I promised it would be on the way soon, so here’s the story of how Eden came into the world. I have to admit that birth was nothing like I thought it would be and neither was our journey – made me glad that I didn’t spend much time thinking about a birth plan.
On Sunday 13th December, we went into hospital for our scheduled induction due to high blood pressure. We had waited at home for them to call and tell us to come in and luckily they called at around 8am. I don’t think I could have waited much longer! We arrived at the hospital (via Starbucks) at around 11am with all our bags and such, ready for the next part of our adventure. I had a period of time in the monitor to check that Eden was doing well and then the dr came and went over my notes with me and did a general healthcheck and a scan to check Eden was still head down, which she was. She was a little concerned that my pulse was a little fast and I was quite sweaty, so she requested bloods to check for infection. It took the midwife three attempts to get the blood before she gave up, as evidently my veins were playing silly buggers. She asked for a phlebotomist to come up, which they did and successfully took the blood that they needed. Hooray!
Then we were left to chill for a little bit before being put on the monitor for half an hour. Everything looked great with me and with Eden and there were no contractions or anything like that showing up. The only drama being that Eden kept running off from the monitor, so Amy ended up holding it to my tummy. The midwife then examined me and told me that my cervix was closed and posterior. She inserted the Propess pessary at around 1.15pm and gave me a membrane sweep as well, which wasn’t the most comfortable thing in the world but hey…
We then had to have another half an hour on the monitor and again everything was fine, so we were allowed to go for a wander. They asked us to not go too far from the hospital, so we went over the road to a nearby Mcdonalds. I had a Happy Meal (this is relevant – I promise!) and was amused when my toy was a Yoohoo Fox thingy called “Pammee”, which made me laugh as our midwife on the ward was named Pam. We wandered around the South Bank of the Thames a little bit and then headed back up to the ward via the hospital shop where I bought a colouring book, anticipating a long wait. Anyone who had spoken to me about induction had said it was a process that was likely to take several days, especially as it was our first baby, so I was in for the long haul as far as I was concerned.
We passed time on the ward chatting, colouring and generally chilling
until 8pm when Amy had to go home. She wasn’t allowed to stay unless I was in established labour and at this point there was a big load of absolutely nothing going on. I was hopeful of getting a full night’s sleep before hopefully something kicking off in the morning. I had downloaded the Virgin Media Anywhere app and settled down to the X Factor final, at which point I noticed some period type pains.
The midwife (a different one now) came in half way through the final to put me on the monitor again and did my obs as well. The monitor was picking up a definite pattern of pains which were matching what I was feeling, but the midwife assured me that these were just “tightenings” and we could call them contractions when I couldn’t talk through them. I asked at which point we would call Amy to come back and she said when I’m in established labour – so either 4cm or broken waters. I asked when we would do an exam and she said when I couldn’t talk through the contractions. The midwife also gave me two paracetamol and an aspirin and said I should try to get some sleep. I texted Amy to let her know what was going on, chatted to some friends online for a while and then settled down to sleep once the painkillers had kicked in.
I woke up around 3am to find the pains were now really quite painful. I had downloaded a contraction timer app, and was surprised to see that they were coming about every two minutes and lasting around a minute each. I took a walk down the corridor to the day room to make a cup of tea (something that became a trend over the next few hours!) and sat in the chair next to my bed for a while. At this point laying down was really quite painful, so I was wandering around my cubicle and back and forth to the toilet. I was sharing a room with two other ladies, both of whom were sound asleep so I was aware that I didn’t want to wake them. Around 4am Amy woke up and was texting me. I couldn’t find the midwife and wanted more painkillers. Amy kept telling me to hit the alarm, but I didn’t want to set that off and wake up everyone on the ward, so I sat tight for a little while. Soon, I found a healthcare assistant and I asked her if it was possible to get more painkillers. She said she would send the midwife in, so I went back into my cubicle to wander around some more.
Soon, the midwife came back in. She asked what was wrong and I said I was having pains. She felt my tummy and confirmed that they were contractions and brought a doppler to check on Eden, who was doing absolutely fine. She said we should give it another half an hour or so and then she would examine me. Thankfully, she then brought more paracetamol and aspirin, which didn’t do a whole lot but it did take the edge off the pains. I had a weird sort of 45 minutes where I was dozing off to sleep between the pains – by this point I was completely exhausted and couldn’t wait for 9am when Amy could come back to the ward. We had originally thought it was 8am, so she ended up sitting downstairs for an hour much to my distress.
The midwife (lovely Pam was back!) came in just before 9 and was super excited about the contractions. She said she would be back in a bit to put me on the monitor again. I never did get my exam and Pam said she would only examine me at 1.15 when the pessary was due to be taken out or if my waters broke. The contractions were very much evident on the monitor now, so she asked the dr to prescribe some stronger painkillers and this time I got paracetamol and codeine, which was actually quite helpful. I decided to have a nap while Amy set up shop next to the bed and put Star Wars on her laptop – geek’s gonna geek right?
When I woke up at was 1.30pm and Pam said she was going to be in shortly to examine me and take the pessary out. I was still having pains but they hadn’t changed much since I had last had painkillers. I tried to sit up a little and heard an ominous pop noise. Amy had her hand on my tummy at the time and we both sort of went “what the hell was that?” I think deep down, we both knew it was my waters, but the absence of any waters leaking was putting us on edge. Amy went to get the midwife and I stood up to go to the toilet when there was a little trickle. The midwife came in and I said I was just going to nip to the toilet. She insisted on me laying down first so that she could examine me. It was at that point that my waters GUSHED… and I mean EVERYWHERE. I remember saying to Pam “OMG so much water” and she reassured me not to worry and I said “no seriously, when you see you’re going to be like “get out of my ward”.” She lifted up the blanket and asked Amy to go and get some “incopads” – isn’t that glamorous? Pads were soon on the bed and on the floor and we got on with the examination and taking the pessary out. The contractions at this point were VERY painful. I described it to a friend as “like my bum was gong to fall off” and that was pretty much it. It was VERY painful. Pam removed the pessary and then said she was going to check for dilation, at which point she very quickly told me that I was 5cm and needed to go to the birth centre NOW.
Pam went off to call the birth centre to make sure they had a room ready and Amy began gathering our things. I couldn’t believe how painful the contractions were becoming at this point and they were still coming at intervals of around one minute. Amy was an absolute star at this point, rubbing my back and telling me not to do anything apart from breathe through the pain. At some point there was a second gush of waters and a very glamorous inco pad made its way onto the floor. Pam came back with confirmation of the room being ready and we walked to the birth centre. I was offered a wheelchair but the thought of sitting down was painful and walking seemed to help with the contractions that I had on the way over there.
We got to birth centre room six and were introduced to our midwives Viv and Juliette. I don’t know how I remember that because I had had three contractions on the way there (it was like a 100ft walk TOPS) and as soon as I got into the room was leaning on the windowsill trying not to fall over with pain. They already knew I wanted an epidural, so the midwife paged the anaesthetist and got everything ready. Meanwhile they wanted to examine me again, but it just wasn’t happening as every time I laid down the pain would hit and I’d have to get back up again. The midwives were AMAZING. I kept apologising for getting up but they were reassuring me and telling me I really had to do what my body was telling me. Amy suggested gas and air, so I tried that and they got the examination done. I had now been in the birth centre for around twenty minutes at the very most, so was surprised to hear her say that I was now 7cm dilated!
I stayed on the bed for a while as they couldn’t get a trace so wanted to put a clip on Eden’s head. Every time they tried, though, I would get a contraction and they would have to stop. I hadn’t realised at the time although apparently they did tell me, but Eden’s heart seemed to be struggling with the contractions and they thought she might be in distress. Then I realised with the next contraction that I appeared to be pushing. The midwife just said “do what your body is telling you to do” so I carried on with each contraction and she told me “the head is out!” and asked me to stop pushing and just breathe the gas… so I did. They asked Amy if she wanted to have a look and she did, and they then asked me if I wanted to feel, to which I think my response was along the lines of “ummmm… no”. Then she asked for one more big push, I pushed and Eden was born at 1530, only an hour and forty five minutes after my water broke!
Amusingly at some point during this, an anaesthetist came in with the epidural. Needless to say he was told he wasn’t needed and he made a swift exit. One of the midwives had also been trying to insert a cannula but gave up when her colleague said she could see Eden’s head. I had my eyes closed through most of this – partly I think because I was off my face on gas and air – but I was very much in the room and was listening to everything that was going on. Apparently there was a third midwife at this point, so Amy tells me. I have no recollection of her… eek!
They placed her on my chest after whipping off my nightie for skin to skin and I will be honest here and say that I SOBBED! I wasn’t the only one, though. Both Amy and I cried and cried and cried at this point. I think I was a little bit in shock that she had come so quick as I was shaking quite a bit and the midwife kept giving me water. They waited five minutes or so for the cord to stop pulsing and Amy cut it. At that point they also gave me a shot to help deliver the placenta. It did make me laugh when the midwife said “sharp scratch” just before she inserted the needle. I felt like I’d just pushed out a bowling ball – no worries about a teeny tiny needle in the thigh.
Soon the placenta came out and was thankfully intact and they checked me for tears, at which point it was discovered that I had a bit of a nasty second degree tear. I was worried about stitches as a lot of people had said to me that stitches is worse than giving birth, but the midwives reassured me that they use an excellent local anaesthetic so it wouldn’t be too bad. At this point one of the lovely midwives, Viv, told me that her shift had actually ended when I was brought to the birth centre but she has hung around as Eden had come so quickly. She wished us all the best and then left us in the care of Juliette, the other midwife who had been there the whole time and who was going to be doing the stitches. I handed Eden over to Amy for cuddles and a bottle while I was stitched. The less said about the stitching, the better, but they were right that the anaesthetic was pretty good and it was nothing more than uncomfortable.
Once all of the stitching was done, I took a shower and got changed out of my messy clothes. It felt good to be clean and put fresh things on. In the meantime Eden had her vitamin K injection and more cuddles with mama. She was also weighed and we found out that she was 7lbs9oz, which I thought was a fantastic weight considering she was two weeks early. They had spent the whole pregnancy telling us that she was going to be some giant monster baby, so I thought this was a nice weight for our perfect little one.
The midwife then did Eden’s newborn check. Eden passed with flying colours, showing ten fingers and ten toes present and everything else that a new little girl needs. She also decided that this was the perfect time to do her first poop, which was… well it was poop! After all was checked, we were left alone in the room for a while for more cuddles and to recover a little bit. This was the most surreal thing in the world. We called family, facetimed with Amy’s dad and stepmum and then her mum and sister and just generally tried to fathom the fact that all of a sudden we were a family of three instead of a family of two.
After a couple of hours we were moved the the postnatal ward and Amy went and got us some food, which by this point was much needed. We were both totally exhausted! It was at this point that the midwife told me that I had lost about 650mls of blood, so they needed to take some more blood to check my iron levels. I never heard anything back from that, so I’m assuming that was all fine. My BP also dropped almost immediately after she was born back to a relatively normal level, suggesting that what I had was indeed gestational hypertension and not an existing problem.
I got some great sleep that night. Amy was on mama duty most of the night, which was wonderful because I don’t think I could have kept my eyes open even if I had wanted to. Eden woke up for a couple of feeds through the night but in general was a very quiet baby – not at all as dramatic as she was in the womb! I woke up to Eden and Amy cuddling and soon took over so that Amy could get a couple of hours sleep before breakfast.
After breakfast there was a steady stream of people coming round. First midwives for observations for me and for Eden – all normal thankfully. Then we had to take her for her more detailed newborn check, which was all fine. After that the hearing screening lady came round and although Eden’s left ear was fine, her right ear wasn’t so good so after a couple of attempts we were booked in to see the audiologist at an outpatient clinic. They thought maybe there was some birth fluids still in her ear as she was delivered so quickly so wanted to check again in a week – spoilers: her right ear was fine at the appointment. Clean bill of health for our girl. We then had a physiotherapist come round to give me some instructions for helping repair my more delicate areas – that was fun. I did not know there were physiotherapists for vaginas! We also got given Eden’s red book and a midwife came to check my stitches, which were all just fine.
After lunch the midwife told us we were good to go and hang out in the discharge lounge as we would be going home that day. I was utterly thrilled. We packed up our stuff and headed down to the discharge lounge to wait for our official discharge and for Amy’s dad to come with the car seat. Before too long we were on our way home – Amy with Eden in her carseat and me with a bag filled with painkillers – hooray!
So, that’s Eden’s birth story. I was very glad that I didn’t go into this with anything remotely like a birth plan. I had birth preferences, but nothing like a plan and I think that worked for me. I never thought I would be someone who gave birth on just gas and air – I intended to be up to my eyeballs in whatever pain relief they would give me! – but circumstances meant I didn’t get my epidural and she was coming whether I liked it or not! I’ve certainly never felt pain like it and I was surprised that as well as making me feel a bit whoozy, the gas also took the edge off the worst of the pain and gave me something else to think about other than the “bum falling off” feeling. No one told me that inductions could progress so fast, so the whole thing was a bit of a whirlwind after expecting to be in for the long haul. I’m thrilled to bits that it was relatively trauma free and both of us came out of it absolutely fine.
Total roller coaster ride. Amy was a total and absolute superstar and I couldn’t have done it without her. We’re both so happy to have our little girl here and as much as I didn’t enjoy her birth, I wouldn’t change it for the world. It also cemented my decision that we picked the right hospital as not once did the midwives try and tell me what to do or be too harsh. They were saying all the way through that I could do it and to trust my body. Not condescending or rude or similar. Just supportive and wonderful. I need to send a thank you card as everyone we came into contact with at the hospital – St Thomas’ in London – was fantastic and I really felt like my care was top notch. I couldn’t have asked for a better support network.
So, that’s the birth story… I’m exhausted just writing it!