My name is Erin Smithers (or Noandroblog) I am 23 years old, the mother of two lively, beautiful boys and a student nurse. I became a mother at 16 years old, and never had anyone to discuss my ‘birth story’ with so it’s quite the honour to put it on Gas & Air!
My first birth was an event of blur, angst and big red alarms. There was definite fear around Roman’s birth. I had a ‘my body is made to do this’ attitude but internally I worried about the ‘what ifs’. I had a third degree tear with Noah, and had prepared myself that the same would probably happen with my second birth. I had convinced myself that Ro’s birth would require the same recovery time, the same agony as I reached over to the Moses basket, the waddling that went on for weeks. Noah was a very overdue baby, a really long drawn out induction of labour, nothing went ‘to plan’, there was lots of damage to my fanjo and then issues with bladder incontinence, back pain from the epidural, etc. It would be a lie if I didn’t say I was absolutely gutted when I found out Roman’s birth would also be induced. I had a really big, anterior placenta with Romey, which made it very difficult to feel his movements. He had needed growth scans (as did Noah) throughout his time in my womb, and the consultant wasn’t hugely satisfied that Ro was completely happy in there, so induction at 38 weeks was going ahead.
I had no hopes of this being an in and out job when I arrived on Friday the 25th of November 2016. When I had the pessary fitted, I nestled myself back down with no high hopes of delivering anytime soon. I had been drinking raspberry leaf tea in the week leading up to the induction, eating lots of pineapple and ventured into a little bit of nipple tweaking in the hope I could help naturally speed labour up and avoid the need for the hormone drip where possible, just because I wanted freedom to move during labour and with an IV and an epidural the first time round, I was stationary for a long time. I was frustrated by the small hours of that Friday night, I felt grim and wanted to go home. I’d been having small, infrequent tightenings that were nothing more than period cramps on the pain scale and I was so desperate not to have a failed induction – we had childcare for that weekend and that weekend only! I got up for my hundredth wee that night and as I stood up I remember feeling a sensation like a bubble popping, but not thinking too much of it. When I sat down on the toilet, out came my pessary. I dithered at the midwives station for a little while and weakly told a midwife that my pessary had fallen out in the toilet, disappointed because I knew I wouldn’t have another fitted until later on that day, therefore delaying the process even further.
I woke up an hour or so later, a little mortified as I had wet myself. I tried to lay down and keep my eyes shut, not wanting to bother anyone at 3am but I was so uncomfortable and needed to stand. As I stood, a substance I can only describe as sludge became quite apparent through my pyjamas. I knew this definitely meant something now, and that the small bubble bursting feeling was probably my waters, and this sticky grossness was most likely my babies first poo. I found a midwife who confirmed the sludgy poo sitch, and off I got whisked down to the labour ward – I felt a bit like a cheat – jumping in front of the other labouring women! Rather conveniently our car decided to break down that night, which meant my partner mainly pushed it to the hospital and rocked up a couple of hours later.
I was disappointed that I was to now going straight onto an IV drip. But, it meant meeting baby was imminent, vaginally or not, this baby would 100% be born on the 26th of November. My midwife was incredible. Being induced meant continuous monitoring and 1 to 1 care, so we were able to do a lot of chatting before things ramped up! And when they did ramp up, she was marvellous. Bless my partner, but his back massage wasn’t cutting it and despite having no words left within me, she sensed I didn’t want to be touched. She helped support me in position changes, moving my wires and drip stand accordingly, she also knew how important it was to me that I didn’t have an epidural, but she gently reminded me throughout that an epidural did not mean I had failed either. She trusted me, which made me trust myself. I knew I needed a wee but couldn’t go, and she very quickly and efficiently used a catheter, and despite being checked and being 7cm, half an hour later she guided me through pushing, assuring me that I did know my body and that if I needed to push, I needed to push.
Roman was born at 3.22pm that Saturday weighing more than had initially been thought at 7lb 3oz (but the placenta was a whopper at 3lb!!) He had a little avocado shaped head and very buggy eyes. He had the little scratches on his scalp from where he had to have a clip monitoring his heart rate during birth. He looked completely different to my first and what I had expected, and even with meconium dried around his face I thought he was a stunner. As a family we can’t do anything without a little drama, and the red button was pressed whilst I was delivering the placenta as the base of the umbilical cord had snapped off leaving a rather large placenta roaming around in there, which left me at risk for haemorrhage, but it was rectified so quickly and calmly, that my partner hadn’t even realised it was over and done with! Also! I didn’t have a third degree tear! I had a very small tear which I chose to let heal naturally. I had minimal blood loss and I got myself up and went and had a shower. I felt so vulnerable after Noah’s birth, but I felt strong and euphoric after Roman. It truly was the most empowering feeling I have ever experienced. He fed immediately and it all just felt incredibly ‘right’.
Although ideally I would never choose to have an induction, Ro’s birth was an incredibly healing and beautiful experience. Canula’s, catheters and red alarms aren’t in most people’s birthing plans, yet so many end up giving birth this way and I thought it was important to show that induction does not always mean emergency -sections and epidurals, and that they can be every inch as beautiful as the more idyllic home, birth centre births.