I haven’t blogged in a while. Nine weeks to be precise, as I’ve been living in the bubble that is new parenthood as I get to grips with being Mum to Max, who joined us three days early in November.
It’s been a whirlwind two months. Nothing can prepare you for the emotional and practical upheaval of having a newborn and it’s true that some days (ok, most days) having a shower is a victory and the only thing you can clearly remember from those first few weeks is a lot of tears. And I mean Mum, not baby.
So blogging has been the furthest thing from my mind as I’ve tried to enjoy every precious moment and get to grips with motherhood. But what kind of pregnancy blog would this be if I didn’t tell the final chapter (before I move on to our laughable attempts of parenting) and tell my birth story. I even bought a new laptop in the sales to make sure I kept up From Day Dot. Although I’m writing this on my phone while trapped under a temperamental sleeping baby, so I haven’t quite got a return on my investment just yet!
Anyway, I’ll keep this as a whistle stop tour and save you the gory details…
After suffering a stomach bug on Halloween night, the moment I half-joked that ‘I bet I’ll go into labour now’ I knew I’d regret it. And I was right to, as the following afternoon while forcing a piece of dry toast down my raw and dehydrated throat, the contractions began.
Coming quite rapid and lengthy from the off, I was straight on the pregnancy ball and doing my yoga breathing while waiting for the husband to come home and get me hooked up to the Tens machine. As he carefully read the instructions and I tried not to flip my lid (yep, waiting until I was in labour to read up on where to stick the pads was perfectly fine by me) I made the obligatory ‘heads up’ call to the Liverpool Women’s Hospital which resulted in us going straight in to the Delivery Suite to have baby monitored after I’d mentioned my sickness and how I’d had a less fidgety baby that day.
Baby was fine, I was severely dehydrated and would ‘never have been able to give birth’ without a drip to get my energy up. So four hours and 2 litres of saline later, my three centimetre dilation hadn’t budged a millimetre and my contractions had slowed down. Apparently this wasn’t good enough. They wanted to break my waters then induce me. That put a pin in my vague wish for a water birth, although in all honesty once I was on that bed I didn’t even want to go from lying down to all fours let alone get naked and take a dip, so no harm done.
So after cheerily powering through my early labour on just a Tens machine and the Golden Thread Breath, it was a case of, in Bridget Jones’ words, ‘fuck yoga’ and give me the drugs. Having your waters broken is no picnic, let’s leave it at that. Induced labour is shockingly painful and intense. I see why people want to avoid it and while my one shot of diamorphine made me high as a kite between contractions for the next four hours, at which point it completely wore off, if didn’t touch the sides of those contractions.
I needed an epidural. No, midwife, not in an hour and a half once I’ve had my next examination, my body’s trying to push this thing out through a 3cm hole so I need to numb that urge to push and I need to do it now.
Turned out it had only taken two hours after being induced to go from 3cm to 9cm. No wonder it bloody hurt so much, and being given the go ahead to push if I got the urge (while a student midwife looked on in case a head popped out) meant there was both no time for an epidural. I pushed every minute with every contraction for the next hour because that’s what my body wanted to do.
When I finally reached 10cm it was time for another hour of coached pushing, three big blood vessel-popping pushes with every contraction to the mixed messages of ‘you’re doing great, I can see the head’ and ‘you need to push harder’ from the midwife. I literally could not push any harder, I swear to God.
The hour passed, still no baby, so in marched the doctors armed with an instrument for cutting and an instrument for sucking. Both were used and out popped out baby’s head.
‘One more push’ they said. ‘Your baby will be here any second’, they said.
Two pushes later and baby wasn’t here, the doctor has drained of all colour and my husband was shouted at to pull a cord on the wall, which caused at least 20 people to run into the room and panic to break out.
A man was shouting (turned out to be the Head Consultant), my husband was crying and being consoled by one of the women who had run in, and I was screaming like a wild woman – thanks to be being under no pain relief, I ca remember it crystal clear, like I’m in the room watching it all happen.
We had shoulder dystocia, an unusual occurance where the baby’s shoulders get stuck at the pelvis. It’s an emergency situation which happens in just 0.3-1% of births, which can end with the baby having broken bones, brain damage and even death. It’s because once that head’s out the oxygen supply is limited so they have a very limited amount of time to get the baby out. Apparently they practice drills every year for this emergency to make sure the right people are there and doing the right things to get baby out quickly.
I was thrown flat back on the bed with my legs practically over my head and someone pushing down hard on my tummy to try and push him out. What finally got him out was the consultant reaching in and pulling him out by his arm (this is where the broken bones usually occur).
It’s traumatic for Mum and baby and the pain is indescribable. I thank my lucky stars that somehow, Max was born without any broken bones or damage that we know. I feel insanely lucky.
That moment he was put on my chest for skin to skin is one I’ll never forget. Everything else – when they said ‘it’s a boy’, the stitches, the multiple people trying to explain to us what had happened and why, was a blur thanks to adrenaline, pain and exhaustion.
It gives me chills just to write this and nine weeks on, I’ve only just been able to Google Shoulder Dystocia to read up on exactly what it is and what happened. I think the high of meeting my baby and the all-consuming task of being a first time parent means I never really acknowledged the trauma and the shock of what had happened to my body (other than understanding that I won’t be going through a natural labour again as I’m at a higher risk of it happening again). I’m still physically feeling the effects and think I will be for a while, but after a bumpy start thankfully Max now seems fine.
So that was my birth story and brings my pregnancy journey to a close. It was much more dramatic than I’d ever imagined and unfortunately wasn’t the drama-free experience I’d imagined, but it was those 17 hours which brought baby Max into the world and for that I’ll be forever grateful.