Monday 31st Januray- my due date:
I had an appointment to see my Midwife, Audrey on this day. (On a side- note, the doctor had wanted to see me for a vaginal examination and sweep on the 27th January (as that was the day he was in clinic), but I cancelled the appointment as I didn't want anyone fiddling around (quite literally!). I'm so glad I did, because it all happened by itself). Anyway, when she went to feel my tummy, she couldn't as it was rock hard, she asked me if I'd been having lots of these contractions throught the pregnancy and I said no (I can't really feel the braxton hicks), but I had been having those tightenings for a few days on and off. My Midwife said that a real contraction would be exactly like that but with pain. I felt quite pleased that I knew what I was looking for and that I'd been having these tightenings.
Over the next few days the tightenings came more and more regularly, I thought it might all begin to happen on 2nd February as I was having fairly regular (but only slightly painful) contractions. However, the contractions were still not coming regularly enough to go into hospital, I think they were about every half an hour. I remember them seeming really quite painful at night, but in retrospect they weren't that bad! They did give me a good idea of what it would all feel like though, and I started to realise what labour was all about.
3rd February 2011
The contractions were coming every 4 minutes, they felt painful, but were very manageable, my waters had also broken so I decided to ring the hospital and they asked me to come in. We arrived at about 1am. The midwife on call was called Carly and she was really lovely. We felt that she was really supportive of our desire to avoid interventions so I was happy for them to do an initial CTG for 15 minutes (where they monitor the baby's heart rate and the contractions). This was all fine, so the next question was -where was I at. I felt that I was in very early labour as although I needed to breathe through the contractions and they were regular they didn't feel that strong. They examined me at about 3am (The exam was pain free for me and didn't upset me at all which was a nice surprise) and I was the dreaded 1cm dilated! Carly was really encouraging and nice about it though and they said my cervix felt very thin (effaced) which was a really good thing. They wanted to keep me in because of the previous c section and said it would be a good idea to keep mobile to encourage progress. I was worried that I'd be really tired so I gave myself an hours sleep time and then I got up and walked around (my contractions definitely slowed when I was lying down). At 7.30am Carly said goodbye as she was going home to sleep! I was sad to see her go.
In the morning, the doctor came in to talk to us. This was the part I had been dreading. Jonny and I had done lots of research about the risks of a vaginal birth after caesarian, and had come to the conclusion that we were willing to take the risk of not being continuously monitored during labour so that I could be more mobile and use the birthing pool. The doctors recommend continual monitoring, as the best way to predict a scar rupture is by an increase in the baby's heart rate, however the risk of complete rupture is only 0.09-0.8%, we decided that based on this we would rather be monitored intermittently. So although we had spoken to all the right people and written all the right letters the doctor was obliged to come in and inform us of the risks we were taking. The thing I found tough about it was that it was clear that the doctor was only advising us for the sake of some paperwork, rather than genuine concern. It was actually quite upsetting when he mockingly read through my birth plan out loud. It made me feel like I was a child and unsurprisingly my contractions stopped the whole time he was in the room and as soon as he left I burst into tears! All that said, it was a great opportunity for us to stand up for ourselves and Jonny was amazing and sent the rather flustered Midwife off to read our birth plan (I don't think they're used to people not taking the advice of the doctors)! When she came back in the room she was like a different person, very supportive and genuine. She asked if I wanted to be examined again to see if things were moving on. I said yes, and at 9am I was still 1cm, but almost completely effaced. Again, she was really encouraging and said I was doing really well, but they said it would be better if I moved up to the ante natal ward and tried to relax and walk around the hospital to get things going.
We moved up to the ante natal ward at about 11am, Jonny had gone home to get some movies and snacks. In a way I was quite glad that I was seen as a more high risk patient because it was nice to be able to make a sort of home at the hospital and relax, knowing we wouldn't be sent home. At 1.50 I wanted to know where I was at, as the contractions felt really painful, I was contacting about every 3 minutes lasting 40 seconds or so, I also remember feeling a real pressure on my bottom. So the examination showed I was fully effaced and 2-3cm dilated. I think she offered me some co-codamol at his point which I later went and asked for- didn't help though! I remember feeling really anxious that I wasn't yet at the 4cm stage which would be considered 'labour' by the hospital. I kept thinking- how does anyone do this! The anxiety started to come as I wondered how much worse it would get and could I cope?! It helped early on to keep moving through the contractions- swaying etc. It was nice to be reminded that the pain wasn't hurting my body, it was doing a really good thing!
Things started to really hot up after this. I tried to go for a walk but immediately wanted to go back to my room, it was horrible having contractions in front of people! When we got back to the room, we put a River Cottage DVD on, but I couldn't watch it, I was having contractions every couple of minutes, and the pain wasn't going away completely between them. I think Jonny had been hoping to settle down for a nice movie marathon, but I wanted to hold on to his neck at every contraction and have him rub my back! It was really intense and I didn't want to sit down, because it felt unbearable if a contraction started when I wasn't able to sway etc. It was hard, because I felt tired to, I remember lying down a bit and shouting for Jonny to pull me up every time I felt a contraction coming! At this point, a nice lady who we had met previously to discuss our birth plan came to see us. She was really great, she told me 'short breath in, long breath out' and to 'stay in the moment'. I think she could see that I was tensing up between contractions in the anticipation of the next one coming. Staying in the moment was such good advice, as it meant that when the pain wasn't so bad I could actually relax. I remember I was quite anxiously trying to work out how I could cope better, until I realised that there was nothing I could do to make the pain any easier or make it go away. This was happening to me whatever I did, all I could do was try and breathe and get through it. That realisation really helped.
At 5pm I asked to be examined again as the contractions were continuous and very intense. They said I was 7cm dilated! So I had progressed really well and gone from 2-3cm to 7cm in 3 hours, no wonder it was painful! This was the moment I had been waiting for- I could finally get into the birthing pool for some pain relief, I remember saying to Jonny "I can't WAIT to get in that pool!" So we went down to labour ward, and unfortunately it was extremely busy that evening and there was already somebody using the birthing pool. The Midwife on duty was very unapologetic about this and showed us into a normal room. I was gutted, but tried to pull myself together, I couldn't help thinking: "Get that bitch out of MY birthing pool!" The Midwife left us alone a lot, only coming in to check the baby's heart rate. I remember at one point I was mid contraction and she asked if I would be willing to have an MRSA test done, I was like "Can we talk about this after?!" So these were definitely the transition contractions, whoa mumma, I have never felt anything like it before. The only thing that got me through, was having Jonny there. Every time I had a contraction I would say "Jonny" in a panicked voice and stare into his eyes as he said encouraging things! The poor guy was totally wiped out afterwards, but definitely my hero! I remember that there were quite long pain free gaps between these contractions, where it almost felt beautifully eerily and still. It was so hard to relax and enjoy the break though as I knew what was coming. I felt really tired too at this point. I then realised I could have some gas and air, so I asked for that and found it AMAZING! It really got me through the last bit. Jonny was dumped at this point (much to his relief I'm sure!) and the gas and air took over. The only thing I found confusing was when to start taking it, because you really need to take it as soon as you feel a twinge of a contraction coming so you get the full whack mid contraction, but I'm pretty sure I kept taking it way too early just in case! The main thing it did was to take away the anxiety. I suddenly felt really relaxed and happy. It also gave me something to focus on which took my mind off the pain. I remember saying to Jonny (after repeatedly saying I can't do this): "I really think I can do this" with a bright smile on my face. At this point Jonny said I was only allowed two puffs of it per contraction! According to Jonny, I also muttered something that sounded like "Don't worry you can all look at my Vaj", which he thought was funny because it sounded completely unlike me!
Soon, I felt myself pushing around the mid point of the contraction- I couldn't stop myself, but the Midwife on charge told me not to push until I felt the urge to push right from the beginning of the contraction. In retrospect I think this was bad advice as I'm pretty sure I was ready to push before I actually did if you know what I mean! But it worked out so well as the lovely Midwife, Carly who had been on duty the night before came back on duty and took over from the not so nice Midwife! She examined me at 8.45pm and she could feel Jireh's head, so pushing was commenced!
The pushing contractions were very different to the others, I almost couldn't tell they were there, it was strange, but the pain was very intense from the baby actually moving down and out! I also had really big gaps between contractions, it was almost as though my body was taking a break to regain energy for the pushing! At around 9.30, we were all waiting for the next contraction, it was slightly awkward, lying there exposed with us all twiddling our thumbs! The Midwife who had come in to help deliver said that we needed to get the baby out as they didn't want me pushing too long with my history. She asked me to tweak my nipples! As soon as I did I got the mother of all contractions in which his head came out, turned and then his body came out too! I still made sure to listen to Carly's directions for this bit as I didn't want to tear. And there he was all tiny and warm and slippery! He was placed straight into my arms and the cord was left to pulse.
It was an amazing feeling, holding him, I couldn't believe how tiny he was or how perfect! Also, it just felt so good to finally meet him!
Look at that beady eye!
I did it!
Jireh meets his Daddy
Such a wise looking little man
I did it!
Jireh meets his Daddy
Such a wise looking little man
Our lovely Midwife, Carly
He weighed 6 pounds 11 ounces!
Our Midwife was so lovely, again and just let us hold Jireh for ages and encouraged me to feed him etc. I'm pretty certain that this is why the placenta was delivered so easily. The hospital had advised me to have the injection to speed up the delivery of the placenta, as again due to my history I had an increased risk of haemorrhage. I didn't want the injection, as I really wanted to experience the whole thing as it was intended to be- although I did give them a blood sample to ensure that if the worst happened they were prepared. Beautifully, the placenta came out only 14 minutes later, it was so easy! I didn't tear from the birth but did graze a little so the 'clean up' after wasn't so bad.
So basically the whole thing couldn't have gone better, and the main thing is that we now have the most beautiful baby boy ever! At the time I thought to myself 'I'm never doing this again'! But now, I think, I'll do it again and maybe even again after that! It's incredible how you forget the trauma of the experience and also how worthwhile it all is when you are left with a beautiful little person! I do feel incredibly lucky that it went so well this time after the previous cesarian, I feel totally at peace now about both births and both experiences somehow suit the personalities of my children. I can honestly say now that Amber's birth was just as beautiful as Jireh's but in a totally different way.
So here's to Jireh Joel, our new little person, I wonder what he will do with his 'wild and precious life?'