Our due date was the 16th of May 2015. I don’t think that I have ever been as excited about anything as I was about giving birth and becoming a mamma. You might find it strange, that I was excited about something that was likely to hurt like nothing else before, the truth is that this did not bother me at all. James and I had written a birthplan together, where we stated how natural we wanted the birth to be. Preferably no pain relief – ignorance is bliss, right.
The 16th of May came and went, there was not the slightest sign of labour starting anytime soon. I was told that I could go 12 days past my due date, this would take us to the 28th of May, when I was booked in for an induction. Being overdue was the longest 12 days of the pregnancy. I remember waking up every morning with such a deep sadness inside that I was not waking up with contractions. I was just so excited to feel the contractions and to be able to say to James that I was having them. Every day I got closer to being induced and thought that my body would not be able to produce the contractions needed to start my labour naturally.
Whilst I was overdue I found great support in my NCT antenatal group, both the group leader and the other mothers in the group. We were the last ones in the group to become parents and at this point I was happy about this as it meant that the others had experience which they could pass on to me. Listening to how they felt about being overdue put my mind a bit at ease. But as soon as another day broke and still nothing had happened, I was sad and worried again.
Everyone had good advice for us, as how to get labour started. My advice to anyone giving advice, don’t just don’t! I tried them all, ate buckets of pineapple, drank almost only raspberry leaf tea along with bowls and bowls of spicy food. We went for long walks and even had sex (difficult, but possible, when you are the size of a house). I remember the evening of the 27th of May, we watched One Born Every Minute whilst I did my nails. The induction was booked for the following morning so why not look a bit pretty for it 😉 Regarding that program, I had watched so many of the episodes whilst pregnant, but this was my last one and I have not felt a need to watch even a trailer for it since. Enough said!
06:00 on the 28th of May I woke up with what reminded me of menstration cramps. I did not think much of it but went to the bathroom. One of the signs of labour starting is a good empty out, but I will honestly have to say that I did not know this and therefore did also not think much about that. The pain came and went with a few moments in between, could this really be it? I got my phone out and timed the cramps, they came with around 3 minutes apart and lasted just over 30 seconds each time. I was SO happy, it was really happening. I went for a shower and remember humming the John Mayer song Your Body Is A Wonderland as I just could not get over how amazing my body was, that I should wake up with contractions on the day my induction was scheduled.
The contractions were mild, so I took my time, did my makeup and then woke James up. I can’t get over the fact that I actually got to wake him up by saying that I was having contractions! He went to Tesco to get fresh rolls for breakfast. The contractions slowly got a bit more pailful. I was timing the contractions and writing them down on a piece of paper, for some strange reason this took my mind of the pain a bit. James called the hospital and they told us to come in for the scheduled time at 11:00. It was such an exciting feeling leaving the house knowing that when we returned it would be with our baby.
When we arrived at the hospital I was only 3 cm dilated and the contractions were now so painful that I got a wheelchair to be pushed around in. The birth pool was in use when we arrived, but I knew that this would possibly happen and to be honest, the pain was getting strong and my mind was slowly starting to shift from ‘all natural no pain relief birth’ to ‘just get me through this’. I was soon on a bed on the labour ward with gas and air as my best friends. I was still not much dialated. The midwives were so caring and explained the different options for pain relief to me. I remember that they said that if I was going to get an epidural then it had to be soon as my pain was getting so severe and I had to be able to keep relatively still for the epidural. What I remember even more clearly is James telling me that this was not what I wanted. Bless him. I had told him to try to talk me out of it, but I guess that is easy to say before you have been in labour.
I think that it was around 16:00 when I got the epidural. The contractions were very painful and I had difficulties keeping still. I was sitting on the side of bed and bent forward leaning on James (who later told me that we was in a squat position for 30 minutes holding me still) whilst the epidural was done. When the epidural started working it was such a relief. One of the songs on our birth playlist was called Beautiful Drug – by Zachary Brown band, the lyrics are not very descriptive of birth, but I remember thinking that there must have been a reason why I asked James to put that song on the list! However the epidural never worked completely and I even had another one done later on which also only work in one side of my body. In hindsight I am glad that they did not take all the pain away as my plan had been to feel the pain. I knew that labour would mean pain and if there had been none I think that I would have felt a bit like cheating.
When we first came to the hospital the midwife estimated that we would have a baby by 17:30, this turned out to be 8 hours wrong. I remember a little feeling of hopelessness as the estimates of when the little one would be born kept being postponed. At 23:30 we finally reached 10 cm dilation and I could push. Even if I was in so much pain I still felt that excitement which had been with me about giving birth the whole time. But you know what, pushing really is not that easy! I did a pretty useless job of it for the first hour or so. I was told that I would get to push for 2 hours and if baby was not here by then they the midwives would have to use forceps and this was really not what I wanted. I pushed for 2 hours and 10 minutes, at 1:40 on the 29th of May our son was born.
The last stages of the birth are still very clear in my mind, my fingertips can still feel his head from when the midwives guided my hand down to feel his head coming out. I remember the last push when his shoulders came out and the rest of his body sliding out into the world. The midwives held him up and that is when the crying started. As soon as JJ was put on my chest it was as if the pain went away, I was on a euphoric high even if I had been in pain for 18 hours. During the birth I recall saying to James that this would be our only child, I was not doing this again. But as soon as I held JJ I realised that the pain had been worth it and I would do this again. It was as if the pain had been replaces with a tremendous love and my heart had grown at least one size.
One of my wishes for the birth was for James to photograph it, all of it. The camera was with us from before we left for the hospital and until well after our son was born. James managed to be the most supportive and gentle caring birthing partner whilst documenting the whole experience at the same time. I look at our birth pictures regularly and the feelings are the same every time. There is crying, uhhing and ahhing and I am just so happy that I got to go through this life changing experience.
Even if my labour did not happen the way I had hoped for (do they ever?!) and recovery was unexpectedly sore (this will be covered in another blog post), labour was still a positive experience and I have come away from it wiser and happier. It was the start to our life as a family and I am honestly so proud of myself and James for having started this together. They way I look at it now, is that both pregnancy and labour are absolute miracles and the reward at the end is the biggest miracle of all.