After our first birth with Aria (read the story here) we were determined to have a much more positive experience the second time around!
Ideally, I would have loved to make it to 40 weeks and go into labour spontaneously, however due to the growth dropping below the 5th centile, we were told that it would be safer for the baby if we were induced at 37 weeks. So the date was set! Despite the threat of an even earlier arrival, we made it to the induction date, hopeful that we wouldn’t be gone for too long. Not only was our second baby arriving, but it was the first time we have ever left Aria over night, and that was definitely a lot scarier than the induction itself to us!
So on the morning of the 26th June, in a mix of excitement and sadness, we left for the hospital. On arrival we were told there may be a delay to the start of induction due to doctors having to handle a few emergencies, so we settled into the Anntenatal ward and tried to relax the best we could. Thankfully we had the bay next to a window so despite the sweltering heat, we could remain relatively cool and had a bit more space than some of the other bays. Around lunch time the doctors finally came around and spoke through the process with us. I was delighted to hear they were fully on board with not using the Syntocinon drip unless it was absolutely necessary and that they were going to try and make this experience the total opposite of my previous labour. As expected I was only 1cm dilated and there was no way they could break my waters straight away, so I was given the first progesterone pessary shortly after, told to keep active and that they would reassess in 6 hours.
Having been through induction before I know how important it is to keep active in order to get things moving. So we decided to climb the 9 flights of stairs to the top of the building, walk all the way back down them, do a lap of the hospital and then climb the 4 flights back up to the labour ward. Needless to say by the time we got back to labour ward, the contractions had set in pretty well and were coming quite regularly. I was sure that on the reassessment it would be show time! However this was not the case. Despite now being 3cm dilated, the angle wasn’t right and I was told if they attempted to break my waters it would be extremely painful and it would be better to try another progesterone pessary to see if this helped. I was slightly deflated at this news. I really hoped we would be out by dinner time, or at least in time to be home with Aria overnight. But unfortunately baby had other plans and was coming in their own time!
Around 3am the contractions started to ramp up, I could barely walk without having to stop to breathe through them, and I requested some oramorph to take the edge off the cramping, mostly just so I could get some sleep! The midwife also recommended a TENs machine since I felt the majority of the contractions in my lower back. This machine was an absolute god send and I’m sure is the main reason why I went as long as I did without any other pain relief!
For the rest of the morning, I slept, rode out the contractions and waited for my next examination. The contractions were coming fast and strong! Around every minute and it was safe to say they were fairly uncomfortable by this point! Rory was doing an amazing job of talking me through each one, keeping me calm and supplying endless back massages. Yet, I still lay there, watching Jeremy Kyle, convinced that it was still early labour and I’d have hours of waiting before anything really happened. Boy was I wrong!
Within the following hour the contractions became even more intense. I knew these were the real deal. They were the same as they had been just before Aria was born. I could no longer lay down and breathe through them. Instinctively I positioned myself over the back of the bed, just as I had done with Aria, and rode out each contraction the best I could. Rory recognised the situation immediately and suggested that we call the midwife, especially as I wasn’t due to to be checked for another hour or so. Reluctantly I let him, whilst I quickly raced to the bathroom before another wave of contractions rendered me unable to move.
On visiting the bathroom I was met with something most pregnant women fear. Blood. And lots of it.
I felt my face turn white and panic set it. I was convinced something terrible was happening. There hadn’t been any bleeding last time! On top of this, another wave of contractions set in and I was stuck in the bathroom riding them out, quickly realising I needed more than just oramorph and a TENs machine to take the edge off now. Thankfully a break came and I rushed back to my bay. Half in tears, I told Rory he needed to tell the midwife what I had found and that I needed gas and air. I had held out as long as I could, but it had got to the point where I needed a helping hand from my good old friend entinox!
The midwife appeared just as I was bent over the bed, breathing and moaning through a rather intense contraction. Rory filled them in and told them that the last time he saw me like this, Aria had arrived within a couple of minutes. Skeptical they said they would assess me, but they didn’t give gas and air until in a delivery room once you were in active labour. Clearly I didn’t fit their pain scale criteria! On assessment the midwife said I was actually 5cm already, in active labour and she could easily break my waters, which she did much to her later regret.
I remembered with Aria, that once they break your waters the s**** seriously hits the fan. But this time it took it to a whole new level. Within seconds of the midwife rupturing the membrane, I had flipped back onto all fours and the contractions hit like a freight train. I went from quiet moans, to primal instinct taking over in seconds. Everyone else in the room faded. It was me, the baby and my body now. Rory must have noticed the switch because he told them to get me to a delivery room now! I was taken through on the bed, still bent over the headboard, those low guttural moans indicating the imminent arrival of our baby.
They asked if I could walk from that bed to the delivery bed. Honestly I thought I couldn’t. I was already feeling the waves of pushing contractions taking over. But the lure of that heavenly gas and air tube was well worth the try! In a short break, I rushed over to the delivery bed, promptly climbed up the back of it and clamped my mouth around that tube! Finally, I could relax and take things slowly. I was in the right place. I had that sense of calm that gas and air gives you. Rory’s voice acted like a distant beacon, guiding me through each wave, keeping me calm and focussed.
For any woman who has experienced childbirth, you know that when the pushing instinct takes over you are simply along for the ride. I tried my best to accept the discomfort and relax into each wave. Unlike my last labour where I was terrified and fighting everything that happened to me, this time I simply let go. I focussed inwards and just breathed. There was some discomfort, but no real pain, I certainly didn’t experience the ‘ring of fire’ dreaded by many, it was mostly just exhaustion and tending from each contraction.
Then in the distance I heard the sentence I had been waiting for, “I need a delivery pack now please” came from somewhere in the room. That sentence told me everything was nearly over. Our baby was nearly here!
With a few more powerful contractions I felt that relief that most women will know once their baby enters the world. There is nothing like it! The midwives handed our baby to me through my legs and I just stared, I never got this experience with Aria… it was very surreal! Rory had said at Aria’s birth that newborn babies don’t look real and he was certainly right about that! They almost look like a waxwork doll, lifelike but not entirely real. After what must have been a few seconds, Rory asked me the question we had both been dying to know the answer to for the last 8 months, did we have another daughter or a son? I moved our baby so that Rory could find out, deliberately not looking so he would be the first one to know. It was a girl! We had another beautiful baby girl! I had felt all along that we would have another daughter, the pregnancies were so similar and I just had this gut feeling when it came to choosing names, similar to the feeling I had when choosing Aria’s name, so I was thrilled to see these feelings had been correct. Ryver had arrived!
Unlike with Aria, I was able to have skin to skin contact and hold Ryver for as long as I wanted to once she was born. The midwives gave me an injection to deliver the placenta, due to increased bleeding risks from induction, and left us to bond with Ryver before they performed any checks. No words can describe how precious this time is, the first couple of hours as a new family. It is a time you will never be able to repeat and it is so important to make sure you take as long as you want, the checks can wait! After a few hours, lunch was brought round to me, and the midwives suggested that they perform the routine checks then I could go for a shower if I wished. Ryver was perfect for her physical examination, Rory watched over her as I gathered my stuff together. Despite looking much smaller than Aria did at birth, Ryver was actually heavier at 5lb 7oz, still a tiny baby, but the 3oz seemed like quite an achievement to us. Once the checks were completed the midwife helped escort me to the shower room. There is nothing quite like that first shower after birth. Washing everything off and getting back to feeling normal. I took a good 10 minutes just letting the water run over me, relaxing and taking some time for myself. As much as I wanted to get back to Ryver, I knew she was safe with Rory and as most parents will know, alone time where you can just relax is a rarity and a time to be treasured!
On my return, we were transferred to the postnatal ward. There was only one other couple on the ward, so it was very quiet and the staff were perfect. They asked us whether we would like to leave that evening or the next morning, to which we replied that we would love to be out the same day, since we had Aria to get home to. We fully expected to be told that we would be out late that evening, or the next morning due to staff shortages, but were pleasantly surprised when we were discharged within a couple of hours! It is amazing how different everything felt the second time around. We confidently put Ryver in the car seat, left the hospital, loaded her into the car and headed home. No visitors or feeling bewildered. Just me, Rory and Ryver heading home to meet the rest of the family. We even collected fish and chips on the way home and ate dinner around the table with my parents and Aria less than 8 hours after giving birth.
The whole experience was so different to Aria’s birth, and I couldn’t be more grateful to the midwives at the hospital who ensured my experience was as positive as it could be. No stress, no forcing me into decisions I didn’t want to make, everything was on my terms and exactly how I wanted it. Even if Ryver did arrive just a little bit faster than expected!
Now we faced our next challenge….the first 24 hours being parents of two under one! Stay tuned to hear how we found it!
WRITTEN BY AMY KINGSTON FOR HER BLOG, GROWING UP WITH NATURE.