Every pregnancy is different and unique just as every birth is. The experience of one woman will be completely different to another and no two women will have the same experience.
When preparing for the birth of my baby, I discovered water-birthing and hypno-birthing techniques. I watched videos on YouTube of beautiful calm births of first, second and third time mothers, all smiling and calmly bringing their babies into the world. I couldn’t help but want that for myself. I made a birth plan and included the use of calming music, a birthing pool and meditating breathing techniques. My partner (D) and I discussed it and I told him that he would need to be my advocate for these things. It was all in place. BUT the birth of a baby can’t be planned, can’t be timed and can’t be controlled. They come in their own way and in their own time!
Sunday, October 4th
On Sunday October 4th, we held what could be described as a baby shower. 6 days from my due date and we had organized a BBQ get-together with some friends. Talk about cutting it close! It was a warm day and perfect for BBQ’ing on the balcony overlooking the park. But, an hour before guests were due to arrive, after telling D to get the BBQ ready, he informed me that the gas bottle was empty! With no car and no idea where one would even go to refill a gas bottle, we came to the conclusion that there would be no BBQ’ing for us today. We had to cook inside. Despite the lack of gas, we had a lovely lunch. We laughed and chatted with friends we hadn’t seen in months, sipped on fruit and mint-infused water, and everyone ate hamburgers and hot dogs (not including myself and our lovely friend Grace, who ate the buns with avocado). It was warmer inside than it was out, but no one seemed to notice too much.
“Are you going into labor?” They would ask, very concerned.
I brushed them off.
Throughout all of this, I was getting Braxton-Hicks tightenings. They didn’t hurt so I didn’t think anything of them. I had gone on some very big walks (for a heavily pregnant lady at least!) the past few days and I had been feeling them throughout. Friends would touch my belly and remark on how often they would come.
“Are you going into labor?” They would ask, very concerned. I brushed them off.
“It’s normal during pregnancy to get tightenings. It prepares the muscles for labor. I’m going to be late anyway!” Little did I know that my body was actually in pre-labor and our little miracle would be in my arms in less than three days.
Monday, October 5th
10am : I slept until 10am (which is something I never do!). I ate my breakfast on the balcony and felt tightening’s coming in regular intervals. Again, I thought nothing of it.
12pm : I decided to start timing them (you know, to practice for the real thing). They were coming every 30 minutes, but I figured it was just false labor and it would pass. I didn’t get my hopes up and didn’t tell anyone.
2pm : I called my mum and told her what was happening.
“I might be going into labor”
“I don’t think so,” she said, “You’ll know when you’re in labor, trust me.”
I texted my student midwife, Lauren, regardless, just in case it was real.
“Probs nothing, but I might be going into labor…will keep you posted xx”
5pm : They kept coming as the day went on. They were becoming closer together and were getting stronger, but still no pain. I told my partner (D) that my tightening’s were regular – every 10-15 minutes or so. He started to get excited but I was in denial that it was actually labor.
“It’s false labor! Don’t get too excited”.
6pm : I had a sudden urge to do things. I put on at least three loads of washing, hung them out and folded what I could as well as sorted through all of our baby-shower gifts. NESTING! Where have you been the past 38 weeks?!?!?!
9pm : They were coming every 5-10 minutes now and they were accompanied by an uncomfortable feeling, but no pain. My partner had bought me soy-chips as a snack and I started snacking on them.
I threw up on the floor….It was mostly bile as I hadn’t eaten anything much that day
9:30pm : I called the hospital and told them I thought I was in labor. They told me it was probably nothing as there was no pain but to call again if the contractions were coming every 3-5 minutes.
11pm : They pain was stronger now. It was sharp and radiated through my lower abdomen. My hypno-birthing breathing wasn’t working like I had hoped. I threw up on the floor. My mother-in-law brought in a bucket which I used twice more. It was mostly bile as I hadn’t eaten anything much that day.
12:30pm : Contractions were 3-5 minutes apart and lasting for 1-2 minutes each.I called the hospital again and they asked if I would like to come in. They guided me through a contraction as I said yes, I’m coming in.
As we gathered our things to leave, D told me he’d call the hospital back to tell them to get the birthing pool ready. I told him not to bother, the thought of water was making me feel ill.
Tuesday, 6th October
1am : We hailed a taxi and in my partners boxers and an old baggy t-shirt, I jumped in, holding tightly to my bucket. I had another contraction as we drove. My partner called Lauren and told her I was in labor
“Did you want to pull over?” the taxi driver asked, looking precariously at me clutching my bucket.
“NO!” We all yelled in unison. He caught on that I was in labor and bless him, started speeding the empty streets on the way to the hospital.
1:20am : We arrived and they checked me in. I squatted down at the front desk as another contraction hit me and my partner filled in my paper work.
We walked to the birthing suite (with another few contractions along the way) and made it to the room I would be having our baby in. 10 minutes later, Lauren arrived. She brought me water (which I would quickly threw up) and, both her and D helped me through the contractions when I needed it.
I was in a lot of pain. The midwife checked me and told me I was 5cm dilated. I tried gas, but it made me nauseous and dizzy. Despite my needle phobia, I asked for an epidural. I decided against it when the midwife told me she would need to put me on a drip (a needle in the back – no worries! I needle in a vein on my arm – I’d rather the labor pain!!). I went another hour without pain relief. When she checked me again, she told me I was only 6cm dilated. I felt completely gutted. I had only progressed by 1cm!
The attending midwife, Judy, checked my dilation.
“I think you’re ready to start pushing”
She informed me I would need to be put on a drip as I was loosing too many fluids and there was a risk of severe dehydration, and I still had a long way to go. I figured I might as well get the epidural if I was getting a drip anyway and as I struggled through the contractions, it seemed like a good idea. My partner told me later that I had sworn profusely for a large chunk of time before I got my epidural (we’re talking C-bomb material here!) which I don’t remember. I was in so much pain that I mentally blacked out! Who would have thought!
The anesthesiologist administered the epidural what felt like an hour later (it was probably only 10 minutes). I winced through the contractions as I tried to stay perfectly still as she inserted the needle. A few minutes later, I felt nothing. I was calm, relaxed and making jokes with Lauren and my Partner.
My labor went through at least four shift changes as I saw four different midwives. Each time, they’d check how dilated I was. For all of you ladies who have been through labor – you know what happens. Not the most comfortable of experiences.
For hours I sat on the bed waiting for my body to do its thing, trying to sleep (but not succeeding) and pressing the button for more drugs if I felt a hint of contraction pain. At around 11am, the attending midwife, Judy, checked my dilation.
“I think you’re ready to start pushing”.
I pushed for a while. A long while. Judy called in the doctor who checked me. He said if I didn’t give birth within the next hour, they’d need to intervene. We kept going for almost a hour and a half more which actually felt like 10 minutes. The doctor checked me again. After a lot of internal poking and an ultrasound they discovered the baby was posterior. As I wasn’t progressing and hadn’t given birth yet, I was told that for the good of myself and my baby, they would need to use forceps to help her out. If that didn’t work, I’d have to have a cesarian section. Looking back, being told you’d possibly need major surgery was scary, but in the moment, I was happy to do what they recommended and went along with their doings, almost cheerily. Actually no, I was cheery. I pretty much had the attitude of ‘whatevs, just a c-section’.
I received more of the epidural, this time a stronger dose. I didn’t have feeling from my ribs down. I was wheeled into the operating theater, chatting to the doctors and making jokes obviously not aware that I was in an OPERATING THEATRE. At least I was having my calm birth experience, even if it did mean I was drugged off my face. Without any feeling, they cut me and manually turned the baby. With her facing the right way, they inserted the forceps and told me to push. After three pushes and what felt like a dull tug, Little B was born.
“She’s so tan!” were literally my first words at seeing her. She had a better tan than me and she had been living in darkness for 10 months! I wasn’t sure what to think. It felt a little surreal that she was in there and now she was out here. They took her to be cleaned up with my partner while he shed a few tears and I went through the third stage. With that done, they stitched and cleaned me up and then wheeled me to my room with Little E at my breast, happily having her first meal.
And that’s my birth story! It wasn’t what I had planned, but really, how many things ACTUALLY go to plan?