Are you familiar with the concept of a birth story?
If you are a big blog reader you might have read a few. I've always had it in mind to write it all down, to make it part of this, the bigger story of our family. Also I'm incredibly nosy and I like to read other people's take on the birth experience.
I had finished work at about 36 weeks and I remember someone telling me to enjoy the time I had 'on my own'. I assumed I would have at least 4 weeks before the baby arrived because all first babies are late right?
I spent the time washing and folding tiny clothes, taking naps and reading. It was seriously blissful.
We picked up our pram and car seat. I folded some more. Sat in the nursery trying and failing to understand what my life would be like in a few short weeks (days!)
I felt an uncontrollable urge to hoover under the bed.
A Wednesday evening, we went to the supermarket which is something we used to do a lot before kids. Leisurely strolls up and down supermarket aisles - even the sweetie and toy aisle if the mood took us.
As I wandered around I thought I'd had a little accident. If you've ever been heavily pregnany this will not surprise you. Peeing becomes considerably more unpredictable than it ever was before. Actually it was probably my forewaters breaking.
We made our way home, me with some giant cookies to eat while I watched 'Supersize vs Superskinny'. My friend Lynda text me during the programme. I ate my cookies and text back.
I began to feel what the professionals call tightenings I believe. At about 8pm. At that point I wasn't sure if they were the real thing. I sat on the purple gym ball and kept watching tv. We tried to watch an episode of 'Mad Men' but I couldnt' concentrate. My excitement was building as the tightenings became a bit more intense.
We decided to go to bed and try and get some rest. I was 38 weeks 3 days pregnant and still unsure if I would meet our baby soon or if my body was just warming up for labour. I think I managed about 10 minutes in bed until the nerves and pains meant I was back on the purple ball. Greig stayed to get some rest, but that didn't last long either......
I think it was about then I noticed that I was feeling the contractions in my back. I rolled about on the gym ball in between but when the contraction hit I had to be standing as that minimised the back pain. I found out later that Brodie was back to back with me. The pains quickly became pretty intense although I passed a few hours on my ball, or walking figure of eights around the dining and coffee tables, stopping to hold onto the window sil or fireplace when the contractions were at their peak.
I was vaguely aware that I'd only been in labour a few hours and was using up lots of energy moving about. I thought this might be a long process and tried to see if I could rest a bit to keep some energy reserved for later (pushing).
I tried to lie down but the pain was excruciating . I managed to lie flat on my stomach for a while - probably not the best labour position but I was getting some relief from the back pain. I asked Greig to help me put on the TENS machine which he did and I tried to ignore the fear I saw in his eyes as I'm pretty sure I looked like a woman out of control. In between the contractions I was fine, jovial even, but when they hit I was making bizarre noises and gripping things very tightly.
I resumed my walking marathon and checked the hospital bag. I think at some point I accepted that I was in labour. Time was bending. I was concentrating on getting through each contraction and getting some relief from the spinal bone crunch (not a technical term). Early in the morning I asked Greig to phone the hospital. They advised paracetamol and a bath. The idea of a bath was not appealing and I had the TENS machine on which I didn't want to take off. I started to feel like perhaps I maybe wanted to push a bit so Greig called back and I made noises in the background. The midwife agreed I should come in. I'm not going to lie, I was mightily relieved. It was painful and I had been awake for 24 hours now.
We noticed it was snowing outside. The car wouldn't start. Greig transferred me and the bags and the car seat into the other car. We drove the six miles to the hospital with me holding tight to the edges of my seat all way there. Desperate to get out of the car.
The walk across the car park was slow and painful. In the snow. Luckily it was still dark and there was no-one around. We made it to the labour ward and they asked us to wait in the waiting room, I couldn't sit down so I just held onto Greig and swayed a bit, concentrating. The midwife came to ask me questions and I think she thought I was being a bit overdramatic as it took me ages to answer.
I was monitored briefly and examined. My waters had not broken but I was about 7-8cm dilated, which was good to know. The midwife explained that the back pain was probably due to the baby being sunny side up. At that point I regretted the hours I'd spent in the previous weeks napping and sitting on my bum and blamed myself for the baby being in the wrong position. Early onset Mummy guilt.
We went to the room the baby would be born in. I stopped to grip the edge of the birthing pool as a contraction hit and the rest of my water - the hind water - vacated all over me and the floor. Greig was just about to go back and get the bags but I vetoed that idea. I eventually gave birth in the vest I was wearing when I arrived and we used literally nothing from the carefully packed bag which was still in the car. I think at that point I'd had enough of the TENS machine so I took it off and tried a few positions to labour in.
From that point it was more of the same. But with gas and air. Yes please.
I continued to progress although there was lip of cervix in the way. I'm still not exactly sure what that means but along with the contractions I started to feel a strong urge to push. The midwife told me to try and breathe through it because I wasn't ready yet.
I remember things being very calm and feeling well supported and safe. It was painful for sure but I was just so delighted it was finally happening. The midwife commented on how calm I was and ever the people pleaser I was happy with that.
It was light outside by now and the midwife said I was finally ready to push. Sounds easy doesn't it? Pushing, how hard can it be?
After a few attempts it became clear to me I wasn't doing it right, nothing was happening and I think I started to get dare I say it a bit arsey? I can't do this, help me, what will I do?
From somewhere - the room was busy, midwife, student midwife, student doctor, pale husband, and Irish older midwife appeared. And she gave me some good advice. She showed me where to push from, told me to stay quiet and use all my energy to push and threatened 'interventions'. It worked like a charm.
Our son was born at 1.30pm on the 4th of March 2009. There are no words to describe that feeling. Looking at your new baby for the first time.
I had some repair work done, I'll save you the details but I was not prepared for how painful that would be. I claimed to see pirates. ( I have no idea......)
I was lucky to have the birth I'd planned. I know people say having a birth plan is pointless but it worked well for me. I wanted to labour at home for as long as possible, I wanted to avoid intervention and pain relief as far as possible. I wanted to have my baby close by me after they arrived. I wanted to feed my baby straight away. Having the birth I wanted and the sense of accomplishment mixed with relief only added to the joy I felt meeting our baby for the first time. I want to say that whilst it's important not to become tied to an idea of what you would like your birth to do lest things don't work out that way having a clear idea of what your aims are is valuable and helped me to prepare for the challenge of labour.