My Labour/Birth Story

They say Ignorance is Bliss and that’s exactly how I went about my pregnancy. I’m not going to lie, I had no idea about the options available when giving birth, the pain relief you could be offered, the amount of pain you’d have to endure, the aftermath... I really hadn’t given it any thought. Two weeks before Alfie arrived, my midwife recommended a birthing class at the community hospital, which both Ashley and I attended. It was in fact really helpful, I learned a lot and I had pretty much got a birth plan together after we left – ready to share with my obstetrician, when I was 36+2. I didn’t make it to 36+2...

The week that Alfie arrived, I worked four days out of the five and enjoyed Friday off with family, going out for lunch and generally relaxing. With only two and a half days until I was due to go on maternity leave, I told myself I’d get my hospital bag ready at the weekend and as soon as I was due to finish work, get the rest of the arrangements together. I still had one more midwife appointment and I already had a list of questions to go through with her. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it that far and could not have been any less prepared!

On Friday (15th September) night, I struggled to sleep. I simply couldn’t get comfortable and when I did, it was 3am – the time I usually needed to get up to go to the toilet. After getting up twice in an hour, I did think something was wrong and the third time I got up, it was 4:50am and suddenly it clicked – my waters were breaking. I woke my mum up, as Ash was at his house that night (he was going to stay here, but I told him to enjoy an evening with friends) and she told me to ring the triage number on my red book. I explained the situation (in a bit of a panic) and the midwife told me to come into hospital, get checked over but not to worry too much about bringing lots of things – chances are, I’d be sent home and told to come back later. In my haste, mum helped me put together a bag (a dressing gown, hair brush and makeup bag), while I called Ash to tell him I believed my waters were breaking and to meet us at the hosptial.

By the time we got to Queens Hospital, Romford, my waters had completely broken. I felt tired, uncomfortable and generally disgusting – I could barely walk and was more worried about the potential mess more than anything... that, and the fact I had no makeup on or had time to shave my legs! From the entrance, I made my way to the third floor and the birthing unit (where I had planned to give birth), but got sent back down to the ground floor and the antenatal ward because I was only 36+0 weeks. I felt more agitated, but reluctantly went to the antenatal ward, where I was given a bed almost immediately and soon felt a bit more comfortable. I was assessed (blood pressure and heart rate) before I was strapped up and they monitored Alfie’s heart rate. Ash soon arrived and as I was only allowed one visitor, mum drove home – at least then she could get a bag together as it was clear I’d not be going home now – and it wasn’t long before they started also measuring my contractions. At this point, they weren’t that frequent or strong, but the midwife continued to monitor me and I was whisked to the labour ward before 10am.

As soon as my mum arrived back home, Ash was on the phone letting her know I was in labour and she was allowed back to the hospital – she returned as soon as she’d had some toast and got a bag together and by that point, I was on the gas and air (the only pain relief I wanted... brave or stupid?) and my contractions were becoming a lot more frequent – and a hell of a lot more painful! I honestly couldn’t put into words what the pain was like – it was far worse than period pains, even more painful than the abdominal cramps associated with PCOS and ovarian cysts bursting. It really was excruciating and extended to my back.

After noon, my gas and air were taken away as I made the decision I was ready to start pushing – this was due to the frequency of my contractions and because it felt like Alfie was ready to come out! The senior midwife didn’t seem to think I was ready, but after calling the doctors in to give me the once over, it was very clear I was fully dilated (as I had suspected) and then she was happier for me to proceed.

I spent an hour pushing just laying on my back and it was clear I was struggling and tiring already, so another midwife came in to help (the senior midwife was not very helpful at all and didn’t encourage me at any point). The second midwife was a lot more helpful, encouraging me to try different positions: lying on my side, standing up, crouching over a Swiss ball and they certainly all helped. Standing up worked best for me, but because I was already so tired, it wasn’t long before I was back in bed, lying on my back. Thankfully Ash and my mum were encouraging me all the way, telling me I could do it when I felt I couldn’t. I honestly could not have done any of it without them.

The senior midwife requested the doctors came back a number of times to check on me, as it was clear I was struggling – while my contractions were becoming more frequent and stronger, I was unable to push for long or hard enough so wasn’t really getting anywhere. For what seemed like forever, they could see the top of his head, but there wasn’t any progress beyond that. The doctors wanted to come back at 2pm to see how I was getting on, but the (nice) midwife suggested half past. Just before the recommended time, the doctors returned to set up for helping me but I was told by the time they had done everything they needed to do, the baby would most likely come out naturally – which was good, because I wasn’t keen on them using a suction cup or forceps and after all, I had got this far on my own, without much help!

I was a hot sweaty mess, ready to give up. I just wanted to go to sleep, as I’d had about two hours sleep the night before. I felt as though I couldn’t push anymore. So the end of the bed was taken away, the stirrups and pads put in place, a bucket ready... but thankfully the doctors could see most of the head and believed two or three sustained pushes would do it. After a couple of minutes following their advice with a number of 10 second pushes, the head was finally out and it was only another two pushes that were needed for the rest of the body to follow. I was honestly so relieved, but physically and emotionally exhausted.
At 2:35pm, our beautiful munchkin arrived. I was in labour for less than five hours and from the start of my waters breaking, it was under 10 hours!

Because Alfie was four weeks premature, he wasn’t given to me straight away and after his cord being cut, he had to be assessed under a light. He was wrapped in towels after being cleaned and then given to me. Holding him for the first time was incredible – and still in a bit of a daze, I don’t think I really processed what had just happened. But I instantly fell in love and still can’t believe we’ve created someone so perfect.

My due date should have been this weekend, when Alfie will be a month old – but already he amazes me every day and has come a long way from where he was when we were in hospital.

Love, Lucy xx

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Love, Lucy xx

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