I’ve never before considered documenting my children’s birth stories. Though obviously that moment when a messy, squirmy, impossibly small person gets put on my chest is captured perfectly like a video in my mind, bits of the story get erased by time. So although this is written four months after the event here is what I can remember of Wonder Girl’s birth.
At the start of my pregnancy I began to consider a home birth. Having had a cesarean in hospital, then a natural birth in hospital, I really liked the idea of a more relaxed labour at home with my children around me.
I hired a birth pool, not just any old birth pool but a huge, filtered, heated, spa tub/birth pool. We set it up in the dining room overlooking the garden and it was great, for the final weeks of my pregnancy I floated around in my pool reading books and relaxing. Admittedly I did feel like a whale with my massive bump floating around in a huge tub of water, but no one tried to feed me fish and Dave only made marine noises when passing through the room from time to time.
The day I went into labour I was only 2 days past my due date. Having gone 25 (yes 25!) and 8 days over previously, I’d imagined I’d got at least a few days sitting around getting my kids to feed me chocolate left. So, imagine my surprise when walking home from toddler group I felt that first contraction. I had arranged to meet a friend and her son at home that afternoon which I went ahead with as the contractions were not too full on and I fancied some company. So we sat in my garden while our children played, chatting and eating cake while I experienced pretty regular but mild contractions.
When my friend left the contractions became more convincing and I decided it was time to call the midwife. Having arranged for her to call in later I showered, ate dinner (while standing and groaning much to hubby and children’s amusement), and got the kids to bed.
The midwife arrived, checked my dilation and announced I was not yet in established labour, (screw that this felt pretty established to me by this point) so she left me to get on with it.
Having read lots of birthing books which recommend sleeping through the early stages of labour and having completely ignored this advice with my previous labours I decided to be sensible and get some sleep. Well let me tell you, if you can sleep through labour best of luck to you, but for me it was not happening. The contractions really bloody hurt when I was lying in bed. So every time one hit I sprang out of bed and groaned and swayed alot, so not much sleep or even relaxing was happening.
Dave suggested we put the Tens on, this was a good plan. To be honest I’m a bit of a wuss and the idea of electric currents on my skin freaked me out, so I never really turned the Tens up high enough to provide pain relief to a mouse in labour. Having a button to press however was brilliant, now instead of panicking through contractions I had a button to press, this focussed my mind and put me in a much better place to cope with labour.
At some point during all this the midwife had returned and announced that I was 4 cm dilated (hurrah!) and in established labour (yey!) and that if I fancied I could have a float around in my pool. This was fab, I floated and nattered and groaned and pictured myself as a proper earth mother type, giving birth in the pool and then making my kids breakfast.
Then the pain got worse, oh man!, much much worse. So I stopped picturing earth mothers and started picturing drugs, lots and lots of pain relief available to me in hospital. Then I remember the drugs available at home, gas and air, and the midwife had a nice big can of it for me to guzzle on, brilliant. So I put on some Stevie Wonder, floated in my pool, guzzled on the gas and air, talked absolute rubbish and found my groove again.
Dave went to sleep, and it was me the midwife, Stevie and my drug of choice for about four hours. Then the pain got even worse !! This was not good, I felt like I was being ripped in half, and then pop I felt my waters go. The midwife told me to get out of the pool so she could examine me, in hindsight I probably could have been examined in the pool but by this point I would have done whatever she told me.
As soon as I was out of the pool she discovered I was seven cm’s dilated (woohoo) and that there was thick meconium (baby poop, gross I know) in my waters, which meant bye bye home birth, hello hospital. So an ambulance was called, Dave dashed around packing a bag, I chatted to my friend who was watching the kids, and the ambulance men arrived and strapped me to a gurney. As the ambulance drove off I was handed a can of my beloved gas and air and on sucking on its mouthpiece discovered it was empty… So bumpy drive, strapped on back, no pain relief, this was not the relaxing home birth I had planned. I pretty much lost my cool big time at this point.
On arrival at the hospital I had completely lost control of myself. I remember midwives trying to talk to me and asking me questions and I pretty much blocked them out. All I could concentrate on was me, Dave and getting through these bloomin painful contractions.
Due to the meconium I had to be monitored for the rest of the labour which meant being strapped to a machine. So I asked for an epidural, as quickly as possible please. The anaesthetist arrived and started putting a whacking great needle in my hand. As this is happening, and I’m trying really hard not to thrash about like a banshee in pain, Dave passed out on the bed beside me. Brilliant. 2 midwives and the anesthetist rush over to him and get him up and sorted while I sit on the bed blood dripping out from the needle and contractions in full throw on my own, perfect.
Once the epidural was in the midwifes shift changed and in came my new midwife and it was a bloke ! This threw me slightly but I thought what the heck if your a bloke and a midwife your probably a good one to have made it work in such a female dominated proffesion. As it turned out Ricky was lovely, friendly but not invasive and determined to keep my (now pretty medicalised) birth as calm and natural as possible.
There followed a few hours chatting, watching the sun come up and generally feeling alot less like death warmed up on account of the lovely lovely epidural. Then Ricky decided to check me, now when I arrived at hospital I had been checked and at 8 cm’s dilated (nearly there). This time around I was 5cm dilated !!! Now, not only did I not even know it was possible to go backwards (no one tells you that at antinatal classes) but I was also pretty devistated to hear this news. I lost my cool once more, wailed, whinged and generally felt pretty dispondent. Ricky determined not to let me lose it decided that using a drug to strengthen the contractions for a few hours would be a good idea, and tried really hard to rally my spirits and convince me that this was going to work.
He fetched me a magazine (bless) and between him and Dave managed to cheer me up. Fast forward a few hours of dozing, reading, listening to and singing along to the radio. Ricky then checked me again and gave me the best news I had had all day, I was ready to push, fantastic !
Now the pushing part in my previous birth, had taken a couple of hours and been really hard work so I had been prepared for this to be the case again. But no, this time it was just a few pushes a few sucks of gas and air and bingo! the magical moment that my daughter was born, and I looked in her eyes for the very first time. Nothing is more amazing than meeting your baby and I cannot put into words how I felt seeing Wonder Girl. It was love at first sight. In that instant everything I had been through , was entirely worth it, she was perfect.
Aww Ella she is beautiful and your birth story was such a great read. I never knew you could dilate backwards like that!! Blimey! Like you say, so much for your relaxed stay at home, home birth. Still seeing the end result it doesnt really matter in the end , does it? Xx
Ps. I can’t sleep through contractions either!
No I think birth is amazing however it happens , and thanks I think she’s lovely too
Uhh, I never knew you could dilate backwards either! Good grief! Sounds like you had a positive birth experience despite things not going quite the way you planned. Also, 25 days overdue?? You’ve got nerves of steel.
Wow that sounds dramatic. Totally agree on the epidural. I didn’t want one at all but in the end it was the best thing I could have done. As for dilating backwards: Could it be that the midwife didn’t examine you properly in the first place? I’ve never heard of dilating backwards in my entire life but I can imagine it to be so frustrating x
Two different midwives examined me at the time I was 8 cm ,the home birth one and the one on arrival at the hospital. So either they were both wrong or I did undilate so to speak. Either way , you should have seen the look on my face !
I bet you were absolutely devastated. I’d have had a nervous breakdown…
Just stumbled upon your blog. Great reading, thanks!
I just wanted to add that it’s absolutely possible to go backwards in your dilation.
Look up Ina May Gaskin’s ‘Law of Spincters’
Thanks , good to hear I’m not a freak lol. Have read some of Ina May Gaskins stuff but must have forgotten bits.