Forgive me. I would never usually indulge in such a long post, but I feel if ever there was an occasion, this is it. Business will resume to normal after this very special announcement…
I just don’t even know where to begin. I’m speechless. The last few days have been a complete blur. It has just been an incredible first few days.
After 25 hours end to end, Baby Girl (yes, girl!) was delivered naturally as planned at 3:49am on Friday, March 7th, 2014.
Firstly, I would like to thank absolutely everyone who dealt with us at UCLH. The level of care was phenomenal, from Anna in MFAU getting told off for leaving her post to help us to the birth unit, taking us a short cut through UCLH as I was struggling to walk; to our midwife Megan who never left my side from 10pm when we arrived until after my post birth surgery; the extremely calm, brilliant-at-explaining-everything & reassuring Dr Anthony who was called when things got a bit complicated (& who even managed to get us to crack a smile through it!) & to the anaesthetists, nurses & various midwives who looked after us over the following two days. Thank you all. You were truly exceptional.
But what actually happened? (Minus the gory details!)
I’d been having lower back ache since Tuesday, with some mild period like pains so I was sure Bump was starting to get a wiggle on. The fact that I baked a loaf of bread, chocolate chip cookies and a chocolate cake since Sunday, we possibly should have clicked this was my version of nesting! I woke at 2:45am on Thursday with what I was pretty sure was my first contraction. I stuck my headphones in, turned on my hypnobirthing tracks & got my zen on.
6am. I woke Bump’s dad confirming contractions were coming every 10mins or so. This was met with a groggy cheer & won me a cup of tea in bed. Contractions were noticeable but not painful. The chocolate cake had been made for my NCT friend & her week old daughter… Naturally, being me, I finished icing the cake at 8am. (Nice treat for when I got home!)
By midday, contractions had slowed to every 20mins. We went for two walks, meditated, had some lunch, tweeked my nipples – all the tricks – & things soon picked up again. By 5pm, suddenly contractions were safely under 10mins apart & increasing in intensity. Hospital policy is you don’t go in (unless there’s a problem) until you’re three minutes apart. This resulted in 18 hours total at home, with nothing but my hypnobirthing, breathing & Bump’s dad pressing accupressure points to sustain me through. I’m thrilled to say it worked.
Our NCT instructor had said to remember that for every minute of intensity you experience, your body gives you at least double the time to rest right up to those final pushes. I clung to this like a life line in those final two to three hours at home as contractions came under 5mins apart. Every third one caused cries that I’m sure sent chills through our neighbours’ spines. (Though later, my contractions would be lasting twice as long as the rest & I wouldn’t be quite so zen about it…)
At 9:30pm the taxi pulled up. 10pm we reached UCLH. I have no doubt it was that poor London cabby’s longest fare of his career. He was brilliant; even left his cab unattended to help us into UCLH. We were declared us officially in labour after a slightly traumatic examination & by 10:30pm we were in the birth unit, I was sucking on gas & air like my life depended on it & the birth pool was filling up. It was all going according to plan.
From here things become very hazy for me.
I remember in the taxi saying my face felt numb. Around midnight (I’m told) I said my hands were also feeling numb & it was spreading down my neck. The gas & air was making me utterly zone out & unable to focus on my breathing. I had to get out of the birth pool. The numbness spread to my legs & the doctor was called to be on the safe side.
I was taken to the labour ward around 12:30am for an examination where they found I was dilating reasonably fast for a first timer. The problem was was my hands had now locked in a what seemed to be a paralysed-like state, the numbness had spread to my back. There was cause for neurological concerns. An epidural therefore wasn’t an option to slow things down.
By 1:30am, multiple anaesthesiologists, doctors & midwives surrounded me debating next steps as I continued to scream to “give me the drugs! I know my limits”. Midwife Megan eventually stabbed my leg with diamorphine around 2am to try & bring me some peace while they figured out what to do. Within 10mins, I was back in the room, refusing the epidural, saying ‘we had a plan, let’s stick to it as much as we can now, I can do this.’ The numbness was gone & Megan discovered I was 9cm dilated. I was through the loopy Transitional Phase & light was at the end of the tunnel (no pun intended!).
To anyone who’s never given birth, I can only describe the overwhelming urge to push as probably the most powerful reflex I’ve ever experienced. And about twenty minutes before she born, I suddenly had a perfect moment of clarity when, after 9 months of certainty Bump was blue, I said, “It’s a girl! He’s a girl’. (Bump’s dad thought I’d truly lost it by this time.) And at 3:49, our little pink bundle of joy appeared. Almost exactly 25 hours after my first contraction.
As she’d released her bowls in the womb (common for overdue bumps), she was momentarily whisked away to be cleaned & checked. Baby Girl was back with me, skin-to-skin, being fed within moments before I had to go off to surgery. At 8lb 1oz she wasn’t quite the estimated 9lb (thank god!) but for someone as petite as me, she still managed a bit of destruction on her way into the world. Luckily not as bad as the doctor initially thought. (& we’ll leave it at that!) Sadly, this meant I had to have an epidural anyway (though at least there was no way it could pass to Baby Girl now, always my biggest concern) & so I was bed bound until that evening.
The doctor & Megan said they’re still not 100% sure what caused my reaction. Apparently, in fifteen years, the doctor had never seen such naturally high alkaline levels in the blood as I had that night. The only explanation was I was dilating at such a rate I was unable to control my breathing & was hyperventilating – extremely!
We were allowed home on Saturday evening. Baby Girl is doing brilliantly, feeding well & managing to sleep around 2 hours at a time on the whole. Though we’re a long way off a routine. Daddy is taking very good care of us both.
I can honestly say I could not have got through that 25 hours without Baby Girl’s dad. He was my rock. Even when I was a wailing, numb banshee, he never left my side, never even sat down. He was calm & in control (& if he wasn’t, he never let on to me!). I felt safe – scared when I realised I couldn’t grip the doctor’s hand or that I was surrounded by consultants, but safe. I knew I had picked an amazing man to be with, but never did I realise how amazing until now. Thank you for being you & for giving me our Baby Girl. I hope she has some of your calm control to counter act my madness. She is lucky to have a Daddy like you to look after her & protect her.