This past week I’ve been feeling very nostalgic as this time last year I was anxiously awaiting any sign of labour. My due date was the 7th August, so with only 6 days to go I was aware that Babybear could decide to come at any time. I had my bag packed and in the boot of the car, and I didn’t venture anywhere without my pregnancy notes.
I had taken the decision not to go to any birthing classes, that does sound a tad silly to some I’m sure, but the reality is, I was scared. I had read so much online that I knew every little thing that could go wrong, but had found little of the positive stories I needed to hear, and ironically probably would have heard in the Birthing classes! I was also dreadfully scared of my recent diagnosis of having Group B Strep (read more Here) and all the complications that could come with having that. My husband was super supportive on the run up to the birth (and before that and since then) and made sure to put lots of time into helping round the house, choosing things for the baby, and making me feel really special. I just loved the surprise Picnic he took me on to Lough Fea one Sunday during those last few weeks, it was just what I needed to relax my mind. Gary was the pillar of strength I needed to keep me relaxed and happy, we always thought that Babybear was happiest when I was calm, happy and relaxed, so I made sure to not read anymore stressful posts online and to focus on meeting our little bundle of joy.
With just one week to go I started to get really swollen, I had swollen feet, hands, fingers… even my nose and face were swollen (lets not talk about the pregnancy beard!!!) not to mention my massive bump! I got so big I couldn’t drive anymore as I couldn’t reach the peddles due to my bump not fitting between me and the steering wheel! I didn’t mind any of that until the morning I woke up and realised my engagement ring and wedding ring were badly stuck on my finger! I cried as we tried everything to get them off. I was devastated to think they might have to be cut off my finger. I love my rings and what they symbolise and just felt so sad at the thought of them being broken! You’ll be glad to know that one morning I woke up and noticed that it was a wee bit colder than usual, I wasn’t just as swollen as I had been I popped the plug in the kitchen sink and put butter all over my hand and YAY! It came off! I wore a costume ring after this and hoped my wee wedding ring would fit again post birth.
In the last few days of pregnancy, we even ventured across the country to an event hosted by our friend Robert who was the Mayor of his area at the time. I just popped on a comfy dress and picked out a lovely pair of shoes, Gary came upstairs to check if I was OK and found me sitting on the floor surrounded by all my shoes, crying! Poor Gary panicked, thinking something had happened, but soon began to grin as I emotionally shared how upset I was that none of my shoes fitted me because of my swollen feet. He was a my ‘Knight in shining Armour’ as he helped me up off the floor (I’d sat down there not thinking of how to get Bump and I up) and drove me to the shop reassuring me it was OK to leave a little later than planned to get some wide fit shoes. I got a gorgeous pair..or three ( I was super worried my feet wouldn’t go back to normal size) and popped back into the car for our journey across the country, and yes! I made sure I had my hospital notes with me! It was a great evening and I am so glas we were able to attend with so many of our close friends on the cusp of us becoming parents. I remember meeting our friends Donna and Phillip (I’ve spoke about them before) and telling them about my wide fitting shoes! Donna was a few months less pregnant than me at the time, but it was just so nice to offload, knowing that she knew all the little difficulties and emotions you feel when you’re pregnant!
Fast forward 3 wee days and I just happened to have my final check up with the hospital on my due date, up until then, I had what the midwifes called ‘White-coat-itis‘. This was a funny term they used to describe my crazy blood pressure. Put simply, my pre-scan blood pressure check was always high, but post-scan, when they rechecked it would be completely normal. That morning after texting My Mummy and My Mummy in law that there were no signs of labour and I was feeling much the same, We went into my scan fully expecting my blood pressure to be high, what we didn’t expect was for them to check it after the scan and for it still to be high, so high in fact that my lovely consultant sat down with us and softly explained that she couldn’t think of any exercise she could partake in that would make her blood pressure as high as mine was. The consultant gave us three options, I could go home with medicine, go home without medicine and monitor my situation, or come for an induction. I quickly looked at Gary and said I would like to go for the induction, the consultant gave us a wee pamphlet outlining induction and gave us a time to come back into the hospital later that day.
We went home. I was nervous but excited too. My hospital bag had been packed a few weeks before (I promise I’ll write a wee piece on what to pack) but as I looked through it, I realised I hadn’t packed a lot of stuff I wanted to take, so I unpacked, set everything out and then went to the bathroom and vomited! I was just so nervous!!
After I had been sick, I calmly packed all the things I thought I’d need (toiletries, nighty, a wee handheld fan my friend Roslyn had bought) a few nightgowns, my hair dryer, and some baby boy and baby girl baby grows. We had decided not to find out the sex of our baby, and this is a decision that I am so so glad we came to. For us, it made the experience that bit more special, it was just the decision that suited us best. I also packed all the Breast feeding equipment I had bought as I had decided no matter how difficult it was, I would Breast feed exclusively, little did I know I would be in the really tiny category of women in the world who would go through labour but not produce any Colostrum or breast milk at all.. but that’s another blog post for another time! We met with our Mummy’s and had a wee bite to eat and headed to hospital to be induced.
I’m going to be completely honest now and tell you that I was so naive to what I was entering into. We had read the NHS information leaflet, but for some reason, I just hadn’t taken it all in and assumed that we would be leaving the hospital the next day with our wee baby. I had no idea that when I went into hospital on the Monday that I would be there until the Friday and that I would find the whole process of induction painful, and a wee bit embarrassing. In the Midwife led ward, they used Pessary Induction, and even though they advised it would be ‘slightly uncomfortable‘ I found it to be down right sore. Maybe that’s just me, but I tried my best to breathe through it and kept hoping for good news when they would come back an hour later to check if it had worked. The reality of a pessary induction, is that the pessary needs to be internally inserted, you then must lie still for a set time whilst it gets to work, after this I had to have an internal each time to check if I was any way dilated which I didn’t seem to be each time. I have no problems with medical professionals doing their job, and let’s be very honest, I chose this path for my birth story, but I just fully and wholly underestimated how the process and the pain would make me feel.
I was absolutely frustrated as I felt nothing was happening. I remember on the Wednesday night after the third attempt of the Pessary feeling really sore and sad, as I was on a shared ward and visiting hour had ended, my Husband had to go home, I was finding it difficult to sleep without him there to talk to and to hug into. I was really sad and was walking to the bathroom, when suddenly I felt a river of tears flow down my face. How is it possible to not even know you are about to start crying? Well I was definitely emotional, and had even irrationally felt a wee bit jealous at the 4 women who had come to the ward, had one pessary and their labours had started! I was walking.. no lets be honest, I was waddling to the bathroom, full of sadness when in walked my good friend Samantha, who works at the hospital. I can not tell you how much I needed to see someone who cared about me in that precise moment. It was like a ray of light at the end of a murky tunnel shining in at me. She straight away gave me a hug, helped me to bed and sat with me for as long as she was allowed. We hadn’t told many people I was in the Hospital but she had seen my name on the board and had a feeling she should come and see me. Honestly I am still so thankful for her friendship, soft nature, company and her female intuition being on top form that night. She really helped me push through my sad night on the ward.
On Thursday, we walked round and round the hospital, I bounced on the yoga ball, and rocked on the rocking chair, my poor husband had to join me on my hospital trek, as I was so determined to get things moving. I was so excited to find out I was a wee bit dilated and ready to go to the labour ward. I just had to wait! Thursday ended, I was feeling positive and gave my Husband a hug and kiss and sad night night as he left me at 10pm. I actually managed to get some sleep, and was surprised to be awoken at 5:15am by the younger midwife on the ward. I thought she was going to take my blood pressure (which, by the way, had been completely normal since I had been admitted on the Monday!) but she handed me a paper cup with tea in it, a paper bag with toast in it and softly told me to wake up as it was time to go the labour ward. She gave me 15 minutes to get ready. I packed my things, called my husband and told him to come in (again, naive with the timing) and managed to eat half of the toast and some of the tea. I waddled across to the labour ward and was met by a lovely Midwife who was playing Michael Buble on her CD player. She talked me through everything and explained she would be breaking my waters for me, which she did, and just a few moments later, my darling Husband arrived and I was just so happy to see him even though my waters were icky and I had what looked like puppy pads below me, around me and under my feet- it’s gory but it’s true!
My morning midwife left, and my daytime midwife arrived, she was young and friendly and administered my drip for the Group Strep B medicine, she was mid sentence telling me it might taste my mouth when the intense metal flavour hit me, I felt like me senses were attacked and I started to vomit…this resulted in an injection in my bum cheek that eased the sickness. I was sadly told I would not be allowed food for the day ( I LOVE food..and my instincts said I needed fuel to get through the day but I had to stick to the water as instructed!) The contractions started, and for the first while they were like period pains, and completely bearable.
I must admit that my day time midwife, despite being the loveliest girl did make me feel a teeny tiny bit uneasy when she was making conversation and told me ‘I always wanted to be a Geography teacher’…eh?! you wanted to be a what?! I know, that’s hyocritical of me bearing in mind I was a Secondary School teacher and now I manage a Purchase Ledger! However, her next line through me completely for a few minutes…I kid you not.. I had no gas and air and this point, and my Husband can fully testify, she said ‘I’ve just returned from 3 weeks off, and it’s funny the things you forget!’ …what things?!?!
Fast forward ten hours, and my birth plan was out the window, I had dreamily planned for an all natural birth with no pain relief if I could. I have no regrets whatsoever, I had a wonderful gynecologist (read how I ran into him 10 months later here) and 10 hours later I had realised the capacity of my pain threshold and I had gas and air and an epidural that didn’t work, so was getting prepped for my second epidural and, thankfully, my first morning time midwife was back! Even though I was pretty out of it, I managed to tell her that it was like an angel walking into the room. I was so glad to see her and had full faith that she was going to bring our wee baby into the world. Trust is everything, plus she was strict when she needed to be, but more in a Mummy way, she still rubbed my hair and back and held my hand when I needed her, she was tremendous!
I remember going through a faze during the end stages of my labour where I felt really out of it. I just felt like I was slipping in and out of the room. I’m not sure if I was in some sort of sleepy state or if I was going through something medically, but I was struggling to stay focused. I remember catching Gary’s eye and mouthing ‘I can’t do this’. I of course could but I just had so little energy in that moment I had no idea where I was going to go from there. I loved my baby so much and they hadn’t even been born yet, but I genuinely would have opted for a c-section in that micro moment if someone had have asked me at that precise time. During the next while, I must have had a wee sleep- that sounds strange, I’m in labour, but I’m sleeping, but it was much needed as when I awoke, I started to feel a real surge of energy from within. I remember most of my pain was in my lower back, I also acutely remember getting the urge to puuuuusssh. The room was a wee bit dark, and I was pushing for a good while, not really thinking about what I was doing. The Midwife came in and cheerily said ‘Right Julie! I think if we put our mind to it, we could have a baby within the hour!’ I shook my head and pointed downwards, the Midwife told me to let her have a wee look and then she ran in a panic induced state, pressed a button on the wall, turned on the lights, and said ‘OK, I said an hour but I think it will be 10 minutes!’. I hadn’t meant to push so much that my baby was nearly out, but my body had told me to do so, the next 10 minutes went by in a blur, the Sister on the ward came in and I remember feeling like a horse in a race as she slapped her hand off her thigh and kept repeating ‘keep pushing, keep pushing, keep pushing’ in a steady pace, helping me to bring my wee baby to the world. I did just that and stopped only once for a big breath of air, I was quiet and determined and I’m sure I must have almost broke Gary’s hand, especially when I was birthing the head…boy did it burn!! Ouch! After 10 minutes of pushing, and 18 and a half hours of labour our wee baby popped our into the world and let out the most beautiful wee cry we have ever heard. It’s a Boy! The midwife proclaimed, we were just so happy, and he was literally the most perfect and beautiful wee baby we had ever seen. Gary surprised us both and cut the cord, and our wee Prince weighed in at 7 pounds and 10 ounces. We called him David Samuel without hesitation and we both felt the intense love you feel for your child, and finally understood how much our parents loved us. I remember singing to him and his wee eyes meeting mine, I continue to feel an amazing bond with my wee boy everyday, and feel surprised at how much love can grow day to day for your baby and your husband, despite the tiredness and the newness of everything! It was all so worth it. I had to have stitches for a 3rd degree tear, I also hemorrhaged relatively badly after I birthed the placenta, it’s all a bit of a blur, I remember a large team running in, feeling really funny and then coming back round again, I am so so so thankful for our NHS Staff, they are amazing, truly amazing. After all that, the amazing midwife came in, gave me tea and toast, and I can honestly say, that toast was the nicest thing ever! And just like that we were parents to the most beautiful, amazing and healthy wee boy, worth all the swelling and pain, I would literally give my life for him I love him that much, and I know his wee Daddy feels the same.