I still can’t believe how my labour and birth story turned out in the end. It felt like everything was against me at one point and I wasn’t going to get anywhere near they type of birth I was hoping for. For a start I had gone overdue which no one expected to happen, especially not me. In Scotland they now book you in for inductions at 7 days overdue rather than the 10 or 14 it is down South. In a way this was good for us because it meant that there was more chance of the husband being around for the birth and bit of time afterwards. He is deployed abroad at the moment with the military and he got sent back a few days before my due date for paternity. I was worried this would mean he might miss the birth if he got called back early and I went overdue but luckily the odds were in our favour for those couple weeks.
So, onto the actual labour and birth story. On Tuesday the 6th October I was booked in to be induced. I had been given a sweep and stretch on my due date and my midwife said she’d be shocked if I didn’t go into labour within 24 hours. That didn’t happen so I found myself calling up the Westburn ward at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital at 9.30am to find out when I needed to come in. Unfortunately it took about 20 minutes to get through to someone which sent the stress levels soaring a little bit! In the end I got through and they said I’d have to wait for a call from the labour ward because there was a note on my file saying that I would just need my waters broken, not the pessaries etc. I panicked because I was convinced that there wouldn’t be any space for me for days and then I’d have very little time with the husband once baby was here. Luckily they called back within half an hour and said we could go in.
My mum drove us to hospital because the parking is notoriously bad at AMH, well the whole Aberdeen Foresterhill hospital site in general, and we got there about 10.30am. We were shown through to a delivery room in the labour ward and once the midwife left i cried because the room was exactly what I didn’t want to give birth in. I really wanted an active labour and the room wasn’t big enough to walk around in. There was literally a bed, a couple chairs, monitoring equipment, a baby cot and a side unit and that was about it. You couldn’t even shut the blinds to dim the room because there weren’t any. In a non diva-ish way, it made me really sad to think that I’d have to give birth in there.
The midwife came back and said she was going to break my waters and we’d see what happened. I had two hours from them breaking my waters to start contracting naturally, otherwise I’d be put on the hormone drip to start everything off. That was the main thing I was trying to avoid so I was desperately willing my body to go into labour naturally. The whole water breaking experience was rather sore and uncomfortable and lasted longer than I expected it too. It was quite a rough experience! I took the opportunity to test out how I’d be on gas and air. With Little I’s birth I couldn’t use it because it made me feel sick, have pins and needles in my face and then eventually felt like my face was melting off! Luckily this time it seemed to be a bit more effective and I didn’t feel ill on it.
The midwife said we could go for a walk to see if that helped start things off. We hadn’t eaten so decided to go round to the cafe. Within minutes I had my first contraction. They started up pretty quickly – just like they did with Little I. At first the were coming every 4 minutes and lasting a minute. I got to the cafe and immediately had to turn back around because the pain as too intense. I got some funny looks by other customers. The husband stayed to pay for our sandwiches and I tried to make my way back to the labour ward. No one was answering the buzzer though!
When I got back into the delivery room, the midwife came back to see how things were. She was then reading through my notes and must have noticed the birthing pool being mentioned. The midwife led unit is actually shut at AMH at the moment, due to staffing issues, so I just assumed a water birth was completely out of the question. She said she’d go ask the midwife in charge and see what she could do. When she came back she said the pool was available and she could sort it out for us if I still wanted it. YES PLEASE was my response!
The midwife said as long as my contractions stayed strong and were coming regularly, then she could see no reason why I couldn’t use the birthing pool. When she left us I put my TENS machine on and timed my contractions to try and give my mind something to focus on. I’d forgotten what contractions feel like. There really isn’t any pain (other than the actual active pushing part of labour!) quite like it. Ouch. The thing that helped me the most was breathing through the contractions. I did breath in for 8, out for 4. I think it’s supposed to be 8 and 8 but I couldn’t get that far! At this point i wasn’t having any gas and air. Not sure why. I just wasn’t. The TENS machine I had this time was brilliant. 100 times better than the one I had when in labour with Little I. It genuinely helped with the pain and I don’t know what I would have done without it. It’s more of a distraction thing I think. It zaps you and you kind of forget the pain of the contraction temporarily.
Very shortly the midwife came back and said we could go round to the birthing pool room. There was a funny story that I didn’t realise was going on because I was in my zone of focusing on getting through each contraction. The midwife came back into the room at one point and told the husband that someone had failed over and hurt their ankle (not in labour I may add) and had been put in the birthing pool room to wait for someone to come take them up to the A&E part of the hospital. If I had missed out on my water birth for that, I would have been gutted! Eventually we could go round to the room and I had to keep stopping in the corridor to deal with the pain of the contractions. I remember feeling bad because the midwife and husband were carrying all of my bags etc. It’s funny what you remember even when you’re in a lot of pain.
We got settled into the room very quickly because by this point my contractions were coming every 2 minutes and lasting over a minute. It felt like things were starting to ramp up a gear. It took me ages to undressed and get my bikini top on and get into the pool because I had to keep stopping for each contraction. The midwife had to monitor baby’s heartbeat with a wireless doppler thing and I remember not wanting her to do it because she pressed hard and it hurt with the contractions!
I had a friend coming in to do birth photography for us (it had originally been an idea for the husband so he could still be part of the birth even though he was probably going to miss it) and the midwife said, before I got in the pool, that I should probably message her and tell her to come in. I knew at this point that things were probably going to start moving very quickly.
I was scared to take my TENS machine off because it had been helping so much, but I obviously couldn’t keep it on in the pool. Once I got into the pool I did feel some relief but my legs kept cramping up, which seemed a bit cruel considering I was in labour! At this point I started using the gas and air to try and take the edge off the contractions. It felt like I was only in the pool for a very short period of time before I felt the need to push.
I started saying i needed an epidural, which is funny because I never asked for one with Little I. Her labour was 16 hours, as opposed to the few hours I had been in labour this time, by this point. It just showed how much more intense it was this time round. I think the midwife knew fine well that wasn’t going to happen but she said I could get out of the pool, get examined and then we could see what we could do. I knew by what my body was doing that I’d never be able to get out of the pool at this point. They did offer me morphine, but again I’d have to get out of the pool, which wasn’t going to happen.
My friend and another midwife arrived and by this point I was pretty much pushing. I was in a whole world of pain and kept trying to move around in the pool to try and stretch out the pain. The midwife had to keep monitoring baby’s heartbeat but I didn’t want anyone to touch me! I just went with my body and started pushing when it told me too. It felt like I needed a lot less guidance from the midwives this time but that’s probably more due to how fast everything happened.
I think I was pushing for under half an hour this time, as opposed to the 2 hours last time. Last time I was on the verge of needed assistance but this time that definitely wasn’t going to be needed. Baby’s head came out and the midwives told me to pause for a bit. All of a sudden I freaked out because I realised I’d have to catch the baby underwater once it had been born. I kept going ‘I can’t, I can’t’ and I could hear the midwives panicking about what to do if I refused to catch my baby!
In the end one of the midwives helped me to catch baby and he was born!!! We totally forgot to check if it was a boy or girl at first. I assumed it was a girl because I hadn’t felt anything around the bum area when I caught him, but the midwife was like ‘judging by the size of that thing between his legs, I’m pretty sure it’s a boy’ haha.
I found it really awkward still having the cord attached and being in an upright position. I was scared of pulling him up too high and so kept dunking him in the water by accident! The husband cut the cord while I was still in the pool and then I had to get out with the clamp still attached to the cord. That was weird and a bit strange to try and manoeuvre myself out of the pool with.
Once I got out we had skin to skin and tried to get him to feed. He wasn’t really having any of it though (more on our breastfeeding journey soon). I felt awful. I was really nauseous, couldn’t stop shaking and had a bad headache. It was probably because of how fast it all happened. The midwives gave me the injection to deliver my placenta and I felt much better after that. They then checked me over to see if I needed stitches etc. I narrowly escaped this time (I had quite a few stitches last time). I did have a tear but they felt it would heal better on it’s own.
We then had a bit of time in the delivery room getting baby weighed, having some tea and toast (of course) and generally getting sorted to be transferred up to the postnatal ward. I got to have a shower and we ended up having dinner in there as well. Baby got put in a hot cot because his temperature was a bit low and then we moved up to the postnatal ward around 4pm.
So that’s it! My labour and birth story. All in under 4 hours this time round. I still can’t get over it. And I can’t believe we have a little boy to add to our family. I am so glad he arrived here safe and sound, and also whilst his dada was still here to experience it all.
Such an intense and crazy experience but still amazing none the less.
You can also watch the video we put together here: