A very long post, I'm warning you! But I wanted to record her birth story to make sure we remember it.
I started getting the first contractions on Monday afternoon the 21st of October, 1 day after our estimated due date. At first I thought it must just be braxton hicks, the ‘practise’ contractions I’ve been getting on and off since 16 weeks, and didn’t think much about it. I had started crocheting a few days earlier and still went to Hobby Craft Monday morning for more yarn and a needle. After lunch I carried on with the crocheting which I was doing by watching you tube video tutorials. At around 2pm I started to realise that it might be real contractions when I had to pause the video each time a contraction came and then try and work out which stitch I was busy with afterwards! I moved to sitting/ bouncing on my exercise ball which was a bit more comfortable. They weren’t all that regular or close together yet and I can’t remember it being painful, not compared to what was to come anyway! Just uncomfortable enough to break my concentration while trying to learn to crochet!
Andre and I started making dinner but the contractions then started making me have to stop what I was doing each time and wait for them to pass so Andre took over the cooking while I sat in the kitchen again bouncing on the ball. By 8pm they began to get more painful. Still, nothing compared to what was waiting for me almost 24 hours ahead!
We went to bed that evening excited that we will soon meet our little girl. I tried to sleep but couldn’t as each contraction kept me awake. While I couldn’t sleep I started timing the contractions lying in bed, using an app on my phone. By 1am they were lasting around a minute each but still around 10 minutes apart. I ended up moving downstairs to the couch so as not to keep Andre awake. By 4am the contractions started getting closer together at between 3 and 6 minutes apart. I woke Andre around this time and told him I don’t think he’ll be going to work. All the pain was in my back with each contraction and we later learnt that it was because Isabella was lying back to back- her back to my back so facing forwards instead of backwards. Her head was down though which was good.
Andre started massaging my back with each contraction, more actually just applying as much pressure on my lower back as he could. And he kept this up for 12 hours straight until I got the epidural around 6pm Tuesday.
I called the hospital at 9am Tuesday morning. They were happy for me to come in to be assessed but I knew I would be sent back home if I was not yet in active labour, i.e 3-4 cm dilated. I decided to wait at home as I still had an appointment with my midwife at our surgery that morning at 10am. At the appointment I was in tears and asked if there wasn’t any chance of just getting a c-section to end the pain of the contractions. She laughed and said no, I wouldn’t want that. The hospital said to call again at lunch time and after that we drove to the hospital praying that we won’t be sent back home to wait.
Luckily I was around 3-4 cm dilated and allowed to stay, although still only in the triage room as I was not yet far enough to be going to a delivery room. The midwife ran me a bath and the warm water helped a bit for the pain. When I had enough of that we went in search of the triage midwife again. She said she could only assess me every 3 hours but would give me paracetamol and some other stronger pain killer and told me to try and get some rest. I lay down but lying down seemed to make the pain so much worse. I lay there for about an hour with Andre applying pressure to my back constantly. I remember this as being the most painful hour of the whole birth. In the end I got off the bed myself after one contraction to go looking for the midwife. I told her I couldn’t take it any more and wanted an epidural. She tried talking me into trying gas and air (entonox- a mix of nitrous oxide and oxygen) or a pethidine injection for the pain but I could not take any more pain and just wanted it all gone!
Luckily I then didn’t have to wait too much longer before another midwife, Caroline, came to fetch me to take me to a delivery room. The delivery room was so much nicer than the triage room. Bigger, and you have a midwife looking after only you the whole time. She’s in the room with us the whole time too. With it being a teaching hospital I actually had two midwives throughout which was even better! Caroline was the student and Jess the midwife in charge of looking after me from 5pm when we arrived in the room until they went off duty at 8pm. They prepped me right away for the epidural as we were told the anesthetist was on her way. Great news after having to wait all day!
I had always thought having such a big needle stuck in one’s spine must be absolutely painful. Well, I didn’t feel a thing. She numbed the area first. I sat on the edge of the bed, bent forward over a pillow and holding Andre’s hands, or what probably felt to him like I was trying to crush his hands. While it wasn’t painful I am still very afraid of any possibility of pain. The relief was almost instant and I was smiling broadly afterwards, telling whoever came in the room how wonderful an epidural is! Louise and her student Faye took over from Caroline and Jess and while I was sad to see the first midwives leave as they were so lovely, Louise and Faye were absolutely fantastic too. They kept us entertained throughout the night with stories and we learnt with Faye about everything that needed checking and doing which was very interesting actually. The two of them truly made the labour memorable for us. In a good way!
My one leg went completely numb and whenever I wanted to move I had to ask someone to move my one leg for me- a little up, a little to the left, etc. I could change positions in bed and the bed could even convert into a kind of a chair so I could sit right up at times with my legs resting down. Andre charmed the midwives into fetching him a more comfortable reclining chair from the waiting room and they managed to maneuver this bigger chair into the room for him.
We both tried to sleep throughout the night but didn’t really get any sleep. I couldn’t eat anything and could only drink water. Andre didn’t eat anything either and only left the room for the occasional cup of coffee from the kitchen down the hall. So much for all the snacks I packed!
In the delivery room they only assess you every four hours. After the first assessment the midwife broke my waters as I was progressing quite slowly. This helped progress things a little faster. On average one apparently dilates 1 cm every hour which was also pretty much the case for me. Louise and Faye were hoping to deliver the baby and Faye so much wanted to do it. Their shift was ending at 8am that Wednesday morning and they got me to start pushing at 7am. It gave me a deadline to get our baby out as I also really wanted them to deliver her after they had spent the long night with us. Unfortunately Isabella was still not quite ready by 8am and another midwife, Rosie, took over.
Isabella was born at 8.26am Wednesday the 23rd of October without any other interventions. She weighed 3.56kg and was delivered straight onto my tummy. Neither Andre nor I wanted to cut the cord, we just don’t like seeing the gory details! So we cuddled our beautifully perfect little Isabella while quite unaware that I had also started hemorrhaging. Andre told me afterwards that Rosie had pressed the emergency button and I remember noticing the room suddenly filled with lots of people. They handled it calmly and with Isabella in my arms I didn’t even realise what was happening. I remember them telling me they have to add a hormone to my drip which would make me vomit and they took Isabella off me when a couple minutes later I did start vomiting as predicted.
They weighed her and did her checks and Andre held her while I couldn’t. I was later told that normal blood loss is up to 500ml and I lost over a 1000ml. I had a tear and the midwife explained that it would need to be repaired in theater. The surgeon came in to explain what he’ll be doing and I had to read and sign a consent form. I was so exhausted by this time after two nights without sleep and then working hard to birth Isabella at the end of it all. I told him I’ll read the consent form but he’ll have to hold the page up for me as I couldn’t even lift my arms.
In theater a lovely anesthetist explained what would be happening and topped up my epidural. After it was all done I was in tears from the hormones and exhaustion. I was taken to the recovery room where Andre and Isabella was waiting and fed her a bit. I then tried to get some sleep. Rosie brought us both tea and toast which was so good after not eating and being so tired. Another two midwives took me to have a shower and remade my bed while I was out of the room. Andre left in the late afternoon to go have dinner at home and get some rest and I was taken to the post-natal ward where I spent one night and was discharged the next afternoon.
The care at the North Hampshire Hospital in Basingstoke was absolutely fantastic and we couldn’t have asked for anything more or better. The day after we arrived home a midwife came to visit us to check that I was doing well. On day three at home another midwife came to check on us, this time more on Isabella. She was going to come back the day after to do Isabella’s heel prick test, but we met her at the hospital instead as we were going out to register Isabella’s birth. I have since also had another appointment with my original midwife at our surgery who then discharged me from the midwifery care and a health visitor who then came to visit us at home again, spending two hours here explaining a range of things and generally just chatting with me to make sure everything was fine and I was feeling and coping well enough. Excellent care which continues to amaze us here.
|On our way home with our baby girl.|