Between getting plans rolling for our frozen embryo transfer next May and the news that we are expecting a new baby in the family, I’ve been thinking back a lot to when Noah was born. To give a bit of background to his birth, when I was 36 weeks pregnant I was diagnosed with obstetric cholestasis. This led to the decision for me to be induced at 38 weeks….
On the morning of 22nd December we excitedly and nervously headed to the hospital for my booked induction. I’d hardly slept the night before due to a virus and a fever so I was already exhausted and we hadn’t even started the induction yet! At around 9am a midwife examined me before inserting the pessary and we were surprised when she told us that I was already 1cm dilated! We hoped that this was a positive sign for a smooth induction and, with that, the pessary was inserted. And so it all began.
I was still feeling pretty poorly from the virus so, following the pessary insertion, I decided to rest for a few hours. Around lunch time I prodded Jamie and told him that we ought to try going for a walk to get things moving, so we headed for a walk around the hospital corridors. As we walked I could feel a few twinges and hoped that this was things beginning! Evening came round quickly and I was starting to feel contractions more frequently. I tried timing some and found that they were coming roughly every 5 minutes. I felt so excited that things were happening! Hopefully it wouldn’t be too long before we met our baby boy! Unfortunately we had to change wards due to staffing issues so we were temporarily placed on the postnatal ward. But it couldn’t be helped!
At around 8-8.30pm, Jamie had to leave. As we were still on the ward, partners weren’t allowed to stay past visiting times unless the mother was in established labour which, at this point, I wasn’t. As I kissed him goodbye I felt so afraid. Being in labour for the first time is so daunting, let alone the thought of having to do it overnight alone. He made me promise that I would text him if anything changed and, with that, he was gone.
Slowly the contractions grew stronger. At 10pm I thought that I should try to get some rest but, as I tried to lie down, I knew that I wasn’t going to get any sleep. I began timing contractions again and they were around 3-5 mins apart lasting a minute at a time. They felt pretty intense. The midwife on duty gave me some paracetamol and codeine for the pain but it didn’t really do anything. At 2am I went to the toilet and felt a “gushing” feeling followed by a trickle of fluid. I knew it was my waters. I was also bleeding. I went to the midwives desk and was handed a pad to put on so they could see if it was indeed my waters. Within a few minutes the pad was soaked. As was my nightie and my socks. Yep there was no doubt. It was my waters.
After my waters broke the contractions felt like they’d ramped up a gear. I gave up timing them and focussed on trying to cope with them instead. But in an antenatal ward with sleeping women this was incredibly difficult. I spent most of the night sat on the edge of the bed trying not to make a sound through each contraction as I didn’t want to wake the ladies that were sleeping. I just wanted to cry. I was offered more paracetamol and codeine but, at this point, it was useless. I needed something more but they couldn’t offer me anything else until I was in the delivery suite which had no free beds. My only comfort was I could hear the lady opposite me in a similar position, having also been induced that morning, and I thought to myself “well at least I’m not completely alone in going through this”.
Finally the morning rolled around and Jamie arrived. I had texted him when my waters broke but he slept through the sound of his phone so, upon waking at 6am, he’d read my text and panicked. However, he’d had no call from the hospital so figured things couldn’t have progressed that much. He strolled into the ward looking all fresh and rested and, I’m not going to lie, I wanted to punch him. I felt like hell, was exhausted having not slept in 24 hours and the pain was just intense. “How do people do this with no pain relief?” I thought.
To make matters worse we had to transfer back to the antenatal ward. So there was me, contracting away, trying to walk down the corridor to the ward next door, having to pause for contractions, all the other patients gawping away. Talk about feeling like you’re in a goldfish bowl!
Once we were settled back on the antenatal ward, one of the morning midwives suggested that Jamie took me for a bath and I jumped on the idea! I’d had a bath the evening before, when the contractions were only mild, and it’d helped a lot so hopefully it would do the same now! And it did. It didn’t take away the pain but dulled it somewhat. I’d really wanted a water birth but couldn’t because of the induction so this was a close second. I could’ve literally bitten Jamie’s head off when he told me I’d been in the bath a long time and ought to get out in case anyone else wanted to use it. The first bit of relief I’ve had in hours and you want to take it away from me?! Ok then….. As he helped me back to my bed, one of the midwives spotted me struggling to walk with the contractions and felt it was time to examine me again. To her surprise she discovered I was already 6cm dilated! I felt pretty proud that I had gotten that far with nothing but paracetamol but I definitely felt ready to be moved now!
Around 11am there was finally space in the delivery suite and so, with great relief, we were transferred. We were admitted to the suite by a lovely young midwife and I started on some gas and air as she got me hooked up to the monitor. I’ll be honest, this is where I get fuzzy on timings. I tried my best to manage contractions with the gas and air but they were just getting more and intense and I literally felt like they were coming one on top of each other, I was just getting no respite. I persisted with the gas and air for a while and honestly loved it. It felt like getting tipsy on a couple of glasses of wine. But it wasn’t cutting it for me. After a while I reluctantly requested an epidural.
I had been determined before the induction that I would try to manage on just gas and air. I really didn’t want the restrictions that an epidural would bring. However I had always planned to be open to my feelings at the time and I just couldn’t cope with the intensity of the pain. So I had the epidural. I kept saying to my midwife and Jamie that I felt like I’d failed as I’d caved to an epidural and they kept reassuring me that, no, I was doing a great job but I felt like I was doing it all wrong. Which, looking back, is ridiculous. There’s no wrong way to give birth. All you can do is take every moment of labour and birth as it comes and deal with it as it happens.
After the epidural was administered by the anaesthetist, my midwife examined me again and found that I was 8cm dilated! I was elated. The pain was gone, I felt able to relax a bit and the end felt near! However, my progress began to slow and when I was examined a while later I was stuck at 8cm. Therefore, they decided to start me on a drip to speed up the contractions. Luckily the drip worked and before too long (at least that’s how it felt) I was ready to push.
My legs were lifted into stirrups to help my positioning as, although I had tried to let the epidural wear off a little ready for pushing, my legs were still pretty numb. I waited for guidance from the midwives and pushed when they told me to. Hilariously all I could think in that moment was that it felt exactly as friends had told me it would…..like I was doing a giant poo! I had been pushing a little while when Jamie said to me “come on you have 15 minutes to get him out before it’s Christmas Eve!”. I’m not ashamed to say I may have deliberately squeezed his hand harder than necessary after that. It was 11.45pm. Where had the day gone? It’s weird how time just seemed to have become irrelevant when I was in labour. All the hours/days just moulded into one in my head. It hadn’t even occurred to me that it was nearly Christmas Eve. So for a while longer I pushed and finally, after 45 minutes of pushing, Noah was born at 20 minutes past midnight weighing 8lbs. He was a Christmas Eve baby! The best Christmas present ever.
Suddenly, what felt like a split second later, the emergency buzzer was sounding. I was haemorrhaging. I knew from my past experiences of working in hospitals what the sound meant and wasn’t surprised to see the room suddenly flood with doctors and midwives. Jamie, however, was more in shock and looked, well frankly, terrified. Still with Noah in my arms, I called him to me and told him to look at our son. And we did. We stared at his beautiful face, little hands and feet whilst the medical team did what they needed to do to stop the bleeding. He was the best distraction.
After what felt like forever, I was stitched up and the bleeding had subsided. I had lost 1.5 litres of blood. Feeling dizzy, I asked Jamie to take Noah as I was scared I was going to drop him. He put on his nappy and baby clothes with the help of the midwife and Noah was settled into his hospital crib. I couldn’t get up due to the ill effects of the haemorrhage and the fact that the epidural was still wearing off, so I was laid on an inco paid and told to rest. They were going to let me stay in the delivery suite for the rest of the night and then I would be transferred to the postnatal ward in the morning. Jamie opted to go home and get some rest and soon Noah and I were left alone.
What upsets me is I don’t have a huge recollection of what followed that night until= the morning. I remember waking to Noah in the night and trying to get to him forgetting that I had no underwear or pad on and a midwife had to come and help me back into bed. She reminded me I needed to ring the buzzer if I required help and left. Jamie returned in the morning and I had a shower and tried to give Noah his first breastfeed. He struggled to latch so we decided to try again later. I have no idea to be honest if he was fed anything in the night or not and that is a huge source of guilt for me. I think he slept the whole time as he was pretty drowsy from the labour, but the fact that I can’t fully recollect, still continues to bug me.
At around 11am on Christmas Eve we were transferred to the postnatal ward from which we were finally discharged on the 27th December. I had required a blood transfusion on Christmas Day and Noah needed IV antibiotics. So we spent our first Christmas in hospital!
But it was worth it.
I was completely in love.
Everyone says before you have a baby how surreal the experience of giving birth is and it is so true. I couldn’t believe he was finally here. That wriggly, kicking baby in my belly was here and he was gorgeous. And I can’t wait to, hopefully, some day do it all again.