So, 10 weeks later, I’ve finally found some time to sit down and write my birth story. I’m so glad I have, as so many details are already fuzzy.
I had been hoping to avoid an induction, but unfortunately Annabelle had other ideas. I had been for acupuncture and spent far too long on my birthing ball, as well as plenty of walks to try and get things started, but nothing seemed to work. Baby was comfy and not ready to come out!
I was told to phone the morning of the induction date – when I did so, they were short staffed and so asked me to call back that afternoon. I was again hoping that this additional time might give my body time to start naturally, but this wasn’t to be.
The hospital phoned me back at about 12 and asked me to go in for 2pm – saying to ensure I brought my bags with me as I wouldn’t be leaving the hospital until I’d had my baby! I called my dad, grabbed some food and checked we had everything one last time. My dad arrived to take us to the hospital and off we went. I remember having such mixed feelings as we travelled there. I was so nervous about labour and how things might pan out, disappointed that I was having to be induced, excited to meet our baby and that the next time I came home I would be a mum!
We arrived at the hospital and were shown to a bed and basically told to make ourselves comfortable and that someone would be along to see us soon. There were some new parents with their baby in the bed next to ours, who were getting ready to go home. The baby was crying at one point and I remember saying to Dan that we would have to get used to that sound! He was sure that our baby would never cry (!).
After those parents had left, a midwife came along and explained that they would first examine me and insert a pessary. This would be left there for 24 hours, after which time if nothing has happened, they would try another one. Should this one not work, then they would look at putting me on a drip or consider other options. I was aware that should the first pessary work, you can essentially labour as though you had gone into labour naturally – so I could still go to the birthing centre rather than the labour ward, and still have more flexibility with moving around, water birthing, etc. I was very keen on a water birth and as such was really hoping that the first pessary would work.
The pessary was inserted at 3.15pm and I was placed on the CTG monitor for an hour. Almost immediately I started getting waves of back pain. Dan was intrigued by the readings from the monitor and noticed that the one which monitors contractions was rising at around every third wave of pain. He suggested to the midwife that I was having contractions but she dismissed this, even after looking at the graph and saying “oh, you are having something aren’t you?”. They were happy that baby wasn’t in distress and so I was taken off the monitor and was finally free to move around.
I was given a birthing ball, which I found useful to sit on and rock through the pain, bent forward and leaning on Dan or the bed. The pains had started becoming more intense and so I was given paracetamol, which had very little effect. I was then given codine, which made me throw up, so was back to the drawing board. They weren’t able to offer any other pain relief, and someone was using the bath so I couldn’t use that either.
I kept being asked whether the pain had moved round to the front, but the back pain was such that I couldn’t tell, it was all I could feel.
Dan called the midwife in to say I was in a lot of pain and was there anything they could do, to which she replied that there wasn’t, and that this was labour, it was painful, that’s just the way it was. I was trying to ask whether i could have gas and air when I felt a pop and a gush – my waters had gone. So what I actually said was “Gas and air waters gone” which confused them both until I repeated that my waters had gone! The midwife looked under the sheet and said “oh yes, so they have”.
The pain seemed to ease for a short while after my waters had gone, but was still coming in waves. The bath was finally free and so I was told I was welcome to try a bath for the pain, at which I jumped at the chance. The midwife started filling it and told me to head down when I was ready. Dan and I headed to the bathroom. I remember it being spacious and lovely and quiet – we finally had some privacy! Dan locked the door and I got in the bath, which was also pretty big. The relief was immediate, the hot water eased my back pain and I was able to relax a little. However not long after, I felt another wave of pain. These waves weren’t as regular as before but felt stronger and different to before. I didn’t want to leave the bath, as it had provided such relief I was sure the pain would get much worse once I got out. However, after a few of these waves, Dan insisted that I got out and went to see the midwives – he said later that the noises I was making through the waves had changed and he knew there was something different. We waited for the next wave, and got out and headed back as soon as it had finished, hoping we could get back to the bed before the next one. I had another on the way back and had to stop and moan through it. I remember thinking that I was making such a loud, gutteral noise, but I couldn’t control it. I was now feeling a downward pressure and wondered if this is what it felt like to need to push. Dan got me back to the bed and went to get a midwife. I couldn’t face climbing onto the bed and had another wave whilst stood up, leaning over the bed. I was vaguely aware of the midwives suddenly seeming much more attentive and told them I felt like I might need to push. I was quickly helped onto the bed and examined and told I was 5cm dilated and being taken down to the labour ward.
I just remember thinking “finally! I can get some pain relief!”. I was in too much pain to even argue that I had wanted the birthing centre and not the labour ward. The next thing I knew the midwives were pushing the bed down the corridor and into a lift. One of the midwives kept telling me to breathe and looked a bit panicked. I had no clue where Dan was or if he was following. I closed my eyes and moaned through the next contraction.When I opened my eyes I was pleasantly surprised to see I was in my favoured of the two birthing pool rooms on the birthing centre and I could hear the pool being filled. I later found out that Dan had remembered to tell them as they were taking me down that I wanted a water birth – I’m so very grateful he did! I was in no state to ask.
My midwife introduced herself and offered me some gas and air, which I gladly took! Dan appeared with all of our bags and I remember feeling bad as we had had stuff all over the place!
The contractions were coming fairly regularly now. The midwife examined me again and told me I was fully dilated. She asked me a few questions, but I wasn’t able to speak much – when asking how I wished to deliver the placenta I mimed an injection rather than speaking, which made Dan laugh.
She then helped me into the birthing pool and I felt such relief. I could now concentrate on the job at hand. Every time I felt a contraction coming I would breathe in the gas and air then moan through it. Once it subsided, Dan would offer me a sip of water whilst I was recovering. Throughout all this, it felt as though my body had taken over. I knew I just had to let it do its thing. I remember feeling really spaced out, my thoughts were really clear but everything else was in a bit of a haze. At one point the midwife asked me if I could feel the head coming down and I shook my head no – I didn’t think I could, but I wasn’t sure, as it was all new to me! She looked confused and asked why I had felt I needed to push and all I could say was “pressure”.
A while later, I started to feel the head coming down and suddenly I knew what she meant – there was no mistaking this! I panicked a little and think I said to Dan that I couldn’t do this, but he was very reassuring. I threw myself into focussing on getting through each contraction, letting my body do what it needed. I remember repeating things over and over such as come on, you can do this, it’s nearly here, you’re getting there. The midwife kept telling me how well I was doing. Dan continued to be a reassuring presence, offering water and holding my hand.
I was just in the middle of a particularly intense contraction (and wondering whether I needed to be actively pushing) when the midwife started calling my name and telling me to listen, and to slow down, to stop pushing. I was listening but still trying to moan through the contraction – after all, I wasn’t focussing on pushing, my body was just doing what it needed to. The next thing I knew, either with that contraction or the next one, suddenly all the pressure went. I was again taking a moment to breathe and recover when again the midwife was calling my name and telling me to turn around. Our beautiful baby was born at 11.16pm, 45 minutes before Dan’s birthday!
I remember thinking I needed to pick the baby up but was still pretty spaced out from the gas and air, and so the midwife had picked her up. I turned round and sat on the step and the midwife passed me my beautiful baby. I said “Hello, darling” and just sat gazing at her. I had done it! I was overwhelmed by emotions – relief, amazement, and love for this tiny perfect person in my arms.
My memory of the next bit is that the midwife then said “what have you got?” and I lifted her our of the water to have a look and said “it’s a girl!”. Apparently what actually happened is that the midwife took her off me, looked and said “it’s a girl”, which I then repeated as she handed her back to me. I prefer my version!
The midwife helped me out of the pool and back into the bed so that she could help deliver the placenta.
I remember looking over at Dan and saying “Annabelle, then?”. We had 3 name options but Annabelle had been the one we both loved. He nodded and so when the midwife asked if she had a name we said yes, Annabelle Rose.
At some point, the midwife helped Annabelle to have her first feed from me. I had been so worried that I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed, but we latched on after a couple of attempts and I remember just being amazed, that my body had made and grown this beautiful little girl and was now feeding her. It felt so odd but so wonderful! I made Dan take a photo of her first feed, although he thought I was a bit odd for that!
I had heard a lot of people talk about the lovely relaxing time recovering after labour, getting used to being a family of three, and also being brought tea and toast and how wonderful it tasted after labour. However, unfortunately, due to not slowing down when the midwife told me to, I had sustained a third degree tear. I therefore had to be examined to ascertain the severity of the tear and it was then decided that I would be best going to theatre to have it stitched, meaning I couldn’t eat and had to be taken away from Dan and Annabelle for a while. I was once again whisked away and Dan and Annabelle were left in the delivery room.
At the time, I remember being very calm about it all, if a little scared. I had never had anesthetic before and would usually have been terrified, but I knew I had to be strong and just deal with it. There were so many people in the room. One of the nurses introduced himself and was chatting to me to take my mind off it all – he was lovely and I was so grateful. Once they had finished the stitches, I was taken to recovery, where Dan and Annabelle were waiting for me. I had been gone about 2 hours and Dan looked a little shellshocked! He said Annabelle had been crying for food but obviously that was the one thing he couldn’t provide.
Dan looked so pale and tired and said he hasn’t feeling very well, so went outside for some fresh air whilst I fed and cuddled Annabelle.I remember wondering whether they were going to bring me and tea and toast, but they didn’t. Eventually, I was wheeled back up to the ward at 5am and put in a ward with 3 other people. We were chatting away and getting sorted, and it took me a while to realise that it was 5am and others would be sleeping and I should probably be quiet. I asked the midwifes for some tea and toast, which they brought me but they didn’t seem too happy about doing. The toast was cold and I remember feeling disappointed that I’d missed out on the wonderful tasting toast others raved about! I sent Dan home to get some sleep and just watched Annabelle in awe. My beautiful, perfect daughter!