Another fast birth story

As I didn’t have a blog when Andrew was born, I didn’t write his birth story online. I did, however, write it in his baby journal, but that was in pen and paper (that’ll be a rare thing for him to look back on in years to come!) so I can’t just publish it quickly here. When he was a year old, I wrote a blog post comparing the day of his birthday that year and the day of his birth. In a nutshell (wow that’s restrained of me), here’s how Andrew was born…. My first contraction was around 2pm, and I had mild, not very painful, irregular contractions until about 7.30pm when suddenly my waters broke. We rang the midwife-led Birth Centre and were told to come in for an assessment due to my waters breaking. Suddenly whilst we were in the car the contractions got much stronger and much faster. Once we were at the Birth Centre and they’d established that I was in active labour, they filled the birth pool and I got in some time after 9pm. Not long after I had the urge to push and did that in the pool for a while until the midwife suggested that I wasn’t pushing efficiently in water because it was relaxing me too much and that if I got out baby would come faster – she was right, within minutes of being back on land Andrew arrived, just 3 hours after I felt I was actually in labour.

This time I knew there was a possibility that baby would come even quicker, so we prepared for the eventuality of a home birth just in case, though my preference was to make it to the brand new Birth Centre and hopefully have an actual water birth. Of course there was no guarantee, but I was hoping that this second labour would go as quickly and smoothly as before. At my 38-week midwife appointment, baby was in back-to-back position, so I’d been a little worried that this would mean a longer labour and I’d been doing everything I’d heard of to try and turn baby into a better position. It turns out that either these things worked, or it didn’t matter anyway!

A few hours after birth, just where he wanted to be - snuggled up to Mummy!

Baby’s due date rather handily fell in the middle of half-term; as Tom’s mum is a teacher, she was happy to come and stay for the week, and we hoped that the arrival would happen some time that week, so that she could take care of Andrew; of course we knew that it might not happen then and we’d need a plan B. The weekend at the start of half term came, and there were no signs of an imminent arrival. We carried on as usual, and showed Grandma the ropes for looking after Andrew, like where to find nappies, what the bathtime and bedtime routine is, and how he likes to be entertained these days. On the Monday morning, we all went together to our usual playgroup, and then Andrew napped, followed by lots of reading with Grandma in the afternoon.

I took advantage of our babysitter and went for a swim. I did 60 lengths of breaststroke – this was one of several natural methods of labour induction (aka old wives’ tales) that I was trying by this point; others include eating copious amounts of pineapple, drinking raspberry leaf tea, eating hot curries and walking lots (which I do anyway). Still no signs though…. until just as I was doing bedtime with Andrew at around 7.15pm. During his usual breastfeed, I felt a few very mild contractions. I mentioned this to Tom just as we were reading a story after Andrew’s milk-time, but I didn’t want to say anything to Grandma yet, just in case it was a false alarm, or if it wasn’t then at least she could go back to her B&B and get some sleep before we might need to ring her to come round during the night.

So Grandma left at about 8.15pm, and I settled down in what had come to be my favourite position over the past two weeks of trying to get baby to turn – kneeling on a bean bag and leaning forward onto the sofa with some cushions to support me under the arms. The contractions continued, so we started to time them; they were already quite regular at about 5-7 minutes apart, but were only about 30-40 seconds long and not very painful, completely copable with just by breathing deeply. At about 9pm (our usual bedtime these days) I said to Tom that he could go to bed if he wanted, to try and get some sleep before anything more dramatic happened. I didn’t want to lie down, but was happy to stay up watching a DVD on my own in the living room. Tom decided he wouldn’t be able to sleep, so we carried on chatting and timing contractions together.

By about 11.30pm, things seemed to be slowing down, as the contractions were coming further apart (about 5-10 minutes). Tom decided to go to bed, and I stayed up. By 12.30am, I was getting a bit fed up, as the contractions didn’t seem to be getting closer together, if anything further apart as there were more 10 minute gaps creeping in, and they still wren’t really that painful, just annoying! I said to myself that I’d give it til 1am, and if things were still the same, I’d also go to bed, to try and rest as much as possible, thinking that this could go on for a while.

Just as I was about to give up and go to bed, I had a stronger contraction and with it my waters broke at 1am. If past experience was anything to go by, I knew that the contractions would now ramp up and things would really get going. So I woke Tom and he rang the Birth Centre, because when your waters break, they automatically want to see and assess you. Tom explained that my contractions had been regular but not too close or painful, and also that my previous labour had been fast after the point of waters breaking. They told us to come in, so Tom rang his mum who was 10 minutes away. Within the time that Tom was on the phone, my contractions did suddenly get much more intense, and I did contemplate whether I wanted to get in the car or stay at home for the birth. But knowing that there would be no traffic so it really was just 10 minutes door to door, and that the Birth Centre looked so amazing, I went for it!

The journey wasn’t very comfortable because I didn’t want to be sat down at all, but rather kneeling or standing, so I was relieved to get there (at 1.30am) and be shown into a room by a very friendly midwifery nurse. As she was doing the routine checks (like blood pressure, urine, foetal heart rate), or rather trying to do them as I kept needing her to stop for another contraction, it soon became clear to the nurse that she needed to fetch a midwife.

As soon as the midwife arrived, she took one look at me, felt baby’s position, checked the heart rate, and got out the delivery kit next to me as I was kneeling down on the floor with my arms over the bed. I remember asking to go in the pool, but her response was that baby was nearly here so there was no time to fill it. The next thing I knew I was pushing and could feel that baby really was very nearly here! At 2.08am, just over half an hour after we arrived, an hour since labour really started, and after only a few pushes, Joel was delivered. He let out a big cry as I sat backwards still on my knees and was able to pick him up myself and put him straight on my tummy. When the cord stopped pulsing, the midwife clamped and cut it, and I moved to sitting on the bed holding Joel still on my tummy. He lunged across to my right breast and had a good first feed, just minutes after birth. Meanwhile the midwife took care of helping me deliver the placenta; I was checked for tearing and blood loss, both of which were fine, so I didn’t need to have the injection to help deliver the placenta quickly and minimise blood loss (this had made me vomit several times after Andrew’s birth).

A sleepy moment - he spent the night feeding and sleeping, next to me the whole time, skin to skin.

After Joel had been weighed and given vitamin K once he’d latched off from his first feed, the midwife left us to it and we sat marvelling at the new addition to our family as he continued to feed and feed. As I looked over at the snazzy clock with time and date on, it struck me that he’d actually arrived on his due date! I never thought we’d be part of that rare statistic. From googling I see that the percentage of babies born on due date is somewhere between 2% and 5%, depending on the source – the most reputable one for the UK that I could find was the NCT website.

Throughout the night, Joel slept and fed in alternation, and I sat there just looking at him – the lovely mood lighting with changing colours was amazing, as I could see him perfectly but the light wasn’t too bright. Tom was allowed to stay the night in our room in the new Birth Centre, which he hadn’t been allowed to in the old one; he slept a bit – I guess he didn’t have the hormonal high that I had which stopped me sleeping after the birth.

In the morning, Andrew came to meet his little brother, complete with Grandma, Granny and Grandad in tow. He seemed very impressed with the ‘beh-beh’, though was also highly fascinated with the birth ball in the room and rolled it around giggling loudly. Joel has his neo-natal checks and once all the paperwork was done, we were allowed to go home, less than 12 hours after we turned up!

Overall, I’m very thankful that I was once again blessed with a fast labour and all went ‘to plan’. I still didn’t get to have a water birth, and it doesn’t look like I ever will – even if we do decide to have another child, which isn’t that likely at the moment, then it’s unlikely I’d have time to get a pool filled if labour was even faster! I’m also so glad that we made it to the new Birth Centre – it was lovely, even though we didn’t make use of many facilities like the pool in the room because it all happened so fast.

Pregnancy diary: week 39 – bump still here

I was thinking about starting to write this post yesterday, with the thought that it might help to start labour, as then I would have wasted my time in writing something that I wouldn’t have got round to publishing. But in the end I had other things to do and Andrew’s nap was shorter than usual due to the fact that I stupidly let him take a talking toy car with him for nap time – he must have moved and inadvertently pressed the button, which started the car talking again and woke him up! Lesson learned!

This week has in many respects been much the same as any other recent week. We’ve been to the same groups as usual, and at every single one I’ve had the usual comments – ‘so you’re still here then’ or ‘so you’re still pregnant then’ or ‘no sign of baby then’ or ‘when are you due?….[me: next week] Really?! You look very neat/small!’ In fact if I had a pound for every time someone commented on how small or ‘neat’ bump is for this stage in pregnancy, I’d have enough money to splash out on some more cloth nappies (you can tell what’s on my mind). But according to the chart, bump was bang on the right size for 38 weeks, the last time it was measured. Maybe it’s because I’m ‘all bump’ and from the back I don’t look pregnant (so I’m told…)

I wish I had a pound for every time someone said how small/neat bump is considering there's less than a week to go til due date!

I can’t deny it though, I have been waking up each day wondering if today will be the day. This thought doesn’t usually have chance to stay around in my head for very long, because it’s soon overshadowed by thoughts of looking after Andrew and keeping on top of things around the house, which tend to keep my brain occupied until nap time, when I relax and have me-time – still on all fours and kneeling! This week I’ve had a real sense of enjoying my time with Andrew, just the two of us; not that I don’t enjoy it anyway, but this week all the more so because I’m aware that we don’t have long left now until there will be three of us when Tom’s at work. Exactly how long, I don’t know, but not long compared to Andrew’s life-time so far. It’s quite hard to imagine being able to love and care for two little ones, to spread between two what I currently have for one, but I’ve been told that this is a perfectly normal feeling when you’re pregnant with your second child, and you soon learn once the baby is here that it is completely possible to spread the love between two and not feel like you’re doing either of them any harm.

I’ve also reached the stage of trying out the old wives’ tales of natural labour induction methods; I have no idea whether any of these really work, but it can’t harm in trying!

  1. Large pineapples currently cost only £1 in our local supermarket, so I’ve been munching on these, though I have to say I haven’t consumed my own body weight in pineapple, which I think is the scale of consumption that’s necessary to actually induce labour. Still, I love pineapple, and it’s a good excuse to eat it anyway.
  2. I’ve dug out the raspberry leaf tea that I bought in the final week of pregnancy with Andrew – it’s slightly out of date, but how can tea go off?! Again, I like the taste of it anyway, so even if it makes no difference, I’m enjoying the odd cup here and there when I’m in the mood.
  3. I still can’t stand the smell of food cooking if it involves frying or roasting, but I have experimented and figured out that I can cope with a curry made like this: chuck in a pan a tin of chopped tomatoes, a tin of lentils, a chopped up leek and whatever other veg you like (e.g. chopped cauliflower, chopped aubergine, chopped sweet potato), mix it all with a couple of tablespoons of curry paste, and heat it up with the lid on the pan for about 20 minutes until the veg is softened to the consistency you like it (we like ours with a bite still), then wilt in some spinach and serve with rice and/or naan bread. So we’ve been eating quite a few curries and I’ve been adding more and more chilli powder to mine as the week has gone on. It was immediately after a hot curry on Tom’s birthday in 2011 that suddenly my waters broke and 3 hours later Andrew arrived!
  4. I’m doing lots of walking, as this is part of our normal daily life anyway – we walk most places (shops, town, groups, park etc.) in Cambridge, and this usually adds up to at least 1-2 hours a day.

As for an update on baby’s positioning – I have no idea! I’ve tried to feel bump myself, but unlike the midwife who seems to just do a few prods and tells me confidently exactly how baby is lying, I find it hard to know which way round baby is. So I’m just hoping that all my efforts of kneeling, sitting forward on hard chairs, swaying my hips side to side whilst on all fours, swimming on my front, doing handstands in the pool (a tip from a friend’s mum who’s a midwife!) etc. will all pay off in the long run. I can’t say that I haven’t tried.

I’m hoping that the next post I write involving baby will be to announce our good news. My due date is Tuesday (30th), so only 4 days time. Not that I have any say in when baby decides to arrive, but I think by next Friday I’ll be getting a little impatient if there are no signs. Plus we now have all-day and all-night cover for Andrew looking after purposes until the end of next weekend, thanks to my parents and Tom’s mum. Let’s hope that my body and baby agree that this would be a splendid time to kick off the action! 🙂