We planned our son. We always knew that I would carry any babies we had, you know when each partner knows their roles within a marriage? Well that’s us. I will be the the waddling child bearer and my darling wife will be the one to continue to work full time and be the main earner for our family. She’s the one who entertains with jokes, I’m the one who entertains by cooking for people. Like I said, we know our roles in this partnership. Anyway, so off we went and trawled online catalogues of anonymous donors who had signed up to help make our dreams of having a family a reality and yes, it really is a catalogue of options which include race, hair colour, height and occupation. Because obviously you know it really matters if genetically, you’re made up of one half Brain Surgeon and one half B&Q Sales Assistant. We decided when we would go in to have our treatment, much less like a visit to a spa than it sounds I promise, which meant we knew more or less what star sign our baby would be (there were ones we both hoped to avoid haha). We had planned everything, including the birth…
I was 40 weeks and 6 days pregnant and had settled down to watch X-Factor after a busy day of making Christmas treats with the family, when I realised – I hadn’t felt the baby move much today. I wasn’t sure if it had just been because I was busy and not really paying attention but I decided to call the hospital, just to be sure. Immediately I was told to come in for monitoring and so off we hurried, well I waddled a fast ish speed but you know what I mean. To cut a long story short the midwife on duty explained ever so matter of factly that I wasn’t going to be leaving this hospital without our son and so there we were at 10pm, just having heard our babies heartbeat all sounding perfectly fine, waiting on the ward for what was to be next.
What actually happened next is that the little ball of energy in my tummy refused to cooperate with the midwives and allow himself to be monitored accurately so at 7am the following morning I was wheeled off, past the dreamy Birth Centre where my beautiful, drug free, water birth was planned and onto the Delivery Ward, ready to be induced. All I remember thinking is “this wasn’t the plan. This wasn’t it. I was supposed to be doing this naturally”.
I’d kind of read about inductions in all my birth books, I’d listened a bit during antenatal classes about what might happen as a result but truth be told, I’d skipped over them without any thorough understanding. I was SO sure my birth was going to go the way I wanted. It didn’t though, at all. It couldn’t have gone farther from the plan I’d created. My waters were broken by a more senior doctor after the junior doctor wasn’t able to do it. This was on my second internal. I felt like a guinea pig at this stage with medical professionals keeping putting their hands inside my lady garden to check how I was dilating. Different doctors came and went, discussing options and the next steps. This wasn’t relaxing me at all. I hated the internal examinations. They were more painful than I ever could have imagined and I absolutely despised the gas and air. It was vile, it made my head feel fuzzy and I felt constantly nauseous. In my original birth plan I’d planned only on using gas and air. Ha!
Anyway, I digress…my waters were broken and it was clear that baby had passed meconium inside me which meant being strapped to the bed for constant monitoring, wires, tubes and belts on my tummy and in that moment, mentally, I threw away any hopes of having a relaxing birth, I could barely move without pulling half the hospital along with me let alone think about hypno breathing my way through this. My midwife got me hooked up to the Syntocinon to help my contractions come on and my labour progress and so we waited, and waited and waited. Until – whoosh! The contractions came and they only bloody hit me like a lorry at 90mph every few seconds. What the actual fuck I kept thinking?! What the hell is this pain? As if I could have coped with a drug free birth. Please midwife lady, give me some Pethidine. My midwife did explain that I was at the max level of Syntocinon offered without having any pain relief yet so she was sure I could handle natural contractions next time, I guess that bit made me feel a little superhero like! I don’t feel like the Pethidine, personally, did much except help me to sleep a bit, wake up for a big contraction and then fall back to sleep. After a couple more internals I moved onto an Epidural. I understood afterwards why the doctor was so adamant I had one at 4cm dilated. It was bliss, I could move around the room without half as much pain. I could concentrate on the downloads we’d put on our iPad. I could actually chat to my wife instead of growling and gurning at her like an injured animal. I wanted to kiss the inventor of this. I wanted to thank the anaesthetist forever. I wanted to start a petition to make Epidurals mandatory for all women in labour, that’s how happy I was to be pain free. So I laid there waiting for the visible labour signs to show, leaking bucket loads of amniotic fluid (my poor wife was running behind me cleaning the floor up and apologising to the midwife) and waiting for the moments you see on the telly “he’s coming, I need to puuuuuuuush”. In reality, that moment never came.
At around 9pm that evening I had my final internal examination thank god. My labour hadn’t progressed, I had gone backwards from 4cm to 3cm. I wasn’t dilating. My babies heartbeat had dropped. Why was my body failing me? I couldn’t get it. I still don’t get why my body just wouldn’t do what millions of women can do. The team of doctors had decided that an emergency c-section was the only way forward at this stage. Our baby wasn’t going to come out naturally. And so we did what anyone else would do in a situation that they were told was endangering their unborn child’s life, we signed the paperwork and got ready for theatre. My wife was whisked off to get into her scrubs and gather all of our belongings. I was prepped for surgery. My body was trembling to the point my teeth were chattering. A mixture of hours worth of drugs being pumped into me, fear, adrenaline and excitement at the thought of finally meeting our boy I think. It seemed like hours but just around 15 minutes later we were in theatre, it was sterile, it was bright, it wasn’t the Birth Centre but surprisingly I felt calm. The team introduced themselves before surgery began, my wife was sat by me holding my hand throughout, we were ready to meet our son. Not the way we’d planned but the way the Universe had planned it for us. After a strange feeling of someone rummaging around inside my stomach and just after 10pm, our baby boy was lifted over the screen and I saw him, covered in goo and blood. Swollen from head to toe but so perfect. So beautiful. He was worth it, worth every bit of pain and discomfort I’d been through that day. He was whisked off, screaming his little full head of hair off but as soon as he heard his Mum’s voice he was soothed into a quiet murmur. A few minutes later he was put on my chest and I can hand on heart say that it felt like our baby boy had been born in what was the most perfect way for him.
I had a baby. A real human grew inside of me and I birthed him and he’s made me appreciate my body and the wonderful things it can do, every day since. To any mamas to be, you’ve got this. Your baby will get here one way or another, it will all be okay in the end and remember, the end of your birth is just the start of your life as a parent.
Peace and love,