Sunday, 24 January 2016

MY LABOUR AND BIRTH STORY | PART ONE

Dear Freya, 

You're asleep again right now (YouTube shushing man to the rescue once again) and I am trying to get this written down before either you wake up from your nap or Daddy wakes up from his. It took me a while to come to terms with your birth as it was far from what I wanted and I didn't cope with it in the way I expected myself to. I'm probably going to split this letter into two as your birth story started at 39 weeks and you weren't actually born until 42 weeks.


It all started at 39 weeks when the midwife gave me my first sweep and stretch. The consultant had agreed to me having early sweeps due to my SPD to try and avoid me having to carry you around for longer than necessary so, despite me being very very nervous (I had never even let another woman look at my lady garden let alone stick their hand up there!) I let the midwife do her job and we were both pleasantly surprised at what she felt. At 30 weeks I was already 75% effaced and 2cm dilated. She informed me that it was one of the easiest sweeps she'd ever done and that she was almost certain she wouldn't be seeing me the following Friday for my 40 week appointment. 

I went home that day full of excitement thinking I was going to be meeting you within the next 48 hours. I emailed your dad at work to let him know the news and spent the next couple of days trying to move as much as I possibly could to help the sweep do its job. 

48 hours came and went with no sign of you making your appearance. I hadn't even had a single twinge. I did lose my mucus plug (sorry, I know it's gross but you will one day experience it too) the day after my sweep but I knew it could replenish itself and didn't necessarily mean that labour was imminent.

I bumbled through the next seven days. I was big and heavy and achy and exhausted and I just wanted to meet my baby. I was actually looking forward to the midwife giving me another sweep at 40 weeks and I definitely never thought I'd be excited for another woman to put her sausage fingers inside my hooha! That appointment ended up being very similar to my 39 week one, the midwife gave me a sweep and informed me I was still 2cm dilated but I was now 100% effaced. She told me how shocked she was to see me and told me again that she was definitely certain she wouldn't see me at 41 weeks and if she did she would book me for an induction at the hospital. 

Again, the magic 48 hours came and went and you were still safely tucked away inside me, kicking my ribs as if to remind me you were definitely real and I would be meeting you very soon. My 41 week appointment was slightly different to the last two. I declined another sweep and stretch due to the previous ones not working and just accepted the fact I was more than likely going to need to be induced. The midwife phoned the hospital and booked me in for the 2nd of December 2015, twelve days after your due date. 

I spent the next five days packing and repacking our hospital bags and fending off what felt like hundreds of texts asking if there was any news. I was grouchy and miserable and just wanted to hold my baby. When the morning of the 2nd came around I was a bag of nerves. I had to phone the hospital at 8am and double check they had room for me to be admitted as planned. They told me they were expecting me and to arrive at 10am.

Your Nana Jane drove your daddy and I to the hospital so that we didn't have to get the tram on that Wednesday. We arrived with plenty of time to spare and made our way up the antenatal ward where we were shown to our room. It was a lot nicer than I was expecting - it even had an en suite! A midwife popped her head around the door and told us she would pop in shortly to examine me and that we should settle in and read some documents about the induction process. Usually pregnant women are offered a 24 hour pessary to try and prepare the cervix first and if that doesn't work they are offered a 12 hour hormone gel which will get the cervix to a point where they are able to artificially break the waters. I was pretty sure I would be able to skip both of those and have my waters broken straight away so I didn't start unpacking or getting myself too comfortable. 


Clearly I was excited about the fact there was an en suite!
A few hours later (so much for popping in shortly) the same midwife returned, this time with a student midwife. She asked if I was okay with the student carrying out the examination to which I said yes and prepared myself for the second woman ever to give my lady bits a good going over. She confirmed what I already suspected, I could bypass everything hormone related and go straight down to the labour ward for my waters to be broken. The real midwife redid the examination just to double check she was right and performed another sweep to try and get my contractions going on their own one more time. She then left us to go and phone the labour ward to let them know we were ready. It was around 2pm by this time and I was sure I was going to be holding you in my arms at some point over the next 24 hours. 

We spent a lot of time in that room waiting, Freya. As the hours passed it became more and more obvious that we probably weren't going to be meeting you that day. 8pm rolled around and the ward rules stated that all partners must go home unless you are waiting to be moved to the labour ward, so daddy and I tried to snuggle up together and watch some TV, hoping we would be moved soon. It got to 11pm and we were still on the antenatal ward with no idea when we would be moved downstairs. The midwife in charge was very apologetic, explaining that spontaneous labours were obviously a higher priority than births that hadn't even started yet and that there wasn't enough midwives on the labour ward to look after us. She also told us we were 3rd on the list to go down so it could be a while before we were moved and my heart sunk. I had been so sure that you would be well on your way by now and it just wasn't happening. We agreed that your daddy should go home to get some rest so that he was ready to support me as best he could tomorrow when we would hopefully get to meet you. 

 Thursday morning came around quickly. I hadn't slept too well due to midwives coming in every 3-4 hours to take my obs and to check your heart was still beating as it should be. I pottered down the corridor from my room the day room and made myself some toast and a cup of milk. I'm pretty sure the milk was supposed to be for tea and coffee but pregnancy related heart burn is no joke and needs must. A lovely midwife came in at around 9am to see if I needed any pain relief (which I didn't, I still wasn't having contractions) and popped me on the monitor to make sure you were moving as much as usual. Your daddy arrived at 10.30 on the dot and I wont go into much more detail on that day as it was very much the same as the one before. Too many women going into labour naturally, not enough midwives, no idea on how long it would be and a very very grumpy mama to be. I remember this day so well. I remember feeling like I would never meet you and I remember worrying about how you were coping being so overdue. 

When Daddy arrived on Friday morning he kicked some midwife ass. He knew I was struggling and he too was worrying about how you were getting on, Research says that the placenta stops working as efficiently after 40 weeks and now at 42 weeks we were starting to get concerned. He came in halfway through the midwife hooking me up to the trace machine and told her all of our fears about how you were doing. I'm glad he did to be honest as I had noticed a slight reduction in your movement but didn't want to burden the midwives on an already over stretched ward. The midwife was lovely and addressed all of our concerns but promised she would try her hardest to get us downstairs and on to the labour ward today. Lo and behold the very same midwife came back a few hours later and told us that it was finally time. We were going to meet our baby.