“As Jenson approaches 8 weeks of age I thought it was about time to write my labour story. It’s still very fresh in my mind but I know all too well how quickly it gets jumbled up and parts are forgotten, so with a sleeping bear on my chest, here it goes.”
Scratch that. Jenson is now 8 months old and I’ve just found this post incomplete in my drafts. It may be a little (a lot) late but it would be a shame to put this to waste plus we all love a good birth story right?
My due date was Thursday 11th August and I went into labour on Saturday 13th August. I’d had a week, no make that two weeks of ‘today is the day’ kind of feelings; not for any particular reason; no real signs I just had the feeling you know? Well I woke on Saturday 13th with that familiar feeling but as I’d felt it so much around that time with no sign of baby boy we decided to spend the day like any other; hospital bag at the ready, babysitters on standby and ready to spend potentially our last weekend as a family of 4.
We had a busy morning, finishing off last minute to-do’s around the house and then set off for a long walk around the block. I waddled along and came home feeling slightly tired but determined to have a fun filled day with the boys incase it was the last of our dynamic. We then packed a picnic and went off for another walk, this time to a new spot by a beautiful river; again I waddled, felt tired and pretended to find every passer-by’s ‘ooh good luck’ *pretends to jump back as if my waters have broken and hurries off* funny … it gets old people!
We then got ready to head over to my brother and sister in laws for a bbq, Pete popped to Ikea and I got the boys ready and loaded into the car to find that it wouldn’t start; so lugged the sleepy boys and both carseats out while we waited for my sister in law to come and pick us up – I was definitely burning some calories that day!
While at their house we remembered that when I was 3 days overdue with Jasper, me, my sister in law and my niece and nephew took a long walk to their local park to feed the ducks; that night I went into labour. We thought it would be fun to reenact the day and see if it worked. Well you know what? It did! Baby bear started going crazy and his movements were so strong I just knew something was up. I had tightenings but I reassured everyone that was all that they were as I wasn’t convinced myself that it was the start of labour.
I’d asked Pete if we could just have Rhys during the daytime that weekend as it would be easier to organise babysitters in the middle of the night for just one child, so he set off to drop Rhys home then met me at home where my parents dropped me and Jasper. Pete went off to get a takeaway and I chilled in bed watching My Crazy Ex Girlfriend and at about 8pm my contractions started. I thought they were just tightenings so didn’t tell anyone or count them but after a few I realised that they were quite regular so I started to use my contraction counter app. I say regular, they weren’t really, they were lasting anything from 30 seconds to 1 1/2 minutes and coming every 5 minutes then 8 minutes then 5 again; but that was regular compared to my ‘every now and again’ tightenings.
I called Pete, who was about to head home anyway, to tell him and then called my Mum to let her know to be on standby; at this point I lost a little bit of my mucus plug. Once Pete arrived home we waited for the contractions to get to every to 5 minutes and then called the hospital who told me to wait until they were either unbearable pain-wise, coming every 3 minutes or if I had any concerns e.g. bleeding, unusual pains etc. At about 11pm my parents arrived and Pete ran me a bath to help ease the contractions; up until then they weren’t painful just uncomfortable but as soon as I got out of the bath they got a lot more intense and even though they were only coming every 4 minutes, we decided to head to the hospital as it was a 20-25 minute journey and I didn’t want things to progress too quickly and end up having a motorway baby!
We called the hospital to let them know that we were going to come in and they said they’d call us back; we didn’t want to wait so we set off anyway; at this point I also took paracetamol to try and take the edge off a bit.
On the way into hospital we were really calm and excited; we listened to my hypnobirthing CD but in all honesty I could have listened to a bit of RnB. Being out in the car late at night made me feel like I was going for a night out and I remember saying to Pete I felt like we were on our way to the airport for a holiday … oh how naive haha
On the way we called the hospital again as we wanted them to know to expect us and they seemed surprised that we’d left before being called back, but were fine. We arrived in good time and parked right outside – unheard of at Winchester hospital! I had to stay in the car until I’d had another contraction and then in we went.
Once inside we were taken to one of the birth pool rooms; we had a lovely midwife, firm but maternal which was just what I needed. She examined me and I was 4cm already, a relief as I really didn’t want to get sent home like with Jasper. The next hour or so was spent on the toilet; I kept needing to go for a number two and I couldn’t really tell the difference between that feeling and the contractions as it all felt like bad period pains/ tummy ache so I just sat on the toilet constantly to save me going in and out. I knew I was having a ‘clear out’ which is really typical during labour but I couldn’t help but tell myself I was going to poop myself during birth!
IAfter a while the pain got really intense and as I knew what was coming pain wise I asked our midwife if I could have an epidural. She said that the rooms were busy and to wait and maybe try some gas and air and the birth pool in the mean time. I reluctantly took the gas and air as I’d hated it with Jasper but I actually really liked it this time. I also loved being able to go in the birth pool as it had always been my aim with both labours but after a short amount of time I was already asking for that epidural again. The midwife assured me that she’d tell me as soon as the rooms were ready after I asked if she was just trying to make me have the baby without it haha!
At about 2am the room was available so I read the epidural FaQ’s, popped on a top and jumped out as quickly as my in-pain and heavy body could. Getting out of the pool made them so intense and I was so worried that while waiting for the anaesthetist to arrive and the epidural to kick in my labour would progress and I’d end up having the baby on the bed with nothing but gas and air. I was in two minds to stay in the pool as I’d have preferred to give birth in there with no epidural that on the bed without one.
Once in the other room, I had a canula fitted for fluids, and after about 20 minutes of blooming painful contractions the anaesthetist arrived and prepped me for my epidural; she then put it in and told me it would take about 20 minutes to work fully but would gradually take effect in this time. It definitely started a lot quicker than that and it even got to a point where I didn’t even need gas and air for the contractions as they were so painless!
*In case you’re wondering, yes I was being a bit of a baby. After giving birth to Jasper naturally with only gas and air and pethadin I didn’t feel enthused and inspired to do it again; I’d ticked it off of my list and even though I was so glad that I got to experience natural birth, I was in no hurry to be in that kind of pain again. My Mum always says you wouldn’t have your broken arm operated on with no pain relief so why try to be brave by giving birth without it? Yes it’s a wonderful feeling and sensation but for me I was very much in the mindset of I’d done it once so this time just get the baby out as safely and with as little pain as possible! Of course if I’d had a c-section the first time around I would have pushed myself to feel a natural birth and I completely appreciate women who want to feel every contraction.
I then had a catheter fitted which I didn’t feel at all but then the epidural started to wear off on one side and all of the pain seemed to go to the left side of my lower back. I had a few more doses of epidural from a little button that only I could press and only when the light was green every 20 minutes. I was told that if the pain carried on the anaesthetist could pull the needle out a little bit as it may have gone in to one side ever so slightly causing it to only numb my right side. She also said that she could give me the stronger version which my midwife said wasn’t the best idea as it’s easier to push when you can feel your contractions. By this point though it was gone 5am, I was shattered and so uncomfortable and I just wanted to meet my baby so i took the stronger meds!
Once they had kicked in my midwife broke my waters and then, numb from the waist down, unable to feel a thing or even know when my contractions were starting, I waited to be told I was contracting and got started with pushing! It was such a strange sensation pushing but not knowing if I was. All I could do was try to have a poo and I was told that I was doing it right so I carried on (luckily without actually pooping myself).
Baby boys head was born at 6:21am and it was so strange to see his head there between my legs. I remember looking at him and thinking ‘oh wow, his head is black’ but I guess with the adrenaline it didn’t worry me. He moved his head slightly and made a little squeaky noise to which I started laughing/crying … it was such an overwhelming feeling. After a few more pushes and the midwife attempting to pull his head out she asked Pete to press the emergency button. It didn’t hit me until afterwards that anything was wrong; watching my video back I see that I was scared and crying but I don’t remember feeling that way if that makes sense?
The alarm sounded and the midwife told me that a lot of people were going to come into the room. As they came in Pete was pushed to the side; my bed was laid back, I was pushed back flat and told to push my hardest. I don’t remember it but I had a McRoberts procedure which is where two people on each side of you push your legs back towards your head in an attempt to squeeze the baby out easier. I later learnt that he had shoulder dystocia which basically means that his shoulders didn’t come out quickly after his head as they got stuck at the pubic symphysis.
Well this worked and once born he was put on my chest for a few seconds, he still looked so black but I didn’t think anything of it. He was taken outside into the corridor and I just remember it being silent; I asked the midwife if he was okay and all she said was ‘yes’ very calmly. I asked what was going on and she just said that he was ‘fine’ and carried on prepping me to give birth to the placenta. I remember calling out to Pete who was in the corridor with them and he came in and just like the midwife, told me he was ‘fine’. It felt like something was being kept from me and I asked why he was out there and what they were doing to him but he just said that they were just checking him over and he’d be back soon.
Pete looked white and really emotional but not in the way that I expected. He was then sick in the sink and I thought maybe it was because he was so overwhelmingly happy but when I asked him why and his response was that he’d tell me later, I knew something had happened.
After having my epidural removed and being transferred to our room Pete told me that Jenson had gone black because he wasn’t breathing. He told me he thought he was looking at his dead baby and that was the hardest thing I’d ever been told. He must have been a mixture of terrified for Jenson and sad for me who had no idea what was going on and I’m so grateful for him for handling it the way that he did.
Jenson needed air outside and although it seemed like a lifetime it was only really a few minutes and he was back in my arms, healthy, content and quite the chubster at 8lbs 12 ounces.
We stayed in hospital for one night as I had to wait a certain amount of time for my epidural to wear off and then we were allowed home. We’re now blissfully enjoying life as a family of 5 with my no-longer newborn,
8 week old *8 month old* Jenson Bear Michael Stanley Avey.
Reading that back through just brought back all the feels. Labour and birth is such an overwhelming experience and documenting both of mine is something that I’m so glad I’ve done. If you’d like to se my labour video (no nudey shots I promise) then I’ve popped it below!
Thanks for reading,