So this has been a long time coming, right? I figured I better get myself sorted and get Hadley’s birth story written and posted at least before she turned 1, and I still have a while as she hasn’t quite reached 9 months yet. I am going to go into every detail here so if you’re pregnant at the moment I don’t want to scare you with the details because that’s not helpful to anyone – maybe come back another time. So let’s start right at the beginning.
I had a fairly uncomplicated pregnancy in medical terms; pretty textbook and although I suffered from pregnancy induced heart palpitations, low iron at one point and SPD I did manage to get to the end of pregnancy relatively unscathed. I am a pretty anxious person by nature (although I wasn’t about pregnancy and labour oddly) and because of that I have a touch of white coat syndrome, especially when it comes to having my blood pressure taken. Now if you have ever been pregnant you will know that you have to have your blood pressure taken a lot during pregnancy. I explained all of this on my first community midwife appointment at 16 weeks and from then on she kept a close eye on my blood pressure, just to be sure.
Everything had been progressing normally, and due to my white coat syndrome my community midwife had me come in weekly towards the end of my pregnancy, just so she could see if my blood pressure took a sudden rise. We did great though and at 39 weeks and 6 days is where this story really begins.
My last routine midwife appointment before my due date was at 39 weeks and 6 days. I had been on and off having Braxton hicks contractions for a while but nothing real ever came of it. I had nested with in an inch of my life, I had thrown out everything we owned, cleaned every insignificant part of my home and I was ready. My husband came home from work on the Thursday of my midwife appointment to take me as he did most weeks, and I was fairly relaxed, I can’t even really remember being apprehensive that my due date was the very next day, I think I had literally just blocked it out of my mind and that I would deal with it when the time came. We saw our midwife and my blood pressure had risen ever so slightly, but nothing she was too concerned about, but then during my urine test I tested positive for protein. That, and my slightly elevated blood pressure meant she was concerned I was developing pre-eclampsia and wanted me to go to triage to be checked, just to be sure.
Time to go to triage
We headed home to grab the hospital bag and car seat, because we had no idea if we would be coming home with a baby, and headed off to the hospital. When we arrived at triage it was around 5pm and we were the only ones there, so we were seen immediately. First I was hooked up to the monitor to see how the baby was moving and I had my blood pressure taken. It was a good job my midwife had acted because by the time we got to the hospital my blood pressure had risen significantly. We were definitely in pre-eclampsia territory now.
Over the next few hours we were in a private room in triage with the baby being monitored, I had been started on blood pressure medication and we were waiting to see the consultant to decide what the next steps were. As expected the consultant told us that really the only way to cure the pre-eclampsia was to deliver the baby and she recommended that we start and induction that night. We of course agreed and were soon transferred to the ward.
The induction began
It was around 10pm when I was started with a 24 hour pessary. Thankfully the hospital we chose allowed your partner to stay so we set up camp on our ward and we waited. That first night in hospital I must have had to use the bathroom 1000 times. The next day was Friday and my due date. I had had a horrendous nights sleep what with getting up every 5 minutes to use the bathroom as well as having my blood pressure and pulse taken at regular intervals along with monitoring of the baby too. The whole of Friday was pretty lazy, we took several walks to the WH Smith in the hospital and spent a small fortune on nothing, my friends kept me occupied on WhatsApp and Facebook messenger and I watched Pretty Little Liars on Netflix nonstop. And so we waited. Contractions were on and off and very mild (I remember thinking “ooh these aren’t bad, I wonder what everyone complains about” – little did I know!!!)
When my 24 hours were up my pessary was removed and then I was to have another pessary (after a break) which was to be kept in for 6 hours. If that didn’t work at helping me dilate a little then they would have one further pessary for 6 hours. Then if that didn’t work it would be a failed induction and I would be onto a c-section. I was lucky, because my first 24 hour pessary came out at around 10pm they left me overnight before inserting the 6 hour one. My contractions went away and I had a brilliant nights sleep (ish – the woman in the cubicle next to me was noisy and someone left their light on shining right at my cubicle, but it was better than the night before).
Day two of my induction
Saturday morning came after a night time of more monitoring too and we had a good breakfast of all the toast (building up my strength of course, because I didn’t know which day I was going to have a baby on). We spent the morning and early afternoon doing pretty much the same as the day before. After breakfast my husband headed home to grab a shower, get some fresh clothes and discover that the outside world actually did still exist. I sat on the birthing ball still watching Pretty Little Liars and just relaxing and again having mild contractions. Once Ray came back we had lunch and just chilled out while being monitored and whatnot. My blood pressure was pretty normal on the medication so that was good and baby was all good, if not a little annoyed at all the monitoring.
When the nurse came to remove my pessary she checked if I was dilated and I was! 2cm which meant I was enough to not have to have the other pessary (yay! Way to go body) and I could go down to the consultant led unit and have my waters broken.
I should add in here that my ideas of birth had only been loosely thought of, with me and my husband having a discussion about my preferences. Induction obviously threw that a bit into disarray. Until 39+6 I was an uncomplicated midwife led birth and at the final hours it flipped on its head and suddenly I was a consultant led, intervention birth. That’s labour for you!
Anyway, back to it. When we headed down to the consultant led unit I was a mix of nerves and excitement – we were going to have our baby! Back when we had taken our Hypnobirthing classes to prepare for Hadley’s arrival (before we knew she was a Hadley as we never found out the gender) one of the exercises we had done was to independently draw how we envisioned giving birth. Both my husband and I both drew the exactly the same room, even down the smallest of details, without knowing what the other was drawing. We laughed so much at the time but when they showed us to our birthing room I walked in and smiled. It was the room we had both drawn!
Time to give birth
We got things started quickly as the midwife broke my waters and my contractions started strongly out of nowhere. I powered through each one, barely getting a break and I was getting tapped of energy fast. It didn’t feel like very long to me but my husband assures me it was a couple of hours when I said I needed an epidural. And I really and truly did. I remembered back to antenatal classes where I sat there firmly saying I wasn’t having an epidural and laughed. I needed the reprieve. They did my epidural fairly quickly and I would have been able to have four doses every hour but I only needed one, so I think I just needed something to take the edge off a little bit. It enabled me to get some rest overnight and it also meant my husband could too as I didn’t need too much assistance through my contractions. Every hour I could feel the epidural wearing off a little so I hit the button again. I don’t know if it was me, the way. I reacted to it or because I didn’t need the full dose, but I still was able to feel every sensation, just not the pain. Even right through to pushing I could feel everything and I was grateful for that.
The hours passed, the cms I was dilated increased and then my labour stalled. So it was onto the drip to try and speed things up a little. I was glad at this point that.I already had had my epidural because from what I have heard from others it’s pretty essential when you have the drip, although I am sure people have done it without it too. The drip did it’s job and things progressed as normal again. Throughout the night and monitoring of the baby (which was constant once I got the epidural and my dreams to be able to move around during labour was quashed) there we occasional decelerations of her heartbeat. Dr’s, Senior Midwives etc all came to have a look but nobody was overly concerned but it did always happen at a certain point of a contraction. We would come to find out that it was because little Hadley had the cord around her entire body.
When it was time I pushed for 2 hours to little avail. Hadley was right there but, as we found out, because she was so tangled in her own cord (she did move around a lot so I am really not surprised) there was no length to get her the final 2cms. I tried and tried and I was rapidly loosing steam. And so it was suggested forceps. Now remember I said I didn’t want an epidural? Well I really didn’t want forceps under any circumstances at all. But it was that or I guess a c-section at that point, and she was right there…everyone could see her hair! So I agreed (and I felt good about the decision so I was calm). The next few minutes were a bit of a blur, I felt nothing much except a bit of shoving about down there (someone probably had told me to have a shot in my epidural) and then she was here. I didn’t get delayed cord clamping either as they had to attend to her quickly – but she was completely fine and within minutes she was on my chest. One of the most beautiful parts of her birth was because we didn’t know the gender we had agreed that Ray would be the one to tell me. Pregnancy is so much about the woman I really wanted him to have a moment of his own, where he got to see first what our little baby was and he got to tell me, and that is a moment I will never forget. Hadley was born at 12.45pm, while the sun was shining outside our window on a cold February day and weighed 7lbs and 12ozs.
A new family of 3
The next few hours are a complete blur but I know we just spent time together as a 3, there was tea and toast and I was lovely and cosy in bed. Because of the forceps delivery I had an episiotomy and was lucky enough to get myself an internal graze too. It did take me a good few weeks to recover, along with low iron from loosing a lot of blood, but everything is pretty much back to normal now. I know my birth had the potential to be a little traumatic but I only look back on it with good thoughts and I 100% attribute that to hypnobirthing. I plan on writing a post about this soon to explain more as well.
I hope if you’re pregnant this story doesn’t scare you and instead shows you firstly that best laid plans and all that, but secondly that you can still have a beautiful, positive birth no matter how it happens. I truly do believe mindset plays a massive part and being prepared in that way and feeling in control every step of the way throughout my birth meant I really felt in our situation it made the world of difference.
Was your birth straightforward and how you planned it? Or did you have to change your birth preferences and go a different way at some point too?