I enjoy reading the birth stories shared on Spearmint Baby and am glued to the TV on Wednesday evenings for the BBC documentary series One Born every Minute. Each birth is unique and special and full of emotion for both parents. I have been fortunate to have had two wonderful births and also wanted to share my experience. In many ways it feels just like yesterday that this all took place, but she'll be celebrating her third birthday in a few days.
On Tuesday 28th October I attended my scheduled hospital appointment at 39 weeks 5 days where the doctor performed a stretch and sweep. At the previous appointment the midwife had mentioned that this might take place and so I spent the next couple of weeks reading about it and mentally preparing myself. Some comments online had said that the procedure was very uncomfortable even painful so I tried to brace myself for that. It certainly was uncomfortable but it was brief and not painful. The doctor informed me that I was already 2cms dilated and that the stretch and sweep should 'get things going.'
I woke around 4am on Thursday (my actual due date) for my usual toilet visit but couldn't return to sleep. I eventually got up and went downstairs to see if i could fall asleep in the spare room. No luck, so I got up and watched TV. I felt fine, just a little 'off' along with a sore lower back, nothing that I hadn't been feeling recently anyway. Every 45 minutes or so I felt a slight wave of queasiness. I woke Jon around 6am and told him that I thought I may be in the early stages of labour and to not go to work.
By late morning nothing had changed, I didn't feel any different, the 'waves' continued to come and go but they weren't consistent or defined and I apologised to Jon that it was a false call.
At 1pm the waves grew stronger and there was a definite start and finish to them. During each one I walked around the house, I had a little set path that I followed from room to room and around various bit of furniture. Jon started to time the contractions which went from 20 minutes to 16 to 10 to 8 all within about 45 minutes. Every second contraction was double, Jon would ask if the contraction had finished, I would say 'yes' and then ten seconds later I would have another one. I rang the hospital just after 3pm and told them about my contractions and the times. It was suggested that if I was handling the pain at home, then to stay there and have a shower to assist with pain management. Two contractions later and we were getting into the car.
We arrived at the hospital where I gracefully threw up as I waddled through the maternity ward doors. I had also reached the point where I couldn't talk during the contractions. We were shown through to the examination room where I was checked. The midwife was thrilled to announce that I was 4 cms and that I would probably be having bubs in the morning. I looked at the clock on the opposite wall and it read 5pm, 'But my baby is due today' I said. I was in labour today and I wanted to have the baby today, fair enough eh?!
We spoke about pain relief and I said that I wanted an epidural when the time was right, if I could get to 6/7 cms that would be great. I didn't want gas, especially seeing as I had already thrown up, I didn't want the gas to make me feel queasy. The midwife offered to run a large bath for me which took about 40 minutes to fill. Meanwhile I walked around the room- backwards! Walking backwards gave me the most relief.
The bath was bliss. I felt really comfortable and relaxed, so much so that I think I dozed between contractions. Jon sat alongside the bath and put a cold flannel on my head, this was exactly what I needed.
Then the contractions grew stronger and the pain grew with them. I told Jon that I had had enough and to take me home, (not sure how that would have helped?!) No longer were the contractions in my back and stomach but my whole body felt them, I had no control of my body and struggled tokeep my head above the bath water. My waters then broke, I didn't realise but Jon called for the midwife and together they pulled me up and out of the bath- no mean feat hauling a big pregnant woman out of a deep bath!
I dressed in a gown and walked next door to the birth suite. The midwife (and a trainee midwife) said that they needed to examine me to check how dilated I was. They offered me gas to help me crawl onto the bed. At that point I was happy to accept anything if it would help with the pain.
I managed to lie down on the bed for the midwife to examine me. I was 9cms and my baby would be here in 15 minutes at this rate- there was NO time for an epidural. I went into shock! I couldn't quite grasp what had just been said, this was not my plan, I am not one of those women, I don't like pain and the most painful part was still ahead. I was adamant that I could not do this. But I couldn't argue, the labour had gone much faster than any of us had thought and there was no time for a doctor to come and give me an epidural. I sucked in that gas with all my strength and with every breath. Jon reassured me that I could do this, but his face also told me that he was just as scared.
The midwife asked if I wanted to get into the shower or change position to deliver but it had taken such a massive effort to just get onto the bed that I wasn't going to move again. I threw up again.
The next stage was like an out of body experience. The midwives instructed me about how to breath through the contractions and how to push. I actually didn't feel like I had complete control during this stage, it was like my brain and body instinctively knew what to do. I could 'see' in my mind our daughter coming out with each contraction. Inhaling the gas was more of a distraction during the pushing phase so I stopped it during the contractions. After 15 minutes of pushing, baby's head came out. Jon and a midwife propped me up so that I was able to see her. This gave me the motivation to meet my little girl. Ten minutes later, at 8.35pm, there she was. She was born with the cord wrapped around her neck twice but it was quickly loosened and she was given a little rub.
Michaela was placed on my chest and there she stayed for about an hour. We simply stared at one another and took in every little detail on her beautiful little face. A few photos were taken, she was weighed and measured and Jon rang both our parents. Michaela then went to Jon's chest while I was tended to by another nurse. Getting stitches was more painful than than the actual birth and I embraced the gas wholeheartedly at that time!
I showered and was wheeled to my room around 11.30pm. I said 'Good night' to Jon who then had to go home and I rang my parents. I didn't sleep that whole night, I couldn't, adrenaline, hormones and a lot of love for my gorgeous daughter meant that I just watched her all night.