Exactly 24 days go, my little prince came bouncing into our lives. I say bouncing, I WISH he came bouncing into our lives, but as any mother will be aware, getting them out isn’t quite that easy. I wanted to share my experience on here with people, as while it wasn’t the most pleasant experience (and I won’t sugar coat it, it was bloody awful), it’s the sort of thing I’d have been interested in pre-pregnancy, and pre-delivery. So here goes…
Like most pregnant women nearing the end, I spent my later days Googling signs labour was coming. Each day I’d hoped to wake to my waters breaking, or that first contraction, but each day passed and I felt that D-Day was never going to arrive. I’d convinced myself it had to happen at night, as all the posts I’d read from other ladies started during the night, so each morning I woke up not in labour, it felt like game over for that day. But I was wrong. On the Friday before he arrived, I got my first contraction about 2pm (which lasted until 1.44am the following Monday, wahh!!)
When my contractions started, I was actually quite excited and for some reason found myself looking forward for the next one. I remember thinking, “well this isn’t so bad”. Little did I know the hell that the subsequent ones would soon bring – and bloody hell, do they pack a punch! Needless to say, I spent the next 2 days doubled over the banister, the kitchen tops and anything I could grab hold of, trying to pull myself through each agonising contraction. People have since asked me what they felt like, and thinking back, I genuinely can’t remember. Like they say, as soon as that little baby arrives the pain is forgotten.
Anyway, by Saturday morning I thought they were regular enough to go to the birth centre and get the show on the road! Nope. They didn’t even examine me, they sent me packing with a tens machine. Despite my disappointment, I must say, OH MY GOD. It was amazing! I could finally move around, rest and eat! At least until the following day, when electrocuting myself full blast just didn’t quite cut it. After countless midwives telling me to relax, sleep between contractions and stay at home (who on earth can sleep between contractions by the way?!) I eventually dragged myself to the hospital begging for some pain relief, just so I could get some sleep before active labour began. But that wasn’t gonna happen. When I arrived they weren’t going to examine me as my contractions weren’t regular enough, but I thought, why not? So I asked them to examine me anyway, and to everyones surprise, I was 3cm dilated – ready to go to the birth centre and have my baby!
I wasn’t quite as joyous as I’d thought I’d have been. I was exhausted, I just wanted to sleep and get myself ready. I hadn’t left the house prepared for those words. “You’re ready to go and have your baby”. I couldn’t believe it. I was going to have a baby, and I was going to go and have him now. I felt rough, I hadn’t washed my hair in days, my face was a mess, I looked like I’d been dragged in off the street – not the way I wanted my newborn baby to see me for the first time. Thinking back now I want to slap myself for being so concerned with something so insignificant, hours later I wouldn’t give two craps about my appearance.
So, we went to the birth centre and to start with I was offered some oramorph so I could rest a bit in the meantime. I don’t really remember that doing much, and it didn’t last very long either… a bit disappointing! I do remember however, squirting it mostly onto my face rather than into my mouth. Perhaps that’s why it didn’t work so well…
By the time they’d broken my waters – such a bizarre feeling by the way, it felt like the seas were being released from my body – my contractions were in full force, and brought me pain like I’d never known before. They eventually let me in the birthing pool. I’d planned to have a completely natural birth, no drugs, and nice and ‘relaxed’ in the pool. Pffft. The birthing pool was not that tranquil, calming pool of amazingness I’d been led to believe it was. I was squirming around like… well, a baby during each contraction and just felt embarrassed that I couldn’t keep my body still. I tried a bit of gas and air as a friend told me it had pretty much knocked her out, which at that point, I welcomed. But no, clearly my body didn’t like it. It tasted funny, and did sweet eff all. So after a few minutes of that, I decided against it and to take on the pain drug free.
Perhaps I’d have felt more at ease if I wasn’t so concerned about not screaming. Throughout my pregnancy I made the mistake of watching countless episodes of One Born Every Minute. I know I’ll be hated for saying this, but listening to the women screaming, I just couldn’t help but think SHUT THE HELL UP. I kind of regret that now. Another mistake from watching it was that it makes you believe that labour is a lot quicker than it actually is (well, at least how long it was for me), so I was gobsmacked that I was still going hours later. After trying to brave it out in the pool, I eventually hit my brick wall and decided I needed an epidural, and I wanted to be taken back to the hospital immediately. I couldn’t do it anymore. By this point my body was pushing by itself, despite me trying to hold back (the midwife had told me not to push yet which made me panic). Perhaps that should have given me just a slight indication to how close I was to the end. But no, I was determined to make it to the hospital and have that sweet, sweet relief of an epidural.
I got out the pool and onto the bed, and another surprise. Just a couple hours after my waters breaking, I’d gone from 3cm to 10cm. How could this have happened? I wasn’t ready to push this baby out. I wasn’t ready for even more pain, I wanted to wait and get myself psyched up for the agony I thought that I was facing. Again, I was wrong. The pushing part was a lot more pleasant (if I can even call it that) than the 2 days of contractions I’d just endured. However, I didn’t realise just quite how hard you had to push, to push a baby out – did I mention my baby had a fairly large head, and I have a fairly tiny 5ft 1 frame? It was not easy.
Countless pushes later, the midwives made me get up (yes, get up!!) and go for a wee, in case my bladder was blocking his exit. Did they want me to have my baby in the toilet?! I totally get why they asked me to do it, but in the moment I could not understand why they were trying to punish me, and why they wanted him to come out either in the toilet or on my way there. Heh, if only he came out that easily!
After umpteen threats of an episiotomy, baby Dominic eventually made his arrival. All 7lb 13.5oz’s of him. I know it’s a cliche, but the pain was instantly forgotten. My little squishy bundle of joy had arrived, and I finally got to hold him in my arms. I was in love.
That bliss was quickly stolen from me however when they told me that I’d teared (damn, I thought I’d escaped it), and that they were going to have stitch me up right away. I won’t give you all the gory details, but let’s just say, it wasn’t the most pleasant experience of my life!
But I did it! I survived to tell the tale. Something I knew I’d have to do, but didn’t really realise that I’d have to do it – I realise that makes no sense. Would I do it again? Sure. But I don’t think I’ll be so naive about the pain next time, and I may be a bit more open to pain relief – no giving into the pressure of being a ‘strong woman’ and going drug free.
Anyway, that’s my birth story. I’ll be back when I have some more tails of little Dominic and my wonderful new life as a stay at home Mum.