I was 42 weeks and 1 day pregnant and despite desperately wanting a spontaneous labour and a natural birth, I had resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to be induced. I woke up with pains, the morning before my induction at 3:50 am. I didn’t get my hopes up, because I’d woken up in pain a few nights now. It was usually trapped wind or an upset stomach. I hated the disappointment of thinking labour might be starting and then discovering it wasn’t.
My boyfriend Mike (Tinderboy), woke up and asked what was wrong. I said, “I don’t know for sure, but I think I might be in labour”. *PING* his eyes were open and he was instantly awake, excited, helping me pack and asking what else he could do to help!
Contractions started at about 3 minutes apart and rapidly became more painful. By 5am I had phoned my birth partner and my mum (to come and watch my children) so they could start their 2-3 hour journey. At 6am exactly, I walked through the hospital doors with my bags, heading for the labour ward. Mike stayed at my house with my girls, waiting for my mum. He was so calm, he was brilliant.
After a painful half hour wait in the hospital waiting room, which saw me climbing all over the furniture to ease the contraction pain, I was let into maternity triage for observations. At 8:20 my birth partner and best friend of 27 years (Kerry) came in. At 8:30 Baby Bear’s dad (SD) walked in. By 9:30 it was agreed that I was genuinely in labour and I was in my own clean, spacious room on the labour ward, with one-to-one midwife care.
I asked to be examined and was told I was a good 5cm dilated and stretchable to 7cm.
I had wanted an active labour, so I was changing positions like an impatient toddler. On the bed, off the bed, leaning over the bed, on my knees on the floor, standing with my hands on the wall, leaning on the windowsill, on all fours, on my side. I changed position for every single contraction.
I wanted a water birth but the birth suite with the pool was unfortunately in use, so Kerry started running me a bath as a method of pain relief, which I considered to be the next best thing. Before the bath was even ready the midwife stopped us. Due to my medical history of haemorrhaging during childbirth, the midwife in charge of the delivery suite had said that it was too much of a risk to myself. I was quite upset about that and I think it showed. As an alternative method of pain relief I was offered “aromatherapy”. Well… Kerry and I had a good giggle about it for a few minutes and then I though, why not? What harm can it do? At least the room will smell good!
I wanted a drug free labour and up until 11:30 I coped on just paracetamol. By this point I was a generous 8cm dilated. I was starting to question my options now though, as the pain was increasing substantially and was moving more towards my back than my tummy. I was so conscious of not wanting to be sick, that I turned down all morphine or codeine products. There was no sign of the illusive aromatherapy appearing.
At exactly 11:30 SD announced he was leaving to go to his driving theory test.
Yes. SD actually left the birth of his first child, to do a fully reschedulable and unimportant test. Which made me wonder why he’d shown up at all. I told the midwives not to let him back in until after the birth. He’d made his choice. I’d been generous allowing him to be there in the first place. If he felt his theory test were more important than his son, then that was on his conscience.
I opted at this point for some gas and air. I couldn’t cope with the pain anymore and I was so darn tired I needed a lay down. My contractions slowed right down to 5 minutes apart. I thought, “NO. No I am not letting this slow down. I’ll feel like I’m going backwards rather than making progress”. So I hauled myself off the bed again and sure enough, my contractions shot straight back up to 1 minute apart and quickly intensified in pain. I stopped the gas and air because I felt like it only helped when I was laying down.
I popped to the toilet quickly and BANG!!! My waters broke all over the bathroom floor. I called the midwife to come check me over because I was bleeding a little, but after doing some checks she said it was nothing to worry about. I was still worried and had an emotional five minutes of tears and Kerry gave me a big cuddle until I was feeling stronger again.
By midday I was starting to enquire about other methods of pain relief again. I’d sworn completely off epidural being an option due to a hellish experience of one with the twins. I didn’t want anything that’d make baby drowsy or me sick. So in the end we came up with… two paracetamol! By 12:30pm I was claiming I couldn’t cope. Kerry was rubbing my back and my midwife kept assuring me I was doing really well. I hadn’t made a sound throughout my pain and the poor lady next door was screaming and cursing through the walls which made us giggle quite a lot. Apparently she was nowhere near as far along as me, so despite giggling, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her.
I had been expecting to start pushing straight away after my waters breaking. It had been immediate with Bunny. But this time it wasn’t happening, despite me being 10cm dilated. The pain was far worse than I remembered it being and the pressure I felt “in the rear” was unbearable, but it wasn’t a pushing sensation. I was told that Baby Bear had turned and was back-to-back with me, which was causing the severe pain “in the back”. I started feeling quite down and saying that I wasn’t strong enough to “do this”. Kerry and my midwife were amazing. So supportive.
Baby’s heartrate dropped a little and to my devastation, I was told to lay down for a bit so they could monitor him. They were going to put a clip on his head if his heartbeat continued to drop. I went back on the gas and air until 1pm when I simply didn’t have the energy to carry on. I put down the gas. I rolled onto my side, facing Kerry, and I went to sleep.
Yes… with excruciating contractions only about 30 seconds apart, whilst 10cm dilated in labour, I gave up. I couldn’t do any more. I instantly fell into a really deep sleep.
My midwife knew this was a phase some mothers go through, known as “the resting phase”. It’s the body’s way of gathering some energy before the crucial moment. I was oblivious to this. Kerry sat there wondering how I could fall asleep during that much pain and worrying if I was okay.
All was calm, utterly relaxed and the room was completely silent. I was sound asleep for a full three minutes.
Then in a sudden dramatic turn of events, I woke up, eyes wide and let out what felt like a scream, but I’m told was more like a quiet but startling whimper. I made Kerry jump out of her skin as I transitioned from asleep to full panic mode, on my back and announcing that I was pushing. She had a concerned look of shock in her eyes for a moment, before reverting to her calm and supportive self, ready to help me through. The midwife was up and ready as fast as I could open my eyes. She’d been expecting this. I hadn’t. I was panicking and telling her that I was too scared to push.
Nature takes over though doesn’t it…
14 minutes and 5 quiet pushes later, Baby Bear was born at 1:24pm and placed straight on my chest. He looked so much smaller than I was expecting, although far bigger than any of my other babies. Baby Bear was love personified. I knew I loved him before he was even born. I knew the crazy overwhelming sense of love that comes with giving birth, from when I had my girls, yet still it surprises me how hard the love hits you, when you lay your eyes on one of your babies for the first time. He was completely and utterly perfect.
Half an hour later, SD walked in. He looked very surprised and somewhat disappointed that he’d missed the birth of his son. I was just really really glad that he wasn’t there. Kerry was the best birth partner I could ever have asked for; she even cut the cord!
It didn’t take Baby Bear long to decide what he wanted. He wriggled his way down my chest until his mouth was level with my nipple and he latched himself on, just like that!
After an hour of skin-to-skin newborn cuddles, I asked the midwife to take Baby Bear and weigh him. My body was still shaking, I felt very weak and tired and a bit sick. I was struggling to keep my eyes open and I was dizzy. I was worried about passing out with Baby Bear in my arms. It dawned on me that I hadn’t eaten in about 18 hours and I’d just done a 9.5 hour labour and childbirth. Baby Bear weighed 7lbs 14oz, making him by far the biggest of all my children. Kerry and SD enjoyed baby cuddles whilst I had some food and drink and a short rest to recover. Kerry phoned my mum and Mike to tell them the news. We all took lots of photos and before I knew it, it was 6pm and I was being moved to the ward.
My move to the ward coincided with visiting hours and the moment that I saw Mike standing there with my three beautiful daughters and my mum, I felt my whole body light up. That one look from him, firstly at me and then at Baby Bear, was utterly priceless. It was emotional, it was overwhelming and my goodness, it was more love in one glance than I ever thought possible.
There I was, being wheeled through the hospital in a wheelchair, holding the most beautiful baby boy I’d ever laid eyes on. My three incredible little girls were there with my mum (who I share a very close bond with). My best friend was by my side and so now, was my boyfriend, with a big beaming smile on his face. There was so much love in that moment, that I wish I could bottle it and share it with the world. It doesn’t matter anymore, how much emotional pain there has been in my past, or how much physical pain there was in labour because that feeling… THAT feeling was worth it all. That moment made me feel like the luckiest girl in the world.