I make no apology for the length of this, I want to remember all I can about it!
I expected I’d go overdue like most first time mothers, so on the eve of my due date I settled into bed at 9pm with my usual hot milo treat to help me off to sleepy dreamy land. My mother had just gone off to bed to try and wrestle with her jet lag as she’d just arrived from Scotland and immediately been subjected to a Whopping Cough innoculation. Two weeks before I’d had an ECV (a story for another time!) as she had been breech, so I knew she was fully engaged and ready to rock but still thought I had another week or so to go.
I’d just enjoyed the yummy froth at the top of my Milo (ooh it really is the best bit, isn’t it?) when bubs started her usual 9pm kung fu practise (reckon she likes Milo too). This time the kick felt really hard and low, and I suddenly got the most enormous stretching and pressure feeling in my lady parts.
“Oh aggghhhh!!!” I yelled, rising up vertically from the bed apparently without the direct intervention of my brain. Just as well my “mattress about to be ruined” frontal lobe had kicked in, because by the time I was half way up I was enjoying a very soggy pressure release about the nether regions.
“WAAAHHH!!!” I remarked, as I enjoyed a sensation I’ve not felt since I was at Primary School and accidentally let one go when a Policeman’s school visit went on that wee bit too long.
“DUUU-U-U-U-N-C-AAAAAAAA-N!!!!!” I wailed as I started crying in shock. After an ice age or two of me yelling his bewildered face appeared around the door and looked at me standing there, legs akimbo. “What?” he said – unable to see the state of the carpet for the bed. I kept on crying and pointed at my ruined carpet. He wandered around and said, “Oh.” Then took me in his arms and gave me a big hug saying “It’s going to be OK, you can do this and you’re going to be great.”
I’m really glad he was convinced, because I was utterly horrified.
I went off to sit on the toilet to let the rest of my fluid drain off and Duncan went off to phone the hospital. Duncan came back and reported that the hospital weren’t concerned so long as the waters were a good colour (they were!) and that they said I should try to get a night’s sleep as the onset of labour would likely be slow and that I should go in when contractions were 4 minutes apart and lasting more than 50 seconds. “Beauty” I thought and dispatched Duncs to reheat my tepid Milo. I duly sat and texted various friends and posted to my Facebook mothers group – but by the time I’d finished doing this I’d already had several quite painful contractions.
“For fuck sake, are they serious babe?” I remarked with my usual calm demeanour. “How the hell do you sleep through this?” By the time an hour had passed I was in a state of some distress, Duncan was doing some last minute hospital bag duties and loading up some tunes on my iphone and we’d not timed the contractions yet – but I sure did seem to be in a lot of pain on a regular basis. By the time we sat down together the contractions were 4 mins apart. We rang the hospital again and found out that I should probably get up off the lavvy – nobody had told me that once your waters break you keep leaking till you birth! Oh well. At least I could remove numb arse from my list of woes.
A few minutes later Duncs decided to ring yet again as he really did feel someone who was meant to be getting rest should actually be able to sit down rather than writhing about in extensive discomfort once again the midwife was doubtful we were that far progressed but said that as we kept on bloody ringing her up we could go in and get checked if we wanted. We’d no idea what we should do! I texted my midwife friend in the UK for a second opintion and she said “if you can text during contractions they aren’t sore enough”. I couldn’t even see during contractions so I jumped up out of bed, put on some jim jams and sent Duncan to tell my Mother we were off to hospital. Being of a nervous disposition, my mother rose out of bed vertically (that’s who I get it from then!) and fussed me all the way to the car.
On the drive to hospital, the contractions were coming every 2 to 3 minutes and I was doing my best to break every single little bone in Duncs’ left hand. I arrived at hospital in a bit of a jolly old state and hyperventillating with en suite panic attacl – this wasn’t turning out how I’d expected. My plans to watch some movies whilst getting into the swing of labour were evaporating fast. After all, I’d been told how most first time mums take an age to get into established labour hadn’t I? Apparently not me…
You had to ring a security bell to get into Selangor, thankfully Duncs screeched to a halt in the Ambulance bay and I accosted a nurse on her way to work by means of falling out of the passenger door and remarking “OOOOOOHHHHHHH”. Reassured I wasn’t a very well disguised burglar she let me right in. After another contraction or two on the way to maternity I introduced myself at reception by way of bending over double with my head on the desk saying “OOOHHHHHH!!!!!!!…. WAHHHH……. AH-HA….” and threw in some hyperventilating and general noises of distress for good measure. It seemed the most efficient way to let them know why I was there. They seemed to get the idea. A lovely Yorkshire accent drifted down to me as I stared meaningfully at the carpet. “Hello, I’m Karen I’ll be your midwife”.
“………….” I said and continued my new found relationship with the hospital grade shag pile. Once my stomach and back stopped feeling like the All Blacks were training on them I brightly said, “Hello! How are you?”
We were immediately punted into Room 4. This was the last room in the hospital due to lots of other women wanting to spend their Friday nights in screaming agony and had been allocated to another lady already in the birth suite however my staring at the carpet routine had convinced them I was a gal in need of immediate roomage. Score.
The room was directly opposite reception, and by the time I’d walked the 3m to the door I just had time to drop to my hands and knees and crawl over to a chair and bury my face in it so I could enjoy my next contraction. In retrospect that really should have alerted me that we were very much in a green light situation for baby arriving soon.
Poor old Duncan was trying to lean in and talk to me asking if I needed him to go get me some ice poles or food, or something. Anything. “NO!! GET OFF!” I said, making ineffectual efforts to get him to stop touching me which for some reason was suddenly absolutely intolerable.
“Wait till she’s stopped contracting to talk to her” said the midwife. Wise woman.
At this point the lovely Karen had to lean down and get into my earhole with some firm words and breathing instructions because I really was in a great deal of distress and in no mood to listen to anything at all. Having received my midwife pep talk, and some great breathing and general coping tips in a beautifully soothing yet firm voice I was put on the bed to be monitored for 20 mins. Oddly I remember this as the most painful part of the labour – lying down flat on my back and contracting was just bloody awful – there seemed to be nowhere for me to go to get any respite from the pain.
Karen came in and out of the room for the next 20 mins as she was also looking after another lady. I don’t really remember much about that time other than I really wish I’d had some pain relief!
She took a look at my CTG, then me, and said “How about we pop you in the bath then?”
“That’d be lovely, thankyou so much” I said (How polite am I when In horrible pain – I’d probably have impressed myself if had been able to think straight).
By this stage I wasn’t capable of making the birth suite under my own steam so I was wheelchaired through (and I still wasn’t catching on just how in labour I really was – I honestly thought it was early doors).
When I got into that water the pain relief was amazing. It was like someone flicked a switch, suddenly the world was a bearable place again. At this point Karen said,”Right now, this is what you are made for. Don’t fight the contractions, breath through them and let your body do what it’s supposed to. I think you’ll find if you breathe well and get that oxygen through you that the pain relief is just as good as gas and air”.
“You might manage this with no pain relief” said Duncs. As I was enjoying a contraction at this point I was unable to tell the pair of them to fuck off and get real. Karen turned down the lights in the birthing pool to get me in the mood for some red hot natural birthing action. After a little while of doing as I was told I gently enquired as to the possibility of trying out some gas and air. Karen brought it in but encouraged me just to have it nearby, so I knew I could have it. After another few contractions I requested it be brought closer – right beside me for example.
After that, the world was a happy place. Gingerly at first and then with considerable gusto I breathed in as much gas and air as I could fit into my lungs. Wow is all I can say. I went into a very, very focused and very, very pleasant place with rainbow tinged edges. I was really enjoying the music we had on and was bopping away to the beat in my bath. I later realised that we never had gotten around to putting on our ipod and I was bopping around to the funky beats of total silence. At this point there were no more noises of discomfort from me, my contractions were marked only by the rhythmic sound of me guzzling gas and air like it was going out of fashion.
After about 3 hours of this (which passed like it was 5 minutes) things started to slow and I wondered what was up. Karen reappeared through the rainbow mists and said, “Kirsty love, do you feel like pushing at all?” I considered this. “Nah. I’m grand thanks. Why??” She looked a bit puzzled and said “I’m just going to examine you love, see how progressed you are.” This was the first time she’d checked me and she had a quick check and said, “Are you SURE” you don’t feel like pushing? “Ummm…. I’m sure I’d have noticed that?” I said.
“Love, put your hand between your legs – your baby is RIGHT THERE”. “Oh urgh what?? No way lady, don’t be silly I’m not doing that!!!”
It transpired that I was one of those people who get no urge to push, far from still being miles from transition as I thought I was well out through transition and heading towards forceps territory at a great rate of knots. Karen then tried to get me to push in the water. I couldn’t. She pulled me out onto a birthing stool promising to pop me back in the water for the birth. Nope. No dice.
With dwindling energy and threats of Oxytocin drips ringing in my ears I was hauled onto the bed and the dreaded stirrups came out – I was told to hold my legs behind the knees and push like my life depended upon it every time I contracted or else they’d “have to help me”. I still had no urge to push. Suddenly confronted with the mental image of a set of forceps I found energy I didn’t think I posessed. As each contraction came Duncs and Karen yelled “PUSH” and I pushed like buggery. An obstetrician turned up. Not mine, it was the weekend but to be honest it could have been the janitor for all I cared. But I knew I must be close.
Duncs was amazing, in the end he was the only one shouting for me to push as the middy and obs had given up. I vaguely heard the Obs saying to midwife, “this bloke will make you redundant” and then she said to Duncs “would you like to catch the baby??” “What? Oh urgh, NO!!” He said.
I was determined not to see the baby come out so I had my eyes clamped tightly shut – alas my bump was small so I couldn’t help but see the head shape emerging from my downstairs business. “Well, that’s that ruined!” I thought. As I gave my final few pushes I heard, “She’s face up!!”. With one final big and stingy (but not as sore as I expected) push my baby arrived and was delivered up to my chest. She immediately shat on me. “Ah. so that’s motherhood started then” I thought!
I was told My baby was born in posterior position and presented forehead first. This gave the midwife a heart stopper as she thought for a few seconds her head was a bum. After just 8 hours my back to front and upside down baby was here. Already taking after her mother in the awkwardness stakes – our little 5.5lbs of fun had arrived in the world.
In retrospect, Childbirth wasn’t the agonising experience I had expected. It’s different for everyone, but for me I got all the way through without once thinking I couldn’t bear it. I’d do it again in a second and the feeling when you are handed your baby is worth every second of what you’ve gone through.