It took a good half an hour for the contractions to begin. I laboured through them for 4 hours, bouncing on the birthing ball (cannot recommend those things enough), leaning on Gavin and standing swaying through most of it. Sitting down or lying down was NOT an option.
And it’s true, no one can really explain what a contraction feels like. It’s a weird hybrid of tightening muscles, period pain and downward pressure. It ain’t comfortable, but it is do-able. At one point, my contractions were literally off the scale with the midwife saying “There is no way you’re having these contractions and not dilating, shall we check how far on you are?”. I agreed, she examined me and… 2cms. My cervix had not budged one tiny bit since that morning when my waters broke.
I was deflated, but not defeated. I had until midnight to fully dilate (you can only be on syntocinon for 12 hours) and this was about 4pm. 8 hours… No problem, I could do this. I bounced more, I walked more and just when I was starting to struggle with the pain, I put my headphones on and leant against the bed. I later found out that at that very moment, a woman in the suite next door started screaming blue murder and Gavin looked at my Mum as if to say “Thank fuck she can’t hear that!”. (I have my brother to thank there, who briefly came up to the hospital with his headphones and chargers earlier in the process as we had forgotten ours!! Rookie mistake).
I was then visited by the consultant who broke the news that my platelets were dropping and if they dropped below 80, then I would be refused an epidural. She also mentioned that this meant if I needed an emergency cesarean and I hadn’t had the epidural catheter put in, that there was a chance I’d have to get put under and miss the birth. This was a no brainer… Put the epidural catheter in and if I needed the drugs, so be it, if not, I’d do it without. The anaesthetist was in the room pretty quickly and before I knew it, I was hunched over Gavin having a tube fed into my spine. Weirdest feeling ever. Unbeknownst to me, the drugs were hooked up and the pain went away. But let me tell you… At this stage I was not complaining!!
Time ticked by as I fell in and out of sleep. It was about 10:30pm at this stage and I was due for another examination to see how I was dilating… You guessed it. 2cms. I had 2 hours to make another 8cms happen before they had to turn the syntocinon off. Not long after I was examined, the worst sound filled the room… Our baby’s heart rate started to drop. At that moment a consultant burst in as she could see the trace from outside and was concerned, there was a bit of a panic while the consultant gave me an internal examination to tickle the baby’s head looking for a response in the heart rate. He responded and his heart rate steadied. At this point I felt sick with worry so when the consultant said “Sweetheart, baby isn’t happy and you aren’t progressing, it’s looking more and more like a cesarean section”, I just needed to know that our son was going to be ok.
After a final check (2cms…) and a few more drops in heart rate, the decision was made at midnight for c-section. The best part was yet to come… On the way to theatre I was shaking with nerves. Physically shaking. When I was brought into the anaesthetists room, I was faced with the most kick ass punk rocker girl covered in piercings with purple hair… My anaesthetist. I wish I remembered her name. She made our whole birthing experience so special, from the love and reassurance she gave me, to the music she put on during the procedure.
In fact, the entire theatre team were phenomenal. They knew that a c-section was so far removed from our original birth plan that they truly went out of their way for us. They gave us delayed cord clamping and allowed me skin to skin contact immediately after the birth. Apparently it’s very very rare that they will allow delayed cord clamping in theatre, but we got it!
We had been in hospital for 19 hours and our baby was about to be born. The moment of dawning hit me like a ton of bricks and I felt incredibly nervous. The c-section went without a hitch, although at one point the curtain fell and we looked up to see the surgeon on top of the table (apparently she had to get a bit of purchase to pull him out). That was weird. I had managed to hold myself together all day, not crying once when everything was going tits up and decisions so far from what I had hoped for were being made. But the moment my baby boy’s lungs hit the air and he started screaming, I completely and utterly lost it. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so hard in my life. The overwhelming sense of relief, happiness and sheer disbelief was a cocktail I was not expecting and it was incredible.
He was born at 3:13am on 9th February 2014, his due date. And he is by far the best little person Gavin and I have ever met.