So for those of you who have followed this pregnancy, you’ll know that because of the issues with Harley’s birth I was under consultant care. So a lot of preparation for labour and birth I couldn’t really do until the very end as I was waiting to see whether the consultants would allow me to have a spontaneous labour. I literally hit the 37 week mark and all of the pre-labour symptoms started kicking in, which was new to me as I didn’t experience anything with Harley. On the Monday I started to lose my plug, in bits and pieces, but it was definitely coming away. So I knew that my body was gearing up to do something, which for me was amazing as I was so keen to do this all by myself this time.
All day Tuesday and Wednesday I had Braxton Hicks contractions every 30-60 mins, so even though I’ve experienced BH the whole way through I thought that the frequency of them maybe meant something real would be right around the corner. All day Thursday I was back to normal, no real signs of anything, just the odd BH until the evening when I was bouncing on the birthing ball and I was having tightenings every 10 minutes for about 6 hours. They didn’t get any more painful or any closer together, but they were frequent enough that I mentally started preparing myself for what could happen in the next few days.
Over Friday and Saturday I had lots of random tightenings on and off throughout the day, but nothing of any significance again, so I’d kind of given up on the thought that labour would be happening any time soon. Saturday afternoon I had a pregnancy massage booked in, which was wonderful, it was so nice to just relax for an hour and I really felt like all of my muscles that had been tense and stretched over the last 9 months, were all loosened up and I felt super chilled. Over Saturday night I didn’t feel much movement from little M, so Sunday morning I called up the triage line at the hospital and they asked me to come in just to get checked over.
I think I left ours at 7am on Sunday and got hooked up to the monitors to check baby’s movements and heart rate etc. The monitor gave the all okay after 50 minutes so the midwife spoke to the doctors and they were happy to offer an examination and a stretch and sweep if I wanted one as I was having mild tightenings just not frequently enough to worry about. At 9:45am the midwife examined me and did the sweep, and she told me I was already 4cm, and she wanted me to go home and make sure I was labour ready as she reckoned it would be less than 24 hours until I would be back in having a baby. As protocol they also arrange a scan with the ultrasound department to see if there’s an underlying issue to the change in babies movements, so she informed me that the scan department would call me Monday morning to arrange this, if I hadn’t already given birth.
I got home and we got super organised, cleaned the whole house, put away things that hadn’t found a home yet, got the cupboards stocked up, got mum in the loop as she was in charge of Harley for when we were in labour. I then danced, walked, bounced on the ball until bedtime that night. I lost my bloody show and was having cramps 10-15 minutes apart, so I had a bath and headed to bed. I was up every half an hour that night, partially due to the mild contractions and partially due to the anticipation of what I definitely thought was going to happen. From about 5:30am on Monday I was having mild cramps every 10 minutes, so my plan was to try and speed them up a bit as nothing much seemed to be happening.
Monday morning me and Harley did a 2.5 mile walk, and on our way home the scan department called to say they had an appointment at 1:45pm for me. So my mum came over to watch Harley and I headed back in to hospital. I had my scan done and then got sent up to day assessment to wait for the doctor to have a look over the scan results and my notes. The midwife came to see me after about 20 minutes and said that they would like to offer induction which, as I was already 4cm, would be broken waters and a hormone drip. We decided to go ahead with it and I was told they had space to do it that afternoon, or I could come back in the morning. I chose to get it started as soon as possible as we were already prepared and ready to go into labour from all of the signs for the previous week.
We went into delivery at about 4pm, with our 2 midwives, we both felt pretty relaxed about the whole process as we had the same thing done with labour for Harley, so we felt we knew what kind of experience to expect. I got hooked up to the monitors to see everything was okay before they started the process. I was on there for just under an hour and had a cannula fitted in my hand for the hormone drip, it’s such a gross experience. I was literally dripping in sweat by the time they had finished doing it, as I have “wobbly” veins so there was a lot of wiggling around to get it in properly.
They could see on the monitor that i was having tightenings every 10 minutes or so, and once they broke my waters (5:10pm) they went to speak to the head midwife. She decided that because I was having mild contractions and baby was happy that they would let me have 2 hours on my own to see if we could progress labour before resorting to the drip. I got taken off the monitors and was allowed to roam freely around to try and move things along. My midwives headed off on their break and suggested if I needed to eat anything, that I do so now as I wouldn’t be able to eat if I was on the hormone drip,
James left to go and get the food bag from the car, he was out of breath by the time he got back as he ran to the car park and back. By the time he got back I was experiencing quite strong contractions and was having to lean over the bed and breathe quite hard to get through them. I had a few of these contractions and then did the inevitable labour poo, so had to clean myself up before the next contraction hit, which felt a little like mission impossible. The contractions then seemed to ramp up in intensity and frequency, and after 3 more I was over the back of the bed and was struggling to counter the pain with just breathing. I vaguely remember James pressing the call button during a contraction and the head midwife appeared and offered gas and air.
As I was having the next few contractions, I was strapped back up to the monitors to see how baby was coping, and to watch the contractions on the graph. I then heard my midwives come back off their break but I wasn’t really paying much attention as I had hit my “wall”. My mum always said you hit a wall of pain where you tell yourself that you can’t do this, and that’s when you’re baby is coming, I remember saying to James, “I’ve hit the wall, which sounds ridiculous.” As to me I felt like there was no way that I had been in labour long enough to have hit my wall already.
I felt the urge to push and panicked and forgot my breathing, but James was incredible and literally coached me through every single contraction. He reminded me how to push and kept my breathing steady. In between the contractions he gave me water, I never realised how dry your mouth gets on gas and air. At one point I actually heaved where my throat was so dry. I remember one of the midwives holding warm cloths on me in between contractions, she said it would just help support everything as I was pushing, so I think they were worried about the speed of the labour and me doing damage to myself.
The insane amount of pressure I had when I was pushing was not a feeling I’ll forget any time soon. It was hard to focus on breathing as it was a really intense pain and I had to ride it out until the next contraction meant I could push again. The only way I’ve been able to describe the pressure to anyone is like if you’re really really constipated and you’re about to do that poo, like the sheer amount of pressure in your bum is awful, but you know when it’s over the relief will be incredible.
I think the hardest bit of the birthing process this time was the shoulders. Once Harley’s head was out the rest of him just followed straight away. But with Marnie it took me a few really hard pushes to get her shoulders out. And when she was born she literally flew out as well as most of my waters, which covered one of the midwives as they literally popped out behind her. I literally dropped against the bed when she was born as the relief of pain and pressure was instantaneous.
I came away from the whole process fairly unscathed, a very small first degree tear that didn’t require stitches, and a few broken blood vessels on my face and shoulders. Although the placenta seemed to take so much longer to come away this time, even though I had the injection given to me to help it release. I think it took about 25 minutes to come away, and the whole time I had the worst adrenaline shakes, my legs just kept twitching. James said the placenta looked like a massive steak, and then the midwife started cutting into it and it wasn’t quite so appealing to look at! I didn’t look at it but he said it was massive, and if I’m correct they’re about the same size as the baby, so really it’s like carrying 2 humans around for 9 months.
It was a totally different birth process to Harley’s, even though I thought it would be similar with having to have my waters broken. I think this time I struggled more, and it was more intense and painful. But I wouldn’t have got through it so well without James talking me through every minute of it, he could totally be a doula. So we welcomed little Marnie into the world on 15th April at 6:31pm, after 17 minutes of active labour and 24 minutes of pushing, weighing 8lb2oz.