You can read about the birth of Edward here. Spoiler – he came of the sunroof, bum first. Typical Edward.
Even though the birth of any baby is magical and special regardless of the method, I’m not going to lie, I was disappointed that I had not been able to have a bash at labour and vaginal delivery. And having experienced the recovery of a C Section, which wasn’t all that bad with only a newborn to look after, I knew that I definitely didn’t fancy going through the same thing again with a toddler to contend with. So from the day I found out I was pregnant again, I was absolutely adamant that I would be trying for a VBAC.
About 11am on the morning of Saturday 28th May, 38 weeks pregnant and I was trying to get comfortable on the sofa as I was having a lot of Braxton Hicks. Edward wasn’t having any of it. He wanted to climb on me, cuddle me and burrow his head right into the top of my bump. I’m pretty used to constant invasions of my personal space from a two year old but on that day something snapped and I lost my patience with him and pushed him away fairly abruptly. He took offence to this which resulted in a head-butt to the bump.
As I stood up, I felt a weird sensation and then liquid started trickling down my leg. Waters. Gone.
I was completely and utterly stunned. I shouted to Ed that I thought my waters had broken and to come and help me. He was on a business call and was desperately trying to explain he needed to hang up “My wife’s waters have just broken, I really need to go. No really, I can’t speak now!”
I phoned the hospital who told me to come in and get checked out within the next couple of hours but not to rush as I wasn’t contracting yet. So we had a bizarre and surreal couple of hours at home tidying up, finishing packing my hospital bag (as I knew something would definitely have to happen in the next 24 hours now with my waters gone) and packing Edward lunch to bring with us. All with waters pretty much gushing out to the point that pads were lasting about 5 minutes so I was stuffing fistfuls of paper towels in.
We left for the hospital around 1pm and even though I wasn’t contracting yet, we did decide to pack both my hospital bag and an overnight bag for Edward just in case I got kept in if anything started to happen. Whilst en route to the hospital I felt the first couple of light contractions. Edward fell asleep in the car which we were pleased about as we didn’t want to deal with a tired toddler while I was getting checked. We decided to leave him sleeping in the back of the car with Ed so he could get a full hour’s sleep while I went in and got a head start on getting checked.
By the time the boys came in from the car park I’d been on the monitor for half an hour and had been told to wait in the day room while a Doctor decided if they wanted to keep me in and augment my labour with a drip because of the fact I was a VBAC. Edward sat down to eat his packed lunch and then started running up and down the corridors like a crazy thing.
Things ramped up from here pretty quickly. The contractions had started to get quite painful. So painful that I asked a midwife if I could go back into the triage room because I didn’t feel like I wanted to be in that much pain in front of Edward and I had the feeling that I wanted to focus on the contractions now and start to use some of my pain management techniques without feeling responsible for a toddler.
Ed called his Mum to come and collect Edward and within an hour she had arrived. I was moaning and contracting quite intensely by this stage and as soon as Edward was handed over I was transferred to the labour room.
At about 4pm I got my room and met my midwife to run through my birth preferences. As a VBAC, I was considered high risk and I knew I would have to have continuous monitoring and a cannula sited in my arm. In my notes I had specifically asked for wireless monitoring so that I could be mobile, but the wireless monitor wasn’t working so I was hooked up to a wired monitor which straight away made me feel panicky, like I was losing any kind of control over how I wanted things to go. I asked if I could sit on a birthing ball and one was brought, but every time I bounced on it even a tiny bit the monitor lost connection so I was told I couldn’t sit on it any more. It was too painful to stand through each contraction and at that point I assumed I’d be in that room for a considerable number of hours so I reluctantly agreed to get on the bed. The cannula in my arm meant it was really uncomfortable to be on all fours so I was pretty much in my worst case scenario situation – on my back, on a bed, unable to move.
By 5pm the contractions were so intense, coming one on top of the other and I was really starting to panic. It wasn’t how I had expected things to be. No slow build up, not a cat in hell’s chance of hypnobirthing. I felt like I was going to die. Surely no human could survive this amount of torture. I started to feel really upset with myself that I wasn’t dealing with it better at what I thought must be such an early stage. I also felt like the midwives were judging me as a “non-coper”.
I was checked internally and I was 4cm and was told I was now in active labour. (Only now I was in active labour?!) There was no way on earth I could do this for hours and hours so I started to ask for pain relief. Only an hour before, I had told the midwife that I categorically didn’t want an epidural or pethidine, now at the suggestion of pethidine I remember just shouting to give me anything. Give it to me now!
The pethidine didn’t do anything for the pain levels, neither did the gas and air but it did slightly slow things down to the point where there were tiny gaps between the contractions enough to give me a breather and regain a bit of composure before the next one.
The next period of time is a bit of a blur to me. I was screaming that I felt I needed to push but the midwife didn’t believe me and I was getting really frustrated. I was finally examined at just before 8pm and was I was fully dilated. From 4cm to 10cm in only 3 hours, no wonder it felt intense.
At this point the contractions had really died off. I was told to start pushing but had no urge. I pushed for about an hour but I knew nothing was happening. A Doctor came in because the trace on the baby showed she was getting tired and it was explained that we needed to get her out now. I could have another go at pushing her out and then they’d need to help me out with a ventouse suction cap. The Doctor was so lovely and made me feel really safe. I was up in stirrups and the suction cap on her head and in two push/pulls she was born at 9:36pm. She had the cord wrapped around her neck twice which was why she wasn’t coming down.
Just like after my C Section, as soon as she was in my arms, the fact that I hadn’t had the perfect textbook, intervention free birth faded to insignificance. I had a healthy (but tiny at only 5lb 13oz) baby girl in my arms and I was in one piece.
Part of me does sometimes wonder what it would have been like if I’d not been hooked up to a monitor and been allowed use of the more comfortable birthing rooms in the midwife led unit with water pools etc.. but what does it matter? I’m not planning any more babies and I’m just really grateful that both of mine arrived safely without any drama.
I had a small cut and some stitches which healed in about a week but compared to my C Section recovery it was nothing. I was discharged from hospital the following lunch time. We even stopped off at our local pub for a Sunday roast on the way home because I felt so fine. I did get some funny looks from people in the pub stopping to ask how old this minuscule baby was when I answered, “18 hours”.
At the time, the whole experience felt overwhelming and I constantly felt like I wasn’t dealing with it well but I look back on it now, I was a warrior. A four hour labour with no epidural is something to be proud of.
Welcome to the world little Grace. How did we ever live before you came along?