Our little man is snoozing next to me and while the memories are still fairly clear I thought I would share his birth story. I know this is a food blog but you lot followed my pregnancy I wanted to remember Ethan's birth and this is a perfect place to record it. It's a long one so you might was to grab a cuppa and a slice of cake while you read it...
His due date was the 28th February 2016 and even with Braxton Hicks coming and going in the week leading up to the 28th, the date itself passed without so much as a twinge. The following week I willed myself to wake up in pain every morning but nope, this little man was not for moving. I had a midwife appointment on the Thursday but she couldn’t do a stretch and sweep as the cervix was too far back. An induction was booked in for the following Thursday (the 10th) with my MW saying she didn’t hold out much hope that baby would arrive before then. The next day I was thoroughly fed up and Mr T suggested we go out for dinner as we knew it would be our last Friday night out for a long time. I’m so glad we did as it was nice to spend that time together as a couple yet knowing that within 7 days our lives were about to change dramatically…
The following morning I woke up pain free (again!) but when I went to the loo I thought things could maybe be about to happen (clearout ahem!) but still I wasn’t feeling anything so I put it down to baby pressing on everything. Around 9:30am I felt a twinge similar to the Braxton Hicks I had been getting and once again I ignored it. Over the course of the morning I made some Easter fudge and pottered about while noticing I was cramping every 45 minutes or so. We still needed to buy the baby monitor so I said to Mr T that we should take a walk down into the centre of Otley, go to Argos and see if the pains changed at all. In the past once I’ve left the house they have disappeared. By this point it was around lunchtime and during the walk there and back I seemed to get backache more than anything and we even had to stop to rest at a park bench on the way back yet still I thought it was only Braxton Hicks.
We got home, I baked a marble cake (that I never got to finish) and had a snooze on the sofa. When I woke the pains were now 20-30 minutes apart yet still I didn’t dare get my hopes up. I decided to cook us a carb heavy meal of spag bol and had a shower and straightened my hair. I figured if it was labour I would need the carbs for energy and I didn’t want crazy frizzy hair in my photos. I laugh as I look back on this but the things that go through your head at these times don’t always make sense.
We settled down to watch Saturday Night Takeaway and at this point I realised it was the real deal as contractions were now every 10 minutes apart. Oddly I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I ignored texts from friends and found myself getting into a “zone.” After a while I called the hospital and they said to call back if the pains got worse or if I had 3 in 10 minutes. I handed Mr T my phone and he timed them so I lost all concept of time. By midnight I was in agony and they were still 5 minutes apart so I called the hospital again to be told the same thing as before. By 3am things hadn’t got any worse or better although I had had a show but I was starting to fret as we live 20 minutes away from the hospital and I no longer felt safe at home. I wanted to be with the medical professionals where they could monitor me and baby.
I called the hospital again and they told me to come in. The car journey was awful as I continued to get contractions every 5 minutes and combining that with driving on country roads was not fun! We pulled into the carpark and as I walked to the entrance another contraction hit. I just held on to Mr T willing it to pass. When we got up to the labour ward I was examined and told I was 2cm dilated. Considering the Midwife on Thursday told me it was unlikely I would go before induction the following week I was really pleased.
Now for many women going into hospital can make labour slow down but for me the contractions ramped right up in intensity and were coming every 5 minutes or less. I was put in the active birth room and although it was too soon to use the pool they did have a great rope swing that I clung to as each contraction hit.
2 hours later they examined me again and I was still 2 cm and I felt like crying. I really thought we were going to have the baby by lunchtime but things were progressing so slowly. After a lot of deliberation Mr T persuaded me to accept the shot of diamorphine to give me some ease and hopefully some sleep but it didn’t really work. I was a bit groggy and spaced out but I still felt each contraction. It made me wobbly on my feet so I had to lie down but that made the pain of the contractions worse – a no win situation either way.
I was then moved onto a small ward as things were progressing too slowly and another lady needed the use of the pool. I found leaning over a chair helped as each contraction hit but at this point I had been up for over 24 hours and feeling shattered. I was desperate for more pain relief or to be examined but the midwives refused. They felt that too much interference would slow down the natural course of labour and looking back I can see why but at the time I just wanted the pain to go away.
Mr T ran me a bath around mid-morning but it really didn’t help. The hospital baths were tiny and the water wasn’t very hot either. I felt like I had gone back to primary school as an adult were everything was just too small – there’s me and my giant belly sat in the shallowest bath ever – not a good look haha!
Around midday the head midwife came to see me as she knew I was struggling and suggested I try out the birth pool as she could see I was exhausted. At that point I was debating what to do about pain relief as I had always wanted a natural birth but I was also worn out after being up for over 24 hours and the end was nowhere in sight.
I got in the pool and shortly after mum arrived to see how I was. Her and Dad had flown in that morning after I had text them last night to say I was in labour. The head midwife kindly agreed that mum could pop in for a little bit in the hope it would give me a boost. Mum stayed for an hour with me while I was in the pool while I deliberated on what to do about pain relief. I soon reached the point where the pool was doing nothing for me so the midwife agreed to examine me (it was around 3pm at this point) and we decided if I was less that 4cm I would have another shot of diamorphine but if I was past 4cm I would have an epidural. I could have kissed her when she said I was 4-5cm and at that point it was all systems go getting me ready to go into another room and organise the anesthetist. Around this point I lost my mucus plug and oh my, dealing with that took our relationship to a whole new level. I won’t go in to too much detail but I didn’t realise there was so much of it or how messy it was.
A little while later the midwife came back and told us a room was ready for me. I remember her laughing at how I said slippers (you English love to mock the Irish accent!) and I told her usually I yell at people who make fun of my accent but I would let her off as she was making the pain go away. I got in to the room I would give birth in and decided I needed to clean my teeth between contractions as I knew once I got the epidural I wouldn’t be able to leave the bed. It’s strange the things that go through your head but I felt the need to freshen up.
The anesthetist arrived and before she could administer the epidural she wanted me to read some legal jargon. I was in the throes of another contraction and told her just to give it to Mr T to read. She was insistent I read it but I was insistent he read it as I could barely function never mind process a page of information.
Eventually the epidural was administered and kicked in and I drifted off to sleep for a little while. The nap was much needed and I felt so much better when I woke up. I remember looking at the monitor and saying “I’m having contractions but I can’t feel a thing!” The midwife also commented on how chilled out baby was and that they wouldn’t have thought he was a baby in labour. I was examined again around 7pm and was delighted to hear I was at 7cm, suddenly things were progressing after such a long latent phase.
My waters still hadn’t gone at this point but the midwife kindly pointed them out to Mr T as they were bulging out (lovely eh?) and every time one of them walked past the bed they dashed past quite quickly incase my waters suddenly broke and went over them. They did break soon after and I felt like I had wet myself on the bed. They kept coming and coming, it felt like I had loads!
Time seemed to speed up and after a shift change before I knew it, it was 11:30pm and I was examined again to find out I was 10cm dilated woohoo! My memories are quite hazy around this point but suddenly the midwife told me it was time to start pushing. Most of this is a total blur but I remember listening to her and Mr T when I had to push. With the epidural I didn’t get that urge but it had worn off on my left hip which caused excruciating pain. I remember yelling that someone needed to chop my hip off. After an hour of pushing (it felt like a lot less time than that) the midwife said baby would be born within the next hour but in fact he was actually born 10 minutes later. That ring of fire as the head crowned was horrendous but next thing I knew baby was delivered onto my chest, the cord was left to stop pulsing then the placenta was delivered and Mr T cut the cord. The midwife commented on the health of the cord which we found baffling but supposedly it was perfect and they love to see cords like that.
Bubs latched on like a champ and fed for 15mins while the midwife checked me out. I had torn in two places so I needed to be stitched up but shortly after that it was discovered my uterus wasn’t contracting properly so the doctor had to come back and massage my belly while manually removing the clots. I was off my face on gas and air and don’t remember most of it so Mr T had to tell me about it after.
I was then hooked up to a drip for a few hours, left to snooze and Mr T was sent home for a few hours to get some sleep before I was transferred to the post-natal ward. The following day I was discharged and we headed home to begin our life as a family of 3.
It was such a long labour but it’s true what they say, you forget the pain (apart from the stitches!) once you have your baby in your arms. We are both in amazement that we created something so perfect and my body grew him for 9 months.