If you’ve read my third trimester pregnancy diary, you’ll know that I went into hospital for my induction on 11th August. I left it on a bit of a cliffhanger (oops), so here is the rest of my labour and birth story:
On Friday 12th August, the midwife woke me up at 3:30am to assess me again. She said that they were now going to break my waters, as I’d been having contractions through the night and the emergencies in the delivery suite had now mostly been dealt with. They said that, as soon as a doctor was available, they would come back to break my waters.
At around 5am, I was examined again and was now 2cm dilated. I was quite disappointed by this, as I’d been having contractions since 7pm the night before and hoped I was further along! My waters were broken around an hour later, which I was terrified for, but actually I couldn’t feel anything until they went. My contractions quickly started getting more painful - I could feel them all in my lower back.
I tried using the birthing ball and having another bath (which the midwife ran for me and made really relaxing with battery operated candles and aromatherapy), but they didn’t really help. I was given paracetamol and ibuprofen, then started using gas and air to breathe through the contractions.
At around 7/8am, I was examined again and the midwife was shocked to discover that I was 9cm dilated!
I’d gone from 2cm to 9cm within about an hour on just paracetamol and ibuprofen, alongside gas and air.
She said she was expecting me to only be 3/4cm and couldn’t believe it. She said I was so calm for someone at 9cm! As I had Gestational Diabetes, my blood sugars were taken and checked every hour during labour, and luckily remained stable throughout. If they had become unstable, I would have had to have an insulin drip inserted to control my sugars.
I continued to breathe through my contractions and started active labour at around 12pm. B was alternating spraying me with cooling spray (as we were in the middle of a heatwave!) and passing me cups of water. I started pushing, but the midwife said that baby wasn’t in the best position, as she had turned back to back and was ‘looking the wrong way’. She was still showing as absolutely fine on the monitor, but her position made things more difficult.
After 2 hours of this, a doctor assessed me and suggested a trial of instrumental delivery with forceps. This was something that B and I had wanted to avoid, but by this point I was absolutely exhausted from the lack of sleep, hadn’t eaten anything all day except from a banana and I was worried about baby. They said that they would have to do this in theatre, as if forceps didn’t work, I would need an emergency C-section. I asked B what he thought I should do and he said it was my call, so I decided to accept this.
Going into theatre was one of my biggest labour fears during my pregnancy, but I felt really looked after and that this was the best decision for the safe delivery of my baby.
They talked through the risks and my medical history, then gave me a consent form to sign. I could see that B was really worried, and I was petrified, so I closed my eyes, used the gas and air and breathed through my contractions whilst I waited to be taken down to theatre. Both B and the midwife said I was strangely very calm, considering I was still in active labour, 9cm dilated and pushing whilst waiting to go down to theatre (in the hopes that baby would come by herself!) I was waiting to go down to theatre for a few hours, as there were emergencies that needed priority. As baby and I were still stable and my contractions continued, they decided to leave me until there was a space for me in theatre.
At 5pm, I was wheeled down to theatre. B was taken away to quickly scrub up and I was given spinal anaesthetic whilst my midwife stroked my hands and tried to keep me calm. I remember just thinking about staying as still as possible whilst breathing through contractions. The spinal didn’t actually hurt as badly as I thought it would, it just stung a little like having a blood test. Once it started working, it felt lovely! Like warm water running through my legs and it took away all of the pains and pressure I’d been feeling in my lower back for hours. I commented this to the anaesthetist who laughed. She then checked I couldn’t feel anything by placing what looked like a cold ice-cream scoop on various parts of my lower body. Once she was satisfied, I was given a drop of oxytocin into my cannula in my hand and we were ready to start.
My midwife was feeling my stomach and checking the monitor for contractions. Once I had a contraction, I was told to push (which was so strange as I couldn’t feel anything in my lower half!) whilst the doctor used the forceps.
Two contractions were all it took for baby girl to enter the world at 17:36!
Once she was out, the room was filled with the gorgeous sound of her crying. I was so relieved that she was here safely that I promptly burst into tears as she was handed to me. I looked around at B and saw that he also had tears in his eyes.
Whilst I was holding baby and just staring at her in shock, I was being stitched up as I’d had an episiotomy and I’d also had a second-degree tear, which I didn’t know until later. I had also lost a litre of blood in the theatre, so once I was stitched up I was wheeled into a recovery room to be assessed.
Baby was handed to B whilst I was being moved onto a different bed, which made me cry again.
Nothing prepares you for the overwhelming feelings of love you feel for your partner and baby when you see them together for the first time!
After my short stay in the recovery room, I was wheeled back to our room and debriefed on what had happened. I was still numb from the waist down and completely detached from what had just happened as I was too interested in staring at our beautiful baby girl.
Although it was obviously scary, all of the staff were so lovely and made me feel really safe and looked after. Despite my labour not being anything like I had hoped for or planned, I immediately saw it as a really positive experience. The staff went above and beyond to make me feel as calm and safe as possible, and I was so proud of myself for coping with the pain really well. As someone who was SO terrified about giving birth, especially with going into theatre, I really shocked myself with how calm I stayed throughout and it still feels really empowering.
Penelope Belle entered the world on 12/08/22 at 17:36, weighing 8lb 2oz and measuring 53cm tall. Although I have shared an announcement photo of her, I’ve decided that I don’t feel comfortable with sharing her all the time so publicly on here and on Instagram, just to be on the safe side. I will mention little things here and there, and I may share some photos (possibly without showing her face), but as of right now I just don’t feel like I want to post her online all the time! I didn’t know how I would feel about it until she arrived, but my protective motherly instinct is to avoid sharing too much of her. It's going to be hard, though, as obviously I am now on maternity leave and with her all day every day! It's going to take me a while to find my comfort zone with what I will/won't share of her.
I know that this post won't be for everyone to read as it's so personal, and it might be a post that's only really important to me, but I thought I'd write it anyway for my own memories and to help anyone who is currently pregnant. I know that it really helped me to read other people's labour and birth stories to prepare myself, so I thought that writing mine might help someone else too. If you have read this far, then thank you! I hope it was useful/helpful/interesting to read.