*Possible triggers* – use of the word ‘miscarriage’, ‘pain’, ‘tear’ and ‘contractions’.
It’s taken me so long to write this, but I knew I was always going to share my story in the hope it would help anyone like me!
So I gave birth to my little girl, who is now 5 months old, back in February when London still had pandemic restrictions, which was different to say the least.
Starting from the beginning, this pregnancy compared to my first felt like an eternity. I had aches and pains and to take my mind off everything I decided to work right up to 39 weeks as I was working from home anyway. Big mistake, I just wanted to sleep by this point and could not get comfortable at my make shift desk. Also, during my pregnancy we had the rebirth of the BLM movement and all the stats surrounding the higher death rate in black mothers and their babies during child birth to contend with. I was anxious, especially as during the first lockdown we experienced a miscarriage.
My husband, who only admitted a week after I gave birth, was also filled with the same anxiety, especially as he knew he wouldn’t be there with me from the beginning (our hospital made dads wait outside until after all checks and it was proven you were in established labor). So, I was really grateful when mummy platform ‘Mums and Tea’ shared that PBC were giving access to the course to black mothers.
My husband and I watched a few of the videos in the evenings a couple times each week. They were so helpful when it came to understanding how your body works during labor and just trusting it to get you through this incredibly exciting but challenging (painful!) time. I would randomly quiz my husband during the day on what we’d watched the night before and was so surprised he’d taken it in and remembered bits I had forgotten!
Anyway, fast forward to labor day. 3 days before I had a lockdown birthday which was honestly my best so far, I was so relaxed! The next evening I decided this girl had to make an entrance soon, so googled “labour inducing yoga” Haha. I did the 30 mins video with low expectation as the week before I did another one similar which the ladies in the comments swore by as they all seemed to have gone into labor the next day, however I hadn’t! But to my surprise Wednesday in the early hours I felt a couple of twinges. I don’t credit the video, I just think she was ready! I woke up and said to myself, ‘don’t get excited as you’ve been here before’ (I’d been getting twinges for a few weeks now). But the “twings” kept coming and were regular. I told my husband but told him not to say anything to my parents as we were staying with them. But in the kitchen with my mum and toddler I couldn’t hide a twinge and came clean. My son went off to nursery and I decided to be as active as possible. Towards the end of my first pregnancy I just didn’t understand the signs of labor and what my body was telling me so when I felt anything I would lie down immediately instead of staying upright and active. I ended up being 2 weeks overdue! This time I was determined not to be that overdue and so went for a walk. I had to stop every time I felt a surge which attracted attention, but I kept going for over an hour. By now my surges were becoming irregular but very intense. I decided to sleep as much as I could, as I remembered the first time round I literally didn’t sleep for almost 4 days as my contractions didn’t let up but there was no sign of baby, and I kept getting sent home and told to wait it out – which ended in not having the birth I wanted as my son became distressed.
Again, this time I wasn’t having that and so I forced myself to sleep through the surges. I got some naps in and made sure to eat and drink too. It got to about 3am on the Thursday and I decided I needed to find out what was going on and how far along I was as it was very intense now but the surges were still about 4 minutes apart. We got to the hospital at about 3.30am and I was checked and told I was only 1.5cm. I felt so deflated and couldn’t believe it! Deep down I knew I could have probably held on a bit longer but curiosity and pain got the best of me. So off home we went. I got back and tried to sleep again, this time is a little harder as the surges just kept coming.
My son went off to nursery again and I spent another few hours bouncing on my ball, having baths and binging the Durrells on Netflix and grunting and moaning like a hog. I then started watching a thriller which I probably shouldn’t have tbh as I’m sure it got rid of all the serotonin I had built up. Now it got to about 2.30pm in the afternoon on Thursday and the surges were so intense. I called the helpline and was told to head to the birthing suite and they would check me as the labor ward was getting quite busy. I was happy as that’s where I planned on giving birth.
We got there and rang the buzzer and were met with a ‘not so friendly’ midwife who told me they were too busy and to go to the labor ward, even though they were expecting me. I had a few words for her that I couldn’t get out and just shuffled along to the labor ward with my husband. He had to wait outside and I finally got checked and it turns out my waters had broken a little bit and the midwife gave me two options; Go home and see what happens or go for a walk around the hospital and see if anything changes, it was like 4.30pm ish now. At this point I wasn’t sure what vibe I was giving off and it was like no one actually thought I would be giving birth any time soon. Maybe because I was in such good control, I don’t know. I got some pain killers and went the long way round to the car and sat with my husband and tried to nap. Although my surges were pretty intense the painkillers made me drowsy. My husband was begging me to go back up to the labor ward as he was scared he wouldn’t be able to help me get back up there very soon! I kept telling him a few more mins and then decided at about 6.30pm to head back up. I spoke to the midwife who had seen me last and said I’m getting tired and the surges are coming strong and fast. She told me to come in and have a rest in a bay, LOL, have a rest HA!
My husband waited outside again and I sat on the edge of the bed, but could not get comfortable. A lady in a bay across from me was having the loudest conversation on the phone on speaker and decided to call all her relatives one by one to have a gossip. After she had done that she started heaving. I tried to feel bad but I just wanted the noise to stop. All this was throwing me off and then I remembered I had my eye mask and stuck it on and just leant over the bed, covered my ears and swayed side to side, dropping down into a squat every so often. Purgatory, which is what I call the room we all had to be checked in, got so busy and I could hear the midwife who had seen me say she was coming a couple times but she was busy, and then I heard her ask someone else to check on me as she was getting worried. I was finally checked at about 8.30pm and I was 4cm yippie! They couldn’t check before as my waters had gone so I didn’t know, not sure why it was ok now but hey.
They called my husband in and off I went to…the labor ward! The MLU was still busy so my water birth wasn’t looking likely. I kept asking if they had room for me but they didn’t and I made my peace with my water birth not happening again. I handed my midwife my very precise birth plan and she stuck to everything, right down to the hushed voice and not bringing anyone else in with her. She even asked us to tell her if at any point she was doing what I wanted. I loved her!
It was also my (un)lucky night as Man Utd was playing and my husband is a big supporter, so he had the game on his phone and was trying to be my support and catch the match at the same time! If I wasn’t holding onto staying in control for dear life I would have had him kicked out at one point. There was a period I felt like a needed to push and felt all the pressure of the baby pushing downwards, so my midwife checked me but said I was still 4cm! I couldn’t believe it and wanted to give up as I was so sure I could feel my baby pressing down. I had definitely hit the red zone a couple of times, but managed to come back down to amber and green. But it just felt like there was no break in between surges. My birth plan said no pain killers and I hadn’t even had gas and air at this point. I don’t know why I forgot that was an option and I begged for pethidine instead. Wish I had remembered about the gas and air!
I think I had the injection around 11pm. But I just remember being in so much pain. Not long after, I suddenly let out what I thought was a massive wee! It was my waters gushing and when I think back I’m like, ‘how did I think I was weeing myself for that long and that much?’ It was honestly like something out of a movie and the bed was soaked as I was upright. I then felt a strong urge to push, but my midwife who had checked me not long before told me to stop as it wasn’t time yet and I would cause major swelling, and to remember my hypnobirthing and to “breathe my baby out” I almost told her to shut up. But I did listen to her, because I had read a story about swelling and didn’t want that to happen to me, so I fought the urge to push and just breathed instead. It was so hard and I did push a few times. I think my midwife had sensed she was wrong and asked me to turn around and lie down.. “um how?!?” Was my initial thought, but somehow I did. And then she realised the bed wasn’t secure in the center and was telling me I had to lift up my bum quickly so she could fix it. I wanted to throw something at her even though I loved her, but I found a way to do it during my millisecond of break between surges and as soon as I had done that it’s like my body gave up and started pushing. I literally thought I was doing a big poo and cried to my husband and midwife that I was pooing myself and I was so embarrassed. All I could say was omg I’m doing a poo, I can’t believe this!! But it was my daughter being born ahaha. She literally came out so fast that my notes said that phase lasted a few seconds. My midwife had just enough time to place a hot compress like I asked for to help reduce the chance of a tear. And then she was here! I had a first degree tear, which was only stitched up because the blood didn’t stop for a bit. I honestly wish I had trusted my body just that little bit more and not taken the pethidine as I knew I was close and it didn’t help anyway and only started working after I had given birth, and it wasn’t fun feeling high as a kite and shaking from adrenaline while holding my newborn.