I really wanted to have a natural home birth. I just thought it would be the nicest way to give birth and my midwives were really supportive. To say I didn't get my home birth would be a bit of an understatement, although I did know all along you can plan the birth as much as you like but babies have a habit of making their own plans when it comes to being born.
When I was pregnant I searched far and wide for positive birth stories. It seemed all too easy to find horror stories of agonising pain and complications and all they did was terrify me.
Well, Amelie's birth story wasn't the smoothest of entrances into the world but even during the really hard parts it was durable because every contraction brings you closer to meeting your baby and no other pain come with such a good reward.
My labour started on Thursday evening after a membrane sweep. The contractions weren't that painful and were quite far apart. Still it was pretty exciting because it felt like something was finally starting after being nearly a week late. I made the mistake of not sleeping all night as I timed the contractions. Totally should have slept through the, as it turned out to be the start of a slooooow early labour and all I did was exhaust myself before it had really began. Whoops.
Friday proceeded much the same way with no sleep on the Friday night because the contractions although still about every 20 minutes were more painful.
By the time Saturday rolled around and my midwife came to do another sweep I was hadn't slept for two days. Which may have explained partly why my blood pressure was higher than normal. Because I was a week late and in early labour I had to go into hospital to be checked for preeclampsia. We took the hospital bag anyway but assumed optimistically that we'd be sent back home.
Here's when the medical intervention I'd be hoping to avoid began. We had to wait 5 hours in a small room for my blood tests to come back during which Amelie's heart rate was monitored and my blood pressure was checked every hour. This wasn't particularly fun because we were still hoping to go home and in typical hospital style no one told us anything. Then we were told that they recommended I be induced because they were worried about how small my bump was and that combined with high blood pressure apparently meant Amelie could have be too small, whatever that meant. Well, that was fun to hear. The contractions were getting more painful although not more frequent, I hadn't slept for two nights and now we were worried about our baby.
To fast forward a little bit we agreed to the induction (despite testing negative for preeclampsia) and Amelie's heart rate being fine. Cue more waiting although this time in a bed in the labour ward. This was obviously when we had to let go of home birth plans although the new worry about why my bump was so small took precedence and I was quite glad to be in hospital at this point.
And then it got less fun. I was induced first with a pessary with constant monitoring of her heart rate to see how she took it. Which she didn't like and neither did I. This was the worst part of the whole labour experience. I had two tight straps across my bump and was confined to the bed as I was monitored. The contractions were much more intense and painful and I had no pain relief. And about every twenty minutes 5 doctors and midwives would come and look at the monitors and tell us they needed to do it for longer.
Finally at about 2am they decided to take the pessary out as it was distressing Amelie (and me). I finally got some codeine about 5am and after pacing the halls for a while managed to sleep fitfully for a couple of hours.
Sunday morning was much the same. We were still worried about the size of Amelie and I'd had enough by this point. A new midwife came along and recommended a bath which was wonderful. The contractions were more manageable in the water and Antonio washing my hair made me feel a little more human which definitely helped me get a grip of things again.
After the bath I had another exam to see how things were moving along. I was still only 4cm dilated and clearly too exhausted to let things continue naturally. They recommended induction by the hormone drip which was supposed to make things move much more quickly.
And then they offered me an epidural. Oh the epidural. A little bit of heaven in a fairly hardcore labour. My plans for a natural home birth out the window I was all about the drugs. I wanted it straight away but had to wait for a delivery room to be free cue a few more hours waiting. Although by this stage we were just happy that the end seemed to be in sight so the waiting was much more bearable.
By about 5pm I was epiduralled up and felt the effects pretty much immediately. After 3 slow days of gradually increasing pain it was total bliss! I could still feel the contractions but like tightenings rather than waves of pain.
From here on my labour was a completely different experience. The delivery room was large (with windows, hello fresh air) and had a radio. My wonderful midwives were pottering around and Antonio and I both managed to sleep for about 3 hours. I got woken at about midnight and told that the contractions were close enough and I would soon be ready to push! Cue frantic phone calls to my mum to get her to the hospital on time. A Mars bar and energy drink and I was ready to go. After being in pain for so long the idea of pushing didn't daunt me. I was in the kind of place where I felt like I could handle anything if it wasn't going to hurt.
And the actual pushing was a breeze! We had to have doctors in the room because they thought maybe Amelie had the cord around her neck (she didn't in the end) and having doctors, midwives, my mum and sister and Antonio all cheering me on was awesome! I know everyone likes to give birth differently but I definitely benefited from the cheerleaders. I felt a bit like a warrior I've got to say.
45 minutes after starting to push Amelie slithered out of me and was put straight on my chest. There really are no words to describe that feeling. I could only really see the top of her head so kept looking at Antonio my mum and sister who were all sort of half crying and half laughing.
I love Antonio's face in this dodgy iPhone pic. Completely shell shocked.
Holding your baby for the first time after 9 months of her being inside you is incredible. I wish I was good enough with the words to explain it properly.
And now I know why all the birth stories (including the horror ones) went on about how the pain is bearable when you know what you're doing it for. It's true. There were times on the Saturday night where I wanted her out so badly I would have taken a C-section if they'd offered it. But somehow you do find it in you to keep going, and the prize is beyond worth it.
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