It’s 1am and I’m writing this on the notes of my iPhone. Well I’m starting it, whether or not I’ll finish it on here or anywhere is a mystery. I’ll say this now. If I do finish it & publish it, be warned this will probably be a long post. Feel free to leave at any time. This is more for my well being than anything. Letting it out in writing was the reason I started writing in the first place. That creative outlet – I guess sometimes you need an emotional outlet too. I don’t share that much on here but who cares. It’s my blog. I’ve hardly spoken about my birth story. I’m not sure why. I guess the week in hospital post birth was more traumatic than the birth itself! (Overfilled and understaffed wards are a match made in hell).
Anyway. This is my birth story.
If you don’t know, I’m plus size. Just throwing that out there. What does this mean?
Not a lot to be honest. I just want to start by saying I had a GREAT pregnancy. I’m not even being sarcastic; I’m being real. I loved being pregnant and I was healthy throughout. There wad no gestational diabetes, no high blood pressure, no pre-eclampsia worries & ironically I didn’t put on any weight. Baby C measured spot on throughout & I enjoyed my pregnancy minus the surprised looks from medical staff when they realised this! So yes, you can be plus size & pregnant.
Yes, you can be plus size & have an easy pregnancy. Yes, it’s true.
Anyway. On Friday 30th December I woke up in the morning with mild tummy pains. Towards the end of my pregnancy the weird twinges & pains became regular. It was everything from my uterus expanding to Baby C practising his kickboxing. But these pains were different. It was like a mild pinching, and I started to think this could be it – this was the moment we’d been waiting for! My due date was the 2nd January, so it was close. I got up as normal, made breakfast and Mr C & I joked that this was it. There’s one thing to be said for our relationship; no matter what’s happening we’ll always laugh about it.
Gradually throughout the day these pains got worse. It was like someone was pinching my insides and letting them go. So I called the hospital, they told me to go in. I did, they checked me over, gave me an examination down below, told me I was barely dilated & sent me home. The examination was pretty painful but over quickly. I think this was a sweep. My goodness it was a hold your breath and count to 10 as quick as you can moment. Ouch! Obviously being in pain is never nice but I expected to be sent home. (We’d been watching One Born Every Minute and that seemed to be a regular thing!)
We went home and ‘tried’ to be normal. Had a warm shower, watched TV and that kind of thing. Paracetamol was allowed at this point, but did absolutely nothing to numb the pain. I was messaging friends but didn’t tell them what was happening. I was just acting normal. I didn’t feel ready just yet. Excuse my timings, the days all blurred into one at this point as when you start having contractions that’s it. Sleep doesn’t exist. I think later on that night I couldn’t take the pain anymore. My mucus plug had come out or I had ‘the show’ as people say & a little blood that was kind of gross if I’m honest but then I knew we were really underway. I even tried to eat an egg mayo sandwich in between contractions. It took a long time but not much gets between food and me. Haha!
We were using an app to time the contractions & they were really close. I called the hospital again, I actually couldn’t talk at one point because of the pain & they told us to go in again. Poor Mr C was getting an earful from my as I cursed at every hump & bump he went over. He did so well getting me to the hospital while I was screaming in pain. Literally one minute I was swearing and shouting at him to pull over and drive slower, then I was telling him to go go go go quick as he could. (Nightmare back seat driver!)
We went back to the labour ward and because I was in pain and leaning across the reception desk mumbling “Sorry” over and over again, they gave me a room. I don’t know why I kept apologising. It makes me laugh now. After another examination I was only 2cm dilated. Guess what?! They sent me home. Again.
I wasn’t happy at this point. The contractions were so painful I could hardly walk. They gave me some stronger pain relief tablets but the pain got so bad I threw up. It didn’t matter; they gave me some more and told me the same as before. If it gets worse or if my waters break to go back. I wasn’t happy. I was probably a little stroppy. I begged for pain relief that would help. I understood they didn’t want me to take up a room but the thought of the journey home again was awful!
We headed downstairs in the lift at the hospital. I was basically laughing and crying on the way back to the car park. This baby wanted to hold on until his due date for sure! As we stepped out of the lift I felt like I was wetting myself. Not completely but as if I needed a wee for hours and someone had just made me laugh. You know when you can’t hold it & a little bit TOO much comes out. Enough for you to feel far too warm down there! I already had a pad on because of the bits of mucus etc. so that helped me not cause a small puddle. I told Mr C my waters had just broken he was like “Are you sure?” He was adamant we should just go home like they said but I was certain I didn’t need a wee and that was an uncontrolled bit of liquid that had escaped me. So we went back upstairs. They must have thought I was taking the biscuit. But I told them what happened. She checked my pad, gave me a new one, checked that and agreed my waters had broken.
Now based on what I’d read, been told & researched. Once your waters break you’re supposed to stay in hospital. Well not on this occasion. They sent me home. I was in a bit of shock & although I questioned it, the midwife was adamant I was to go home & return in 24 hours or if the contractions became constant. So once again (against my better judgement) we went home. It was probably around midday now. I was hungry, tired & in pain. We still laughed about the whole thing because after all it’s an experience!
So we went home. Waited a few hours. I think I managed until around 5pm that evening. I tried every coping mechanism possible until the pain became constant. So I called the labour ward again. The receptionist remembered me because she was surprised I was being sent home too. She told me to go in. I couldn’t talk. The pain was too intense. So trust me when I say that was an interesting drive. Poor Mr C. He did so well I can’t even tell you.
We got to the hospital and all the examinations took place again. I was still only 3cm dilated but my contractions reactions were so strong they thought labour would commence pretty quickly from here. RELIEF! NO DRIVE HOME. I had had gas & air that I don’t think helped as such. I think it was the biting on something that helped refocus me away from the pain. Although Mr C said at first I was a little spaced out talking about the fact I REALLY needed to put some socks on. Ha! He is still adamant that the gas and air made me giddy. That should have been the last thing on my mind! Then the injections started. The pain was so bad the injections were a breeze! Finally they took me to a room and on New Year’s Eve I was about to give birth.
My midwife was awesome. Friendly, down to earth & just great. Honest & sincere. We watched the fireworks together while Mr C had a nap on the hospital chair & it was all pretty normal but strange. Based on the fact I’m plus size, the advise from my consultant at previous appointments was to have an early epidural. In case there was an emergency, it meant I’d be ready to go. In my opinion, if I got pregnant again I would DEFINITELY be having an epidural. It’s unpleasant but like I said before. The pain from the contractions was so bad it didn’t make a difference. I was a wall of strength at this point. I reckon Mike Tyson could have punched me & still stand up straight. The adrenaline was strong & my mind was even stronger.
At midnight the lovely midwife went and had a little party with the other medical people. (It was New Year’s Eve after all!) She came back and brought me a 2017 hat, which was quite amusing. Everything was going well. No concerns. We were just waiting for me to dilate more so I could start pushing. They check you every 3/4 hours. The doctors came around 3am and decided to give me some hormone injection to try & help my cervix. I’d been having contractions for 2 days by that point & my waters had been broken for quite a while. They did all of that. Everything plodded along nicely.
Around 5am my midwife went on her lunch. I kept telling her to have a break & to make sure they found cover so she could rest. Working nights must be tough & I felt bad that she was literally just sitting there monitoring me and nothing was really going on. So she went on her lunch. Another woman covered and all I can recall is dozing off for the first time in 2 days. I was woken up by nearly a dozen people in the room. Specialists had stormed in, because apparently everything had suddenly spiked.
[I stopped writing here… I’m not sure why. I think I was dealing with the emotions of being a new mum and all that jazz. But a year later I’m going to continue!]
From here, everything happened so quickly. The baby was getting a little distressed and I was pretty exhausted. They knew I was ready to give birth, the baby was ready, and I was bloody ready! But I just didn’t dilate anymore. I think I got to 5cm and that was it. They gave me a few more hours and that was it. Eviction time. 8am, a host of people came in. I felt like I was in Eastenders. Poor Mr C was in a little slump on the chair and was startled almost to death as they all walked in. Now this is the part that happened quickly. SO quick. It was far more dramatic than I expected it to be.
Mr C was thrown a gown and hat and told to GET DRESSED NOW! I was being read a yellow form giving my consent to an emergency caesarean. The injections in my hands means I scribbled the signature of a 1 year old. But whatever, did it really matter what happened at this point? The risks were read out to me – a long list of horror stories – but I was so chilled out, because at the end of the day if my body wasn’t going to finish the job, someone had to! I wasn’t angry with myself. I had done a great job so far; I just wanted to get through this safely and completely.
We went to theatre and the last time I was in any environment like this was when I had my appendicitis out when I was about 6 years old. It was strange being wheeled in a bed around the corridors I’d been walking down for the last few months. I still wasn’t scared. Adrenaline had set in and I was ready to go. Calm, collected and in control of my emotions. When we got to theatre I had to move from the hospital bed to the theatre bed. I almost laughed out loud. I was like listen guys, I’m a big girl, with an epidural and cannulas in both hands that hurt when I clench my fists and I’m currently having a baby. It isn’t going to happen. Luckily for me, a really nice, big guy was in the theatre and he literally man handled me on to the bed and reassured me. He was an angel that guy, for so many reasons. I don’t know if they get him in for the big jobs, but if they do it’s bloody brilliant.
There I was, lying on this bed. Thinking about the stupid programme One Born Every Minute and thinking how my life was about to change. I was adamant that no matter what we were all going to get through this. I was still calm and more collected than I’d ever been in my life. Mr C was next to me. Some medical professional was talking to me but I honestly couldn’t take in what she said. I just knew if things weren’t right I’d let her know. I can’t quite describe how the caesarean felt. It was of epic proportions. Lying there, thankfully not feeling anything while you feel your insides being tugged. They told me I would feel some pressure on my chest. They lied. I thought my head was going to explode and the pressure was so intense I physically couldn’t open my mouth. That was the scariest part. I managed to whisper to Mr C that I was about to be sick. He managed to grasp what I said and alerted the medical woman… maybe she was the anaesthetist. She gave me some more of whatever it is that helps with that feeling. I still felt like I was on the moon with no oxygen but I knew it would be over soon. Really soon.
I felt like I was in there for 10 minutes. But it must have been a couple of hours. Suddenly the noise and hustle increased and the big hench guy told me everything was OK and the baby was out. I couldn’t talk. Even if I could have I wouldn’t have spoken. I needed to hear a cry. A gurgle. A something. There was no sound. The hench guy was nonchalant but in a lovely way and was like don’t worry it can take a minute. Obviously, I can’t see anything at this point. Then all of a sudden I heard a strained cry. THERE WAS A BABY IN THE ROOM. I was still lying there in controlled shock. They quickly came over and said ‘Mum, baby is fine but he needs helps breathing. We’re taking him straight away, but Daddy come and take some pictures while we quickly clean him up”.
[God, I’m a year into being a mum and I still want to cry writing this.]
Back to the labour story. Mr C and I had agreed that if ANYTHING were wrong with the baby, he would go with him. Simple as that. No matter what the situation is with me. Thank god we had agreed and planned that. Not so much for me, but Mr C was torn between a rock and a hard place! Staying to make sure I’m OK, or going with this brand new little human who has just landed. They showed me the baby as they whipped him out of the room and then Mr C went. I barely saw this flash of white pass my eyes. The silence that followed was crazy. An eerie kind of “Am-I-still-alive?” haze. My body felt strange, I felt lighter headed than I’d ever felt in my life and it was over. Was I OK? Was I even awake? 9 months of talking to this baby in my belly and it was over.
I don’t know how long it took to sew me up and all that jazz, but I was put in recovery with oxygen. I looked at the clock at it was 12.20pm, so I was in there a long time! I was still as relaxed as possible. I knew Mr C was with our baby. I tried not to think too much because at this moment in time I was almost having an outer body experience. Like I was looking at myself from above! No one else was in recovery. Were we the first that day? I asked myself lots of questions but didn’t try and answer them.
A while later Mr C came in and showed me some pictures that didn’t seem real. A lovely trainee midwife who I met several times during my pregnancy happened to bump into Mr C and she came with him. She was the nicest person ever. I hope wherever she is she is doing well. A random nurse came and gave be a blue teddy saying any baby born on New Year’s Day gets a gift. NEW YEARS DAY! It was the 1st January 2017. What a way to bring in the New Year.
I sent Mr C back to the baby. I needed him to not be alone. We had already named our son Cameo but it didn’t feel right calling him that until I had seen him. Seen my baby. My instincts were kicking in and my emotions were unstable. I was feeling this rollercoaster of intense grief in my tummy. Like I’d lost something and I needed my baby. I was sent back to the labour recovery suite and I think I fell asleep. I can’t remember. I woke up and was told I NEEDED to have a wee and a shower. Like, I couldn’t leave or do anything until I had. This was torture. I have a low pain threshold and I think the adrenaline had worn off. This pain was real. But I wanted to see my baby so I did it.
When I was back to my bed, I think I was told that our baby was a bit poorly and was in neonatal. I won’t go into this because it’s a whole other story. But I absolutely couldn’t take it anym-ore. I needed to meet this little thing I’d made. I broke down. Hysterically. The nurse came over and asked me if I wanted to see him. DUMB QUESTION but meant kind-heartedly. I was sobbing. I wanted to meet this baby. My baby. I felt like I had lost a leg. I’d birthed this child and not even met him yet.
Mr C wheel chaired me to the neonatal unit. I wasn’t allowed to go in the room with the wheelchair so I got up and walked pigeon steps to the incubator. I lost my breath. For the first time in my life I was speechless. Like really. My breath had been taken away. Winded. I managed to whisper, “My baby”. That’s my baby. I couldn’t believe it. This tiny, tiny, tiny, thing. My son. I had a child. This gorgeous, soft, delicate, small, bundle of human. I couldn’t believe it. This little baby had been in my belly. I grew him. I can’t even grow a plant! This was a miracle. Human life is a miracle. I went over to him and I’ve never seen anything so precious in all my life. Actual words cannot express how I felt at that moment.
We spent a week in hospital. (That’s a story for another day) but we left happy and healthy. I had a caesarean and I will stand by the fact it is NOT the easy way out as some people refer to it. It’s also a natural birth as far as I’m concerned. My son came out of me didn’t he? That’s as natural as it gets. If anyone says otherwise, you’ll actually have me to deal with. I had a great pregnancy and I know the caesarean sounds traumatic but that was the easy part. Seriously. I’m forever thankful for the midwives and hospital staff up to that point. They are worth their weight in gold. (The aftermath is another story as I keep saying).
But there you go. My labour / birth story. Sending you all love and positive vibes. Roll on birth number 2!
Written by Hollie Burgess for her blog, Pretty Big Butterflies.