The Girl’s Birth Story
One year ago today, The Girl was born. 10 April 2017 at 3:40 pm, weighing 3.71 kgs/8lbs 2 oz. Today I took her for her one-year check: she now weighs 8.6 kgs/19 lbs. 10 pounds heavier, and I’m hopefully 10 pounds lighter — this last year has flown by. I obviously can’t help but reflect on the incredible thing my body did last year — pushed a baby out of it. Sparing you the (literally) bloody details, here is The Girl’s birth story.
I always knew I would go overdue – my Mom was overdue (over 40 weeks gestation) with each of her pregnancies. In the UK, it is common for the hospital to advise you to have an induction if you pass the 42 week gestation period. So, although The Girl’s due date was the end of March, I was pretty confident she wouldn’t be born until April. Knowing you’ll probably go overdue and BEING overdue are two different things. Being overdue is its own special kind of hell — I DID NOT enjoy being overdue. I was anxious, I wanted to see her face, I wanted to put all of my reading into practice and actually birth my baby.
Despite what I wanted, The Girl was taking her time (my first lesson about letting go of control!).
At my 40 week check up I was offered a selection of invasive and non-invasive options to attempt to kick start labour: reflexology, aromatherapy and a sweep. I did all of them, experienced contractions on and off and was 2 cm dilated. Week 40 passed and still no baby.
At my 41 week check up, I hadn’t progressed at all and even had regressed – I wasn’t dilated anymore. My bump was also measuring small (35 weeks) and The Girl’s heartbeat was slightly off so we went to triage and had all the checks. We were told to come back on Monday for a scan to measure the baby and prepare myself for a possible early induction if she measured too small. That day I went home, laid in bed and cried, feeling sorry for myself, scared that I would have to be induced.
The next day, I woke up feeling refreshed and motivated — we went to a gardening supply shop and bought loads of plants I was going to do over the next week (hah!) and we visited a friend who just had a baby. I was determined to have a positive attitude over the next week. That evening, I started getting REALLY annoyed at my husband, irrationally so. Everything he was doing was BEYOND annoying. I asked him to leave and go to the gym — I started watching Call the Midwife and cooked dinner. Maybe it was the combination of all these things, but I started bleeding and having contractions – this wasn’t like the Braxton Hicks I’d been having for weeks, this was definitely labour!
My contractions lasted for 1 min and were 3 min apart pretty regularly. I wasn’t comfortable with the amount I was bleeding (NONE of the books I read talked about this), so we went to the hospital to get examined, knowing full well that I’d be sent home. The midwife confirmed I was in the early stages of labour, 2 cm dilated and that I should go home, take ibuprofen and try to sleep. So, after stopping at McDonalds for a McFlurry at midnight (cravings, am I right!?), we did that. I put on my hypnobirthing MP3s and went to sleep.
At 5 am I got up because the contractions were getting worse. I always had it in my head that I wouldn’t need my husband’s support in early labour, I would need him for the pushing stage. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Between 5-9 am I was in absolute agony, crying, moaning, couldn’t stay still, scared — I needed my husband there constantly. All I wanted to do was to go to the hospital — I wanted to feel safe.
A midwife we saw at the 40 week check up suggested that when I feel like my contractions are regular and I can’t take the pain anymore, take a bath. If the bath water and temperature doesn’t change the flow of the contractions, then you’re in active labour and you should go to the hospital. So that’s what we did — I took a bath and the contractions didn’t change at all.
The 10 minute drive to the hospital was AGONY. I was screaming, crying, stomping my feet on the floor. My contractions were 1 min apart lasting for a 1 min — I didn’t get a break. I had to stop 3 or 4 times to walk the 100m from the car to the hospital front door, worrying my husband.
The first midwife I saw was in her early 60’s (I think) and after applying acupressure to several points on my body said in between a contraction, “I’ve had 15 kids, you will get through this, you will be OK” which promptly calmed me down until the next contraction. I was unfortunately still only 2 cm dilated, but I knew I needed something to help me calm down. I couldn’t catch my breath, I was panicking – all of the hypnobirthing went out the window.
I wanted to change that – they said I could have a bath or Pethidine. Taking Pethidine was by far the best decision. Pethidine is a 3-4 hour pain reliever that is very low risk to the baby, kind of puts you in a dream like state so you’re aware of your contractions and you feel them but your body is relaxed enough that it doesn’t tense up during the contraction. This next bit is fuzzy — I was checked on every 15 minutes according to my husband, but I don’t remember.
After 3 hours, I felt the urge to go to the loo and my waters broke. At that point the pain intensified and I think this is when I was transitioning. My husband called the midwife who attempted to check my dilation but because my contractions were coming so frequently, it took her awhile. I was suddenly, within the space of 3 hours, 8 cm dilated. The midwife took my hand and said “Love, this baby is coming today!”
At this point I was far enough along that Pethidine had worn off and I could have Gas and Air. Gas and Air — the second best decision I made. Not only was the gas relaxing, but the sound of breathing in and out through the machine prompted my hypnobirthing memories and allowed me to drop into everything I had been practicing the last few months.
I was transferred to the natural birth centre and given a birthing pool. This was my hope all along, to have a water birth. But I have to say after my waters broke, I 100% did not care how the baby would come, I didn’t care at all I just wanted it out of me. I was so far along by the time I got into the water that all I remember was that it felt warm. I know there are other benefits, but I didn’t notice!
To my surprise, my husband joined me in the pool (although I didn’t notice this until afterwards)!
The next hour or so again is just a blur of breathing in the gas and air, and trying to catch my breath between contractions. Suddenly, the contractions intensified and my body felt like it was trying to throw up in reverse – I felt the urge to push. Because I hadn’t been examined again since I was 8 cm, I wasn’t sure if I could. I asked the midwife and she said if that’s what I feel to do then do it – so I did.
Three pushes and lion screams later, The Girl was in my arms just as wrinkly, soft and warm as I had always imagined. That rush of tears, happiness and disbelief was overwhelming. Laying in the pool with my husband and daughter was more magical than I could have ever dreamt it. Yes, the pool was gross, I was still in pain and my daughter was crying. But it was magic.
Immediately I was offered a cup of tea by the midwife – by far the most British thing I have experienced, and the best cup of tea I’ve ever had. Little did I know it was just the midwife buttering me up before letting me know she needed to stitch me up (ouch!). Afterwards, I fell asleep on the bed for several hours as my husband held The Girl. We were discharged later that night and got to spend her first night in this world at home.
When we got her home my husband and I, despite all the preparation and books beforehand, both looked at each other and said “What do we do now?” Somehow, we’ve figured it out together, one day at a time.
One year is obviously a fabulous milestone for The Girl, but also for me as well, as a celebration of what I did, what my body did. Humans really are just incredible creatures.