It took me a very long time to write about Big brother’s birth story so writing this before Little brother is six weeks old is pretty good going I reckon! First time around it felt like I told my birth story quite a lot as I had lots of other friends who were first-time Mums who wanted to chat about their experiences. This time around I’ve shared it far less. So, if it interests you then read on. If not then may I recommend something a little more lighthearted like 10 reasons why toddlers are like puppies?!
The night before going into labour I’d convinced my husband that we should go to IKEA to buy a wardrobe (having only moved house less than a week ago) and to eat meatballs and ice cream as a treat just in case baby came soon. Weird how you sort of have an inkling isn’t it?
My poor husband was very kind in allowing the trip considering it meant him coming home on the bus as the wardrobe was too big for two passengers plus toddler!
Anyway, wardrobe bought, not built. House partially unpacked. Off to bed we went.
6.30am I woke up with a niggling cramping pain. I’ll be honest my first thought was, ‘I cannot be bothered with this today.’ Hubby was in the shower getting ready for work so I figured I’d try to get a little more sleep. Then I heard footsteps and, “read me a book… what’s that noise? Nappy change…” No way I was getting back to sleep so up I got.
Now, first time around people said, ‘when you’re in labour you’ll know’ and I did for sure. This time I wasn’t totally convinced at first.
7am (ish, timings are slightly blurry here!) We headed downstairs for breakfast. I’d already planned to meet a friend that day so text her and said I might need childcare rather than company! Then called my Mum to say I think I’m in labour but that I’d keep her updated.
I showered and spent ages trying to decide what were my most comfortable clothes. Before the shower, I decided I’d like to blow dry my hair. After the shower, no doubt I was in labour, I barely cared if I brushed it.
So, I popped on my TENs machine and settled onto my birthing ball in the lounge.
My lovely friend came to collect the little guy who was so excited to see his friends practically ran out the door without saying goodbye!
I bounced on my ball for quite a while, timing the contractions which were coming every few minutes.
Now, here I will say that although I’ve gone through labour before and I felt as if I coped very well with the pain first time this time felt far more intense, far more quickly. Considering the first time was also only 10 hours I was also really nervous about not getting to the hospital quickly enough.
So at 11am (ish) we headed to the hospital. Fortunately, my husband had passed his driving test two weeks earlier so we weren’t scrambling around trying to find a midweek lift!
11.30am When we got to the hospital, parking was a nightmare so I
wandered waddled staggered in and a lovely student midwife started my examination. Once my husband joined me, and I’d had a second internal examination ‘to double check’, they told me I was only 2cm dilated. Anyone who’s been through labour and thought they were further along than they were will know how incredibly gutting this was.
They suggested I went home but the pain was so bad I couldn’t even imagine getting back out to the car let alone sitting down for the journey home. The lovely midwives said, ‘things can progress quickly…’ and all I wanted to reply was, ‘yeah, but your face is saying, ‘but I don’t think that’s going to happen for you.”
So, we went off to kill an hour and headed to the hospital canteen to try and eat lunch. Absolutely no way I was going to manage a lunch and instead I ate a bag of dried mango and paced next to my husband whilst he ate.
Then we wandered outside for fresh air, with me checking my watch repeatedly asking, ‘is it an hour yet?’ I also said, on a number of occasions, ‘if I have to be in this much pain all day I don’t think I can do it’. Anyone who knows me well will know I generally have quite a high pain threshold so at the time I was feeling quite disappointed in myself that I wasn’t handling the pain better.
12.30pm (ish) An hour passed and we went back. At this point, they told me they wouldn’t re-examine me until four hours had passed (3.30pm) and that I didn’t seem to be that much farther along so perhaps I wanted to go home?
They allowed us to wait in the waiting area. I attempted to read a magazine but mostly paced the room whilst they checked on my observations every now and then (I mean obviously at set times but who knows how often!)
Within an hour the pain had ramped up again and a midwife appeared noting that it sounded like things had moved on and perhaps we should go into a room. I wonder if this could be translated into, ‘you’re being quite noisy next to our office, I think we’ll move you down the corridor’?
1.30/2pm? Not a clue what time it was when we moved but I know I then being to stare at the clock waiting for 3.30pm to come around. Now it was me and my husband, the student midwife and another midwife all sat in what felt like a very small room.
I sat on the edge of a bed very awkwardly for most of the next hour or so, not quite able to get up or down. Then I was offered a birthing ball which was very flat (that was uncomfortable!) and by the time it was re-inflated I was back into my awkward edge of the bed position and couldn’t face moving.
I was offered gas and air and the opportunity to go in the pool. But I’d really gotten it into my head that I didn’t want anything other than my TENS machine until I was sure that I was far along. I didn’t want to feel spaced out too early on. Looking back I probably could have taken some gas and air a little earlier but I am a little stubborn.
During this time I regretted my dried mango when I brought it all back up, fortunately asking for a sick bowl first (and getting it mostly in the bowl). This actually felt reassuring as it was after I was sick during my first labour that things really sped up.
Finally, 3.30pm (or nearer 4pm, they were pushing it) rolled around and I got re-examined. The student midwife did the first examination and then asked if the other midwife could examine me too because ‘I want to let her check in case I’ve got it wrong and you’re disheartened’. As you can imagine at this point I’m thinking, I’m only 3 flipping centimetres, I can’t do this, how on earth will I keep going…
8cm. Heck yeah! Maybe I’d like the gas and air now? And, is there still a pool available?!
So, after I staggered awkwardly down the corridor with my pants-off, wearing just a vomit-stained t-shirt then sat awkwardly for a little longer whilst the pool filled, I finally got into the birthing pool. Hurrah.
Now, this next bit is definitely a bit more blurry as I got on the gas and air. I recall insisting my husband change the music as it was something very upbeat playing on the radio which felt totally wrong!
And I know how incredible the midwives were. So hands off but reassuring, explaining that I could push when I felt like it and asking me what I wanted to do. A whole lot less directive than my first labour experience. I felt like I wasn’t doing it right the first time around but I now realise that was a lot down to how complicated it was and the midwife’s manner!
Lots of contractions, lots of shuffling/sploshing around trying to get comfortable (why do we bother?!) and trying to figure out the best pushing position and…
5.22pm after two big pushes, Little brother was born. Catching him myself in the water was such a wonderful experience, one I didn’t think I’d wanted originally. My waters didn’t break until he’d been born so he was born in the sac which I was told is not that common. I was going to cut the cord but it needed to be with my left hand given the way I was holding him and it was easier to get the midwife to do it! So, I simply got to cuddling my little one close to me and revelled in the wonder that is childbirth (whilst sitting in the midst of the mess that is childbirth obviously!)
All in all a far more straightforward second labour. The beginning was far more painful but the end was far more simple.
If you’ve read this far then I applaud you as this feels very long and rambling. So, here are just the highlights of the next few hours:
- An hour of very thorough stitches – many future women will benefit from the thorough teaching the student midwife received whilst stitching me up!
- Looking at the placenta and just being amazed at how it all works – anyone else just find the whole thing fascinating?!
- Eating more toast than I’ve ever eaten in one sitting. I was ravenous!
- A lush shower – not in terms of water pressure, that was terrible, but it was just so nice to wash!
9.20pm We got to go home. Woohoo! After being in for two nights first time around, going home 4 hours after our baby was born felt very different. Sleeping in our own bed and not a noisy labour ward was amazing. And, waking up with Big brother coming in to see his new Little brother was the best.