…our beautiful boy, who arrived on Friday 3rd July.
The labour started spontaneously. I’m not sure if it was the second session of acupuncture I had three days before, or the dreaded sweep the day after that, the crazy stormy weather, or a combination of it all. If nothing else I know that my last couple of acupuncture appointments put me into a relaxed and calm state of mind during those last few days of being overdue. I’m a huge believer in needle power.
By lunchtime on Thursday I had tightening pains, which were definitely stronger than the Braxton Hicks I’d had for the past 8-10 weeks. I carried on as normal. I had an eyebrow wax arranged for the afternoon. I wasn’t about to risk going into labour with rubbish brows. By evening the pains were definitely getting more intense and then some sort of pre-labour adrenalin kicked in, I didn’t feel tired and had a sudden urge to do some frantic last minute nesting and tidy the house. Around midnight I accepted that perhaps some sleep might be a good idea. The pains had eased so I convinced myself it was probably a false alarm anyway.
It wasn’t. I was woken up at 3.30am Friday morning with contractions that were five minutes apart lasting about 30 seconds. I hung on for, erm, all of half an hour before waking the husband to get him to help me set up my tens machine. Which I found really helped, even if it just gave me something else to focus on during contractions. E woke up about 6am and was bewildered by the sight of mummy’s pacing and teeth-gritting antics. I will always remember her saying, “no more babies after this one mummy. I don’t like seeing you in pain”.
My mum came down to offer moral support and distract the little lady. At 8am I rang the hospital once my contractions were at least three minutes apart and they said to come in asap. I appreciate that a car journey while in labour is never fun, but timing it to coincide perfectly with commuter traffic is not an experience I wish to repeat.
On arrival I was gutted to be told I was only three cm dilated! The lovely midwives wanted to admit me but the bloody ward matron vetoed that idea as I wasn’t technically in ‘active labour’ (which starts at four cm). I had three choices – go home (repeat that journey – er no thanks), be admitted on to a busy ward (didn’t fancy writhing in pain with an audience – so, er, no thanks again) or we could go for a drive, not far, and come back if I felt worse. We opted for the third option.
Husband suggested going to the Waitrose around the corner to get a coffee. I waited in the car for what felt like the longest ten minutes of my life, during which I almost lost my marbles. The sun was beating through the windscreen, my contractions were getting more intense and all I could do was hallucinate about what freebies we might get from Waitrose if I actually gave birth in one of their car parks. I couldn’t bear it inside the car anymore so leant on the outside calling the matron every name under the sun. A woman sat in her car kept shooting me nervous looks. J returned and we were back at the hospital within five minutes.
We’d only been gone for 45 minutes max and I was four cm. What a difference a centimetre makes – I was admitted straight away. I asked for the birthing pool room although didn’t use it in the end because I stuck with the tens machine – they don’t exactly mix.
The next few hours are hazy. I made it until about 3.30pm with gas and air and the tens. The only (marginally) comfortable position was sat bolt upright on the edge of the bed, gas in one hand and tens in the other. I ate something (macaroni cheese maybe?) for lunch. The room was warm and I was knackered – between every contraction I’d nod off and either Jim or a midwife had to catch me before I’d faceplant the floor.
They moved me to a different cooler room. 12 hours in and I was still only 5-6cm dilated. Baby was back-to-back and it was clear that things were not progressing. This was history repeating what happened with my first labour. I know my limit so when the magic word ‘epidural’ was mentioned I didn’t need much convincing. I was physically and emotionally done. Ready to embrace ALL THE DRUGS. They appeased me with some diamorphine before the anaesthetist arrived like a blue-gowned angel.
I had an epidural the first time and have no issues with accepting pain relief. Both of my babies have been back-to-back resulting in slow and painful labours. For me, the epidural is a complete game-changer, both time within 20 minutes I was sat up in bed drinking tea and munching toast.
Fast forward to 8pm and the midwives were changing shifts. I knew one of my friends, a midwife, was coming in to do her night shift. Although we didn’t know each other back then, she delivered my daughter five years ago and we’ve become good friends since. We’d been joking that she might end up delivering this one so the timing was perfect. E’s birth had been pretty traumatic as she was stuck on her way out with shoulder dystocia. With a slight risk of it happening again, I was obviously nervous, but having my friend deliver again made a huge difference to my state of mind.
After the epidural things still didn’t progress very quickly. They’d had to break my waters after the epidural kicked in and there was some meconium present which can be a sign of baby getting distressed. Possibility of a c-section was mentioned. Baby was stuck behind a tiny bit of cervix and I still wasn’t fully dilated. Without going into gory details my friend applied some amazing midwifery magic and got me to the magic 10cm. She put a monitoring clip on baby’s head to keep a better eye on the heart rate. The idea was to get some kip and regain some energy… However, the heart rate was slowing slightly and because of the meconium issue suddenly it was all systems go.
I started pushing at 10.10pm. Our boy entered this world at 10.34pm weighing 8lb 4oz. I’m pretty chuffed with my pushing effort considering that part took three times as long last time.
The husband had tears in his eyes as he told me we had a boy. A BOY?! I thought as he was lifted towards me. Then he pooed all over me. Yep, definitely a boy.
Jim was able to cut the cord, which was really special as it’s something he missed out on with E due to her shoulder dystocia.
As I held him skin-to-skin for that first time I will never forget him looking up towards me and his beautiful big dark blue eyes staring at me.
From that very moment I was smitten.