I had been in hospital from Monday evening until Wednesday evening being monitored for suspected pre-eclampsia. As all the tests had came back negative, I was allowed to go home but given an appointment at the assessment unit at the hospital for the Saturday morning to make sure my blood pressure was okay.
Although I was fine, I had a really really strong feeling that I didn’t want to be on my own at all for the next few days. Graham has to travel for work, and can be a couple of hours drive away. I was only 38 weeks but asked him not to go to work for the rest of the week.
We made the decision to keep Harrison off school for Thursday and Friday as there was a really nasty bug that was going round, and we didn’t want to risk any of us getting it. By Thursday afternoon, I just felt like something was going to happen soon, but couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
On Friday morning I woke up at about 6am, and had a slight tummy ache. I couldn’t work out if it was the start of something (I’ve never experienced ‘early labour’) or I needed the toilet. I rarely need to go to the loo at that time of the morning which made me wonder.. I went to the loo and it didn’t seem to be that. Just before 7am, I rang my mum, who was just leaving for work and told her just to keep an eye on her phone because I wan’t sure if something was happening. By this time, Graham and the kids were up and I told him I thought I was in early labour, especially as the aches were coming and going. I downloaded a contraction timer app on my phone and started to monitor them. By around 8am they were coming every 8 minutes or so, but were pretty painless. At some point during the morning I had a bit of a ‘show’, and knew that it was definitely the start. I had a shower and went through the bags again to make sure everything was there. And then waited…
I phoned up the delivery suite and explained the situation, and that I had a history of very fast labours after irregular contractions. They told me to go in whenever I felt the need to. I was feeling really calm and knew there was no immediate rush, so we had some lunch and relaxed. Then the contractions disappeared. I felt like such a fraud and began to feel anxious, knowing that this stage can last for days.
Then, at 2.30pm, my waters broke. There was no pain or warning, just a gush! I thought that it might start something off but no, nothing! At 4pm, I phoned the delivery ward again and explained what had happened. Because my waters had gone they wanted to assess me, so I was told to go in at 6pm. Mum came over and we got ourselves organised. It was a strange feeling, knowing that next time I came home, I would more than likely have Benjamin with me!!
We had to wait for a good hour or so to be seen, and my waters kept leaking, which wasn’t nice when you’re sat in the waiting room with other people! The contractions were back, but again very irregular and mild. I had my TENS machine which was a nice distraction from the discomfort. At around 8pm I was seen and checked. The midwife checked me and said I was 3cm dilated and gave me a sweep to see if it kicked things off a bit. Normally, at 3cm they would send you home, but because of my history of rapid labours, they took me up to the ward where I had been during the week. The midwives up there were really lovely. Graham wasn’t meant to be there after 7pm but because of everything, they let him stay with me. We went for a walk up and down the corridors and this really kick started the contractions. They were still irregular but coming much more often and more intense. I kept going with the TENS Machine (which I will write about later), which helped. The midwives told me to tell them whenever I felt like I needed them to – they had a delivery pack ready just in case! I got them to check and I had got to 6cm dilated in an hour. They phoned the delivery ward who started prepping a room. By the time I was taken down to the room, it was 10pm. By this point, the TENS wasn’t enough on its own, and the midwife, a really lovely girl called Holly, got me onto the gas and air. I still felt calm and still managed to talk and laugh.
The next bits happened really quickly. At one point I was calm and fully in control, the next I felt like I had lost it. I think at some point the midwife had checked me because I said that the urge to push was beginning to build up, but she said I was only around 7cm. I lost it here, knowing it could be a while and that I would need to control the need to push a bit longer. Gas and air were making me heave and not touching the pain. Holly mentioned there were other pain relief options – pethidine and an epidural. She said by the time an anaesthetist had seen me and prepped me and the epidural kicked in it would be too late, so I asked for the pethidine. I felt really disappointed with myself for making that decision. There is absolutely nothing wrong with pain relief – I know I couldn’t have carried on much longer without something else – but after having Alex with no pain relief whatsoever, I felt like I was giving up a bit.
Whilst she was out of the room getting the pethidine, I realised that in the next couple of contractions I was going to push and there was no way I could stop it. I think this helped me to regain control a bit, and I had to get Graham to call her in quickly. The next few seconds are so blurry but so clear! The midwife was the other side of the room putting the syringes on the side when I told her I was going to push. In the split second it took her to get across the room to the business end, I’d pushed and his head was out. She told me to hold on and push the rest of him out slowly, but it was too late. The second push delivered the rest of him! I’d been in the delivery suite for an hour and a half.
The feeling of relief was incredible, knowing that whatever happened now, the most painful part was over. Holly gave him straight to me for some skin to skin. He was perfect, covered in plenty of the white gunk that covers and protects his skin. He was a beautiful colour and had a lovely healthy cry. I’d opted for delayed cord clamping, a decision we had made for Alex as well, to ensure as much blood as possible got to him. Once it as ready, Graham cut the cord as he did with the other two boys. We could see straight away that he wasn’t a tiny baby!
We decided to have a natural third stage and allow the placenta to come when it was ready, which was quite a while. Whilst we were waiting, the midwife showed us the umbilical cord – it had a true knot in it. We were really lucky that it hadn’t caused any problems – a true knot happens in around 1% of pregnancies and can cause some serious issues. I also started going into shock – which made the midwife concerned I’d lost a lot of blood. I was shaking and shivering, which was a little bit frightening, but luckily it subsided.
After the placenta was delivered, Holly realised there was another problem. Because Ben had been pushed out too quickly, I had torn quite badly. I knew that I had – I had second-degree tears with both Harrison and Alex, and with Alex I almost needed surgery because of how fast he came. The doctor came and checked and confirmed that I had a third degree tear which needed surgery. I still can’t believe how calm I stayed – I’ve never had any form of surgery and was terrified. They explained it would be done in theatre under local anaesthetic (epidural), and Ben would be able to stay with me. I signed the consent forms and was wheeled down to the theatre.
Holly weighed and measured Ben whilst I was being stitched up, and made sure he was in my sight all the way through. Graham waited just outside in the recovery room. Ben weighed in at a whopping 8lb 1oz – two weeks early!
I was given an epidural and then they started stitching me up. An epidural is the weirdest feeling – I could feel my legs but had no control over them. It took them about 20 minutes to do the whole thing. The tear wasn’t quite as bad as it seemed in the delivery room which was a relief!
After a cup of coffee and half an hour of observation in the recovery room, we were taken back up to the ward where only a couple of hours earlier I’d been in early labour. I had a catheter fitted as I couldn’t feel anything below my waist which was horrible. Sleep was hard – the woman next to me was a snorer and decided to rearrange her little area at 5am. Luckily Ben slept all the way through until I woke him at 6am for a bottle.
By breakfast time, the feeling had returned to my legs and I was determined to get up and have the catheter removed. I had to prove to the midwives that I could stand up and potter round the bed, which I did, so then they took it out and I could finally go for a shower!
They kept me in until Sunday afternoon – I’d lost quite a lot of blood so they needed to make sure there wasn’t any lasting effects from that. Ben was fine – sleeping well, feeding well and basically being a very content and happy little baby!