I wrote this blog post and have since decided to re-write it, I relayed the story on YouTube in a more raw way (I ended up bawling my eyes out!!) however, I want to start seeing my labour and the birth of my little boy in a more positive light instead of allowing myself to be so haunted by it.
After what was in hindsight, a really healthy pregnancy and also giving birth to a gorgeous, healthy baby boy – something had to give right? My labour couldn’t be perfect.
My kitchen floor will never look the same…
We woke up as per usual on the 31st October. Rich got out of bed for a shower at 6:30am and I did my usual maternity leave routine of staying put. I suddenly heard a loud pop from my bump and thought “did my waters just break?” but as nothing else happened I brushed it off as the usual ‘clicking sounds’ I kept hearing from my bump during labour.
When Rich got out the shower I joked to him that I thought my waters had gone but that nothing happened and he told me to stand up and see if gravity helped… it didn’t. I then went downstairs to make his packed lunch (I was so domesticated you see) as I was preparing Rich’s soup (homemade leek and potato – it was amazing) there was suddenly a gush all over the floor. Had I just peed myself?
I shouted Rich down and asked him what it was – obviously what with him never being pregnant himself had no idea! But it kept happening. It was sure enough, my waters. Hurrah! I had really wanted my waters to break so that there would be a clear signal that I was in labour and Rich had really wanted them to go in some dramatic way, like all over the kitchen floor. We were happy!
I called the labour ward and was asked to pop it at 10am to have it confirmed – once we arrived they checked on the baby, confirmed my waters had gone and told me that if labour didn’t start on its own by 9am the following day then I would be induced.
Before going to the labour ward we were in really high spirits and some last minute nesting kicked in. He cleaned the kitchen and I hoovered out the car and installed the car seat. Baby boy was coming to his new home with it looking perfect!
Is this labour?
We drove home and had plans to walk into town to pick up a few bits for the hospital and get something to eat, but I kept soaking through my leggings and Rich refused to chance walking into town with a girl that looked like she’d wet herself. I wanted to go to Mothercare to let it happen there to test whether the “free toys” rumour was true – but he wasn’t sold on risking the car seats!
Pretty quickly I was having some niggling pains which were coming thick and fast, Rich ordered us a Domino’s pizza but I couldn’t finish it. I was having a cramping pain in my back and hips that made it hard to sit down so opted to have a bath where I might be more comfortable.
I spent 5 hours in the bath with my pains coming every 4 minutes. We were confused, my pains were bearable and not contractions as the pain wasn’t in the right place. However, the timing confused us so we decided to go to the hospital.
The first setback.
We went to the hospital at 6pm where I was told I was only 1cm dilated – no one could understand it… why was I having pain so frequently but was only 1cm? I should be having pains every 30 minutes, not 4!
The hospital was really kind and let us stay in a room, as nothing was going to happen fast my mum said she would come back in the morning and Rich and I were told to get some rest.
As my pains were in my back and hips I couldn’t sit or lie down without the pain becoming unbearable so once again I retired to the bath. Through the pains, I found myself just going into my own place, like a trance where all I would do is focus on my breathing, hours were passing but it just felt like 10 minutes to me.
At around 3am, Rich managed to get some sleep, this was important as he needed to be on the ball for labour. At around the same time, I finally started experiencing “proper contractions” they were agony! They felt like convulsions, like someone was really squeezing on my belly whilst punching me in the back at the same time. I remember jumping in and out of the bath, banging on the walls and throwing up, whilst trying not to wake him up. I assumed I was still only about 2cm dilated and I wanted to cry. I was barely hacking this pain – how would I manage as it got worse and how would I push this baby out? I thought I was strong, I thought I could do this and that I had a high pain threshold but I wanted to give up!
I woke Rich up and he was a hero for the next hour. He dragged a bean bag into the bathroom and between contractions he would nap. Every couple of minutes he would spring to life holding my hand and breathing me through the contractions. Midwives frustratingly kept coming in to remind me that my contractions weren’t close together enough for pain relief.
Rich eventually decided that bath was holding me back and told me to get out, he felt it was slowing things down. I wasn’t happy about this. In the bath, my contractions were more painful but they were further apart meaning I got some rest. Out of the bath, they were not as bad but they were relentless… as one tailed off another would start. He called the midwife and she was shocked. She examined me at 5am and I was 6cm dilated. She apologised… I should have had at least gas and air hours ago!
Gas and air is miracle stuff. People told me it just “takes the edge off” but for me, it pretty much made everything bearable! I loved it. If I’d had gas and air at 4cm when I should have, I may not have opted for my epidural but I was exhausted by this point and wanted rest.
Babies head had also got so low it was causing me problems and I kept getting a huge urge to push at 7cm dilated that I hated. I wanted the epidural. I wanted to be able to sleep.
Goodbye, birth plan.
I had always vouched I would try and avoid the epidural and I wanted a water birth. The pool was just opposite our room but that wasn’t motivation enough. I was exhausted… I needed a break after 21 hours of labour and no pain relief apart from paracetamol (nothing will piss you off more than being offered paracetamol during labour, however, you’ll take it)
Rich called my mum back at 6am, he needed back up and she did try and remind me of my birth plan but I was too far gone at this point. I was dilating quickly and it was now or never. If I didn’t have the epidural I would miss my window. By 8am the anaesthetist was here, who by the way was the nicest man ever!!
Epidural in. I have never wanted to praise something so much in my life. Seriously it was amazing. Within 20 minutes I was calm, relaxed and happy. I was able to lie down and rest and rebuild some strength for the main event. I text everyone “I’ve had the epidural – best. thing. ever” The midwives kept telling me how well I had done to get to 6cm with no pain relief but I still felt a little upset that I wasn’t handling the pain better. Richard, however, was great at reminding me not to be such a martyr.
The second setback
True to “epidural contraindications” my labour had ground to a halt. The epidural had stopped me dilating at 7cm and I now needed to be induced. We had some waiting around to do. This didn’t help my frustration, had I been able to hack it better then I would be pushing by now. However, I still stood by the epidural being necessary. Rest was key right now.
At 5pm I was told there was a problem with my cervix, there was a tiny fold that wouldn’t push back off babies head and also his head was starting to swell. A couple of doctors and midwives tried to push it back and in the end, at 7pm the call was made that we needed to start pushing.
My epidural had started to leak so the pain relief was wearing off, this helped as it meant I could feel the contractions and made pushing easier. I loved pushing. It came as a welcome relief, it was finally something to do that I had control over. I was given a 2-hour window to try and push the baby out before I would be re-examined. An hour and a half passed in what felt like 20 minutes but as soon as I knew we had hit 90 minutes, I just knew something wasn’t right. No one had said they could see his head or that things were progressing, people kept telling me how great I was doing but I wasn’t stupid… nothing was happening. The next 30 minutes felt pointless… I knew nothing was happening and I was just pushing for the sake of it, but I still gave it my all… maybe this baby just needed some help?
The final setback.
At 9pm the doctors came back and I was re-examined, the baby hadn’t moved. His head was on a funny angle and all I had achieved was a risk of damaging my cervix and the babies head was more swollen. It was a huge blow… 38 hours I had been in labour, 2 hours I had been pushing and nothing had happened. The doctor finally said it, my waters had been broken too long, the risk of infection was high and I needed a c-section. Tits!
My mum started crying which broke my heart, she was crying because she felt bad for me and I was upset as she had wanted to see her grandson be born and now she couldn’t.
They started to read me the consent form but I didn’t listen to a word, I didn’t want to know about how they could damage my bowels by accident a few minutes before I was due in surgery, I think I said something along the lines of “if you damage it, just repair it, it will be alright” and signed the form.
I literally didn’t care anymore, I was officially done in. Just get this baby out. My main concern was that they were going to give me new pain relief but as I knew my epidural was leaking, I was scared it wouldn’t work.
Rich was given his overalls, I was having my bikini line shaved and socks put on me… my big thing was to remain calm. I didn’t want to upset Rich or my mum. As they started to wheel me down I wasn’t sure what to do? I’ve never even been in hospital before pregnancy, let alone have surgery… do I say something to my mum just in case? It was a dramatic thought but something to consider surely? Deciding not to scare her any more than she probably already was I decided “I love you” was probably the most fitting.
Being taken into theatre was everything I imagined and had been warned about in other c-section labour and delivery stories, the bright lights and the huge amount of people. I couldn’t credit these people enough, though, they were so friendly and chatty, playing music and trying to keep the atmosphere calm… but I just didn’t care. I wanted it to be over with.
The anaesthetist was, again, amazing! They knew my concerns and kept checking I was numb in all the right places until I was comfortable enough for surgery to start.
The operation was as brutal as everyone describes… I hated it. There is something so harrowing about knowing how much your body is being pulled apart. I know it’s what they have to do and that’s fine… but it’s still very invasive to be a part of when awake. You can’t feel pain, but you can feel tugs and pulls and when you know it’s your internal organs… it’s not nice. They had also put up a blue screen but that got blood splattered all up it like in Hollywood slasher movie scenes so I just shut my eyes and tried to switch off.
The pain relief drugs had also made me uncontrollably shake, that with that exhaustion I was starting to go out of it again. I remember coming round to be asked if I wanted to look to which I was like “no bloody way” to which I then realised they were asking Rich! He jumped up and I am so glad he did as it’s quite nice to know what was going on now and to be able to ask him questions, but it’s also an odd thought that he has seen my internal organs…
At 10:21pm on the 1st November, we heard some crying. Thank god!
Where is my rush of love?
After a couple of minutes, they brought my baby over. I remember looking at him and thinking he looked like an angel. He was stunning and so pure looking. He looked nothing like I imagined, he was so much better. He was honestly perfect. It was a really odd moment though as I thought all that, but also had some detachment. I didn’t get my rush of love.
They put him on my chest, but also on my arm so I was kind of trapped and couldn’t take him in so asked to have Rich hold him instead as it was just stressful for me and for Rory.
Being put back together…
No one pre-warns you about being put back together… all of a sudden someone is putting pressure on my chest (I never did find out why) and my stomach is being kneaded like they’re making bread. Honestly, the huge hospital bed was shaking at the amount my stomach was being pushed on! Also, I am pretty sure I was starting to get sensation back as there was a certain part being stitched where I could feel something, not full pain as I think I would have passed out, but it was uncomfortable. Rich said it was all very brutal and horrible to watch so he ended up moving out of sight. I started to panic as well as I wanted to vomit but how the hell do you vomit on your back?
I was so fed up and wanted to sleep so that’s what I attempted to do. I was gutted. This wasn’t what was meant to happen and where was my rush of love still??
Finally, I have my beautiful boy.
I was wheeled back to the room, Rich walking behind with Rory. I was feeling pretty proud at this point, like “come see how bloody gorgeous this baby is” kind of proud.
Sure enough, my mum, who had brought my step-dad up for moral support, was in awe. She kept crying and babbling “he’s so pretty, sometimes babies are ugly, but he’s just so pretty”
I was offered skin to skin and the first part of our bond started happening. Rory was wailing but the second he was put on my chest… silence. It may have been a fluke, but I like to think he found comfort in his mummy.
He is truly stunning.
I was told when in recovery that I was going to be poorly, having my waters broken for so long meant that I had developed an infection and I had also lost a lot of blood in surgery and they were debating whether to give me a transfusion. I felt it to be honest. I also wanted to scratch my skin off as it was so itchy. A combination of all the drugs and about 20 hours in the bath! I was exhausted on a whole new level.
Everyone left and the midwife said Rory and I would stay in the recovery room until 2am, then they’d wheel me down to the ward. I remember she left Rory’s cot miles away from my bed so I called her back. I needed my boy close. That’s when I realised I may not have got my sudden rush of love, but I didn’t need it, we were mother and son. I had made him and carried him. I already loved him.
I tried to sleep, but every little sound my baby made my eyes shot open. “Was he still alive? Yep, he’s fine.”
At 2am I was taken to the ward, they gave me Rory to hold as they wheeled us down and I felt pride oozing from me. I held him like he was a bar of gold!
The recovery ward was amazing, they told me that I was to do nothing but rest and they would take care of Rory however, resting was hard. You share a ward with other babies who cry and as you don’t know your own babies cry yet, you are constantly listening out. Also, people come round almost every hour prodding you, checking your blood pressure etc.
At 5am I was woken up, I needed to get out of bed to reduce my risk of blood clots and was taken to see if I could pee (I couldn’t) when I got back Rory was awake and hungry, the midwife went to go and deal with him, but I had decided it was my turn. I was the only one who hadn’t fed my baby yet and I felt like I needed to do it for us.
Recovery and how do I feel now?
Not gonna lie I was on cloud nine the day after labour, I had been hit with euphoria and adrenaline. My labour wasn’t that bad right? However, as the pain relief started to wear off I started to realise what I was about to be faced with. By about 9:30pm, it hurt to shuffle around the hospital. My tummy muscles ached so badly. We were discharged at 11pm – in hindsight, I should have tried to stay in the hospital another night to give us all some rest.
The few days afterwards were hard. It hurt to sit on the sofa, I couldn’t use my stomach muscles to get up properly without it being agony. The hardest part was that I couldn’t even get out of bed to tend to Rory in his Moses basket. I felt so far away from myself and so redundant. I was really emotional about my whole labour for about 10 days and couldn’t even think about c-sections without bursting into tears. It was really hard. Before when I thought about c-sections I used to think you just had to worry about your scar but actually the pain of internal bruising from your organs being pulled and tugged is agony.
I also had queries post labour about my health which annoyed me as it meant additional hospital visits instead of relaxing with my new family. I’d had swelling in my legs which is normal post surgery, but as one was more swollen than the other I had to go to the hospital a couple of times for scans on my leg to make sure there were no blood clots. I also have anaemia from the blood loss and may still need a blood transfusion if my iron levels don’t increase soon.
I am now 18 days on and the pain isn’t as bad anymore, it just feels like I had a day at the gym. I am finally feeling more positive about my labour and although it wasn’t what I imagined, I would do it again in a heartbeat if it meant the safe delivery of my beautiful baby.