So this post had been a long time in the making - mostly its been in my thought process for the last ten months. But I feel like I'd like to share it and that some of you may relate to my experience.
Before we begin there are some things you need to understand about me. I may, or may not have, done some (or all) of the following:
a) Fainted during sex education in Year 6. Most of the other kids in the class thought I had either died or had a heart attack.
b) Passed out in my history classroom following the BCG injection, thus hitting my head on the radiator and making an embarrassing noise that was hard to live down for the rest of Year Nine.
c) Been sick at the side of the road in Harrogate on route to the hospital to have my blood test for the pregnancy. Harrogate is very posh and I got some funny looks at 8:30 a.m right next to the bus stop. I may have muttered, "I'm not drunk I'm pregnant!" That old chesnut!
So there is some background to my fear of needles and anything medical. My birth story may not be the perfect "Lazy Daisy", giving birth in the birth pool, you-can-do-it-drug-free type of story. I avoided going to any ante-natal classes as I was in denial, I avoided reading up on it and refused to join The Belgian in watching One Born Every Minute. I didn't want a birth plan as I knew how disappointed friends had been when things hadn't gone according to plan and I didn't want to put that pressure on myself. After all no-one can prepare you for it and you don't know how you will feel.
So July 10th was my due date. It was a sweltering heat wave of a week and to make matters worse our agency decided to get the painters in. So the Chuckle Brothers turn up every morning at the crack of dawn and laugh and joke loudly outside my window pretending to paint. Then, just as we buy outside furniture for the garden, they infiltrate this too and spend about three weeks painting the doors and window frames bottle green. Just what I needed when I wanted to relax.
Due date came and went without a twinge, the picture above shows how I spent my time preparing the nursery and all the toys. We were team yellow so I had kept it all a neutral yellow and grey with a zoo animal theme.
At my last midwife appointment there was still no sign and so she booked me in for an induction. I wasn't keen on this so asked if I could meet with a doctor at the hospital instead and have a consultation to discuss the different options.
However another stifling, hot weekend passed by and when you feel the size of a whale you have a desire to clothe it all in layers and chunky knits, but there is no hiding from your bulge in the summer and I was running out of cool and airy maternity wear. In fact I was resenting having to wear clothes at all.
But most of all I was running out of patience. So we phoned the hospital, on the Saturday, and they suggested that we come in for a 'sweep'. I wasn't thrilled about this, but wanted to feel as though we were doing something.
Four frustrating hours in what had to be the hottest room in the hospital and no sweep as I wasn't ready yet. Head wasn't engaged. This baby did not want to come out.
So back to the hospital on Monday, but this time I just wanted to be induced, it wasn't a decision that I came to lightly and my old housemate the Doctor and I had a long text conversation at midnight debating the pros and cons of induction. She made me aware that there was a higher chance of a difficult, more painful birth and/or c-section but that waiting another week increased my chances of a stillborn. I was not willing to risk this.
So Monday morning we roll up to the hospital and I am thinking I will just have this procedure and then go home and wait it out. I have the pessary and am very impressed that I don't cry and/or faint. They hook me up to the monitor and a few hours later I enquire when I can go home. The midwife gives me a bewildered look, "that's it you're here till the baby comes now."
Oh well thank-you for telling me. I think. I did have my hospital bag in the car, just in case, but I hadn't double checked it all and may have been lacking some of my creature comforts.
So we were stuck. Stranded in the waiting bay. We passed the time by playing Uno, Million Pound Drop on the Nexus and chatting to other expectant mothers. Also The Belgian tried to feel my pain...
Next day same again and still no change. My parents arrived laden with gossip mags and the hugest punnet of strawberries I have ever seen. We sat in the hospital gardens and chatted. If I hadn't been, y'know twelve days overdue and all, it would have been a very pleasant visit. The Belgian in-laws had been waiting in the wings at the local Marriot since the previous Friday and their ferry back was Wednesday 24th so the pressure was really mounting.
So Wednesday arrived, no miracles had happened overnight so they booked me in to have my waters broken at 2 p.m. To say that this was not a pleasant experience is somewhat an understatement. They clamped on the gas mask reassuring me that it would just feel like I've had a few glasses of wine. Not very reassuring when I am a teetotaler and as expected the gas and air did make me feel light hearted and dizzy. Not in a good way. I was hooked up to a hormone drip and so the journey began.
A journey that involved a further 14 hours of strong contractions. I was very proud that until about 11 p.m I was just using the gas and air. It soon became my friend and something to focus on with the counting. I also found pushing my feet against The Belgian's hands during contractions and wriggling round on the bed/chair a good way to distract myself.
I was hooked up to all sorts and it made me laugh thinking of all of the propogranda of active births. Fat chance with all of these drips. I was also being really sick and wishing I had forgone lunch.
There was a funny episode where I wanted my hair to be tied up out of my face. Well The Belgian really struggled to capture all my hair into the bobble and I was getting quite annoyed. The midwife offered to help but she had short, grey hair and confessed she was no expert at hairstyles. So between the two of them they just about managed a messy top knot and if you scroll down you will see the results of their 'styling.'
So because the fake contractions were coming on strong and very quickly i decided that i was probably going to need some pain relief. I asked the midwives to go through all of the options with me and so she explained the pros and cons of each one. I decided that the only one i wanted was one make me not feel contractions anymore and so i opted to have an epidural. Can you imagine? Me opting to have a huge needle injected in my back? Things must have been bad.
The anithatist arrived and I had to sit up very straight. I also had to sign a disclaimer with some pretty scary conditions and risks. I recall my signature was a random scribble. The Belgian helped me sit up straight and just as the needle was about to go in I had a big contraction. Scary.
I remember overhearing an American lady on OBEM describing the epidural as the 'cadaillac' of childbirth and I am inclined to agree. I told the midwife in a concerned tone, 'I'm not getting contractions anymore. They've stopped.' But apparently this was a good thing as it had kicked in!
So the next few hours were a blur. The room was blisteringly hot and I remember The Belgian stood at the window snaffling grapes in an attempt to cool down. (My grapes might I add - but I was too sick to eat.) He told me afterwards that they brought him a chair and told him to sleep, but he was too busy pacing the floor.
A few more hours shuffled on and every time they took me off the drip the contractions would stop. This was not going well. The Doctor kept on going through the next step, but it would always end with "and then we'll have to do a section." Like 'da, da, daaaa' when the baddie comes on at the panto, I half expected the nurses and midwives to start booing and hissing. It was definitely presented as the last resort and this scared me.
Tests were done to see if the baby was struggling which involved a needle scratching his poor little head and then testing his blood. Again take a moment to appreciate how brave I was considering I hate needles. Shudder. But you go into autopilot and you just have to allow them to do what they can to get the baby out safely. The second test came back that he was struggling and so at about 4 a.m they called it. Da, da, daa a section it was to be.
The midwife went through it all in step-by-step detail with us right down to where The Belgian would be standing and what he would be wearing. I got ANOTHER injection so that I would be awake, but wouldn't feel the pain. They described the sensation as if someone was doing the dishes in my belly. Because of course that is a sensation I am familiar with. I was trembling and convinced I would be sick again so was wheeled into theatre clutching a metal dish under my chin. It must have been a combination of adrenalin and nerves.
I remember thinking that the theatre lights were really bright and it reminded me of a Grey's Anatomy episode. We made small talk with them about possible names and decided that I wanted them to hold the baby over the screen to show me the sex when 'it' was born, rather than telling me. It was really quite quick, once they started, I barely felt anything but was aware that something was going on.
The Baby was out and there was no sound for what seemed like ages and I was freaking out thinking it had all been for nothing and then I heard a distant little mewing and let out a huge sigh of relief. He was hung over me and I saw his vitals and exclaimed, "its a boy!" Ever one for pointing out the obvious.
In retrospect I don't feel angry or bitter about the way things happened. I don't feel robbed of the chance to give birth naturally. He was the most perfect little baby I had ever seen with no scratches or mishaped head or signs of a 'struggle.' His skin was clean and soft. He had these big eyes that just stared at me. I was probably still quite 'out of it' and it did take me a while to recover and to really appreciate what had happened, rather than focus on what was happening to my body and how painful it all was.
I love my birth story and will always consider those midwives to be angels.
This is not my most flattering picture, but it reflects the experience I'd just been through and shows my perfect little baby.
Anyone have a similar experience to me?
Link me up to your birth stories as I love reading them.
And well done if you reached the end of this mammoth post!