After an easy pregnancy, I wasn’t really sure what to expect when it came to labour. It turned out I had been having braxton hicks contractions for weeks before I actually went into labour, but I had just passed them off as ‘regular pregnancy strange feelings’. I did however have a feeling that I wouldn’t make it to my due date of the 16th July. That feeling was right, as was the feeling that I’d give birth to a little girl – we decided that we wouldn’t find out the sex, but all along my whole family, SO and I had a strong feeling it would be a girl.
Even though I had a feeling that I wouldn’t make it to my due date, my SO and I decided a month before I was due, that we would do the craziest thing ever, and get married (we’d already planned to get married but for a number of reasons, both traditional and legal – we decided that we’d rather do it before our baby was born). The problem was that we’d have to get married when I was 39 weeks pregnant, since I didn’t want to do it without family there, and they couldn’t make it until the week before the baby was due.
So we arranged to get married on the 11th July, in our registry office, with just family there, and we were going to go out for a meal and stay in a fancy hotel that night. Pah. Baby had other plans.
I woke up at 3.30am on the 10th July to my waters breaking. Obviously I had put those waterproof pad things under my sheets, but obviously I happened to be lying somewhere the pad thing wasn’t and I still ended up soaking the bed. SO much liquid! My fiance was in the other room messing around on his computer (he sleeps silly hours), so I run through and inform him as I leak everywhere that my waters had just broken. Shower, pad on, call the hospital, they tell me to wait and see if contractions happen, and that I can be induced if things don’t hot up in 24 hours.
Contractions start a short while later, they’re mild, sometimes a bit painful but then they recede when I change position. This continues for 24 hours. I am tired. At points they are very painful and fairly frequent, but still they aren’t enough. It gets to early morning on Friday the 11th July and we still haven’t cancelled the wedding. My contractions have subsided a bit, and my fiance and I decide to do the crazy thing and get married anyway. We call up the registry office and ask if they’ve got a free slot in the morning rather than the afternoon when we’d planned the ceremony. 11 o’clock is free. Shit, that’s only an hour and a half away. I spend an hour getting ready for my wedding, whilst stopping frequently to contract. Our families drive over from their places. Surprisingly we all look respectable considering we’ve not had much sleep and have had to get ready in record time.
The wedding ceremony was lovely, short and the baby must have known what was going on as contractions stopped for the entire time my now husband and I said our vows. As soon as we kissed, I got another contraction. Perfect timing! I was fed up of just contracting slowly in our apartment so the whole wedding party decided we’d go to a local bar for some lunch and drinks. Contractions became more intense, and more frequent and continued to become so over the course of the afternoon.
At about 5pm I decided to go to the hospital, my doula Mother in Law had been helping me keep count of contractions all afternoon and they’d been increasing in frequency. It was about 38 hours into the labour and I was tired too. Got to the hospital’s midwife unit, sat around for ages waiting to be seen. Contractions slowed a bit, but were more painful. I had a snack, threw it up. At around 10pm after a shift change someone finally checked my cervix and told me the heartbreaking news that I was barely a fingertip dilated. At this point I’d been in labour for about 42 hours and I just wanted to sleep or my body to start doing something useful. They told me that since my waters had broken so long ago, they could admit me to the hospital to induce me, and I could have some pain medication so I could sleep. Paracetemol did very little, so at around 1am I asked for some morphine to help me sleep. At this point I was in the induction ward so my husband and mother were sent home until the morning.
The morphine didn’t help me sleep. It didn’t seem to do anything at all, but I suppose it must have done something. Contractions started coming quicker again, they were still super painful. An hour after the morphine, still no sleep, but I was feeling an urge to push. It was a wonderful feeling. I call the midwives in, they take what seems like an age again to check my cervix, and tell me that I’m fully dilated, baby is in position and that my baby has lots of hair (She does, that heartburn and acid reflux was worth it, ladies!).
Yay, fully dilated in four hours. Things are happening! They wheel me to a room to labour in, telling me to resist the urge to push. Its so difficult, because the feeling of pushing is the best feeling I’ve felt in 3 days. It probably sounds cheesy but it felt very natural and although the contractions were still super painful, the pushing urge made them feel a thousand times better. I call my mother and husband and tell them that the baby is coming soon! My husband takes a frantic taxi ride back to the hospital, and luckily my mother was napping in my parents campervan in the hospital carpark. They both got there just before the midwives told me I could start utilising the pushing and contractions.
It was getting more painful at this point and so I asked for some gas and air. If I have one bit of advice to give you – if you can get access to gas and air, use it! I had always been reluctant about using pain relief that could be passed onto my baby, and only decided to have the morphine because I’d been awake for nearly 3 days. Gas and air however doesn’t last long and can’t be passed on to the baby, and it basically allowed me to give birth whilst consciously high. Apparently my mum, husband and the midwives were laughing at me as I pushed because I’d doze off between contractions and then suddenly start awake with a contraction and start pushing. Our little girl, Gwen, was born at 4.46am on the 12th July after only a short amount of time pushing. She weighed 8 lb 14 oz and was 52cm long. I ended up with a 2nd degree tear (that has pretty much healed already) and a heart full of love to give this tiny little person.
Motherhood & the weeks after birth
I’ll start by saying motherhood is awesome. It is altogether more difficult than anything you imagine, but also easier too. You may not feel amazingly connected to this human you pop out straight away, and its likely if this is your first baby (or even your tenth) that you won’t have a clue what to do 80% of the time, but somehow it is still wonderful. And exhausting, and confusing, and exhausting.
- Evenings suck. Gwen gets gassy and I have a super fast let down, and shes very greedy. All of which equate to lots of crying, sicking up and general evening colicky sadness. Generally she’s a great sleeper and eater and is very content, but evenings have been hard. Luckily my husband is great with her and so we swap her between us when she’s crying.
- Baby wearing is the best thing. I have a mei tai carrier and I love it, since it allows me to get things done around the house, cook dinner etc. Also, strollers are hassle. Our apartment is up one flight of stairs so its a pain getting it downstairs, and then when we’re out, searching out elevators in stores is a pain in the bum. Pushing a stroller is nice, but carrying is substantially easier!
- Not everything sucks as much as people say it will. I was so worried I wouldn’t have sex for six months, that my health visitor would be an evil witch lady, that my nipples would bleed, that my first postpartum poop would be the worst thing ever and that I wouldn’t sleep for a week. I’m not saying these things DON’T happen to people, and that I know that they do (and that sucks), but I was one of the lucky ones that they didn’t happen to. I had sex at 17 days pp, because my bleeding stopped pretty early and my tear healed super quickly. And I was super horny because hormones! My health visitor has been lovely and really resourceful and useful. My nipples were sore for a few days but as soon as Gwen figured out her latch they were fine. The first postpartum poop was actually easier than pooping had been when I was pregnant. Sleep is definitely sparse, and I slept on the couch the first night home, with Gwen in her basket beside me because she decided she hated our bedroom that night and screamed the minute we took her in there. However, sleep is not non existent, and although I’m still nearly constantly tired, its a functioning and happy level of tired.
Basically, being a mother is difficult, but its also rewarding and amazing and so worth all the crap pregnancy throws at you. Simply not being pregnant any more is wonderful, its like the baby is a bonus. And the love that you feel for that little person that somehow appears whole one day, grows and grows. Its awesome.