As my due date of my second baby is fast approaching, this has led me to think back (all 14 months ago! Lol) and reflect on Hayden’s birth story, so I thought I would share it with you. Some of my memories about the birth are pretty hazy still so there may be some gaps.. it’s quite a long one… you may want to grab a cup of tea..
When I was 38 weeks pregnant with Hayden at a routine midwife appointment I was found to have glucose in my urine, and so they sent me for a repeat diabetes in pregnancy test, which unfortunately this time came back as positive. I was referred to see the diabetic team and obstetric team at the hospital because of this. They decided that as it was such a late diagnosis, probably the only thing that was needed was to not allow me to go overdue, and hence booked me for an induction date the day before my due date. Whilst at this appointment, and as I was almost 39 weeks, they examined me and found I was 2cm dilated and hoped that perhaps I would go into labour naturally prior to my induction date. To help this along, they recommended a stretch and sweep procedure that day!
I was taken aback as I hadn’t really expected all this to be happening that day and I was on my own, but hey I thought if they recommend it and if it means I may avoid induction, then great. Well, those of you who have had the “pleasure” of a stretch and sweep will know that it is hideous, the midwife said it would just be a bit uncomfortable!! UNCOMFORTABLE! That was the understatement of the century. Admittedly I think she was particularly vigorous at performing this procedure but they only thing I could liken it to is I imagine what being fisted feels like, I felt quite violated if I’m honest.
Anyway needless to say, this stretch and sweep, nor the following 2 I had during the next week resulted in labour starting. On the morning of my planned induction, I felt nervous but mostly just excited to be finally meeting my baby! I rang the hospital in the morning as instructed and was informed that I was on the waiting list due to delivery suite being very busy and may or may not get induced that day. Despite this Mike and I remained optimistic, and tried to keep ourselves busy during the morning waiting for a call. Perhaps too optimistically we decided to drive to the hospital around lunchtime as we knew parking could take a long time, and that way we would be there when they rang. But they didn’t ring, and after waiting in the car for 30 minutes, I rang them and was told that no I would not be getting induced today and to ring again tomorrow. I felt completely deflated and gutted, and spent the rest of the day sulking on the sofa, watching tv and gorging on cheese! (Well it was almost Christmas after all!)
Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not particularly good at adapting to my plans being changed. So the next day I was making a conscious effort to assume that the induction would be delayed again after I was given they same message in the morning, the were very busy and would ring me if there was a slot. This was to try to not get so disappointed again, I even went so far as to start making mince pies from scratch to keep me busy. Typically, halfway through my mince pie batches, the hospital rang telling me they had a slot and to make my way to delivery suite. Which we did, but only after I’d finished my mince pies!
On arrival to the delivery suite, the midwife examined me and found that I was 3cm dilated with quite a favourable cervix, so they could have gone straight to breaking my waters but Hayden’s head was still quite high and they were concerned about cord prolapse, so opted to give me a pessary instead to try to get things moving. After this I was taken up to the ward to wait… Mike and I decided to kill some time by going out to a local cafe for lunch which was quite surreal but nice. On returning to the ward, nothing seemed to be happening and we were both pretty bored, killing time reading magazines etc.
A couple of hours later, I started to feel familiar period like pains in my abdomen along with the need to open my bowels, a lot! The pains/contractions steadily became worse, as did my need to be on the toilet, poor Mike barely saw me for an hour or so I was back and forth so frequently! The only advantage to this being that later on when pushing I didn’t poo myself! During these frequent toilet trips unfortunately my pessary fell out in the toilet! Oops! The midwife put a new pessary in and examined me at this point, but I was only 4-5cm dilated.
I have never been someone who is good with pain, and both my mum and Mike had previously being concerned about how I would cope in childbirth (thanks guys! 😉) so I wasn’t feeling particularly confident about it myself. I had some paracetamol and codeine tablets quite early on, which I don’t think made much difference to the pain. I was recommended the use of a tens machine for pain relief and we had purchased one to use. I think having the tens machine was great especially during the first stages of pain relief, I think partly it helps by giving you something to focus on and an illusion of having some control by gradually increasing the levels and pressing the boost button during a contraction. When I asked Mike about how the birth experience was for him, he said a lot of his memories involved me shouting “BOOST, BOOST” for him to press when I was having a contraction.
After some time, I have no idea how long, I was no longer coping with the pain despite using my ball and tens machine. At this point the midwife decided it was time for me to go down to delivery suite. I hobbled down to the delivery suite which Mike trailing behind like a packhorse with enough stuff for a year! On arrival on delivery suite, I was told that I wouldn’t be allowed into the birthing pool as I would need to monitored continually due to the diabetes protocol. This was really disappointing as I had not known beforehand and had always planned to try to go in the pool. As a compromise they did use the wireless monitoring machine so at least I could still sit on my ball and move about, keeping active.
Now I was on the delivery suite, I got to have some gas and air. It’s great stuff! It really is, helped to really take the edge of the contractions. Mike even enjoyed some too when the midwife wasn’t looking! Top tip for using gas and air is to not use it between contractions so that it remains effective pain relief when you need it the most! I did become quite attached to the gas and air as perfectly illustrated later on when my mum and mother in law came. My mum accidentally disconnected the tubing for the gas when passing it to me! I became a bit crazed in my response shouting like a woman possessed for her to reconnect it now!! My poor mum was frantic and fumbled trying to sort it out quickly enough (sorry mum!)
The next few hours were a bit of a blur to me but I do remember a few things including listening to Christmas music on the Sonos speaker that Mike brought with him and us both singing to “fairytale of New York” loudly and most likely out of tune! The midwife must have thought we were a bit nuts as we recited “you scumbag, you maggot etc”.
The pain ramped up a level again with the gas and air no longer cutting it, so I opted to have a diamorphine injection. At this point my waters still hadn’t broken and the midwife was considering breaking them herself. In the end this wasn’t needed. After having the diamorphine, I felt really sick, stood up from the ball and proceeded to simultaneously projectile vomit all over the room and my waters break all over the floor! Mike looked completely horrified at this point, and said it was like something out of the exorcist!
The diamorphine as it turned out was great! I thoroughly recommend it! For a short time at least I was pretty much pain-free and in quite a drunk like/high state. Mike thought I was hilarious and I made several phone calls at this point including to my mother in law and mum stating I really loved them and could they come and see me. It was 4am at this point. And they both live an hour and a half away. But come and see me they did! (That’s love!)
At some point another couple of hours later I was deemed fully dilated and ready to push!! The intense feeling you have to push is unlike anything I had experienced before and your body just takes over. You really do feel like you are about to have the biggest poo of your life!! And that your body may just tear in two in the process! I was on all fours at this point clinging onto the back of the bed. The midwife was telling me to stop pushing and pant at one point, but I had no control over my body I felt and I just kept pushing. The next minute Hayden was born, his head and body pretty much all at once, all very quickly in the end. I went to collapse back with relief and exhaustion, and almost sat on him!
The relief I felt at having done it washed over me, he was here and he was ok. They placed me on my chest skin to skin with a towel loosely draped over him and a make shift baby hat made from tubey-grip. I looked over at Mike who was mirroring my expression of relief, awe and wonderment that we had indeed made this little being and here he was! I did think that we would both cry at the birth, both of us being quite emotional people (mike sobbed in the cinema at the beginning of Finding Nemo when the mum died!). But neither of us cried (I more than made up for it in the days following mind!), I think we were too tired/in shock/dehydrated to cry at this point.
Whilst I lay there cradling my newborn baby, I barely noticed what was going on ‘down there’. At some point I delivered my placenta and was then vaguely aware of a distant burning/sore type pain. The midwife examined me and said that I likely had a third degree tear due to Hayden coming so quickly in the end and that I would need to go to theatre for it to be repaired. Just a word of warning for any mums to be, another thing that midwives conveniently forget to mention about giving birth is the need to examine you both vaginally and up the bum after delivery! (In order to assess any damage) Having never had an operation in my life, you’d think I would have been fairly freaked out my this, but I guess I was still in a bit of daze and just said yes ok.
Within the next 30 minutes I was taken round to the operating theatre and mike left with Hayden. I was given a spinal anaesthetic so I couldn’t feel any pain below my waist and a catheter inserted. My legs were placed up in stirrups akimbo and the consultant sat between them stitching me back together again. I should have been mortified at this situation especially as it was a consultant I had worked with previously but I wasn’t. I was too exhausted to care and actually fell asleep during the hour it took to repair.
In recovery, Mike and Hayden came in and I attempted to breastfeed Hayden for the first time, which proved quite difficult to begin with. I think Mike had been getting a bit worried about me as I had been in theatre for over an hour, bless him. The rest of the day passed in a bit of blur on the delivery suite, later being moved upstairs to the postnatal ward.
The first night after Hayden was born was quite surreal. We were in a room with 3 other mums and babies, Mike was allowed to stay but had to sleep in the chair next to the bed. I vividly remembering laying awake in bed with mike on one side of me snoring and Hayden on the other side in his little plastic cot, staying as still as could desperate not to wake either of them. I remember thinking ‘what now? How do I look after this little newborn? How will I know when he’s hungry or in pain?’ Along with the general noise of the ward and other babies crying, I didn’t get much sleep, not surprisingly.
Luckily the next morning we were moved into a private cubicle (perk of working in the NHS I guess, one of the few!). This gave us some privacy and quiet to take turns in getting some sleep. Several family members came to visit us and brought some lovely presents. I was kept in for a couple of days due to losing 1.5 litres of blood from the tear (I may have forgotten to mention that before!), so in the end I had a 3 unit blood transfusion before being discharged.
When we were discharged, we carefully dressed Hayden in the Stars Wars R2-D2 outfit that Mike had picked especially and placed him in the car seat (he looked so small!). Mike loaded up the car with a mountain of stuff, a combination of the hospitals bags/balls and presents/balloons. It was pouring down with rain when we left (no surprise in the West Country!) and I sat in the back of car in the middle next to Hayden whilst Mike drove incredibly slowly Home.
Home to our new little family of three!