59 minutes to give birth
Baby C is 5 months old today so I feel it’s time to finally share her birth story with the world. Warning: Long birth story containing too much information for those of a sensitive nature.
It took me less than an hour to give birth to C, according to my hospital notes, and it took us all a bit by surprise.
So let’s rewind a bit before I go into C’s birth story….My due date arrived and I turned up to the hospital with a baby tucked up in the warm still, I was examined, given a sweep and sent home. The midwife didn’t seem to think that the sweep would do much as I wasn’t looking overly ready to give birth.
That was the Friday morning. Friday came and went. Saturday came and went with no labour-like signs at all. Even the Braxton Hicks that I’d been having for about 4 weeks had disappeared. So Hubs and I decided that he would finally get to go and see Skyfall at the cinema on the Sunday with my brother (I’d been making them put it off for about 3 weeks as I kept thinking the baby was coming!), whilst L and I watched Madagascar 3 in another screen at the same cinema.
Just as we parted ways at the cinema I felt a very strange sensation, so popped to the toilet and discovered that what I thought had been a show in the last few days had been nothing, as this was a very clear show. I got to our screen and decided to text Hubs to warn him, but I knew if I texted “I’ve just had a show” he wouldn’t have a clue what I was talking about, so I texted “I’ve just lost my mucous plug”. The reply I got back was hilarious “What? In the cinema? Can you find it?”!! I’m not sure he had any idea what I was talking about. Once he realised what it was he freaked out a bit, but I reassured him that I had no other signs, so he could sit back and enjoy the 3 hours of his film!
Nothing happened during the film fortunately, and that evening I suggested we have curry and red wine to see if that might encourage anything to keep going/get properly started. I enjoyed them but didn’t feel that they’d done anything when I went to bed.
Around 2am I woke up with a contraction, but because that had happened so many times before with Braxton Hicks, I was annoyed rather than excited. I dozed until around 4am when I couldn’t sleep anymore as I was getting painful but irregular contractions. So I did what any other expectant mother would do, and I tweeted it to see if it could be labour. You’ve got to love Twitter, within 5 minutes (at 4am!) I got several replies from mums saying they’d had irregular contractions right up to their babies being born.
Right, time to take things seriously. I opened up my contractions app (loving the new technology since L’s birth in 2006) and started tracking them. 30 minutes apart. 12 minutes apart. 23 minutes apart. As my mum and dad were going to drive over for the birth (90 minutes’ drive into London) I sent my mum a text at 6am, “Morning! I’m having irregular but painful contractions and I’m having to control my breathing through them, it’s your call if you come now or not as you know more about this stuff than me.” Mum is a nurse, a trained midwife and has had 5 kids, while I had had one baby which I was induced for, so didn’t have a clue what “real” labour was like.
In less than a minute Mum called me, waking Hubs and confusing him as he hadn’t realised anything was going on. Whilst talking to Mum I had to stop talking to breathe through a contraction, at which point she said “I think we’ll get dressed and come up soon.”
Hubs was convinced it was a false alarm, as I’d already had Mum and Dad up for Braxton Hicks once before. We lay in bed until around 7.30am, trying to figure out if these were real contractions or more Braxton Hicks, at which point I got Hubs to get L up and ready for school while I had a bath to see if that made them go away or not.
When I got out of the bath the contractions were stronger, longer and every 10 minutes or so. I went downstairs in my dressing gown to have some breakfast and ended up eating peanut butter on toast whilst holding on to the table and rocking my hips to ease the pain. L must think this is normal behaviour as she didn’t bat an eyelid!
Around quarter to nine my parents arrived, and my contractions suddenly jumped to every 2 minutes. Mum took one look at me and sent me upstairs to get dressed while Hubs took L to school. At 9.05am we were in Dad’s (new) car on our way through London’s Monday morning rush hour traffic, with me mooing in the back and Mum fanning me and passing me water; Hubs was in the front cracking jokes while Dad kept looking anxiously at me in the rear view mirror, I’m not sure if he was more worried about my waters breaking/giving birth in his car or about the pain his daughter was in.
We pulled up outside the hospital at 9.30am and it took us until 9.46am (my official check-in time) to make it up to the maternity department and to get checked in. All I remember is stopping and starting my contractions app and holding onto walls in the hospital, hip-rocking and mooing. At this stage my contractions were coming thick and fast every minute.
It took the midwife 15 minutes to do an initial check of me as she kept having to stop when I had contractions. All I could think was “this baby is coming very soon, I must be about 8cm by now”. Can you imagine my disappointment when she told me I was just 4cm and that it would probably take another 4 hours or so?!?
I had been saying I wanted to give birth in the midwife-led suite with no drugs etc, but when I heard I was only 4cm I turned to my mum and said “there’s no way I’m carrying on like this, I’m going to need an epidural”, or something to that effect, probably with a few swear words thrown in for good measure!
Mum looked at me knowingly, nodding her head and saying “let’s just see”. She had warned me beforehand that the women in our family tend to do very quick births with labour being jumped through, but I couldn’t really compute that at the time.
Some time after 10am I was escorted into a delivery suite, I vaguely remember a midwife introducing herself but I think I had my eyes closed most of the time. I had bought a comfy new outfit to labour in, had brought hairbands to keep my hair out of my eyes etc but that all went out of the window as everything was so fast and furious.
I was leaning on the edge of the bed as I couldn’t face lying down at all, and all I could do was bark instructions at Hubs and Mum: “Water!”, “Fan!”, “Sick bag!” The most I managed to get out was to yell at the midwife “Get off my back” as she kept putting her hand on my lower back which was where the pain was.
I really felt like I wanted to push but all I could think was “you don’t push at 4cm, you’re crazy”. Finally I said to the room at large, “I need to push!” and the midwife warned Hubs that as I wasn’t on the bed he’d need to be prepared to catch the baby as it came out. The thought that flashed through my mind was “he’ll never manage that, he’ll let the poor thing crash to the floor on its head”.
Around this time the midwife asked if my waters had broken yet, and it was only then that I realised they hadn’t, so she told me I could push, and lo and behold, there went my waters, all over the floor in the delivery suite – taking Hubs a bit by surprise (Mum and the midwife seemed unfazed by this).
The midwife then decided she wanted to examine me and got me up on the bed, on my knees as there was no way I was lying on my back. Then I was given the green light to do what I needed to do, so I pushed like I’d never pushed before.
I was convinced when I had L, that even though I’d had an epidural, that I’d felt the pain of labour as I could feel when to push with the contractions. I can safely say that was a big, fat lie. I had no paracetamol or anything for C’s birth, in fact the gas and air arrived just as I started pushing and I ended up breathing through my nose and just clamping down on the tube in my mouth. I certainly felt this baby coming into the world! And was she ever ready to get here!
In 5 minutes of pushing (L came after 12 minutes of pushing) she arrived on the bed, but as I was knelt up against the back of the bed I couldn’t see anything, and no one said anything. My baby was here, but was it a boy or a girl? I asked “What is it?” and finally Hubs announced “It’s a girl”. And that’s when the (happy) tears came.
She had come out with the cord wrapped around her neck and was distressed (medical speak for there being meconium in the waters) so they kept an eye on us, but she was healthy and I was fine (apart from the minor case of second degree tearing of course!), and L had the baby sister she had wanted for so long.
So all in all my official labour on my hospital notes is 59 minutes, and I went from 4cm to fully dilated in less than half an hour, with 4cm to delivery in just a mere 45 minutes. Not bad work by 10.45am on a Monday morning!
I’m not sure my English birth could have been more different to my French birth (which you can read about here), but the most important thing in both cases was the safe delivery of my beautiful baby girls 🙂
This post is dedicated to my cool, calm and collected Dad for getting me to the hospital without freaking out, to my amazing Mum for being my other midwife (I loved having you there this time, Mum), and most of all to Hubs for being there and still wanting to be with me after seeing me in that state!
It was so worth it.