Pregnancy Diary – 39 Weeks

photo (42)

Monday – Is this nesting?!

photo 1 (4)photo 2 (3)

We decided to paint the baby’s room last week (better late than never) and it’s finally finished. Well, it’s a lampshade and dimmer switch away from being finished but we’re almost there.

Painting baby’s room without knowing the sex of baby somewhat limits your options so we have kept it neutral and used Farrow and Ball Pavilion Gray for the walls and Green Blue for the wardrobe. Ikea blackout blinds have been fitted, change table has been erected and our Gro-egg is in place, kindly alerting us to the fact that the room is too cold.

Baby’s clothes have been both washed and IRONED! I literally never iron. I think this might be the third time I have used the iron in my life. I don’t even know why I did. It’s not like I will be keeping this up when baby comes.  Now I’m thinking about it, perhaps it was a grave mistake on my part and I will have inadvertently given baby too high expectations and it will be permanently disappointed going forth with its wrinkly clothes…

Tuesday – TENS testing

We decided we should road test the TENS machine which we bought at an NCT nearly new sale a few weeks ago, just to check it worked. The testing of the TENS machine literally brought so much joy I nearly wet myself. And with baby’s head firmly engaged in my cervix, that’s not just a flippant throw-away remark but a genuine fear. I managed to coax my partner into being the guinea pig and he impressively managed to withstand the pulsating pads as I turned up the intensity. His whole body was jerking, and there may have been some screaming. I only wish we had filmed it.

We then tested it on my arm and it made my middle finger pulse rhythmically of its own accord. When boost was pressed my finger clamped down and I couldn’t even lift it. Hilarity ensued. Oh, it’s the simple things!

Wednesday – Date night!

photo (44)

Decided to squeeze in what could be the last date night in a while and go for a curry (OBVIOUSLY). Went to Dishoom in Covent Garden (which was AH-MA-ZING!). Also enjoyed a massive bump perk – instead of having to join the 1.5hr queue outside we were seated at the bar until a table became available. Food was incredible and 100% worth visiting even if you’re not prego.

Thursday – Gifts galore and goodbyes

Tonight I was out again after work (no rest for this 39 weeker), this time for an xmas/goodbye meal with my colleagues. I was given a gorgeous box of Mother treats from Neal’s Yard amongst other things… have added the massage oil to my birth bag already. I know I have mentioned this before but I literally cannot wait for labour to begin so I can start using all the treats I’ve been saving up!!

Friday – And breathe…

Today is my last day of work. My maternity leave officially starts on Monday – that’s 4 days before my due date. I don’t know what I was thinking. I guess I wanted to save my maternity leave for when baby was here and also I’m a VERY impatient person who doesn’t know how to rest. Being at home on maternity leave sans baby, for me, would be a very bad combination. I’d be trying to stretch and sweep myself within hours. However I am REALLY looking forward to just relaxing in bed whilst everyone is out of the house at school/work and watching season 2 of Orange is the New Black on Netflix uninterrupted… if I get the chance! I also have to get and decorate a Christmas tree, there’s my son’s school’s Christmas fair to go to… oh, and then there’s that other minor thing to square away… the Christmas shopping!!! Thank God for Amazon prime, hey?

Suzanne and Thea

SH&RH pregnant

If at the start of my pregnancy, you’d asked me how I hoped I would give birth, I would have informed you that natural childbirth, not to mention a drug free, pain free one, was a myth!  And then I would have gone on to tell you that the only possible way our baby was coming to join us was via caesarean section.  Now, this isn’t a birth story where I turn a full 360 degrees, and tell you my daughter glided out into a pool at home with me smiling, and yogically breathing my way through labour.  Almost but no, not quite like that!  But my view of birth and my approach certainly changed as my pregnancy progressed, and my wonderful midwife Clemmie, was one of a number of people who played a part in that.

Throughout and since my teenage years I’d been told war stories of the pain of childbirth and more importantly, the aftermath and scars that are left, both physically and mentally on the female body.  I think women tell these stories partly to exorcise their own perhaps unhappy memories of difficult births, and also throughout history  we know that in small communities, women assisted younger women through pregnancy and childbirth, sharing experiences and aiding and teaching future generations of mothers.  So I think it’s mostly well intended, though it left me with such a fear of the butchering my body would undergo, that I spent my twenties telling people I didn’t want children!

But as is often the way, I entered my 30s with my biological clock ringing in my ears and after a long struggle, we were delighted when we got pregnant with our first child.

Around the time that Clemmie was assigned as my midwife, two other things happened that influenced my opinion of how I might give birth:

A friend recommended I read a book called Birth Skills by Juju Sundin, an Australian obstetric physiotherapist.  To say it blew my mind is an understatement.  It was the first time that I truly understood both the physiology and psychology of labour, and I began to believe that my body ‘knew’ what to do.  I learnt that labour pain is not the pain of illness or disease, but the healthy pain of the uterine muscle working.  It’s just a muscle that works hard, gets tired, and aches.  I accepted that though a part of me would be in pain during contractions, the rest of my body would be pain free!  And that it would only hurt for the duration of the contraction.  And I grew to accept that as I can’t control the pain of a contraction, why waste precious energy and time trying, why not put my energies into something else.  It also felt like the first time that someone was saying, you’re afraid of the pain of childbirth? You’re absolutely normal!

This message was also reinforced when I hired a doula named Milana Silva.  She believed that you could achieve a peaceful pain free birth though the power of the mind, but she also told me a doula was there to support the mother in anyway she needed, and if that meant assisting her though a c-section, or discussing an epidural, a doula is there for you.

And then there was the wonderful Clemmie, who listened to and answered my many questions, talked through my worries and concerns, and allowed me the time to work out my own birth plan.

The other truly important message of Birth Skills, (and that of my doula and midwife and mum) was that no matter what happens during your birth, the important part, the truly important thing to take away with you, is that you did your best for you and your baby, and it doesn’t matter how they arrived, what matters is they’re here.  You meet your baby!

So, how did my beautiful daughter Thea eventually join us?

I experienced Braxton Hicks from about the middle of my pregnancy, and I often wondered how I would know that I was having actual contractions.  But 3 days before my due date, I went to bed one Tuesday evening, and just as I was drifting off to sleep, I knew.  It suddenly felt different.  I glanced at my husband Rich who was sleeping beside me, and decided that until it was truly time, I wouldn’t wake him.  I then spent the next 9 hours making a note of how long each contraction lasted and how far apart they were.  When Rich woke up at 7am he said, “someone’s been wriggling around all night”, to which I replied, “someone’s been having contractions all night!”

I texted Clemmie and my doula to warn them, and attended a pre planned appointment with the consultant at Kings.  This appointment had originally been booked in to discuss their preference to not allow women aged 40 and over, to go beyond 40 weeks.  But on examination, I was told I was 2cm dilated and the lovely consultant,  said, “I’d be surprised if this baby wasn’t born within the next 48 hours!”

So off home I went to busy myself through the early stages of labour.  On the advice of Clemmie I baked a cake!  Two cakes actually!  I think secretly she likes to eat cake when she visits her ladies, but she says it’s a good way to take your mind off things!  I went for a walk to buy ingredients and had to stop quite often to breathe though the contractions, all the while thinking, OMG I’m in labour here, actual labour, but here I am walking along Lordship Lane buying cake ingredients!!

By the time we went to bed on the Wednesday evening, the intensity of the contractions was starting to increase.  Though Rich had been following me as I walked around the house, massaging my back with a wooden massage roller, I decided it was time to use the TENS machine I had hired, only the week before as a last minute decision.  Oh how glad I was that I hired it!  The TENS machine was perfect for me.  I paced the bedroom floor (as Birth Skills had taught me), focusing on my breaths and counting through the contraction or rhythmically repeating, healthy pain, healthy pain, with the TENS doing its thing on my lower back.  My little walks would take me to various baby girl dresses that Rich had hung up around the house, some of them with our 3D scan picture attached!  A sweet reminder of who we were about to meet.  In between contractions I sat in a comfortable chair in the corner of our bedroom, with the sound of waves playing quietly on the iPod.  I love being by the sea and had adored swimming throughout my pregnancy, so the wave sounds were hugely comforting to me.

On Thursday morning both Clemmie and my doula arrived and both commented on what a peaceful and serene scene they had entered into.  When I think back to my early fears I had not imagined any of this!  After examination Clemmie told me I could move to the pool if I wanted.  From a fearfully planned c-section to a birthing pool that was sitting in the dining room!  So you did do a full 360, and your baby did calmly glide out into water you ask?  Well no, not really, as two contractions in the pool later and I was yelling loudly to anyone who would listen that water alone does not cure pain! What was I thinking?!

But the next game changer then arrived in the shape of gas and air.  Oh it was Heaven!  For the next few hours I floated about in the warm water, with a fantastic chill out playlist playing in the background, and blissfully declared my love of entonox.  Really, this bit was just lovely.  I must have felt pretty ok throughout this stage of my labour, as I apparently offered pizza to anyone who was hungry and directed them to the freezer!

But as is often the way, things changed a little.  I became pretty worn out (by this time I hadn’t slept for two nights), and Thea became a bit stuck (holding a hand up by your ear will get in the way of your route through a birth canal y’know!).  Eventually, and happily, we transferred into hospital.  An epidural and some forceps later, and Thea was born on Thursday evening at 22:51, an hour and 9 minutes before her due date.  In the theatre a radio was playing Don’t Take Away the Music by Tavares.  Yes, baby was born to the sound of disco!

In the weeks after Thea arrived, a few people (on hearing my birth story) said, what a shame you ended up in Kings, rather than birthing naturally at home.  But honestly I look back and I don’t mind, nor care, that Thea was born in a theatre at Kings.  My birth choices were mine.  I’d educated and empowered myself and though of course was scared of the unknown, felt, if not confident, comfortable on the day I went into labour.  Not how I had originally imagined it at all.  From the early days of wanting a section, to deciding to buy a birth pool, and eventually to having the epidural, I was happy to make these choices for my baby and I, and they were all good choices at the time.  I learnt to be prepared to deviate from ‘the plan’ and trusted that it would all be ok, whatever happened.  The important thing is that I got to meet my daughter Thea.  How she arrived is really irrelevant.  She’s here and she’s amazing.

Thea 1st pic Thea feet

Birth Story Of The Week – Emma and Orla

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.

Emma and Orla

Emma and Orla

‘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.

photo (11)

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.’

 

Birth Story Of The Week – Rachel and Ted

Summer is in full swing (I think I actually said yesterday to my husband in a teeny tiny voice that it was too hot). I’m doing my visits on my bike today and life is good!  Hope you all had a wonderful weekend and nobody got too burnt. Saw some hideous sun burn at our local Lido yesterday, ouch! Factor 30 people or you will look like a stripy lobster.

Today’s birth story comes from Rachel who writes a hilarious blog which I discovered when the Kirsty Allsop vs NCT row erupted on Twitter. Rachel writes with such honesty about Motherhood and says exactly what most of us are thinking, but don’t have the balls to say it. Here is her story

Blog: When The Baby Sleeps

Twitter: whenthebabysleeps

photo (6)

There are many things people tell you about giving birth that are true. The rest of what people tell you is irrelevant. One of the truest things I’ve read about giving birth is this: 

“When you’ve done it (given birth) you look back and realised that everything that happened, somebody had … told you would happen, but nobody put the information in the right order and they failed to really stress the important bits. They will tell you curiosities with more energy than they tell you about the main bits, where an actual baby comes out.” Zoe Williams, Bring it on, Baby (2010)

‘Ms Williams is 100% correct. As it turned out my labour featured a lot of the trivial details people had suggested it might, but the delivery was something else altogether.

It started with a sweep. A really vigorous and painful sweep, given as a way of trying to avoid a 39 week induction due to a (mistaken, in my humble opinion) diagnosis of gestational diabetes. Four hours later I was cramping and shitting and texting my husband urgently to ‘BRING HOME LOO ROLL!’. Body clearing out for labour? Check. We had a quiet evening in the bath, trying to time what were very half arsed contractions. There was a lot of standing up, sitting down and wondering if this was it.

I had a doula sorted to try and support me through an experience I was expecting to find very difficult. My husband’s amazing but he was keen to have a doula too, to help with practical things and provide a different dynamic to the one we feared might kick in if we both got tired and scared. I had many fears about childbirth which I’m sure most women share, and I felt I’d spent literally years preparing for something that I knew I couldn’t really prepare for.

My doula came over about midnight and we sat up for the next few hours talking, listening to music and pausing silent for contractions when they came. I’d had lots of things lined up to support me through labour such as a TENS machine, birthing ball and the like but when it came to it I just didn’t fancy any of it. As the contractions got stronger my doula got out her homeopathy kit, read me a poem and rubbed my back; all of these things seemed preposterous at the time (because they were) and I was still very much thinking through my labour at this point. I knew I time would come when I’d stop thinking, go inside myself and probably turn a bit feral but it hadn’t come yet.

About 5am I got a bit restless so insisted we go to hospital. Looking back on it I was wildly perky at this point and if my doula had been firmer with me she could have persuaded me out of going and kept me at home to progress. We arrived, I puked on a few people, peed in a bucket and then was told I was only 1cm dilated. Obviously. So home we went in a taxi that I had to get out of half way home because I was convinced I’d peed myself. I hadn’t. This was the thing that shocked me about labour; the total loss of control I felt. I was doing all of the bodily functions all the way through and it was weird. My body was starting to become ‘not-my-own’. Eeek.

Back at home I rested in the bath while my husband got some sleep, and my lovely doula stroked my hair, kept me positive and helped me relax enough to sleep through what were some intense contractions. I’d done hypobirthing during my pregnancy and it was at this point that I think it really kicked in. I was definitely in unrest mentally and physically very uncomfortable but what I felt wasn’t pain. That is until my waters broke. Two hours after getting into the bath I bit into a biscuit, threw up immediately and with my sick came the most almightly gush of stuff. I was sitting in a bath of puke, wee, womb water and all manner of bits that I could not identify. As well as the gunk there was this hard, intense pain and all I could think was ‘Get! This! Baby! Out! Of! Me! Now!

This is where labour memories become hazy as I shut my eyes and didn’t open them until it was more or less all over. Getting to the hospital was the hardest bit by far. I have vivid memories of trying to sit in the back of the car thinking it would be much less hassle to get out of the car and have the baby on the goddamn road. I think it may have been transition, folks. My doula and I shuffled into the hospital and were found a room on labour ward, while my husband left the car somewhere hugely inappropriate for which we got a parking ticket around the time my boy was born.

I was hoping to get straight into a birthing pool but the midwives had other ideas. My diagnosis meant close monitoring so I was strapped up to monitors – pre-labour I was adamant I’d still try for an active labour and wouldn’t be getting onto any beds to push. As it turned out I was so far gone by this point both physically and mentally that it was all I could do to crawl onto that bed and stay there. I was good for nothing else, too weak to stand and plus I was already ready to push. I tried gas and air around this time but it made me feel too light headed and scared to persevere, and although I did politely request an epidural even I knew that was pointless by now. Gulp. “You can start pushing on the next contraction.” It all felt too sudden and I had no time to acclimatise to the hospital setting, although the pain was telling me this baby couldn’t come soon enough.

The pain stopped for the first time in what felt like hours and I had a real moment of clarity. I looked around the room and asked ‘Will this bit really hurt?’ The answer was an emphatic No, as apparently I’d done the hard bit. Well, pushing a baby out is really hard to get the hang of isn’t it? I got all the ‘like you’re having a poo’ instructions but just couldn’t cut it. After every contraction I got the strong sense that I was doing pretty poorly as the midwives all looked very disappointed. And then they looked concerned. They were gathered around the monitor which was printing out my baby’s heartbeat, telling me to ‘push whenever you want!’ and then all of a sudden everything changed. An emergency cord was pulled and about 6 new extra people appeared out of nowhere. Equipment was gathered, lots of instructions were barked, and it became clear we had to get this baby out PDQ.

First up the doctor tried a ventouse, which hurt like hell and was ineffective, so thanks for that guys. She tried a cut too, which didn’t really hurt at all much to my surprise. It was the big guns that brought out my baby in the end: the dreaded forceps. Which, turns out, aren’t as bad as you think. I mean, it’s no picnic and I did immediately report it as ‘like being ripped apart by wild animals’ but considering what a brilliant job they do of getting your baby out they’re not quite deserving of their terror inducing status. I had a local for the forceps so couldn’t feel anything except pressure, and when baby came out he was just fine. It was all done there and then so there was minimal hanging around and the whole awful saga was over within 20 minutes. My boy came out screaming but well and he shot out with such force that he sprayed birth blood and gunk all over everybody – a fact I am more than a little proud of. Well, it’s the least they deserved for the drama right?

 He was well. 6Lb 5 and the spit of my husband as a baby. We were relieved beyond measure, swallowing our terror and trying not to think about what we thought might go wrong. Shell shocked, I think.

rach_2

The next day I was visited by the doctor who delivered my baby. Now she’d definitely done an ‘oops’ face when she saw the state my genitals were in once my baby was born. She talked me through everything that had happened, reassured me that my baby was fine but that they’d been very worried, and explained that I’d take some time to heal. “Did I just not push hard enough?” I asked her. “No. You did a really good job.” I thanked her, and she left me to it.’

An Open Letter To Kate Middleton

Dear Kate

Firstly, I would like to congratulate you on choosing some great maternity dresses throughout this pregnancy. Re cycling your Top Shop polka dot dress went down a storm, I bet Sir Phillip Green couldn’t believe his luck.

I hope you’re enjoying your ‘nesting period’ now that you’ve finished your last public engagement before the baby is born. I also hope William isn’t spending too much time whizzing around in helicopters rescuing stranded people while you are on your hands and knees scrubbing the Royal floor boards to encourage your baby to get into the right position for labour. Don’t worry, I know you may be tempted to sniff the bottle of Bathroom Bleach due to those uncontrollable urges, it’s just those crazy hormones. Your body does not really want you to eat soap.

photo (5)Really embrace this time to perfect your Hypno-birthing techniques with William, remember ‘Surges not contractions’ and print off your affirmations to post around the delivery room walls. Something along the lines of ‘Opening like a flower‘ or ‘ If in doubt, breathe out’.

Show him how to massage the sacrum of your back during those difficult times of your labour, you may want to consider using aromatherapy oils such as Lavender or Chamomile which are relaxing especially if your Mum or William are getting a little stressed! Drop a few drops onto a tissue and let them have a whiff, this should do the trick. Perhaps this would be a good time to consider trying some perineal massage.

Make sure William knows how to use the TENS machine and can stick the pads on your back without him electrocuting himself! Could be a bit embarrassing for him and you. Not one to tell the Queen. I’m sure you have already, but pack your labour bag, Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream, a wide headband and a pillow are just a few essentials you will definitely need. And not forgetting the all important food bag, especially for William. A strapping lad like him needs to be topped up regularly with high energy snacks; Pot Noddles, a few bananas perhaps and some Lucozade for you to sip to keep you going. (bendy straws, don’t forget the bendy straws!)

Music! We know how much you and William are partial to a little groove once in a while so make a great playlist. You may be inspired here from some of my and my readers suggestions. Number 8 and 11 were particularly good through those final pushes!

Last but not least, remember to take photos! If William is down the business end, get your Mum to take them. Obviously these won’t be the ones The Palace will want to release. But the first one of you with the baby skin to skin and looking like well like you’ve just given birth is very special. Perhaps Instagram it, a nice filter should do the trick.

Sending you lots of positive birthing vibes Kate, and I do hope you achieve the natural birth you so want. I have a feeling your Obstetrician may not be so up for a water birth or Hypno-birth but you never know. One last suggestion, maybe consider a midwife looking after you. One you know, have a good trusting relationship with, one that will support all your choices and treat you like a normal low risk pregnant woman. You could even have a home birth at your parents house, in the private environment you so deserve.  Just like the soon to be Great Grandmother did. If home birth is good enough for The Queen, it’s good enough for the heir to the throne.

Let me know if you change your mind, I may know a few great midwives that could help.

Best Wishes

The Unscratchable itch (part 2)

Pre induction CTG

We arrived on labour ward at around 9:30 to find a very busy labour ward; it was one of those shifts, the board was full and red.  No room at the inn for me!  I had pre-arranged for Lesley (a fellow midwife) to perform my sweep and give me the Propess (well if you’re going to have a sweep you might as well have one of Lesley’s sweeps!) so I called her and said we were waiting for a bed.

Luckily a bed was found for me in the induction bay and Lesley arrived grinning at me with an entonox mouth piece ‘You’ll need some of this’.  I don’t know who was more horrified me or my husband.  And she was right I did need some entonox!  After a lot of giggles the Propess was firmly inserted and the pain kicked in pretty much straight away.  So much so I didn’t even make it passed the doors to the reception area (we had planned to go for a walk and get some lunch).  My husband put my TENS machine on and I spent the next few hours bouncing on a birthing ball, texting family to keep them up to date and a lot of ‘I can’t do this’.  The thing with Propess is the pain never goes away, there is a horrible constant aching pain in your groin that no amount of walking, squatting, hot compresses can help.  I was getting pretty desperate, and it was only the beginning.

By 2pm it had all got too much and I begged the midwife in charge to find me a free room, it’s really hard being in early labour in the induction bay, no space to move around or privacy.  Room 10 was free and I did the walk I’d seen so many other women doing in labour from the induction bay, TENS machine in one hand and my pillow in the other (I’m pretty sure I was bare foot I didn’t care about anything at that point).  I really wanted to use the birthing pool but as I was being induced for OC I knew that once I was in established labour, I should have continuous monitoring.  I started the entonox again, but I wasn’t laughing anymore and my husband called my original home birth midwife Kate, to see if she could come in and look after me.  Thankfully she was free and arrived to find me in tears, taking off my make-up and begging for an epidural.  After a lot of reassurance she decided to examine me so I knew how I was progressing.  But unfortunately I was only 2cm dilated.

Propess is kicking in

Gas and Air is my best friend

So I continued to mobilise for a few more hours desperate for some form of change and progress.  At 6pm I was re examined and was found to be 5cm dilated and my Propess was finally taken out and my waters were broken (an ARM), which were clear!  Within 2 minutes the contractions felt completely different, like really strong but manageable waves.  We agreed that if I have a 20 minute trace on the CTG and it was reassuring I could use the pool.  Horary!  At last the one thing I had been focussing on was ready and I got into the warm water feeling completely relaxed.  It felt amaaazing.  Like the best bath you have ever go into post Glastonbury festival (but less mud) or after the longest day at work.

After an hour of really strong contractions and A LOT of gas and air I began to really lose control and begged for an epidural again!  In hind sight I was probably in transition but my midwife left the room to talk to Zoe (a good friend and fellow midwife) who was on shift to see if she could put me off and encourage me to keep going a bit longer.  But for some reason (and only my body knows why) at that moment when my midwife left the room, I suddenly had a huge contraction and felt the baby’s head beginning to crown and screamed at my poor husband ‘it’s coming!’ so he did what he thought was best, he pulled the emergency bell.  My calm, quiet birth suddenly turned into a bit of a drama and lots of people came running in only to see my beautiful baby girl being born in the pool at 20:35.  I decided to have a physiological 3rd stage, and delivered the placenta myself in the poll, 15 minutes later.  Total blood loss 150 mls, and a tiny graze.

Hello new person

  And we were all home 3 hours later having tea and peanut butter on toast in bed.

The sisters meet at last

Push Music

This is me in early labour with my second baby. I’m really pissed off as I’m being induced which was not how the start of my perfect birth story was supposed to begin. ‘It wasn’t meant to be like this’ I kept saying to my husband over and over as the waves of early labour kicked in. I had ‘planned’ a home birth, a straight forward water birth in my lovely little cosy house with my favourite Diptyque candles flickering in the background and my own bed and bathroom. But due to a nasty condition called Obstetric Choleostasis which I developed just as I was leaving to go on maternity leave (I ignored the classic tell-tale sings for a few days tut tut- excessive itching on the hands and feet), I was strongly advised that it was safer to induce me at 38/40.  It just goes to show being a midwife has no relevence to how your pregnancy or birth goes. Anyway in this photo you can see I’ve got my ipod on (and TENS machine), it was the only way I could drown out the sounds and pain and focus on getting through those hours.  No whale music or panpipes for me, this was my moment to hear what I wanted, so here’s my playlist and please please PLEASE share yours in the comments box below. Why? My plan to create the ultimate labour playlist for anyone who wants to listen, enjoy.

  1. Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan – Come Undone
  2. Nick Drake – Pink Moon
  3. Prince – Rasberry Beret
  4. Jay-Z Feat. Alicia Keys – Empire State of Mind
  5. The Beata Band – Dry The Rain
  6. Arthur Lee – Love
  7. Arcade Fire – Wake Up
  8. Florence and the Machine – Cosmic Love
  9. Elbow – One Day Like This
  10. Chemical Brothers – The Boxer
  11. The Stone Roses – Made of Stone
  12. I am Kloot – Over My Shoulder
  13. Radiohead – Creep
  14. Belle and Sebastian – Boy with The Arab Strap
  15. Etta James – At Last
  16. Portishead – Glory Box