I had very little in the way of a birth plan. A few days before I went into labour I typed up a short sort-of birth plan that began with:
“I don’t know if this is good news or bad news, but I don’t have too much of a birth plan. My theory is that the less I set my heart on, the lower the chance of me being disappointed if my labour and the birth of my baby don’t go to plan!”
The only thing that I desperately wanted was to labour in a birthing pool; I planned that I would make the decision for my son to be born in the water during labour. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to labour in waters, albeit for the best reasons…!
Long story cut short: I had an incredible labour. Quick. Very quick for a first timer! Trauma free, intervention free etc.
The day I hit 39 weeks of pregnancy I was absolutely exhausted beyond belief. My whole body ached – I am not joking when I say I could barely lift the spoon to stir my tea. The night before, I slept around 10 hours; getting up to pee just the once! Within an hour of waking in the morning, I fell asleep on the sofa for 3 hours until my husband got home from his last few hours at work before the Christmas break.
I think in my head and heart I knew that something was happening.
I had been having false labours for a few weeks but at 39 weeks I just felt different. Odd. Not like me. I felt a little vacant from my body, I suppose.
At around 8pm in the evening I was having regular contractions in my back; they were very painful but manageable, and I went to sleep easily enough.
At 0440am, 24/12/2013, I woke up to pee. I remember saying to my husband “it feels like his head is really low!” as I stood up.
I tried to turn on the light only to find our power had cut due to storms outside. I dragged myself to the bathroom and felt a small trickle of fluid travel down the inside of my thigh. I shined my torch on the fluid and it was a white colour (which I guess was Vernix?!). I shouted “I think my waters have broken!”. My husband sleepily responded with “What? All of the them?”.
All of a sudden they gushed out and I stood in the shower waiting for them to stop. I was unsure of the colour of the waters due to the power cut leaving me unable to check them properly for signs of fetal distress.
I phoned the labour unit of Salisbury District Hospital from my mobile and told them my waters had broken, but I was unsure if they were clear due to the power being out. They told me to pop in for observation. We grabbed the bags by torchlight which was amusing! I was on autopilot, picking up bits and bobs that were laying around the house and shoving them in the bag, just in case…!
I could feel the contractions getting stronger, and although I wasn’t timing them, I could tell that they were coming on very thick and fast. They were still mainly in my back, and my stomach pain was no worse than a regular menstrual cramp.
We jumped in the car where baby's car seat was waiting and I have little recollection of anything I was thinking or saying from the moment we set off for the hospital. Thankfully, we are only a 7 minute drive from the hospital when there is not so much as one other car on the roads!
The pain in my back was getting immense and barely manageable. I remember feeling baby’s head turn 180 degrees, and feeling the rest of his body follow suit. The contractions changed from being in my back to being in my front after he turned. Following his birth we realised that he was back to back before he turned, and was smart enough to turn around on his way out.
When we arrived at the hospital, at around 0530am, we left all of the bags in the car, thinking that they might send us home until my contractions were stronger and closer together. I didn’t realise that my contractions were actually coming every 2 minutes or so, lasting for a minute at a time.
I was taken straight to a delivery room where a Midwife found us after 15 minutes or so and began the paperwork to admit me to the unit. I was having incredible urges to push. I went into the loo and sat on the toilet, where I realised I could feel his head just inside of me. I tried to tell the Midwife who seemed to disbelieve me and told me that my waters had only just broken, and that first labours are on average 12 hours long.
My waters were determined clean and clear.
The midwife asked me to get on the bed for monitoring on the CTG machine. I couldn’t lay on my back as the pressure of baby on my lower spine was too bad, so I lay on my right hand side, hooked up to the CTG machine. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but his chest was low enough in my body for the CTG machine to struggle in picking up his heartbeat. When she realised this, she stripped off my leggings and underwear and examined me.
I hadn’t had any painkillers by this point and the contractions left me begging for gas and air, which the Midwife hooked me up to. I’ve never had gas and air before, as far as I am aware, and the feeling was so peculiar. I just felt very drunk which took the edge off of the pain but I was still perfectly aware of everything that was going on.
I remember thinking things but being unable to say them. I specifically remember ‘debilitating’. I was contracting, screaming into the mouthpiece of the gas and air, and thinking ‘this pain is debilitating’. All I could say was “this f*cking hurts!”. I was cussing at the Midwife and then apologising for it because I really was trying not to swear!
The midwife finished her examination and I asked how dilated I was. She told me I was 9.5cm dilated, and I remember asking “oh, so I am in labour then?”, and my husband laughing and saying “yes Han, you’re in labour”.
My body was trying to push on its own accord. With every contraction, my knees drew themselves into my chest and I pushed with all my might. I couldn’t not push, no matter how hard I tried. Another Midwife came into the room and I was asking them about their children in between screaming and nearly kicking the foot-board of the bed clean off with each contraction.
One Midwife told me that with my next contraction, if I pushed hard enough, the head would start to emerge. I shouted “well I f*cking know that, woman!” and then apologised profusely! My husband was watching the head crown with each push, and I vividly remember watching the amazement on his face. A Midwife told me he definitely had hair.
I have heard several horror stories about ‘the ring of fire’! I can honestly say that whilst it stung as his head was crowning and on it’s way out, it was absolutely nowhere near as painful as I thought it would be. The pain of the contractions was far worse than the pain of his head emerging.
The Midwife told me that with one more push his head would be out. I pushed so hard I’m amazed I haven’t ruptured every blood vessel in my body! I felt his head pop out, and my body naturally pushed his body out.
He immediately peed everywhere (typical boy!). He was placed on my chest and I was so emotionally shocked that I couldn’t cry no matter how much I wanted to. All I could say was “mine”, and my husband was crying a little and saying “yes, yours”.
I took off the top and bra that I had laboured in. In typical ‘me’ fashion, I declared that I was really upset because I packed 3 specific t-shirts to labour in and they were still in the car! Everyone laughed and I stopped breathing in the gas and air…!
Baby latched onto my right breast and began to nurse straight away.
I opted for the placenta to be born naturally. After nearly an hour of the placenta not making an appearance, the Midwife asked me to sit on the toilet to try and position myself better for the placenta to be emitted naturally. Whilst we were waiting for the placenta to be born, my husband cut the umbilical cord as it had stopped pulsating. The Midwife advised me to have the injection (I forget the name of the injection - sorry!) which I agreed to, and with a few pulls on the cord by the Midwife, the placenta was expelled 4 minutes after the injection.
My husband held baby, and baby took his first meconium poop all down Daddy’s arm. Good boy!
We named our son William Andrew Abbey.
William was the only name we could agree on! My Father told us that his Grandfather was called William, so it’s a family name too. Andrew is William’s middle name, as it is my father-in-law’s Christian name.
We just call him Booboo.
William was weighed in at 7lbs 3oz, and his head circumference was measured at 33cm.
I was examined internally and told that I have a very, very small second degree muscular tear, however I declined sutures as it was determined that there is still plenty of muscle between my vaginal and rectal walls. I also incurred a very small labial graze, which to be honest is worse than the internal tear! I can’t feel the internal tear, and so far am showing no signs of infection etc., so it should be healing nicely! The labial graze stings every time I pee and sometimes it catches on the sanitary pads I’m wearing. It’s well worth it though!
William’s temperature was measured and it was a little too low. If it had have been OK, we would have been discharged 6hrs after birth. Unfortunately, we had to spend the night in the hospital whilst he heated up and it could be ensured that he could stabilise his own temperature.
My Community Midwife had written up a post-labour plan for me, as I have plethora of Mental Health diagnoses including quite severe anxiety. It was arranged that I would have a private Amenity room so that my husband could stay with us both overnight.
Shortly after my mum and sister came to visit, I was moved to the amenity room, where Christmas Eve became Christmas Day and William’s temperature was on the rise, and he could stabilise it without being wrapped in several blankets.
On Christmas Day we were discharged at around midday and we came home as a family.
William is doing brilliantly so far. He is nursing well from both breasts, although he is also using me as a dummy! My milk is starting to come in properly, and he absolutely loves skin to skin snuggles with both me and Daddy. He will be weighed again today, so hopefully it’ll be determined that he is feeding well enough for me to breastfeed exclusively.
I am so in love with my little creation, and I find myself staring at him in awe; I made this tiny baby and I walked around with him in my womb for just over 39 weeks. It is incredible.
Overall, I had a fantastic labour. It was quick – very quick! I worked through the pain on just gas and air (although I had little choice due to such quick dilation), and there were no interventions needed.
My body has created something beautiful, at last.
For reference… according to my Summary of Labour, these were my times:
Membranes ruptured: 0440am
Cervix fully dilated: 0710am
Baby born: 0730am
Placenta expelled: 0834am
Duration 1st stage: 1hr 10mins
Duration 2nd stage: 20mins
Duration 3rd stage: 1hr 4mins
Total: 2hr 34mins
Duration membranes ruptured: 2hr 50mins
And now for photos!
Straight after the cutting of the cord:
Daddy has snuggles and William feeds:
My family, complete:
My beautiful little boy:
Nanny Tracy (my mum) has snuggles:
...and so does Auntie Abbie (my sister):
Mummy & Daddy & William:
Baby feet are so beautiful!
Ready to visit Grandad Shucksmith (my dad) on Boxing Day!
Meeting Auntie Laura (my sister) on Boxing Day:
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, love Daddy, Mummy and William!