This story is from Hannah, you can follow her on Twitter here
The end of my pregnancy didn’t quite go as planned. I had these romantic visions of going into labour one evening at home. Of my husband and I sharing a last meal together – just the two of us and perhaps having a glass of wine to celebrate. I would then do my best to stay at home for as long as possible before travelling across town to the hospital, where I would of course already be 10 centimetres dilated and it would be time to push, with no complications! And I would do the whole thing drug free!
At 36 weeks pregnant I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, which came as a bit of a shock. My blood pressure had risen, but more alarmingly the levels of protein in my urine were very high, suggesting that my kidneys weren’t coping all that well. I had to go into hospital every three days for monitoring. The little baby in my tummy seemed unfazed by this, it’s little heart beating happily. It was just me and my fed up body who was suffering. This monitoring went on for two weeks, with levels steadily rising each time I went back.
At exactly 38 weeks I had an appointment at the hospital. Luckily that day my husband was free to come with me. I remember saying “bring the hospital bag, I have a funny feeling they’ll induce me today”. The appointment was around midday, they did the usual monitoring and testing, but this time they asked me to wait for the results. All the other times I had been allowed to go home and someone would call me later and tell me to come back in three days time.
After hours of waiting we were called in to see a doctor who told us that the protein was at a dangerous level and they would like to induce me that evening. I clapped my hands with delight…I was totally ready to have this baby! My husband however looked a little more shocked, “really?” he said. At 8pm they inserted a pessary into the cervix, which was uncomfortable to say the least; my cervix was closed and back up behind the babies head! They have a scale of how favourable you are, 1 being there is no way on hell this baby is ready to come yet and 10 being – watch out baby coming NOW! I scored a measley 2! I was warned that nothing would happen for at least 24 hours and that I should get some rest. My husband was sent home, with the same advice, get some sleep!
At 3am I woke up with awful period style pain, but told myself that nothing was happening. By half past 3 my contractions started and were coming pretty fast, every 3 minutes or so. At 4am, my waters broke. I decided to call the midwife.
“My waters have broken” I told her.
“Are you sure?” she said “I don’t think they have, remember induction takes a long time”.
They definitely had. She was a funny midwife, she was German and quite stern and just didn’t believe anything I told her. About an hour later I called her to tell her that my contractions were coming every two minutes and that they were really painful.
“No” she said “Every 10 minutes you mean”. I had been timing them, god knows why she didn’t believe me. She helped me put on my TENS machine and then left me to it.
The next couple of hours are a bit of a blur, I sat on the side of the bed, breathing through each contraction, thinking, this is just the beginning – you have to be brave! And in retrospect, I think I was pretty brave, I was dealing with labour on my own in a strange hospital room with a very unsympathetic midwife as my only company. My Mum called to see how I was at 6:30am, I think she was quite surprised to find that I was in labour…she talked to me and reassured me, but every minute or so I was having to deal with a contraction, she told me to call my husband and to ask the midwife to examine me. Around 7am I called the midwife back, she gave me 2 paracetamol. The pain was pretty bad by now, she examined but just told me nothing was happening.
I then called my husband…”Can you come in now please, I need you” I said. He was there by 7:45am and thrust right into the throes of labour…poor man! I vomited with the pain a couple of times, but mainly I just held onto my husband in the “standing smooch” position, whilst he rubbed my back and I closed my eyes. I thought we had done this for around 10 minutes but the next day my husband told me we stood like that for nearly 2 hours! I just kept thinking, if this is the beginning, I’m never going to be able to deal with the end.
Another midwife had come on duty – she was lovely and came to see how we were doing.
“I’m in a lot of pain” I told her. She offered me a bath…which I said I would like.
“I know this sounds silly” I said “I know this is still the beginning, but, I feel like I need to push”.
“We had better examine you then, but we don’t like to examine too often as you can get very sore” she said.
I lay back on the bed, thinking, please…something be happening!
“No time for bath” she said in a high pitched voice…”you’re 8 centimetres! We need to get you to labour ward straight away”.
I was wheeled down to labour ward – it was on that chair that I experienced the most intense pain – I felt out of my own body, like I was floating above, watching myself. It was on that chair that I went from 8 centimetres to 10. By the time we reached the room, I was pushing. I couldn’t help it…it was involuntary and incredibly powerful.
“I’m pushing” I told the midwife.
“Just go with your body” she replied.
So I did and I pushed! By now I was making noises that I could never recreate. I stood by the side of the bed, holding onto it for support and pushed! My contractions were still coming thick and fast meaning I had to push every minute or so. We managed to find a window in between so the midwife could examine me and I was 10 centimetres.
After a short while I got up on the bed, on my knees. I hated being on my back, it was so much more uncomfortable, but after 20 minutes or so on my knees there was no sign of the little baby. So the midwife got me on my back on the bed…and my feet in the dreaded stirrups! God knows why I did that, but at the time I just followed the midwife’s instructions. I was doing two huge pushes with each contraction and getting pretty exhausted. My husband was amazing, I honestly could not have done it without him, he fed me cold water through a straw after every contraction and encouraged and supported me throughout. It made me feel safe to have him there.
After 1 hour of pushing another more senior midwife was called and they decided to do an episiotomy. She actually cut me whilst I pushed…they must be very skilled! They told me to try and do three pushes with each contraction rather than two…which I did, but still the baby was not coming. At this point they decided that they should use the ventouse (something that I really had not wanted) but I was desperate to get the baby out, so I just went with it. My husband says that he saw them unwrapping the ventouse contraption at the point that I did three almighty pushes – he says that the senior midwife waved her hand and shock her head…as if to say, we’re not going to need that! It was then that I felt the head crowning…and then finally a little chin popped out! At that moment I knew that any second our baby would be with us. They asked me to do little pushes…and then the baby was out.
I remember looking between my legs, the baby was facing me, crying. It has the most beautiful face I have ever seen. They immediately placed the little one on my chest…it was very warm and quite purple in colour. It stopped crying and immediately started rooting for the breast (which was incredible). My husband and I just stared in awe, “hello baby…you’re here” I said. We cried and kissed it’s head and kissed each other. It was only then that I realised we didn’t know the sex!
“Is it a boy or a girl?” I said.
The midwife flipped the baby over…”it’s a boy” she said.
Nathaniel John Roberts was born at 10:48 on Wednesday 11th April 2012. Weighing 7 lbs 2 oz.
Childbirth for me was unexpected, incredibly intense, awesome, amazing and also pretty quick – 5 hours 38 minutes according to my notes. I would do it again in an instant to see that little face…and although it wasn’t quite the romantic vision I had imagined, there was one thing that I managed to live up to and that was I had done the whole thing drug free…apart from the two paracetamol of course!