So, now I’m back blogging, it feels right that I should start with the labour itself! As it was over 4 months ago, it seems a bit of a distant memory, so I want to get it written down before I have no recollection of it at all! You better set aside a few minutes for this! It’s a bit of a long account!!!!
I was booked in for induction on Thursday 4th July. I really really didn’t want to be induced, as I’ve heard it can be a longer and more painful labour. So, I was really happy and excited when I went in to labour naturally at 3.30am on Tuesday 2nd July, 8 days after my due date.
I’d had a vindaloo that night (believe me, when the baby is overdue, you’ll try any of the old wives tales!). So, when I woke with stomach cramps in the night, my first suspicion was that the curry was to blame! I noticed the cramps were coming and going, so started timing the gap. They were exactly 8 minutes apart each time! That’s when I felt certain that this was ‘it’!! The contractions weren’t too painful to start with. Kind of like a combo of really bad period pains mixed with an extreme need for the toilet!
At 6am, the pain was starting to get a bit worse and the contractions were moving to 7 minutes apart. I went to the toilet and felt a gush – the waters were breaking!
As I went back in to the bedroom, Sean started to wake up (I’d managed to stay quietly in bed up to this point and let him sleep!) and asked if all was alright, and I giddily told him what was going on!
We had a conversation about how he should go to work anyway and I’d ring him to come home when they got worse, thinking that I’d be in labour for ages. But, when it came time for him to leave around 7am, I knew I didn’t want him to go. The contractions were 5 minutes apart and I was starting to have to really breathe through them to cope with the pain. The midwives had said to ring the hospital when your waters had broken or your contractions were 5 minutes apart, both of which were the case, so I gave them a ring and they told me to come in. 8am I got checked out and was found to be only 2cm dilated, so they suggested either going home or waiting on the ward for things to progress. I chose to go home. I got in the bath and fell in and out of sleep between contractions. As the morning progressed, so did the pain!! It was starting to get really painful! The midwife had said to come back when it was really intense or I couldn’t cope! It’s hard to know when that point is!
Sean busied himself downstairs finishing off our living room renovations. I wanted to be on my own but within shouting distance, so I paced around upstairs. The pain was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I’m not gonna lie – it’s excruciating!!!!! I tried all sorts of coping mechanisms! Counting to 10 really slowly until the contraction passed seemed to really help! Other than that, there wasn’t really much to do but ride it out then dread the next one!
Sean came up when the contractions were about 2 minutes apart and suggested it might be time to head back to hospital, as I sounded like I was really suffering! It’s hard to stay quiet during contractions!!! I went in to some weird head spaces in between them though! I was having all sorts of hallucinations, without the help of any drugs!!
So, we got back to the hospital just before 2pm. I was found to be 5cm dilated so taken straight through to delivery. I’d been pretty keen to go with what felt right during the labour, but to try and avoid any strong forms of pain relief if possible. So, I opted for the gas and air. It helped a lot! I think mainly because it focused me during the contractions. They seemed at this point to be constant with no break in between. My back was in absolute agony, which I found out after was because Ella was in the back-to-back position, which is not ideal for labour. I naturally found myself standing up, bent over, swaying side to side and doing squat like movements – apparently the right thing to do if your baby is back-to-back. Ella actually turned and came out the right way round!
At about 3pm, I started to complain about needing a poo – a sure fire sign the baby is on it’s way! With the next contraction, I found myself pushing. The urge was so great!! The student midwife panicked a bit, thinking I wasn’t ready for that stage, but I couldn’t stop! She checked me out and found me to be fully dilated, so I was good to push! Only an hour from 5cm to fully dilated! I was happy about that!!
I found the pushing bit to be the easiest part of the whole labour. Mainly because there was something to focus on other than the unbearable pain!! I’d been pushing for about 10 minutes in various positions, when the room started to fill up fast with lots of midwives! They screwed a monitor in to baby’s head, and suddenly seemed very keen to get her out! I didn’t really know there was an issue at the time, but her heart rate was dropping, so they wanted her out as quickly as possible. Luckily, I obliged!! My legs were pushed back by the midwives and Sean (he didn’t get a choice! Don’t think he really fancied being that close to the action, but he was put to work by one of the midwives). They decided to give me an episiotomy, so a local anaesthetic was needed. As a result, I didn’t feel any of the burning that you’re supposed to feel as the head comes out, so it was a shock to me when they asked me to pant. I asked if the head was out, and Sean let me know it was. He seemed a bit green at this point!!! Ella Marie Flynn arrived at 3.27pm after 12 hours of labour. Relatively short for a first baby. She was 9lbs1, so I was proud to have pushed her out with no medical assistance (other than that cut!!)!
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to have that amazing moment when the baby is placed on your chest. Ella was taken straight over to the resuscitation cot. She was crying but was struggling to breathe, so they were trying to clear her airways. Turned out that the distress of the labour had caused her to do her first poo (the tar like meconium poo) on her way out. And it had filled her lungs. They gave me a very quick cuddle before she was taken upstairs to special care. I was completely delirious with happiness. I remember saying to the midwife that we probably wouldn’t be home that night would we?!! I didn’t really realise how bad she was. I thought they’d just suck it out and bring her back to me.
After some amazing tea and toast (it really is true that this is the best meal you will ever taste!), they suggested that we could go up and see Ella in special care. But, when I tried to get up, I near enough passed out. They decided to put me on a drip and Sean went up on his own. He came back with the report that she was in an incubator with added oxygen to help her lungs get sorted. At 8.30pm, an exhausted Sean went home and I was supposed to get some sleep, but was interrupted constantly by doctors and midwives!
At 10.30pm, they finally decided I was well enough to go and see my daughter, and I was wheeled up to special care. I wasn’t really prepared for how bad she would be. Her breathing was so ragged and she was really struggling. It was pretty upsetting. I was then taken to the ward, and put in a room with 3 other new mums, and their babies! It’s not much fun being kept awake by other’s babies, when yours is over the corridor in special care!
After 3 days on special care, she improved greatly! They were happy for her to be off the incubator and on ward with me!! I was sooo pleased! It’s no fun when the only interactions with your new baby are quick cuddles and feeds, surrounded by wires and bleeps, or staring at them through a glass cabinet. But at the same time, I was so grateful for her health and strength. The other babies in special care were so so tiny and fragile, and many would be there for weeks and months rather than days. She had an infection, so we ended up spending a full week in hospital. It was the worst and best week ever in equal measure! I loved her so much, but absolutely hated being in hospital! Plus there was a heatwave and it was about 37°C on the ward!
After all that, bringing her home was the best feeling ever! The whole experience really was quite amazing, terrifying, excruciating and awesome all at once. And I honestly can’t wait to do it again, without the meconium bit!
You can read Sienna’s birth story here!