So our little Albert is here. I still can’t quite believe it, how different things are from just over a week ago.
On Wednesday 4th May we went for a growth scan where we were told baby was about 6lb 3oz. The midwife sent me for monitoring later that day and I was told I was to have another scan on the due date and if baby hadn’t grown any, they’d induce me on the labour ward rather than letting me use the midwife led unit I’d been hoping to be able to go to. That really stressed me out; I know induction can lead to more difficult births (in some cases) and I really preferred to let things happen naturally (and stay on the midwife led unit) so I was keen to avoid induction.
That night, we had a Nepalese takeaway since it’d been a stressful day. I had my favourite which is a super super spicy curry called Samjhana and chilli Momo (dumplings). I bounced on my ball a bit whenever I could be bothered. On Thursday morning I made a smoothie from a whole pineapple and supped away. The house was relatively clean and tidy, but I washed a few more of the baby clothes I’d acquired since last time and, out of boredom, dragged out a jumble of carrier bags and folded and categorised them (categories included crappy supermarket ones, nicer high street ones, smaller bags) so we could grab what we needed quickly rather than rooting around for the correct type of bag. We went for a walk to the polling station to vote in the local elections. All the while I was guzzling dates and raspberry leaf tea to prepare for the birth (both are said to help with stronger contractions and a quicker labour). On Friday morning, we did *that* very quickly before D went to work. Ooh er. I honestly don’t know if any of these things contributed in anyway to me going into labour before the EDD.
It was a beautiful day but I just couldn’t be bothered to go out. I spent the day on my laptop doing life administration and watching Grace and Frankie and keeping in touch with D via Google Hangouts like we do every day. We decided that since I hadn’t been out all day that we’d go for a walk when he got home from work. In fact we decided I would pick him up from the station and we would drive to the coast (20 mins away), have a waddle and some fish and chips.
My mum had text me a couple of times during the day to see how I was doing – more than once was unusual for her but she was off to London for the day – she later confessed she’d felt uneasy all day, I guess about not being close by.
D was on the 17.12 train, due in at 17.50 ish, so at about 17.40 I got up off the sofa to get in the car and felt a trickle down my legs and into my flipflops. This is our text exchange.
I was keen to stay calm and relaxed knowing I could be in it for the long haul, and so I folded some clothes while I waited for D to make the 12ish minute walk to our house then we called the hospital. I called the number for the midwife led unit but got the labour ward, their phone must have been on divert. They advised I came in for some monitoring. Everything was already in the car since we’d packed it for our Wednesday visit, just in case. I started to get a mild backache and period type pain on the way to the hospital (a 10 minute drive) arriving at 18:40 (parking ticket says so) and while I was hooked up to the monitors for an hour or so, they got a lot stronger, but when the midwife examined me, she said I had a while yet as as the hind waters hadn’t gone and that I needed to wait it out at home til the contractions were about a minute long, that if nothing had happened by 7am they’d induce me. I said “they’re getting there already I think” then struggled a moment as that contraction came to an end, and she looked amused and said firmly that what she’d just witnessed was about 10 seconds, and nowhere near (because I’d been talking though much of it she hasn’t been aware it was already happening perhaps?!) – anyway, since I was talking through them it can’t have been that bad at that point.
On the way out, we bought a weekly parking ticket so we wouldn’t have to keep paying per visit as we had a lot if unknowns about how long things would take. That ticket is timestamped 19:59. I said to D as we got in the car “I really feel like we are going the wrong way” and he assured me we could easily and quickly get back again later. We returned home, by which point things had amped again. I was in severe discomfort and took a paracetamol. D made some dinner while I paced around swearing and trying to remember the yogic breathing. I kept trying to go to the bathroom to empty my bowels but struggled as everytime I sat down a contraction would start. At one point I was violently ill, luckily in the toilet. I managed to go to the loo and when I wiped there was a little blood so I called the hospital back, this time getting rhe midwife led unit first time, and described my contractions (less than 4 mins apart, 40-60 seconds long) and they advised to come back in.
D had just dished up our dinner when I told him what they’d said, and he said we should eat before we go but I took one bite of my pasta and felt immediately ill again. He whisked up some sugary lemonade in our ancient Sodastream and decanted my dinner into a tupperware box (I say Tupperware, I mean cheap takeaway container). At this point I was getting impatient, I didn’t care much if the bean burger and pasta went to waste. I think I may have in fact used some colourful language about the bean burger and pasta!
We got back in the car and drove round to the back to the staff parking where the midwife led unit is, parked up and D walked me to the door, contracting all the way. The midwives greeted me, saying “don’t you look well??!” or something like that, neither of us can even remember the words.
Midwife Louise took me to a room in the otherwise empty unit while D grabbed our gear from the car. She asked me some general questions about allergies etc while I paced thinking “how can this get any worse, how how how?!” D ran back out to move the car as we’d heard stories about fines for leaving the car in the staff car park. When he came back she finally examined me and told me she’d make some notes and then she’d tell me what she’d found and I thought “please tell me I’m at least 5cm, it must be, it must be.”
We were gobsmacked when her next words were “you are fully dilated, you’re ready to push” . I then said “oh ok…. I think I need a minute to get mentally ready for that”. They both helped me by locating a nightie and helping me get it on, and Louise showed me how to use the gas and air. She said it was probably too late for the pool which I’d always hoped I’d be able to use but I was already beyond caring. I tried some pushing while kneeling, supporting myself on the back of the bed, and on all fours and I was only too aware of little bits of poo (!) though at this point there was nothing to be done about that.
The other midwife on duty strolled in and told us she’d got the pool ready and might help after all so I hobbled down the corridor and into the pool where I immediately stripped off my tshirt nightie as the water was so warm. I always wondered if I’d be prudish and want to stay covered where possible but apparently I’m a naked labourer after all!
I probably spent about an hour trying to push in the pool, I didn’t use any gas and air at this stage (that we can recall), D kept feeding me water and isotonic sports drink. With every contraction I pushed and made a helluva lotta noise, I remember being glad to be the only one on the unit. Louise told me to focus on pushing rather than straining with my voice and to stop using my energy to pant but to push. At this point I really believed I was pushing as hard as I ever possibly could. She kept telling me she could see the head but I’d need to push harder to get it around the bend. She kept checking on the baby and making the threat (firmly but in no way aggressively I might add) that if baby started to tire, and I couldn’t push hard enough I’d have to go upstairs (to the main, doctor led labour ward) but that while baby was fine I could carry on. To me that spelt intervention and kept me pushing away for a bit longer.
I think it was approx 10 minutes to midnight when Louise made the call that I should get out of the pool as it wasn’t coming and I was getting tired. I got onto a nearby couch and continued my pushing there. D was having his poor hand squeezed to death and was being a fantastic cheerleader all the way through. Louise once again threatened that I really needed to put my back into it otherwise I might have to go upstairs. Something snapped then and I finally found what I needed to make it happen, I’ll never forget the feeling again I squeezed the head out; the stinging! One or two more contractions and I was able to push the rest out of baby out at 1210am, and they lay the baby on my stomach, rubbing him down. Then they encouraged D to take a look and announce the sex, and when he told me it was a boy it suddenly became real. I just gave birth to an actual tiny person, a BOY. We almost instantly gave him the name which we’d liked for months, we didn’t consider any other option. It suits him already somehow. D cut the cord after it finished pulsating and I was given an injection to help me pass the placenta as I was so tired and needed the damage assessing and treating asap. It was an odd sensation, so remarkably easy after the stinging I’d endured afterwards.
The midwives gave me back the gas and air and encouraged me to use it while they checked the damage. That was surreal, I felt pretty drunk and numb to what was going on down there. I had a small tear to the urethra and a second degree tear to the perineum so they called for a registrar to suture asap. D grabbed me a button up nightie from the hospital bag and then held Albert in an armchair whilst I sucked for dear life on the entonox supply and Dr Ahmed sewed me up. There was a great big bright light shining on me, and I was facing D but luckily he wasn’t too traumatised by this as he was too busy staring at the boychild we’d made. That probably would have traumatised him more than witnessing the birth. I’d have liked to have some golden hour time where we could have enjoyed more skin to skin and given Albie his chance to try and latch straight away but understand the need for them to have stitched immediately.
I was taken back to our room, a huge corner room and much of the rest of the night is a blur. I remember I threw up pretty quickly afterwards into a bedpan, it was all green and icky from all the blue isotonic drink I’d guzzled! We left the remaining bottles we bought behind, I doubt I’ll be able to look at the stuff again. I remember having some toast and some tea and being incredibly wired, eventually sleeping from 4am til 6am but waking up and wanting to tell the world. I’d text my mum, sister and best friends a picture of him before we’d gone to bed so I waited impatiently for them to wake up and react.
This grainy thing is the first photo I took of him.
That’s all on the birth itself, hopefully soon I can post an update on the following day in hospital (I stayed an extra night to get to grips with feeding) and our first few days at home, complete with more feeding dramas which are hopefully done with now. I’m off for a cuddle now with my boys. LOOK AT THEM!