Everyone was telling me I was going to give birth early because I was so big and also because he was head down and fully engaged from 36 weeks; so, you can imagine my frustration when my due date came and went. I know I ultimately only went a few days overdue but I am someone who likes to control and plan so to say I was being impatient would be an understatement. We desperately wanted to meet our baby and being 9 months pregnant starts to take its toll as tiredness creeps in and it was definitely getting harder to get comfortable. I’m glad I worked up to 39 weeks as I had such a great pregnancy and I would have gone insane if I had been at home any longer, despite keeping busy and active there was no denying you are just waiting. Waiting for the unknown.
Even the midwife thought I would deliver early so she was a bit surprised to see me at 2 days overdue. When she offered a stretch and sweep I didn’t hesitate as I was fed up of bouncing on that dam gym ball. A stretch and sweep is exactly what it says on the tin and not something I would put on my fun list. Quite frankly it was bloody uncomfortable and although only takes a minute or 2 I was then uncomfortable for the rest of the day and night. The only way I can describe the feeling is like someone had had a good rummage down there – which they had! That evening I went to the theatre with my mum and I couldn’t sit still, I was fidgety, uncomfortable and tired and couldn’t help thinking it was the start of something. Sure enough at 2am that night it started.
I got up to go for a wee and whilst weeing released I had back ache – not really a surprise considering my burgeoning belly – but it took me a second to realise it was coming in waves. For the next hour I timed them and sure enough they were every 5 minutes; although not painful they were annoying. I eventually plucked up the courage a couple of hours later to call the hospital who confirmed I was in early labour and told me to stay at home, try and get some sleep, have a hot bath, go for walks etc. Basically stay at home till you can’t bear it anymore. I very patiently waited for Tom’s alarm to go off before waking him and making his Friday by telling him he wasn’t going to work as I was in labour and as if to prove the point, my waters broke about 10 minutes later. (basically felt like wetting yourself involuntarily) around 10am Tom called the hospital as my contractions were still every 5 minutes and they advised I needed to head in as my waters had gone so needed to be examined. I was thrilled – yes – lets get this show on the road! Only to get to the hospital and find out I was only 2cm dilated and they sent us home. Whilst at hospital they also found my ketone level wasn’t right and as the nurse put it you don’t have enough energy to push a baby out right now so you need to get some sugar in you and the best way was Lucozade or sports drinks. This had happened because I had puked a few times in the morning and not eaten since 7pm the night prior. So off they sent us with the strict instructions that if I hadn’t gone into ‘active’ labour (the next stage when I am more than 4cm dilated) by 5am the following morning I would need to be induced so to come back ready for then.
What followed was a 10hour stint at my parents house where my mum so attentively tended to my every need (a girl never stops wanting her mum) as Tom and my dad relaxed watching movies and eating fish and chips! I was reluctant to try a bath as I am not a bath person but to my surprise it really did ease the contractions a little and I actually ended up having a couple, in between mum making me do laps of the house and puking all over her dining room floor. By 10pm I was starting to moan and groan through the contractions and exhaustion had started to set in mum gladly told me I was now contracting every 2 minutes and it was time to go to hospital. I was so relieved cos I was ready to give up I was so tired and in pain now, all my contractions were in my back and by heck did it hurt, at this point I was shouting for an epidural.
On arrival at delivery suite (birth centre was full) they put us in an assessment room whilst they got a delivery room ready for us and I was examined. I was shouting a lot by now, moaning and groaning and probably driving everyone crazy but I did not care. When first examining me they confirmed I was 6cm dilated but were concerned my temperature and blood pressure were high, although baby was perfectly happy, I was going t have to be monitored.
Now I have a reputation of being a bit sassy and saying things bluntly so it was no surprise that during labour when I was exhausted and in pain this part of me was more noticeable. I’m sure Tom could give a more accurate account of how direct I was but I do distinctly remember when the nurse said this is Elaine she will be the midwife looking after you I shouted has she got drugs in a rather blunt tone. When she replied no it just made me shout I want an epidural even more! Before they would give me an epidural they made me try gas and air and I rather sulkily snatched it from them and said fine I’ll try it but it won’t be strong enough. Only to my delight after a few puffs to tell Tom ‘this is good shit! Its like being pissed without the hangover!’ It was fair to say I was a fan of gas and air and was happily high as a kite for the next few hours. I even asked the midwife at one point if I was still having contractions because I couldn’t feel them (I was) and whilst Tom took a quick power nap I sucked away and relaxed.
Suddenly or so it felt like, I would get these 2 consecutive contractions that I could feel really strong and painful in my back and I found myself pushing myself off the bed and the urge to push quickly followed. When Elaine confirmed I was fully dilated I remember thinking ‘holy shit its game time, how did we get here? I’m not ready!’ When the pushing started I found I didn’t want the gas and air because I wanted to concentrate, almost like I needed to feel the pain to push through it, not that I would give the mouthpiece back – just in case I needed it!
Pushing was exhausting, there’s no other word for it. I’m not exactly the fittest person and stamina isn’t something I have an abundance of and by now I had been in labour well over 24hours without food or sleep and I couldn’t even keep water down because I kept puking – I was drained. I remember a couple of times saying to Tom I can’t do it, please just pull it out or something! After an hour of pushing the doctor was called as they were concerned that baby was going to be too big for me to push out and I was so tired. The doctor discussed using a suction cup to assist me but whilst she was prepping I did a few huge pushes and she told me in no uncertain terms that I was going to push this baby out myself. Whilst baby was starting to crown Elaine advised she though she was going to have to cut me but she couldn’t get her hands in to do it because baby’s head was too big and she said you are just going to have to push it out, that scared the hell out of me and I thought oh my god I’m gonna to tear to hell. One of my favourite memories was as baby started crowning Tom shouted I can see the head!’ to which I very sassily replied ‘I can fucking feel it!’ No other way to put it but I know why they call it the ring of fire at that stage, I could literally feel my vagina stretching and funnily enough you suddenly find some more energy and push very quickly to get that baby out and stop that stinging! Luckily for me once I pushed his head out, he was out in his entirety as they popped him straight on my belly it very quickly became apparent something was wrong and that’s when things took a turn none of us expected. (covered in detail in separate post called Zak’s arrival)
Now I have given birth it feels like my greatest achievement – I wonder if I could put it on my CV? I exceeded all my own expectations, I didn’t give up, I persevered and I survived. I know it sounds dramatic but labour was my greatest fear. I was always terrified I couldn’t do it that I wouldn’t be able to handle the pain and worried that would affect me or the baby. But I did it and with only gas and air. Every time I look at Zak now I am in awe of myself – it sounds conceited – but not only did my body make and carry this beautiful boy but I pushed him out. I pushed a 9lb 4oz baby out of my vagina and only had a small tear. I did it and I can still sit down! Turns out my body is rather remarkable and clearly I am someone who is lucky enough to not only have a good pregnancy but also have a good labour and deliver a big beautiful baby. As the midwife so kindly put it ‘Some women are just meant to have babies and reproduce’ My translation of that = I am a fucking superwoman!