Its taken me a few weeks to write this. Partly because newborn babies are very time-consuming (wish someone had warned me) and partly because I simply couldn’t believe I had given birth.
My body carried a baby, not only to full term, but safely and healthily to full term.
Something that everyday I didn’t think was possible. I kept waiting for that moment for something to go wrong. It was all going too well. I had it in my head that I was going to be in labour and something was going to go wrong or I wasn’t going to be able to cope with the pain, with the pushing.
I really didn’t want to think in that negative way, but I simply couldn’t believe how well my body was dealing with pregnancy.
However, I did something that surprised myself. I gave birth to that baby and I did it how I wanted to. In a positive, calming way and with only gas and air.
And this is how I did it:
It was Tuesday 26th April. Two days after my due date. We had just had Easter and was in between another set of bank holidays.
The following Monday the 2nd May was the start of my official maternity leave from work. I had three annual leave days left before the maternity leave pay would start.
All morning on the 26th I kept thinking about this fact. It saddened me that if I went really overdue it would eat into my maternity leave and my time with Cub once he/she arrived. I can only be off the bare minimum due to financial constraints and I got very emotional at the fact Cub wasn’t here yet.
Little did I know that the lovely hormone Oxytocin that I was releasing through the tears would kick-start Cub’s journey.
Pete, being his wonderful reassuring self, decided that to get my mind off of Cub not being here yet we should clear out our built-in wardrobes. I also wanted to do this as part of my nesting phase so we set to work.
In my quest to get Cub to us quicker, I also made a chilli. I added so much chilli powder, flakes and spices, I was certain that this was going to jet propel Cub into the world.
In the midst of clearing out the cupboards, I came over a bit strange so I decided to sit down. I was having period type cramps, but thought nothing of it as I had a false alarm earlier on in the week which lead to nothing.
At about 14.30pm I went to the toilet and saw that I had a bloody show. As soon as I saw it, a very intense contraction occurred.
I rushed out and told Pete (after the contraction that is, phew it took my breath away) and we started timing.
In the back of my head I was still convinced that it wasn’t the real McCoy.
But sure enough, 5 minutes later, another contraction appeared. It lasted 1 minute 32 seconds.
5 minutes after that, another one. Then another one. And another.
They were working to rule, every 5 minutes for around 90 seconds. Then it jumped up a gear. Every 4.5 mins. Then every 4 minutes. It was now 5pm and the contractions were really intense and seemed like they were lasting forever when they came.
We called my sister who picked us up to take us to hospital.
We went to triage and I had already set myself up to be sent home. I didn’t want to go to hospital in the first place. I knew it wasn’t time for me yet. I didn’t want everything to stop once I go there.
Sure enough, after an examination, I was only 2 cm dilated. No established labour for me.
Despite the lack of progress, the contractions decided to kick it up a notch. In the car journey on the way home (15 mins from hospital) the contractions had changed from every 3 minutes to every 1.5 minutes to every minute. each lasting the same 90 or so seconds. It was a constant wave of pain, no respite.
Throughout all my contractions, I didn’t scream. My mantra in my head was ‘screaming wastes energy, screaming wastes energy’. I was already tired from the constant pain, I knew it was pointless to scream. Instead I did my breathing which I had learnt at Ante natal class and took the two co-dyramol the hospital gave me.
My lips were dry from the constant breathing through my nose and out my mouth and I was nibbling them through the pain.
The pain was so intense, and it stopped me from talking with each one, I somehow managed to signal that I wanted to get into the bath to try to alleviate the pain. This was at 7pm. I sat in the bath with the shower on constant over my bump. Pete and my Mum were constantly emptying the bath as I just sat there breathing through the pain.
My sister came back to collect us at 8pm. Pete had contacted the hospital and said that I couldn’t go on like this without stronger pain relief. With each contraction and the limited amount I could talk, the only words I was saying were ‘I can’t do this, I can’t do this’. I was so reluctant to go back to the hospital because I didn’t want the disappointment of saying I hadn’t progress anymore.
As I made the slow progression down the stairs to the car (remember the contractions were every minute at that point), I turned back at our front door and welled up.
The next time I would go through that door, I could potentially be bringing our baby home. (I’m welling up just thinking about this)
We went back to the same triage room. A different bed this time and gas and air given straight away. I was already out of it from pain and I didn’t know how to take the G&A properly so I promptly gave myself a numb face and an instant feeling of being drunk. It was wonderful.
I was so out of it in fact, I didn’t realise that the Midwife had examined me.
In the 3 hours since we had been there, I had dilated to 7cms.
My response…’Don’t you fucking lie to me!’ That was as much as I had said since 14.30pm!
And then I was transferred via wheelchair and portable G&A to the birthing centre.
From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I wanted to have a water birth. At 37 weeks I tested positive for Group B Strep and was told that a water birth wouldn’t be possible. As soon as we got to the birthing centre, I had to be given antibiotics, which needed to be administered via IV and lasted for 8 hours. My Midwife tried to get them in my left hand but it didn’t work then she got it into my right hand and it instantly swelled up. In the rush to make sure we got the antibiotics in, it was like my body was trying to protect itself. The bruising and swelling on both hands have only now fully gone. After James was born it looked like I had been in a fight and one that I hadn’t won.
Once the formalities had been sorted I got properly introduced to my Midwife, Lydia.
In my G&A utopia (read:drunk) I commented on my midwife name. ‘Oh Lydia, I love your name. If we have a girl, It’s on my list of names. But HE (tries to point to husband) HATES your name’ *takes sharp intake of entonox*
I actually don’t remember any of that.
We had got to the birthing unit at around 9pm and with a combination of leaning against the wall and using the foam apparatus, I got to 9cms quite easily. Or at least it felt easier.
My Mum kept fanning me and giving me Lucozade energy drinks ( I actually can’t bear to drink one of them now) and Pete was conducting the massage we learnt at Ante natal.
All of a sudden, I wanted to push. I needed to push. I HAD TO PUSH RIGHT NOW, OH MY GOD LET ME PUSSSSSH.
So Lydia got me down to examine me and said, ‘Right, go on then, push’
I was all ‘Wha!?!’. In my naive little head, I thought it had to be addressed that I was at 10cms and ‘Now we are in the 2nd stage of labour’. Nah, I got to 9cm and told that I could get a wriggle on.
That’s not how it is in the movies.
So I pushed. And I pushed and pushed and pushed. I started at 1am. By 1.30am all I kept saying was ‘I can’t do this’ and all the three of them kept saying was ‘Your doing it’. I also remember calling them liars when they kept saying how well I was doing. I was adamant I wasn’t doing as well as I thought.
Lydia said that she was going to give me another hour then she would see what we would do to get Cub out. She knew I could do this and wanted to give me buffers and milestones to reach. I constantly looked at that clock after. It got to 2am and I really didn’t think I could go on. Pete was wonderful and even though I didn’t really want him to, he stayed down the business end and watched as his baby was started to crown and his motivation helped me a lot. He kept saying ‘I can see the head, Cub is almost here’. But I was still waning.
Lydia picked up on this an as an incentive she showed me the head via a mirror. But it wasn’t enough for me. I still felt like I had such a long way to go.
So she got my hand. She made me touch Cub’s head and told me that this baby was nearly here.
And I believed her.
And within 16 mins, James was born.
‘Oh my god, Fran, It’s a boy!’
Its how I wanted to find out, my husband, telling me we had a son.
He was, pink, no vernix or blood and screaming like a gooden.
I couldn’t wait to get my hands on him, my son.
It was so true when people told me the pain goes as soon as you see your baby.
I can’t even tell you how those pains felt. It doesn’t even feel like I had them at all. And he weighed 8lbs 6oz…how the blazes did I do that?
But I did do that, and I am immensely proud that I did.
Would I do it all again. Without hesitation.
Because anybody that can make me smile like this…
Must be pretty amazing.