I remember when I was pregnant and I was putting together my birthing plan, I wanted to know what labour was really like, what I was about to face and how I could prepare for it. Obviously every woman’s experience of labour is very individual and personal, but I think it is important to share the true facts to help other women out there prepare for giving birth. So here is my story……
My labour actually started on my due date of 25th July. I couldn’t believe it, this baby had military timing! It started around 3am, I felt so uncomfortable in bed, like I had really bad stomach cramps. I got out of bed and bent over my birthing ball in order to help stretch out my back and tummy. It wasn’t very intense initially just uncomfortable and I couldn’t relax. By the time Gibel got up, around 6.30am, the contractions had become more intense, enough to stop me in my tracks, but easy enough to breath through. I sent Gibel off to work as the contractions weren’t very strong and at this stage they weren’t all that regular. I kept him up to date with how my contractions were, in the end he decided to work from home so he could be here incase things started to progress quicker.
We contacted the hospital to let them know that my contractions had started, but at that stage they advised us to stay at home and to get as much rest as possible. So I took their advise, put my boxset of Friends on, bent over my birthing ball and breathed through my contractions whilst rocking back and forth. It sounds lovely doesn’t it? I will be honest with you, the thought actually crossed my mind that if this is what labour is like then its going to be a breeze! Ha! I had no idea.
It just went on and on, my contractions came and went but nothing seemed to change. They became a bit more regular and started to last longer, but the midwives were advising us to still stay at home. I decided to go in at around 5pm to get checked out, also I wanted to see how the baby was lay as on my last midwife appointment he was back to back so I wanted to see if he had moved. When the midwife examined me she confirmed that I was only 1cm dilated. 1cm…… I had been in labour for over 12 hours and I was only 1cm! This is when I knew things were only going to get harder. She gave me a sweep in the hope that it would help progress things a bit faster and sent me on my way home. By this point I was beginning to get fed up.
Gibel was great, he felt so helpless but he made it his mission to try and keep me fed and watered. Quite honestly, food was the furthest thing from my mind. He made me some egg and cheese sandwiches; just the smell of them made me feel sick. I took one bite, but it was such a struggle just to swallow the damn thing. In the end I ate carrot and cucumber sticks with humous and dried apricots. However I was downing Lucozade by the gallon, I couldn’t get enough of the stuff!
As the evening progressed, my contractions became stronger and I felt it took a lot more focus to breath through them and remain controlled. By about 1am they were coming faster and stronger so we thought this must be it now. We went into hospital to get examined again. I couldn’t believe it when the midwife told me I was only 2cm dilated, this was the worst news she could have given me. I had been contracting coming up for 24 hours and I wasn’t even in established labour! They offered me oral morphine, which doesn’t stop your contractions all together but you don’t feel them, so you can get some rest. It was amazing, I was so exhausted I passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow.
The next day I was expecting to be woken by contractions bit I couldn’t feel anything. We became a bit worried as there seemed to be no sign at all that I was in labour. We contacted the midwives, and they confirmed that it was normal not to be feeling anything for some time after taking oramorphine and just to take advantage and get plenty of rest. So as soon as I lay down and got comfy my waters broke! It was the strangest thing ever! I felt almost like a pop inside of me and then there was a gush of water, Gibel thought someone was throwing a bucket of water on the road outside, until I shot up and exclaimed ‘I think my water just broke!’ I quickly went and put on a sanitary towel like we had been told to do in the antenatal classes and then we phoned the hospital. They still advised to remain at home as I was managing the contractions and wasn’t in too much pain. But boy, once my waters had broken the contractions really ramped up, they started to come thick and fast and became a lot more intense. By 7pm we were on our way to the hospital. So when your waters break they continue to leak, when I got out of the car my trousers were soaked through and I looked like I had wet myself. I slowly made my way into the hospital, stopping every few steps for a contraction. When we eventually go up to the midwife led unit they examined me and confirmed I was around 6cm dilated and that I could stay in hospital if I wanted. I quickly agreed to remain.
When I got into the room, it was lovely and calm and peaceful. I confirmed I wanted the birthing pool, which they quickly prepared for me. Once it was ready I stripped down butt naked, not caring who saw me and got straight into the pool. The warm water around my back and belly was an amazing relief and I felt like I was back to my old self again. I felt relaxed, I could talk and laugh, it was great. When the contractions came they felt much more manageable but I couldn’t talk whilst I was having them.
Things started to take a downward spiral. When the midwife was checking my temperature it had spiked whilst I was in the pool and it wasn’t showing any sign of going down. She got me out of the pool and took me over to the bed where she set up a fan and directed it at me to try and cool me down. When I contracted out of the pool, they felt much more intense again and I will say they were painful. I remember every time I was having a contraction I’d make this grunting groaning sound, but it gave me something to focus on rather than the pain. As soon as my temperature returned to normal I got back into the pool. Pure bliss! But once again my temperature shot up. It was rubbish! I kept having to get in and out of the pool to allow my temperature to reduce.
Things became even harder when I was getting a strong sensation to push, but I couldn’t as I wasn’t fully dilated. I had to do short sharp breaths in order to breath through the sensation. If I didn’t catch the contraction at the right time and quickly breath through it I couldn’t do anything but push. The urge is so powerful, it is incredibly hard to work against what your body is yelling at you to do. I will admit though, when I pushed I did poo. I could see the midwife out of the corner of my eye collecting it each time it happened. To be honest I had gone so far into myself, I was on a completely different planet, so when I saw the midwife collecting my poo out of the pool it didn’t really phase me. And the fact that Gibel had seen me poo, also didn’t seem to bother me.
When people tell you that you go to another place, far from reality when you are in labour it is very true. Once my labour was fully established I felt like I was having an out of body experience, I felt quite spaced out. I could hear the conversation that was going on between the midwife and Gibel and the midwife would ask me questions or ask me to get onto the bed so she could examine me but I could hardly process what she was saying. I was so focused on what was going on in my body and trying to get through each contraction, reality was too hard to handle at that time. You feel in control so it isn’t scary, but what is happening around you just doesn’t figure.
In the end I was transferred down to the delivery suite as the midwife was concerned about my temperature. Once they had strapped me up to all the monitors, they could see that when I was contracting, Grayson’s heart rate was dropping. I remember the room being packed full of people, each individual carrying out their assigned task. I had someone taking my blood, another person taking a sample of blood from Grayson’s scalp whilst he was still inside me. This was to check he wasn’t losing too much oxygen when I was contracting. They induced me as I wasn’t fully dilated so I could start pushing. There was a lot more going on, but I don’t fully remember all the details.
However from further examinations they felt that I had two options, first they were going to try a forceps delivery, then if that wasn’t possible they were going to give me an emergency C-Section. I was read all the information about the possible side effects and outcomes of the two procedures and had to sign a form to say I was happy to proceed. I was so out of it I literally don’t know what I was signing.
Once I went into theatre they gave me the spinal block and I couldn’t feel a thing, it was amazing. They quickly started to attempt a forceps delivery but it became apparent soon in that it wasn’t going to happen, Grayson was lay back to back and they wouldn’t be able to deliver him quick enough. So they prepped me for a C-Section. The anesthetist was amazing, he would tell Gibel and I what was going to happen and when, he also told us what they were doing when the operation was taking place so we weren’t left worrying and not knowing. It is a very strange sensation having a C-Section, you can’t feel anything painful, but you can feel them rummaging around in your tummy like they are rooting through a shopping bag.
When they delivered Grayson that was the scary bit, it seemed to take forever for him to cry. But when he eventually did, the relief we felt was overwhelming. Grayson arrived sound and well on 27th July 2016 at 5:15am, weighing in at a healthy 8lb exactly!
One of the worst things about having a C-Section for me was not being able to have a proper shower after giving birth. You feel so tired and sweaty and all you want to do is stand under a hot shower and let the water sooth away the exhaustion and pain. Instead I had a sponge bath! Delightful. Another horrible factor is once you have given birth you start to bleed almost straight away. It isn’t pleasant. I remember bleeding everywhere and having to ask a number of times for my sheets to be changed. It was horrible not being able to get up and go to the toilet to clean myself, change my sanitary towel and clothes. I felt sorry for the midwife who had to help me.
When you can have a shower it does take a while until you feel that you are able to wash yourself properly. Having the scar, your tummy is so sensitive and feels strange to touch as you have very little sensation due to the area being numb. Still to this day, 6 months on, full sensation hasn’t returned to the area around my scar, and I still hesitate slightly when I wash my stomach.
I am sure my recollection is very hazy, and I can’t quite remember clearly how it feels and what I was thinking. but what I will say is, I didn’t ever feel scared and I always felt in control. I think that is the most important thing when you are in labour, is to try and remain in control and it will help you feel calm.