One October night that changed my life

The birth of my son

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On the 19th October 2014 I was still 3 weeks from my due date, with no indication that I wouldn't make it to that date, so much so that I hadn't even considered the possibility I wouldn't be having a November baby. We'd been moving nursery furniture out of my sister in laws house all day, as we were leaving I suddenly got indigestion, I hadn't eaten anything and had never once had indigestion through my whole pregnancy. At that moment I told my husband we were getting take away instead of going out for dinner as planned, it was only indigestion, but that was the moment that I knew I'd be having an October baby.

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At 8pm I was washing dishes and I suddenly felt really strong braxton hicks, another pregnancy first. This was it, it was really happening now, my baby was on his way. Laying in bed at 11pm I started getting more braxton hicks. I couldn't work out if they were braxton hicks or actual contractions until my husband downloaded an app and started timing them, they were happening at regular 5 minute intervals, and I couldn't be sure, but I thought they were getting more uncomfortable. By midnight I was vomiting and by 2am I was sitting on my birthing ball. I spent the whole night vomiting and not able to lie down, so when my husband woke at 7am we decided it was time to go to the assessment centre.

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The journey to LGI was painful, every bump in the road seemed to cause a contraction, I was still feeling sick and spent the whole time gripping the roof of the car. Around 10am I was examined, by this point I was in a lot of pain and had been vomiting for almost 12 hours, so when I was told I was 3cm I couldn't believe what I was hearing, how could I have worked so hard already and not even be in proper labour yet! I was given an anti nausea drug to help with the vomiting and the choice of going home or staying on the ward. I choose the ward, my son needed constant monitoring because I had gestational diabetes and the thought of getting in the car again was not appealing, as soon as I was on the ante natal ward I got straight back on my ball.

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The ward, I'm told, is not the nicest place to spend labour. Truth is during my labour I shut out everything and can't remember anything on that ward apart from what went on in my own cubicle. By this point I lost track of time, but I believe I spent around 7 hours sat on the birthing ball on the ward. During this time I didn't speak one word to my poor, incredibly supportive, husband. The only time I came close to a conversation with him was when he bought himself a coffee, it was the first time he'd eaten or drank since he got up but the smell made me feel sick, I managed to signal this to him in broken English an he poured the whole lot down the sink. I still to this day tell him he could have just left the ward, but his support was invaluable and I'll never forget it. As the hours passed my contractions were getting so strong they started rolling into one another, the pain is not something I've ever felt, and not something I can recall. I can't describe it, I just know it was intense. By about 5pm I reached, what I believe, was probably the start of transition. I remember being asked if I wanted a water birth, I knew I couldn't have one because my baby had to be monitored the whole time, I intended to explain this in my head, but my response was simply I don't care I just get it out. At this point they moved me to the delivery suite.

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From having done my ante natal classes I had in my mind a clear birthing plan. I wanted as little pain relief as possible so that I could fully physically experience birth. I wanted a calm and serene room and I wanted to have my own music. By the time we were transferred to delivery suite it was dark outside, my husband asked for the lights to be dimmed and put some music on our portable speaker via his phone. The playlist was personal to us- a mixture of 80s Rock, mumfords, a few really cheesy songs and some random songs that inexplicably I just liked. I spent some time on the bed but soon enough I was back on my birthing ball, my husband used so massage oil to try and ease my back, I couldn't stand being touched when I was in pain but the oil left the room smelling lovely. The room was exactly how I wanted it.
I'd made it 18hrs into labour and up to delivery on just one dose of co codamol, by this point though the pain was so intense I was starting to loose control of it. In a moment of sheer agony I asked the midwife for more pain relief, she offered me diamorph and in that moment of agony I agreed. Before she gave me it however she asked if I wanted to be examined, I will forever be grateful to her for asking that question, it gave me time to get passed the moment of agony and realise that I didn't want the injection at all, that my biggest fear would be to be knocked out from the morphine and never remember my birth experience. When she examined me and said I was 8cm I turned it down.

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Labour is full of physical sensations and pain that you've never experienced before, by the time I reached 10cm and was ready to push I knew it. It felt like a truck was pushing against the base of my pelvis, an unbearable pressure pain that feels like it will push your body beyond its physical limits. When my midwife said I could push if I felt I needed to I was so relieved, with my first push my waters broke. At this point my midwife swapped with another, she introduced herself but I cannot remember her name and I will always be sad that I can't remember that woman who actually delivered my son. Through my whole labour I had been more comfortable on the ball and during pushing I was more comfortable squatting. My midwife got me onto the bed and asked me to face backwards so I could kneel against the back of the bed, this was the position I stayed in for the rest of my labour.

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As soon as I started pushing my contractions disappeared, I was instructed to push on the next contraction but I felt like I was simply guessing. In reality I probably wasn't, my body probably knew instinctively when to do it. By this point I had completely lost track of time, I don't know how long each stage lasted or at what time things happened. I also only have memories of certain distinctive moments, but the bits in between I don't recall at all. For example I can remember only two songs playing that night, even though the playlist was playing the whole time we were in delivery. Those two songs hold a special place in my heart now. I also can only remember two pushes before I reached the point where they tell you to stop pushing and pant, I'm certain it took more pushes but I just can't recall it.
The panting is the crowning of the head, or the ring of fire as I like to call it. It stings, a lot, and seems to take forever. That was the last vivid memory I have until I felt a sudden forcible drop from inside me, like a sack of potatoes falling through my abdomen. The moment, at 8:07pm on Monday 20th October 2014, my beautiful boy arrived into the world almost 3 weeks earlier than expected, to the sound of Wilson-Philips 'hold on'.

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Sadly my patchy memory continued after the moment my son was born. I remember the discomfort of his short cord pulling, I remember the stitches and how one stitch that the L.A. didn't work for was obviously more painful than birth as it was the one time I yelled at the top of my voice in the whole event. I remember the most amazing tea and toast, my bath in plain water, but overwhelmingly I remember looking down at my son and seeing his confused, concerned blinking face looking up at me and thinking I can't believe I just did that, I can't believe this is my baby, I am a mummy. My life changed forever on that October night, and even now almost 2 years on it gives me a fuzzy feeling just remembering it. I'm very lucky that I can hand on heart say, even though I've never experienced pain like it, I enjoyed every single bit of my birthing experience. It was everything I'd hoped for it to be and it gave me the biggest blessing I will ever have, my amazing little boy.

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