Hello 2014! How exciting is the beginning of a new year? I’m embracing this month by banishing those January blues and looking forward all the amazing birth stories that I have to share with you every week. And kicking off this week is a fabulous story by Quin.
‘It was 2.30pm on Monday 3 October 2011 and I was just walking from the kitchen into the hallway, wondering when my friends and their son would be arriving for tea and cake. Then it happened – and it was just like it is in the films. Water gushed and I thought for a split second that I’d wet myself, until I remembered I hadn’t needed the loo 2 seconds earlier. And then the doorbell rang.
My first thought? SHIIIIIIT. I grabbed my phone and rang my husband, breathlessly conveying that not only had my waters gone and it was ‘happening’ but I had three lovely people waiting on the doorstep. We agreed he’d leave work pronto and I waddled to the door. Being on the top floor and the owner of a broken entry system, I hobbled down 4 flights of stairs and greeted my friends with a ‘my waters have gone’ and they came rushing in. ‘Don’t panic’ came from the gent. My girl friend, in all her calm, experienced glory was a very welcome sight. After calm was restored and I realised I wasn’t going to give birth imminently, we sat down to tea and cake – but as you can imagine, conversation wasn’t relaxed. We called the hospital and they told me to come in for a check. They asked if the baby was moving normally but to be honest, I couldn’t tell – it was probably snoozing and I was hardly feeling normal about things.
A friend at work had told me to ignore all the books and to not pack my hospital bag until I was in labour. ‘You’ll need something to do’ is what she said. So, with no hospital bag to grab, my friend dutifully packed it whilst I paced around, and off I hopped into a taxi, wearing my slippers (which I’d forgotten to swap for shoes) and sitting on a towel. I’m sure the driver thought something was up – but I certainly wasn’t going to tell him.
I met my husband at the station and we drove to the hospital.
I waited at St Thomas’s for a while, experiencing extremely mild period-pain like twinges, and thinking ‘this is so easy. I can totally handle this labour thing’. I was assessed and told I was not in labour and was booked in for an induction 24 hours later. ‘Go home, relax and put your feet up’ was the advice given. So that it what we did.
Home at about 6pm, we settled into an evening of lists. Lists and times. Timing and listing every single twinge and pain. By about 11pm I was well into labour with contractions and throwing up galore. I couldn’t sit, stand or do anything except for throw up everything I’d eaten that day and wish to God that it would be over soon. I was determined to stay at home for as long as I could so at about 1am, we went back into St Thomas’s for another check. I was sure I was in proper labour. The contractions were like nothing I’d even dreamed off and the ‘surges’ of pain were more like deep waves that penetrated every fibre of my body. Even my finger nails ached.
I was greeted at Tommy’s by a really unsympathetic woman. She curtly told me (as I threw up again) that I was not in labour and this was ‘nothing like established labour would be’.
I honestly didn’t know what to think. How could I cope with any more pain? The advice she gave me ‘to go home, get some sleep, have a long lazy breakfast and come back in 12 hours for the induction’ stuck in my throat, along with the useless paracetamol. We went home. I felt lost, dark, lonely and a little despairing. As my husband tried to sleep, I lay on the bed unable to think straight, my body felt like it was being torn in two each time I contracted, and at one point I remember thinking throwing myself out of the window was a better option than this dark and lonely place I was inhabiting.
At about 5am, I really could take it no more and was beginning to lose my mind. My husband called the hospital again and told them we were coming back in as I was in need of serious drugs. We were then told that labour ward was closed as it was full and they’d call back in a few minutes with an alternative. I didn’t care at this point. In my mind my husband was about to deliver our child, and any alternative was a blessing. Ten minutes later we were told to go to Kings and we hobbled off one last time. I remember not being able to sit in the car as each contraction propelled me out of my seat. We got to Kings and I was assessed on camera first whilst I waited (they do this sometimes to see how often you’re contracting apparently!) and when assessed by the midwife was told I was now 3cm and not in established labour. I nearly lost it at this point but, finally being in a safe environment, I did calm down and managed to persuade them to let me stay. Hurrah for the midwife as she was within her rights to send me off again as I hadn’t reached 4cm. As a birthing room was free, they welcomed me in – and much to me delight, began to fill the birthing pool so I could hop in and relax.
I got in the pool at 7am and was only there for about half an hour when I felt the strangest sensation – I needed to push and had no control over it. I told the midwife who said I needed to try and chill as much as possible – if I pushed too early, I would certainly tear. I tried to relax as much as I could and got chatting to the really lovely trainee doctor who was sitting in on my labour – his first. But there it was again, that urge to push. Under instruction I got out of the pool and was assessed.
When she said ‘ok, the baby is in the birth canal, you need to get back in the water and push’ we couldn’t believe what we were hearing. I thought I’d be there for ages yet (and was told I would be) and was just waiting for 4cm so I could have some serious painkillers – I had been dreaming of an epidural since about 1am. I remember saying ‘is it too late for any drugs’ and she said ‘yes, you’re baby is almost here! Get back in and push.’
After what seemed like an eternity pushing (it was about 2 hours), my beautiful little frizzy-haired bundle of loveliness came swimming out and straight into my arms. She was clean, plump, had huge blue eyes and pouty red lips. We were so grateful to the amazing team at Kings for having faith in my assertion I needed to stay. We were told if they had told me to go home, they are sure my husband would have delivered her – and that we are all grateful for! 3cm-10 in an hour is scary – especially when your body, as only you know really know, is clearly doing a lot of the hard work in the pre-stage.
Roll on 3.5 weeks, a nightmare with feeding, a saint in the form of a Lambeth breastfeeding counsellor, and a now happy, plump-once-more baby, I’m sitting on the sofa one evening when I get the strangest feeling, as if my waters have broken. I think it strange, that surely my waters broke nearly a month ago… I run to the loo to find I’m having a major haemorrhage. Losing what seems like pints of blood, with hormones raging, a newborn in the next room and what seems like my entire body ebbing away, I fly into a major panic. My husband rings 999 and an ambulance team arrives and whisks me – blue lights and driving on the wrong side of the road – all the way to Kings. A Code Blue is what they called me, catastrophic haemorrhage.
They stem the bleed and get me back onto post-natal, and keep me in for a few days. I have an operation to remove any ‘retained goods’ leftover from the birth – and have so many drugs pumped into me – including a spinal for the operation – that I think how ironic it is that I manage birth on no drugs and this on every drug going.
I can’t help thinking that 100 years ago I may not have made it to see my daughter’s first month – and for that I am more than eternally grateful. I’ve since discovered many friends and acquaintances who’ve had similar experiences, whether they be pre- or post-birth complications – all of whom may not be here today if it wasn’t for advances in medicine, and the incredibly hardworking NHS teams across the country.’