I have been deliberately avoiding this Blog. Especially a few months back when I was so scared about the impending birth and how my second pregnancy would continue. It was a superstition, as if I wrote my fears down they may happen. Blogging was no longer a therapy, it was as if it was a means to trick me, to catastrophise to actually make an unhappy ending more likely.
Latterly I have been too darn busy to blog, and too shattered at night certainly. I am grabbing a rare moment of peace to update and I sincerely hope I shall be able to keep it up again!
As Tiddler was induced at 38 weeks, I was convinced that this baby would also come early, whether naturally or not. In fact, this time round I also had a couple of scares resulting in an overnighter and increased monitoring as there were fears that I was losing amniotic fluid, as happened at the end of my first pregnancy.
In the end, I was booked in for an induction after a "stretch and sweep"
- as glamorous as it sounds... And managed to get this booked in at 40 weeks which was down to a combination of my anxiety, what happened to Tiddler shortly after birth, stress over childcare for Tiddler if my baby arrived too late, being Strep B positive and just having a very understanding Consultant.
So, the date was set for Saturday- my actual due date. As soon as the date was decided I was terrified. Terrified of the what ifs, but obviously knew we had to get the baby out!
It's funny, this time round I was less scared (I had been terrified first time round) but almost more so in some ways as I knew what to expect!
The hospital was full to bursting that weekend and I was told I could not come in yet but to call in another 4 hours when they would be confident that the situation would be different.
It wasn't and it took 2 further days for me to get the "ok" and get admitted. When I asked later why this was, I was told that it was down to sheer numbers of women in labour, that there is no longer a quiet time, that every day is a busy one.
Eventually, I got the call and was asked to go down immediately-luckily we live very close to the hospital!
As soon as I was shown to my room and met the Midwife it was clear that they thought they had a "right one" on their hands. I couldn't stop shaking, was asking probably very annoying questions and was shall we say "high maintenance".
The anaesthetist was asked to come and see me, they were anticipating me needing an epidural/spinal block, for no other reason than I was coming across as a high maintenance whinge-bag (think the nightmare woman on One Born Every Minute)
After anti-biotics were administered via a drip because I had recently been found to be Group B Strep positive, the Midwife broke my waters.
I had practised and used Natal Hypnotherapy for my first labour, I found it brilliant, and this time round I had been practising with my CD every day too. The CD was put on a loop, hormone drip was in, TENS stuck on my back.
Pretty quickly the pain was intense. INTENSE. I had to try very hard to remember the principles of natal hypnotherapy but I did manage to "zone out" for a while. After what felt like really not very long at all I was questioning my ability to carry on. This was of course probably the transition stage but you never think that at the time, do you?!
The midwife was also obviously doubting my abilities as she scurried off to find aromatherapy oils to calm me down. Nice of her, but I didn't really need calming down, I needed the pain to stop! It was at this point that I started to panic... Why wasn't the hypnotherapy I had practiced so dilligently cutting it this time? I was now thinking epidural and was really really struggling. I remember saying several times that I was never doing this again... So much so that at one point the Midwife finished the sentence for me ".. We know. You are never doing this again..."
I don't remember what I measured at this point but at 7pm a new Midwife came in and the handover began. At about this time there was some concern as the baby's heartbeat kept dipping when I was contracting. A clip was placed on the baby's head to monitor the heartbeat more reliably. Still, the heartbeat dipped and it was decided that this was because the baby was dropping during contractions and moving down. I got pretty scared at this point. The midwife seemed concerned and I remember thinking just give me a caesarean quickly and get the baby out! At about this time, the pain in my pelvis was excruciating and the newer Midwife changed my position to lie on my side which really helped. The clip on the baby's head helped them to ascertain that the baby was safe.
It was about this time that I was offered gas and air. After the first inhalation of this I was hit with a pleasurable giddy feeling. In retrospect I was offered this really quite late in the day! When I had been measured before the handover was taking place I was told I would have the baby at about 9.45pm. Not at all long after this I was measured and told I could push now if I wanted!!
This panicked me- I couldn't push- they were doing their handover... I had to hold on till they were ready (!) According to my husband I did feel ready to push pretty quickly. The actual pushing took longer I think this time round.
I had 2 Midwives for the actual delivery as it was still handover time. The big push lasted about 15 minutes I think with an hilarious moment when the head only was out and my half -born baby started crying. I remember commenting that I thought that was weird!
The baby was delivered actually pretty easily, no stitches, no problems. The entire labour took 3hrs 33 mins. I was very proud to have done this without stronger pain relief than TENS and Entonox. In retrospect, the natal hypnotherapy must have helped me cope with such a fast and intense labour. I am certain that without the visualisation techniques I learnt from the CDs and my tutor, the pain would have been completely unmanageable and i would have resorted to an epidural.
My brand new little girl was laid on me straight away for skin to skin contact which was fabulous and I instantly fell in love. Cliche but true. Her colour was very grey which worried me especially given our history with Tiddler but I was assured this was ok and probably down to the speed of delivery. Indeed she had little pin prick dots over her forehead and head for some days afterwards, again due to the speed of delivery.
Because of our previous problems we were supposed to be held on the labour ward for 12 hours after delivery. It was clear this couldn't happen because they were just so desperate for space. We were fine with being moved onto a ward with the proviso that she would still get a full paediatric check that night as had been requested by Tiddler's paediatrician.
Whilst waiting to be buzzed into the ward I had the most horrific feeling of dread and panic. Obviously it was a place we hadn't been to since everything went wrong with Tiddler and I had not anticipated it to bring back the memories that it did.
When in the ward we settled in to wait for the Dr. The baby is part of the CONI programme - Care of Next Infant - as Tiddler had life threatening apnoeas and so we had an apnoea monitor to use from birth. This was however defective and so I felt I couldn't sleep in case she stopped breathing.
SCBU was really busy as well as the delivery suite and so we had to wait until 5am for a Dr to come and check baby. All of this time I was alone, blissfully gazing at my baby, but too scared to sleep. Too scared that if I slept the same thing that happened to Tiddler would happen again only this time I wouldn't be awake to get help. So I stayed awake. Luckily it was peaceful in the ward and baby was content.
The initial paediatric check was completed and there were no initial concerns. This was a massive relief. In the first few hours after birth I had been told several times that every baby is different, that there is no reason to believe there would be a repetition of events. Every child is different of course as is every pregnancy and labour but while the causes of Tiddler's health problems and shaky start remain unknown and probably genetic it was and is still hard for me to believe this mantra.
At the start of visiting hours the next morning my Husband arrived and shortly after there was a delivery of flowers and balloons. This was wonderful and hugely symbolic for me as the first time round there was no period of newborn bliss and celebration. There were no visitors. There were few cards and there certainly weren't any flowers. We just didn't know whether Tiddler was going to make it and so people were unsure how to react.
This time, we could do the normal newborn things and allow ourselves the euphoria that things were ok and we had brought a beautiful little life into the world.
During day 1, baby had a more comprehensive paediatric check and again was given the all clear,as far as one ever can of course.
In the meantime, I cannot deny that I was very jittery. Panicking about her new and strange breathing noises, being terrified about her bubbling at the mouth, staring and staring at her chest to ensure she was breathing. I just couldn't "stand down" to sleep, it felt like I was on alert the whole time.
After 2 nights in hospital we got discharged. This time I was twitchy but not terrified as we had been the first time round. We walked out normally. We had the balloons, the flowers, my baby was healthy and I was blissfully happy. This is what it is supposed to be like. Because it wasn't like this the first time round I am so grateful for how things have turned out this time and we both truly appreciate how blessed we are.
So here it is. My birth story. The happy ending. Or so we hope. My husband has just remarked how ironic it is that this mega blog post has actually taken me longer to write than it actually took to give birth! Probably says more about my writing than the birth...