The Gallery – birth

Tara’s gallery prompt for this week has made me realise that I have not told my birth story on here. (I’m sorry to take the predictable route with the prompt, but I’m pregnant now; I need to conserve all the brain cells that I have!) Unfortunately, the pictures taken of us with Little O in the first minutes after he was born are terrible quality as the light in the room was low, we only had a little point-and-shoot with us (for reasons that will become clear as you read on) and as I had forgotten to switch the flash on.

Here he is at six hours old though:

Photo © English Mamma

The due date that I had been given was 2 May and even though I knew that the chances of our baby being born on or within a few days of the due date were slim, I still felt a little disheartened when that day came and went. The days dragged on and then it got to 6 May and what I hoped would be my last midwife appointment. She booked an appointment for Friday 14 May at which we would make the arrangements for me to be induced on the following Monday, something that I really, really did not want to happen.

The very next day – constant lower back pain, spasms down my back, shooting pains down my inner thighs, bags of energy and the appetite of a horse. It had to be the start of the something. But the next day, Saturday 8 May, I woke to nothing. All these symptoms had fled and I felt back to normal again (or as normal as you can feel at 41 weeks’ pregnant…).

Then on the Sunday, I woke with a feeling like my waters had broken but only ever so slightly. I had heard all the info at Lamaze class that women rarely have the typical “Hollywood style birth” of dramatic breaking of the waters, rushing into the hospital and the baby being born after a couple of pushes and a little bit of screaming and swearing (for good measure). However, something felt different, odd, not quite right. I called my hospital of choice and spoke to a midwife who said I should come in at 3pm if I still felt as if my waters had broken. I spent the day climbing a ski slope (yes, really – there’s a ski slope a ten-minute bus ride from the city and it’s all grassy and lovely in the summer months) in an attempt to encourage this baby out. At 3pm, I called again and they suggested that I head on in. So, I spent much of the evening being monitored and they were able to tell me that, no, my waters hadn’t broken but that I was having mild contractions and that the baby was likely to be born within the next few days. Hooray!

So, off I went home again. And woke the next day to nothing again – no feelings of muscle spasms in my belly, very little back pain and a feeling that nothing was happening at all. I have to admit that at this point, I dragged the duvet from the bed and curled up underneath it on the sofa in a sulk. And I stayed there for the day, watching DVDs and television and generally feeling very sorry for myself.

When Husband come home from work that evening, he decided it was time for Operation Cheer English Mamma Up. He suggested that we opened a mini bottle of champagne that we’d received as part of a set for our engagement, saying that we should celebrate what was likely to be our last night as just too. Given my mood, I was pretty unconvinced but decided what the hell. I took just one sip of that champagne and immediately had such a strange feeling inside. I ran to bathroom and just made it in time – my waters broke. And this time it was clear that my waters had broken in true “Hollywood style”! This was around 7.30pm.

We jumped in a taxi after grabbing the essentials – handbag for me, wallet, mobile and keys for Husband – and headed to the hospital. As we got nearer the hospital I felt the contractions starting – unpleasant enough to make me grip the door handle but nothing too bad. Once at the hospital, the midwife and nurse took a look at me, stuck a heart monitor on my belly and then went off for 15 minutes while it monitored baby’s heart rate and my contractions. They were still reasonably low level. When they came back, the midwife suggested that we head back home as nothing looked likely to happen for a good few hours. She and the nurse unhooked me from the monitors and went off to find me some painkillers to take at home. A few minutes after they had gone, I knew I was going to be sick. I ran to the bathroom and vomited. And the moment that I stood back up, BAM – a major contraction, and nothing like those I had been feeling before. They came back in the room and I told them that I didn’t think I could go home. It was around 9pm by that time.

They suggested that I go into the shower and see how I felt. I have to say that it did nothing for me. I was wobbling around on a birth ball with a large sanitary pad on the top while Husband stood behind me and blasted my lower back with water as hot as we could get it. I don’t really have much idea how long I was in there but I know that the contractions were coming thick and fast with less than a minute between, which didn’t give me much time to adjust before the next one started. Just reading back through the notes from the hospital, I can see that they officially admitted me at 10pm but even at that point they have written “Waiting to see what happens.”

They decided that I should come out of the shower and I remember being very emotional and dramatic and asking for pain relief. The next three or four contractions were long and drawn out but I used gas and air for as long as I was able. And after that fourth one with the gas, the midwife patted me on the arm and said: “You’re 10cm dilated.” It was 11.30pm by this time. I was not going home that night!

We spent the next hour or so in a variety of different positions, trying to find what would work best and work with my pushing. We tried on the edge of the bed, on a the birthing stool, leaning forward over the bed, on the bed leaning forward over the headrest and finally, squatting on the bed and gripping onto the shoulders of the nurse on one side and Husband on the other. I don’t remember doing my Lamaze breathing but Husband told me afterwards that I was. I guess all the practice paid off and I went into auto-pilot with my breathing.

At about 12.45am, the midwife told me that we were nearly there – a few more pushes and we’d have a baby. I got a little carried away at this point and tried to push when I did not have a contraction but a few stern words from the midwife about what that could do and I soon stopped. Two more pushes – burning, burning, burning sensation – and at 12.50am our baby boy was born. He screamed immediately as well he might, having been introduced to the world so quickly.

Little O surprised us with the speed of his entry into the world and continues to surprise us each day.