Birth Story // EET

I’d been absolutely dreading childbirth the second time around even though RLT’s childbirth was quite straightforward and quick. Where I was determined to use hypnobirthing and be drug free as possible the first time, this time I just wanted water and although I wanted to keep drug free because I didn’t like the thought of the impact of pain meds on the baby, if it hurt, I was more open-minded.

My lasting memory of last time I gave birth was the pressure in my behind – no one had mentioned that before, but it is something that my friend Nicola has experienced since in the birth of her second son, Felix. I did not want to feel as though I had the worst constipation ever that was finally making its way out and that’s exactly how I remember the initial pain of childbirth!

It’s taken me three months to write this because, at the time, labour felt relatively straightforward, but as we digested the events, we needed a little time to work through them in our minds. We already had one boy, we thought it would be quite similar, how wrong could we be!

So after getting engaged in Cuba in November 2017, being told work couldn’t finance my MBA in September 2017 and 35 approaching fast, I wanted to have another baby – before weddings and before the possibility of losing two years to academia happened. With the start date being delayed by a year, possibly two, putting off completing our family seemed like a rather silly thing to do and I’d be almost forty! Thankfully my other half agreed that it would be nice to have all of our family at our wedding and he would quite like a September baby just as he was.

Obviously, we didn’t realise that at the beginning of a New Year is the most popular time for people to try for a baby – this soon became apparent because every booking we need to make filled up fast! Appointments with midwives, scans and the most crucial one of all (which we would find out later) beds on maternity wards!

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I was extremely anxious during pregnancy and had a fair few early scans for one reason or another – but when our twelve-week appointment came around we were given the due date of 26th September – the most popular birthday in Britain!

I thought that was a little early by my dates so was sure it would be early October. I took a few weeks annual leave before my maternity leave was officially to start on 24th September as work advise to start maternity around a week before the baby gets here.

I’d been really tuned in to every tweak and feeling within this pregnancy as I was sure something bad was going to happen- that black cloud wouldn’t shift. I’d been sure my waters had broken (likely that I’d just wee’d – cringe) and my mum had taken RLT overnight a few times because I was just sure something was going to happen (probably me just psychologically rehearsing but I felt really odd pains at times – turns out it was baby flipping over).

Sunday 23rd I felt manageable period type pain – waiting for the pending uncomfortable pain in backside before I knew if it was anything serious. Asked my mum to take RLT overnight just in case, ummed and arred about this until bedtime, but thought it best to have an unneeded sleepover than to get him and Grandma out of bed in the early hours if required. This also meant that Mark and I could watch the finale of The Bodyguard uninterrupted! The pain kept slightly taking my breath away, so at 8pm I thought I’d best ring the maternity ward as it was every few minutes and as I found last time, I have a high pain threshold as contractions didnt bother me until I was 9cm – I was determined to have a waterbirth as it would be my last birthing experience so wanted to get there with time to fill the pool!

A quite blunt lady told me to ring back when my contractions were about 4 mins apart – I tried to argue that that is what I did last time and I was 9cm so I would like to come in and be examined now as it was 5-6 and there was no time for pain relief or pool last time. She asked how far away from the hospital I was, where I lived and told me I should stay at home longer and ring back. She really annoyed me, I found her to be quite rude so I didn’t want to ring back at all! I sat timing the contractions and I got to watch The Bodyguard! Determined that I didn’t want to be a time waster and that it hurt but wasn’t ridiculous, I pottered about the house for a few more hours, sorting things out, having a bath and then I felt like someone had put a stick up my bum! I knew what that meant! So the hospital I rang.

The lady I spoke to this time was much nicer, took down details of everything I was saying about needing to come in to be assessed as the pain was becoming hard for me to tolerate. She asked where I lived, I told her and she explained that they were now closed for new intake as they had reached their quota for how many midwives per patient on the ward. She would have to contact another hospital in our area to see if they could take me.

This was not part of the plan – I’d already had my little boy at that hospital, I was so happy with the care I got there and that’s where I had all of my scans. I didn’t even know where the maternity ward was in the other hospital. She said at least the hospital was a reasonable drive from me, she’d had to send people a 45 minute drive to there – imagine how they felt? I quite honestly couldn’t have given a rats ass about them at this moment in time. She put down the phone to call the other hospital about taking me and I broke down to Mark and started having a panic attack. I felt so unprepared for this! We had chosen that hospital for a reason, I’d been told so many horrible things about the other one and everytime I went there were smackheads smoking outside A&E, I didn’t want to have to fight my way though them! This was a nightmare!

She rang back at 11.22pm and confirmed they were waiting for me on the maternity ward. So we had a little whinge, did what we needed to do and set off for the hospital. Obviously this was the worst journey in the world, as it was dark, I was in such a bad mood about this and couldn’t catch my breath – oh and the contractions had ramped up. To add to this, Mark didn’t have a bloody clue where this hospital was as he isn’t from the area, so as well as everything else, I had to direct him (neither of us seemed to be thinking straight as our car has sat nav!?). A fox darted across the road just outside of our cul-de-sac, so now I had the added thoughts in my head that our cat was going to be eaten by a fox whilst we were out. OH THIS WAS WONDERFUL.

Even parking the car was an ordeal. Obviously, I didn’t give Mark any credit for being scared and taken off guard about the change in hospital at the time but he couldn’t get the car in the parking space, despite there being no cars around him and he then realised he had no change for the parking. The parking at the other hospital is pay on departure not arrival as this one was. He told me to go ahead and he’d catch me up – how about he just hurried his ass up; as I was in no state to try and navigate him round a hospital when he got lost, which he would as he as zero sense of direction unless it is up a mountain.

So there were two maternity wards on the signs, oh great. How the hell was I supposed to know which one to go to? I started getting upset. Mark pointed at one, said to try the one that was in our eye line. Pressed the buzzer, they were waiting for us at the other one, of course they were.

So we got to the other ‘maternity unit’ which when we got up close was the pregnancy assessment unit, they musnt have been able to fit all of those words on the sign downstairs. There were two ladies on reception, one a midwife and one a lady in blue scrubs who was getting instructions from the midwife. I must have looked terrified as the midwife was telling me not to be scared and that everything would be ok. She took me into an assessment room, she had a very calming manner about her, chatted to us both while I got on the bed and I had a little panic attack again about not being prepared as this wasn’t where I’d envisaged being, once she calmed me down she assessed me and told me I was 8cm – I’d bloody done it again and was so annoyed with the other hospital, if they had let me go in earlier I’d have been admitted!

The midwife said she was going to take me to the maternity unit, did I want to walk or did I need a wheelchair? I said I’d walk, just as I did when I was 9cm the last time. As we had 2 more cm to go I thought the walk would help.

She started locking up the pregnancy assessment unit and said that she would be delivering our baby. Wow, I thought good service that you get the same person all the way through, that’s really personal, maybe I was wrong about this place? She took me straight to a delivery room, which I noticed had the pool in the room next to it. Would I like the pool running? Yes please. She told me to get my nighty on and a maternity assistant came in with various bits and bobs, including a wristband for me which needed details on it. The midwife asked the maternity assistant to do it as she couldn’t remember what the procedure was – I thought that was weird but I had some other things going on so didn’t probe.

The pool was filling but it was massive and only had a bath-sized tap – the toilet was in the same room as it, so I kept going to check on it as I was sure I needed a number two 😂 there was that pain again! I remembered it well and it still felt awful! I was trying to visualise it was the baby’s head moving down rather than focusing on the pain, being on the bed felt like it would halt progress so I was walking around the room while I spoke to Mark who was sat in a chair and whooosssshhhh my waters went all over the floor and all over Mark’s shoes.

The midwife told me to get on the bed whilst she cleaned the floor and said to tell her if i felt like pushing? I had another two cm to go so was confused and I wasn’t in the pool yet? Then the pain ramped up a bit. I don’t think I took the gas and air out of my mouth at this point.

I can’t give you details of how many pushes because I blacked out. I remember pushing and the top half of my body julting backwards and forwards on the bed and hearing “Nicola, what do you think you’re doing?” from the Midwife. I came round and have no idea where I went, she told me to stay with her and follow exactly what she was telling me to do. She told me off for breathing away contractions rather than pushing, but I didn’t think I was. So I tried to tune in and pushed into my bum like I was told.

Then I was told to stop and under no circumstances to push – breathe the contractions away. She went between my legs and said the head was out, then she asked Mark to go around. What was she doing? I didn’t want him down there! She explained the cord was wrapped around the baby’s head twice, so we needed to get this off before I pushed anymore.

She asked me to look and I couldn’t. I didn’t want the first time I saw my baby to be of him with his cord around his head. So I kept my eyes closed and focused on the gas and air. I stupidly looked at Mark’s face for reassurance and he looked terrified. She asked Mark to cut the cord whilst she held it off the baby’s neck. She seemed very relaxed, but Mark, who is the calmest person I know, was really struggling to keep his emotions in check. He couldn’t cut through the cord and she was telling him to be faster and he sounded terrified when he was telling her the scissors weren’t cutting.

I puffed on the gas and air again, I couldn’t deal. When they got the cord cut, she told me to start pushing again immediately to get the baby out. She was pushing on my perineum to make it easier and I felt as though her calm mask had now slipped.

I’m pretty sure she pulled him out when his shoulders were out. Or that’s how it felt. Then he was placed on my chest! He was here and OK!

From getting to the hospital to him being out it took 57 minutes. It was fast and furious and alot to take in.

My blacking out and the cord incident had left Mark traumatised. He said he thought he was going to lose us when the midwife had left the room.

I was in a bit of a daze from blacking out. Apparently I did it a few times and Mark didn’t know what to do.

Someone came in to help Midwife and said to her “I bet you didn’t expect to do that when you came to work tonight”. She then explained she worked on pregnancy assessment and hadn’t delivered a baby in eight years, so it was a her pleasure to help us. No wonder it felt a bit rough and ready compared to last time!

We have since mentioned this to friends and one who is a Doctor was questioning whether the cord was clamped. Apparently it’s not really procedure that Mark was allowed to cut it when it was round the baby’s neck. Neither of us recall any clamping, but that’s not to say she didn’t do it without Mark seeing – but there was definitely blood spurting all over him when he was trying to cut. But he’s here and he’s perfect so we’re not questionning whether the midwife has not followed procedure.

dad holding newborn baby looking at sunrise in darlington memorial hospital

I’m a little bit gutted I will never get to experience the water birth I wanted. But I think I’m fairly lucky with two births lightening quick! 2 hours 41 for the first and 57 minutes for the other.

The differences in care between the two hospitals was ridiculous despite them being part of the same trust. I definitely stand by my decision to opt to deliver elsewhere. The delivery suite which we stayed in until we left 7 hours later was next to the nurses station and we couldn’t sleep for the staff bitching and terrifying a first-year midwifery students with their tales of how hard done by they were. As the midwife who delivered out baby had gone to her ward, we were just left. I wasn’t offered any food or drink nor were we checked on by anyone other than the midwife who did the baby’s checks seven hours after delivery. It was very much a different experience to our first maternity unit experience but a very good story if the boys ever ask why their places of birth are different on their passports.

So little EET (who was nameless for a good few days after his birth) was born at 00.57 on 24th September 2018. He weighed 7lb 1oz although he looks huge on all photographs! Our little family is complete!