I wanted to write down my labour and birth story before Archie was too much older and it had faded to the back of my mind – I know I’ll never really forget the experience but I want to do this while I can still recall all the little details. Looking back, it was the most amazing 16/18 hours of my life I’ve ever been through and – even with all the pain and exhaustion – I would do it again in a flash for my perfect little boy.
It started in the early hours, at about 4am, of the 23rd September. I woke up feeling niggly and uncomfortable and couldn’t get back to sleep for the life of me – even though I was beyond shattered after not sleeping well for the previous week or so. My boyfriend Chris woke up to see me in tears of frustration…I remember just thinking ‘I NEED THIS BABY OUT OF ME’ because even though it was 5 days before my due date I felt like I’d been pregnant for a lifetime and hadn’t had a good nights sleep in so long (not that I am now Archie’s here!). He gave me a cuddle and calmed me down, then drifted back off to sleep. I tossed and turned – and at about 6am began to get period like cramps.
They were sore, but I didn’t really think anything of them and just assumed they were another delightful pregnancy quirk…like all the other aches and pains I’d felt during the last trimester! It was Chris that said to me ‘I think you’re in labour’ – but I was adamant it was nothing. He left for work and I tried to stay in bed and get some rest.
After what felt like an age of tossing and turning and cramping every 10 minutes or so, I finally gave up and got out of bed. It was around 7.30/8am that I decided to just call the labour ward and see if they thought anything was happening. I let them know what was I was feeling and they recommended some paracetamol, a warm shower and to just keep an eye on the pain to see how regular it was. They told me they would call my local midwives at 9am when they opened and get them to give me a call to see how I was getting on.
My lovely midwife gave me a call shortly after 9am and asked me to pop in for a check over at about half past 10. I got my Mum round to keep me company whilst I waited, made sure Chris was able to come home from work to get me and even managed to put some makeup on! I still wasn’t sure if this was the real deal – even though my Mum was sure it was – but I got all my bags together and ready to put in the car just in case.
I had been sick (I think with a mixture of nerves and my body preparing me for labour) by the time Chris came home, so as soon as I had sorted myself out we headed on down to the hospital. The first thing my midwife said when she saw me was that it looked like more than just ‘aches and pains’, so she checked straight away if anything was happening.
I was 3cm dilated! I was given a good stretch and sweep to keep things moving and told to head straight to the hospital I’d be giving birth in – bearing in mind it’s a 2/3 hour drive away…
The nerves were well and truly kicking in – for Chris and me – but we got on the road after letting our friends and family know, and thankfully the drive went as smoothly as possible. We arrived at the hospital at around 2.30pm and got straight into the labour ward. They checked both the baby and me over – he was happy and healthy and I was amazed to hear that I was now 8cm dilated! ‘This isn’t so bad‘ I thought, having survived contractions every 3 or 4 minutes so far without the need for any pain relief.
For the next few hours I was just sat on a birthing ball, chatting away, listening to music and even reapplying my makeup inbetween the contractions that were now getting more and more painful – but not become any more frequent. Chris was amazing and let me squeeze his hand with all my strength to get through them, rubbed my back and gave me sips of water and lucozade as often as I needed.
By 8pm I was still 8cm dilated and my waters hadn’t broken, so it was decided that they would get a doctor in to break them for me and hopefully get things moving along. I was exhausted by this stage and had finally decided to use the gas and air to help me through the pain. I am proud of myself for managing so long without it, but I have to admit – the gas and air was amazing! I felt high as a kite and Chris informed me afterwards that I had been chatting absolute crap after every breath of the stuff…before they broke my waters, at least. That’s when it started to get unbearable.
After I was given a diamorphine injection to help with the pain as I was told that it would get much worse soon, a lovely doctor came in and broke my waters for me. I wasn’t watching as I had my eyes glued shut and my mouth constantly on the gas and air but apparently I practically flooded the table with the amount of fluid I was carrying! This is when she told us that, once the waters were out of the way, I was only actually 6cm dilated. I was exhausted and distraught to have to think about carrying on with the contractions that now felt like CONSTANT waves of pain for longer than I was expecting.
I was then hooked up to a hormone drip, which was a bloody ordeal in itself as it took them 3 attempts to get in in my hand, to make my contractions more effective and get me fully dilated as soon as possible. After they did this everything is such a blur. I am so grateful that Chris was right there by my side constantly telling me how well I was doing and still letting me squeeze his hand with all the power I had left just to get me through the pain – anyone that has done it alone seriously needs some kind of medal!
At about 9/9.30pm the time had come for me to PUSH. Through my exhaustion it suddenly hit me that if I did this last bit, if I could just manage to pull the last bit of energy I had in me together… I was finally going to get to meet my little boy.
Pushing is honest to God the hardest and most painful thing I have ever had to do. I can’t describe the pain as anything except a ripping, burning sensation that took over my whole body. I pushed and pushed until I remember being told to look down at one point – I could see the top of my babies head! I was in total disbelief that he was right there, so close to being with us. That spurred me on to keep pushing, giving it everything I had – but his head kept popping back in and I didn’t know how much longer I could do this for.
Chris was my rock at this point. He kept me going, told me I could do it. I remember looking up at him and just knowing that I had to keep going, I had to just KEEP pushing until we had our little one in our arms. I gave one last excruciatingly painful push and before I knew it, my babies head was out! The rest of his body quickly followed and so finally, after what felt like an eternity, I had done it – our little boy was here. I was in disbelief – it didn’t feel real that this perfect, tiny little human was ours, our son, our pride and joy. I finally had my own little family.
Archie John Ross:
- Born at 10.21pm
- Weighing 6lb 8oz
All my love,