An unexpected, slightly early but nonetheless joyful arrival at the John Radcliffe Hospital.
Here is a little bit of info about our birth experience and the arrival of Esme into the world on Sunday 18th April.
The morning started like any other day; breakfast, tidying the house a bit and taking the dog out for a walk. I headed off down to the Spiceball park feeling a bit tired, but then we had spent all of Saturday finishing off some DIY – painting skirting boards and grouting a bathroom! Half way round the park I started getting a bit of a twinge around the lower uterus and back.... shortly followed by a dampness down below. It was about 9:30. I called the dog and set off back to the house as quickly as possible. On the way the twinges quickly got stronger and more frequent, causing me to have to stop and lean against walls on my way home. Needless to say I was keen to get back! At home I went to the toilet and was really dismayed to see a lot of blood on my pad and more in the toilet. This didn’t look like a “show” at all and I called Charlie straight away – he was up at the tip taking all the rubbish from our DIY project! He quickly zoomed home and in the mean time I got in the shower as hadn’t washed properly from the day before and for some bizarre reason was concerned about going to hospital with paint in my hair (clearly not really a priority!) Unfortunately in the shower there was a lot more blood and by now the surges were feeling very real. Charlie called the Horton and the midwife said we needed to get to the JR ASAP. He set off getting all our bags together and doing a great job of keeping his cool as I tried to get dressed. Within an hour of walking the dog I was in the car and dashing down the m40. The pain was intense and I couldn’t really sit on the seat, letting out the mooing sounds that you mentioned in our hypnobirthing. At this stage unfortunately the hypno training didn’t really come into play, looking back I was just really panicked, the sudden amount of pain and level of blood loss had me thinking the worst and I was struggling to focus.
At the JR we went into the Assessment Unit and I immediately climbed onto a bed on my all fours. The yoga moves really helped here as I started doing the hip circle movement and swaying from side to side. The midwives had what seemed to be 100 questions and I worked hard on the breathing to try and calm down and speak with them. I was a bit upset that before even checking the baby’s heart beat their main priority was taking covid swabs and taking bloods to test my haemoglobin levels. Having a swab shoved down your throat and being told to stay still whilst having 3 vials of blood taken is not the easiest thing to do in the middle of a contraction and I must confess to being a bit rude at this point. Eventually they did a vaginal examination to discover that I was 8cm dilated! It was now only 11:15. Still without any level of pain relief I was determined to take some level of control over the situation and demanded some gas and air and for them to check the babies heart beat ASAP. As soon as I head her little swoosh, swoosh, swoosh I immediately felt a huge relief; she was ok 😊 Suddenly I felt a mentality shift and became really focused now on the delivery. I was wheeled (in the most odd position) into the delivery suite. Because I was still loosing blood a water birth was not really possible, although at this time my main focus was getting pain relief and feeling safe and was less concerned about where I was. My midwife Gail was great, she was asking lots of questions to make sure I was informed about what was happening and to check all my choices. I got the Entonox and that, with the support of Charlie saying lots of positive statements and focussing on my breathing, really helped. I listened to a calming music playlist and was able to go with the surges, before long feeling the urge to push.
At this point my waters had still not broken and Gail did another examination, she could see the membranes pushing out and thought a few strong surges would either break them or we could try a mermaid birth. Annoyingly over the next hour nothing much moved despite a lot of pushing. The baby's heart rate dipped a little and I decided to have the waters broken. It all came out in a huge gush, including quite a lot of meconium. This concerned the midwife, especially as I was only 38 weeks. Pumped full of Lucozade I focussed again on the pushing. We tried several different positions over the next 2 hours; all fours, standing up and holding onto Charlie, leaning over the bed, on my back – eventually settled on lying down on my side as the best position as this allowed me to have little rest in between pushes and I could push with one leg against the midwife’s shoulder. I was repeating lots of the positive affirmations to myself at this stage, in particular the mantra that every surge was taking me closer to my baby and that I would soon be holding her in my arms. However baby had got herself into an awkward position and the head was not coming out the right way, on the side at an angle rather than coming around the pelvis. I was quite exhausted after spending nearly 3 hours at stage 2 and we discussed interventions to help. The Doctor was called in and she was quite keen to go for a forceps delivery with episiotomy as once again the monitors showed that baby was getting distressed. I was also really struggling with the pain and exhaustion. As I was having to push so much I was only taking 1 or 2 pulls on the Entonox before big exhales and pushes.
The journey and set up in theatre was quite horrible. I had no pain relief at all for about 20 – 30 minutes, during which time I also had to lie as still as possible in a foetal position whilst they inserted the spinal injection. However the next 20 minutes made up for it all – the injection soon worked its magic and I was numb from the waist down, my mind suddenly clearing to take in more of the situation rather than focussing on the surge pain. I was talking all the while with the midwife who was wonderful at reassuring me that I had done all I could and that she was really impressed with how long I had tried pushing for. The learning and knowledge from your course really helped at this stage as I was mentally happy with what was going on. I felt like I had made good choices and been in control in the delivery suite and now that we were in theatre just felt happy that I was on the final straight and that she would soon be with me. In fact she decided that it was now time to be born and Charlie had to be rushed in to make sure that he didn’t miss her arrival! At 5:13pm Esme finally put in an appearance. Seeing her arrive into the world was an experience I will never forget, a wave of pride, joy, relief, love... it was amazing. Luckily she was not too distressed as forceps had only been needed for the last few minutes and we got instant skin to skin time. Feeling her dirty little body squirm over my chest was powerful and Charlie embraced us both in a hug. After a minute he did the cord clamping and I had the injection to deliver the placenta.
Up on the recovery ward we all cuddled together and I tried breast feeding for the first time. It was a magical end to the day and although very few of our birth preferences had been met we didn’t care at all; we had our little girl in our arms safe and well and that was all that mattered to us.
Thank you for all your help in preparing me for my birth experience. The hypno practise of all the visualisations and positive statements carried me through the difficult times and learning lots of facts before the birth made me feel secure and informed when making decisions.
Hopefully wont be too long before I can join in the post natal yoga sessions 😊