Due date: 14/ 03/ 2016

Birth date: 21/03/2016

Weight: 7lbs 9oz

Length of labour (if you can remember): 56 hours – from waters breaking

Baby number: 1

How did you feel during your pregnancy?

I had a great pregnancy, a little bit of nausea in the first three months but other than this I was extremely lucky. I loved being pregnant <3

What were you most looking forward to?

Being a family and holding our baby for the first time. I adore children and couldn’t wait to experience everything our baby.

What did you do to prepare for the birth of your baby?

I did pregnancy yoga and hypnobirthing with One Breath in Berkhamsted. They were the best tools I could have loaded myself with for my birth.

Your labour story:

On Saturday 19th March I woke up as normal, (although remembered waking up twice with strong period pain) after going to the toilet things felt a little different. I didn’t think too much and said it was OK for my husband to go and play squash, so off he went. While he was there it was becoming more apparent that things were indeed different. I called him to head home soon and called labour ward as we had planned to have our baby at home in the birthing pool.

At 10am I called the labour ward as I wasn’t sure If my waters had gone, there wasn’t that sudden gush that you hear of so they asked us to come in for an examination.

Within half an hour it was apparent that my waters had definitely gone, they just seemed to keep going! We went to the hospital that lunchtime where we met our home birth community midwife. She did the usual obs and checked my waters. We were offered a stretch and sweep which I turned down as I didn’t want to start with intervention and really hoped for a natural labour.

At the end of the appointment we were told that if I wasn’t in established labour by 8.30 the following morning we would have to go in to be induced with the hormone drip. This was due to the risk of infection to our baby. We would also be given antibiotics every four hours from this point. This idea was far from my ideal birth. We went home and chilled waiting for things to get going. For my baby shower I asked everyone to write a message for our baby on the back of a leaf. These leaves were for me to stick on a tree I had painted in babies room during labour. I loved doing this and reading all of our lovely messages from friends and family. During this time I remember having twinges but nothing too painful.

During Saturday evening contractions had started and were every 6 minutes lasting around a minute long. Our midwife came to the house in the early hours of the morning and examined me to find I was only 1cm dilated and my cervix hadn’t shortened or softened. I remember thinking you have got to be kidding me but lightening the mood my husband dropped an entire pot of blueberries all over the floor and I remember laughing a lot! I went back to bed breathing the contractions away and did manage to get a little bit of sleep.

By 6pm my contractions were every 3 minutes some lasting up to 2 minutes long. I found myself using a candle breath I had learnt from hypnobirthing and sometimes a stronger breath to blow away the contractions. The midwife returned and I was examined again and and I was 1.5cm!!! My cervix had however shortened and softened for 4cm to 1cm so my contractions from here would only be helping with dilation. As my progress was slow and we were so close to the 8.30am deadline we still had to go to the hospital as arranged. I felt deflated at this point and a little sad, but resigned myself to the fact that not everything will go to plan and we will get the antibiotics we need for our baby and he/she will be safe.

To give birth you need to feel safe, secure and relaxed and going to hospital was the opposite to me hoo at this point my contractions came to a halt as we packed the last few bits into our pre-prepared hospital bag.

We arrived at Stoke Mandeville at 8.45 where we were told to go to the antenatal ward. Here we were given a bed and told they would inform us as soon as labour ward was ready for us. This was the worst and most frustrating part of my entire birth. After telling us about the risk of infection to our baby after 24 hours of my waters breaking we were not administered antibiotics until 3pm that afternoon. Throughout the afternoon we kept asking when we would be going down to labour ward and we were told that labour ward was full. Tired and frustrated I really struggled to remain positive through this and became very emotional. The lady opposite me was screaming her way through her contractions and was taken down to labour ward and I remember bursting in to tears. We went for a very long walk to the cafe and back which was uncomfortable but worth it for my sanity.

Finally at 11.30pm on Sunday evening we pushed again to go down to labour ward. The midwife on the ward examined me for the first time since we arrived at hospital to find I was 3.5 cm!!! and labour ward finally accepted us at 12.

This really was the boost I needed. I felt a rush of adrenaline walking into the room. Feeling more positive contractions became stronger and more regular and I had a little gas and air which didn’t do a lot for me. As things had kicked off on the Saturday morning and this was now early hours of Monday morning I was struggling to cope with the contractions and their intensity. I really debated this decision at the time as it was my absolute last resort in my birth plan. I requested an epidural before they put the hormone drip in to speed up labour. Both were given around 3am after examining me to be at 4cm ( WHAT!) however the epidural was ineffective over my lower abdomen and lower back, where I really needed it. They adjusted the positioning and gave me a stronger dosage which did take the edge off for a short while. The pain became so intense with little to no effective pain relief so I asked for the hormone drip to be removed until they fixed the epidural. I was exhausted. The only thing that relieved the pain a little was a strong back rub from my husband who was incredible. I don’t know how I would have made it through without him. His encouragement and voice was all I needed to spur me on to keep going.

The anaesthetist told the midwives that they wouldn’t re-do the epidural until I had laboured for another 4 hours on the cytocine drip. The midwives also said that they wouldn’t examine me until this point either. This wasn’t an option for me, at this point I had been having contractions for 48 hours and I was seriously considering a c-section- my last resort.

I was so adamant that they agreed to examine me so I could make an informed decision about what to do next and mentally prepare myself. If I had progressed more than 4cm I knew I could find the strength to push on through but if I hadn’t progressed I also knew I didn’t have the strength for the further 8-hours of intense contractions without any pain relief. As it was I had progressed to 6cm (this baby wasn’t in any hurry!) and then had a sudden feeling of strength, I can do this! They replaced the epidural which again only worked for a short time but allowed me to rest. I asked them not to put the cyntocin back on again and I’m so pleased as within 1-2 hours I was fully dilated and pushing involuntary. The midwives looked at each other in shock.

I remember feeling back to back contractions and had a moment where I was adamant that I couldn’t carry on. In my head I remember recognising this as the self doubt faze and acknowledged that my body knew what it was doing.

We were then left for an hour for little ones head to drop some more before 2nd stage (pushing).

Stage 2- the pushing stage I found much easier than I thought. I was pushing for over an hour using the visual caffetier breath with no progress at all but I gave every bit of strength I had. I had already had an epidural with repeated strong doses, 5 doses of antibiotics, been induced using cyntocin so the last thing I wanted now was to end this process in a c-section. I had very little feeling in my legs from the epidural but I was adamant I wanted to get off my back and go on all fours, a better labour position. Holding my entire body weigh with my arms I pushed with all my strength but still no baby (He must have been pretty happy in there that’s all I can say!) Our babies head was on a tilt and he had turned back to back which is apparently why the epidural didn’t work. Although in this strange position our little one had remained calm and happy throughout with only a dip in heart rate in a certain position. He managed to have all the midwives laughing as he visibly kicked the monitors on my tummy off.

The midwife asked the registrar to come and talk about what our next options were: ventouse, forceps, and if these didn’t work a c-section. She said this would have to be done in theatre as if they couldn’t use our preferred method of ventouse they could operate straight away. We were then prepare for theatre. I really feel that hypnobirthing along with my pregnancy yoga classes I had done prior to labour prepared me emotionally throughout but especially here. Instead of being petrified I was so so excited, we were finally after 9 months, 5 days and 56 hours of labour we were about to meet our baby!

I was given a spinal block (!!) and everything got underway. The doctor and staff in theatre were absolutely amazing, their bedside manner was incredible and they provided the perfect ending to a very difficult few days. With the midwife telling me when I had a contraction I was able to push our baby out with the doctor using ventouse to assist. Leo Maxwell arrived to make us a family at 6.44pm on 21st March 2016.

We were so lucky to have a breast feeding specialist with us as our trainee midwife at the birth so within half an hour Leo was latched on and feeding well.

How did you feel at the first sight of your baby?

The previous few days were made completely worth it as soon as our baby boy was placed in my arms for the first time. He was and still is absolutely perfect. We both slept through our first night and I remember feeling in awe of him.

Although we seemed to have been out through a lot during Leo’s birth and it was polar opposite to how I saw things going I remain positive about the final outcome and I feel I did everything I possibly could to bring Leo into the world safe and sound.

What 3 pieces of advice would you give your pregnant self now?

Take a bath! I always wanted to be in water but when contractions started neither of us thought of this!

Do more meditation, the Maggie Howell DVD’s are amazing!

Get more sleep!

How was the first week for you?

The first week I felt on a high, sleep deprivation didn’t hit me for a few months I think I was running on adrenaline. Next time I will have to force myself to slow down and have even more time having skin to skin and cuddles.