Hey guys!! *waves madly*.
Sooooo, here is the latest instalment in our Real Birth Story Series, and this time it has been written by ME – Ellyn, head honcho over here at mummalifelovebaby! Wooooo! This was my second labour and birth, which meant that although I hoped for a different experience, I assumed it would be exactly the same as the first… How did it go, you ask? Well, read on to find out… xox
My Real Birth Story – Ellyn Shepherd
After what felt like an eternity of being pregnant with the little miss I was kinda starting to lose my mind. And if you had been following my pregnancy diaries, then you would remember that I was LITERALLY counting each second until she was born.
I was getting so heavy and uncomfortable. My back was aching like a MoFo, and I was just so desperate to hold her in my arms and smother her squishy face with kisses. I found myself WILLING her with the power of my mind to just…fall out of my body. #wishfulthinking
Naturally she didn’t listen. Because she was obviously a baby jerk.
And then came the day before my official due date. It was Thursday. I felt a general ache in my stomach all day long but didn’t think much of it, because with my son the ache had been in my lower back before the contractions started.
I felt an insane urge to clean, so I crazily pulled out the spray and wiped our kitchen from top to bottom. I then washed the dog beds, and hauled the dog to the dog wash and cleaned his stanky behind. I was a woman possessed.
The ache got a little stronger as the afternoon went on, but it was more like a buzz in the back of my mind, there but easy to ignore. Subconsciously I must have known what was happening, as every time I went to have a wee I would check for “the show”. At 6pm that night, I saw it. My wee was tinged pink.
“Babe, it’s starting!” I screeched excitedly through the downstairs bathroom door to my husband who was making us dinner in the kitchen. He was making us Chicken Kiev’s to be specific, which was actually an incredibly bad choice as it turned out later.
And straight away, the ache turned into contractions. It had begun. Wow wee.
When dinner was ready, I stuffed it in my face. Like, really stuffed it RIGHT in there. I wanted to eat quickly in between contractions to give myself energy. Then we put on a movie because I thought it might be a good way to distract myself from the contractions which were already intense.
I couldn’t sit down comfortably any more and yet I couldn’t stand comfortably either, which was worrying because there weren’t too many other options after that really. I moved constantly, ignoring the movie in front of me, circling my hips, and pacing up and down behind the couch, doing whatever I could to ease my discomfort.
Even though the contractions were already powerful, I still assumed it would take a while as my son had taken 4 days to be born. And heck, if that was going to be the case, then I wanted a good nights sleep to power up for what was to come… So I gave up on the movie (that I wasn’t watching anyway), headed up to bed and pretended to sleep.
It was around 9pm at this stage.
I lay on my side in the bed, massaging my swollen pregnant belly during the contractions like I could use my hands to just SQUISH her on outta me. I kept my eyes shut in the hopes that if they stayed shut during each contraction (which mind you were now coming every three minutes apart) that maybe somehow, just somehow, I may actually fall asleep. Yeah right.
I lay there for about an hour and a half … maybe… coz time goes kinda loony when your trying to evict a baby out of your insides, and then I decided to hop in the shower. I had heard at some point that it could really help. I popped my yoga mat on the shower floor with a little step stool on top so I could kneel on the floor with my back under the running water. It sucked. It was uncomfortable and cold.
So I ran a bath next. How I got in the bath I will never know, and yet somehow I managed it. I put the yoga mat on the bottom again and knelt on it but the damn thing kept billowing up in the water and whacking me in the face. I pretended that I was ok with it until my husband walked in, and then I gladly tossed it at him mid contraction. “Fuck this” I shouted at him.
I felt the pop in the lower right hand side of my body. And when I looked in the water around me, it looked like I had wee’d a little, though I knew I hadn’t. I got so excited because I realised that my waters had broken.
OMG! Hurrah! And how freaking convenient (and disappointingly undramatic) to have it happen in the bath?! That never happened with my son…
Then the contractions amped RIGHT up. Ma gawd.
I started burping up the garlic from the Chicken Kiev’s, which was totally gross, and I began wondering if I should have a spew. So I hopped out of the bath in between the contractions with the help of my husband who was starting to go a little white in the face himself, and I kneeled by the toilet for a bit.
Contractions at this point were coming every 1-2 minutes so my husband rang the hospital whilst I moaned over the toilet in the background. I obviously terrified the nurse on the phone, as she promptly recommended that we come in. My in-laws arrived, and my husband started getting everything together, ready to leave for the hospital.
I remember my mother in law walking in to the bathroom, talking to me and asking me loads of questions, but I couldn’t respond. I couldn’t answer because I was way too busy trying to birth a human. Looking back I am just glad that I didn’t spew or poop myself in her presence.
We finally headed to the hospital.
It was 2am.
My beautiful Doula Amber was already waiting for us in the hospital carpark when we arrived. I leaned on her for the whole 5 metres that it took us to walk (cough…shuffle…) from our car to the check-in desk. They took one look at me, and brought me a wheelchair.
“Pffft, I don’t need that” I said, as I doubled over with a hugely powerful contraction. “Just sit in the damn chair” my husband replied kinda panicky. So I sat as requested, secretly loving the drama.
They rolled us down the hall to room 12, where the beautiful midwife Candice was waiting for us. That made me so happy, coz she was lovely in all of my appointments.
I don’t remember too much of the initial time in the room, other than the registrar (who was a cold, rude and grumpy cow) trying to push me towards lying on the bed strapped to a monitor which I really didn’t want to do. She used very cold language implying that I was a terrible mother and person who was probably going to endanger my child’s life if I didn’t sit completely still for the entirety of the labour. She made me very nervous, but all I wanted was the opportunity to move around the room.
I had stayed relatively still for through my first labour, and that had ended up in a c-section so I desperately wanted to do everything different this time around. “Desperately” isn’t even a strong enough word for it to be honest. I wanted to give myself EVERY SINGLE CHANCE to have a vaginal birth. I wanted it with every single molecule in my body.
So, we kindly advised the Registrar that they could monitor me and the baby as much as they wanted to, but with the Doplar – the mobile monitor, so that I wouldn’t be forced to sit still and could move as much as I needed to. After much persuasion, the registrar agreed, and then left the room in a huff.
She stayed out of the room from that point onwards. #IAmPrettySureSheHatedMe
After that, I remember Amber (my doula) asking what positions I wanted to try. I had no idea, so she suggested I try hopping in the shower again to see if it helped with the contractions. This time it really did. I sat on a chair under the water with yoga mats at my feet, so I could kneel down on the floor with each contraction. Coz actually sitting still on the chair during a contraction was a big fat nope. Totes uncomfortable on my hoo-ha.
I sat in that position for I don’t even know how long until Amber suggested sitting on the toilet instead which would help relieve some of the pressure I was feeling. She brought the shower head over to the toilet where I was sitting, so I could still have that natural pain relief from the warm water running on my back whilst sitting more comfortably. The girl knew her stuff. She then set up the yoga mats and the chair again in front of the toilet so I could just hop off the toilet each time I felt a contraction coming and kneel on the floor with my elbows supported on the chair. It was the bomb.
I laboured for a while in this way, until I finally threw up my dinner on the shower floor. Amber my doula leaned over looked at my spew and said “Girl, you need to chew more”. before cleaning it up with my husband without complaint. I felt better after that, coz garlic burps are the worst when in labour. Vom.
Then my midwife came in to check how dilated I was. I hobbled through 5 million contractions to get from the shower to the bed. The pain was so much more intense without the relief of the shower head. It sucked. So much. She checked me, which left me feeling like a small and rather angry villager had waltzed in and was kicking the crap out of my insides. #thatgirlwasntgentle
But then she smiled at me.
Back into the shower we went, with me begging to know how far along I was, and with her refusing to tell me. “Lets just say I wont have to check you again” she said grinning.
I felt very an intense rush of happiness and pride. I have never before felt so incredible, strong, alive and absolutely in love with my own body. And then she said something that brought me even further joy “How would you like to birth your baby? Would you like to catch her? Or your husband? Me?” Oh my god, I thought. I was actually doing it. It was going to happen. I was a warrior woman. I wanted to roar as I revelled in my own incredible and invincible power.
“I want my husband to catch her” I replied, “But do you have a mirror? I want to see her coming out, and touch her head if I can”. Or, at least that’s what I tried to say. It probably came out more like “grunt grunt moan grunt”, but she seemed to know what I was saying and disappeared for about 5 minutes, brining back towels and a mirror when she returned.
All of a sudden the contractions intensified. I felt the urge to push a little. I could feel pressure lower down and although it hurt like hell, every inch of the pain was wonderful.
My beautiful student midwife Niamh had arrived at some point and had taken over washing my back with the shower head, whilst my Doula applied counter pressure on my back like some massage magician. This left my husband free to sit right next to my head during each contraction. He got right on up in my face and eyeballed me, telling me that I could do it, whilst holding my hands and massaging my shoulders.
It was exactly how I had dreamed my labour would be. It was incredible. Beautiful. Wonderful.
Still fucking hurt of course.
And then, the midwife changed shifts. The registrar changed shifts too, and the new doctor (this one was really respectful and lovely) came in to talk to me. She didn’t like what she was reading on the monitor, so I hobbled again onto the bed and was checked once more.
Then the doctor looked at me and said quietly. “I have some bad news”.
What she said next broke me completely.
It wasn’t going to happen for me. I wasn’t going to be able to have the VBAC I had longed for. I was only 7cms dilated, and sadly I hadn’t dilated a single centimetre since the midwife had previously checked me. So confident that midwife had been. So happy and hopeful had I. But since then, not only was I no longer progressing, but my cervix had swollen, and my baby was showing signs of distress.
This meant that I needed to have an emergency c-section right away.
I started to cry. I had come so fucking far.
I had wanted to experience a vaginal birth more than anything and it wasn’t going to happen for me. And then in the next breath, she informed me that I wouldn’t be able to try for a vaginal birth for ANY future babies either. This was it. This had been my final chance, and my body had blown it. I wasn’t strong enough to do it.
I gripped onto my husbands hand and I sobbed like my heart was breaking completely in two. I grieved. I felt it so overwhelmingly, and I kept apologising to my husband for not being able to birth our babies the “natural way”. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t like he bloody cared how it happened, as long as we were all safe, but I felt like I had let everybody down. “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry!” I sobbed. My husband rested his head against mine and cried with me because he knew how much I had wanted it.
And then I started to panic. I didn’t want another c-section. I didn’t want to have my baby that way again. The pain after my first c-section hurt so fucking much and I didn’t want to do that again. It terrified me.
The midwives got me changed and ready to wheel down to surgery. My contractions were still incredibly intense and tripping over each previous one, but there no longer seemed to be any point to the pain. I felt out of control and panicked, and in my fear I started to vomit.
My husband had to leave to get into scrubs and wait for the spinal block to start to work and that scared me too. Being alone in this terrified me.
But my student midwife (who I also consider my beautiful friend) was considered “staff” so she was able to come with me, and hold my hand, giving me strength and comfort while they wheeled me along to the operating theatre, even while I continued to spew exorcist style along the way. I will always be grateful to her for that. For being there for me when my husband wasn’t allowed to be, so I wasn’t alone when I was scared and terrified.
Once I got into the theatre, it all happened quickly, just like I remembered.
The Spinal Block kicked in, I stopped spewing, and my husband was allowed back into the room. The staff joked with me, and made me feel totally calm and relaxed once more. They put on the Mariah Carey Christmas Classic “All I want for Christmas”, and we all (LITERALLY ALL) sang whilst they cut open my body and pulled my beautiful daughter out into the world.
She howled the second the cold air touched her skin. It was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard.
They placed her on my chest so I could kiss her and stroke her little face, while they stitched me back up. I couldn’t believe it. She was here. It WAS worth it. She wriggled her way down my chest and fed from me. And then she pooped on me. Of course. *insert eye roll here*.
Even still, it was beautiful. It may not have been what I had wanted, at all, but it was an incredible experience. Every contraction, every second of what I had been through in my labour made it right, perfect, and an incredibly loving way to bring my beautiful girl into the world.
And I couldn’t wait to get home and start our life again as a new family of four. Plus a stinky dog.
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