I’ve been waiting until I’ve felt relatively human to write this blog, because let’s be honest….having a baby totally takes all your energy and brain power and leaves you with nothing but cotton wool brain. It’s not going to be short, so get comfortable! Where do I even begin?!
I was 39 weeks pregnant exactly when my contractions started. It was the evening and I was feeling tightening in my lower tummy like sharp period pains. I thought, nah… this can’t be it, it’s totally bearable and I can talk throughout, so don’t panic this must be braxton hicks. I wasn’t sure, obviously being that this was my first baby I just didn’t know how it was meant to feel. As the night went on they were becoming very regular, so I thought, hmm.. better start timing them I guess just incase this is something more serious. Almost immediately the contractions were lasting 4-5 minutes and were about 50- 60 seconds long, which is when they recommend you call the hospital. Me being me, complete worrier but doesn’t like to bother people, took a bit of convincing from Scott until I actually rang. When I called, midwife said that they were regular so I was right to call but as I was talking through the contractions she was sure I wasn’t close yet, but she said we could go in if we wanted to check. So off we went, packed the car and I was saying the whole way there how I knew we’d be sent home because I was nowhere near, I wasn’t screaming in pain and I was having a jolly good chat through it all. I even sang my head off to Slipknot in the car on the way.
As suspected, when the midwife checked, I hadn’t even started dilating, I was just getting the early labour pains and she said it was likely my body is getting ready and it wouldn’t be too long. She said I would know 100% when I was in labour. Which I agreed with, I already knew I wasn’t, but I guess I just wanted her to check just out of curiosity and well… eagerness! On the drive home… the contractions started to get stronger! I straight away knew we’d be having this baby today or tomorrow. It was like my instinct knew baby was ready. I got home and thought, well I’ll get in bed an attempt to rest before the big event I guess. But I couldn’t relax, these pains were definitely getting strong now and they were for sure staying very regular like before. I got in the shower hoping the warm water would relieve the tight feeling I was experiencing, it did feel good but the pains were still there. I can only simply describe it as very strong period pains. Now, baring in mind, I had an implant previous to being pregnant for a total of 6 years, so I can’t even remember period pains as I’ve basically never had them! So to me, this was all new shit I was feeling, hence why I didn’t know if I was in labour, having braxton hicks or what?!
I immediately knew around midnight that I had to go back into hospital. I could still just about talk through my contractions, and because of this I made Scott call the hospital for me, so they’d believe that I was further along than they’d think. So they advised I came back in if I felt like it, so off we went. This journey was different to the last, I felt very uncomfortable, I highly doubt I’d of been singing my head off to heavy rock music this time. Maybe screamo?! I’m kidding, I was pretty zoned out, trying to remember to breathe well. I’d done all this hypnobirthing practise so I should use it!
When we got into hospital, this time I was 2cm dilated and was told I wouldn’t be going home this time due to the regular pains and they were watching Fletcher’s heart rate, which was lower than average. It’s supposed to be 110bps, his was mostly around 95-100bps. They weren’t overly concerned as it remained this way consistently, so he basically just had a low base rate. They also said that the national average (think it’s called that) will be changing from 110 to 100 anyway, so it wasn’t like it was a bad rate really. They kept me on a monitor so they could ensure he was all good, and he stayed this way throughout, so my chances of a water birth were still there. They decided to break my waters to help induce labour, which yes…I know, hypnobirth is all about letting nature take it’s course, but when you’re so badly wanting to meet your baby, you kind of don’t argue wanting to get him out sooner rather than later. This was a weird experience, the fact that the waters were so warm really surprised me haha! I don’t know why but I guess I just felt like I was pissing warm water and it just kept coming! This helped to move things along and the contractions were getting pretty intense.
(Now, from breaking my waters to being moved into the birthing room it is all a bit of a blur…. a lot of this point onward is a blur to be honest, so I’ll do my best to just tell you what I can recall, whilst asking Scott to tell me info as he knows more than I do!)
When we were in the birthing room, it dawned on me that I wasn’t in a water birthing room. Because Fletcher’s heart rate was a low base rate, which would occasionally drop, they had to keep me on a monitor so I couldn’t have a water birth after all. There was a bath in an en-suite, so I tried getting in this to relax before they monitored me but I actually couldn’t get comfortable and it also meant I couldn’t have the gas and air…. which became my best friend. Thankfully they had monitors which I could wear whilst in upright positions as I certainly did not want to be bed bound as I’ve said from the get go that this will only prolong my labour. So I stood up leaning against the bed with the gas and air for a while, but it began to ache my feet, and so on the bed I ended up after all. (Great way to stick to the plan lace – nice one!)
So we parked at the hospital on our first visit there at 8:05pm (Arsenal Kick off time…yes Scott this will now never be forgotten…and I know you’ll forever tell your son this. *rolls eyes*) and was sent home. Then I was 6cm dilated at … *checks maternity notes* … nope can’t find, sorry, probably 2-3pm?. At this point though I couldn’t really go on just gas and air, I was well and truly shattered, this had gone on for hours!!! (Total labour was about 16 hours) So I had some diamorphine to take the edge off. This was great! I was out of it, really sleepy so I think I napped a lot, apparently snored in between contractions. However, poor Fletcher didn’t approve of the diamorphine, and it made his heart rate plummet. So midwife wanted to check he was okay by taking a sample of blood from his head. (This whole period was the most tragic for mum and Scott, Scott says he was terrified during this point, because he just thought we’d lose him. I was so totally out of it luckily that it’s a huge blur) Scott said he can remember seeing his heart rate drop to at least 50-60bps, so this meant panic stations for midwives and all that were in the room except me. I was just… blank! I can’t even explain it! Mum and Scott were AMAZING, all I could hear was there positive pep talking that I couldn’t actually hear the stress that the doctors and midwives were going through, there were at least 3 or 4 of them in the room. All of a sudden a doctor looked up at me and said “Lacey, this baby needs to come out now, if his heart rate doesn’t come back up in the next 3-4 minutes we will have to wheel you into theatre to have an emergency C-section!” This sent me into reality immediately. I totally focused all my energy on zoning into my baby (don’t even laugh but seriously in my brain I was basically talking to Fletcher saying, “come on little man, we can do this!”) I turned onto my side, because being on my back is another reason why his heart rate had dropped dramatically, and this thankfully got his heart rate back within minutes. I honestly feel like the hypnobirthing helped me in this scenario. It was like I zoned out of the panic, and zoned into my baby and getting him out naturally like we came here to do! Thankfully this meant I stayed put and the stress diminished and the calm resumed.
After another snooze, the pain returned. The diamorphine had worn off and I was ready for another dose. However, we were all concerned that it would affect Fletcher’s heart rate again and so we didn’t want to do that to him again, so I was looking to see what my alternative was. Unfortunately, the next best thing was the epidural if I seriously couldn’t do it anymore. So that was it, I did the best I could but my best wasn’t good enough. Hypnobirth no more, I am done. I wanted to experience labour pains for what they were and I can honestly say I am proud of how long I went. Don’t get me wrong I am gutted that I caved in, I wanted to do it for myself but when time felt like an eternity and nothing was progressing I just felt I couldn’t do it any longer. The epidural was a saint. It took away the pain of my contractions almost completely, so I was able to relax a lot more. I could still subtly feel one now and then. I had to regularly have top ups of the drip as it wasn’t always fully numb from ankle to above my tummy. The doctor checked this often with a cold spray which I wasn’t meant to feel, but I could when I shouldn’t which is why I needed the top up. At 2:30pm I had a final examination and told I could start pushing as I was fully dilated. It didn’t start straight away, I think midwife was doing a lot of paperwork beforehand. Honestly, I can’t remember. When I did eventually start pushing, it all felt very numb down there so that was great. I could feel the occasional tightening in my tummy and so I knew I could push and MAN did I push! I would often ask the midwife “Is this a contraction now?” and she would say it was and I could push, so I did. Midwives said how strong I was pushing and getting baby down well, so I was pleased to hear that. I was using my hypnobirth down breathing to push as best as I could. Feeling my face going as red as a beetroot, but I wanted him out! I wanted to hold him in my arms and just be done with all this labour fuss.
Another hurdle then arose. I needed to have an assisted birth. Ventouse or forceps. I had a preference for the ventouse as forceps frighten the life out of me… I think it’s just the metal contraption looking pretty scary, like it would squeeze baby’s head and I just never liked the look of them. So they went to get the ventouse, but came back in and turns out… no… forceps instead, sorry love. While they were out of the room I desperately tried to push before the forceps were even needed, asking constantly if I was contracting to make sure I wasn’t pushing when I shouldn’t of been. But nope, forceps still required. Absolutely gutted! More fear run through me about these than the c-section! I started balling my eyes out. I continued to try to push through each contraction to keep it going, but as I needed confirmation from someone to make sure I was contracting this made it difficult, it was stressing us out because the midwives and doctors were faffing with organising the forceps that they wouldn’t tell me if I was contracting because they were “too busy”. So I had no chance of trying to do it by myself basically and my fear of the forceps still remained. However, the doctor reassured me that it was the safer option to deliver Fletcher via forceps due to a lump on his head because of the sample they took from him. He explained how it wasn’t going to hurt him and they’d deliver him gradually, rather than pulling on them with all their force. (Which is how i saw it happening, thanks to One Born Every Minute) It would mean I’d have an episiotomy, so they’d make a small cut so I wouldn’t tear and baby would come out easier. So, this is what happened. It didn’t take very long, with a few pushes and pulls. Fletcher’s head came out, he gave a little cry at that point which we all found pretty hilarious. Shortly after I had him in my arms! He didn’t cry immediately so they had to clamp his cord pretty quickly so they could rub him down whilst still in my arms. I was already crying, looking at his gorgeous face! His eyelids fluttering and then suddenly he began to cry and well… we all just burst into tears. I looked over and Scott was hanging off my mum in tears, as was my mum. It was undoubtedly THE best experience of my life in that very moment.
Fletcher Roy Matthews, born on 13th April 2018 at 16:24pm (39+1 weeks). My absolute world!
On reflection, I am so proud of myself. Despite all the preferences I had basically being the complete opposite to what actually happened; I made a baby. WE made a baby. I cannot believe that something so perfect grew inside of me. Hypnobirthing may not have been successful for me, but I do feel like it helped massively. I breathed well throughout my contractions, I don’t know quite what I’d of done if I didn’t use those techniques, as they really did help me focus elsewhere. I used the techniques to help zone into my baby at the most frightening stage of my labour and I will continue to believe that this helped to get his heart rate back regardless of what anyone else may think. I wouldn’t object to having epidural again, it relieved a lot of pain and made it bearable. The one thing I will say is having a good support system is the one best thing to help getting through it. I can honestly say I couldn’t have done it without my amazing husband and my mum. They helped to make me zone out of what could of been the scariest moment in my labour. Scott was the most supportive husband any woman could ask for, he comforted me when I was in the peak of pain and when I was fearing the forceps. I cannot thank them both enough.
Fletcher is now 1 week and 2 days old and we are absolutely, completely and utterly in love with him. He is the best thing that has ever happened to us and I wouldn’t change it for the world!
I will be making a separate blog about my postpartum experience… as that’s a whole different story in itself and at present my titties are required. (P.S. Breastfeeding is going swimmingly! Another story for another day)