We had had a really lovely afternoon. After waiting around the hospital all morning for a ten minute discussion with my consultant, we decided to spend the afternoon in the city rather than going back to our apartment.
We went for a coffee, browsed some shops, picked up a few treats. We even went to a bar, just to sit and talk and enjoy the moment. Before getting on the bus to go home, we bought the Blu-Ray of Baby Driver, one of our favourite movies of the year, to watch later that evening with our dinner (which was paella, one of our favourites).
After a huge portion of paella, and about thirty minutes into the film, I waddled to the bathroom. As I was about to sit on the loo, I noticed that my pyjama bottoms were drenched. My waters had just broke.
Time: 6pm on Wednesday 15th November
There was a lot of fluid – I didn’t realise just how much ‘water’ there is when your waters break. I called out for my SO and told him what I thought was happening. We were both in shock and called the labour ward. They asked us to come in, purely to check my waters and make sure that the start of my labour was all okay.
Fast forward through two expensive taxi rides and a quick check-up at the hospital, we were back at our apartment at around 9pm. The midwives were happy with the colouring of my waters and told us to wait until the contractions were 3 minutes apart before going back to the hospital again. My contractions hadn’t even started at this point.
I was tempted to pick up from where we left off and watch the rest of the movie, but I think the shock of my labour starting and the apprehension of my contractions starting put me off, so we went to bed.
At midnight I felt waves of strong period pains. I downloaded an app that recorded how long your contractions were and how far apart. I woke my SO and asked him to put some soothing music or hypnobirthing videos on my laptop. Then we waited.
My contractions were all over the place – some lasting for 30 seconds, some for 5 minutes. Sometimes they were close together and sometimes they weren’t. What they did have in common however was pain.
After 4 hours of contractions at home, I couldn’t wait any longer, and we phoned the labour ward to let them know we were on our way.
Time: 4am on Thursday 16th November
I had asked for a birthing pool for my labour, and thankfully managed to get a lovely, huge private room with a massive birthing pool in it, which was located in the swanky birthing centre. The room also had an en-suite, a sofa-like bed thing, and plenty of space. I got into the birthing pool almost straight away – hoping for some pain relief from the warm water, and the gas and air.
The contractions became stronger and more frequent, however the pain was mostly in my lower back. It later turned out that my daughter was lying back-to-back, which was not the ideal position for her to come out.
I hopped in and out of the birthing pool for a while. My midwife finished her shift and two different midwives took over my care. I was about 5cm dilated at this point.
Time: 10am on Thursday 16th November
The two new midwives were absolute saints. They helped me relax as much as possible, rubbed my back for me, and made sure I was drinking enough. They encouraged me to push when I felt like doing so.
The leading midwife wanted to examine me to see what progress I had made. She was somewhat concerned, having just felt that my daughter was the wrong way round, and so went to find a more senior midwife to examine me.
Unfortunately, not only was my daughter the wrong way round, but I had also only dilated to 6cm. This meant that over the course of 6 hours, I had dilated just 1cm. The senior midwife told us that the best course of action was to take me to the labour ward so that they could hook me up to a hormonal drip, which would encourage my cervix to dilate faster.
Time: 4pm on Thursday 16th November
Once wheeled up to the labour ward, I had had enough of the pain. They asked if I wanted more pain relief, and though I thought I would never have one, I asked for an epidural. I needed a break from the pain, I needed a chance to sleep. So, before hooking me up to the hormone drip, I had an epidural. It was like magic – I felt nothing.
My SO and I finally managed to get some sleep. The new midwife monitored me as I napped.
After a few hours I felt a twinge of a contraction, and got to push a wonderful button which boosted my epidural. My SO went to one of the shops in the hospital to get snacks. I wasn’t allowed much, so slowly savoured one Percy Pig. That was the first thing I had eaten since that lovely paella dish.
Two new midwives took over my care and asked if they could examine me, to see if the drip has been working. Thankfully, I had managed to get to 9cm. The plan of action was to lay in different positions to encourage my daughter to turn herself whilst I dilated that last centimetre, so I lay on my side with a huge cushion between my legs.
Time: 9pm on Thursday 16th November
An hour later and I was ready. Unfortunately, my daughter had not turned, but we decided to try pushing anyway. The epidural was still working its magic, so I had to rely on a midwife feeling my stomach to know when a contraction was happening. I tried to get gravity to do some of the work by being in an all-fours-type position on the bed. As instructed by the midwives, I pushed as hard as I could into my bum. Caring about what was happening down there had gone out the window long before this point.
After two hours of pushing, there was still no baby. The midwives got a doctor to come in to examine me. My daughter still hadn’t turned and had barely moved. The doctor’s plan of action was for an assisted birth with forceps. Basically they were going to have to persuade my baby to turn using the forceps, and then pull her out as I pushed with a contraction. This meant going into theatre.
I also had to sign a document to say that if the assisted birth failed, that I would be happy to proceed with an emergency C-Section. Things started to move very fast from this point onward. I looked at the monitor for the time, and said to the room of people that my daughter’s birthday was about to change.
Time: 11:30pm on Thursday 16th November
In theatre, my SO was dressed in scrubs and sitting on a stool next to my head. The lovely theatre team put up a screen for me so that I couldn’t see what was going on. The procedure began and again, I felt nothing, thanks to that amazing epidural wizardry.
The doctor told me from the other end of my bed that my baby had turned, so now it was time to push and pull. We tried this for a short while until I heard the doctor say that there was no movement from the baby, and that we would have to do an emergency C-Section after-all. I cried.
Within the last few weeks of my pregnancy, I had been trying to decide what type of birth I wanted. It had been a really difficult decision, and after requesting for a booked C-Section, I changed my mind to natural birth. I wanted to at least give it a try. So when, after twenty-four hours of trying to do it naturally, they had to give me a C-Section anyway, I was very emotional about it.
Lots of movement happened with the theatre team, and thankfully I was somewhat oblivious due to the epidural and the screen. After not long at all, we heard our daughter cry. I caught a glimpse of a reddish-pinkish baby above my stomach. My SO cried. She was cleaned up and we got to hold her as they put me back together. She had a head of dark hair, just as I had imagined.
Time: 12:43am on Friday 17th November
We were taken through to the recovery ward near the theatre. I had so many drips in my arms it was somewhat difficult to hold my daughter. My SO sat next to me, still in his scrubs, and we were both in shock. We actually had a baby.
I was feeling quite drowsy and tired. The nurse and midwife looking after me started to measure my blood pressure, saying that I had lost a litre of blood in theatre.
Things got a bit frantic after that. The baby was handed to my SO and lots of medical personnel were hovering around my bed, giving me more medication and attaching more drips to my arms. It turned out that I needed an emergency blood transfusion. Before I knew it, I was being moved back into theatre again. As I was wheeled past my SO in his scrubs holding our baby, I started crying.
During my second time in theatre, I could barely hold back the tears or the vomit (too much medicine on an empty stomach). They did whatever they had to do, and I was taken back to the recovery ward near the theatre. The whole team looking after me were really excellent, a lot of them seemed to really care about me as they tried to reassure me throughout and after the procedures. I was just grateful that I hadn’t bled out, that I hadn’t left my SO to look after our baby on his own.
Time: 2am on Friday 17th November
I was kept an eye on for a little while, until I was moved to the recovery part of the labour ward. There we finally got to rest and I could see our baby again. It had been the most emotionally and physically draining 26 hours of our lives, but finally we had our baby.