Welcome back to part two of the wonder that is birthing a human.
Firstly I would like to acknowledge the huge amount of time I have left between posting part one of having a baby, and part two. I am absolutely rubbish at finding to time to finish blog posts. I start too many at once, then my mind becomes a wordy mush. Throw in looking after a child, and you know the current world ending situation we are living in, and it became a low priority and felt somewhat insignificant, but…here we are, after being badgered quite a lot by a fair chunk of people wanting to hear the full story.
Let’s continue where we left off…attempting to get a urine sample. Hooray!
Now let me tell you, trying to get a wee sample in labour, for me anyway, was near enough impossible. I had been told at a midwife appointment that they thought I had low levels of amniotic fluid, and that I was ‘all baby’. I don’t think she could have been more wrong if she tried, the level of amniotic fluid I had brewed was ridiculous, and that meant that I had no idea what was in that bowl. Handing it back to the midwife, with a smile on my face, I informed her that there could be anything in there.
This was the start of the tour of all of the hospitals various maternity departments. The hope was to visit the birth centre, have a baby and that would be that, but obviously my body and baby had a different plan, and wanted to test all of the facilities available and meet as many people along the way as possible, including some famous faces off of the telly box.
The birth centre is the place of dreams. It is peaceful, relaxed, light and airy, and we were the only people there. It started so well. I was admitted, and my obs (observations) were taken. My blood pressure was borderline high, shock horror. I think I would have been more shocked if they said that it was behaving. At this point they just said they would keep a close eye on it, and with that was the first internal check at 5:45pm. The first of only two.
It really wasn’t bad, I think you reach this point, you know there is no turning back, that baby has got to make an exit one way or another, so you just have to roll with whatever is thrown at you.
I was only dilated two centimetres, but a combination of constant and quite close together contractions and the blood pressure meant that I was staying until the main man arrived.
Sports day was put back on, I had two more hardcore paracetamol, took up my position on the ball, and completely zoned out of life.
Labour is strange in that you lose hours of your life without noticing, interspersed with blood pressure checks.
Blood pressure checks which changed the course of labour quite quickly.
It sky rocketed, and I was put on to having it checked every fifteen minutes. If over the next three checks it hadn’t gone back down, the plan was for me to leave the quiet birth centre wonderland, and be shuffled over to the labour ward to be put onto a monitor to make sure that everyone was doing OK. I have zero idea what time this was due to being in that limbo labour land, the only time reference point I have is that I was due my next internal check at 9:45pm, and we hadn’t reached that yet.
Three blood pressure checks later, and it just kept on climbing. So the call was made to transfer me to labour ward. I’m not sure what I expected, maybe a wheelchair? What in fact happened, was a shout from the midwife looking after me to a nurse about to leave, to see if she could take me over. Take me over meant, me walk behind her, stopping to lean up against a wall to have a contraction, in the middle of a hospital, with amniotic fluid still delightfully making its appearance, especially with gravity thrown in the mix from the walk, and Jamie walking behind like a bellboy with all of my completely necessary hospital items.
I was put into a room with one other woman. In what I thought at first was the labour ward, but it wasn’t. I had decided to give birth on a night when the hospital was overflowing with labouring women. The labour ward was full, and I was in a section which had the ladies that are normally waiting to be induced, or are in the super early stages of labour, where they can happily nap in between contractions.
Except for the woman I was next to.
That woman. Man alive.
I completely understand that labour feels different to every woman, and women handle it differently. For me, I went into myself. Controlled breathing and practically no noise, no speaking. I needed quiet.
I ended up next to the loudest woman on Earth.
She screamed with every contraction, she swore, she kicked her partner, apologised to him, then screamed and kicked the poor man again. She shouted with every contraction that she needed to push. Midwives had to shout over her shouting to try and get her to not push, and to not scream. She completely took the stretched midwives attention. Attention that should be shared, and she took the attention completely away from me.
I passed my 9:45pm check time to see how dilated I was. They wanted to hook me up to a monitor first. Trouble was, there was no monitors available, and the screamer overtook me in the queue, because she was clearly progressing faster than me.
I asked multiple times for them to check me, and was pretty much brushed off every time. The trouble was, it seems I hypnobirthed too hard.
I must have given off the appearance of somebody who basically wasn’t in labour. I kept being told that my contractions needed to be more frequent (they were) and more intense (they were). Whilst they were rushing backwards and forwards past me, to the screamer. The screamer who at the point of shouting she needed to push was examined and was 4cms. Good luck pushing a baby through that. She was given gas and air as she had reached the active stage of labour when you can start having the fun pain relief, rather than just paracetamol.
We think it was around 10:30pm, when finally a monitor was freed up. Straight away, they could see my contractions were constant and close together. Babies heart rate was perfect. The relief knowing they would jam their hand up there and check me was huge…but short lived.
I had to be on the monitor for an hour first.
They popped in a couple of times, saw the same thing, constant, frequent contractions, then left, with the offer of more paracetamol, and this time some liquid morphine which I accepted.
Screamer was still screaming.
I was still breathing.
Back into limbo labour land I went, and the hour was up. The magical time finally arrived for the check. We had nearly hit midnight at this point, six hours after the first and only other internal examination and two hours past the time I was meant to be checked, a midwife pulled her glove off and rubbed my leg almost sympathetically. Rubbed my leg and announced that, believe it or not…I was fully dilated.
That is right, ten whole centimetres. Six more than the screamer being offered an epidural just to get her to shut up. Ten centimetres in the ten hours I had been in labour for, and who actually knows when I had actually reached fully dilated.
In typical fashion, we had left one of the bags we needed in the car, so Jamie grabbed that moment to realise, quickly panic and run to the car.
In even more typical fashion, that was the moment the pace changed with my care. Pretty much as soon as he left the room, a wheelchair arrived, I was plonked onto it, the bags we did have were chucked on top of me and I was pushed at speed to a delivery room, with lots of ‘it’s time to have this baby’, chats happening around me.
Yep guys, I had been trying to give you the heads up about that.
The midwife strolled in, and it was the same one as I had seen when I first got to the birth centre. She was surprised I had got to delivery that quickly seeing as my contractions were so ‘minor’, when I arrived.
Clearly not gang. Clearly not.
Delivery rooms are strange. The one I was in had an absolutely huge picture of a tropical island on the wall opposite the bed. I know it is there as something nice for you to focus on, but to me it just didn’t fit the purpose of the room, and if anything was distracting from the job at hand.
I ended up staring at a surgical waste bin. Much more appropriate.
I was helped up onto the bed by my midwife pal, who was very concerned that Jamie still hadn’t arrived back and that he might miss the baby arriving. I was pretty shocked knowing she thought it was going to happen that fast, but decided to focus on the bin, rather than the fact that he might come back and I would be sat holding our baby, furious at him for the rest of our lives.
I was imagining future arguments. ‘You didn’t buy bread!’…’Well you missed the birth of your son.’
It turns out that he was having his own side story adventure during all this. He had raced to the car, grabbed the bag and raced back. Only to find that he had been locked out of the maternity area, and nobody was answering the buzzer to let him back in. A member of staff used the door, and he explained what was happening, only for the man to not let him through due to the security risk of letting in a stranger in the middle of the night. Totally understandable, and good on that man for following procedure, but also, what a twat.
He finally made it back to the ward, to find it empty, and was luckily run through to delivery. If there was only one picture I should have taken during the whole of labour, Jamie walking through the delivery room door, looking as stressed as he did, should have been it.
I was asked, yet again, to do a wee sample. We know how this goes by now, not well. Holding a bowl under me and just hoping for the best was my tactic in the end. They were checking the protein levels in my wee, as high blood pressure, mixed with protein in your wee are the two main signs of pre-eclampsia.
I was offered my first fun bit of pain relief of gas and air, which I didn’t really need. I’d reached this far without hardly anything, but me being me, I wanted to give it a go. So I accepted. It didn’t really do anything other than make my mouth a bit dry, and I started to find things hilarious. (I had made the mistake of looking back at the island photo, and spotted a single lone swimmer in the very corner of it, and couldn’t stop making up his back story). I also threw it to Jamie and forced him to try it when the midwife momentarily left the room like a naughty teenager stealing booze from their parents cupboards.
My midwife chum gave me a really detailed explanation of how to actually push a baby out, and she really casually said that with the next contraction we’ll give it a go. I don’t know what I expected, I think again, probably like it is on the telly, where the woman just screams she needs to push and there comes the baby.
So it was show time! Baby arrival time. The time we had all been waiting for.
After the first attempt at pushing baby out of my hoo hoo, she showed Jamie a button which she said that within the next couple of contractions, she is going to ask him to push it, and it will get another midwife to come in as baby would be here. It seemed mad that it could all be over that quickly. We were looking at an under twelve hour first labour, hardly any pain relief. Sure some annoyance along the way (screamer), but overall, what a first baby to have!
Except this is me, so of course, that’s not what happened.
The next couple of contractions were only a couple of minutes apart. Then the next one took a few extra minutes, the one after that, even longer. Before I knew it my contractions had dropped to every twenty minutes.
Time to enter a minor celeb from the telly. If anybody has watched Emma Willis: Delivering Babies, it is filmed in the hospital I had Cooper. No Emma Willis did not stroll in, but the legend that is Naghmeh did.
The people who have watched the programme will understand my excitement. She was classed as ‘fresh eyes’ on my labour, and was just as genuine, kind, powerful and delightful as she comes across in the series. She read through my notes, gave me a thumbs up, and said to continue as we were, and for the midwife to just have a check during a contraction to make sure baby was still positioned where he should be.
‘Just have a check’, means during the contraction, jam your hand up there and have a rummage.
She was happy that baby was where he needed to be, but gave the doctor a call just to come and check in, with the possibility of being hooked up to a hormone drip to give those pesky contractions a shock back in to life.
The only trouble was, all of the doctors were in surgery.
That’s right, not one free doctor.
So we ploughed on. I say ploughed on, more like we came to an absolute grinding halt.
Those pesky contractions got further and further apart, until they eventually stopped.
Nearly two hours after the doctor was called, a drip was wheeled in and I was hooked up. It was the drug that is used to induce ladies into labour when it has to be done early, or if you are too over your due date. I was given the heads up that as soon as the drip is attached, it wouldn’t be long before the contractions would be back, and they would more than likely be much more painful than before.
They were right with the contractions coming back fast, but as for being more painful, I really didn’t notice the difference, so for anyone reading this due to be induced, or scared of being induced, it was fine! I’m not sure if that was because I was at the point where I knew we were heading towards danger territory, and so extra pain meant nothing, as I needed him to be here soon and safe.
So back they came, every couple of minutes, pushing with everything I had to get that damn baby out of me. But he was not budging.
The next time I looked at the clock we had hit 6am. We had been in that tropical delivery room for nearly six hours. From going all guns blazing to get to 10cm dilated, to then this. I should have been sat holding him, trying to eat toast, and being terrified to attempt to wee by now. But no…still preggers.
Still preggers. I couldn’t believe it.
I still had the monitor strapped to me, and they left me keep trying to push him out myself, because his observations were absolutely spot on. He wasn’t showing any sign of distress, but they called the doctor back to check on me.
The doctor walked happily back in and whacked on a latex glove, in the way only doctors and vets do. I hadn’t been using the gas and air at all after the initial try, but the midwife handed it to me and said ‘you will need this now’.
She was 100% correct, the doctor did an internal examination, and was having a right old root around in there, when his face changed.
Since the last internal check when everybody was doing the right thing and in the right place, someone, no names named…Cooper, had been doing a little moving around in there and had wedged himself into a position that meant that no matter how hard I tried, he was not entering this world without some kind of help.
Flicking his gloves the bin that had served as my focus, he seemed to snuggle up way too close and explain what was going to happen. The best thing to do was try an assisted delivery with forceps, but do that in surgery, and have me prepped for a cesarean just in case that didn’t work. In all honesty, I think he knew that wouldn’t work. From that point it felt like I was going to have a cesarean.
Within seconds I was surrounded by nurses, midwifes and doctors.
It turned into an absolute whirlwind, but all that ran through my head was that we needed to get him here as soon as possible, and the quickest way for that to happen was to stay as relaxed as possible. I remember saying to myself the only way to control this out of control situation was by being the absolute epitome of calm.
Midwifes were putting scrubs on me, Jamie was thrown some scrubs to change into, and a doctor handed me a stack of paper with all the complications that can happen, and speed read it to me, asked if I understood it and agreed and told me where to sign.
One part of that stack of paper, was that sometimes things happen in a cesarean and it means that an immediate hysterectomy is needed. By signing, I signed to say, sure, if you need to, whip it all out. That was my only ‘ahh’ moment. This was serious. This could be serious.
Then I was suddenly in theatre. I don’t actually remember the journey there, labour limbo for you at its finest. I was sat in the brightest room, surrounded by people, with my hoo hoo pretty much visible to everyone. Childbirth really is beautiful.
Part of procedure is for everyone in the room to introduce themselves and do a little role call. My pal Naghmeh from the telly was there who complimented my toe nail colour, and before I knew it the anaesthetist was telling me how to sit to have the epidural administered. Jamie was stood in front of me, and I gripped his shoulders whilst the massive needle was shoved and wiggled into my back. He had to told me to tell him if I had a contraction so he could stop, you know, stabbing someone with a needle that can potentially paralyse, during a contraction isn’t the wisest decision. The trouble was, the way I coped with contractions, was to not talk, so when one built up, I knew there would be less disruption if I stayed quiet.
Eyes shut, I had three contractions whilst having the epidural stabbed in. The only person that noticed was Naghmeh from the telly. She asked me quietly after if I was ‘a hypnobirthing mum?’, I nodded. She had noticed my three contractions, just through my toes moving.
With that I was laid back down onto the bed and the anaesthetist pulled out a freezing cold spray, which he blasted onto my shoulder and asked if I felt it. He then sprayed it in a few points to see if the epidural had worked.
I was completely numb from basically my boobs down. The most surreal moment was looking down and seeing some legs being put up into stirrups, only to realise they were my legs and I had no feeling or control over them.
I was hooked back up to the monitor, and my midwife explained that she was going to tell me when I was having a contraction, and that I needed to push when she said, so that the surgeon could attempt to help Cooper out with forceps. What a great plan, except, how the hell do you push when you are absolutely paralysed.
Either way I gave it a shot, who knows whether I pushed, or if I actually just laid there, thinking about how to push?
After the second try, the atmosphere changed very quickly. Coopers heart rate plummeted, and the hero that is Naghmeh jumped in, shouted to stop and to move to cesarean. All of the people in the theatre absolutely shot into action. They were everywhere, and I think I remember somebody saying that they were going to start the surgery, but in all honesty, this part is a big blurry mess.
It was barely minutes later, a strong feeling of pressure, tugging, but no pain, and Cooper arrived. He arrived in complete silence, a silence which at that moment was all consuming. I looked round at Jamie, who at this point was as white as a ghost, and looked in complete shock.
The silence continued, and we saw Cooper laying on the heated table they pop newborns on. He wasn’t breathing, and more and more people gathered round him, to the point where he was completely blocked from our view. I think I asked a couple of times if he was OK, but got no response.
Neither myself or Jamie have any idea how long it took before he started breathing and let out that first cry. It felt like an absolute eternity, all whilst I could still feel the pressure and pulling. I didn’t know at the time, but I had lost a fair amount of blood during the surgery due to the speed of it needing to be done.
Not long after those first cries, Cooper was plonked next to my face, and Mr Tiny new born baby, grabbed my glasses and pulled them straight off of my face. Cheers pal, not like I wanted to see your tiny scrunched up crying face that I’d just spent 41 weeks growing.
Jamie managed to snap the first picture of us together, when the anaesthetist decided that moment was the perfect moment to start chatting to Jamie about what phone he has, and what the camera is like. It was also that moment that Jamie realised the anaesthetist was the same twat that hadn’t let him through the door when he was on his bag adventure, locked out of the maternity unit.
Cooper was handed over to Jamie, and the midwife explained that I needed to be in surgery for a while longer, and that they would take him to the recovery area where I would eventually be wheeled into.
Just like that I was on my own in the theatre, trying to understand all what had just happened, except our anaesthetist had other ideas. He decided that he wanted to talk to the back of my head about all of the days sporting events. So I ended up in the strangest, post birth, chit chat about tennis, with a guy that I couldn’t actually see.
Yet again, we have no idea how long I was in surgery for, and I think after the tennis chit chat, I closed my eyes, because the next thing I actually remember was being wheeled down a corridor, and into a room, which had one chair in the corner.
One single chair with Jamie holding Cooper, looking exhausted, nervous, excited, happy and slightly grey looking.
Seeing him holding him. after waiting all that time for him to arrive, is the most surreal experience. Well that was the most surreal experience up until approximately three minutes later when a midwife arrived and told me how to get baby to breastfeed.
Still completely paralysed from the waist down, catheter in, and absolutely high on morphine, the midwife latched him on, and off we went to the post natal ward.
Ahh the post natal ward, which is part three of this story. Which I imagine I will write in another years time, and by the way, it did indeed turn out that I needed the five pairs of leggings, the two mini hairbrushes and the nail scissors.