Weeks 31 – 35

Right, what have I got to moan about this month?

London weekend
Well to start with, I tootled off down to the big smoke on the glamorous national express to stay with Stef and meet up with my friend Holly. We ate tapas, looked at dead things in jars (so much better than it sounds), Sky Gardened and ate steak.

At the Sky Garden

At the Sky Garden

Oxford weekend
A couple of weeks later, I had ANOTHER girly weekend, this time in Oxford with more steak (its for the anemia, yo), afternoon tea and dominoes. The non-pregnant amongst us (so everyone apart from me) also had a shit tonne of prosecco and a hot tub. Honestly, preggos miss out on all the fun.

Oxford

Oxford

On the Sunday, we went for a mooch around the grounds of Blenheim Palace, which was gorgeous. On the 5 minute drive back, I passed out twice and ended up having an ambulance called for me. I thankfully managed to avoid the public pooping this time, so be grateful for small mercies. My blood pressure was low but my blood sugars were fine, so its been put down to heat and dehydration. I think (with my extensive years of medical training) that diet played a part, as this weekend was more cookies and junk food than bran flakes and complex carbs. But I feel fine now, and I’m taking it easy, OK?

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea

For the record, I did this last pregnancy as well, but that involved me being naked except a pair of knickers and some massage oil, leaving an imprint of my bum on the floor. 

Tits!

Around this time last pregnancy, I posted a blog about all the nursing bra research I’d done and which ones I bought.

Nursing bras, the PJs I bought to fit me in later pregnancy and the big boy-short pants I bought to wear after giving birth are the three items of my maternity wardrobe that never *quite* made it in to storage and stayed in my general clothes rotation. OK, so they might make your tits look like shit but hot damn, those things are so comfy I’ll forgive them. This does however mean that 2.5 years down the line, I have a lot of nursing bras which my boobs looked crap in when they were brand new, which have been washed and tumble dried and worn a million times, to the extent that there are patches where the lycra has given up the ghost and gone completely see-through. Not in a sexy way.

32 weeks

32 weeks

So, it was time to look for some alternatives.

It basically turns out that all the brands and types of bras I used to like have been discontinued, so I dropped a couple of hundred quid on figleaves and bought all the nursing bras I could get my hands on. Either DD+ nursing bras have come a long way in the last 2.5 years, or I made some terrible choices last time around, but I was pretty bloody impressed with my haul. Special shoutout to Cake’s underwired bras in particular for being pretty, supportive and not making ones tits look like a sack of spuds.

 

The “nursery” 

Seeing as we’re still calling “the nursery” the “junk room”, we’ve got a long way to go before it’s going to be on anyone’s pinterest inspiration board. This month, Neil did do a heroic 4 hour flatpack session to make the 8 drawer Hemnes unit so at least we have somewhere to put all the baby shit when we get it out of the loft.

Not that we’ve actually got to that bit, like.

34 weeks

34 weeks

 

Home Birth Meeting 

This pregnancy, my pre-natal care has been shared between community midwives and an obstetric consultant, what with the previous massive baby and all. This has culminated in the grand total of two 30 minute consultations (and a 3 hour wait each time) with a registrar in the consultant’s team who hummed and hawed about me having a home birth until I told them I had the express blessing of both the consultant AND the supervisor of midwives so HA.

Firstborn being all gorgeous

Firstborn being all gorgeous

Side note: I’m not being a crunchy militant home-birther for the sake of it, I love the NHS with all my heart and I know the suggestions I received from the registrars were done so with (what they perceived to be) my best interests at heart. What I do take offence to is consistently not being listened to, being given shoddy “facts” that don’t stand up to AIMS, NICE and NHS guidelines and being scare-mongered in to something for which there is no statistical evidence that the outcomes will be better for me or the baby. For the record: “…home birth is equally as safe as a midwife-led unit and traditional labour ward for the babies of low risk pregnant women who have already had at least 1 child previously”.

I’m also well aware that there are a million and one reasons that might mean we have to transfer in to the hospital, and if that happens, I won’t have failed, or done a bad job. Basically, if there’s a chance I could have this baby in my front room and then get in my own bed with a cup of tea and a packet of biscuits, then that sounds pretty ideal to me.

Important Baby Related Purchases this month

Important Baby Related Purchases this month

Anyway, that all got a bit serious for a minute, but what I was actually trying to say is that my community midwife and the supervisor of midwives popped round to meet with me and Neil and discuss our plans. They were on board with everything we said and were refreshingly straightforward about the whole thing. My community midwife has also typed up the notes from our meeting for the benefit of the midwives who attend when I’m in labour and has generally been a bloody star. SHOUT OUT TO JEAN FOR BEING AWESOME.

My maternity cover started at work

This month, an amazing lass called Kerry started with us at Fat Free Media to take over from me when I leave. Last time I went on maternity leave, my employer took so long to organise my maternity cover, that it never bloody happened, so this is a bit of unchartered territory for me. I’m used to being the person who knows everything, who has their fingers on all the pulses, all of the time, so it wa’ a bit bloody weird to hand over the reins to someone else. At first, we seemed to awkwardly be working on the same thing at the same time. Then we’ve transitioned to her doing some things and me doing the others, and we’re now working towards her doing pretty much all of it, and me solving problems/being there for back up if and when she needs it. Soon, I will be entirely surplus to requirements, which is probably a good thing, especially as, at one point, I had very real concerns about being back at work with a week old baby in a moses basket under the desk.

Battle of the bellies with Neil's best friend's wife

Battle of the bellies with Neil’s best friend’s wife

What this process has taught me, is that I bloody love my job. So that’s good, isn’t it?

Hospital bags

The little pregnancy app on my phone I like to largely ignore and occasionally roll my eyes at keeps reminding me that I should have packed a hospital bag by now, and to make sure I remember to pack warm socks and fluffy slippers because people’s feet get cold when they’re in labour. HAHA FUCK OFF, I wouldn’t have even known I had feet when I was in labour.

So far, have only packed biscuits and sanitary towels. On two occasions, I’ve taken the designated hospital biscuits out of the bag due to an unforseen emergency* (*hungry) and had to repack them a couple of days later.

That’s pretty much all my bases covered, right?

Disclaimer: I will at some point actually pack my hospital bags, I just probably won’t be so organised and smug about it as I was last time. Don’t believe me? See “On Hospital Bags” and the slightly less naive “On Hospital Bags…reloaded” if you want a quick lol.

Next month: Who knows what new and exciting things I’ll find to moan about next month. Probably the fact I’m finishing work, I’m too sweaty, I can’t sleep and that crocheted blanket I thought I would leave until I was spending more time sat on the sofa when heavily pregnant is really fucking hot and definitely not a good idea to have on your lap when it’s 34′ outside.

Progress

Progress

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Weeks 22 – 26

I am now an impressive 3 months late with this post. I’m not sure entirely what I’ve been faffing about at, especially as it’s been written in it’s entirety and sat in my drafts since I was 26 weeks. I’m very lazy. Soz.

Moving House

At 22 weeks 6 days pregnant, we moved house. Massive shout out to the 4 men, 3 trucks, 2 parents and 1 tireless husband who helped us get out of the old house, and in and settled in to the new house in one day. I say “settled”, I mean “there’s space for me to walk from the front door to the sofa”. The rest of the boxes can wait.

Since then, Neil and I have been a dream team whereby I shop for new stuff for the house online, then when it arrives, Neil gets tasked within an inch of his life to do the DIY. I did hang two sets of curtains on my own though, so that’s pretty good.

How many living things can you fit within half a meter squared?

How many living things can you fit within half a meter squared?

I wish I was the type of instagrammer who could take smug little pics of corners of the new house and make them look all stylish and stuff, but I’m not, so consider yourself spared some excruciatingly dull pics of our new sofa cushions. Basically, you’ll just have to imagine them. They’ve got triangles on, it’s pretty exciting.

Positive Birth Group

This month, I did a couple of things that were actually to do with babies, and not to do with working, or moving house or watching True Detective (although I did a lot of those things too). When everyone else was looking up at the solar eclipse through welding masks, I tootled off to a Home Birth/Positive Birth group in Nottingham.

I didn’t really go with any expectations, or any agenda, but it was bloody lovely and I’d definitely go again. Two women bought their babies who were less than a month old, and told their birth stories (one 2nd baby home birth at 14 days overdue, one first time mum hospital birth, two happy mums), and within 4 days of the meeting, two other women who were very pregnant when I met them, shared their birth stories with the facebook group (one VBAC homebirth for baby 3, one with Gestational Diabetes, a homebirth that transferred in, two happy mums). I found the whole thing, of meeting real people and hearing real stories that were all different, but all great experiences really cool and very empowering.

Pretty much everyone I’ve spoken to carries some kind of trauma from their birth experience, and it’s such a pity that it’s that bit we tend to focus on, and not the good bits. I’ve done some good thinking about Billy’s birth, I know I was incredibly lucky to have a relatively uncomplicated birth and a healthy baby, but there’s definitely some things I’d do differently this time around. The biggest thing by far would be to have confidence in my self, and my body’s ability to do its own thing – rather than where, when, or how overdue I am when it happens and what song is playing on my birthing playlist, lolz. Can you remind me of this when I get to 41 weeks and am jogging round the block whilst eating pineapple in an attempt to kick start labour? Ta.

Good face, kiddo

Good face, kiddo

When Billy was born, we got about an inch of water in the birth pool at home before the midwife decided we had to go to our local hospital for a scan to rule out what they thought might be Vasa Previa. In the process, my waters were broken and it all kicked off so fast there was no time to get home and fill the pool. So the home birth was out of the window, which I didn’t mind. The bit I did mind was being stuck on a maternity ward with low tolerance levels for everything, an inability to use my own legs and having to wait all day for a prescription to be filled. So this time, we’re planning for another home birth. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen, but if I get the opportunity to have a baby, then curl up in my own bed with my own duvet, and my lovely husband, then I can’t really think of anything better than that.

Pregnancy Yoga

This month, I also started attending pregnancy yoga. I say “started” because a week after I started, I missed a class, and the week after, classes weren’t on because of Easter, so to date, I’ve done ONE yoga class. That means I’m a bona fide yogi now, right?

So off I trot to yoga with a mat under one arm and a pillow under another. When I was pregnant with Billy, the pilates and yoga classes both required you to bring a pillow, so I was pretty smug about remembering to take one this time round. Got there, was the ONLY dickhead with a pillow. Everyone else had bottles of water and blankets. Looked like a complete n00b.

Two paintbrushes and "magic paint" (water). Hours of fun for two identically dressed toddlers.

Two paintbrushes and “magic paint” (water). Hours of fun for two identically dressed toddlers.

Not only that, but there were BLOKES there. In fact, I walked in to the room, and walked straight out again because surely the whole being pregnant thing hadn’t changed THAT much in the last 2 years had it? Answer: yes. Of a group of 12 women, three had their partners with them. I felt a bit bad that Neil was at home wrangling a small boy into his batman PJs rather than with me doing what was clearly going to be some smug bonding yoga type stuff, but as the lesson went on, I was more and more glad Neil wasn’t there. There was no smug couple bonding stuff. There was three men who spent a lot of time with their hands on their stomachs connecting with their “babies” whilst a yoga teacher talked about pelvic floor muscles and how remarkable vaginas really are. Might take Neil with me next time, just for the lolz.

Weddings
I used to think kids running around at weddings were adorable. When we got married, we invited kids as standard and was pretty shocked when everyone except family declined the offer to bring kids with them. Now? I totally get it. Weddings with toddlers involve a lot of running around and trying in vain to keep your kid out of the soil/wedding cake/dj booth (delete as appropriate).

Weddings WITHOUT kids on the other hand are excellent, and we went to two lovely weddings this month.

Pics or it didn’t happen:

Kerry and Matt's wedding

Kerry and Matt’s wedding

Laura and Tom's wedding

Laura and Tom’s wedding

Bump pics

Last time round, I took fornightly photos of my stomach, convinced that marginal changes in shape really proved I had “popped”. This time, my flab is staying under wraps, ta. At 23 weeks, right on cue as I did last time, a tiny bump appeared out of nowhere, and pretty much doubled in size on a weekly basis from that point.

23 weeks (and convinced I was massive, which on reflection, I definitely wasnt)

23 weeks (and convinced I was massive, which on reflection, I definitely wasnt)

And just to prove I’m not lying when it comes to my belly doubling in size week on week, here’s me 3 weeks later in a different, but very similar stripey top (seriously, what is it with maternity clothes manufacturers and stripes? So slimming):

26 weeks

26 weeks

Rainbow Blanket: Important updates
To round of this update, I have some very exciting news: crocheted blanket in “a bit longer than it was last month” shocker. I know. Truly mind bending stuff.

I AM pretty chuffed with myself that when I started this project (which has an alternative title of “the only thing I’m going to crochet, ever”) I eyeballed the length based on my memory of Billy’s star blanket that I was looking to replicate. Three months down the line, I get out the star blanket, and bugger me if I didn’t get the length EXACTLY right. It’s like my secret superpower or something.

Rainbow blanket progress

Rainbow blanket progress

Next month: Turkey! Fainting!Gestational diabetes tests!

Baby Billy’s Birth Story

When I was pregnant, I read pretty much every birth story going. I poured over the details, hoping to gleam nuggets of information that would help me when I (eventually) went in to labour myself. Now I’m out the other side, it seems only right to add my story in to the mix, despite it taking me almost a month to write down.
Disclaimer – by it’s nature, this post will be WAAY WAAY TMI. Those of a sensitive nature, you’re probably best off closing this browser tab and going to make a cup of tea or something. You have been warned.
This post is also LOOONG. If you’re not in it for the long haul, then here’s a quick summary, Cluedo style (only with less murders): I had a baby. A giant boy-shaped baby, in the birth pool, with the gas and air. 
Here’s the long version:
Baby R was due to make an appearance on 22 Feb. A day, which like many days after it, came and went without so much of a twinge. I spent each day trying to distract myself with dull tasks, seeing friends and family and going for some epic walks. What started off as a leisurely stroll around the park at 38 weeks turned in to jogging backwards up a hill and lunge-walking half mile stretches by the time I hit 41 weeks. Friends would message me on a daily basis to see if there were ‘any signs?’ and I quickly ran out of witty ways to reply.
The thing that annoyed me most about the whole ‘any signs?’ malarky is that I genuinely didn’t know whether I was having any signs or not. I’d had a show a few days before, I was 1.5cm dilated and 80% effaced and I had plenty of braxton hicks, sometimes I could even time them. But was this the start of labour? How would I know when it was labour? Everyone I spoke to had said ‘you just know’. At the time, I wanted to slap them and tell them that this nugget of info was ‘SO not f**king helpful’, but with hindsight, they were bloody right. I hate it when that happens.
So, my body had done a pretty awesome job at growing this baby without much involvement from me, and I trusted it to do what it was made to do, but the further past my due date I got, the more my midwife started talking about the dreaded word: Induction. I really really didn’t want to be induced. Being induced meant no home birth, no water birth, artificially induced contractions which come thick and fast, which quickly snowballed in my head to a scenario which included episiotomies, epidurals, forceps, an emergency c-section, or probably all of the above. But, I couldn’t stay pregnant forever, so I was booked in to be monitored on Wednesday 6 March (at 40+12), and based on the results, we would know whether we would be given a little more time to see if I went in to labour naturally, or whether I would have to stay and be induced.
On Monday 4 March, I woke up at 5am and knew that something was different. I wouldn’t say that they hurt, but they were far more pressured than they had been previously. And they could be timed – every 3 minutes, lasting 90 seconds.  Around 9am, we gave our community midwife a call to let her know that SOMETHING at least was happening. Around midday, one of the team arrived and did some checks, watched me for a while and gave me an exam – I was 2cm dilated and 90% effaced. She left telling us to give them a call when things had progressed.
In preparation for labour, we learnt a lot about oxytocin and adrenaline and the impact it has. I thought it was really interesting, and a lot of it made sense to me, about being comfortable and not being watched, but I didn’t think it would have a huge impact on me. I was totally wrong. My labour all but ground to a halt as soon as the midwife arrived, and only picked up again once she’d left and we were on our own again.
By 11pm, contractions were still 3 minutes apart, lasting 90 seconds, but hadn’t got any stronger. We headed to bed to try to get some sleep. I woke up at 2am and went downstairs. By this point, I was beginning to doubt myself – should I try and sleep, or should I be jumping up and down on my yoga ball to keep things moving? Was this really the start of imminent labour, or was I still looking at an induction? I ate a yoghurt (which would turn out to be the last thing I ate for 24 hours – if I’d have known this, I might have tried to eat something more substantial) and called the out of hours midwife team for advice. They told me that the body sometimes stalled labour to allow you to get some rest, and that I should go back to bed, which I dutifully did. Miraculously, I was able to grab a couple more hours sleep, which I’m sure came in handy for the sleepless night that followed.
By 6am on Tuesday morning, things had changed again, and the contractions were still not something I would describe as pain, but were definitely more intense.  I needed to be on hands and knees, bent forwards BEFORE the contraction hit, as once the contraction was at it’s peak, I wasn’t able to move my legs at all. Around 9am, we called the midwife team, and a midwife was with us by 10:30am. Once again, my contractions slowed significantly as soon as the midwife arrived (very annoying), but she quickly made us both feel very at ease. The midwife, Jackie, was no-nonsense and old school and reminded me a lot of Sister Evangelina from ‘Call the Midwife’, but she was also refreshingly ‘hands off’. She knew how my labour was progressing by listening to me  and was happy to potter in the background whilst my contractions built back up.
Around 11:30am whilst Neil set the pool up, she told me that I was 5cm dilated.
However.
She could also feel something else which she wasn’t happy about – what she thought might be a vessel on the placenta or something like that. She explained that we needed to get this checked out by the hospital, but that if we were given the all clear, we would be able to come straight back home and carry on as planned. An ambulance was called and things were thrown in bags just in case we had to stay. At around 12pm, I waddled in to the ambulance with the midwife and Neil followed behind in the car.
Once we arrived at the hospital, we were shown to a room in the labour ward. Someone wearing green came in and put a cannula in my hand. I didn’t want it, and didn’t need it, but it was standard procedure, so that they would be able to respond quickly should they need to. Leaning on the bed with your weight resting on your hands when you have a cannula in your vein sucks. A lot. Then, someone else wearing green came in and introduced herself as Dr M, a consultant. Jackie didn’t hear what she said, so asked her to repeat herself, to which Dr. M curtly announced that she had already introduced herself to me, the patient, so wasn’t going to do it again. It was at that point I decided I probably didn’t like this Dr M lady a whole lot – a hunch that proved to be bang on the money.
A few other green people came in the room, and a portable ultrasound was wheeled in. Although lots of people have private scans throughout their pregnancies, we’d only had the 12 and 20 week scans, and I remember feeling very strange – the previous two scans we’d had were proper ‘miracle of life’ moments where you see your unborn child. This felt very different, I wasn’t able to see the screen, I didn’t WANT to see the screen.
They couldn’t see anything on the scan, so Dr M told me that she was going to give me a ‘gentle’ examination to make sure everything was OK. Now, I’ve had a sweep at 1.5cm dilated, which wasn’t what I would call comfortable. I’ve also had an exam at 5cm dilated, which by comparison, I could barely even feel. Based on the excruciating pain that I was in during the ‘gentle’ exam by Dr M, I can only assume she must have had her entire hand inside my blummin’ uterus to feel around the head/placenta/whatever they thought was in the way. I’m not afraid to say that I wailed and sobbed at this point, and I think someone might have had to scrape me off the ceiling. This was the most painful part of the entire labour – which was made all the worse by the fact that I was completely unprepared for it. Don’t get me wrong, she didn’t do what she did to be mean, there were medical reasons for it, and the health and safety of me and the baby were her principal concern, I’m sure. However, describing something as ‘gentle’ when she really meant ‘way more painful than anything you’ve ever experienced in your life’ doesn’t generally go down well in my books. If she’d have told me that it was going to hurt, but that she would be as quick as she could, or even given me some bloody gas and air, I might have been better physically and mentally prepared.
During the exam, she also accidentally ruptured my membranes (although given how thorough the exam was, it was a wonder they lasted that long in my opinion), which went against our requests in the birth plan – not that I assume she had read it – and subsequently ramped my contractions up another notch. The only saving grace was that my waters were clear, which meant a water birth could still be on the cards, even if our chances of getting home and filling the pool up on time were now approximately slim to none.
Jackie, our midwife, asked Dr M how dilated I was at this point, so she could avoid giving me another examination, and Dr M told her very dismissively that she had no idea, and that she had been concentrating on other things. If I had the energy or the ability to structure coherent sentences by that point, I would have told Dr M that given that she’d had HER ENTIRE FREAKING HAND ALL UP IN MY GRILL, that I was probably fairly dilated by now. As I had neither, I manager an eye-roll and went back to concentrating on breathing through my contractions. I do love a good eye-roll.
Once Dr M had finished her examination and the green people slowly filtered out of the room, we were left on our own and I begged for the pointless cannula to be taken out. At this point, we were technically free to leave the hospital and transfer back home, but the thought of labouring in the ambulance, and waiting for the pool to be filled at home was a less than thrilling prospect given the half an hour we’d just had, the fact that my waters had now gone, and I was now contracting like  a goodun (technical term). Neil suggested staying at the hospital and using the birth pool there, I begged Jackie and the student midwife to stay with us for the birth (and even though it probably goes against a whole lot of NHS guidelines, Jackie agreed – something I’m eternally grateful to her for) and the pool was filled up.
After a few minutes, we were told the pool was ready, and I did a hilarious walk down the corridor of the labour ward with a sheet draped around me, stopping every few yards to sway through a contraction. I must have looked a complete state to the bewildered visitors at the reception desk, but at that stage, I honestly didn’t give a toss.
I got in to the pool, which was a massive relief, and started using gas and air. I’m now convinced that the reason they give it out so freely is that it’s most effective if you’re quiet and NOT mooing like a cow. I quickly worked out that I couldn’t breathe in and moan at the same time, probably much to the relief of the midwife station just outside the door. It also gives you a mouth as dry as the Sahara desert, and between each and every contraction, I necked a glass of ice water. I’d also heard that the old Entenox can make some people a bit sweary. I love a good F-bomb at the best of times, so assumed I would naturally fall in to this foul-mouthed category, but it seemed to have the opposite effect. When I wasn’t frantically huffing on the mouthpiece or gulping water like my life depended on it, I was telling Neil just how much I loved him. Like, really really loved him. Eww, gross.
I found the comfiest position to be on my side, with my head on a rubber ring, holding Neil’s hand, and in easy reach of a glass of water and the gas mouthpiece. I remember having a sore hand from where my fingers had been bent back on the bottom of the pool – when each contraction hit, I ended up trying to lift myself out of the pool with my hands and feet. FYI, this didn’t make the blindest bit of difference, but still, made me feel better. Looking back, I still don’t remember the contractions being painful. I remember them taking over my whole body from my scalp to my toes, but the feeling I experienced wasn’t pain. I’ve since asked Neil whether I said to him that I was in pain at the time, and apparently I didn’t. It was pressure. All-encompassing, uncontrollable pressure. Whether this had anything to do with the relaxation and hypnotherapy CD that suggested contractions feeling like pressure, a wave or a tightening that I dutifully did every day* (*twice a month), I have no idea.
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Every woman is terrified they’re going to poo themselves in labour, right? Until you get there and you realise you quite literally don’t give a shit (‘SCUSE THE PUN) because you’ve got bigger fish to fry. Well, I’m here to tell you that I did some tiny poos in the bath. I don’t remember doing it, but at one point, I spotted them and asked Neil all surprised ‘Oh, did I do that?’ – like it could have feasibly been anyone else. To his credit, Neil did tell me that it was actually him that had done it. Still, I think if you’re going to poo in front of your husband for the first time, then doing it moments before birthing his first born child is a pretty good time to do it.
I probably have one too many episodes of ‘One Born Every Minute’ to blame for this, but I had an image in my head of how labour went. You went to the hospital when your contractions were 5 minutes apart, lasting for a minute, a midwife monitored you until you got to 10cm dilated, then you pushed for a couple of hours and did the whole chin to chest thing and the grunting, and eventually a baby popped out. Whereas my experience of labour so far was 36 hours of contractions 3 minutes apart lasting a minute and a half, one examination putting me at 5cm and an unexpected trip to the labour ward. Once I was in the pool, I was mercifully left to my own devices. The only checks Jackie was doing was using the doppler, taking my temperature and checking my pulse every 15 minutes. I only know how long I had been in the pool (45 mins) by the fact that I’d only had 3 checks whilst I was in there.
Shortly after the third check, I had a contraction which was different to the others. At the end of the contraction, I made a real grunting noise and I felt a tonne more pressure pushing down on my belly. The student midwife told me not to push, as Jackie had just stepped out of the room for her lunch. Midwives have lunch breaks, who knew?I told her I couldn’t control it at all, and she went to get Jackie back in the room. Jackie took a quick look and told me the head was right there ready to be born. She told me to feel the head, which I did, and it was nothing like I expected, it was pointy with a ridge down the middle. I told her it couldn’t possibly be the head because it was so pointy, but with the next contraction, the head was out – thus proving my theory wrong, shortly followed at 1:57pm (less than 2 hours after we arrived at the hospital) by the body. I didn’t push – it was like my body did it with little input from me. I think that’s what Ina May Gaskin calls ‘letting your monkey do it’.
Then we had the moment that I’ve seen a million times on maternity programmes – the bit where the purpe-ish squished baby is placed on the mother’s chest for the first time. The bit that I cry at without fail. But…I didn’t cry. In fact, I was a bit surprised to have a baby put on my chest in the first place. I had been concentrating so hard on getting through each contraction, that I had almost forgotten why I was doing it. But I looked down on this calm baby boy that didn’t cry, with it’s big alert eyes and wispy blonde hair and instantly fell in love, and wondered how on earth he could have possibly been in my tummy seconds before.
We had a few minutes together and then he was passed to Neil to have some skin-to-skin with whilst I got out of the pool and delivered the placenta. Jackie told me to stand up and get out of the pool so I could push out the placenta – I think I just looked at her gone out. I was meant to use my LEGS? I was meant to be able to WALK? Did you not just SEE what came out of me?!
…Apparently this rationale doesn’t get you out of the task at hand, so I dutifully stood up and attempted to get out of the pool. It was at that point I assessed the situation around me and realised how glad I was to be in a pool with a plug at the bottom, and not to be in an inflatable pool that needed to be emptied by the bucketload. I’ve seen water birth videos where the water is perfectly clear like a hot tub with a beautiful baby floating to the surface. What I saw before me was more like a murder scene. A murder scene with added poop.
Walking about with an umbilical cord hanging out of you is a pretty gross experience, so before getting out of the pool, I gave a little test push to see what happened. It was at that point, what I can only describe as THE ENTIRE WORLD splashed in to the pool below. This was the first and only point I swore throughout the entire labour. I bent down in to the water, scooped up the placenta, and as I passed it to the midwife, asked her ‘WHAT THE F**K IS THAT?!’ – to which she replied ‘Blimey! That’s a big one!’. apparently big baby = big placenta. Gross.
As my work was officially done, I got out of the pool and on to the bed. We named him William, had our first feed and some skin-to-skin and took guesses at his weight. I guessed 9lb 6oz, Neil guessed 9lbs 10oz. Jackie looked at us both and laughed. 10lb 8oz. TEN POUNDS EIGHT OUNCES OF PURE CHUNKY BABY.
So, after doing what I set out to do (have a baby with as few drugs and interventions as possible), I then ended up getting another cannula in my hand, a spinal block and being taken to theatre to be stitched back together – thanks to Billy’s enormousness and speed of arrival. As luck would have it, if we had been at home, we would have had to be transferred in to hospital after the birth, which I imagine would have been a whole lot more stressful than waddling to the ambulance at 5cm dilated. Before going to theatre, I was assessed by the consultant, Dr. M (who gave me the excruciating exam earlier), and was told ‘that’s what you get when you attempt a home birth’ – a comment she later came to apologise for after coming to look for me in the maternity ward because she felt guilty. See – what did I say? Cowbag.
I wasn’t able to sit up for them to put the spinal in when I was taken to theatre, so it had to be put in with me lying down. I’m assuming it was a combination of the shock, the drugs I’d been given and the spinal affecting my blood pressure, but I did some excellent heaves into those little cardboard bowls and tried to persuade anyone that would listen that I thought it would be an excellent idea to give me a couple of units of blood. Apparently, these aren’t available on request, which is a real pity. The surgery itself was fine – it was like I didn’t exist from the waist down, so it really didn’t matter what they were doing to me. I was more concerned with my face, which was the itchiest its ever been (a side effect of one of the drugs, apparently) and I spent the whole time giving it a good scratch. Once I was done, I was taken to recovery, had two glasses of the best lemon squash ever and was taken back to my room where I suddenly remembered I had a husband I was madly in love with, and a baby I’d just given birth to AND my mum had bought me some prawn cocktail sandwiches. I had a little (a big) cry.
After several sarnies and a big cuddle with Billy, Neil and my parents, me and Billy were taken to the maternity ward for the night – despite repeatedly asking if I could go home. Apparently they don’t let you home if you have a catheter in and can’t feel your legs? Who knew. So me and Baby Billy settled in for his first night in existence together, and Neil went home to deflate the abandoned birth pool and have a much deserved beer.

Now the important bit! Photos: 

Proud grandpa

Proud grandpa

A couple of hours old

A couple of hours old

On the maternity ward, showcasing his chub to the best of his ability

On the maternity ward, showcasing his chub to the best of his ability

The men in my life - Neil and Billy

The men in my life – Neil and Billy