My Fiances Birth Story
As my pregnancy drew to an end and D-day quickly approached, I found my original excitement and anticipation being quickly replaced by impatient discomfort and an exasperated belief that my baby was NEVER going to arrive. As the ladies from my antenatal class begun to have babies left right and centre, my frustration drove me to practise whatever old wives tales I could find in order to ‘encourage’ my baby to make an appearance. Pineapples, curries and raspberry leaf tea became the staples of my already questionable diet- and many an hour was spend bouncing relentlessly on my birthing ball or attempting to pull my swollen feet up and down sets of stairs in the vain hope that somehow, my baby would give up his favourite pastime of bouncing his head on my bladder whilst simultaneously kicking me in the ribs, and finally make his appearance into the world.
The day before my due date, I had my weekly appointment with the midwife and begged her to give me a stretch and sweep. Whilst she wasn’t keen, my desperation clearly worked and she agreed to see if I was favourable. I was absolutely delighted to learn that I was already 1cm dilated and 50% effaced- this baby WOULD be making an appearance- and soon! However my original excitement was to be short-lived as my body decided to draw out the process of labour as painstakingly slow as possible- or so it seemed to me at the time. Cramping pains and general discomfort kept me on edge all day while my nesting instinct took over in a comic fashion. A bemused Matthew sensibly bit his lip as I insisted that we clean out the car, NOW, including hoovering the inside and washing it completely (Well, I wouldn’t want my baby being brought home in a dirty car...) but even he struggled to understand why I felt it imperative to wash the yard walls with an old broom and soapy water. Actually, upon reflection, neither do I.
As night descended, my attempts at controlling my excitement failed miserably as mild contractions kept me awake for the duration of the night- rest appeared to be almost impossible and yet the pain was frustratingly bearable. Clearly my body just didn’t share my sense of urgency- why couldn’t my baby just hurry up and arrive?! When morning finally arrived, I managed to squeeze in just three hours sleep. The exhaustion was beginning to take its toll- but surely, surely today would be the day?But no. The day turned into night and I was disappointed and frustrated once more- all this build up and excitement, and still no baby. Already tired of the endless run of “Have you had the baby yet?” text messages, I simply lay on the bed, wishing and praying for sleep. Unfortunately though, my baby appeared to have other ideas as at last my contractions begun to gather strength and momentum. At 3am I woke Matt and we begun to time them as I attached my TENS machine and bounced relentlessly on my birthing ball. Once we figured they were coming every three minutes and lasting around 45seconds, Matt called the MLU and at 5.30am, we left to make the 40 minute trip to hospital. Although I was in pain, the TENS machine was brilliant at letting me stay in control and the journey passed fairly easily, although I was panicing slightly that perhaps we’d left home too early- I dreaded being examined and told, “I’m sorry, but you’re only 2cm dilated... go home and wait!”
Walking through the entrance at the hospital I found my heart pounding and excitement increasing as ironically my contractions began to dwindle. Shown to a private room I continued to work through the contractions with the aid of my trustworthy TENS and birthing ball, but as the Midwives respected my wishes to keep internal examinations to a minimum and I was left in peace, I begun to lose heart. Three hours passed with little or no progress- two nights without sleep had left me exhausted and I was convinced I wouldn’t have the energy, stamina or strength to see the labour through. As a tired Matt dozed on my bed (!!) I begun to feel isolated and defeated. My contractions reacted accordingly and dwindled into almost nothing, and attempts at dozing inbetween contractions only made me feel more tired still. Note to self- do NOT let Matt sleep during the next one under ANY circumstances. If I’m going to suffer, he most definitely should too!
As soon as Matt awoke and begun to show support once more, I
regained confidence and my contractions picked up once again. I was astounded
at how great an influence my mental state could have on my body and promised
myself I would try to remain proactive and ‘help’ my body any way I could. As it approached midday I begun to feel like
I wanted something- anything!- to happen, and when the midwife asked if perhaps
I might want to try another form of pain relief, I pushed for the birthing pool
and some gas and air. She also agreed to examine me before entering the pool,
and I had my fingers desperately crossed that I would be at least 4cm- please
let there be some progress!! To my dismay, I was 3cm. However, the midwife was
fine with me entering the pool, and within half an hour they’d filled it up and
prepared the room for me.
As I sunk into the pool I felt instant relief. The pool was clover-shaped with built-in groves to rest upon and the room boasted lowered lighting and a significant lack of excessive medical equipment, changing the atmosphere entirely to one in which I finally felt comfortable and relaxed. I was disappointed at having to bid farewell to my TENS machine but as the warm water offered support and the freedom for me to adopt all manner of ungainly positions, it seemed a small sacrifice to make. Add the gas and air to the equation- what beautiful, beautiful stuff- and the pain seemed far more manageable and the estimated time left (seven hours!!!!!!) seemed, well, not great, but do-able. Staff changeover occurred at this time too and I was blessed with a truly wonderful midwife who was to stay with me until the bitter end.
The next few hours passed in a slight blur. I was kneeling on all fours during contractions and sucking on the gas and air for dear life, grateful that sucking on that tube meant I couldn’t scream as loud as I felt I wanted to. Whilst I had left my dignity at the door of the hospital and felt no shame in bearing all to anyone who happened to walk into the room, horror stories I’d been told previously had me more worried about the possibility of talking mindless gibberish or even abusing Matt and the staff whilst high off the gas and air and as such, I remained notably quiet. The midwives merely monitored the baby’s heartbeat at regular intervals and let me labour at my own pace with no intervention- just as I wanted.
At some point contractions begun to pile on top of each other, every minute, lasting at least 60-90seconds. I begun to feel tired and desperate as I looked up at the clock and remembered being told that if I dilated at the average of 1cm an hour, I was looking at another four to five hours of this. I started begging Matt to make it stop- as if he held some kind of magical cure that would suddenly get this baby out!!- and no matter how I positioned myself in the pool I couldn’t get any relief. The gas and air didn’t seem to be working- I was desperate- I started to think I would have to bid farewell to my water birth and beg for some more pain relief, anything to make this stop. It was at this rather unfortunate (!!!!) stage that the canister of gas and air ran out. Without the gas to take the edge off the pain became absolutely intolerable and I quickly sunk into banshee mode, forgetting my previous worries and screaming and crying hysterically. My poor midwife was on and off the phone frantically trying to track down another canister- “It’s on its way, I promise, it’s on its way!”- and Matt was helplessly trying to console me as I became more and more frantic. This was undoubtedly my low point but once that gas and air had finally arrived, I snatched at it frantically as if my life depended upon it- what bliss, perfect bliss. Perhaps it was the period I’d been forced to cope without it that made me truly appreciate its value and I realised that actually, it did give me relief, and maybe-just maybe- I could do this. At this time the midwife also began asking if I felt any need to push, as it was clear that the contractions were almost continuous and I would be lucky to get even 20 seconds of relief between them. But no- nothing. Clearly my baby was just too comfortable in there.
Not long after this, however, something strange came over me. I remembered at the back of my mind someone describing a ‘rest and be thankful’ period during labour, and that’s exactly how I felt. My mind went much clearer- I felt calm and in control, was even able to talk to the midwives and Matt again, and the gap between contractions became longer and I relished it. My body was gearing up for the big event and I started to feel more confident in what I could do . I could-and would!- have this baby. The midwife, on the other hand, was growing slightly concerned that things had appeared to slow down, and persisted in repeatedly asking me if I was sure I didn’t feel any pushing sensations- “Are you absolutely sure, you’re not just afraid? You honestly don’t feel anything?” I shook my head as I sucked on the gas and air, wondering why I wasn’t more worried. I think by that point, I was past the point of panic!
Suddenly, I felt something ‘drop’. This was it. My baby was coming- actually arriving. The contractions begun to pile upon each other once more and intensify till I felt sure I was falling apart. My fear and panic came rushing back and I felt petrified. I didn’t want to push- I was expecting this agonizing pain and I couldn’t get a hold on my emotions, and clung onto Matt as I cried in desperation, “I can’t do it, Matt, I just can’t!” The volume steadily increased- those poor women just arriving onto the Maternity Led Unit must have been quivering in their fluffy slippers at the sound of my blood-curdling screams- and my continuous desperate sucking on the gas and air had my head spinning out of control.
My midwife was fantastic at regaining control of the situation. Firmly reassuring me that actually yes, I could do this and removing the gas and air from my vice-like grip, she had a hugely calming effect. I suddenly knew I had to take control and add something to what those contractions were already doing- I had to push.
According to my notes, the second stage only lasted 5 minutes (!) but looking back now, and remembering every tiny detail, it seemed to take hours. I can recall every sensation of his head coming down, knowing that with this next contraction, he would be out- hearing the midwife tell me not to put my energy into screaming but into pushing, unable to suck on the gas and air as I threw every effort into the task at hand. Pushing with great effort and mentally telling myself over and over ‘you can do this, you CAN do this’, I felt the head suddenly drop out... and just moments later, a second contraction pushed the rest of his body out and the midwife reached down to pull him up onto my chest. That moment, of having him placed into my arms, was just absolutely incredible- pure elation and ecstasy! I felt so overwhelmed, so proud, absolutely buzzing with adrenaline and this rush of pure love for this tiny, tiny being in my arms. He was blue and limp to begin with, and very quiet, and therefore needed some help to ‘wake up’- the midwives had the cord presented to Matt, which he cut, and then rubbed him with a towel and flicked him with water until he gave an almighty gasp and begun to open his lungs and make his first cries. Was I crying or laughing? I can’t even remember- just holding him to my chest and saying to Matt over and over- ‘Look, Matt... he’s perfect, he’s just so perfect’.
I had done it- and my
beautiful water baby, Theo Lewis, was born at 4.55pm on 13th August
2008, weighing just 6lb10oz.
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