My daughter, Scarlett, will be two in a few months, and I haven’t felt the urge to publish her birth story until now, although a slightly edited version did appear in our local NCT magazine shortly after the birth. It might have something to do with my best friend’s baby being due any day, and making me reminisce. This is the unedited, gory version, be warned.
While I know I started this as a home decorating blog, it’s expanded to be more home and family related, so read on if you want, don’t if you don’t, but here’s Scarlett’s birth story…
My daughter, Scarlett, was born at Airedale Hospital, after I was induced on my due date for medical reasons. I was told to call the labour ward at 8am on the morning of my induction and they told me to come in at 10am. I’d been having twinges on and off for a couple of weeks before my due date, but nothing followed them, despite me wishing very hard.
The midwives started me off with a pessary of prostaglandin that morning, which I described as being a cross between a tampon and a teabag! I had a few tightenings throughout the day and was feeling sick, which the midwives took as a good sign, but nothing more happened. After examination 24 hours later, the lovely midwife declared me to be 1cm dilated, which Barry said was what they tell women who haven’t dilated at all, just to give them hope.
At 12pm, the day after my due date, the midwife decided to give me the prostaglandin gel, which is left in for 6 hours to work its magic. I had to stay lying down for a good half hour, then my husband and I were allowed to go to the café in the hospital for something to eat. We didn’t linger too long because I kept making little involuntary noises, which looking back was of course the start of labour.
After we got back to the induction suite, the pains started building extremely quickly, until they were almost unbearable. All I had for pain relief was my TENS machine, which I remembered that I had at about 3pm! At 4pm I felt really sick and Barry just got a bowl in time. The midwife asked if I wanted to be examined then, or wait until 6pm, but I said to do it then because I was in so much pain. All I could do was hum during the contractions and boost the TENS machine up!
I was then examined again and had reached 4-5cm dilated in 4 hours, which meant I was in active labour and could move to a labour room. By this time, nobody could move, say or do anything during my contractions. In the brief moments between them, I remember telling Barry and the midwife that I was crazy, actually out of my mind with pain, and I wasn’t controlling it. It was at this point that I realised my labour wasn’t going to be like my sister-in-law’s, or those I’d seen on TV, as my body was completely taking over.
There was less than a minute between contractions when they managed to get me into a wheelchair in the induction suite. I felt awful, because there was another woman in there – she must have been terrified by the noises I was making! They asked if I wanted a water birth, as stipulated in my birth plan. I politely declined and requested an epidural.
I managed to get out of the wheelchair and sat up on the side of the bed in the labour room, with the help of Barry and a student midwife. All of a sudden, I started making an animalistic grunting sound and bending over my stomach. Next to delirious, I had no idea what was going on, but I could hear the midwife saying that they needed to get my legs up onto the bed, now!
The anaesthetist popped his head in just as they were dragging my legs up onto the bed (in between contractions) and the midwife told him it was too late – the baby was coming now. My contractions were literally seconds apart now, so I gave Barry the TENS machine to control. Not sure it was still helping by this stage, but I’d got into a rhythm with it. The student midwife tried to give me the mouthpiece for gas and air during a contraction and I couldn’t break off my focus to take it and learn how to use it, I just had to wait for those few seconds between contractions to take it, but only took one puff.
The midwife examined me when my legs were on the bed and was surprised to find I’d reached 9cm dilated just in the trip between the induction and labour rooms! She said she could see a lock of hair and broke my waters with the next contraction. In the contraction after that, the baby popped out all in one go!
They put Scarlett on my chest for skin-to-skin immediately. I couldn’t see her properly, but I remember seeing dark hair and wide, bright blue eyes.
I was then jabbed in the leg with syntocinon to deliver the placenta quickly.
I lost around 1.2 litres of blood and they were struggling to find where the blood was coming from, and all of a sudden the room filled with people. A midwife made a move to take Scarlett off me and I said to give her to her dad. I remember Barry being backed into a corner of the room, holding the baby. I was taken to theatre for two hours (where I got my belated epidural) and had stitches for two awful tears. Plus then half an hour in recovery, which was the longest half hour of my life – I just wanted to get back to my husband and new baby!
When I was wheeled back into the labour room, they snatched Scarlett off Barry and put her on my chest and shoved my boob in her mouth. Poor thing hadn’t eaten in the two and a half hours since she was born. They then wheeled me in the bed to the postnatal ward, where I was in a bay with three other beds.
I’d had an epidural, so couldn’t properly move my legs – I could just twitch my toes – when they sent Barry home an hour or two later. I was hooked up to a drip with a painful cannula with a short tube and a machine with an alarm that mysteriously went off every five minutes; I had a catheter in, and was shaky from losing so much blood. I was therefore very upset when they sent Barry home and I told the midwife I didn’t think I could cope. “What, with being a mother?”, came the question. I clearly meant I couldn’t cope that evening, as I couldn’t even pick my baby up if she started to cry. I barely slept, and ended up holding Scarlett on my chest all night as it was easier than buzzing for the midwife to pass her to me. When the epidural started to wear off, I could feel my stitches, which was worse! The midwife had to change Scarlett’s first nappy, as I couldn’t move, which upset me. Sending my husband home that night was the worst part of my whole birth experience.
I ended up staying in another night, and couldn’t wait to go home, my husband and I were sat waiting in our coats by the time they released me!
The memory is fading, but I’m glad I’ve written it all down so I don’t completely forget; after all, it’s what brought Scarlett to us, so it can’t be all that bad!