Ellie’s Mumma Says…
When people know you are pregnant, everyone wants to share their birth stories with you. Why? Some people really shouldn’t. I heard an array of stories- “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly!” As a first time mum, I didn’t want to hear them but I found myself drawn to the TV show “One Born Every Minute.” My husband had had enough after a few episodes but I was strangely hooked. I think watching “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly!” for myself helped me to prepare for different scenarios. I could see for myself that each woman laboured differently and that I would just have to write my own story and take my labour as it happened. In the end I feel I had a near-perfect birth and I am happy to share my story with anyone who wants to hear it, including you guys!
My birth plan ended up being quite simple. I wanted:
- To give the birthing pool a try if it was available
- My husband to cut the cord
- My husband to announce the sex of our baby
In my head I had planned to avoid an epidural. I wanted to start on gas and air, progress to Pethidine and only have an epidural or c-section if I really needed to. I knew that ultimately some of these decisions would be out of my control so it was pointless writing about these in my plan.
When my labour began, I was quite relaxed and calm. I woke up at around 7:15am with contractions. My husband lay next to me sleeping and I wasn’t really sure what was happening or what I was feeling. A second contraction came and I felt a feeling that I wasn’t expecting- excitement. I wasn’t scared or terrified or in agony like the actresses you see on TV. When my husband stirred and awoke and I felt my third contraction I leaned over and whispered,
“I think it’s started…”
It was 9 days before my due date and my bags were packed. Well sort of… everything (except the food snacks needed for the hospital) was in my hospital bag or somewhere in the spare room ready to be packed!
I remained in bed getting small, gentle contractions that passed within a few seconds whilst my husband started to get dressed, get me some tablets for the pain, grab some breakfast, make a plan for shopping and basically RUN AROUND. Meanwhile I was getting a few more contractions. They barely took away my breath at all. When my husband came to check on me next he asked how I was.
“I don’t know what those women on TV are on about! If this is it, I can cope with this.”
Did I really say those words out loud? Really? Looking back now I can see how naive and ignorant I was. I wasn’t in full blown labour…that would come later!! These little pains would become stronger and last much longer.
Then, out of nowhere, my next labour symptom appeared; sickness….What? Why didn’t anyone tell me this could happen? Like lots of people expecting their first baby, we had decorated our house in preparation for our little bundle of joy’s arrival. My landing had only just had a new carpet down and as I sprinted from the bedroom (Can pregnant women be described as being able to sprint?) to the bathroom I was just hoping not to christen my new carpet with vomit! Thankfully I made it and returned to the bedroom to lie down again. I don’t know how many times this relay event repeated but I eventually put down some old towels on the route and my husband brought me a bowl so I wouldn’t have to keep getting out of bed.
Time ticked on by in which time lots of jobs were completed by my husband, including a quick visit to the shops to stock up on lots of goodies for the hospital. My favourite chocolates, some cake, bottles of water, bananas and grapes (all of which play an important and memorable part of my labour story as you will discover later) were all purchased and ready to give us sustenance for this very special journey.
At around 12:30-1pm, I began to think that the pains were getting more unbearable and that I was going to need some pain relief soon. I felt pleased with myself for enduring the pains at home for so long. The phone call was made to the appropriate number and we were told that we could go to be assessed. We began our journey, sick bowl still in tow. I remember hoping that my waters wouldn’t break in my new car, that my sick bowl wouldn’t overflow and that we wouldn’t hit too many red lights and get stuck in traffic with people watching me having contractions through the window. Thankfully none of these happened.
We arrived and my husband helped me get out of the car. (When your body has changed significantly in shape, your centre of gravity is completely altered and you are balancing a sick bowl whilst getting contractions, you need a bit of help). I waddled towards the entrance and was met by another contraction. Leaning on a bollard, I tried not to glare at the smokers who stood nearby puffing away. I tried to concentrate on my breathing until it passed, wondering what these people were thinking; whether they were staring. I could sense that my husband was glaring at them too.
I was assessed as being barely 1cm dilated (I can’t tell you that this experience was pleasant. It wasn’t. However, every pregnant woman has to be examined “down there” so it is unavoidable. From the description that my husband gave me after the birth, I now believe that I was given a sweep at the same time. This accounts for the discomfort but probably helped speed up my labour.) To my horror, I was told that there were still some other checks to be done but it was likely that I would be sent home to continue and probably wouldn’t be expected to return until 7 or 8pm. I had been looking around for the gas and air. I couldn’t see it anywhere. Now it was looking like I wasn’t going to get any for hours and that I was going home.
My husband saw the horror in my eyes. I could tell that he was finding it hard to see me in so much pain. Thankfully, the “other checks” included checking my blood pressure and for the first time ever, I was thankful to be told it was sky high. I WAS GOING NOWHERE!
I was connected to a machine to monitor my baby’s heart beat and although I still didn’t have any gas and air, I knew that it would surely be coming my way soon. I had a funny belt attached around my bump and I had to lie back and try to relax. It was during this assessment that I overheard the women in the next bed to mine enquire about the birthing pool. I heard the midwife say that it was available and that they’d get it ready for her. Birth Plan Item 1= Failure. Sometime later, my waters broke. I was happy. They wouldn’t send me home now. I was going nowhere!
The next room I ended up in was a Consultant Led Room. My blood pressure was still high but I now needed to be in a delivery room. My labour was progressing and I now finally had the Gas and Air that I wanted! It had the desired effect and significantly reduced the pain I was in. All those years of playing the flute and having good breath control was paying dividends. As I felt a contraction starting, I would begin using the gas and as it passed I would stop.
It was getting on in the afternoon when my blood pressure returned to a happy level and I was allowed to move into a Midwife Led Room. I shuffled through the corridor, side-stepping and holding onto the railing during my contractions, desperate to get out of the corridor and into the next room. I must have looked a state but I didn’t care.
I found myself in a room which had a completely different feel. The bed was a funky shape and design and didn’t look at all like a hospital bed. The lighting was soft and I was asked if I wanted any music or the radio on. I didn’t. I wanted to concentrate fully on my breathing and zoned out with my eyes shut. I was hot and needed sips of water and to be fed grapes between contractions. I could manage to bite and quickly swallow about two if I was quick! Unfortunately the banana that I had tucked into earlier, hoping to get a bit of energy into my body, returned unexpectedly. I apologised and the mess was quickly and effortlessly cleared.
Being a touchy feely woman who loves to have a nice back massage, I had packed all sorts of lotions expecting to want to have my lower back rubbed like I had seen on TV.
However, when my husband touched me, this was my response: “NO! ”
It was unbearable. It was breaking my focus and I couldn’t concentrate on my contractions. I hadn’t meant to shout and he thankfully didn’t take it personally. I was in “proper labour” after all and not really being myself. In fact, Gas and Air, having your eyes closed and pushing out a baby makes you quite oblivious to the carnage that you create . I realise now that offering your midwife a snack from your goodie bag amidst vomit, bodily fluids and smells is not the best idea. Caring and Sharing; yes. Sensible; no. (If I could go back I would not recommend eating an Indian Takeaway the night before you go into labour. The smell of Bombay Potatoes, Onion Bhaji, Curry and Rice squeezing its way out of you as your baby passes your bowel is really not pleasant! )These things happen, you have been warned!!!
Finally the urge to push arrived and whilst arm wrestling with my husband on all fours, I was eventually able to push out our gorgeous baby at 21:42. Although my husband had been aware of our baby’s heart beat dropping with each contraction, I had only heard the strong pulse when my contractions had paused. The baby was out, the midwife cut the cord (Birth Plan Item 2= Failure) and our baby was rushed to the crowd of people who had appeared in my room from nowhere. There was no cry. I looked at my husband and asked what he could see. I didn’t want to look and had no energy to turn. I could feel warm blood trickling down my thighs and knew that I shouldn’t move in haste. (I now know my baby was born with one arm up and this had caused a deep cut). We waited. I was reassured by my husband that baby had been a good colour and I told him that we’d heard her heart beating only moments before. We waited. We held our breath and we tried to have faith in the people in the room knowing what to do. I tried not to panic- what good would that do?
Eventually our baby was brought back to us and we were told that not every baby cries when born. That our baby just needed a bit of oxygen to help and that daddy could now tell mummy what we’ve got. Finally my baby was placed into my arms and my husband said “We’ve got a daughter.” How could I have wanted a boy?
She’s perfect,” was my response.
The only thing on my birth plan that had gone as planned. It didn’t matter. The only important thing that mattered was we had a perfect and beautiful baby and in this moment I had begun the best job in the world; being a Mumma.
This is Ellie’s Mumma’s first blog post, and a little about her and Ellie can be found on the Who’s Who Page!
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