Around 7:30 in the evening on Tuesday 15th April (40 weeks+3) I started having contractions. It took me a while to realise that they were in fact contractions as I’d been having Braxton Hicks for about a month and some were so intense that I really couldn’t tell the difference. They didn’t really hurt, but they lasted longer than Braxton Hicks and were a lot more uncomfortable.
Pete had gone to Tesco to pick up some dinner and by the time he arrived home I’d downloaded a contraction counter app, had 3 contractions of 1 minute durations with around 5 minutes between each one and greeted him with the exciting news that little Rabbit might be on the way!
He got some bits together for himself, made us some dinner and the waiting game began! I’m sure at the time it felt like ages but actually when I look at it now the time before we went into hospital didnt seem that long.
The contractions got more intense, still not too painful but very uncomfortable; however they weren’t too consistent. Some were 30 secs, some as long as 90. There were 5 minute waits between and then there were 10 minute waits.
Pete called the labour ward anyway ( I think he thought I was trying to be brave saying they weren’t bad enough to call yet – in reality I wasn’t trying, I’m just tough haha) and they said that as long as I could manage the pain, it was better for me to stay at home until they got more frequent and intense. I could speak through them which I later realised was not a sign of a ready contraction!
I can’t quite remember the time but I’d say around 10 I lost my mucus plug. This doesn’t need or want much describing, it’s pretty gross and I definitely knew what it was. I didn’t flush the toilet in case Pete wanted to see (I wasn’t sure how involved he wanted to be) and he politely declined haha!
I then jumped in the bath, lit some candles and tried to practise my natal hypnotherapy. The lavender oil, deep breathing and visualisations did help me to relax my body between contractions so that I wasn’t tense at the start of each one, but unfortunately they didn’t do much to ease the intensity during the contractions. I think for me the whole mind over matter thing got lost and as much as I tried not to, I ended up tensing a lot during each contraction and holding my breath!
Pete called the labour line again to let them know I lost my plug and that the contractions were more intense; again they said that as long as the plug looked normal (how it can be normal I don’t know!) and the contractions were still infrequent and far apart I should stay at home. Close contractions, I was told, meant 3 in 10 minutes by the way.
By half 10 I’d had enough. I’d gotten to the stage where I had to hold my breath or crouch on the floor during each one so Pete called up again, and they told us to go on down. They’d called the hospital for us so all we had to do was make our way down. Our bags were already in the car, so we made a calm drive to Winchester.
As I knew I’d be there soon I wasn’t panicked. The contractions did throw me off a bit but we put on some RnB, I munched on Tic Tacs and the journey actually went pretty quickly!
At 11 we arrived and luckily the hospital car park was empty. I had to stay in the car till I’d had another contraction as I knew one was coming then we made our way in. Having the hospital tour before hand made a real difference as I knew where to go and what to say, so there was no confusion or stress on arrival.
I’ve got this terrible habit of pretending I’m fine when I’m not. SO I walked in all smiles and ‘no big deal’ like which probably set the midwifes to ‘she’s not ready’ before they even examined me!
We saw one lady, I don’t know her name, but she didn’t make me feel at ease at all. Pete described her as like a head teacher – very stern. I didn’t want to be babied, in fact I think a bit of tough love is great but she just wasn’t who I wanted to deliver my baby. She did take us into the room I’d had my eye on from the hospital tour – in all it’s dim lighting and birth pool glory.
I had to give her a urine sample, and have my blood pressure checked as well as Rabbit’s heart rate. She then gave me an internal examination which wasn’t half as gentle as my sweep and told me that his head was low but I was only 1cm dilated and had to go home till I was more! WTF!?
How was I suppose to know when I was more? The contractions were intense and the thought of driving home, waiting till they got worse and driving back really stressed me out. She also said that if I stayed I’d end up being put on drips and and stuff and she’d prefer I was in the comfort of my home – that room was better than my home – I’d live there any day! So begrudgingly we came home and in my head all I could think was 1 – motorway baby and 2 – If I make it back in, I don’t want that midwife!
We so thought that the next time we’d walk through our front door we’d have a little Rabbit with us so it was quite disheartening to come home empty handed. I’d say it was about midnight when we got back and I went straight to bed, only to get up 10 minutes later to my water breaking!
Pete called the labour line and as the fluids LOOKED clear, they said to still hang on at home. I’ve said all along that I wanted to stay at home as long as possible, but I guess it’s a completely different story when your’e actually in the midst of it!
I was getting so frustrated and in the end I couldn’t handle the contractions knowing I had a drive ahead of me so I told Pete I had to go back in. He called the labour line again (we might as well have had them on speed dial!) and told them we were going back in, to which they said they’d call the hospital and let them know.
Now it probably sounds like I’m being negative about the labour line but they were actually brilliant. They wanted me to stay home for my benefit, so that I was comfortable and calm and so that I wouldn’t get turned away from the ward like I did. They really were fab and gave me great tips to ease the pain too. I just wanted them to say ‘Yes, you’re ready, go on down!’.
My waters kept slowly leaking so, sat on a towel, I jumped back in the car and we took a slightly less calm drive down to Winchester. I just knew I must have been ready to have him so to then be greeted by a different midwife (yay) but told I was still only 1cm I was pretty pissed and rather stressed!
She gave me and Rabbit a checkover in a different room. It wasn’t necessarily clinical looking but it was small and just a bit old fashioned, not a patch on the spa like birth pool room! There was no mood lighting, no spa-feel and definitely no pool. I asked if the one I liked was taken and she said I just had to be checked over before I could go in there. She really was lovely, asking about baby names and chatting away, she made me feel a lot more at ease!
She then told me that I couldn’t have a water birth. Rabbit, the cheeky monkey, had pooped which then moved our birth to high risk. It’s called Meconium, their first poop, and can cause some problems so being in the water would be too dangerous. She’d noticed that my waters had turned a brownish colour ( I couldn’t see past my bump to notice) so it’s a good thing she’d seen.
I asked if I could still go in the other room to use the bed but she said as I was high risk me and Rabbit had to be monitored more closely, I don’t think I realised the seriousness of it until then. This again made me feel more stressed and forgot all about my relaxation. I mean, I’d prepared for water, I’d visualised the ocean, contractions being waves, I had to have water in my birth, it didn’t seem fair at the time.
So that was it, I had to go for a bed birth. That was where little man was going to arrive so we had to make that situation the best it could be.
She put me on the gas and air which relieved quite a lot of the now painful contractions, although it also gave me a squeaky voice and numb fingers (least of my worries at the time!). I did take something from my natal hypnotherapy CD. When my contractions came I breathed in deeply imagining a wave coming towards me and I breathed out slowly, both pushing the wave back into the sea and pushing the pain and tension out of my body. Of course the pain stayed but the visualisation kept my mind somewhat busy!
By about 5 I couldn’t handle the pain. I asked if I could have some other form of pain relief, if possible a c-section or epidural (I’d really chickened out and lost my ‘I can do this’ attitude. I really wasn’t handling it as well as I thought I would have. She told me that at 1cm dilated I couldn’t have an epidural, I had to be closer so I would have to wait until 7:30 when the doctors were in to be reassessed! Was she kidding!? She gave me Pethadin instead which was an injection in my thigh and told me it would take 20 mins to take effect.
I think at this point my mum came in. Pete had called to say Rabbit was coming over the next few hours so my mum and dad sped on down. Dad waited outside while mum popped in to wish us luck. I’m not sure what I said but it probably wasn’t comprehendible! She then waited outside until the little man arrived.
At this point I had another new midwife – Wendy. She was really lovely. I remember asking her how long it had been since the Pethadin was given to me and she said 10 minutes. I then remember asking again for something stronger and her saying I’d still have to wait till 7:30 as I was still only 1cm. No sooner did she walk out of the room did I tell Pete he had to get her back in – I was ready to push.
I had this intense pressure down below which made me feel like I was going for a number 2. He told me the midwife had said I wasn’t ready and I told him I didn’t care, I was. He then looked out of the door, said he couldn’t see her and to wait till she was back. Probably a bit snappily, I told him to go and find her, or anyone. I didn’t care if I was 1cm, I didn’t care if I was told to wait till 7:30 – he was coming and I needed to push.
I’d always heard people say you just know when to push and you really do! The contractions didn’t hurt anymore they were just really strong urges to push. That’s not to say I was suddenly pain-free, the pain had shifted from contractions to , well a baby being pushed out of a small opening!
When Wendy came in, probably thinking I was being dramatic, she checked me over and not to my surprise told me that I was 9.5cm’s and baby was coming! I think the Pethadin had relaxed my body so much that it had driven me from 1-9.5 in a matter of minutes, hence the intensity of the contractions!
With one last try I asked for an epidural, to which she told me it was too late. At 5:25am I started active labour which meant pushing at every contraction. I had Pete on my left side holding one leg and the midwife on the other. The pushing made quite a pleasurable pain, and when Pete told me he could see the head, and I was allowed to feel it I felt really determined.
But then, Wendy, as much as she was trying to prepare me, told me that the next part was called the ‘ring sting’ where baby’s head would pass through. She told me it was the most painful part but over quickly! Wow! I guess that works for those kinds of people who like to be told when the doctor is going to give them their injection, but for me all this did was panic me. It certainly lived up to the name and at that point my head shut off, I said I couldn’t do it and looking back now I know it was really selfish but I actually thought, if I say I can’t do it, they’ll have to just give me an epidural and do the rest for me. I feel awful now when I think of that but I was so tired, tense and in pain I couldn’t think past the ‘ring sting’.
She told me that if I couldn’t push they’d have to give me local anaesthetic and cut me. With that, I think 3 women came in and all I remember saying was ‘no this is too much’ and gave one final push. I’m not sure what I thought was too much at the time, probably the amount of people, but it worked!
In reality, what Pete told me later, was that little mans heart rate had shot up where he was stuck there for a while. The midwife had looked panicked, pressed the emergency button and those people had come in. I think if I’d known at the time that it was Rabbit at risk it would have been enough to push straight away, but the threaten of the snip did the job.
I went past the ‘ring sting’, if I felt it then it would have only been for a second. It was the hugest amount of pressure I’d ever felt in my life and all I can describe it as was like a jellyfish – as gross as that sounds. All the fluids and his arms and legs kind of slid out in one motion and Pete said they had to scramble to grab him!
It was so unbelievably overwhelming that it took me a couple of minutes I think for me to really understand what had happened. All of the people in the room filtered out and he was passed to me. I just remember he didn’t look at purple or covered in gunk like on OBEM. He wasn’t all swollen or bruised, he just looked perfect. He looked like he’d been cleaned, spent the day in the spa and then handed to me (minus the little bits of mec in his hair.)
I didn’t cry straight away, i think I was in shock but Pete did which made me feel amazing for some reason. I’d been wearing a long sleeved top the whole time (god knows how) so the midwife told me to take it off for skin to skin. I just remember him being so alert, staring up at me.
Here is our first picture together …
The midwife then gave me the injection to help the placenta out and it was a swift push and a pull to make a jellyfish looking thing come out. No plans on taking that home or frying it like you hear some people do, that can go thank you!
I forgot to mention, we were told that because he’d pooped, he’d have to be taken away for some tests straight after birth to make sure he was okay. I’m guessing they would have been looking for obvious signs like breathing difficulties because as soon as a doctor came in after the birth the midwifes told him they didn’t need to do any tests – they must have known from his alertness that he was fine, and I got to keep him in my arms.
I then remembered that my Mum and Dad were outside so I asked a midwife who had come in the room to let my parents in. They walked in while Wendy was giving him his Vit K injection and it was really beautiful to see their eyes light up when they saw him!
Wendy asked me to try feeding so while we all chatted little man latched on …
Well that’s it for my birth story – no filters. I did consider trying to edit the pictures as they’re not too flattering of me but it was such a beautiful time I don’t want to edit!
It was the most overwhelming, intense, emotional, scary and exciting moment of my life. In the space of a day I went from a mum-to-be to a mummy. I gave up, I chickened out but when put under a little pressure I did it.
I couldn’t have done it if I didn’t have Pete there to tell me how amazingly I was doing, or Wendy the midwife to talk me through it all (except the ring sting!).
It wasn’t what I planned, and it wasn’t what I expected but I would not change a thing and I’d do it all over again for him.
I’d love to hear your birth stories so feel free to link them up in the comments 🙂
Thanks for reading! xxx