Birth story - Samantha and baby Nathan
38 weeks to the day, after a trip into town with my Mum to get balloons for my Grandma's 80th Birthday celebrations (which we had moved two weeks forward as it was the same week as my due date), my husband Rob and I were getting ready to go to my brothers for the BBQ. So after getting all suncreamed up, I popped to the loo. I came out, grabbed my bag ready to walk down and then said to my husband 'eugh...can't believe I've just peed a little when I've just been to the loo...' and then a brief moment of pause before saying... 'actually, I think that was my waters breaking'. It was a small pop and trickle and Rob was totally unconvinced. We phoned the midwives who advised us to give it an hour or so and then come to the hospital to get checked.
So we calmly went to my brothers as planned (although we did drive instead and put all our bags in the car...and the car seat which Rob still hadn't fitted yet...). I hadn't originally planned on telling people when we went into labour but it was kinda unavoidable given the circumstances. My sister in law (who has a 3yr old), kept saying she couldn't believe I was at theirs and how calm I was (I put all of this down to the digital pack knowing that the adrenaline might slow things down). So we enjoyed the sunshine for a bit, had a little to eat and watched my niece play in her paddling pool, keeping the oxytocin going!
After an hour or so I started getting some very mild period aches so we decided to start saying bye to family and go to the hospital just to get checked...reassuring everyone that we would probably be back by half time of the footy (It was the England vs Sweden world cup game). So we drove to the hospital, about half an hour away, playing the MTV rocks album to keep positive vibes going as all the tracks are very nostalgic for us both.
Once we got to the reception, we were told that the midwife led unit was closed due to being too busy and staff shortages so we would be going to the Labour ward instead. Not what I had hoped for but nonetheless stayed positive and reminded myself that where my baby was born didn't matter as long as they arrived healthy and happy. We just kept smiling knowing we would be meeting our baby soon!
It was 2.30pm when we arrived and my surges started at around 4.30pm, coming every 2minutes for about 30seconds. Unfortunately we weren't triaged until 6.30pm because of how busy they were so this was all in the waiting room. We kept ourselves occupied by watching the football on Rob's phone and chatting with other ladies who were waiting (and updating the fellas on the score!)
By the time I was triaged I was struggling to find a position I was comfortable in apart from one...hanging off Rob's neck (a fine example of how he really was my rock throughout). The up breathing was definitely helping during the surges, but I was finding it hard to calm myself between them even though Rob was doing his best. I was examined and only 2cm...a little disappointed given the frequency of my contractions. Using BRAIN, I accepted a pethidine injection to help 'calm' me a little as I knew it was likely to be a while before little one made an appearance and the heat was stressing me out! I didn't think it had any impact on my surges but definitely took away some of the anxiety between them.
Although I had wanted to be at home for as much of early labour as possible we decided to stay and be transferred to the antenatal ward as my surges were so close together and now every 90seconds. I asked to walk up there and not be taken up in a wheelchair as I wanted to keep moving and encouraging baby down.
Once on the antenatal ward, I had a bath (not usually a fan of baths but knew it might help and it was a relief to get the suncream off...I hate suncream!), where we discovered the ink from the blue dress I had borrowed from my Mum had completely transferred onto me and I looked like a Smurf! (Gave us a good laugh!) So Rob tried to scrub if off while I breathed through my surges.
At 11pm I agreed to a further examination and was pleased to be told I was now 6cm and could go back down to Labour ward. Once we got down there (again walking) it was shift change over and the midwife came in and started to prep me to go on the monitor. This is the point I was MOST grateful that I had done the digital pack. I am normally quite a polite person and work in healthcare myself so am always careful not to be a 'pain' as I know the pressure they are under...but I questioned why I needed continuous monitoring as I was low risk and very keen to stay mobile. She went off and looked at my notes and then said we would do intermittent monitoring. PHEW! (I think because I had been on the antenatal ward she assumed I was being induced...just shows how a quick assumption could have led to me being stuck on the bed longer than necessary).
After four hours of bouncing on the ball with gas and air (which was amazing!!!!!!), chatting to my husband about baby names and snacking and drinking Lucozade energy squash, I agreed to an examination as I was keen to know how far I had progressed...I was still 6cm! After talking to the midwife and with my husband we used BRAIN and agreed to the induction drip being put in (given my waters had gone 15hours ago). This increased the length of my surges and I knew I was getting closer to meeting my baby which kept me positive.
During the pushing stage I struggled with the down breathing so I followed my midwife's guidance but she was by no means coaching me and remained really quiet while my husband did an absolutely wonderful job of helping me with lots of positive affirmations and encouragement. I did end up in stirrups right at the end which wasn't really something I had anticipated (and so Rob couldn't advocate for me because we hadn't discussed it beforehand), but as I was being monitored I was a little more limited in terms of positions and I think they actually helped supporting me sit forward to bear down (and maybe saved my husband's arms a little!!)
At 7.45am it was shift change over and two new midwives came in (one a student...which I was really pleased with as I am passionate about student education in healthcare). They did not interfere with the atmosphere in any way and quietly stood by and let Rob keep encouraging me. At 7.56am, after about 40minutes of 'pushing' our baby was born (and the night shift midwife was still there too, but it was the student who delivered so another one done for her portfolio! Yay!). We were absolutely ecstatic! So much so that Rob was meant to tell me the sex of the baby but was just so happy he forgot to check, so I looked. We had a baby boy!!! He was delivered straight onto my chest and we had lots of skin to skin while I had a managed final stage to deliver the placenta and was cleaned up. The student midwife was also very accommodating with my request to have a 'real good look' at the placenta too (I'm curious like that) and talked me through it while I had cuddles with my beautiful baby boy.
I did experience a 3rd degree tear which was stitched up in surgery but I can honestly say 'tearing' was no where near as awful as you might think (I must admit I was sceptical when this was said in the digital pack...but it really isn't that bad!!!). I had a good couple of hours with our baby and Rob before I went to surgery (still with blue dress ink all over!). The tenderness I experienced after really was no worse than I thought it might be had I not had the tear. We went on lots of little walks in the sunshine with baby everyday after he was born which I really think helped with healing. A nice warm bath with lavender oil and keeping up with the paracetamol and ibuprofen and lactulose for the first week was also a big help.
Due to a tongue tie we struggled to get baby boy to latch and suck so I was able to pump colostrum and was well supported in doing so. After an over night stay because my blood pressure was too low, I was discharged home with my baby boy!!! The hospital team were amazing throughout and although I had hoped to be in the birth centre, our birth on the Labour ward was still a wonderful experience.
Our gorgeous boy is now 6 weeks old and I honestly don't know where the time has gone! We are so unbelievably in love and can honestly say that although this birth story might not have aligned with our hopes, the digital pack meant that we went into it informed, prepared, flexible and of course... POSITIVE...and so to me his birth was perfect!!
So for all you soon to be Mummies...read the positive stories and afterwards, take time to reflect on your birth (and eventually write your story) while cuddling your new baby, especially if it didn't go as you 'planned' to make sure you appreciate how incredibly amazing your body is!!! I have always been so critical of my body and how I look but can honestly say right now, 2 stone heavier with more stretch marks to add to the teenage years collection that my body is AMAZING!! So if you're having a tough day during your pregnancy...just remember you can do this and your birth will be wonderful no matter what happens because it will bring you your new baby!!
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