I'd been meaning to write the whole birth story... well, since Frank arrived.. eight months ago.. (geeeeez is he that old already!?!?) but I knew I had to be in the right frame of mind to actually write something coherent and if I'm honest.. being new parents and not really having a maternity leave as such.. it's been pretty busy and as most new Mum's will testify.. my brain is currently mush. So here goes..
Firstly.. I want to say that I had an overwhelmingly positive birth experience. I might even want to go as far as to say I had a REALLY good time.. and having heard quite a few birth experiences I feel like you don't always hear too many positive ones so I guess that's why I'm pretty happy to share my experience.
I think the hardest part for me was before the whole labour thing even started as we went two weeks over our due date. 14 slooooooooow groundhog day days. It was the middle of January.. it was cold, dark, we couldn't really go too far.. and although, physically I felt pretty ok.. waiting, waiting and more waiting is a test of anyone's patience. We got asked every single day if anything was happening.. every night I would go to sleep thinking 'tonight will be the night'.. but we tried our best to just rest and enjoy the time together and actually, looking back.. those two weeks were when we basically built our new website so it was actually a complete godsend because I'm not sure how much of it would have been made once Frank arrived.
There was one thing tho that I couldn't cope with AT ALL.. and that was losing my place in the queue. You see a lot of photographers try to have their babies in the quieter part of the year so, no exaggeration, we knew around 15 friends, all due around the same time as us.. some just before.. some a little after.. some a month or so after.. and NO JOKE.. EVERYONE had their baby before us. Every time I looked at facebook there would be another announcement.. another 'Introducing Betty, Dylan, Ella..'.. I would wake up in the middle of the night, take a quick glance at my phone.. ANOTHER BABY.. ARE YOU ACTUALLY KIDDING ME!?! Babies that were due way after us were sneaking right in whilst we weren't looking and I just couldn't cope with it. I think the fact that they were out the other side.. they'd done it.. labour was over.. I felt like I was being bumped out of the queue.. it was MY TURN.. I felt very much like I was being left behind at the bottom of a very large mountain (that I was going to have to climb) and by the end of it I was having uncontrollable meltdowns with every new announcement.
But Frank was definitely pretty happy where he was so after around 10 days overdue (and after a non successful sweep) we were booked in for an induction on day 14. I remember neither of us really asking too much about what actually happens when you're induced so although we had a vague idea we very much got ready that morning and headed to the hospital kinda in the same way we would head to just go get some brunch. To be honest I think the whole thing was so surreal that we just didn't really believe it was actually happening.. I also distinctively remembering getting to the hospital, getting settled on the ward and turning to Pete and genuinely asking him 'What the fuck are we doing????'.. the whole thing felt a weird mix of 'overwhelming HUGE life step' and 'What are we doing here again?'... and maybe that is actually the best way to take it all in.. I dunno..
So.. our birth plan. Hmmmm.. it was kinda basic. We didn't really have any major 'wants'.. I quite fancied possibly getting in water if the room was free but overall we had no real specifics on what we wanted or didn't want. Through the pregnancy we'd been to a group Hypnobirthing session and also had a private session too so I liked the idea of concentrating on relaxing.. and visualising etc.. but in a weird way I kinda felt like I trusted my body and trusted that I would do what was best for me and Frank at the time. I felt quite happy to go with the flow.
So at around lunchtime they give me a pessary and after a while I was getting mild twinges (especially if I walked up and down the ward) but they seemed to stop and start. The pessary ended up falling out that evening but at around midnight my waters broke. It's funny.. you always think your waters breaking is all action stations go but it was pretty calm and still.. and nobody seemed too bothered to do anything quickly so I was left to try and get some sleep overnight... which if anyone knows me.. I have absolutely no problems with. I will sleep anywhere, in any situation.. waters or no waters..
The next morning, I was woken and taken down to the labour ward. Pete had gone home the night before so they called him to come back in and I was hooked up to the hormone drip and monitor. They explained that they were wanting so many contractions in 10 minutes and would gradually up the dose (so the contractions would gradually get more intense).. and every four hours they would check to see how dilated I was. So for the next twelve hours I was mainly bouncing on a birth ball.. eating ice lollies and watching a Beatles documentary with Pete and our Midwife. We were chatting, giggling.. and as the time went on the contractions gradually got more intense and would come every few minutes.. but they were still manageable and didn't last long at all. After the first 4 hours I was checked and was literally at 2cm dilated so we were left to do another 4 hours.. cue more bouncing.. more ice lollies.. and still I wasn't too uncomfortable. By the next check I'd still only reached around 3cm so they said that he would give me one more four hour block but he wanted to see a lot more progress at the next check. This next four hours the contractions definitely became more uncomfortable where I was having to concentrate more through each one. I remember our midwife kept offering me gas and air and I kept saying 'no I'm fine'.. but it was purely because up until this point I didn't know what level my contractions were currently at.. compared with how bad they could/would be getting. It was a bit like 'Who wants to be a millionaire'.. I didn't want to use one of my lifelines too early! In the end I took her up on the offer and spent the last few hours feeling just a little bit tipsy..
By the end of 12 hours the Doctor explained that I was still only at 4cm and that he really had wanted me to have made more progress by now... and that his opinion would be to have a Csection. I remember him approaching the subject as if he wasn't sure how I'd react.. as I know for many women this is pretty devastating as they would want a more natural birth.. (and the fact that they'd just been through 12 hours of labour).. but you know what.. I didn't care how this little man arrived.. so I gave my consent (I might have even fist bumped him).. and within minutes I was being wheeled in to the operating theatre..
Now I think we must have won the lottery with the team that was waiting for us because we pretty much entered the happiest room I've ever been in. Everyone in the room was smiling and chatting about their favourite holiday destinations.. me and Pete told them all about our recent travels and I remember quite a few times telling a number of them that I loved them.. and by this point I'm sure the gas and air had worn off so this was 100% ligit affection. I felt super safe and happy. The Doctor asked Pete to choose an album to put on and I lay there looking at the huge light above me, ;istening to the Garden State album.. thinking that this feels like a scene from the film.. and I really love that film.. (see.. super happy). I was given an epidural.. and within minutes they were telling Pete to grab his camera and over the top of the little curtain Frank appeared. With his little sad face, bottom lip out.. (he was definitely pretty comfy where he was) and everyone was smiling, telling us how much he weighed etc. They popped a little tiny knitted hat on him and placed him right under my nose so I could see him properly.. the Anaesthetist even took Pete's camera and took some photos of all three of us. It all just felt so surreal.
We got taken to another room.. Pete took care of Frank's first nappy, I was given tea and toast (pretty much the best tea and toast of my life).. and we were then taken up to the ward where we had our first precious minutes with Frank.. all together. Looking back now.. this bit for me is the most blurred as Pete had to go home pretty much straight away and I was left on the ward on my own.. not really being able to move at all.. with this little person snoozing on my chest...
...now a Mum.