I saw my midwife on Wednesday @ 41+3 and put a plan into place for 42+ weeks so was feeling relaxed about everything. I was measuring big but declined a growth scan as we agreed they can be inaccurate. On Thursday morning I woke at 4am with some niggling period type pains but tried to ignore them. This pregnancy was my third baby and I had been having false starts for weeks so any ‘signs’ by this point were dismissed until they turned into the real deal!
The pains carried on, low in my bump and I fell back to sleep for an hour at 6am. I got up with hubby and the kids at 7.30am and started having surges straight away. They weren’t painful but I felt like I should concentrate on them as practice for when they became more intense. I breathed through them, and said I’d take my son to school at 8.30am as I thought the walk might do me good. But by 8.30am, I had realised that this was the real deal already. Surges felt really powerful and about 6 minutes apart. I changed my mind about the walk and didn’t want hubby to go either, so we called my Mother-in-Law to take the kids to school & nursery. I definitely wasn’t planning on telling anybody I was in labour after an hour, but I felt like I needed to! She took the kids, came back and hoovered up for us and brought us some fresh flowers. Hubby washed the pots and made sure the house was tidy whilst I pottered about upstairs putting affirmations up and ran a bath. I texted my midwife saying today was the day and whilst I didn’t need anybody yet I just wanted to give her a heads up. My midwife Sally who I’d seen most regularly, called to say she’d been at a birth at the hospital all night so was going to bed but would let one of the others know. I should say at this point that I was incredibly ‘lucky’ (if that’s the right word!) to have been looked after by a team called the Citywide 1to1 Team in Sheffield. They are amazing and all midwifery care should be what they offer, in my opinion. They are a NHS team of only 3 midwifes who are caseloading so they see you for each appointment, in your home, and they particularly deal with mums who either have additional needs or have some sort of aspect of pregnancy which means they are working outside usual guidelines, e.g. breech planned homebirth, twins etc. So ‘one of the others’ was one of only two midwives both of whom I knew and trusted, which made a world of difference later on!
Helen the midwife called my hubby to say she was picking up a student midwife called Abi, who we had also met at appointments and really liked up, at 10.30am and did we want them to pop in? I said yes. I had a bath, breathing through surges 5 mins apart and Helen and Abi came straight upstairs to join us about 11am. We chatted, I told them about the pattern of the surges, they filled my notes in and watched a few surges. They said I was doing great breathing through, everything was lovely and happy and relaxed just as I had imagined ????
Helen and Abi left to go to a meeting, which was 25 minutes away. They finished at 2 and planned to call back then but said call anytime, but being mindful it would take 25 minutes to get to us. Things ramped up quite quickly after they left, surges were intense but by no means unbearable. I was quite enjoying breathing through them and finding out how best to deal with them, using the water (bath, I’d opted for no pool), walking around, hubby was stroking my arms and rubbing my back. Things ‘changed’ about 1.30pm but I wasn’t sure how, surges just felt a little different and then I wanted to lay on the bed on my side. As soon as I did that my waters went with a pop! There was lots of vernix in the water and a largish lump of brown stuff, along with other bits of brown which I thought might be meconium. We called Helen at 1.30pm and told her and she said she’d be with us asap. When Helen and Abi arrived my waters were still coming with surges and there was thin meconium in them. Helen said I could transfer if I wanted but she was happy to stay at home and monitor, but if the meconium became thicker or baby showed any distress then she’d recommend transfer. We decided to stay home and keep an eye on it.
Things carried on nicely, baby was happy, I asked for gas and air and that was delivered, I got back in the bath and settled into a lovely rhythm with the gas and air! Then about 5.30pm I felt the surges changing, into a pattern which I recognised from my last birth. The surge would build, being most intense in the middle then tailing off, but then my body would start to bear down after the surge. I told hubby that I was starting to feel pushy and wanted to go to the bedroom. As with last time I wanted to push on the bed. I spoke to Helen about the position, told her that’s what my body was telling me to do and she said go for it. So I was propped up in sitting position on the bed with lots of pillows and my trusty gas and air. At some point, my other midwife Sally arrived with another student so we now had 4 midwives as they all wanted to see the birth and I was more than happy to have them all there. They were all so encouraging. That natural urge to push, the natural expulsion reflex, is truly the most amazing thing ever and I’m so glad I’ve experienced it with two of my births. Helen was saying ‘That’s lovely’ and encouraging me whilst my body was bearing down and I remember saying ‘I’m not doing anything’. My body totally took over, I couldn’t help it, or stop it and it’s such a powerful thing! Baby was moving down and I could feel her wriggling around and getting into position and her head started to crown. Helen said her head was quite large and I felt some stinging. It took a while from crowning for her head to be fully born and Helen was a little concerned about her head being there for so long, although I wasn’t fully aware there was any concern as I was pretty much in the birthing zone. Abi helped deliver baby’s body as they were concerned about her shoulders as they’d realised she was pretty large by this point! Baby came out with a final surge at 6.45pm and there was lots of relief from me, smiles all round and baby was passed straight to me as we’d asked for, for skin to skin.
She was a bit blue so we were giving her a rub but she didn’t pick up colour or take a breath straight away. Things get a little blurry from here but basically I’d asked for a natural 3rd stage but I was asked if I minded having the injection instead, which I did. Baby started resuscitation with the cord still attached. The cord was cut after it stopped pulsating with my consent. Midwifes were still mindful of my plans even with baby having resus, asking if I minded if they used a clamp instead of my tie for quickness after it stopped. The placenta came away quickly after that as Abi asked for permission to help it along a little. With baby still receiving resus I knew I needed it out and to get myself off the bloody bed so I agreed.
All in all baby was getting oxygen for 30 minutes, including the ten minutes with the cord still attached and during the first 20 minutes her tone was very poor and she was floppy. This was obviously terrifying for me and hubby but at the same time her heart rate was good and colour was improving so there were positives too, but I didn’t really understand that at the time. Hubby went over to talk to baby whilst I delivered the placenta, then she was brought back to me for skin to skin whilst receiving oxygen and she started to pick up. An ambulance had been called by this point and they’d arrived but she was (finally!) breathing on her own by then and her tone was improving too. I had a quick check and the ambulance staff ok’d us all to go together – me, hubby, Sally and baby. Although we were blue lighted to hospital as a precaution, Sally was reassuring me the whole way that everything was fine, agpar score was now 10 (up from 3) and we were going just to make sure everything was OK.
All 4 midwives who had been at the birth came into the hospital with us – our own little dream team, they were amazing! Baby Annie was checked over by a paediatrician and was fine. We agreed to stay in for obs overnight but I really didn’t want to be on my own after what had happened so my amazing team again came to the rescue and arranged a room where hubby could stay too. All four of them stayed with us until 10pm, checking we were ok, and stitching me up (small tear, which could have been left but I opted for stitching), making me tea and toast, talking me through what had happened after the birth, weighing my placenta as they had brought it because they were amazed by its size and weighing Annie who was evidently huge – 10lb 11oz! I am so grateful for their wonderful care during this time that I can’t even begin to explain. They even took hubby home so he could gather some stuff for us and come back. We ended up in hospital until 3pm the next day. Annie is now absolutely fine and so am I. So all in all it was a perfect birth, with baby born in less than perfect condition, for reasons we’ll never know. Luckily though we received amazing care and our story has a happy ending ????
Sarah is a key part of Forging Families – who’s purpose is to support, offer information and promote health and wellbeing for Sheffield U.K.families during the perinatal period.
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