One day turns into the next. My baby girl is one year old today. I am completely taken aback by how emotional I feel right now. I hadn't thought that this would be a Big Deal but oh my, it is. I'd been wondering, perhaps because she is too young to know what a birthday was, how to 'do' this day? I have only just realised that actually there is so very much to celebrate. We have been a family for one year, we have survived the sleepless nights, the anxiety and the worry. A year of breastfeeding. A year of loving and laughing. Of being Good Enough. And so I celebrate my first year of mothering. The champagne is in the fridge chilling and in the morning I go to buy balloons.
I gave birth to Matilda Beatrice on Wednesday 28th May at 11.33am (40+4). She weighed 7lbs 15oz and has a mass of beautiful dark hair. Matilda was posterior throughout most of pregnancy, so I was quite surprised to go into labour spontaneously on the Tuesday afternoon. My Braxton Hicks had become a little painful and were very regular, lasting 45 seconds and at 5 minute intervals. I didn't believe I was *really* in labour, but I put the Tens machine on and bounced on my ball. At 9pm we called the midwife out (she greeted us with the slightly unnerving announcement that she'd never done a waterbirth before) and I was expecting her to tell me to just try and get some sleep, but when she examined me I was 4 cms dilated. I don't know if she was rougher than she should be, but that first internal was absolutely excruciating.
DH inflated the pool, and I lit candles and burned some oils... I tried to eat something but all I could manage was a few spoons of ice cream with sugar sprinkles! The midwife asked me to delay getting into the pool because my temperature was rising and she was concerned that I might have an infection, but we cooled the house down a little and it stopped increasing. I spent a couple of hours labouring in the pool as the contractions became more painful. The midwives had managed to bring two almost-empty cannisters of entenox, which was frustrating.
As things progressed I became quite disheartened and negative... for some reason I just didn't believe that the baby was going to be born, or that I could 'do it', and I started asking to go to hospital for an epidural! DH and the midwives were great, giving me a good talking to, telling me I could do it. I got out of the pool for an examination and didn't get back in because I was finding it a bit warm and claustrophobic. I had a lot of pain in my bottom during contractions, and sort of 'hung' with the midwife supporting me. (I had two midwives present throughout my labour).
At 6am my membranes were ruptured by the midwife, with what felt like a very blunt hook... it was unbelievably painful and quite distressing, but the relief was immense when they went. Soon after, there was a change of shift and the midwife who had taken care of me during the pregnancy arrived, bringing with her a much needed gentle, calm yet confident demeanour. I had to wait to dilate a little more because I had a cervical lip, but by about 7.30am I was ready to push, and did so, unexpectedly, in our spare room.
I don't remember much of the 2nd stage, but I know I was again quite despondent and didn't believe I could get the baby out. There was a ray of light when I was told that the baby's head was visible, and that she had lots of hair... DH and I had a little cry :-) I pushed at home for a good hour and a half, but by this point was exhausted and begging to go to hospital (even though the midwife kept reminding me that I couldn't have an epidural now!). We agreed to try for two more contractions, and then we made the call for an ambulance. At this point my contractions were also weakening, so it seemed the safest thing to do. You might remember that I posted about my fear of going to hospital in an ambulance... well, it was absolutely fine and as requested we had no lights or sirens.
My midwife Karen transferred with me, and although we thought I might need a ventouse or forceps, by the time I got to the delivery suite we were told it was unnecessary and baby was nearly here. I was given an episiotomy but I think I was quite out of my body as I was struggling to listen to the midwife's instructions about when to push and when not to. Crowning was of course excruciating, but we got the head out and then Matilda was born with the next contraction. I only used gas & air throughout, and I do feel very proud of myself!
I had a physiological third stage, and delivered the placenta in about 15 mins. Matilda was put straight on to my chest and DH cut her cord after it had finished pulsating. In that respect my birth plan was honoured and I feel very happy about that.
Things went a little pear-shaped after delivery, in that I bled into where I'd been sutured, resulting in a haematoma. The 4 hours after delivery are a haze, DH reports that I had 5 midwives around the bed trying to hold me down, I was in so much pain. They manually evacuated it twice, but at 4pm I was taken into theatre and (ironically, after no pain relief during the labour) was operated on under epidural. I lost a lot of blood and was given a transfusion later that evening; Matilda stayed with me except when I was in theatre obviously.
Unfortunately that night Matilda's breathing was a little laboured, and she was taken for a chest x-ray and a lumbar puncture, which showed signs of infection. She was immediately started on iv antibiotics, and we had to stay in hospital for 7 days whilst she completed the course. We were together on the post-natal ward throughout, and she showed no ill-effects of the infection or treatment.
Our transfer to hospital was fortuitous given Matilda's infection and my bleed. I don't regret going in, and I'm glad we spent the majority of our time at home. I found the labour scarier and more painful than I ever allowed myself to think during the pregnancy, and I think that the overwhelming pain and fear made it quite hard to do a lot of what I had imagined I would do in labour- the pain just overtook everything else. My positive experience of hospital treatment and the AMAZING staff in the delivery suite and on the ward has been an unexpected positive outcome and challenged my negative beliefs.
Phew, that was long!
Sam & Matilda Beatrice
1 week & 1 day