Last week, on the 23rd July 2016, I gave birth to an incredible baby boy, who makes me so incredibly proud and happy.
This is the story of his birth, although I would like to caveat this with the following; no amount of birth stories, One Born Every Minute, parenting groups etc, would have prepared me for birth. Each birth is so different, and the pain/emotions so intense, that nothing I’ve experienced before comes close, and I will never be able to articulate that accurately to another person.
On Friday 22nd June, at around 5.30am, my waters broke. It wasn’t the crazy gush or the slow trickle I had been told about, somewhere in between. We went to the hospital, and I was checked by two midwives (one trainee, one qualified) in the midwife led unit that I intended to give birth in. I was told I was only 1cm dilated, and a scan confirmed I had no waters left. I was told that unless I developed contractions in the next 24 hours, I would not be able to have the baby in the ward I wanted to because I would need to be hooked up to a drip to speed up my contractions.
Overnight (from Friday in to Saturday), I did start having contractions. These hurt a lot more that I was expecting, and I did not sleep at all- they were between every 9 and 5 minutes, but there was no pattern to them. When I went back in to hospital on the Saturday morning, an examination showed I was 3cm dilated but that because my water had broken 24 hours before, both baby and I were now at risk of infection, and so I was taken off to a delivery room. There, the midwives decided that it would be best for me to go on the drip to speed every thing up, but as someone has misplaced/misfiled my notes (I guess this is what can happen when you change your surname mid pregnancy), we had to wait 2 and a half hours for my notes to be found so that the Doctor could prescribe the drugs we needed. I was hooked up to a drip, and the dosage was increased every 15 minutes.
In the meantime, I was on gas and air. My my my, how I love gas and air. I need a supply of that hooked up and home for days where I can’t get my hair to sit right, the hoover explodes and it rains just after I’ve done a huge load of washing! It really did help with the early contractions.
After an hour of being on the drip, I was really sad to hear that I was still only 3cm dilated. By this stage, the contractions were becoming unbearable- I had the gas and air constantly. I had always said I would be open to using any pain relief during the birth, and so asked what would be the next step. I was told diamorphine, so had an injection of that into my side. I don’t know if it was just me, but this did nothing for the pain. I asked the midwife about arranging an epidural, and was told that it could be a while to arrange depending on if the anesthetist was in theatre or not, so I asked if we could make inquiries and get my signed off for one in case I wanted to go ahead.
The next hour was horrendous. The anesthetist came, spoke to me, and then went off to get the goods to deliver the epidural. By this stage, I was a mess. I was sweating so much it felt like the sweat was literally pouring off me. I was crying, apologising to everyone for being so loud as I struggled through the contractions. In the back of my head, I kept thinking “I’m only 3cm dilated, I can’t do this, they are going to have to cut this baby out of me because I can’t do this”.
The epidural was administered, on the third attempt, as the poor woman had to deal with my body contorting and writhing around during each contraction. I remember saying that I was getting the urge to push (well, that and that I felt like I needed to poo!), and the anesthetist apparently asked the midwives if they wanted to check my progress. For whatever reason (I’m guessing they wanted to keep invasive checks to a minimum because of the infection risk), this was declined and eventually I had the epidural without issue. I also wee’d myself a few times during this hour. Childbirth= not glamourous.
When a check was eventually done, it was found that I was actually 10cm dialted. Yep, 10cm.
So in an hour, I’d gone from 3 to 10. That’s why I was in such pain. That’s why I had to urge to push. The hormone drip had obviously done it’s job, and with hindsight I wish someone had checked to see how far dilated I was before I’d had the epidural.
The pushing is a bit of a blur now. I was sat up for a time, then on all fours, then back sitting. I remember telling Alex that I didn’t think I could do it. I kept asking how many more pushes until I was done. It took around 40 minutes until I heard that the head was out, and a few minutes later the rest of his body followed.
In the instant that I saw him, all the tiredness and pain left me. I was transfixed, looking at this little, tiny, crying baby that was being held in front of me. Half dazed, I turned to Alex who was completely entranced by our tiny human. He was put on my chest, and I held him as though I would never let go. He was perfection, and I couldn’t quite believe he was mine and here and just how deep and immediate my love for him was.
Alex went to make calls as they stitched me up (I had two rips from the birth), and I tried to breast feed for the first time. After what could have been anywhere between 10 minutes and an hour (time seemed to stand still at this point), baby was taken off me and weighed. 6lbs 10oz. Alex held him for the first time. I won’t be putting the photo on this blog, but my new favourite photograph in the world is one of Alex holding the baby with this look of complete and utter love in his eyes. I didn’t think I could love Alex any more until I saw him hold our son, but I fell for him all over again in that instant.
We had to stay in hospital overnight so that baby could be monitored for infection. It was a long, tiring night, but I will always remember laying in bed, just looking at him in his little plastic cot.
We decided on the name Warren Francis Walsh, although we have already taken to calling him Wren for short. Every day I fall more and more in love with this boy, and I’m sure it will only deepen in time.