Saturday, 22 February 2014

My Birth Story

You may remember that Forrest was overdue, in fact he arrived exactly a week after my due date. Every night that week I'd gone to bed thinking 'could this be the night it all kicks off?' And every night I'd thought 'nope. I feel exactly the same.' I was really looking forward to the birth - I know that sounds odd and I put it down to the hypnotherapy I'd been doing. I was so, so excited for the experience and felt more than ready

I woke up for my usual 3am wee that Friday night and dragged myself half out of bed (no mean feat when you have SPD and are the size of a whale) As I sat there on the edge of the bed, looking out of the window and psyching myself up to heave myself off the bed, I must have dropped off again. Next thing I knew, my eyes flew open as I felt a weird popping sensation as my waters went. My midwife had told me at my last appointment 'you've got a lot of waters, don't be surprised if they go like a tidal wave' and she wasn't wrong! I sent up silent thanks that I'd had the foresight to buy a waterproof sheet!

'Matt', I said urgently, and he sat bolt upright in bed.
'My waters have gone'
'Right, I'm ready!'

He jumped out of bed, grabbed me a towel and helped me to the bathroom. Then we went downstairs and had a cup of tea with the dogs, put the bed sheet in the wash and divided up the chocolate brownies I'd made earlier into freezable portions. As if nothing much was happening. Then we went back to bed. It seems ridiculous now! As we lay in the dark it dawned on me that perhaps I should be doing something. I'd been told all the way through my pregnancy to stay at home as long as possible as first labours are notoriously slow and not to ring the unit until my contractions were five minutes apart and lasting a minute. There'd been no mention of waters breaking. I consulted Dr Google and decided to call the unit. The midwife took all my details and asked if I'd had any contractions yet. I was about to say no when I felt a mild cramp-like ache in my lower back. 'Actually, I think this might be one now' I told the midwife, who laughed and suggested we make our way to the unit so they could check me over and tell me if I was in labour or not. If not, they'd send me back home. It was 4.30am

We had a shower and I checked the hospital bag as the cramps started to get more defined with gaps inbetween, rather than being an occasional ache. I messaged my sister, my other birthing buddy 'Waters went at 3am. Going to hospital, I'll let you know if we're staying' By 5.30am we were in the truck and heading off through the morning mist to town. I was listening to my hypnotherapy on my iPod and felt quite certain that the cramps were contractions. Still manageable, but definitely contractions. I had a cloth sprinkled with Clary Sage essential oil and I inhaled it deeply to get me through each one, focussing on my breathing, relaxing my body. I called out to Matt when they began and ended and he timed them on the clock on the dashboard. It took us half an hour to get to the hospital and by the time we arrived they were three minutes apart and lasting well over a minute

We buzzed the door at the birthing unit at 6am and trundled in. Despite the fact that we'd had a tour only a few weeks earlier, neither of us could remember which floor my maternity team was on! So we ignored the lift and took the stairs so we could check all the names as we passed each floor. We found my team and were shown to a room. 'I want the pool if possible', I told the midwife as she took my notes. 'No chance', I was told, there's a lady in it already'. I had been dreading this but I actually handled it better than I expected. I felt extremely calm and still quite excited. This was what I'd been waiting for. I carried on inhaling my Clary Sage and the midwife examined me, exclaiming that I was 5cm dilated! I thought I'd misheard her

'So we're not going home?'
'You're not going anywhere, you're having a baby!'

We hadn't even brought my bags in from the truck as we'd been so sure we'd be sent home! Matt went to get them while the midwife ran me a bath and I paced around the room, sniffing my Clary Sage and feeling rather proud of myself. I'd got to 5cm with no pain relief, climbed two flights of stairs whilst in established labour and still felt like I was in control!

When Matt got back I'd just announced to the midwife that I needed the loo and she'd replied 'are you sure? You're not going to christen this baby in the toilet are you??' I was sick a couple of times and then Matt and the midwife tried to manoeuvre me into the bath to take the edge off the contractions. I hadn't had a bath for months as my SPD had made it impossible for me to get in. They managed to get me in but I was soon out again, I just couldn't get comfortable. As I made my way out of the bathroom and over to the bed I was gripped by another contraction

'You were pushing with that one, weren't you??' demanded the midwife
'Um ... I think I might have been. I didn't try to, it just sort of happened on its own!'

She examined me again and announced that I was 10cm dilated and ready to have my baby. It was 6.30am - just two hours from my first contraction, which is virtually unheard of for first labours. I smiled beatifically and declared

'I think I'd like some pain relief now please'
'Oh no, it's too late for that. Now, with your next contraction I want a BIG PUSH!'

Dear God, I thought, it's really happening

'So it won't be long now?'
'Oh no. My shift finishes at 7am and you'll have a baby by then'

Half an hour I thought, I can do that. So with my next contraction I did as I was told and gave a big push. Unexpectedly, the push hurt my back. A lot. I've had problems with my back since I was 17 and one of the big areas of pain for me is my tailbone. As I pushed, I was pushing the baby's head against my tailbone and the pain was horrendous. Even so, I kept telling myself 'just half an hour, you can do it for half an hour and then it will be over'. My contractions weren't even a minute apart by this point and I just zoned out and went with it. I shut my eyes and entered another world, a world of darkness where the voices of the people in the room sounded very far away and seemed irrelevant to me. At some point I remember being vaguely aware of my sisters voice in the room. I opened my eyes to see her next to me

'You're doing so well!' she said, 'I'm so proud of you!' I'll remember the look of excitement and happiness on her face forever

I shut my eyes and carried on pushing. And pushing. And pushing some more. It became obvious that not a lot was happening and at about 8am the midwife introduced me to the next shift midwife so she could go home. The new midwife continued monitoring the baby's heartbeat every 15 minutes as things weren't progressing as quickly as they should and there was a danger that the baby could become distressed. And so it went on. And on. With every contraction the midwife assured me that I was nearly there and the next push would be The One. I tried changing positions but the pain was only bearable if I laid on the bed. Matt and my sister took a leg each and coached me through every push but I was exhausted. The midwife told me how well I was doing after every contraction but when I asked if the baby was moving she admitted it wasn't. I carried on but I was starting to think I needed help and uttered the fatal words ... 'I can't do it!' Which of course elicited shouts of 'you CAN do it, you ARE doing it, keep going, you're going to meet your baby soon!'. That didn't help at all to be honest, by that point I couldn't give a tinkers toot about my baby, I just wanted to know when it was going to be over. Finally I opened my eyes, turned to the midwife and said 'look at me. I'm serious. I can't move this baby and I NEED SOME HELP!'

She must have agreed because before long there were a lot more people in the room, I remember thinking how calm and serene they all looked compared to the chaos that seemed to have been going on in there for the last few hours. The consultant introduced me to the registrar and explained that they were going to need to get my baby out very soon and so the registrar was going to use a 'kiwi cup' ventouse, a kind of vacuum device which would be attached to the baby's head and used to pull the little blighter out as I pushed. I just nodded and begged them to get on with it. Frankly I was so relieved that I was getting some help and the end was in sight that they could have said they were going to hack off both my legs and I'd have agreed if it would make the pain stop. Two nurses manoeuvred my legs into stirrups and the registrar gave me two injections of local anaesthetic (so he says, I still maintain I felt everything!) and got to work. I'll spare you further details

So finally, after three long hours of pushing, our 7lb13 baby was born at 9.28am. Our warm, quiet little baby was placed onto my tummy, Matt cut the cord and I heard my sister say 'what is it, Matt? Is it a girl?' My heart sank a little because I was really hoping for a boy and I knew Matt was too. But I heard him sob 'it's a boy, we've got a boy!' and I felt joyous relief. I opened my eyes and looked down at our son - I couldn't believe he was finally here

Forrest was born with just one quiet little cry and spent his first minutes snuggled on my chest under a towel, looking around the room, wide eyed. He never had that squashed newborn look, everyone said he looked about a month old from the minute he was born. He did have a huge lump on his head and horrible bruising from the kiwi cup though. Matt was also very pleased to note that he wasn't 'covered in goo' and required no cleaning up at all! It turned out that he'd been in an awkward position - facing sideways and with one hand up by his face - which was why he got stuck (and caused a load of damage on the way out) Basically he entered the world like Superman!

As I mentioned in this post, the trauma of the birth took its toll on me, mentally and physically. Luckily I had primed Matt that if I needed surgery or similar, I wanted him to have immediate skin to skin contact with our baby instead of me. He was more than keen for this, he couldn't whip his t shirt off quick enough! I'll never forget the sight of him holding our minutes-old baby against his bare chest, I've never seen him look so happy. He gave him a formula feed and they gazed into each others eyes for the longest time

The ward was so busy that the midwife didn't have time to weigh and measure our baby straight away, nor did she put a nappy on him, just wrapped him in blankets. So an hour or so later he did his first poo on Matt's jeans! It was the Saturday before bonfire night so we spent his first night watching the fireworks out of the window of our room, cocooned in our new little world of three, tired and excited and wondering what the years ahead had in store for our family

If you've written your birth story, please leave a link in the comments as I love reading them!


  1. Awww I really enjoyed this post Rachael :) Forrest is absolutely the cutest little boy I've ever seen, congratulations to you both! x

  2. This is just what I needed to read before my first interview for the midwifery degree on Tuesday! I can't wait to be there for women like you. I'm sorry it was a bit more traumatic than you expected but Forrest got here safely so that's all that matters I suppose! :) xx

  3. I loved reading this. For so long you made it sound a walk in the park - till the problems started! My friend is currently pregnant (due any time in fact) and she has been suffering with SPD, and is on crutches because of it, so although I've never been pregnant, I've heard how painful it can be! He's gorgeous though, well done!

  4. Forrest is so adorable! Thank you for writing this post, i enjoyed reading it, i'm due in about 6 weeks so its useful information :)

  5. What a lovely post! :) Glad he got there safe and sound! xxx

  6. Found your blog via Sally and goodness me, this story brought a tear to my eye. Thank you for sharing it :) xxx

  7. I can't believe how far you got all by yourself, well done you! Little Forest is such a handsome wee man, that last photo is so precious! x

    The Little Things

  8. Such a moving story - your experience sounds quite similar to mine with my first baby. No2 was a breeze in comparison!

  9. He's so beautiful, you did a great job blog friend :)


  10. He is the most perfect little angel!!!! I was right, i did need the tissues! lol. You should both be so so proud, he is beautiful. This post was so lovely to read, thank you so much for sharing xxxxxx

  11. Great birth story Rachael, thanks for sharing it with us! Forrest is scrumptious! x

  12. You did incredibly well. I was upset I didn't really get to use my hypnobirthing techniques... oh well! x

  13. Daaaaw. I feel a little weary of all the pushing though!! Good job he's cute or would have put me right off :P

    Jenny | sunny sweet pea xx


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