So some of you may have read my birth story for Munchkin (see here) and understood the reasons why I went onto develop PTSD and tokophobia especially when getting pregnant with Womble.
You may also know that despite being fairly convinced I was going to have an ELCS throughout this pregnancy to prevent a repeat of last time- in the four weeks before I gave birth I had a mahoosive change of heart and decided I wanted to proceed with a vaginal birth. Two reasons for this- a) I wasn’t scared enough anymore of having a VB and b) I didn’t think this baby was as big as Munchkin was therefore I just didn’t feel there was good enough reason not to go for it.
Here is my birth story (plus there is a version of the ones I did in tweets here).
I woke as usual in the early hours of Monday morning (9th Jan). I had been having the odd pain in the night for weeks and was fed up of the pregnancy insomnia. I got onto twitter to complain as usual. Went to the loo- felt a gush of fluid that felt like my waters had gone. Went to wake H up (he was sleeping in spare room due to my insomnia).
I started to have mild period pains and phoned the hospital who said to come in for a quick check. The lady on the phone was the labour ward co-ordinator I had met a few times with the head of delivery suite which was brilliant as I knew I was in good hands. I started phoning my friends who were on standby to look after munchkin. no answer from one, then the other- yikes! But rang the landline of my lovely friend from twitter (waking her poor husband who had to catch a train early that morning- sorry!) and she said she’d be right over.
While waiting for her to arrive I got dressed and got bouncing on my ball and tweeting. Sounds daft but the distraction of tweeting really helped me take my mind off it plus lots of people were still awake so suddenly I had a load of cheerleaders championing me on which was awesome!
My twitter friend arrived and H busied himself with sorting Munchkins carseat and showing her the ropes while I breathed through the contractions. We got in the car and headed up to hospital (which takes about same time to walk there as it does to drive – we had talked about walking up there to help with labour progression but was too dark and cold!)
H dropped me off at front entrance and went too park. While waiting inthe foyer for him I realised I was hungry and had forgotten to eat again (I hadn’t eaten in 24hours when it came to pushing stage with Omble so wanted to ensure my body was fueled this time) typically H had no change to sneak something from the machine (technically not supposed to eat with an epidural but wanted to sneakily stock up before hand) but in end just wanted to get into the delivery suite and get the show on the road.
Got to the delivery suite reception and really had to breathe through a few contractions. It was nice they were staffed and friendly unlike Munchkins birth were we were hammering on a locked door with no-one answering for what felt like an eternity.
Had to give a urine sample and it surprised me that I was able to do all this stuff – felt very controlled and calm despite the contractions. Was shown to a cubicle for assessment. Contractions were getting stronger now. I needed to be on my feet and stamping through them. Got my stress balls out and squeezing them really helped. Got my visualisation pictures out although to be honest found it a bit harder to focus on getting into my safe space but instead I found chanting “my feet are not in pain my feet are not in pain” and focusing on how my feet didn’t hurt to be quite effective! The midwife came to do the assessment. Had to lie on the bed and hooked up to the feral heart rate monitor. All was good with baby. Was examined and found to be 4cm dilated and my cervix was paper thin so my epidural was allowed now. I punched the air with both arms – Yes! We asked about setting up the TENS machine (the same one that had not come out of bag for first labour!) but were been advised not to bother as my epidural would be here by time we got set up- so yet again not to be used- lucky it was a borrowed one!
While I was stamping and chanting the couple in the cubicle next to us who were there for a movement check rather than labour were sounding a bit nervous because of me. I heard a midwife apologise to them for the noise! Snigger!
We were moved to a delivery room and midwife went off to sort my notes and epidural. It had said explicitly on my notes don’t leave me on own but as it happened with everything being so calm and controlled this time I wasn’t nearly as scared. H busied himself turning the lights down low putting my little ikea bird lights on and putting my labour playlist on (I had lovely calm chilled tracks for early labour and plan was for energetic dancey tracks to help with pushing stage with an epidural (as you can’t necessarily feel to push and it’s hard work so I thought energetic music would help! But as you will see I didn’t need them!). I put a new nightie on I had brought for purpose- last time the hospital put me in a gown- was kind of nice to be in own clothes.
The contractions were getting stronger but in no time the anaesthetist was here- our MW was really pleased how fast she arrived. She scrubbed in and prepped me for the epidural. She inserted the needle into the spine which hurt a bit and took some jiggling. H decided to hide in loo at this point!? (although he held me for my last epidural with Munchkin- but then he hates needles and last time was horribly traumatic) so the midwife held onto me. The needle was finally in but then there the anaesthetist was beeped- a crash section – she had to go! She was so apologetic but I totally appreciated a crash section was more important. The needle had to be removed from my spine as the epidural wasn’t complete although at the time I swear I felt it was working but I think maybe I just had a longer gap between contractions while they were sorting it out.
So the epidural and anaesthetist have gone and my midwife has gone to try and get another anaesthetist for me. The contractions are really painful now plus the embarrassment I really need to do a poo (foolishly I had taken lactulose before I slept that night suffering from classic late pregnancy constipation- had I known I would labour that night I never would have done!) anyhow we had to buzz for help as I am still in the epidural position and all the stuff is around me plus am on a drip. They take it all away and help me to loo while being very concerned I was actually feeling urge to push the baby out. I was sure I wasn’t and said “don’t worry I have no intention of a porcelain water birth!” haha. After I had been to loo I felt much more comfortable but the contractions were such that I was shouting AAAAARRRRGGGGHHHHH through each one. I was noisy and mooing but it helped. The pain was getting too much now so we buzzed for help (we were on own again) and I asked for gas and air while waiting for epidural. The MW who came wasn’t my MW so had to check but soon enough they had it set up and I was shown how to use it properly this time.
I decided to lie on the bed with the head end elevated. The gas and air really helped take the edge off the pain (and with hindsight I had probably got to 6or 7cm on no pain relief at all!!!)
It did make me shiver uncontrollably though so I needed to be wrapped in blankets as I toked away. That stuff is awesome when it works!
Sometimes I would misjudge the start of a contraction and start toking then stop and go “sorry false alarm-sneaky extra hit!” which made the midwife laugh, but then the contraction would hit and I wouldn’t be off my face enough so it would hurt a lot more. There was a fair amount of mooing going on but I wasn’t shouting like I was before probably to the relief of the labour ward as it was always a lovely quiet place when I visited. I wonder if I’m the only labouring screamer in the South West!
The contractions were coming more and more often and H started timing them (though he told me after he was playing bejewelled in between them! Humph). I had my stressballs on the go squeezing them and I was grabbing H’s hand too. He started pinching the skin on my hand really hard at the peak of contractions. At the time I was like “What the fuck is he playing!” but having a much milder sharper pain to distract me from the intense pain was actually incredibly incredibly useful. My brain focused more on the hand pinch than the contraction so helped take the edge off.
The contractions were coming thick and fast and I started to suspect that my epidural would not reaapear in time. I was starting not to manage so well on the gas and air and didn’t think I could go on like that for much longer so I decided to ask for pethidine (which I really hadn’t wanted to have due to effect on baby but in absence of epidural and G&A no longer being sufficient pain relief I felt it was my only option) except just then I really felt need to push so I told midwives who had to quickly take my pants off to have a look as none of us thought we were at that stage yet (!) and realised the baby was already on it’s way out! I was a bit overwhelmed at this point. H & the midwives were brilliant with their words of encouragement and support but I decided to just go hell for leather on the gas and air. I just toked and toked and toked til everyone seemed really far away and I was distanced from the pain. I remember thinking I am staying here in this high and happy place. I felt the baby coming out of me but I genuinely don’t remember pushing. I don’t think I did at all. It was like she glided out! (at 7lb13 after her 9lb5 big sister paving the way she probably did! Haha!). I once she was out I came back to earth a little bit but then remember being scared about the placenta coming out but the midwife reassured me that that bit shouldn’t hurt and she was right.
I was examined and told I only had a tiny tiny tear that wasn’t even worth stitching so we agreed to leave it. I was utterly buzzing. I kept going on and on about how I’d managed it on just gas and air. I couldn’t believe it! I had a lovely long cuddle with Womble (or Omble as she is now known as out of the womb) and I still needed gas and air for a bit for the immediate after pains (bloody love that stuff!). I tried to get Omble latched on and she did have a bit of a suckle but wasn’t really interested. I got tweeting again and was overwhelmed by all the lovely best wishes etc.
Finally ready for a bath and H had a cuddle with Omble then some tea &toast before moving up to the ward. H even went home to take Munchkin to nursery (Omble was born at 5.20am after a 3hour official labour from arrival at hospital- 4hours if you count bit at home. 10minute second stage (pushing) and 5min third stage (delivery of placenta).
I genuinely could not have wished for a better birth experience. Yes the lack of planned early epidural wasn’t ideal but I managed fine without it and in fact am kinda glad I didn’t have one as it proved me and my body could do it and it totally laid all the ghosts of Munchkins birth to rest. Plus meant we got to go home the same day.
Alongside my wedding day, having Omble is one of best days of my life (and obviously having Munchkin is a best thing too but can’t pinpoint a day with her- maybe leaving NICU or her getting all clear at 4months).
So home water birth next time…….
*watch this space*