain was blocking my vision. Loz did get very confused when I asked him for lip balm from my bag as my lips were getting very dry by now from all the breathing and I told him not to ask questions! Haha. Then the pool was ready.

Stripping off my top, Loz helped me put my bikini top on and then I waddled as fast as I could towards the steps and into the pool. It was instant relief for me and it helped slow the contractions down to the point where I could talk inbetween them, something that had been impossible before as they were literally coming every 30 seconds and lasting a minute. I had got in to the pool however with my knickers and pad still on and the midwife had to tell me to take them off. Whoops. So I just took them off and plonked them in her hands. Classy.

Daddy holding him for the first time

I was only in there for five minutes and had about three contractions when I felt the urge to push. Before I even knew it, I was saying that I had the urge to push and push I did. I had no control over it, my body wanted the baby out! Pushing, however, came with the horrific realisation that I was too far gone to have any more pain relief and it was getting incredibly painful. I was on my knees but the midwife suggested to go over to the side with the metal bars over as it would help as I would have something to grip on to. Loz had dragged a chair over and was offering me drinks, alternating between lucozade energy and water as I pushed.

 I must have been pushing for quite a while because the midwife left (the opening of the door allowing me to hear my vocal breathing echoing down the corridor) and then there were two midwives in the room and they were discussing whether to get me out of the pool as my midwife couldn't see the head yet. The second midwife, an older lady, said to give me another half an hour. They were talking about my fore or hind waters not going and told me only to push if I desperately needed to. I remember feeling panicked and scared at this point and told them so to which they tried to reassure me everything was going well! I was worried that as Loz has a big head, the baby would have a big head too and he would get stuck. Infact, at this point I thought I might die. That I might not live to see my baby. 

I'd asked for minimal examinations in my birth plan so apart from the one internal examination on arrival I had no others. Throughout my labour though, every 15 minutes or so the midwife would check baby's heart rate with a doppler, but they didn't know whether I was fully dilated or not. Thankfully Spud was doing exceptionally well coping with the contractions, the midwife said he was as cool as a cucumber and she was a bit astonished he wasn't phased with them!

 They suggested I change position and go on my back in the water but I didn't want that as I had read that being on your back was actually the worst way to labour. Having seen on One Born Every Minute women are sometimes put on their sides and grip their leg to help with pushing I decided I might as well try that and blimey it did work! I refocused my breathing and shrugged off the panic I was feeling, gripping Loz's hand and the metal bar with the other, my knuckles going scarily white everytime I had a contraction and pushed. The position was working! One leg braced against the side of the pool, the other being gripped. I could actually feel him moving down! Progress! The midwife examined me again and I remember looking down at my bump as it was half gone!

The last text from my mum that I'd read just before I got into the pool had said, “when you can't stand it anymore it will be over” and I had that as a mantra because with each push the pain was getting worse, my vocalisation was getting louder and longer and sometimes it felt like it would be too difficult to breath again. Pushing was exhausting but not too long after I made the position change the midwife said she could see a nice purple line on my back and the baby's head (she had to use a mirror to see)-but that he looked bald! I remember asking whether it would be much longer and the midwife laughing and saying not long at all. I didn't know how much longer I could stand the pain for. Then he was crowning. This was definitely the worst pain, I think I did scream at this point as it was just the most blinding, gut wrenching agonising pain I had been in. Then his head was out! Loz was telling me to "push, push, push" at that point but I should have listened to the midwife trying to coach me through it as I ended up with a 2nd degree tear!

This happened fairly quickly and the midwife was running around trying to get the notes written, the other midwife came back in and readied the delivery pack. Funnily enough between his head coming out and his body was the longest time between a contraction-it must have been two minutes at least which feels like an eternity when you have your baby's head inbetween your legs. I panicked again and was worried the baby couldn't breath-stupidly forgetting he was still attached to me via the cord! Then the final push and he was out, I scooped him out the water and he was in my arms all warm and wet and wiggly. He cried and I think I half sobbed that he was here!

We had delayed cord clamping and immediate skin to skin, Daddy cut the cord and baby was whisked away to be weighed and then handed back to me once I'd maneuvered myself out the pool (complete with cord dangling between my legs) and onto the mat. I then had a managed third stage where I was given an injection to help deliver the placenta. 

Baby was born at 11:27 pm on the 15th January 2013 after only 3 hours and 14 minutes of established labour and just 5 hours from my waters going! He weighed in at a fairly small 6lbs 12oz.

By far the worst part of the whole thing getting stitched up. We were still having skin to skin and breast feeding whilst I was being mended.  Spud had actually come out with his hand by his face a bit like Superman so along side the second degree tear I had some grazes that required stitches as well. After that Loz got to hold his son for the first time whilst I went and had a shower. I was shaking so badly from the shock of it all but felt much better after the midwife got me some jam on toast. 

Really Loz should have gone home fairly soon as it was well past visiting hours but we were as quiet as possible taking in our precious new bundle and the midwives let us have an hour to ourselves before taking me to the ward. Loz texted our families to let them know he'd arrived but I cherish those hours where only we knew he existed. I was on the ward by 3:30 am with Spud in his little crib right next to my bed. I couldn't sleep though as I was so shocked at his speedy arrival, so much so I could not stop shaking. I had no idea what to do with this tiny person! One minute I'd been watching a film and the next I was on the ward with my baby, it didn't feel real!

He wasn't named until he was about 16 hours old and for the first hours of his life was known as "Spud" or "Baby Best".

Cuddles with Daddy 
My birth was everything they had said it wouldn't be at my antenatal classes. First time mums tend to go over due, but I was 8 days early... waters breaking usually happens during labour but mine went movie style... and usually a first labour is at least 12 hours long. Mine was only 3 and a bit! It was all so far removed from what I had been expecting it took me a long time to get over it. Some people tell me I'm lucky I had no pain relief and a short labour but I found it quite traumatic at the time. All the pain squished into a few hours non-stop? Horrendous. 

I am proud of myself though. I thought I was going to die, but I didn't. I birthed a beautiful baby boy and for that I'm thankful. Now, over a year on, I'm over the shock and look back on it as a very positive experience. I got my ideal birth on paper and for that I am grateful. I have been told if I have another baby though that I need to go to hospital pronto as second births are supposed to be quicker then the first! I definitely couldn't have got through it without Loz who was so supportive through the whole process-he was so calm and took everything in his stride!

All ready to go home! His snowsuit was so big his feet weren't even in the bottom, or his hands anywhere near the end, so he looks far bigger then he actually was!

Thank you for reading all that! I hope you enjoyed my birth story!


  1. thanks so much for honest story! 4 mnths to go for me)

  2. Wow, lovely story. You were rather lucky that he wasn't up for hanging around in there and only had 5hours of labour. I was also stitched up and it was the worst part of the whole labour and recovery!! xx

  3. I loved reading this. Thanks for being so honest. I had my little girl nearly four weeks ago and I really wanted a water birth, but I had to be induced at 40 +13 and after 16 hours of labour I unfortunately ended up having a C-section. I hope that if I ever have another child I can have a similar birth to this. x