Inevitably, as a first time Mum-to-Be, I was becoming increasingly curious about labour. I wondered what our story would be. Specifically, how to know when it officially starts (apparently you just know. As it turns out, I did!), how long it’ll last (how long is a piece of string?) and what to expect (anything!). In an attempt to educate myself, I read numerous pregnancy books from cover to cover and this gave me a good idea of what to look out for. The Signs. I also quizzed the women in my life to learn about their experiences in an attempt to prepare myself for The Possibilities. Their responses were detailed and varied but one thing I did learn from the many labour stories I’d heard was that a birth plan was practically redundant; absolutely nothing went to plan! As an English teacher and self-confessed control freak, the idea of NOT planning was alien to me.
With hindsight, it was definitely the right decision for me to ‘go with the flow’ and not specify a labour ‘wish list’. I’d watched an episode of One Born Every Minute and one couple had actually laminated their Birth Plan and were reluctant to deviate from it. Woah. Steady on now. Despite my obsession with coordinated stationary, pretty notebooks and lists, even I can see it was excessive and somewhat naive.
I’m glad I didn’t have any idealistic expectations of a serene, candlelit birthing pool because I simply wouldn’t have been able to have it and this could’ve caused unnecessary stress (which I’m sure it does for some women who have visualised their Big Push and ended up experiencing something the total opposite). Instead, I put my complete trust and faith in the professionals at The Jessop Wing in Sheffield; they’re the experts. After all, I wasn’t going to deliver my baby myself, was I?
Since giving birth, people have asked me “How was The Labour?”. Many with sympathy and knowing nods, and I think a few others just eager for the gossip!
I suppose being into stories, I was destined to have some sort of story to tell…
So here is My Labour Story in a nutshell:
- 40+1 waters broke in the bath at home at but contractions didn’t start on their own
- Phoned Triage/Labour Assessment
“You need to come in to be examined”. Expected to be sent home for a lonnnnnnnnnng night
- Instead, was admitted to labour ward and hooked up to antibiotics via a drip for Group B Strep
- It was a lonnnnnng night
- Labour contractions induced by oxytocin midday the next day
- Regular contractions but baby’s heartbeat slowed every time (tense)
- Diamorphine (to take the edge off)
- Pushing – lots of encouragement (him) demands (me)
- Baby back to back & issue with cord
- Check oxygen level of baby via needle when baby crowned (me unaware – blame diamorphine)
- Forceps delivery (safer for baby)
- Episiotomy (necessary)
- Ruptured/retained placenta led to haemorrhage (defiant placenta, not conforming by vacating the uterus)
- Blood loss 1.5 litres (more than a c-section. How?)
- Blood transfusion (to fix me)
It sounds worse than it was and it did take me a few days to process it but honestly everything just became the next natural step to get baby out safely and that was the only thing on my mind. One midwife said “you’ve ticked nearly everything on the list!”. There was no certificate for experiencing many labour scenarios all in one birth. Damn it. Although my visitors brought lots of chocolate treats and I’ve since had some Prosecco (and Gin & Tonic) to toast myself & Lad on getting through it!
Needless to say, my labour led to a hospital stay to recover which turned into a full week due to the need to manage a sudden onset of high blood pressure. Hard to keep a smile on your face whilst fighting tears when all you want to do is go home and be a family. It has to be said though that the staff on The Labour Ward, in Theatre and on the Postnatal Ward were amazing. I’d heard stories about people who had negative experiences in my local hospital. My labour wasn’t straightforward but it was nobody’s fault and the care I received was second to none.
Many Mums have told me that you soon forget how it felt. I’d agree that you forget the pain but it’s amazing the details you do remember. Names of people. Times things occurred. The sequence of events…Provided that you’re not off your head on diamorphine like I was for part of it!
I’ve since reflected on the labour as we’re beginning to settle into family life. I don’t think it matters how it happened as long as you and your baby are well. After speaking to friends, family, colleagues, women on the ward, too many Mum’s beat themselves up about their labour. Ladies, remember the amazing thing you did – you brought new life into this world. I have a new found respect for mothers that (although I appreciated) I didn’t fully understand before.
As I look over at my 3 week old Mini Lass, it all seems surreal. Was it worth all the pain? Too right it was. We’re now well into the non-stop nappy changes and night feeds trying to navigate our way through Parenthood! Wish us luck…