Disclaimer! I wrote this a couple of weeks after giving birth but never had the guts to post it, now? Oh sod it!
When I was pregnant my need for information and understanding of labour was far more extreme than ever before. I have always been one of those people who copes better when they understand what is going on, with all the possibilities and potential problems. It helps me when I cannot control what is going to happen and in pregnancy and labour you DEFINITELY cannot control what is going to happen. There is also this element of the unknown and the secret fear that shrouds childbirth, like periods, you cannot talk about it or shouldn’t talk about it in “pleasant company”.
Any who, I spent a lot of time researching and reading the many possibilities for what could happen during labour – I encouraged other women to tell me their stories as well as reading stories online. I know that the idea of this is terrifying for a lot of people, why would you want to know all these scary stories? But for me it helped to know this stuff, for example learning about other women’s experience of tearing and cuts helped remove some of the unknown and the fear. I also learnt that the doctors can work for 45 minutes on a baby before there is a definite risk of damage (apparently, not sure if true but a doctor friend told me that). I also learnt much more!
So, with this in mind, I thought I could write my own story for anyone who in the same frame of mind as me. But also because I think it may do me good to write it down and get it out there!
I was due at the end of October and Mr Fat Girl was most definitely hoping for a Halloween baby but unfortunately I was overdue by 11 days and missed his desired dates. Oh was I sick of being pregnant at this point, I was fed up of everyone asking if there is movement yet and twenty thousand messages a day. The thing that seemed to bother me most was when everyone asked if I was looking forward to my baby being here and I couldn’t answer anything except no! I was so fed up of being pregnant, I was so uncomfortable and in pain I just wanted it to be over with already. I wasn’t excited for my baby, I couldn’t think that far ahead and I felt like everyone judged me for feeling that way – how could I not be excited? I don’t know what to tell you, I wasn’t depressed I just really hated being pregnant.
Baby boy had been head down from around 30 weeks, back to back and seemingly ready to go. I had been having Braxton Hicks for about a fortnight before they changed to real contractions (whoever said they weren’t painful were either a man or totally stupid). I was sick of everyone telling me I would know when they changed to real contractions, but unfortunately they were right! Things just changed slightly, instead of a stabbing pain that felt a bit like a stitch the contractions felt more like heavy period pains accompanied with back pain and a sort of squeezing feeling in my stomach. This was irregular for about a day, on and off about 20-30 minutes apart, then they started to become more regular at about 15-20 minutes apart and the intensity definitely stepped up. Oh boy did the intensity step up! I spent more than a few hours rocking on a rocking chair, rocking in the bath, rocking on a yoga ball – basically rocking around the house wanting it to bloody hurry up and get it over with. Unfortunately this stage took two days – TWO DAYS! God I was tired.
By the third day things had really really stepped up, yep the contractions were really starting to make sure that I couldn’t do anything without regularly yelping like a kicked puppy. It was at this point that I rang the hospital to ask for advice, they pretty much just told me that until they were 5 minutes apart or I couldn’t cope then to “take two paracetamol and have a bath”. That yonks old advice, the magical paracetamol and bath oh how fabulous they were… Or not! Things continued to get more intense and regular, by this point I had been recording my contractions on my list app – there are plenty of pregnancy apps which do this for you but I just chose to write them down as a list it was the easiest way for my tired and broken brain to cope. I had over 200 entries, 200! I could have cried at that alone.
At about 8.30 that night I really had had enough and couldn’t cope with the pain anymore, I rang maternity triage and asked for advice. I was pretty much told that there was no point but I could come in and get checked if I wanted – I did want! So we packed the dogs, hospital bags and car seat into the car (it was at this point that we realised we’d bought the wrong isofix base for the car seat, ffs!). Off we zoomed to leave the dogs with my step-dad, picked my mum up and threw her in the back of the car and then onto the hospital, oh what a jolly bunch we were. At the hospital I waddled slowly into the world’s most ancient lift and made it to triage, where they kept me waiting because I was still ranging from 8-15 minutes apart obviously I wasn’t a big priority. To be honest I really felt dismissed and patronised in triage, although I was obviously in a lot of pain and very uncomfortable, upon examination I was only 1cm dilated so I was dismissed and told I had a few more days to go at least and sent home. Home, where there were no drugs. Home, where I couldn’t demand an epidural. Home, not where I wanted to be!
The car ride was horrific, possibly one of the worst parts of being in labour because of all the little bumps and leaning around bends. I was having to sit on a pillow as the pressure down through my cervix now was horrific and I couldn’t sit properly. I cried most of the way home with my mum hugging my shoulders from the seat behind me. By the time I was home I was five minutes apart and in so much pain I could have screamed at the stupid triage midwife – days my arse!!! Like a dutiful good girl we didn’t turn around and go back, we rang and asked permission only to be told “nope, stay at home it’s not happening any time soon – wait until you are two minutes apart”. SERIOUSLY?! Stop moving the goalposts, this bloody hurts.
Less than an hour later I’m at 2 minutes apart and literally screaming, now if you know me you would know that I don’t scream. I have an okay pain tolerance, but I am definitely a much more of a hold my breath and swear repeatedly kind of woman – so for me to be screaming is a big deal. Damn those fuckers were really horribly painful. I’m not going to lie I couldn’t control myself at this point and was shouting at my husband to get me back to the hospital. My mum who had been sent home to get some rest was zooming back to my house to come to the hospital with us and my husband was on the phone to triage AGAIN. Guess what? They were still telling us to wait, because I couldn’t possibly be that regular when less than two hours ago I was only at 1cm. I think my exact words were “I don’t give a flying fuck we are coming in now!” and by words I mean I screeched them at my bewildered husband who also had a midwife telling him off down the phone.
By this point my mum had me halfway across the back garden on the way to the car. If any of my poor neighbours would have looked out of their windows they would have seen what look liked a heavily pregnant woman being kidnapped; me being ushered out in my pjs and my mum begging me to stop screaming. The car ride back to the hospital was possibly more painful than most of the actual pushing. All I kept thinking about was my husband’s jokes throughout pregnancy that when I was due they would chuck me in the back of the car and go for a bumpy ride – just like they used to do with the horses on the farm when he was growing up, god do I feel for those poor horses.
FINALLY I was now on my way to my own delivery room, although I had to walk from the triage room which did make me cry – even though it was only about 20 feet. Once in the room they first hooked me up with some gas and air and then to the belly monitor bands, this wasn’t easy as baby boy had decided now was the time to start spinning, literally spinning like a top in my stomach – this did not help with my contractions so yeah thanks kid! My mum helped me into the nightie I had carefully picked out to deliver in, light and comfy and something I didn’t care if it got grotty; but honestly at that point I couldn’t give a shit what I was wearing. The gas and air was lovely, it didn’t stop the pain by any stretch but it took the edge of and helped me to relax. What did it feel like? Thats a question I would have asked myself at this point. Have you ever been drunk but not to the point of sick or falling over? Just buzzed to the point the world is a bit hazy and although you know what is going on nothing is wrong with the universe. But hallelujah! The anaesthetist and his accompanying nurse arrived to do my epidural, I liked him, he was my friend, he was happy and joking and really lifted the mood in the room. So with my gas and air and belly bands I was manoeuvred sideways on the bed, with my feet of one side; a table and foot stool were produced and I was leaning over the table with my feet up in order to put me into a curved position. My husband was given the enviable task of holding my gas and air as I was face down on the table, I wasn’t allowed to for some reason, needless to say when he moved it away from my gob I may have bitten his hand to get it back – sorry love!
But now my spinning top of a child had moved away from the heart monitor so my poor midwife was having to crouch under the table very close to my *ahem* area as I was now sat like a cowboy from all the pressure down there. The midwife fidgeted and pulled but she could not get the heart monitor to work again so all the faffing had to be undone and I was put back on my back in order to break my waters and attach the clip to baby’s head to monitor his heartbeat. I know before I gave birth I was very nervous about having my waters broken, my mum had regaled me for years about a big german midwife attacking her with a crochet hook to break hers. I didn’t want the crochet hook. Nope. However, at this point the midwives were great and were explaining what needed to happen and helping me to feel as comfortable as possible. They didn’t spring anything on me, warned me before everything was done to help me get the gas and air ready. I felt them examine me and a quick sharp pain followed by a huge gush of warm water and that was it, not so scary after all.
So now the palaver of having to get me back into position began again. My lovely doctor was laughing and joking and his nurse was making sure my daft husband didn’t move my gas and air too far from my mouth again, not sure if that was for his safety or my benefit though… But as the doctor began to check my back and find the spot I announce to the room that “I feel like I’m going to push out a really giant poo, I really want to push the poo out”. At this point the nurse and midwife chuckle a bit and say do I want to be checked or for them to carry on? “I really want to push it out” so back I go again onto my back, god I’m getting sick of this I just want the good drugs now please! But nope, too late, they can see his head, he is coming, now is time to push. Its time to push.
Oh god, I wasn’t ready for this. I wanted my epidural, id read about it and researched it and been judged for wanting it, but I wanted it and now I couldn’t have it. The midwives (suddenly there were two of them where did the other one come from?) were really positive and talking me through it and encouraging me that I could do it. Then it was all go, those evil fucking contractions had taken over, this was no longer my body, all I was became those contractions and the need to push. I had the gas and air clamped beneath my teeth so hard my jaw hurt for at least a week afterwards. I vaguely remember my husband trying to take it away from me again, you are supposed to breathe normal air between contractions but apparently I wasn’t doing this, needless to say he wasn’t successful!
One of my mum friends had said the best thing I could do at this point of my labour was to just let my body take over, go into my own little world and let the urges take over. God bless that woman, that advice was suddenly in my head and I followed it. So yes it hurt like hell, the gas and air helped take the edge of and I was lovely and loopy. My mum (I only knew it was my mum because she was on my left and had been the whole time) produced a wet flannel and was mopping my neck and forehead and supplying sips of water between contractions, god bless that woman. Those little things were sweet relief and broke through the pain and helped to keep me as comfortable as possible. My poor husband on the other hand had me squeezing his hands for dear life and still had nail marks for weeks afterwards.
I can’t really explain the feeling to push, it was just there and I had to let my body do it. I clamped my jaw around the gas and air and sucked in as much as I could, held my breath and pushed as hard as I could through my bum – like a big poo! I remember having a delirious moment and saying that this was just like a bad IBS flare up only a lot worse, so much worse.
By this point I had been pushing for about an hour and baby was so close, his head was right there but just wasn’t coming out and then the scary thing happened. They pulled the big red buzzer and people flooded the room. I don’t know how many people suddenly appeared but they were fantastic in that they all seemed nice and calm and explained to me as much as possible what was happening. Baby was stuck, right at the end, he needed a bit of help to get the last bit done. So, with a quick explanation they gave me an episiotomy and I’m not going to lie that fucker hurt. It felt like what it was, I can’t think of any other way to explain it other that being cut with a pair of scissors; a very quick sharp pain. Another push and his head was here, then another and his shoulders. At this point it felt like a huge relief, I could tell the worst bits were over although I’m not sure how as I was still high from the gas and air and not completely aware of what was going on.
So from there, baby boy was put on my chest, dad cut the cord and all the usual photos and cooing ensured – I’ll do another post about all that later as this is already a small book.
Finally I had a “managed” placental delivery, meaning they gave me the injection. They asked first which I would prefer and at this point I was so exhausted I just said get it out as quick as possible. After what seemed an age of waiting for something (19 minutes to be exact) it felt like I needed a really big poo, so hello gas and air my old friend and a few more pushes and here it comes. surprisingly easy in the end and out it came.
From there the midwives faffed around measuring and checking and then started setting me up to get cleaned up and sewn up.
It took a surprisingly long time for them to sew me up, well I didn’t expect it to take that long but I still had my gas and air to help. Husband was over in the corner giving baby first feed, getting him dressed and being helped by a nurse, meanwhile my mum was still stoically stood by my side holding my hand and helping me. This part was painful, felt like I was being pulled and tugged at and seemed to go on forever but eventually that too was over and I could just relax for a minute.
So this is where I will leave it, I hope like others helped me my story helps you in whatever way. Overall, it was scary and painful but when the midwife joked 5 minutes after my son was born that I wouldn’t be doing that again a hurry I still said no I’m having another one!