Due date of 20 December came and went and Christmas Day got closer. Every morning my wonderful mother-in-law, Doreen, would greet me expectantly and by Christmas Eve she was giving my tummy orders to get a move on. I started to have mild contractions, every 10 minutes, a couple of days prior to Sophie’s arrival so we were kept in a constant state of excited anticipation.
My wonderful midwife, Esther, popped in to see me on Christmas Day (before the big dinner!). I was relieved that baby was in an optimum position and was hoping for a VBAC, as I couldn’t imagine coping with a newborn and a toddler after a c-section. I’d had a few acupuncture appointments in the hope of ensuring good positioning, as well as spending at least an hour a day on my hands and knees (not difficult when you’ve got a toddler to clean up after!). I planned to stay at home for as long as possible, as I didn’t want to be ‘highly managed’ in hospital and I find it easier to get ‘in the zone’ in my own home. I also didn’t want to be away from Charlotte for long (as I’d never spent a night away from her!). I was hoping that baby would not arrive on Christmas Day as Charlotte was so excited about the day and I really wanted to be there to share in her joy.
Well, all my hopes came true. At 11.30pm on Christmas Day evening I knew my contractions were ‘for real’ and phoned Esther at midnight, when they were coming at 5 minute intervals. By 2.00am they were 2 to 3 minutes apart and needing my full concentration, so I asked Esther to come round. She arrived just after 2.30am and I asked her to examine me, as I really didn’t want to arrive at hospital unless dilation was substantial, and I was found to be at 8 to 9cm – so to hospital we went! It was quite a mission getting down the 30 or so steps to the car and I was glad the car journey to the hospital only took 10 minutes. Everything was happening so much faster and felt more intense that my labour with Charlotte and I was excited, but fearful, of the next stage!
We arrived at the hospital at 3.00am and I really wanted to be low to the ground and practically crawled into the delivery suite. I remember finding water an immense pain reliever in my first labour so asked Dan to start running the bath whilst Esther said and did all the right things and I started making some intense, primal sounds! At 4.00am my waters broke, but there was a lot of meconium so I had to be transferred to another room (no ‘hot tub’ for me!), closer to theatre (should an emergency c-section be required). They asked me if I wanted a wheel chair, but there was no way I was going to sit down! I crawled up onto a bed instead and they wheeled me through, draped with a sheet (as I’d stripped down by this time and all modesty had gone out of the window, along with the primal chanting, and I was in a totally different ‘head space’ to everyone else!).
Fortunately Dan, Esther and I were mostly left to ourselves, with intervening visits from a doctor to check on progress. The room we were transferred to was horrible – bright lights, very clinical and none of the comforts of home. Esther was great in trying to make the room more comfortable and in keeping monitoring to a minimum so I could continue to be active in labour.
When the doctor examined me he discovered a thick anterior lip, which I gather meant that bubs head wasn’t entering the birth canal in a good position and was causing swelling, which therefore decreased the 10cm space needed for bubs head to pass through. This meant I had to try to resist all urges to push and allow time for the swelling to go down. I continued to labour naturally, with the exception of some gas and air, till 5.30am, by which time I was getting extremely tired of trying to cope with the intense contractions and not push. It was a really frustrating wait for the swelling to go down and I can remember looking at Dan and saying, ‘NEVER AGAIN’! I also remember smelling cigarettes on Esther and saying, ‘Phew, I could do with a ciggie!’ (and I haven’t smoked in over 3 years!).
I decided to have an epidural to allow me time to rest and for the swelling to go down. By 6.00am the swelling was down and by 6.20am the epidural was beginning to wear off and I was aware of the contractions again. By 7.00am I was really feeling the urge to push and sat on the birthing stool to try a few pushes, but bubs head really wasn’t making great progress in descending (I must have a funny shaped pelvis!) and the doctor was concerned with moulding of the plates of baby’s head.
Anyway, before we knew what was happening we were signing forms for a potential c-section and getting prepped for theatre for a trial of assisted vaginal delivery. The tears started rolling as I was wheeled into theatre and having visions of a repeat of my last birth experience. Once in theatre everyone was really great and I couldn’t help but laugh at seeing my legs up in stirrups, but not being able to feel them. It was too surreal, they looked like a manikins legs, just like rubber and totally separate to my body! Thankfully, all looked good for a trial of assisted delivery and Sophie Jade was delivered, with the aid of forceps (and an episiotomy), at 8.38am on Boxing Day morning. It was wonderful to actually feel her leave my body and hold her to my chest so soon afterwards. She was perfect and I was flooded with relief and happiness. I was fascinated to see the placenta and the side at which she’d been curled up against in my tummy.
In recovery Sophie latched on to feed immediately and was a pro from the outset! Esther was brilliant and fed me an ice-lolly, whilst Dan and I looked adoringly at our daughter. I couldn’t wait to get home and for Charlotte to meet her little sister.
By 4.00pm that same day I could feel my legs again and got up for a shower. I really didn’t want to stay in hospital, so Dan picked me up and I was home in my own bed later that evening and woke up to give both my special girls a BIG cuddle.