I wanted to share with you my birth story, purely because while I was going through it I was constantly Googling for similar stories to make sure I wasn’t the only one to be going through what I was, and hopefully if anyone is in my position and they come across this blog they will feel the same amount of comfort as I did with what I was reading. I realise it might be a little too much information in parts and it’s also awfully long, but I was so desperate to know other ladies had gone through a similar experience so hopefully this will help anyone else in my position.
I was due on Monday 6th May, I was adamant I would give birth a week early, so with my mind set on that and it passing with no sign of a baby the delay already felt like a lifetime of waiting!
My last few days of being pregnant!
It all started at 4.14am on Wednesday, 8th May. I had gone to bed with a headache after going for one of our many walks to try to start labour (I’m pretty confident I can say from my experience that walking did not help kickstart my labour whatsoever, but it was good to take my mind off of the fact that I was STILL PREGNANT I guess!) I woke up with very mild period pains and needed a wee desperately (no change there of course!) I laid awake with the pains beginning to feel like they were progressing in strength. To describe these early pains I would say they were like a really intense period pain for around 20 seconds and then they would entirely disappear for around 8 minutes where I wouldn’t feel anything and felt like maybe I had imagined the pain because there was nothing in the gap between. Then after 8 minutes I would get another short sharp pain and realise actually no, this is definitely happening!
At half 6 I told Stuart to go ahead and go off to the gym as the pains were so erratic now and no longer always every 8 minutes I knew it wouldn’t progress quickly enough to be a problem if he weren’t there immediately. They were becoming longer in length but the gap between would be all over the place…I knew I was still in for a long wait.
Thursday came and went and still there was no sign of baby. From 10pm they had returned with a vengeance and they didn’t stop until 7am when they tailed off a bit – it was so frustrating as I really thought that might have been it as they were constant all night. This pattern continued for days and I would find myself really struggling to cope with the pain and the now lack of sleep. By midnight on Saturday they were back to every 10 minutes again all through the night and at 8.45am having been up all night again I found it really hard to relax in between the pains. I succumbed to the pain and had some paracetamol which surprisingly seemed to take the edge off, perhaps because they were the first I had taken throughout the whole of my pregnancy; they would vary from every 5/7/9 minutes and last around 40 seconds. I used a contractions timer app on my phone which helped me track it and in a way it was good to keep my mind occupied on timing them.
Messing around with Jess our midwife.
Monday came and we had our sweep booked in, as soon as I left the GP’s surgery at 4pm they came thick and fast and I really thought it was show time (Oh, speaking of which, I had a show on the Wednesday before, so if you have yours this isn’t always a sign that you will have your baby imminently, mine was a whole week before) But by the time we got home and Stuart had made dinner my contractions were every 4 minutes. I had a bath to ease the pain, but frustratingly this really slowed everything down to 7 minutes again which was so disheartening. At 11pm we went up to bed despite the pain being really intense but at 2am I stopped being able to cope with the pain at home with just my TENS, water and paracetamol so at 3.30am Stuart took me up to the hospital and I hoped that they would not turn me away!
After being hooked up to the monitor I was examined at 4.15am and was told I was only 2-3cm, they let us stay as it was really quiet up at the hospital and at 5.30am my waters broke. There was so much of it, it just kept on coming! Every contraction more would gush out I couldn’t believe how much there was. (This actually continued right up to a few hours before he was born!)
Just before my waters went.
At 9am on Tuesday 14th we were sent home because much to my dismay I wasn’t progressing past 3cm. I found I was getting chest pains every contraction so I stopped using the TENS machine, as I can’t take codeine I was just back to the now pretty ineffective paracetamol. Without the waters to cushion each contraction I found them so unbearable, I was also so exhausted at this point I really just wished the baby would arrive. We were booked in for an augmentation on Weds at 8am because my waters had broken and they don’t let you go too long after this happens. By 10pm though I had reached my limit and had to go back in to the hospital.
Stuart wasn’t allowed to stay as I still hadn’t progressed past 3cm but I was so distressed with the pain they let me stay over night and gave me Pethadine to help me sleep. I found this didn’t help me whatsoever and the pain was still so intense but the couple of minutes in between each one I could feel I was on something, I tried a bath and at around 4am I was still walking the halls and felt like I was climbing the walls with the pain so they tried Diazepam again to help me sleep and that didn’t seem to have any affect on me either!
Just before I started pushing.
By 8am I was desperate to go into the delivery suite. Stuart and I had discussed it and decided that I would ask for an epidural; something that was my absolute last resort on my birth plan as I was really desperate to have a water birth and I was concerned about the link epidurals had to an assisted delivery with forceps or caesarean which I really didn’t want. The midwives didn’t even push back on me and agreed to organise one for me straight away. I was also put on a Syntocinon drip to speed up the dilation of my cervix (still ruddy 3cm!!) due to my waters breaking over 24 hours previously. By 11am on Weds 15th I was all hooked up to my various drips and wires and with the pain slowly dissipating and the sun filling the large delivery suite I finally began to enjoy this wonderful experience.
All hooked up and ready to go!
After a final examination they told me baby Jarvis was back to back, which was why I wasn’t dilating on my own and why the pain was more intense than a cephalic presentation, but the Syntocinon soon got to work on the dilation and by 5pm I was told I was 9cm – HURRAH, at last we thought we would never get there!!! Throughout the day I would stop the epidural top up so I could still feel the pain but was able to manage it a lot better and by 6pm I was told I was all ready to start pushing, by which point the epidural had completely gone from my system so I could really feel what I was doing and when the right times were to push. I was scared about how much this would hurt with just gas and air, but the pushing part was a walk in the park compared to the contractions! I guess because you’re pushing away the pain and pushing against it. I sat up with a midwife on both legs pushing back on them (as glamorous as it sounds!!) and I gave a determined 5 pushes per contraction, and at 6:42pm Stuart and I watched in awe as the most amazing experience of watching our child born occurred right in front of our eyes. It was unbelievable and I can still see it now. Unfortunately he wasn’t breathing when he came out, as they explained later; because his whole body came out while the head was still crowning the motions didn’t quite clear his chest of mucas as it would do normally so they had to whisk him away to the re-suss trolley, but not before Stuart cut the cord and announced to me that we had ourselves a Son – I was thoroughly gobsmacked with the happy surprise as I was so sure we were having a girl. After what felt like a lifetime, but was in fact only around 20 seconds I imagine, baby Henry James Jarvis was brought back over to us looking pink and shocked and utterly mesmerising!
I would like to think that if I hadn’t had such a long latent phase I would have coped a lot better with the pain, but the amount of days I was in continuous pain with barely any sleep really affected how I managed the pain in the end. But what I would say is that you don’t get a certificate at the end of it for not accepting the drugs, and on the day I really got to enjoy my experience and loved every second of that very magical day that we got to meet our Son, so don’t feel you’re a failure if you also have pain management drugs.
Thank you to my darling husband who was absolutely brilliant throughout the day, in fact for the whole 32 weeks, and was so supportive, and the fantastic midwife team at Basingstoke hospital “Jess and Jess” our dream team
Leaving the hospital to begin our new adventure as parents.