Wow, I have thought about writing my birth story a lot lately. Reliving it all in my head, it feels like a million years ago in some ways, but it also just feels like yesterday! Its crazy how everything changes overnight when you have a baby. Everyone told me, as soon as you meet your little one, all the pain and craziness of labour just instantly melts away. And that is so true. Let me start from the beginning…
My due date was Friday, the 22nd September 2017. We had a check up appointment that afternoon so Gerard finished work early to come with me. My father in law was terminally ill, and we didn’t know how much longer he had, so we were very keen for this baby to make an appearance so he could meet her. Our appointment was all fine, blood pressure, heartbeat etc all excellent. Brilliant news! But I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed when they weren’t willing to do a sweep unless I went a few days over. Don’t get me wrong, I know its better for baby to come when its good and ready, but I figured since I was full term, it wouldn’t do any harm. We were just really hoping to make my FIL a Grandad and I was also getting worried that Gerard would end up having to choose between his Dads funeral and being at the hospital with me. We were just gonna have to let nature take its course. The midwife booked us in for a sweep the following Thursday just in case. We left the hospital and went for lunch, our last outing as just the two of us.
We live about an hour away from my family and my Mum was keen to be at the hospital with us, so she came up that night to stay. I couldn’t help but laugh in a way because I was convinced the weekend would pass and I would go into labour as soon as she went home. But she came anyway and that night, we stayed up til 3am chatting. When I announced I was going to bed, Mum and Gerard tried to convince me to stay up a little longer but I had a feeling I was going to need my sleep, as my tummy had been feeling a little dodgy. Saturday morning came, thank goodness Gerard doesn’t work weekends, and around 9.15 I woke really suddenly and didn’t know why. Then I felt a strange ‘pop’ and felt a trickle on my leg. I jumped out of bed and ran like John Wayne to the bathroom. Gerard’s shouting “Whats wrong?”, and I’m like “Uhhhhh, I think my waters broke!!” In he comes, “Are you sure?”. I stood up and to spare the gory details, “Yes, I’m sure”.
I waddled my way downstairs, my Mum all tucked up on the sofa. I told her the news, much to her excitement and I got on the phone to the MLU. They told me to come on over for an assessment. I told my Mum I was going to get my make up on. “Laura, you’re having a baby, I don’t think you need make up”. But of course it was going to be a loooooooong day! I might as well not look like shit for some of it!
My MIL drove us over, me sitting on a bin bag of course. It had been about an hour since my waters broke and I felt my first twinge. We got to the hospital, we were greeted by a very friendly nurse who brought us into the assessment room and wasted no time offering us tea and toast while we waited for a midwife! Of course none of us had had time for breakfast so this was music to our ears! The tea and toast went down a treat and about 20 minutes later, a midwife came in, apologising for keeping us waiting. Apparently everyone in the unit had decided to give birth at the same time! All the necessary checks took place, they confirmed my waters had in fact broke, not that I needed confirmation as if this wasn’t the case, I was having serious bladder failure! They advised me to go home again and just go with the flow for as long as possible, maybe take a bath and try to rest as much as possible to reserve my energy. They asked me to come back at 9pm, approximately 12 hours after my waters broke, if things weren’t moving along quicker than this, just so they could check me over as I would be at risk of infection. They also booked me into the Royal Hospital for induction at 9am the next morning incase things didn’t happen naturally. Although the Royal is a stones throw from our house, I had my heart set on delivering my baby in the MLU at another hospital as we would have our own private room for the entire length of our stay and a sofa bed for my husband to stay with me, including overnight. We could have visitors anytime we wanted, our own private bathroom and a birthing pool in each room! There was also extra little comforts like a tv, an iphone dock etc, little things to help us feel at home.
We headed back home and the day was spent just trying to relax, my sister drove down to be with us, and it wasn’t long before my contractions really started to kick in. For the entire afternoon they were about 10 minutes apart and I was feeling them all in my back. I couldn’t really get peace to sleep so I just lazed about and did as little as possible, bouncing on my birthing ball from time to time. Dinner time approached and we ordered a chinese, I wanted a good feed before the long night ahead and by this point things were starting to get more intense. I had only been feeling the contractions in my back up until this point, but now it felt like the pain was everywhere. Gerard ran me a bath to see if it would help and although I didn’t have a solid birth plan in place, I did know that I wanted a water birth, so I was keen to see how this felt. In I got and before very long my contractions started to come closer together and more intense. It got to the stage where I wanted out, I didn’t like that I couldn’t move around much. I figured the pool would be better because there would be more space to move.
9pm came and we arrived back at the MLU with bags in hand just incase they kept me in. I was kind of hoping by now that they would just because the thought of trailing all the way home again just to come back later seemed like too much of a chore. The bath had also sped things up a bit! So we were once again brought into the assessment room and of course while waiting for a midwife, my contractions slowed down again. I was getting frustrated. I just wanted to get on with things! They checked me over and were happy that there was no infection and agreed to let me stay for a while to see if things picked up again. It didn’t. The contractions were still too inconsistent. They gave me some painkillers and convinced me I would be comfortable at home as I still had a long night ahead of me. I was advised to get some sleep (easy to say when you’re not in agonising pain every 7-10 minutes) and I was given 2 more painkillers to take around 2am.
We got back home around 11.00pm and my sister had to leave us and make the hour long journey back home. She had 2 boys of her own to get home to and had work the next day. Once she left, I decided to go up to bed and try to get some sort of sleep. I figured the painkillers might kick in hard enough to let me. Oh how wrong was I. Gerard and I weren’t laying down half an hour when suddenly, it was like someone flicked a switch! I thought the contractions were getting bad before. This was next level! I was on all fours rocking back and forth. I asked Gerard the time, it was almost midnight. The realisation that it was another 2 hours before I could take the next 2 painkillers was torture. About 15 minutes later I couldn’t take it. Gerard phoned the MLU and they told us to come back up. Neither Gerard nor my Mum drive and at such a late hour I didn’t want to bother anyone so we phoned for a taxi. He got there fast but talked about his cats the whole way there! Really dude??
The midwife greeted us at the door and said they had reckoned I wouldn’t be back until about 4am! Once again we were took into the assessment room to be checked over while they got me a room ready. My contractions were about 5 minutes apart now and coming consistently.
We were soon taken down to our delivery room. It was so lovely. I was delighted my hopes of giving birth here were becoming a reality. From here, time seemed to disappear. I was just completely in the zone, my own world, I had no idea what time it was. My mum got comfy in a chair in the corner, I was brought in a birthing ball and a sling which was very comfortable and Gerard began taking selfies of us with bedpans on his head! I know, when I tell that part of the story most women start saying things like, oh typical man, messing around while you’re doing all the hard work! Gerard is not a typical man, we have a very easy going relationship and a sense of humour is a big part of our house! I appreciated the laugh. Although I did ask him a few weeks beforehand to chose his moments wisely when labour came.
Like I said, time no longer existed to me but I’m guessing an hour or 2 passed, and I decided I needed something else to help with the pain. So the midwife got me set up with gas and air. At first I didn’t really feel a difference, I was waiting for the contraction to really kick in before taking it as opposed to taking it as soon as I felt it coming. I soon got the hang of it and it really did bring some relief! Of course, Gerard had a few blasts when the midwife left the room and had to agree it was quite good! So another couple of hours passed I think and the gas and air just wasn’t cutting it anymore. I wanted to get into the pool. So I got changed and was feeling slightly out of it by now due to sheer exhaustion. I had been awake for probably around 20 hours and had only had 6 hours sleep the night before that. That doesn’t sound too bad but when you’re in labour, its a different story! The midwife kept asking me if I wanted to change in the bathroom and I made some wise ass joke about how I had great tits thanks to my Mum so I didn’t need to hide them. That brought a lot of laughter and my poor Mum was mortified. I still blame the exhaustion!
I got into the pool and at first it felt fantastic. But just like before at home, in the bath, something just went into overdrive. My contractions were suddenly coming at a terrifying rate. The pain was worse than I ever imagined it could be. Gerard now compares it to a seal splashing around in a tub. What a lovely picture. I can’t explain how much the heat of the water had such an effect on me. I was suddenly getting this crazy urge to push and was making noises like I was possessed despite my determination to be quiet and calm. I finally broke. I began to cry and begged for more pain relief. I couldn’t cope. Straight away my midwife, who was absolutely fantastic, pointed at me and said “No Laura, do not lose control or you won’t get it back again!” Its crazy how much those words calmed me down. I knew she was right and I didn’t want my baby coming into the world thinking her mother was a banshee. I later learned my Mum had been behind me silently crying and the midwife had had a very concerned look on her face. I got out of the pool and the midwife examined me. 4cm….. What? 4cm? Are you kidding me? Straight away I asked for more pain relief. Screw the pool, it wasn’t for me, just give me whatever you have! So I agreed to a diamorphine injection. Within half an hour I really felt the effects. What a relief. For a while.
More time passed and before I knew it, my midwifes shift was ending and another one was taking over. I was gutted at first as this lady had been incredible but it turned out the new one was every bit as good if not better! As my midwife was leaving she promised she would see me on her next shift. Over the next couple of hours I was changing positions on the bed, kneeling on the floor, walking around, not once letting go of my gas and air and before I knew it they were telling me it was time to push. So i started to push. And push. And push. Nothing was happening. I don’t know if it was exhaustion or what, but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get this baby out. I was on the floor, I was on the bed, I was standing, I was squatting, I was kneeling, I tried everything. Another midwife came in to help out and it was suggested that I try emptying my bladder incase it was full and making it hard for the babys head to move down. So a little trolley was brought in for my gas and air so I could take it with me and there I was, on the toilet mid labour. Gerard was on the floor holding my hands telling me how amazing I was doing. The midwife popped her head in and suggested we stay there for a few contractions because apparently sitting at that particular angle can help! So there I was, pushing away with every contraction begging Gerard not to let me give birth on a toilet.
Thank goodness we made it back to the bed, still no baby and things kept going the same. After pushing for 2 hours, my midwife broke the news that they thought I was going to need more help and they would have to ring for an ambulance to take me to the Royal Hospital, if there was no baby in the next 10 minutes. Desperation struck, I tried so hard but I could not get this baby out! The next thing I knew the midwife was telling me they had let me now push for 2 hours 30 minutes and that they really did have to go and ring for an ambulance now. So while one of them did that, the other started putting a needle in my wrist to prepare me for a drip. I think. I wasn’t really listening to her explain what it was for.
I was laying there feeling defeated. Feeling so disappointed in myself that I couldn’t do this alone, I had come so far, been there all night long and I was going to need help. I felt like a failure. And suddenly, I just refused to let it happen that way. I felt another contraction coming and I insisted I was not getting in that ambulance. Despite being beyond exhausted, I somehow found strength inside of me that I never knew existed. I squeezed Gerards hand so hard he thought it was going to snap and yet when we try to recreate it now, I can’t squeeze anywhere near as hard as I did in that moment. I had 2 midwives and Gerard, pushing my knees up as high as they could, my Mum standing at my shoulder, everyone shouting GO GO GO!!!! Again it wasn’t enough. Suddenly the midwife ordered silence. She explained that my babys heartbeat was dropping drastically and that I had to focus as hard as I possibly could and get this baby out! I was strangely calm. In that instant I just knew that panicking was only going to make things worse. This was my baby and only I could fix this. I pushed until I thought I was going to explode. And all of a sudden, one of the midwives said “Look at that head of hair”! Gerard followed this up with “THERE’S AN EAR!!!” And her head was out! I barely paused for breath before I pushed again determined to just get this finished! I pushed again and suddenly it was over. Instantly the pain disappeared and all I could hear was the loudest set of lungs I had ever heard in my life. Heidi was here and she wasn’t afraid to tell the world! Gerard was crying, I was crying, my Mum was crying. The second I laid eyes on Heidi I loved her with my entire soul. I could not believe how perfect she was. When the time of birth was announced as 12.49pm, Sunday 24th September I was shocked! I thought it was about 5am and it was only then I realised it was daylight. Its crazy how everything else just melts away around you and all you focus on is bringing your baby into the world. She was 6lb exactly and the most perfect thing I had ever laid my eyes on. I was ecstatic she was healthy, I had given birth where I wanted and everything had worked out. The ambulance was sent away.
It had been almost 28 hours since my water had broken so they had to keep me in for a minimum of 12 hours for observation. This was taking us up to almost 1am so we agreed I would stay in overnight. I was absolutely fine with this. As first time parents, we wanted all the support we could get before heading home. She was so tiny and I would have been scared to take her home any sooner. We had a few visitors that day, Gerards Mum, his Aunt and cousin, and my Dad and his girlfriend. But everyone was more than considerate and didn’t hang around long. I was so tired I didn’t even know if I was saying my words out loud at one point or just imagining them. The midwife that was on nightshift stuck to her word and came to see me when she came in that evening, all smiles and congratulating us. We had fantastic support in terms of breastfeeding etc, and I ate tea and toast until it was coming out of my ears!! In fact, my first photo with Heidi about 30 mins after she was born, I have a slice of toast in my hand!
Looking back, its crazy how it all seems so fast in the grand scheme of things but yet at the time, it all feels like its never going to end. And yet I would relive it all in a heartbeat, just to hold her again for the very first time.