Finally I have managed to sit down and write this! It’s only taken almost 11 months…!!
So the birth we were hoping for was a beautiful home water birth, no stress, and then after, I could sleep in my bed with our new born baby, make smoothies and enjoy our first night as parents at home.
Well…this didn't happen!!
Throughout my pregnancy, 95% of me believed it would happen, but there was always 5% of me that knew anything could happen, so I still planned for that scenario if it ended up happening!
At around 38 weeks my blood pressure started to rise. It was only slightly raised, but because the reading at my first appointment was low, they were slightly worried (they compare BP to the first appointment reading, basically your ‘normal’, rather than the recommended). I ended up going into hospital a total of 3 time over about 10 days to be monitored, and each time it was fine. I put it down to white coat syndrome at the midwife appointments!! I felt like my BP was fine day to day, I just got a bit stressed at my appointments towards the end!
My final midwife appointment was 2 days before my due date, and again, my blood pressure was raised. I got sent into hospital for monitoring, for a 4th time! During this monitoring my blood pressure remained slightly raised, but they also picked up some unusual reading on the monitor. They thought I was already in labour but checked, and I wasn’t! They sent a consultant to look at me and she said she wanted to book me in for an induction the next day as they didn't want to risk my BP getting any higher or for baby to get distressed. They booked me in for 2pm the next day….however I was very unsure about it and didn't know if I would go or not. I asked the consultant about trying castor oil and she just laughed at me as said it doesn’t work, there are no studies proving it (although there are!!). I came away adamant I wasn't going to have an induction and that I (we) would try everything that evening to try to go into labour naturally!
So, that evening we did try everything! I had a bath with clarey sage oil, I also had clarey sage oil on a tissue which I kept smelling throughout the night, I had some very spicy chicken wings for dinner with some rice which I mixed with the castor oil (much nicer than drinking it off a spoon!), and then Neil and I tried the best known technique to get labour started!!
I didn’t sleep too well that night as I had some cramps and was uncomfortable. I didn’t think I was in labour, I just thought I felt funny because of everything I’d done that evening! But at 4am on the 14th March I had a big contraction and heard a really loud popping sound. I was a little freaked out but for some reason got out of bed to go to the toilet. As soon as I sat on the toilet, my waters broke. So that popping sound was my waters!! I was soooo pleased they went down the toilet and not on the bed (as was Neil, who was fast asleep during all this!!).
I went straight back to the bedroom and told Neil my waters had broke….his reply….’oh…does this mean I have to get up??’!!! I told him to go back to sleep and I’d time my contractions. We learnt at our NCT classes that active labour can be a day or two after your waters break, so we weren’t in any rush.
I lay back down and downloaded an app on my phone which helped track contractions. They were coming pretty quickly and lasting about a minute. This showed that I was properly in labour, so I got Neil up and we called the pregnancy assessment unit. We asked if we could get one of the community midwives to come out to us, check my blood pressure and stay if she thought I was ok to give birth at home, but they were busy (theres only one set of midwives on at one time!! So don’t have much chance!). If my contractions weren’t coming so quick and if I hadn’t had any problems with my blood pressure, I would’ve said we would wait, but I knew we had to go.
We got our bags together (and I stupidly didn’t have any food….big mistake…big!!) and left for the hospital at about 6.30am. When we got there a midwife checked how dilated I was and I was already 4cm! I was super happy!
Through every contraction (surge as they call it in hyprobirthing), I was using my hypnobirthing breathing techniques and picturing a baby surfing the waves!!haha It kept me amused so I wasn’t focused on the feeling.
They took us through to a room, which was actually in the labour ward, rather than the birthing centre. They wanted us to be in the labour ward due to my blood pressure history, even though my blood pressure was perfectly normal (and actually stayed normal through the whole labour!). We also asked if we could use a pool, but it was in use (they only have one on the labour ward).
It didn’t upset me or affect my attitude. Obviously we we a bit disappointed it wasn’t the environment we were hoping for, but we got the fairy lights out, put some oils in the diffuser and put my relaxation music on. I didn’t sit down once, I was walking around, squatting and using the swiss ball.
The first few hours, for every surge, I had to hug the swiss ball. If Neil came near me, I told him to go away!! He was just sat on the chair this whole time, unable to do anything!!
But then things totally changed. I told him to get up and, instead of using the ball, I used him!! Every surge I would put my arms around his neck and pull down…pretty hard. I think this went on for a couple of hours!! I didn’t feel much pain, apart from in my back, so they got me a hot pillow to put on my back, but the heat made me feel sick so I didn’t use it. It didn’t go to waste though because Neil used it on his back between surges!! I was pulling down on his neck and shoulders so hard that his back was in agony!!haha Bless him!!
Anyway, it got to a point where we could feel the head, so the midwife said we’d have our baby within the hour. Another 2 hours went by and nothing! My surges were getting further apart, not closer! So they needed to intervene for the safety of our baby. I was getting tired, and baby was getting tired. Baby had been in the birth canal a long time by this point, where it’s difficult to get much oxygen.
The consultant came in and told me he wanted me to go on an oxytocin drip. I was so upset. I had done it all without any drugs, and now they’re going to put a synthetic hormone into me! Neil and I had a chat in private and decided it was the best thing to do. The most frustrating thing was that I had to stay lying down, which was more uncomfortable and not as easy for baby to get out!!
It still took a while for the oxytocin to kick in, and I think they had to increase the does I was being given as my contractions still weren’t as regular as they needed to be. Every push baby would make great progress, but by the time the next surge came along, baby had gone back.
They decided they need to get baby out quick, due to lack of oxygen in the birth canal and stress on baby. Pushing had been going on for a good few hours by this point!
The consultant told me he wanted to use the vacuum to get baby out. I agreed…it was better than forceps, which I really didn’t want.
It still wasn’t easy due to my contractions, but eventually baby came out, and it was a girl!! We were so happy and relieved!
However, we quickly realised she wasn’t breathing properly. We wanted delayed cord clamping, but they handed Neil the scissors and told him to cut the cord straight away. They showed her to me and then took her to the other end of the room to work on her. I couldn’t see her or hear her. I could just see the clock ticking above the table saying how long they’d been trying to bring her round.
It got to 5min and they told me they were taking her away to NICU.
And that was it. My little girl had gone! I hadn’t even got chance to hold her. And now I had to push out the placenta!!!
Once the placenta was out I had a rest and a bite to eat while Neil went to see our little princess. When he came back he told me she didn’t look good and they’re worried about the movements she was making. This was all so heartbreaking.
The registrar then came in to tell us what was going on. They didn’t really know what was wrong with her but suspected brain damage or an infection. They hooked her up to brain monitoring and put her on IV antibiotics as a precaution (which I HATED, poor little girl hadn’t even had any milk and she’s already on antibiotics!!!). They tested for an infection but it take 2 days to get the results back, so will be on antibiotics till then!!
When she left, we were left in the room, thinking we may have a brain damaged child.
I managed to get myself showered and dressed, and then the registrar came back in the room. This was about an hour later. She said she has made a turn around and everything is looking normal!
Oh my goodness….the relief!!
We made our way to NICU to see her. She was in an incubator with cables and monitors attached to her. She had her eyes open and as soon as I spoke, she turned her head towards me. I was so happy she recognised my voice and hoped it was some comfort to her, even though I hadn’t held her yet.
I stayed with her for a few hours, but then the nurses told me I had to go and get some sleep. I was staying in the hospital but Neil had to go home. So our first night as parents we had to be apart, and I was on my own. The midwife mentioned to me about trying to hand express some of my colostrum to give to her, as I was worrying she hadn’t had any. I really struggled to get much in the tube, but it was better than nothing!
In the morning Neil got to the hospital at about 8am and we went to go see her. They’d taken all the cables off her head, but still had them in her hands. It wasn’t until the afternoon that we got to hold her for the first time and that’s when I got to feed her for the first time.
I had read so much about how important initial skin to skin and feeding is to help establish breastfeeding so I was so worried she was going to struggle. It took maybe 10min for her to latch on, and then she was away!
Now she had started feeding they were going to slowly reduce the sugar solution she was on. I had to feed her every 3 hours and before every feed, they tested her blood sugar. Once she was off the sugar solution and her blood sugar was normal after 3 hours, we could take her home.
That night, I was still staying at the hospital, on my own in my room, but every 3 hours I had to go down to NICU and feed her. I got zero sleep! I set my alarm for every 3 hours, but once I’d got up, walked down to NICU, woken her up (she was always in such a deep sleep), got her to latch (could’ve taken 15min at this point!!), and fed her (about 40min!), I only got about an 45min sleep, if that! Then I had to do it all again! I was praying she would be home with us the next night so I didn’t have to do this again!
The next day they’d taken her off the sugar solution and the results for the infection came back negative so they took her off the antibiotics (which were not needed!) so she was moved into my room. They still wanted to monitor her blood sugar and do some more bloods the next morning so we couldn’t go home yet, but at least she was in my room.
That evening my parents and brother came to meet her for the first time. It was so lovely and emotional! My brother rushed up from London when he heard I was in labour, but had to wait two days to meet her! He decided to buy her a massive monkey (which terrified the midwives!!). It will still be bigger than her when she’s 10 years old!! But she LOVES it!!
When they left, Neil went home, so Myla and I were on our own. I had been struggling to get her to feed for a few hours so I called a midwife. She said to keep trying and call again in an hour. Another hour went buy and still no luck. I couldn’t get Myla to wake up for some milk. They wanted to take some blood from her at about midnight so the midwife said that would wake her up…but it didn’t!! I was panicking that her blood sugars had dipped so low that she had no energy to feed. I called the midwife again and she ended up forcing my boob in Mylas mouth and it worked (since then I’ve heard that’s not a good thing to do! But it worked for us.). She then fed for about an hour! And since then we’ve had no issues.
The next day the consultant came to see us and we were told we could take her home. They still didn’t know what was wrong with her when she was born, they put it down to stress and lack of oxygen due to being in the birth canal for too long. She had no problems at all and was super healthy.
Since then she’s been thriving. At the midwife check at 5 days old they expect a 10% decrease in body weight, Myla had put on about 10%!! They couldn’t believe it and said it never happens! She loves the boob!
So that’s our story. I was so happy with how my labour went. I didn’t use any pain relief apart from my hypnobirthing, and I kept relaxed, I actually really enjoyed it!! I loved what we did to the room in the labour ward, so it didn’t bother me that I wasn’t in the birthing centre or at home (even though that would’ve been nice!). It was just the birth part that didn’t go too well! But she’s fit and healthy and we’re loving life as parents. :-)