I wish I could tell you I had a trauma-free, relaxed birthing experience. One with the sounds of whales playing in the background, whilst I gently breathed through the contractions… Where waiters brought me glasses of champagne for pain relief and little canapés of smoked salmon for energy… What? A girl can dream. I can say this though – thankfully Busby’s actual labour was “quick”.
|My favourite “you’ve had a baby” card so far!
The Waiting Game
It all began on the Wednesday; I had an appointment to be induced on the Day Assessment Unit and then the plan was to go home and ride it out until I was dilated enough to be admitted to the Labour ward. However, Grape hadn’t been moving as much as usual that morning (ditto the previous morning) so I was admitted to be induced. Four hours of very stressful waiting later I was strapped to a CTG monitor, and was given the green light for the pessary. I was given a high score on the Bishops Score and told by Midwife #2 that this pessary would probably do the job as my cervix was “favourable”, and my waters would be broken later that evening if they didn’t break by themselves before. Skip forward to half past midnight…after being examined by Midwife #3 I was still only 2cm dilated, she didn’t think my cervix was favourable and couldn’t break my waters. After inserting another pessary, she advised that Nick and I get some sleep, and she kindly found him a mattress.
3am – I am woken up by my waters breaking and the contractions starting thick and fast. Nick is fast asleep on the mattress, and I spend a good few minutes trying to wake him up before I buzz for a midwife (he was there in his boxers and thought he’d appreciate having more clothes on!) Enter Midwife #4 who advises I have a bath to help with the contractions. Bathroom is opposite post-natal ward and is full to the brim with sleeping babies… I am so worried that I am going to wake them, so try breathing through the contractions as quietly as I possibly can! However, as soon as I sink into the warm water I feel the very painful and uncomfortable urge to push, so we make our way back to our room and I inform Midwife #4 of my urge to push; she dismisses this as I’m only 2cm dilated (she doesn’t re-examine me). I request pain relief as per my “birth plan”… Entonox is refused but I am offered paracetamol and codeine, which unsurprisingly doesn’t help at all. My contractions are becoming more frequent by now so I’m transferred to the Labour ward.
The Labour Ward
We’re taken upstairs in the lift and shown to our birthing room by Midwife #5. By this point I am so exhausted as have been awake since 5:30am on Wednesday morning, and am in so much pain I feel like I might die. Honestly. My contractions were at least every minute and once again my urge to push was ignored by the Midwife. It was suggested that I try a different position so found myself perched on a birthing ball, the front of a chair and then kneeling on a bean bag (the room looked like a soft play area when I was fully conscious again). Eventually, at around 7am, Midwife #5 gave in and let me have pethidine. She told Nick that I would do well to get some sleep as she didn’t think Grape would be here before the afternoon/evening as I wasn’t fully dilated (she still hadn’t examined me), so they lifted me up onto the bed… I can remember is the intense agony of my stomach going hard with every contraction and Nick holding my hand. I remember repeatedly screaming “Get her out of me! Please! Get her out of me!”, but other than telling Nick to ssh once I was remarkably polite to him.
A Dramatic Entrance
Midwife #5 hands over to Midwife #6, who examines me as soon as she begins her shift.
“Hannah, you beauty, you’re fully dilated!” she exclaims.
“I knew it!” I say, “I’ve been wanting to push since I had my bath”
“Really? Did you tell Midwife #5?”
“Yes. And Midwife #4!”
Ahh communication in the NHS…
I get up off the bed and instantly feel better, and like I really really REALLY need to push now! Midwife #6 finally hands me the entonox and pops out of the room to let the Chief Midwife know that Grape is going to arrive fairly soon; by the time she comes back into the room I’m kneeling on the bed with a head nearly poking out! She advises Nick of the Assistance Button and the Emergency Button (“but we won’t be needing to use that one”) just in case help is needed. A few pushes later Grape lands on the bed – I thought Midwife #6 had caught her – and she’s placed in my arms. I look down at the little person who has been growing inside me for 9 months, and through the pethidine, entonox and shock, I am met with such an intense rush of love for her. She gives a small cry and turns purple.
“Midwife #6 – I don’t think she’s breathing!” I stutter. Midwife #6 takes Grape off me and calmly says to Nick: “Press the emergency button”. The next thing I know Grape’s cord is cut and there are a team of Doctors with the crash cart trying to pump oxygen into her lungs. Nothing prepares you for that feeling of dread. Your mind descends into the darkest of places. “Is my baby going to die?” swamps your thoughts. Nick and I stare in horror, tears pouring down our faces. Finally Grape gives another cry and starts turning pink. The Doctors confirm she is ok and she’s handed to me again. It turns out you shouldn’t give pethidine to a mother an hour and a half before she gives birth – and if communication had been better, if Midwife #5 had listened to me and not just dismissed my pain as first-time labour inexperience, we could have been spared those terrifying few minutes where our baby wasn’t breathing.
Labour was all over in just under 6 hours, which is considered quick for a first time Mutti. I’m extremely thankful it didn’t last any longer!
After an hour or so of staring at Grape in awe, love and all-consuming devotion we still hadn’t come up with a name. Our favourite name – Matilda – didn’t suit her, so we were racking our brains for other names that had been on our list. Busby was the first name we came up with for the list back in April/May time and it suited her perfectly. Beautiful Busby.
I hope I haven’t put those of you out there who don’t have children yet off. Yes it was the most painful thing I will probably ever experience in my life, but it was completely and utterly worth it for the little bundle of Busby at the end. I spent the entirety of labour saying to Nick “I’m not having anymore. I’m not going through this again.” but despite the pain there is nothing quite like the elation you feel right at the end when you know you’re about to meet your baby. But hey, that could’ve just been the entonox!