All the posts for World Breastfeeding Week got me thinking about the start of things which made me think back to Tulip’s birth so I thought I’d share her birth story. I love hearing about other people’s births. I can’t believe it was only four months ago, I feel like she’s always been here!
The original due date I had worked out ended up being the day Tulip was born (although at my 12 week scan they changed it to a day earlier)! Even though she was “on time” I was getting very frustrated since they say 37 weeks counts as to term and the baby can come anytime from then. I just wanted to meet my baby and every new day when there were no signs I got more and more frustrated. Looking back on it, this was absolutely ridiculous! Although I was getting quite uncomfortable. I had gone on maternity leave at 35 weeks. The first two weeks were brilliant! But the next three dragged a bit.
At my 38 week appointment, Tulip was not engaged at all. I was so disappointed. I felt like this meant she’d be really late, especially because the other mums in my NCT group were talking about how engaged their babies were. I’d read if it’s your second (or more) baby then the baby won’t usually engage until the birth but first babies should before. I was constantly sitting on my birthing ball, bouncing. Willing Tulip to be born!
Originally I was convinced I was going to have a home birth. As the pregnancy went on and I read statistics (40% of first time mums having a home birth are taken to hospital compared to 10% of second or more) and thought about how I had no idea how the birth was going to go, I opted to go to the midwife led unit at the hospital. I wanted to have a water birth with no pain killers. I decided I was going to use a TENS machine up until the time I got in the water and I would maybe try gas and air. I didn’t want an epidural or pethidine or anything like that. I knew births don’t always go to plan (I guess they usually don’t!) but I couldn’t see any reason why I wouldn’t be able to be in the midwife led unit with the private room and en suite shower room where I’d have plenty of room to move around and my husband and I could have this wonderful birth experience.
I went to sleep on the night of my due date at about 10pm feeling very pregnant with still no signs of any baby coming. I think I had been having some braxton hicks contractions for a few weeks but they weren’t bad or painful. I’d had no loss of mucus plug which I’d heard usually happens days before birth if not weeks so figured nothing was happening any time soon.
I was stirred from a deep sleep at about 2:45am by what felt like a trickling down my leg. I thought I must be imagining it and tried to go back to sleep. But then I felt it more and was worried with my weak pregnancy bladder I was wetting myself. I ran to the bathroom and just about made it to the toilet when there was the huge gush of my waters breaking! I was one of the 15% of women this happens to before contractions start. I was just glad I was at home and in the bathroom and it hadn’t happened dramatically at the supermarket or at a restaurant like in the films!
I couldn’t believe it, things were actually happening! I yelled for my husband (who had only just managed to fall asleep) and said “I think my waters just broke!”. He ran in from the bedroom all in a daze. I knew we were supposed to call maternity triage at the hospital straight away if my waters broke so I told my husband to do so but first I said “wait, Google if I’m allowed to take a shower!”. I was worried there may be some reason I wasn’t allowed to have a shower. I hadn’t looked into this, I never thought I’d be home when my waters broke! He quickly googled and said yes I was allowed to take a shower. I was already standing in the bathtub at this point because there was still a bit of a gush going on! It was one of the best showers I’ve had. Meanwhile my husband was on the phone to the hospital who told him to bring me in as soon as I was out of the shower. We had all our bags ready to go so off we went!
The car journey to the hospital was thrilling. It was still the early hours of the morning so there was no traffic. I wasn’t having contractions so I wasn’t uncomfortable (friends had told me the car ride to the hospital was the worst part of labour because of the contractions). I just said to my husband “we’re probably going to have our baby today!”. In my mind it definitely wasn’t going to drag out and take days.
When we got to the hospital everything was quiet. There was no one else on maternity triage so I got seen straight away (I’d heard of people waiting in agony in the corridor). I was hooked up to a monitor and the midwife checked to confirm my waters had in fact gone. I’d been told how many maternity pads I’d need after the birth but I didn’t realise how many I’d get through before! I still can’t believe how much liquid I was carrying around in there! I was fully expecting to be sent home and told to come back when I was having contractions. The midwife took my blood pressure and said it was slightly high so she was going to keep monitoring me for a bit longer. She asked if I was having contractions. I said no but she said according to the monitor I was! I wasn’t in any pain. She took my blood pressure three more times within about an hour and it wasn’t going down. She said I’d have to stay in the hospital because it could be a sign of pre-eclampsia. My only concern and question was “does this mean I can’t go to the birth centre?”. Unfortunately it did. I was disappointed not to get to go to the birth centre. This meant a water birth was completely out the window. But in a way I was glad not to be sent home to the unknown of when I’d be back again. The midwife said that the good news was that often women with high blood pressure have quicker labours.
We were told my husband had to go home and he could come back when visiting hours started at 8am (I think it was about 5am at this point). We were taken up to the ante natal ward where I was put in a room with three other women with just a curtain around my bed. I could see the birth centre through the doors down the hall and was so disappointed again. Once I was as settled as I could be they sent my husband home and told us both to try to get some sleep. Luckily he managed to get about an hour and a half of sleep. I didn’t get any. I was back and forth to the toilet changing my maternity pads, no en suite toilet in the ante natal ward! My husband came back at 8 and we just sat there, not sure what was going on. They had mentioned inducing me if things didn’t get going because of my blood pressure. This confused me because I thought things were already going. When they checked me though they said I was actually doing alright on my own. This was a big relief, I did not want to be induced!
I had assumed that when I properly started contracting I’d be taken up to the delivery suite and have my own room to labour in. When someone came in to bring me toast for breakfast she told me to fill out my preferences for lunch and dinner. Again I was confused as I had started having some contractions and I said “I won’t still be here then”. But she told me to fill it out just in case (I did end up still being there at lunch but only managed a couple bites).
At about 10am the contractions started getting stronger. My husband and I were timing them on an app on my phone. I had heard to do this so thought it was necessary. No one really came to check on me to find out how I was getting on, I kept having to get my husband to get a midwife. They acted like we were inconveniencing them. They kept saying when I went into labour I could go up to delivery suite and still mentioned induction. I was so confused. I was having contractions, wasn’t I in labour?! They brought me a birthing ball which I sat on for a bit but there was so little space and a cleaner on the other side of my curtain kept knocking into me so I ended up getting back on the bed. I wanted to have an active labour, being on the ball and walking around my room. But here I was, sitting on a bed, the last place I had wanted to be. All because I was in this tiny space surrounded by a curtain and there was nowhere else to go. At this point the pain was increasing and the contractions were getting longer and closer together. I couldn’t help but get more vocal with the pain. I felt bad for the other women in the room having to listen to me (I think they were just waiting to be induced). And I felt bad for myself because I didn’t want them to be there. I wanted to be in my own room with my husband and space to move! I kept saying to my husband “why aren’t they giving me my own room?!”. They didn’t care how far apart my contractions were and weren’t checking how dilated I was. These were both things I thought were important.
They FINALLY offered me some gas and air which did help at first but then I wasn’t paying enough attention to what I was doing and I took too much in and it made me sick. Then a midwife eventually came in and said “oh you are in a bit of pain aren’t you?” I could have slapped her. She said she’d put me back on the monitor to see how I was getting on to see if they could give me pethidine. I really hadn’t wanted any but I was thinking at the time that I might accept it if they said it was going to be a while until Tulip was born. I had been using my TENS machine this whole time which really was helping but it was beginning to be less effective. My contractions were getting very high numbers on the monitor and were practically constant by this point. They also examined me to check my dilation which was the worst thing ever! As all this was going on, Tulip’s heart rate suddenly dropped. Before I knew it I was being wheeled up to the delivery suite as they said they needed to get the baby out. It turns out I was only three centimetres dilated so I think they thought interventions would need to happen. They kept bumping me into things on the way up which did not help things. The thing that did make me feel better was they told me when I got upstairs I’d have a midwife assigned to me who would stay with us from the moment we got up there for the whole birth. Finally we weren’t being left alone not knowing what was going on.
When we got upstairs so much was going on and my contractions were so intense that I didn’t even catch the name of my midwife. I’m not even sure how many people were in the room at this point or who they all were but I didn’t even care. I’m sure they did all introduce themselves but I wasn’t in a place to pay attention to that. They tried to get me to lie on my side and I tried but I couldn’t. So there I was about to give birth in bed on my back, the last position I ever wanted to be in to give birth. It all happened so fast and I did feel my body wanting to push the baby out. They told me they were going to give me an episiotomy which I never wanted but I said ok. And so much was going on I didn’t actually feel it. A few pushes later the head was out, another and her body was there. I had just given birth! What an amazing feeling! It had all happened so quickly. It had only been 45 minutes since they brought me upstairs. I had gone from 3 to 10 centimeters and given birth in that time. It was 3:45pm so it had only been 13 hours since my waters broke and this had all began!
They put Tulip up on me, there she was! And she was looking at me. I had wanted delayed cord clamping but the cord was very short and they could barely get Tulip up to my belly let alone my chest. So they clamped the cord and my husband cut it (spraying blood everywhere including his face, a funny anecdote he now likes to tell). Someone then said to me they were going to give me the injection to help the placenta out. This was another thing I hadn’t wanted but I assumed since they didn’t give me a choice there was a reason it needed to come out quickly. Looking back on it I wish I’d questioned it to see if it was really necessary. I didn’t even notice them giving me the injection, I had to ask my husband later if they actually did it. All the sudden everything went quiet. All the people who had been in the room were gone. It was just my husband, Tulip and me and the midwife who had delivered her (who’s name I still didn’t know but at this point I didn’t feel I could ask!). My husband helped me take my top off so I could have proper skin to skin contact with Tulip. The midwife got to work stitching up the episiotomy. She injected some kind of painkiller into me so I barely felt it, there were just a few little pinchy feelings but she gave me more painkillers. We just chatted away as she was stitching, it wasn’t weird at all. My husband said to me “was it worth it?” I said “of course it was” as I held Tulip to me. He had been a fanatic birth partner. I breastfeed Tulip for the first time (as talked about in my post about the start of my breastfeeding journey), I was so happy.
When the midwife finished the stitches she said she she was going to write up my notes and would be back later to weigh Tulip. Then it was just the three of us alone in the room. Our new little family. It was so peaceful. Three hours after I had given birth no one had been back to see us. I was itching for a shower and my husband really wanted to hold Tulip and have some skin to skin time of his own. We pressed the call button and another midwife came in. We said I wanted a shower so she went to get my midwife. She said she’d just weigh Tulip and do other checks. My husband then got his skin to skin time while the midwife showed me to the shower. I said earlier the shower after my waters breaking was one of the best showers I’ve ever had. The shower after giving birth was THE best shower! But I couldn’t wait to get back to the room and see my new baby again! We put a nappy on her and dressed her for the first time. She was so cute and tiny!
We had said we’d donate the cord blood so someone came in to take our information and talk to us about that. The original midwife who we’d seen on triage when we first got to the hospital came in to see us to sort out what was happening next. She said “I said you’d be quick but I didn’t think you’d be THAT quick!”. Every person who came in to see us and looked at my notes was shocked at how quickly my labour went and couldn’t believe this was my first baby. I almost felt a sense of pride for being so fast. And it was for the best, I’m a very impatient person!
The midwife brought me some toast (first time I’d eaten properly since my toast that morning so it was so good!) I asked the midwife if I could go home that night (by this point it was 9pm but I had always thought I wanted to go home very soon after birth and I knew my husband wouldn’t be able to stay with us if we had to stay over). The midwife said she couldn’t stop me if I really wanted to go home but they really wouldn’t recommend it because of my high blood pressure. It had gone straight back down after the birth but they wanted to check it again in the morning. She also scared me by saying they wouldn’t want me to go home and have a seisure. And that I’d end up having an even longer hospital stay if anything happened to me at home but if I stayed just this one night I could most likely go home before lunch the next day. So I agreed to stay. It wasn’t actually too bad. It was so late that everything was quiet on the post natal ward and my husband was allowed to come back at 8am. He got to go home and get a much needed full night of sleep. Tulip slept all night too. I slept a bit but I mostly just stared at her in awe and to make sure she was ok.
Before my husband got back in the morning they told me to go get breakfast down the hall. They didn’t say anything about what to do with my baby. I had a sling with me so I popped her in it for the first time and took her with me to get breakfast. As I was making my toast, one hospital worker came in and saw “aww” in regards to my baby in the sling. But then another came in and said “oh you mustn’t have a baby in the kitchen!”. I was nearly done making my toast so I just ignored her but I kind of wish I had said “what else was I supposed to do?!”. There was no way I would have left my tiny new baby alone just so I could have some toast. I honestly don’t know if that’s what they had expected me to do but I’m so glad I took her with me!
When my husband got there I could finally go to the toilet and get myself cleaned up (again, I hadn’t wanted to leave Tulip alone so I could do this). They soon started doing checks on the babies. Tulip got her hearing tested and got seen by the paediatrician, all was well. My blood pressure was checked again and was still nice and low! We were given the ok to go home! It is a weird feeling walking out of the hospital just being allowed to take this tiny human home and be completely responsible for her. We were home by 11:30am and I was so happy and tired. It was amazing!
The midwife who delivered Tulip had said I would be an ideal candidate for a home birth next time because of my quick labour and no need for interventions. I also lost very little blood. I was very happy to hear this! I do sometimes think if it hadn’t been for them keeping me in due to my high blood pressure I don’t know if I would have made it back to the hospital in time! And I know I can do it without all the fancy pain killers. I will definitely be planning a home birth next time. I think I would like a doula too so I can have someone to speak for me if and when my husband and I don’t know what is going on or what to ask. I am almost excited to experience it all again with my second now I know a bit more of what to expect and that I can hopefully be at home. But I’m in no rush at the moment!
Like I said, I love hearing others birth stories so if you have a blog and have written about your birth story, please link in the comments!