I LOVE a good birth story. I read them with fascination at how the same process (aka. getting the baby out) is completely and utterly unique every single time. It feels like watching an episode of ‘One Born Every Minute’ and with people I feel like I know. Honestly, sometimes I’m like a birth story crack whore. Mostly when I’m feeling broody. Definitely when I was overdue.
Way back in June I wrote a blog post on our birth story. When I started looking at re-jigging the site and realised people I know were reading what I wrote, I took the post down because it felt TOO intimate. Which is just ridiculous when you think of what else gets talked about on here. I took it down, flagged it for review and forgot it was there. Until today.
Today I wandered into my ‘review’ folder. Today I re-read my birth story. Today I felt like I was back in that room exactly six months ago. It felt like yesterday. It felt good.
So in the spirit of sharing and the spirit of feeding the addictions of all you other birth-tale junkies out there, I’ve decided to put it up again. I’ve edited out the bit about thinking I’d pee-d myself though. No-one wants to read that.
Our Birth Story.
It’s been quiet on the blog for the last two weeks but it’s been anything but quiet here. After four sweeps, a lot of tears and a booked but not required induction, our baby was born on the 15th May. Ten days overdue. Ten.
You’d think, being lazy enough to wait that long to enter the world, that he’d do so at a leisurely pace. Not so. My labour took under six hours in total. Oh, that’s right, he. We had a boy. I have a son.
My labour story starts at 7pm on Saturday 14th. You were probably looking forward to the Eurovision Song Contest. I was. Having visited the midwife in the morning and been given the same speech on my body being ‘nearly ready’, we’d spent the day trying to follow her orders to relax, eat cake, be pampered. We went out for coffee and cake. I looked at wedding pictures. I did my very best to try and stop over-thinking things and let the happy hormones flood my bloodstream.
Cut back to the evening. We walked the dog, posed for some super-preggo photos in the sun, ignored the fact that this baby still wasn’t coming. Suddenly, I started to get grumblings. Convinced it was hunger (hey, I was HEAVILY pregnant), we waddled home, put on a pizza, turned on the tv.
But I couldn’t eat my pizza. I should have known there and then that something was happening. I am one of life’s eaters. What had felt like grumblings rapidly turned into twisting pains that left me gripping my husbands hand. Yet I remained in denial. This baby was never coming out. I’d almost forgotten I had to give birth. I was going ‘full elephant’ as we had termed it, my gestation would last for years.
Despite my protestations, we started timing, using an awful app found in a hurry. The pains were every 5-7 minutes and always 45 seconds or longer from the word go. The app told us to ‘pack our bags’. I carried on in blissful ignorance. My husband started to get nervous, the app told us to ‘leave for the hospital’. Still I remained adamant this WASN’T labour. The app told us to ‘leave immediately’. I finally agreed to ring the midwife.
After two phone calls an hour apart, a hot bath (awful), two paracetamols (pointless) and a failed attempt to wash my hair (hilarious – what WAS I thinking), we were advised to come in but only if we really wanted to. With a journey of 45 minutes and strong contractions every two minutes, we headed for the hospital accompanied by a death grip on the car window frame, a lot of heavy breathing and my waters breaking en route – the longest journey ever and we were in the birth unit.
First things first, an internal. The good news, I was definitely in labour. The bad news, I was only five centimetres.
We talked about pain relief. I wanted drugs immediately and plenty of them, I ended up with gas and air. She started running the birthing pool. Just as my husband was about to go and get our bags from the car, an alarm went and she ran from the room to assist with another birth. When she returned, things had kicked up a gear. My waters had broken again (who knew you had two sets?! Not me) and yet still she seemed unconcerned. She discussed the other birth with my husband. She told us it was just gone midnight. She told us we had a way to go.
I contemplated throttling her there and then.
Ushered into the pool, I gripped the gas and air like a woman possessed,; gasping when the mouthpiece came away and refusing to stop puffing even when my head started to swim. My husband took up the role of reminding me to breathe as contractions continued to explode through me. Before I knew it, my body was telling me to push. It was time. This baby was coming. The bags were staying in the car.
Pushing was a relief. Empowering. The only word I can think of to describe the feeling of being the only one capable in that moment of getting my baby out. I was a super hero. With super-human strength. And a super-human grunt/squeal to go with it.
Alarmed at the speed of my pushes, the midwife performed a quick exam in the water. If you’ve ever wondered how, two words; telescopic. mirror. I know. So dignified. And so it was confirmed. It’s coming. The head is visible. My baby was so close.
Unfortunately it was at this point I remembered an earlier story of a friend who’d been told the same only to find out it was about a fingertip’s worth of head that could be seen. We laughed about it afterwards but I still cringe now when I look back on a mid-delivery, high on gas and air, me demanding a progress report with the midwife acting out the amount visible.
An alarm sounded. Petrified that meant my baby was in distress, I watched on as another midwife came running into the room. Your baby is coming very quickly. We need there to be two of us here. I recognised the new midwife. SHE was the one who told me paracetamol would work. SHE told me to stay home. SHE was about to bear the full weight of my wrath. Only she wasn’t. With one last push, the head was born, followed closely by the sliding out of our child’s body into the water.
It was over. I had a child. I have a child.
I clung to the side of the birth pool and cried. I didn’t feel like I’d given birth. It couldn’t have been me that had had a baby. I wasn’t ready to be a parent. For one, I hadn’t had the 18 hours of labour I’d expected to get me ready for the event. I was in shock, I was in denial, I was exhausted.
The midwife bundled a blanket into my arms. Kneeling in blood-tinged water, I took in the purple, cone-headed being with a mass of dark hair and a puffy face. There was one cry and then silence. Do you know what you’ve had? No. I didn’t. I could barely contemplate that I had a baby let alone that it had a gender. This baby was mine. Ours. You look, I told my husband.
It’s a BOY! It’s a boy, it’s a boy, he’s a boy. We’ve got a boy!
He happily took the scissors to cut the cord and fought through the gristle, severing the bond between us but creating a new one in it’s place. He took our son and stared at him in awe. So this is it. This is parenthood. I remember thinking as I watched them together.
Shakily, they got me out of the pool, onto the bed and swaddled in towels to keep us both warm. We huddled there together as a family of three, staring at each other in shock, excitement, trepidation and love. Six hours from the first grumble and less the two hours of active labour, he was here.
It was time to bring the bags in.
My greatest achievement. 12.53am. 7lbs 6oz.