Today I am sat in my garden in my bikini enjoying the hot weather while baby Isla sleeps the heat off (33 degrees in London-whoop whoop, loving maternity leave right now!). It feels amazing to be wearing my bikini again, it feels great to have a few minutes to write while she sleeps, it feels incredible being a mum to my beautiful baby girl. Admittedly (my husband will tell you), I don’t remember every detail about the day that I welcomed Isla into the world- I blame the adrenaline, excitement, pain and the small dose of Pethidine that helped me through those torturous few hours. Nonetheless I wanted to document my story if for no other reason than to remind myself of the pain of labour next time I start to feel broody!
March 7th 2017
It was the day before my due date and I was fed up. I’d tried pineapple, spicy food, squats, raspberry tea leaf, none of them worked. People told me I wasn’t even overdue yet and that I should be patient. I’m not patient at the best of times so there was no chance of this as I waddled along at 9 months pregnant, peeing every 5 minutes and guzzling Gaviscon by the gallon. I was due a large glass of wine and I was tired of waiting!
I read that long walks help to induce labour. But the analyst in me (did you know I recently completed my PhD? You can read my post PhD and pregnant: The race against biology for more details), made me question ‘what is a long walk?’
That day I walked the circumference of my village. It was approximately 4 miles. It seemed that was long enough.
8th March 2018
Are these contractions? Yes, I think they are. Go back to sleep, rest, you’re going to need it…
My husband’s alarm went off. I said to him ‘the baby will come today’. He left for work.
After sending my husband to work having learned in my antenatal classes that the early stages of labour last many hours, I called him home. This baby wasn’t going to keep me hanging around for long…
We went to Frimley Park hospital, which was half an hour drive from my home. Despite having contractions every two minutes, I was only 1cm dilated. I was sent home because the hospital had no beds.
‘I’m hungry and I need carbs, lets go to Pizza Hut!’ I suggested. WAS I INSANE!!!?? Fortunately my husband saw sense and we went home to cook pasta. By the time my pasta was boiled I was on the floor using my best prenatal yoga techniques. This was really starting to hurt.
After an agonizing half an hour drive back to Frimley I was admitted to the Mulberry Suite as I was now 4cm dilated. The Mulberry was lovely, we had our own room with a double bed that folded up into the wall to allow for extra room. There were ropes to hang from, mats to lie on and balls to sit on. As I wanted a water birth we left our room for the pool which was equally as nice. There was calming music and coloured lights, it really did help me to relax.
Using gas an air for each contraction this is where I stayed until around 7pm. I had 2 midwives with me and I was never left alone for a second. They were really nice and friendly and gave me lots of encouraging support. They even made me some jam on toast.
On my return to Frimley earlier on in the day I was told that the first 4cm take the longest and that I had already done the hardest part. I had moved from 1cm to 4cm in only 4 hours, so I assumed that I must be nearly there by now. I had been pushing for an hour, I was ready for this baby to come! ‘You’re 7cm dilated’ they told me. I could have cried.
Psychologically, this destroyed me. The maths didn’t add up. Why wasn’t she coming yet? Despite having clearly stated that I wanted to give birth without any drugs aside from gas and air, I now wanted them all. I think they call this transition? Or insanity? Either way I clearly wasn’t thinking straight, I had worked so hard all day, I couldn’t do another 3cm at this pace.
Then it was all a blur
I won’t tell you timings, because quite frankly, I haven’t got a clue. I was given pethidine and taken out of the pool and back to my room. I remember being sick. I remember saying that I couldn’t pee and then finding that once having a catheter put in, I didn’t need to. I do not remember my husband and the midwives eating all of my Haribo. That, I figured out the next morning when I searched my bag only to find an empty packet.
I stayed in the Mulberry until a few minutes before Isla came. Towards the end she started to become distressed and her heartbeat became faster. When my waters finally broke (which was a mere trickle) we found that the baby had pooed in my waters. This meant that I was now high risk so I had to leave the Mulberry Suite and be taken to the ward.
Sometime around 10.30pm
Now in my third room baby decided she was ready to come. The head was crowning and the midwives told me to gently push during each contraction to avoid tearing. I really did try my best, honestly, but in the end she was just like her daddy tends to be…. in a rush! She flew out unexpectedly and took us all by surprise. Remember I said earlier that there was only a trickle when my waters broke? Well it all came flowing out behind her, it was like she came out in a water slide! The midwives were soaked!
Despite being absolutely HUGE during pregnancy, I gave birth to a tiny 6lb 2ounce baby. It just goes to show that they can be very wrong when they predict the size and weight of your baby, they thought she would be around 9lbs! The midwives were fantastic, I couldn’t have asked for better care. My husband stayed the night in the double bed and we slept with our new born bundle of joy between us.
The room was like a hotel, it was clean and comfortable and I had my own bathroom where I could get cleaned up. It was nice and quiet too. I was brought drinks throughout the night and breakfast in bed the next morning. All on the NHS- not bad at all!
The next day we were moved to the ward where I was put in a bed in a large communal room. Baby and me were fine but they had lots of tests to do and not very many staff. Everything was very slow moving, but eventually at 6pm were given the all clear to take our baby home.
Whilst my experiences were very good, I have heard so many horror stories from other mums. One of my friends had a C section around a week after I gave birth and was left alone with her catheter in for 16 hours. This then became infected and she has sadly been in and out of hospital for the first three months of her baby’s life. Another friend of mine gave birth a week earlier than me and she also had a negative experience with her aftercare when she was left with no food or water for many hours and there was nobody to help her to get to the toilet or to shower after having her C section. It is no surprise these days that so many people pursue medical negligence solicitors. I count myself lucky, if only the NHS had more money…. But that’s another story.
21st June 2017
Three months later and I probably do look back on the experience with rose tinted glasses, or at least this is what my husband tells me when mention ‘the next baby’! Today Isla weighs 12lbs, almost double her birth weight. She giggles and roles over and she no longer squirts me with poo every time I change her (yes, I did have to buy a new carpet!). I have taken my baby girl on her first trip overseas and she has got her first stamp in her passport.
I have travelled all over the world, but pregnancy, birth and the first few weeks of motherhood have by far been the biggest journey I have ever been on. Welcome to the world baby Isla, it’s big and beautiful and I can’t wait to show it to you!