So I thought I would re-live the day our lives changed FOREVER!!! The 26th February 2017!
I had started my maternity leave 2 weeks earlier, having worked right up until a week before my due date. Yes, I know, it seems crazy now as I was absolutely exhausted, had difficulty walking due to pelvic girdle pain and had the most horrendous cough which I had had since mine and Stefan’s last get away together to Edinburgh in the November – 3 months!
I just had a feeling the baby was going to be late (I say baby as at that point we didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl so he / she was simply ‘Baby’ throughout my pregnancy).
Turns out I was right. Baby came exactly one week after my due date!
I had spent the whole of the two weeks cleaning the house (or desperately trying to despite the pain in my hips). The urge to ‘nest’ that you hear everyone banging on about? Yes, that definitely does exist! Either that or it’s simply the boredom and utter frustration by that point of just waiting for something to happen that you’ll turn your hand to anything!
I had been the loving wife, cooking a three-course meal for Stefan on Valentine’s Day which had fallen during those two weeks, the house was spotless, I had read ‘The Unmumsy Mum’s first book to ‘prepare’ myself and laughed out loud, getting excited for the arrival of our little one and everything our little bundle of joy would have in store for us.
However, towards the end of the two weeks, I was getting agitated. I could barely move, the not knowing when it was going to happen was absolutely killing my control-freak self and, to top it all off, during a little walk to the corner shop to see if I could encourage Baby to come on out, I did my back in from a particularly nasty coughing fit which meant I was in agonising pain and propped up with about twenty pillows on the sofa for two whole days. Needless to say, sleeping at night became even more impossible. I remember thinking ‘if I have to push Baby out like this I am literally going to break in half! I wonder if that has actually ever happened on the labour ward!’
But come Baby did! And I didn’t snap in half!
It all started at about 3am on Sunday 26th February 2017, although at the time we weren’t really sure if I was in labour or not! I could recall the lady on the ante-natal course we had attended taking us through the various stages of labour, telling us not to go to the hospital too early, it is much better to relax at home, and assuring us that we will know when we were supposed to go in etc, etc. Turns out you don’t really know. I had always had an image of my waters breaking like you see in the movies and that was the crucial moment when everyone knows you’re in labour. But my contractions started whilst I was asleep and kept coming every 10 minutes, from the beginning. Again, we had been taught on the ante-natal course that initially the contractions would be 40-50 minutes apart and would gradually become more frequent. My waters hadn’t broken, I hadn’t had the famous ‘show’ and I was convinced the baby was going to be born on our newly carpeted bedroom floor!
I think we called the hospital about three times in the six hours we were at home for (my labour was apparently really quick!) for reassurance that we really shouldn’t be making our way to the hospital!
Looking back, it was mainly the not knowing that made us panic. Once we had established that I actually was in labour and didn’t need to come in until I felt a contraction that I couldn’t deal with on my own, I felt a lot calmer and started focusing on the breathing I had been taught at the Daisy Birthing classes I had attended (which, I have to say helped so much!). I would even go as far as to say that a bit of excitement had settled in for both of us at that time and I even applied my make-up ready for that all-important first photo post-birth (which, by the way, was a complete waste of time – there was so much pushing, screaming, (oh the screaming!) and sweating in the interim that I might as well have not bothered, nor did I actually care what I looked at by the end!
We had been told that I should try and eat something that would fuel my body for the hard work to come (apparently you burn the equivalent number of calories as running a marathon during natural childbirth?!) so Stef made us scrambled egg on toast, though I don’t think either of us ate much of it! I got my birthing ball out and sat on it, in front of the TV and we, randomly, watched about 4 hours’ worth of ‘Benidorm’ back-to-back. Even now, whenever I think of the time I went into labour with Bernie, I automatically think of ‘Benidorm’!
By 9:30am the pain became just that little bit too unbearable and I knew I needed a lot more than just my breathing! Luckily at that time on a Sunday, the roads were nice and empty and the hospital was only a 10 minute drive away so there were no dramas there, though it didn’t help when Stef drove over a speed bump in the hospital car park just as I was having a particularly bad contraction! Needless to say he paid for that when I unknowingly squeezed his hand so hard at one stage that his wedding ring cut into his finger – call it karma!
By the time we arrived, and I was examined, I was 6cm dilated so the midwife went to fill the birthing pool. By the way, I would highly recommend using the pool, even if you don’t actually give birth in the water as the water helps so much with the pain. I think it helped me focus on my breathing and kept me calmer overall which helped speed up the labour and meant I relied solely on gas and air. Don’t get me wrong, I know that there is no predicting a labour and I think I had it quite easy in comparison to some horror stories I have heard. Rest assured that, yes it is painful, yes it all feels quite weird and yes, often things don’t always go according to plan but straightforward labours DO exist. I decided to just go with the flow. Not that that helped when I completely panicked just after getting in the pool when I could feel something coming out and the midwife was adamant it was too early for the baby’s head to be coming out. Turns out she was right – it was just my waters breaking – the strangest sensation ever! Or when my screaming was so loud another midwife came to our room and politely said “I’ll just shut this door!”. Or when I had to go from all fours to lying on my back when it felt like I had a bowling ball hanging between my legs! Whilst having ideas in mind for your ideal labour is great, be prepared to change them (I eventually ended up giving birth lying down on the chaise longue as Bernie’s heart rate had dropped and the cord was wrapped around his neck!).
I can’t say I found the moment of giving birth itself particularly magical. My last push was apparently so forceful Bernie simply shot out like some slithering alien or, at least that’s what it felt like! I thought I would be eager to hear the first cry and to find out whether it was a boy or girl but all I could think was, ‘yes, I’ve done it!’ I remember Stef saying ‘It’s a boy!’ but it didn’t really register until a couple of minutes later when Bernie was laid on my chest. I will admit, that moment, IS pretty magical!
It was all over by 12:26pm (apart from getting stitched up down below – cue me lying on the bed, legs in stirrups, feeling ever so slightly drunk from the gas and air). Yes I will unashamedly admit that I made the most of that feeling having not drank for 9 months. To be honest I used more gas and air for the stitches than the actual labour! There I was, legs akimbo being stitched up like some poor Turkey that had been bathing in the Christmas sherry for a week. But looking over at Stefan who was sat in a nearby chair holding Bernie made me forget all about what was happening ‘down there’. And credit where it’s due, Stef’s support and words of encouragement really got me through the harder part of the labour.
Looking back, I am so glad we didn’t find out the sex at our 20 week scan and I would definitely recommend it! The overwhelming joy of meeting our baby was made even better by the fact we could call everyone and give them the surprise too. No one even knew we were in labour, it had all happened so quickly!
At the risk of sounding smug Bernie was an absolute star and latched on to feed straightaway (don’t worry, that particular fairytale didn’t last – I will tell all about my breastfeeding experience in another post) and we were all home by 6pm that night which was amazing! The downside was that I didn’t get to use half the items in the massive overnight bag I had oh-so-carefully packed!
So there you have it – my labour story! I was very lucky in that there were no major complications, even though you can’t plan for everything. But not every labour is a horror story (thankfully or the human race would probably have died out a long time ago!).
It’s not often you hear of a ‘nice’ labour. I use the term ‘nice’ lightly at risk of having my testicles crushed by not only my wife but any other woman out there! What I mean however, is that the majority of people cannot wait to tell you about how bad their (or their wife’s) labour was.
John – “It was horrendous, blood everywhere, screaming, they thought she was going to die!”
Steve in response – “That’s nothing. My wife did die and they brought her back to life”
Having heard all of these horror stories (and the fact I cannot stand blood) it’s fair to say the excitement of my child about to be born was somewhat brought down a peg or two, knowing I would be witnessing first hand a scene out of ‘Alien’. To put my dislike of blood into context, I have given blood 5 times. Three of these times I have nearly passed out and I have now been told not to come again as it could be putting other people off… Hmmm!
The reality of labour from a man’s point of view?
It. Is. Amazing.
For someone who can’t change the channel quickly enough when ‘Casualty’ comes on BBC One, I was surprisingly calm.
For me, it started at 6am when I awoke and Deborah wasn’t in bed. She walked in to the bedroom and finally after being a week overdue she said ‘I think I’m in labour’. It’s madness how you can only ‘think’ you’re in labour. Most people (including me!) have this idea that a woman’s waters break and then it’s time to go to the hospital. Nope – not all the time. In fact, I think more often than not, a woman goes into labour without her waters breaking. I guess in the films it’s more dramatic for a woman’s waters to break in the most awkward way, than to think you’re in labour and still have to sit at home for a few hours!
I thought back to the pregnancy course we went on a couple of months ago. “Time the contractions!”
This was it, my big moment! I had already downloaded an App on my phone so I was prepared. ‘When the contractions last` longer with less time between them, that’s when we need to go to the hospital.’
So why the heck did some of Deborah’s for last 15 seconds, then 60 seconds, then back to 30 seconds with varying intervals in between!?? Typical Deborah, always making things awkward J
I phoned the hospital and the advice we were given was ‘when the contractions become unbearable, that’s when to come in’. It’s easier said than done. It’s not nice when your wife is in pain every minute or so and really there’s not much you can say but ‘breathe’. Surprisingly, it worked though. Deborah was in control. She knew exactly what she was doing, or seemed to! The Daisy Birthing classes she had attended that taught how to relax and breathe deeply through the contractions were completely working. At 9:30am we went to hospital after the contractions became unbearable.
If ever you want to have a baby, if you do get the choice, try and make it Sunday morning J The roads were so quiet and everything was falling in to place.
The room we were in was fantastic. It had a birthing pool, nice, colour-changing lighting and a lot of space. Deborah got in to the pool and she said the pain relief from the water was better than the gas and air.
Obviously I tried the gas. Heck, I needed it after all of the hand squeezing Deborah had been doing. She practically crushed my wedding ring in to the bone. Oh the pain… :-p
Deborah’s waters broke in the birthing pool. It was hilarious (can I say that?). She shouted at the midwife saying the baby is coming to which the midwife said ‘it’s not’,
“Well something is!!!”
and then ‘POP’. It was just the waters breaking. I had to laugh (and so did Deborah surprisingly).
After several pushes, the baby’s heart rate had slowed down and so Deborah had to come out of the pool to be assessed. It was time… and for some reason I had to watch. The man who cannot stand blood had to see it. I looked and could see the baby coming. All of a sudden this was becoming the most magical moment of my life and I wanted to be part of it. (I was ready to deliver the baby! :’) )
Deb was told to push again and she did not mess about. A scream and then the baby flew out!
My instinct was to see whether we had a son or daughter and within an instant I knew. A boy! And then the waterworks came. I was a wreck! I wanted to phone as many people as possible and let them know within seconds that I was a Dad. It’s mad to think that our life had changed immeasurably and at this point nobody even knew Deborah had gone in to labour!
So there you have it. A happy labour story. Proof that they DO happen.
So if you haven’t had a child before and hear people trying to ‘out-do’ each other with how horrific their labour was, know from this that you can have an amazing labour. I won’t lie, some of the noises Deborah made did make me wonder whether she was giving birth or struggling with spicy Indian food from the night before, but know that at the end of your or your partners labour there is a feeling that you will never have experienced and it is the best feeling I’ve ever had.