Parenting, Pregnancy

We had a baby! Our long birth story

We had our baby! She arrived safely the day after her due date. It’s not necessarily a pretty birth story, as pretty much nothing went as we would have liked it, but our baby girl is here and lovely and we are so happy.

If you’re currently pregnant and feeling anxious about the idea of childbirth, know that I was so anxious going into this labour. I was terrified, actually. But despite everything I’ve written in this birth story, I still feel really positive about how it all went.

Our hospital team supported us every step of the way. We are so grateful to them. It wasn’t a pleasant experience, but it was wonderful at the same time, if that makes sense.

Our ideal birth story

We had wanted a quiet, serene birth with no pain medication, just a water birth and gentle breathing. Limited monitoring. We wanted delayed cord clamping and immediate skin to skin.

Didn’t get any of that. Two epidurals, constant monitoring, lots of howling, immediate cord cutting. Episiotomy.

But what we wanted more than anything was healthy baby and mum. We wanted to feel listened to and supported. And we got all of that. We are so happy and feel so lucky.

Birth story: short version

I started having regular contractions on Night One. We went into hospital on Morning Two. My water broke, baby’s heart rate only stayed stable in one exact position, constant monitoring, back labour, gas and air is useless, one failed epidural, one successful one, I started running a fever, meconium everywhere, three hours of pushing, episiotomy, Baby was born on Morning Three – that’s 38 hours later, if you’re counting.

Birth story: long version

About seven o’clock, we realised I was having to pace around the living room to cope with the tightening feelings. So after we’d eaten I went for a nice long bath to see if that quietened everything down or started it up properly. By 9pm it was clear something was definitely going to be happening!

We called the hospital around 4am. Contractions were every 3-4 minutes apart. As we live so close they suggested we wait until they were closer and longer. Fine by us, so we held on until about 6am when they were every two minutes and lasting for nearly a minute each.

At our first check, I was only 1cm dilated but they kept us in as I have a heart murmur and Baby had some decelerations on the monitor – we thought these were probably due to my movements, but no one could be quite sure. Then my waters broke anyway at 8.30 so we were there for the duration!

By about midday I was really struggling with the contractions, especially as I kept on having to lie down for monitoring. We tried all the “gentle” methods of pain management and getting things to move along like gas and air, breathing, various aromatherapy techniques, etc. When it was getting on for 1.30pm and I was begging for death, we asked about an epidural. I’ve got quite a fear of needles but by that point I’d have allowed someone to cut my foot off to make the pain stop.

By 2.30 the wonderful anaesthetist had done his work and I was only feeling pressure, not pain. Fantastic! I felt so spaced out and it was wonderful.

Birth story - epidural

I was now lying on my left side constantly as Baby’s heartrate plummeted whenever I moved. But I was able to get some sleep, as was my husband, which was great as we hadn’t slept all the previous night.

I had an amazing button which let me give myself a bolus of epidural every 20 minutes or so. But by about 10.30pm it wasn’t working and I was suddenly back up at a 8 on the pain scale (with 10 being “cut off my foot now, please!”). By the time the on-call anaesthetist was back, I was at a 10 again.

It turned out my epidural had come unsited somehow and needed to be entirely redone. The time it took to take everything out and put it back in and then have the drugs take effect was probably the longest 40 minutes of my life. I didn’t know it was possible to howl so loudly. It felt like an out of body experience. I kept apologising to the staff and my husband when contractions finished because I knew this wasn’t me.

Overnight things got a bit more worrisome because Baby’s heartrate kept going weird. Then I started running a fever and there was some concern that she also had an infection. I was about 7cm dilated by this point so they were able to get a blood sample from her to check she was fine – if not, it would have been an emergency c-section.

As they were doing this, the registrar on call was ever so excited by Baby’s hair. “I can’t wait for you to see how much hair!”

The night went on and on, and by about 5-6am I wasn’t comfortable at all anymore. The epidural was completely gone. But everyone kept pointing out that they couldn’t do anything more as it was back labour and I was now at 10cm. Still on my side, not allowed to move.

It got a bit more scary when suddenly a load of meconium came flooding out. At this point I asked about a c-section. Begged, maybe. Screamed. But Baby was in position and they wanted me to try!

They started me off pushing. It felt like a lot of work at first and after about two hours felt like it was going to kill me! I think I may have begged them to do just that, actually.

Then at the shift change, 7.30, Jackie the midwife came on. We’d seen her a bit the day before, and she was like a sergeant major. She was going to get that baby out!

By 8.08, I’d pushed a bit more, had an episiotomy, and this tiny slippery purple alien was suddenly on my chest. Oh my god.

In all of the pain and the fear, I’d honestly forgotten there was a baby involved. I just kept on repeating, “We had a baby, oh, we had a baby!”

Our hospital was amazing. Even though it was a bit urgent to get her checked out, they still had my husband cut the cord and put her on my chest for a second or two. She was absolutely fine – but tiny – only 6lb4oz despite being born at 40+1.

Our birth story

Everything then went a bit haywire with me. We couldn’t do skin to skin. I spent most of the first day passing out, even after being taken up to the postnatal ward. I don’t actually remember a lot of that first day. My husband did all of the dressing and cuddling and snuggling with her at first. I’ve had to ask him a lot of questions while writing this birth story as well. But I was much better by the end of the day.

We did it!

She’s a delight. She loves feeding and clinging on to thumbs. Hates any kind of having clothing removed and not being cuddled! We also think she’s absolutely gorgeous, although of course I’m a bit biased.

It was a pretty rough experience and I’m certainly not sure I’ll be doing it again, but the hospital staff were all so wonderful and made it bearable. I feel very lucky.

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