On Friday the 1st of October I headed off to QMC to see my consultant again. The previous week I had told her I respectfully hoped I wouldn’t see her again so she knew how fed up I was to be back at 40+5.
When she examined me she found that I was 3-4cm dilated so she gave me a very vigorous sweep, recommended a long walk and told me to look forward to meeting my little boy in the next day or two.
I excitedly went off to tell my mum the news and we decided we’d go to ikea as you walk for miles in there without really noticing. Prior to that I had to walk to the car park and that seemed a long way too – by the time we got there I was very crampy and uncomfortable. Having had a sweep the week before I knew to expect some discomfort but part of me also knew this was more.
When we got to ikea the cramps were so strong that we decided to go straight to the restaurant so I could have dinner and see how I felt. Mum & BabyDaddy went to get the food but while they were queuing I started having contractions and when they got back I was breathing through one. We decided we’d eat, see how I felt and think about what to do from there. By the time we’d eaten there was only one option: back to QMC.
We got back to hospital around an hour and a half after my sweep, by which time my contractions were lasting one and a half minutes and coming six minutes apart. The midwife said she wouldn’t examine me for another hour or two as she didn’t want to do it too soon after my sweep in case I got swollen. I told her I’d need examining before then and she asked me to tell her if I felt any pressure. Barely any time later the contractions were coming every couple of minutes and lasting over three minutes. They were so strong I asked for gas and air and an examination. As I thought, I was much further on than expected.
In comparison to Ted’s birth this one was difficult. In comparison to difficult births it was nothing and I know how lucky I am really, but it’s my experience and I struggled.
The midwife had me pushing when I didn’t feel that I needed to push. My body had done the same involuntary pushing it had done with Ted and so I guess it makes sense that she thought that meant I should be pushing, but I genuinely wish she had left me to get on with it like I did last time. The difference is that last time no one knew because I hadn’t been examined so I was left alone. This time it meant that there were time limits and recommendations and checks. I didn’t enjoy her being there so much.
Ben was trying to make his way out safely wrapped up in his bag so while she was making me push (which is really hard when you’ve never done it before, don’t have the urge to do it and don’t know what to do) I put my hand down and felt it. It was weird. When she suggested breaking my waters to speed things up I didn’t object. I know it’s supposed to be lucky for them to be born in their bag but it really freaked me out! And besides, I don’t believe in luck.
At some point a doctor came and put a cannula in, just in case of seizures, and just like last time it wasn’t immediately successful. I think I have more bruising from needles than childbirth. There was some talk of giving me a hormone drip when Ben decided to play the same game he’d been playing for the past fortnight and slowed down, but I think it was when she let me get back on my side and stopped trying to make me push that things got moving again. In the end I didn’t have to have any interventions and I was really pleased about that. The only thing I’d specified was that I didn’t want an episiotomy, preferring to tear, so it would have been down to BabyDaddy to negotiate anything else as I don’t think I would have cared by that stage.
There are lots of hazy moments and there are a fair few I’ve tried not to remember. I told BabyDaddy that when I sounded like a “Tinga Tinga elephant” it meant my body was pushing and I had a conversation with the devil in which he promised the baby & I would be fine. I don’t remember if I promised anything in return. Lovely gas and air.
I don’t actually remember the final build-up to the delivery. The next thing I remember is unbelievable pain, becoming aware that two people (the midwife and my mum, I realise now) were urging me to pant, thinking that the noise coming out of me was bestial, BabyDaddy telling me “he’s coming! I can see him!” and the feeling that there were an awful lot of people in the room. No one else was there but it felt like the room was full. BabyDaddy’s words at that moment gave me the strength I needed to get through that final moment and then there he was: Benjamin Christopher. My Ben.
This time the damage wasn’t so great so I didn’t have to go to theatre, but I did have to face up to my fear of stitches. It’s not something I’d rush back to experience again but it wasn’t as horrific as I had expected. And I was allowed more lovely gas and air while it happened.
I was pretty shell-shocked after Ben’s birth. In my head I was going to go into hospital in the middle of the night, lay down with the gas & air, shout someone as he was about to emerge and finally meet my little boy. Basically in my head I was having Ted’s birth again.
The fact that there was someone there telling me what to do and who I didn’t feel especially comfortable talking in front of made it more difficult to relax and while I understand why she was doing the things she was doing I really wish she’d left me alone a bit more. I think next time I would choose not to be examined so quickly after all, but this time I had been desperate to know how far along I was.
And I do say next time with a degree of meaning it, even though after Ben was born I said I was never doing it again. They say you forget the pain of childbirth as soon as it’s over but with Ted that wasn’t the case. This time it was much quicker and the option of another baby – much further in the future than the gap between Ted and Ben – is still open.
Even if BabyDaddy thinks he’s closed it.