As you may already know, on Wednesday 17th June 2015 at 03:00am my little Ava Louise Forbes-John entered the world four weeks early! (what an eager beaver!) This post has taken forever to write, partly being so busy & partly because I wasn’t sure how to get it all written in a single post!
So if there’s one thing I learnt about labour it is that it can be entirely unpredictable, birth plans go out the window & babies run on their own clock. It wasn’t as bad as I had thought it would be at all, and in hindsight, it was the biggest adrenaline rush I’d ever experienced. I’m glad I had prayed through the pregnancy & was pumped with faith not to be scared about labour, it definitely helped me stay calm and almost enjoy the experience. (note: almost: it was not fun). My labour wasn’t a bad one at all, my attempt at a ‘natural labour’ didn’t happen & I willingly took drugs, which helped ease the pain beautifully! I was induced after contracting really mildly for a day & Ava whizzed out after just a few hours of being in labour, so I really can’t complain. My pain was managed throughout and although it was fairly traumatising (hello?! a human being came out of my body!?) the bad memories quickly faded as everyone says they will, and six weeks on, I’ll admit that yes, I probably would do it again. (but not for a while please thank you.) Ava is amazing, so much personality & so hilarious, I really cannot imagine life without her.
For those of you who are content with the mini story above, or people who’d rather spare the details, the post ends here. However, here’s the full on account of how it all went down, grab a cuppa, I’ll tell it as dramatically and wonderfully as possible.
My Labour Story
I’m curled on the sofa watching DIY SOS. A wonderful little lady is telling a story about taking in her best friend’s children when I feel a trickle leaking out. Great. My pelvic floor is failing me, I’m 24 years old and wetting myself. The water didn’t stop, it actually kept coming and coming. What?! My waters have gone. I’m 36 weeks pregnant. Surely this isnt happening now. I want to use the birth centre. I want to wait another week. I ring my mum, who’s a midwife and let her know what’s happened, telling her I’m not even having contractions, I really doubt this baby is coming, but we should probably go to the hospital. I call Aaron, whos at a gig miles away and tell him the same thing.
“Don’t worry, the baby definitely isn’t coming, do your gig and come after.”
“Are you sure, babe?”
“Positive, I’ll be fine!”
He decides to jump in the car and meet us at the hospital. It’s around 10pm when I’m admitted into triage and great, contractions have begun! A nice midwife hooks me up to the machine and dismisses the contractions as “mild tightenings”. (I don’t EVER want to hear that phrase again in my life.) So I get seen by the doctor who says I’ll be staying over night and if labour hasn’t begun in 24 hours I’ll be induced. Fab. I’ve heard induction really hurts, like REALLY hurts. I don’t want to be induced. I’m going into labour on my own, come on baby lets get this show on the road.
The night is awful. The contractions get closer together, then ease off, then closer then ease off. They aren’t ever excruciating, but enough to stop me from getting any sleep, not to mention there’s no signal in the ward so I’m completely on my own, bouncing on the birthing ball and begging morning to hurry up. The day drags. My mum and Aaron return to keep me company but it’s a slow boring day, I can’t move much but I’m still technically not in labour. Finally in the evening the midwife tells me I’ll hopefully be moving to the labour ward and being seen by the consultant then induced. Yes! Anything is better than just waiting here alone.
Aaron and my mum come back and meet me in the labour room. It’s a lot bigger than I’d imagined, there’s a load of equipment and I’m lying in the bed when I suddenly feel really disheartened.
“I feel like I can’t do this. I’ve been in pain all day and it’s for nothing. I’m not in labour. I’m not dilated. I don’t get what the point is of these stupid mild tightenings.”
I’m hooked up to a machine to monitor contractions and the baby’s heartbeat at this point when my contractions begin to get closer together. The consultant comes in to examine me and offers me gas & air to cope with the discomfort. My, my, my. That gas and air takes me to the clouds. I’m laughing hysterically whilst the consultant is trying to examine my cervix. Everyone is awkwardly laughing like… ha…ha… my Mum tells me to calm down and I’m covering my mouth and really trying not to giggle. The consultant tells me I’m 2cm dilated. 2cm? Yes. No tablet for me! This means I won’t need anything inserted to bring on labour, but they can just have me on a hormone drip, it’ll speed things up and get me into real labour. The midwife begins to set me up when the real contractions begin. Wow. I’m breathing through them with the G&A and I guess it helped to an extent, although I feel so out of it. I ask my mum how I will know when to ask for the pethidine injection and she replies that I will just know. The midwife flips on the drip and the contractions really really begin. It feels as though something is inside my belly (ha I know) pulling on all my organs, taking over every inch of my body, ripping my insides to pieces. Injection now please. The pain lesses definitely as I drift off into a deep sleep. The midwife tells us all to get some rest as it’ll be a long night before baby decides to make an appearance. I try not to think about the fact that some inductions don’t even work.
What feels like hours later I’m awoken by the midwife asking me to turn on my side. I try and the pain tears through my body like nothing I’ve ever felt before (note: this is the worst pain I felt during labour and it only lasted a minute or so).
“I caaaaaann’tttttt mooove” My voice sounds normal to me but the pethidine is in full effect and I am a full on drugged up woman, not complying with the advice of my midwife. She insists I move as the baby needs oxygen and everyone forces me onto my side, I’m almost falling off the bed, arms round Aaron’s neck being a right mess when there’s an uncontrollable desire to push.
“I NEED TO PUSH”
Everyone is like what? It had been less than an hour since the hormone drip had begun. At this point the baby’s heartbeat is lost. The midwife pushes the emergency button and a full team flood the room; paediatricians, midwifes, senior midwives, student midwives, the works. I’m unaware of what is going on, still heavily drugged up. (It had only just kicked in!) Wow. All these people here to watch me give birth. I must be so special. I’m going to do the best birth ever.
The team fling my legs up into stirrups, and the consultant announces frantically “She’s 10cm dilated! You can push!” The room is filled with encouraging ‘you can do its’ and ‘come on’ and I suddenly feel completely in control of my body despite fighting tiredness in the craziest way. All sense returns to me as I calmly announce “Okay, I’m not having a contraction right now, but when I next do, I’m going to really push”. I am suddenly perfectly composed and sure enough the next contraction comes along with full force and I push like never before. This baby is coming out tonight. Ten minutes later, although it feels like seconds to me, with a final push I feel a pressure realised and my little baby girl enters the world. “Has she got hair?” For some reason, this is my first concern. Typical. They put her on my chest and she is tiny and silent. She is whizzed off to be examined and doesn’t cry, she is content and healthy. They bring her back to me and although I’m hardly awake and conscious, she latches on like a trooper and feeds for the first time in her little life, completely content in my arms.
It was only around 3 hours from being examined to holding my princess. The birth was followed by the horrible stuff like getting that placenta out & being stitched up but I was barely aware of any of it. All I knew was that there was a tiny baby in the room and she was all mine. She weighed a mini 5lbs 6oz but she was perfect. I always thought it was so cheesy that parents use that word to describe their baby, like come on, no baby is perfect, but you just can’t help it. No other word seems to compare. I didn’t cry giving birth, or afterwards. I didn’t feel an overwhelming sense of love or emotion. I just felt a bit shocked. Weeks later, I look at her and I’m filled with awe, the thought of her growing up fills me with sadness, add a few sleepless nights into that mix and I know now that I am definitely a Mummy and it is the most wonderful thing in the world.