Having spent my entire labour on twitter, writing about each stage, it does seem a little ironic that it’s taken me over a month to get my birth story up on my blog.
Well, it started with my waters breaking. I was reading Felix his bedtime story when I felt a pop. Nothing else happened, not even when I stood up. I sort of expected a gush.
Eventually I felt some waters trickling out but not very much. Whilst mildly freaking out about what was to come, I ate my dinner and called my mum over to babysit. Then, I rang the hospital only to find out that they were closed to admissions and I needed to contact the other local hospital. Eek!
So we stayed at home and watched a bit of Michael McIntyre (laughing releases endorphins which lessens the pain, apparently) and timed contractions. Eventually we decided we should try to sleep, but mum was in our bed, so Paul got out the sofa bed and some blankets and dozed off whilst I closed my eyes. Contractions were around every 10 minutes so I didn’t get to sleep. But the rest was nice and twitter kept me company!
As contractions became more like 5 minutes apart, I rang the hospital again to find they had re-opened - wahoo! Grabbed another bite to eat and then we headed off, in the snow. I had a mild panic as the car wouldn’t reverse of our sloped driveway, but we got there in the end.
Of course, as soon as we arrived at hospital (around 3am), the contractions slowed down and became less regular again. And on examining me, the doctor couldn’t even confirm that my waters had broken. So at 6am I got transferred to a ward and Paul went home for a sleep. I would have loved to have got some sleep myself, but what with a contraction creeping up on me every half hour at the LONGest and the sound of newborn babies crying in the room, there was no chance. I may have dozed, but that was it.
At 11am, Paul, Felix and my mum arrived to visit. I was already missing Felix despite having put him to bed just the night before. I blame it on the emotions! He was a bit restless so mum took him away again and Paul stayed hoping we’d give birth soon. We started trying to speed things up by walking round and round the ward and even sideways up and down the stairs.
We got back to regular 5 minute contractions, although there was still the occasional longer gap. But I was having to concentrate on breathing through the pain. I enquired at what point I would go back to the delivery suite and the midwife explained that I’d be examined as I'd need to be in established labour (3cm dilated) before they could send me back. She also advised me that there was no gas and air until I got back to delivery.
Now I understand that they must often have people demanding pain relief before they really need it. But not me. By the time I was asking her the above questions, I really needed it already. I might have looked very calm, in control and without pain to her, but I knew I was getting there.
Anyway, I did as I was told, took my painkillers and got in the bath. I hated the bath. Maybe because of the stupid angle I had to sit at, but the contractions hurt way more and I got out after only two contractions.
On returning to the midwife (around 5.45pm) to ask for pain relief she said she would get me monitored before an examination - I was a bit narked by this as I KNEW I needed pain relief and just wanted to get back to the delivery suite as soon as possible.
I probably made them think even more, that I wasn’t too close, when I went and got a plate full of food. Well, I didn’t want to miss dinner time (seriously, I love the NHS food THAT much). I managed to eat most of my carb fest (pasta, creamed potatoes AND chips all on one plate) before the midwife arrived to monitor me. I did have to shout at Paul to take the plate off me a few times and hit GO on the contraction timer for me. ("Tray, ‘start’, agh, ohh, oooh, owww, etc.")
The midwife came and strapped me up. She witnessed a couple of these contractions and, I think, began to realise that I was further along than they’d assumed. Personally I felt sorry for the new mums in the same room, having to listen to me!
The baby’s heartbeat was fine so she got on with the internal exam but struggled to find my cervix. In the meantime I was contracting away, writhing around on the bed and sobbing. She finally found and pulled forward my cervix (I guess that was the bit that really hurt then?!) and told me, not only that my amniotic sac was bulging (i.e. waters had not broken) but also that I was 6cm dilated.
Hello. Established labour. WHERE’s the pain relief then?
Unfortunately, the baby didn't like what she'd done and his heart rate dropped. Significantly.
"I don't want you to panic but I'm going to pull the emergency button and get you straight onto delivery".
Panic? Me? No chance. I'm in immense pain and you're going to get me to the pain relief quickly. I LOVE YOU.
I remember worrying a bit that Paul would panic though. Anyway. Suddenly there were people everywhere wheeling me and my bed through the doors and into the lift. This is when I wrote my last tweet, at 6.20pm and handed my phone over to Paul to keep safe.
Back on delivery the contractions were coming back to back and I just managed to squeeze out the words "I want to push".
My delivery midwife told me to go with it if I wanted to push. But she also wanted me to move onto another bed which was near impossible at the time. Every time I thought a contraction was easing off and I tried to move another one came along and I was crippled over, head hanging off the side of my bed just sucking on the gas tube.
On top of this she also wanted to attach a probe to the baby’s head to monitor his heartbeat. I guess I was moving too much for the external fetal monitor to work - whoops! But likewise, as there was no let up between contractions, there was no way she was going to get to do it.
I have no idea where Paul was at this point, bless him, but he told me later he’d been really worried by my lack of cooperation!
Eventually I managed to crawl across to the bed and get almost into my preferred position. I had been half heartedly pushing all this time, partly because in the back of my mind, I was only 6cm dilated and didn’t want to do myself any damage, but mainly because I was in so much pain that I couldn’t control myself enough to push.
Finally in a decent position, sucking on the gas and air like my life depended on it, I began to regain control of my body and started to push properly.
Wow, did it feel different to my first labour.
Ok, so they think maybe my hind waters had broken, meaning the TOP of the bag broke and any water behind his bottom may have trickled out. But the fluid around his body and in front of his head was still there which made it feel like I was pushing out a bulging balloon of water. It seemed to be much harder work than my first labour where my waters had properly broken and I was pushing out a head instead.
All of a sudden they told me he was crowning. One more push and Elliot’s head was out. I don't think I believed the midwives so I put a hand down to feel him!! Clearly the gas and air had done something odd to me!
The next push seemed much more effort than I remember from my first labour too, but out he popped and, as requested, they put him straight onto my chest. Totally different to Felix being whisked away for prematurity health checks. I just held on tight to Elliot whilst trying to calm down and regain control over my breathing.
Elliot was born at 7pm, weighing 7lb 1oz. I think it’s quite normal to feel totally elated and proud of yourself after pushing out a little baby, but I have to say, holding him immediately afterwards whilst recovering from the shock, makes it the MOST special feeling in the world.