As that magical due date came, I felt I’d reached the finish line after a long marathon (not that I’ve ever run one but I imagine the end of pregnancy is pretty much as exhausting 😂) I felt a pang of sadness. I’d had this little one all to myself, keeping me company everyday with those little kicks and hiccups and I knew it was time to share her. It was also a pang of panic, this is really it…how bad is it going to hurt? Will she be okay? Will I be okay? Can I do this? Just how much will life change…
I didn’t need to worry too much because 12 days later, she was still a bump!
I tried everything they say gets them on their way – spicy food, LONG walks, pineapple, bouncing on those giant birthing balls, sexy time…still nothing. Three sweeps with the midwife who on the first try delightedly announced ‘I can feel she has hair!’…nothing.
On that last sweep she told me that when I was at 11 days passed my due date I needed to phone up the birthing ward and let them know I would be in the following day to be induced, this was really not what I wanted to hear. I knew that inductions often end up in cesarean section births and I really wanted a natural water birth.
I called the ward at 7am after a night of zero sleep from all the excitement and they told me to come in straight away so I quickly showered, grabbed my hospital bag that was by this time part of the furniture from sitting there so long and set on our way to have our first baby together.
As I was given my bed and I changed into my gown I was told my induction would start an hour later and the excitement/nerves really kicked in, I really thought I’d be holding my baby girl that night until I was told that inductions are a slow process – this was Tuesday morning, she wasn’t born until Thursday!!! So anyone having an induction, be prepared for a wait!!!!
Like they said they would they came an hour later and inserted the first pessary, this wasn’t painful but wasn’t particularly comfortable, but really no worse than a sweep, some slight cramping and that’s about it. They hooked me up to a monitor and I thought ‘Here we go!!’
Women came onto the ward got their inductions, went into labour and went to have their babies what felt like constantly…I felt nothing.
I was reassured that it taking a long time was the norm and if after 24 hours I still wasn’t in labour they would insert another inductive pessary.
Hearing those women go into labour and cry and say how much it hurt really didn’t do much for my nerves and as the hours went by I knew it wasn’t happening anytime soon. My husband was sent home that night and I was woken every hour by the midwives checking up on me and monitoring this stubborn baby of mine.
The next morning at 8am I was told they would be doing another pessary at 10am. By this point I wasn’t holding much hope for anything to happen and they told me if nothing happened after 24 hours again they would do the drip induction which is very intense and meant my water birth would go out of the window.
My husband turned up after breakfast and not long after that my family did too. They brought me ‘keep you going’ snacks and moral support which I really needed by this point.
After 9 months of waiting these last few days of being overdue felt like forever. Not to mention I had gone my entire pregnancy stretch mark free but those last few days I almost saw them start to appear!!!
At 5pm a Doctor came and checked me over, he said he would do a final sweep before inserting another pessary and as he did the sweep he asked me ‘Are you feeling any pain?’ I said ‘nothing’ he said ‘any back pain?’ I shook my head…’you have a strong pain threshold then…you’re actually 5cm dilated and in full labour!’ My husband gave me a big supportive cheer (at this point I think he was pretty over the boring wait too!) and I was told I could go into the delivery suite and if I still wanted could have the water birth I dreamt of!
We got our things and walked to the new ward where we would have our baby and I had a few more checks and was told my urine sample was low in electrolytes so I needed some food to give me energy for the birth. They broke my waters with what I can only describe as a really long knitting needle with a hook at the end (not at all painful surprisingly) and that was it, the contractions HAPPENED!!!
To get my labour in full swing the midwives told me to go for a walk to the hospital shop and get myself some food and by this point my contractions were coming every 2-3 minutes and I remember laughing at how much they hurt. I picked my food and as my husband paid I hugged the ice cream freezer in the shop as a huge contraction took over my whole body, I hugged a few things on the walk back to the ward actually thinking about it, a pillar, a bin…just anything to hold onto and breath though them. By this point they were every minute and as we walked into the ward doors the midwife looked at me and said ‘I’ll get the pool ready then!’.
When I get asked how contractions feel I describe it like ‘A wave of pain through your body that gets stronger and stronger and just when you think you can’t take it much more it gets 10 times worse then completely disappears!’
The room was dimly lit and there was soft music playing in the background, my midwife so far came in and said goodbye as her shift had finished and I felt a little disheartened as she was so lovely and funny which was a great distraction, I met my new midwife and went through my journey so far and felt at ease with her instantly.
She checked how far I had dilated and I was at 7cm – this was around 7pm, and I got into the warm water which instantly relieved the pain. I felt totally relaxed in the water and over the next couple of hours I held onto my husbands arms which were cradling my shoulders and breathed in the gas and air with each contraction. The gas and air…amazing stuff and after 9 months of zero alcohol had me feeling tipsy! It makes your voice go low and I think I told the midwife I loved her… normal stuff right?!
The next couple of hours after that were a bit of a blur of painful contractions and at around 11:30pm she asked me if I felt ready to push, and I definitely did. She said she was just going to make sure I was fully dilated and checked me while I was still in the pool, her face dropped and she said I had gone down to 2cm dilated and my heart sunk – she then pulled her hand out of the water and I saw the pool fill with blood, I saw my husbands face go slightly pale and mouth to the midwife something…She asked me to get out of the water and go back into the room I started in, as I walked through the hallways I left blood on the floor, that’s when I realised something wasn’t right.
When I got on the bed they hooked me up to a monitor and saw her heart rate occasionally go quite high, they decided to give me an epidural to calm her down and within minutes had someone in to administer it. Nothing happened, I could still feel everything, after 30 minutes they gave me a top up but it didn’t do a thing – they told me that 1 in 100 epidurals don’t work!! Who knew?!
They checked me again and as before I was only 2cm dilated there was a little commotion and they told me I had started to haemorrhage again, they spoke between themselves and then announced they were going to take me for an emergency section – I cried, a lot.
My husband and the doctors reassured and calmed me down, by this point I was so worried about the baby and demanded they tell me she was okay quite a few times…little did I know my husband was mostly worried about me, being slightly out of it I wasn’t fully aware of what was going on, he had lost all colour in his face but did an amazing job at hiding his fear to keep me sane, even while getting into his blue scrubs.
They rushed me through to theatre where I was greeted by 9 members of staff, the amount of people in the room just for us worried me even more but I just wanted her safe and in my arms and as they gave me the spinal and the numbness spread and quickly stopped my contractions I calmed down, The room even became peaceful for a minute.
To keep my mind off of what was going on during the surgery I asked my husband to sing to me, he laughed and then began to sing a song I still can’t hear now without it bringing it all back and making me tear up – it worked and it was an emotional moment for us both – Mila was delivered within 15 minutes of entering theatre and was born to her Daddy singing Elvis.
Mila Kerensa Starie came into the world at 2:37am, August 28th 2014 weighing a healthy 9lbs exactly.
* A huge thank you to the staff at West Suffolk Hospital who looked after the three of us so incredibly well. Mila and I were in the best hands the whole time and the experience we had, although not the birth plan I had hoped for, turned out to be one I wouldn’t ever change! *
Nirvana’s birth in comparison to Mila’s was like Night and Day. Not a scary emergency but a relaxed, surreal and magical experience.
I went through my entire pregnancy knowing she would be born via caesarean section, my midwife straight away after seeing my notes told me that would be the safest option but warned me that when I had my consultation at the hospital they might try to convince me otherwise – apparently this is normal procedure as the Hospitals are very pro VBAC (Vaginal Birth after Cesarean) plus with the current state of the NHS, it’s a good money saving route.
I knew from hearing other people’s experiences they would try and talk me round to the VBAC option but ultimately it would be my decision. Not knowing the exact reason I heamoraged twice with my birth with Mila made me wonder if that would happen again in future labours, and I think quite understandably the idea of going through the same ordeal as last time didn’t really appeal to me. So in my mind from the minute I found out I was pregnant I knew I would always have a section.
The recovery from my first surgery was hard, and quite a shock to the system.
When you’re pregnant for the first time, have a completely healthy and quite frankly easy pregnancy you don’t really expect that to happen. I attended all the birthing classes where they teach you breathing techniques and how to deal with the pain of a natural delivery you don’t really think to Google ‘what’s the recovery like after a section’ – as an avid google researcher I had studied pretty much everything else!
I was not prepared at all the first time for any of it but this time round I knew what to expect and I knew I would need help with Mila and as I wouldn’t be able to pick her up for a while or drive for up to 6 weeks, I would need help with that too, so this time round I was able to prepare.
They also do say a recovery from an emergency section to a planned one is very different – this was so so true!!
My consultation with the Hospital to discuss my options came quite late in my pregnancy, three weeks before she would be born, this meant in the back of my mind throughout my pregnancy I was aware I might have a little fight on my hands.
I turned up to the Hospital feeling nervous with my notes in the ‘ Bounty bag’ and waited to be called in for my appointment, as soon as I walked into the office I recognised the Doctor sitting at her desk straight away, she was the Surgeon who delivered Mila and I felt a little relieved. She didn’t recognise me though, understandably!
I sat down and we chatted a little small talk then she got straight to it – “What are you hoping for in terms of your birth plan?” I told her straight – she smiled and and then proceeded to tell me the benefits of a VBAC and the huge list of horrific things that can happen with a c section, I think she could tell that I wasn’t overly happy about all of this info she was giving me so told me she legally had to…she then gave me my notes and went through my previous birth information and she said “Oh! It was me who did your surgery last time!” She continued to read and said she understood my decision, she asked me again if I was certain before asking me to sign a form agreeing to the risks. I have to say reading that 1 in 12,000 sections end up in the Mother dying stuck in my head for the remainder of my pregnancy but I still felt this was the safest option. After I signed the consent form she instantly reassured me I would be fine. She then got her diary out and we discussed the date she would be born, a very strange feeling!!!
September 23rd 2016 my baby would actually be here!!!
I was given a load of pamphlets and information regarding what I needed to do/not do including a note saying no make up or nail varnish was allowed for the surgery – there goes the nice picture of me and the baby after then I thought 😂.
As the end of pregnancy tiredness set in, I had 4 more days to go and had even made a countdown on my kitchen chalkboard which I excitedly changed every morning, I received a phone call from my midwife, she said to me ‘please don’t hate me Chantal…’ and I knew instantly my date had been changed…I was to pregnant for 4 more days than planned. I was gutted. But a medical emergency another lady had took priority.
This took my countdown to over a week, but the new date they gave me was my Mother in Laws birthday and I knew this would be amazing news for her so as soon as I got off the phone I called her and hearing how excited she was for her grandchild to be born on her Birthday made me feel much better about it.
So, I was going to be pregnant a little longer, it sucked but it gave me a few more days to spend with Mila and with me feeling a little…okay a lot guilty already about the upcoming new arrival taking up all of my time I focused on it being a blessing.
The night before my section after crying while putting my little ‘Only Child’ for one more time to bed, I took the tablet they gave me to take to neutralize stomachs acids and after midnight was not allowed to consume foods or fluids until after my baby was here. Like the night before Mila was born, I didn’t sleep a wink.
We had to be at the hospital at 7am and I was told at my consultation three weeks previous that Hospitals only have two elective sections a day, they do this as they don’t know how many emergencies there will be so can’t book too many.
I was told when they switched my date that I would be having my section first out of the two of us booked in that day so I knew, all being well I would be going in around 9am.
I was given my gown and those lovely green socks to stop DVT that you have to wear for a week after a c section and waited…this is when it was most surreal, sitting there casually chatting knowing you’d be holding your baby in the next hour or so. I busied myself by laying out her first outfit and making sure I had enough battery on my phone for pictures etc and thought about what she would look like, what she would weigh. What colour hair would she have…
“Are you ready?!” Two smiling doctors asked and my stomach flipped!
I walked with my husband who was ready in those familiar blue scrubs to the Pre-Theatre room where they got me prepared, checked me over and got me to answer a few medical questions before asking me to sign a form or two.
They then got my hooked up to my drip, laid me down and shaved my stomach area and administered an Enema, the staff again were all so so lovely and kept me chatting while we waited to go in. After a few minutes I was wheeled into Theatre and greeted by 8 members of staff including a man who I can only describe as the ‘Section Commentator’, I’m sure his actual job role was far more important but he was the man who talked us through everything that was going on before, during and after the surgery.
They then administer the anaesthetic, an injection in my back which was a little painful but nothing too bad and waited for the warm feeling to go down to my bum…this I don’t really remember much of with my first baby, I don’t remember feeling all of these processes at all as it was all so quick, I was still having contractions and feeling pretty out of it so it was really interesting to actually feel everything.
They then laid me down on the operating table and inserted the Catheter which would stay in until later that night when I could feel my legs and walk again to the toilet by myself.
It’s quite an interesting experience laying there completely naked from the chest down in a room full of people while you chat about things like the weather…oh motherhood!
They then brought the sheet up so I couldn’t see/touch anything and lowered the bed, tilted it slightly because of the babies positioning and started! (They check you have absolutely no feeling first before any incisions are made of course!).
A lot of machine beeping, doctors chatting to themselves, the ‘commentator man’ reassuring us the whole way through and a few little tugs here and there, then not long after being told “You’re going to feel some big tugging and pushing now” and you really do…it’s like someone is jumping on you and your whole body seems to move but bizarrely you don’t feel much more than a little uncomfortable, then… that beautiful cry!!!! The sound you wait for and a sound that will be so so familiar to you one day but that first cry is so new and you hear that little voice for the first time, Magic!
Nirvana Lily Starie, born at 9:48am on September 27th 2016, Weighing 8lb 7oz