Hi, I’m Lydia from Estrella and Emma has been kind enough to let me share my birth stories with you. Yep, stories, I’ve been there and done it twice and both were pretty different experiences.
My first pregnancy was uneventful until I hit 36 weeks. After visiting my GP with burning hot skin and horrendous itching (and being brushed off and sent home) my midwives rushed me in for blood tests which confirmed I had Cholestasis, a liver condition which can cause stillbirth.
When I got to 38 weeks I went to see a consultant who advised me that an induction was the safest option all round. When faced with the prospect of losing my baby it will come as no surprise that I was keen to get him out of my toxic body and safely into my arms as soon as possible.
So, in we went for the induction. I was given a prostaglandin pessary (ahem, up ‘there’) at lunchtime and was told that another would be given the next morning. Mild cramps started after a few hours and we paced the hospital grounds, high on anticipation of what was to come in the next 24 hours.
By 8pm the contractions had strengthened and I was in agony, in tears and actually pretty scared suddenly at what was happening. I was examined and told there was no dilation and that the pains I was getting weren’t contractions but prostin pains, a reaction to the pessary(!).
So, off Andy went home (as is procedure if you’re not in active labour), leaving me terrified at how I’d cope when the real contractions came.
I was in a room by myself and was advised to try and get some rest before we go again in the morning. By 11pm I couldn’t cope any longer with the pain and called the midwife to ask whether pain relief was an option. She went to get me some paracetamol (yes, really) and as a contraction(as I now know they were) hit and as I stood up an almighty gush signalled my waters breaking and taking me to the next stage.
Stood in a pool of goopy water, I pressed the buzzer again and a gaggle of midwifes rushed around me. They tried to get me back onto the bed but my feet felt rooted to the spot. I think it took 3 of them to get me there so they could examine me. What every labouring woman wants to hear came next “you’re 9cm dilated”. Followed by “wow, you did that all by yourself!” Yes, because you SENT MY HUSBAND HOME (I may still be a bit bitter about this)
Cue panic that Andy was going to miss the birth. I was bundled into a wheelchair (frantically resisting the urge to push) and rushed to the delivery room whilst Andy was told in no uncertain terms to get to hospital ASAP.
What happened next is a bit of a blur. I totally zoned out at this point and didn’t register Andy arriving or what was going on around me. I guess your body just needs to focus and do its thing to get the baby out.
I was told it was too late for drugs so went ahead and started pushing with all I had. The head kept coming down and going back up again as his ear was stuck on a lip of my cervix. We tried all kinds of manoeuvres and positions to open the birth canal and after an hour and a half of pushing (truly the single most exhausting thing I’ll ever do in my life) Finley William made his way into the world at 1:00am and I fell in love, deep and fast.
After a bath (swamp) and a first feed I was tucked up onto the ward and Andy returned home to make phone calls and attempt some sleep. It’s safe to say that I got no sleep that night. I couldn’t take my eyes of this amazing, beautiful, perfect baby I had grown inside of me for 9 months. Though we’d only just met, I looked into his eyes and thought “it’s you. I know you”. And so began the most wonderful, exhausting, testing, amazing phase in my life.
My second experience was quite different. When I found myself pregnant again when Finn was 7 months old I wanted a more calm experience where I felt more in control. My labour with Finn was recorded as 5 hours and as I was quite concerned about someone getting to our house in time to look after Finn (the nearest relative lives an hour away) I spoke to my midwife about a home birth.
She was really supportive and said that as long as I didn’t develop cholestasis again there’s no reason why I couldn’t do it. As I reached the end of my pregnancy there was no sign of the dreaded itch so we went ahead and took a trip to B&Q to stock up on plastic sheets.
At 39 weeks, after 2 false starts, when I woke up one day with crampy pains I didn’t think anything of it and carried on my business. As the day progressed they started getting stronger so I grabbed the buggy (with a now 16-month old Finn) and the dog and headed out for a determined walk. These contractions were NOT going to go.
By 6pm I had started getting actual contractions, feeling more regular and getting strong. I called Andy home from work, phoned the midwives and hopped in the bath which immediately eased the pain.
Andy came home and put Finn to bed. I was so looking forward to him waking up to a new brother or sister and suddenly got very impatient.
My midwife turned up soon after. She was the same lady who had looked after me throughout both my pregnancies so I felt totally relaxed around her and it was actually really lovely to share the end result with her, after months of appointments.
To my delight when they arrived I was 8cm. She did a sweep and told me the membranes were bulging and my waters would probably go with the next contraction. When the next one came I stood up and sure enough, pop!
Just like the first time this is when things sped up. The contractions, though painful, were bearable. We were sat in my living room (well, I was pacing!) with the TV on, chatting, and the atmosphere was amazing. It couldn’t have been more different from the first time.
A few contractions later I felt that familiar urge. With the first push I felt him move down, nothing like Finn when he was stuck, I could actually feel him making his way into the world, a very powerful feeling. 6 minutes was all it took, compared to the 90 minutes of pushing with Finn.
I was on all-fours on a gym ball and as he came out I reached between my legs and bought him up to me. I was the first to hold him, the first to cradle him and the first to look into his eyes. At 9pm on 22nd July after a swift 4-hour labour, he was here. My Max.
My Mum had travelled up to be on standby for Finn and she rushed in as soon as she heard his cry. I sat with my Mum on one side, Andy on the other and my new baby in my arms. The midwives did their thing, cleaning up and doing mine and Max’s checks then when they were happy all was good, they quietly left after doing a truly marvellous job.
After a welcome shower I bundled myself on the sofa in a nest of blankets and was handed a cuppa whilst Andy spread the news. I lay there with my new baby in my arms, my big baby upstairs (having slept through it all) and let the emotion come. I had a family. Complete.