This beautifully written birth story comes from Emma. Emma and I met when we were at Sixth Form studying for our A-Levels. Emma was always a dreamer, travelled, did amazing things in amazing parts of the world. She was one of those friends on Facebook who had the most incredible photos, you just ached to be doing what she was doing instead of being stuck in the cold British Winters. Then one Christmas eve I had a call from Emma asking if she could take Paracetamol for a cold…… because she was pregnant! I was so thrilled, my first friend in our school group to become a Mama! Emma shares her story with you all, it makes me cry every time I read it. Enjoy.
‘I’ve just been into your room to check on you sleeping before I go to bed myself. It’s 10:30pm and you’re sideways in your cot, tangled in your blankets. I still catch my breath every night when I do this; and then I hear your shallow breathing and I can feel your chest rising and falling. When you were first born I was in a state of perpetual anxiety, scared that at any point you would just decide to stop breathing.
I still feel like I’ve just had a baby, but I’m starting to think about your 1st birthday party and what to do. I try and remember your birth and some parts are still so present in my memory yet some have faded or were never there due to being exhausted or drugged up.
I remember tiptoeing into the spare bedroom, my Tens machine wired up to my lower back and onto my upper buttocks. The vibrations humming away, reassuringly helpful. My Mum was staying and I woke her up. The contractions were only every 7 minutes or so but I wanted her to know and I thought, I can do this. I went back to bed. This went on the next night too, each night starting around 2am and easing off around 7am. I had a midwife appointment pre-booked the next day and so we went. I had a membrane sweep, “to get things going”. Then there were the crescendo of contractions, one after the other, as if a marching band were on its way through my entire body.
I walked down my road to Sainsburys, I bent over in the customer toilets, outside against lamp posts and in the Indian takeaway restaurant where the man said, “Shouldn’t you be in a hospital?” My boyfriend Tom came home and I thought, “Ok, this is it”. The drive to hospital was uncomfortable, least of all because I was giving the directions. We arrived, and I was admitted. I was 4cm dilated but they needed to get my room ready so we walked around the hospital. I held Toms hand. My mum rang the family. My Tens machine buzzed away.
Inside the hospital again my birthing pool was ready and my pregnancy yoga music was playing. I got into the water and wallowed like a hippo. I relaxed. Too much. I started quoting lines from the Life Of Brian. Tom and mum exchanged concerned looks. My contractions stopped.
A new midwife started her shift, along with a trainee midwife who had an annoyingly deep voice. I lost my concentration. The midwife examined me and gave me another membrane sweep. This time it was agony. The gas and air I sucked on only made me tired. My knees were now knocking together. I could barely stand. I cried. Tom held my hand and my mother pressed and lifted my lower back during each and every contraction helping to relieve the weight, the pain.
Now my memory is hazy and I see parts of the process which aren’t necessarily in order and it spans hours, where every contraction, every few minutes was exhausting. I remember trying to go to the loo and being unable to sit and needing help from Tom. Bending over a ball and saying, “I’m too tired, I don’t have the energy any more . Tom then asking for some drugs and me telling the midwife “I want everything”. Then I remember waiting.
Then finally, being wheeled down the hall to the other ward and given Pethidine which allowed instant pain relief. Respite from the contractions was amazing. I was laid on my side and asked to tell the Anaesthetist when I was having a contraction for the epidural. Then, beautiful numbness. I saw my contractions on a screen. We waited. Tom laid out a place to nap and I slept. I must have slowly come round. I listened to my mum and Tom talk to the midwife, to the new playlist of “Relaxtion” music which I still listen to during sleep.
Then I said “I think I need to poo, or push”. And so I did. Even though I still wasn’t fully dilated. This went on for 20 minutes, with my legs nearly up by my ears. My body a contortion. I should have been in the water of course, squatting. This wasn’t my birth plan. I was lying on my back, trying to push, exactly the way I hadn’t wanted it. Yet I pushed, not knowing how hard or if it was good enough, just numbly pushing until my face went purple. Finally, a head could be seen, I was told to bear down, to push harder, to take another big breath, I was doing well, a snip by the midwife and out she finally came.
After 14 hours, my beautiful girl was born, at 03:37 on the 28th August 2012. She came straight into my arms and Tom cut the umbilical cord. I cried, never having known how such a feeling could be brought into your life in one second. She was perfect, healthy, weighing 7lbs 9.5oz.
Suddenly I was a mummy, and I’m still getting used to it. She slept soundly the first night beside me in hospital in her glass box. I checked on her every 10 minutes despite the tiredness, to see if she was ok. I sat in my hospital bed, next to her, practising saying her name. Having only been decided when Tom had first held her and the midwife had asked “So, what’s she called?” And I looked at him, hoping he’d come round to the one I’d wanted. After what he’d seen me go through I must have convinced him as he then said “I think she looks like Orla”. Me too, I said. And that was that.’
How is it Monday already? And where has the sun gone? Well here is another lovely birth story from a very special friend to brighten up your day. Katie and I met on the first day at uni when we were training to be midwives 10 years ago. Wow that seems really weird. Little old me from London venturing out on this new life in Bristol to become a midwife. I remember seeing Katie and admiring her tan (she had just been travelling in Australia) and we became friends from that day on, living together in our final year. Katie has recently become a Mummy to little Chubs and here is her story.
Blog: Chubs and Love
I think it’s been long enough now that my memory has faded enough to give me the rose-tinted glasses when I look back on it all. In fact, I’m thinking about the next one – it wasn’t that bad, I’ll have a home birth next time!!I was convinced I was going to be early with Chubs, all my friends who had had babies recently had delivered at 38/39 weeks so I definitely would too, of course! But, 38 weeks then 39 weeks passed me by and I reached my due date with no signs. Nothing at all.
Due date bump
I spent the day making curtains for the nursery with my mum to occupy myself and prepared myself for my ‘new’ due date of T+12 when I’d be induced.Nine days later, on a Sunday evening, the day before my boyfriend was supposed to start his new job, I started feeling a bit uncomfortable. I warned him he might not be going and concentrated on cooking a roast dinner. (I had already polyfiller’d holes in the dining room and done a big supermarket shop that day!) About 9pm I took some paracetamol and sent Boyfriend to bed to get some rest as I had a feeling it was going to be a long night. I had a bath and started using my Natal Hypnotherapy breathing techniques but it was too much.
At 1am we went on in to the hospital. I was slightly disappointed to find I was 3cm, I should be more, surely?! Although bearing in mind I had been unable to have a sweep 3 days before, it wasn’t so bad.I was left in the quiet, dark room for a couple of hours before getting in the pool. Ohhh the lovely, lovely pool. It was so warm and quiet and just wonderful. I relaxed a little too much though and my contractions died off. By this time it was 6am and I was so tired. My hypnotherapy breathing just wasn’t cutting it any more and the gas and air just made me feel weird. I decided to have an epidural to allow me to get some sleep.
As the contractions had sodded off and I’d only managed to get myself to 5cm I was also put on the hormone drip syntocinon to give my body a bit of a kick up the arse. I spent the day dozing, eating toast and chatting with Boyfriend and various colleagues who popped in to say hello. My epidural was awesome, I couldn’t feel any of the pain, but could move my legs about easily.
By the afternoon I was feeling really strong pressure and felt I needed to push. I might have been a bit crap at labour, but pushing I loved! I was determined to give it some welly. I remember saying to my midwife ‘they lie to you at uni, babies come out of your bum, I know they do, I can feel it!’ It was hard work, but felt good to be productive and doing something finally.38 minutes later, at 16.08 my beautiful, perfect, squashed little Chubs arrived and my life began.