Birth. It is the most incredible, indescribable, unpredictable and miraculous occurrence. Bringing life into the world is an experience that is personal and precious beyond belief. Each delivery is different to the next, and yet I feel that despite the varying differences it is something so special it can actually bring us altogether. I’m pulling together a range of real birth stories to share in the hope of expanding our knowledge and expectations of birth, and to dwell in the wonder that is the gift of life, in the countless forms it may arrive in!
Name & age at birth:
Cravings during pregnancy:
Just fruit, especially anything juicy, like watermelon!
Morning sickness, every day for the first 20 weeks or so – only all day for a little bit, then the rest I just had to get up and dry retch every morning as soon as I got up. There were a few random things which triggered it too, the weirdest of which was any plants included my veggie garden which suffered as a result – I couldn’t even look at it without feeling sick!
Biggest concern about birth was:
Too much intervention, assisted birth, tearing.
Ideal birth plan was:
As natural as I possibly could, but open to using pain relief if I needed it as I had no idea how I would handle/cope with labour!
Hours in labour:
Don’t know exactly how to calculate it, but 51 hours from when my waters broke to when I finally gave birth.
How we went from wombmate to roommate:
It all started on Monday night at midnight when my waters broke in bed. I wasn’t 100% sure that it had happened as it was only a very small amount and didn’t seem to be continuing at that point. I called up the midwives and they suggested I come into hospital to get checked, so we did. They checked if my waters had broken and yes they had, I was monitored for a while and started getting a few little contractions, then was sent home where Ben and I went back to sleep about 4am.
All day Tuesday we waited for something to happen, certain that it was the day we would meet our baby! I had small contractions on and off the whole day, only ever about 10 minutes apart maximum. I bounced on the fit ball, we went for a couple of little walks up and down the street, and just waited and waited (seemed to be a bit of a theme!) Finally at about 8:30pm things seemed to start ramping up and contractions got stronger and closer together. Ben was amazing, and I breathed through them, and used the tens machine for a little bit. Contractions got to 3 minutes apart so I thought that was time to start heading to the hospital. We drove in at midnight, and I had 3 contractions between the car and the labour ward. But as soon as we walked in, I heard a woman screaming super loud, and I freaked out! I had been calm and in control up until that point, but the sound terrified me, and the result was that my body decided to stop everything. My contractions completely disappeared! We decided to stay a bit longer and see if things might start back up again, so I bounced on the fit ball and tried to relax while Ben slept. Eventually my contractions started up again and I started tracking them. They started getting closer and stronger again but the midwife then asked me to jump up on the bed to be monitored for a while, and as soon as I did everything fizzled out again. I felt so defeated and also felt a bit silly like the midwife might be thinking I was making up that I was even getting contractions at all! She suggested that we either head to the ward or go home again – it was now 4am.
I should have mentioned that I was booked in to be induced that very morning (now Wednesday) at 8am. This was for 2 reasons, firstly because I was 2 weeks overdue by that point, and secondly because by then it had been more than 24 hours since my waters had broken and there was risk of infection. I had been so wanting to avoid induction, because I had heard that it can be much more intense, and there was more likely to be more intervention. So at this point at 4am after being so excited that labour had finally started naturally the night before, I was devastated that I was still facing the induction in 4 hours time! I felt so confused and afraid. We opted to go home in the hope of getting a little bit of rest before heading back in to hospital again. We went to bed and thankfully Ben was able to get a few Zzz’s but I laid awake the whole time – partly due to the intermittent contractions that had started again, but I was also intensely anxious at that point, I remember shaking and my mind going round in circles about what was going to happen that day. I couldn’t bear the thought of facing induction now that I was already so exhausted and emotionally wrecked. I finally decided that I wanted to go into it requesting the epidural.
So at 8am, after Mum coming around for a hug and some moral support, we made the trip into hospital again. At least I knew this time that we wouldn’t leave without our baby! This time one of my MGP midwives was there, and I instantly felt more at ease. I told her I wanted the epidural and she was so supportive of me, which made a big difference because I kind of felt like I was cheating after having wanted to do it with as little pain relief as I could and now I was jumping straight to the big guns. They hooked me up to antibiotics (for my waters having been broken for so long) and the hormones to get things moving. About 4 hours later I told her I was ready for the epidural. The next few hours were actually fairly relaxing, however I couldn’t sleep even though I wanted to! At 6pm they checked me and I was only at 4cm. Again I felt defeated. They said they would let me go another 4 hours and check me again, if things hadn’t progressed then we would need to consider a C section because baby needed to come out – it had been so long.
They checked me again at 10pm and I was 9.5cm – hooray! This is it I thought. They told me, we will wait another hour for you to get to 10cm, then another hour without pushing for baby to move down, then we will push! So that’s what happened. At midnight I started pushing! I pushed and pushed with each contraction, which I could feel enough to know when they were happening, because for some reason I was still getting pain in my left hip at every contraction! But it was kind of useful at that point. I pushed for almost 2 hours, and baby wasn’t budging. He was slightly the wrong way, and so the doctor came in and tried to turn him with her hand as I was pushing. But that didn’t work either. Baby’s heart rate was starting to drop slightly with each contraction. Finally the doctor said we need to do something else. She said there were 2 options – we can try the ventouse (suction/vacuum) or do a C section now. I almost opted for the C section but after talking to her and Ben we decided to try the ventouse first. They wanted me prepped for C section though in case it didn’t work. So soon enough I was being prepped for theatre. I was wheeled to theatre and there were suddenly heaps of people around me. They pumped me with more pain meds through my epidural and then started getting ready for the ventouse. I couldn’t feel any pain as such but I could feel everything that was happening. Then they got me to start pushing again, and it was like some kind of crazy instinct took over me, all I could think in my brain was ‘get this baby OUT!’ and as I pushed, the doctor pulled. Ben said she was pulling so hard that she was leaning back, and at one point the suction slipped off baby’s head and she fell backwards!
Finally, our baby was born and they flopped him onto my belly! Ben told me he was a boy, and he was a BIG boy!
Most vivid memory during labour:
One memory which keeps coming back to me is when I was super fearful at different points I prayed to God, and this picture kept filling my mind – a pair of hands holding me and Ben while we held our baby. And ‘God’s got us in his hands’ repeated in my mind and gave me peace.
Most amusing/interesting moment during labour/birth:
While I was pushing in theatre with the ventouse I got an extremely dry mouth, and I was asking everyone there if I could have some water because my mouth was so dry – there was no time for that of course!
Another amusing moment was Ben almost fainting when I was getting the epidural because he saw the reflection of my back in the mirror in the corner of the room!
During labour/birth, I definitely did not expect:
Everything to go the way it did…
A myth/misconception I believed prior that I now don’t is:
That if you just trust your body it will do what it needs to – that’s probably true for the majority, and a really good frame of mind to have, but mine didn’t and needed assistance. So I guess I just have more of an appreciation for the medical interventions that are there which helped to get my baby out of me safely!!!
Baby’s name, birth weight and date:
Murray Luke, 10lb 7oz/4.7kg, born 3:31am, 29th of April.
Baby’s name was almost:
Murray was our only option for a boy!
Time spent in hospital post birth:
Best tip/trick you received for those early days:
We learnt all sorts of things from the nurses at the hospital, from how to change nappies and bath him, to how to breastfeed and get a good latch. But probably the best advice was to just relax and enjoy him, to soak it all in and don’t stress about every little thing.
Top 3 lifesaving items for a newborn:
A pump to help milk supply increase, good swaddling blankets, and a husband who’s good at being a calming presence!
If you could go back and speak with your pregnant self, what would you say?
Relax and just enjoy those last few weeks instead of trying so hard to bring labour on. It won’t work anyway.
If you could speak with yourself during labour, what would you say?
Trust your body, trust the doctors and midwives, and trust God!
If you could speak with yourself on day 3 of having a newborn, what would you say?
It’s okay to feel sad and overwhelmed, embrace the feels, but know that things will get better.
Any words for first time mums-to-be nervous about their own upcoming birth?
I had a plan, and pretty much nothing went to according to that. But it honestly is true that once you have your baby in your arms, you don’t care how they got there! So don’t be afraid of things not going the way you want them to, and just take each moment as it comes rather than focussing too much on the big picture while you’re in labour. Have an idea of what you’d like to aim for with your birth, but just hold very loosely to it and be prepared for it to happen very differently. You’ll have a precious baby at the end and that makes it all worth it!
If you have a birth story you’d like to share, then please get in touch and let’s start the conversation and continue celebrating this incredible life changing event!