Yikes. I’m throwing you into the deep end with my first blog post about bringing up Georgia. As with all parents, my story of parenthood begins at her birth. We could be pedantic and say that actually it starts at conception, but we really don’t need to walk down that ‘bow-chicca-wow-wow’ road.
So here goes nothing, here is the unabridged story of how I met Georgia with her birth story. I went into labour with an open birth plan. My only certainty was that I was coming out with a baby. I’d done my research on pain relief via my NCT classes and I knew our options so I was as ready as I was ever going to be to make informed decisions.
Please be warned, this is a very honest account of the run up to her birth so those of a nervous disposition better go make a cup of tea – although I promise it has a happy ending if you stick with it:
Saturday night and I (don’t) like the way you feel
Saturday morning and the alarm clock goes off – I’m annoyed at this at exactly 41 weeks pregnant realising that I still hadn’t gone into labour in the night, I still looked like I was smuggling a beach ball and I had to get up ready for my second attempted stretch and sweep for 9AM.
So, my husband and I got up and went to our local hospital for a second attempt at a stretch and sweep to try and move things along. After my dignity was removed along with my knickers, a midwife basically tried to tickle my tonsils from my vagina. Having only just managed to reach my cervix let alone my tonsils, they were yet again unsuccessful in their sweep as my cervix was too far back and closed – although now apparently soft. From this, I took away the knowledge that I was a tiny step further than I was the previous week, although looked doubtful that I’d go into labour very soon. Bummer.
So, we leave the hospital feeling a little violated and mentally bluer at having another unsuccessful sweep, although now I had slight period pains which were expected from the midwife poking my cervix.
I felt tired all day and contemplated, but didn’t give in to a midday nap. In retrospect, I should have taken that nap.
Period pains continued all day which I assume was the side effect of the failed sweep as just a low dull ache so I didn’t suspect that it was labour. I still don’t know if it was and frankly it doesn’t really matter anymore.
As the night drew in the pain started. We were tucked up in bed watching telly and by about 10PM, I started to feel suspicious that I was having contractions as they came and went regularly. The type of pain that makes you bend over in agony and hold your breath. But at this point I wasn’t too sure as could have still been because of the failed sweep mixed with an uncomfortable lying down position. At 10.30PM, just as I would usually be tucking myself into the land of nod, I felt a small whoosh in my dignity knickers. After checking (as it wasn’t enough to be my waters), it was definitely my ‘show’. A show makes it sound a lot more glamorous than it’s bloody, mucous-ness, but it did confirm my suspicions that I was in labour. I’d make a pretty poor Sherlock Holmes, but at least this was an obvious clue.
After calling the batline for the midwives for further instructions on what to do, I was told to monitor my contractions for the next hour to make sure I was having at least 3 in 10 minutes before they would let me come in. Spoil sports.
3 in 10
Being the data-nerd that I am, I needed a way to monitor whether I was having 3 contractions in 10 minutes as I was just too tired to tell whether they were consistent. In some small way, I also wanted to write down the time for my own sanity so that I knew I had an evidence base to prove the midwives wrong so they couldn’t stop me coming in.
Looking at this piece of paper post-birth, I can see my pain. If you’ve ever tried to write when you’re in severe pain then you’ll understand that it affects your handwriting. Mine is atrocious to start with, but with each different logged time, the writing gets less legible and more like chicken scratch. I remember trying to write as fast as I could too to beat the contraction before it overwhelmed my ability to write.
I was using my breathing technique to pass the time of breathing in slowly for 5 counts and then out. It didn’t take the pain away, but gave me something to focus on. Any control that’s put back in my court during this horrible pain was a bonus!
I’m not sure if I’m lucky or not, but my contractions were already coming thick and fast with 3 in 10 minutes from the very start. I was somewhat disillusioned by One Born Every Minute where people are sat in the labour ward with crosswords in ‘active’ labour. I didn’t even have time for a quick text in between contractions let alone solving 2 down.
So after waiting for that hour, I re-phoned and was told to have a bath. This was the first and last bath I have ever taken at midnight and was not in the least bit relaxing. If having a contraction was painful and unmanageable outside of the bath, then it was even worse inside. Not because the water wasn’t nice and warm, but because I felt completely and utterly helpless. It’s hard enough getting in the bath at 41 weeks pregnant, let alone when you can’t maneuver yourself in the bath to find a more comfortable position. This just left me flailing through contractions like an upside-down tortoise and led to a very quick bath. What is even harder than getting in the bath is knowing that you only have about 2 minutes to get out of the bath before the next contraction flows your way in its wave of pain.
Cue the midwives being called for a third time with an update on the unsuccessful bath and the increase in pain. I wasn’t taking no for an answer this time, I was GOING to go to hospital and luckily they agreed. Then woke husband up who sprang into action. Here we go. Bags were picked up, got into the car and off we drove.
What I call a contraction
After the pain that is the journey to the Rockingham Wing of Kettering General Hospital while in labour I can categorically say that the roads need to be resurfaced. Every bump was felt in my bump and using my breathing technique was very quickly wearing thin.
Although, a positive about going into labour in the middle of the night is that we didn’t have to worry about traffic and we didn’t have to worry about parking. Hospital parking is a curse at the best of times so it felt indulging to have a choice of parking space without parking a few miles away.
So, we got in, met the midwives and was duly examined – yet another loss of my dignity knickers. I was apparently 2cm, BUT (this was a nice but), as they could plainly see that I was having very regular contractions and as I didn’t live just round the corner, they weren’t going to send me home. Score 1 to Kelly. If I weren’t having a contraction, I may have used this time to use a fist bump or high 5 my husband as I hated the idea of having to go home again with a 1 hour round-trip as the pain was getting intense.
I was given a ball to start with which just made my hair go mad with static. Although amusing to look at, it wasn’t really helping and I was in need of some pain relief!
In rolls the Gas and Air – my new best friend and out goes the breathing techniques to be replaced with the noise of a dying cow. Having never broken a bone or been admitted to hospital before, I didn’t really know what to expect with pain relief. I’d heard from my NCT classes and from my mummy friends that it makes you care less about the pain and feel drunk rather than taking it away, but that was a hard concept for me to fully appreciate. After that first puff though I was hooked. I had a magical relieving moment when it started to kick in and after that point it barely left my tight grasp.
As well as making me feel drunk it also had some other side effects. It made me go into that little happy place I visit when I’m drunk where everything is funny and where you’re less inhibited. That may explain the dying cow noises as a verbal expression of my contractions. What I didn’t know is that it also lowers the tone of your voice. For me, this meant that I sounded somewhat like Miranda Hart. This I found ‘what I call’ funny. For the next 4 hours, this meant countless “What I call…”, posh laughs and other Miranda catch phrases.
Room with a pool
After being in the open ward for a while, we were soon moved to our labour room – room K. Probably because of my loud impressions of Miranda mixed with the dying cow. I think I was putting a few expectant mothers off their groove, but at that point I didn’t care.
As my contractions were still only about 2 minutes apart, the midwife grabbed a wheelchair and after a few final puffs on the Gas and Air my mouthpiece was unhooked and I was wheeled so quickly I felt the breeze in my hair to my room. The midwife then fought against time to re-hook up my mouthpiece to the Gas and Air in my labour room. After I was back on the good stuff, I realised we were in the room with the pool. Score 2 to Kelly.
There’s only 1 room with a birth pool in Kettering and we’d bagged it. Not by choice, but by coincidence we had the biggest, nicest, newest room. Not that I was planning on using the pool, but it was my favourite when we went on the tour and it had a window. Anyone who’s visited a hospital will know that windows are in short supply and are somewhat of a commodity. This also became an on-going excitement every time I came round from my Gas and Air dream to state that we were in the pool room. Small wins, but I relived it many times.
New best friend Pethadine
This has now reached the part that goes fuzzy for me. I was puffing on Gas and Air like there was no tomorrow, so my birth is very much like a drunken memory. But, I do remember asking for an epidural when I was told I was only 3cm dilated. This wasn’t possible as they like to give pain relief in a step-wises fashion. So I was given Pethadine.
Wow, if Gas and Air was like being a bit drunk, Pethadine was like stepping into a cloudy dream world that resembled the film Inception. Every dream felt real (as they often do, but this time it was) only to be replaced a minute later with what I felt was the real dream. It was a confusing circle of a dream in a dream creating my own personal hell of feeling every contraction only to forget it for the ‘real’ one a minute later.
By this point, my waters still hadn’t broken, but they decided to practically explode onto my midwife. Rather than feeling like I’d wee’d myself, it more felt like someone had thrown a bowl of warm water on me with speed. It was nearly time. Only problem was that my waters had a bit of meconium in it – meaning that Georgia had already had a bowel movement inside. Nice. This also meant that a pediatrician needed to be in the room for the birth to check she was breathing okay before being handed to me. That meant no immediate skin to skin for me!
Time to push
A little while later I was examined again to be told I was ready to push. Having seemingly and annoyingly skipped 4-9cm dilation in the short time between being examined, it was time for Georgia’s arrival. But this meant that I couldn’t have an epidural for pain relief. After hours of coping with Gas and Air and Pethadine – albeit a lot less time but a lot more intense than other labours – I wouldn’t get my pain relief, so I called my midwife a bastard. Not named in a nasty way, but this was an injustice in my dreamy eyes and I was annoyed at the situation as I needed to reach 4cm before they’d consider me for an epidural rather than skip it completely. There simply wasn’t time for it now and I forgot this many times in my Pethadine dreams.
But, it turns out that the pushing part (for me anyway) wasn’t nearly as painful as the contractions which had reached a threshold of not being able to feel any more painful. I’m told I was pushing for about an hour which is normal, but time had no bearing in the room. There really is no way of stopping the pushing, for me it was completely involuntary and relatively painless. The contractions felt better when I pushed and I guess was my body’s way of rewarding my efforts.
When she popped out I can’t even begin to explain the relief I felt from the pressure after literally saying “aah” afterwards – the closest I can describe the feeling is after accomplishing a very very big poo. I also immediately felt my stomach deflating having lost a fair few pounds in one instant.
I can remember Georgia being held up quickly by the midwife, umbilical cord chopped faster than I could say “I’ve had what I call a baby” and passed to the pediatrician. They really only looked her up and down and passed her (now cleaned) back to me. So much for the pediatrician needing to be in the room!
Georgia Louise Edwards was born at 5:48AM on Sunday 5 April 2015 weighing in at a healthy 8lb 11oz. No wonder my bump was really big!
My tummy was now stripier than a Siberian tiger with my fierce stretch marks and wobblier than a jelly on a plate but it was all worth it to meet my beautiful daughter.
As she was handed to me, I knew that my life would never be the same again. Responsible for this little soul, we’ll be bringing up Georgia in our own way and learning along the way. I hope you’ll enjoy following our first steps together.