This week, we have Erin’s story. Erin blogs over at Merin and Co. – she and her husband, Michael, make up the Merin couple! The “Co.” includes their son, Heath, and their dog, Nala. This birth story is a bit of a saga, but I promise you, it’s an entertaining read! Thank you, Erin, for sharing your story here.
I read over on Ohh Hey Mama, Terri’s blog, that the internet is filled with far too many horror stories of birth and I totally agree. It’s either a horror story or an ethereal, out-of-body experience, where the lady simply breathes the baby out using the power of positive thought.
Neither of the above were true for me. I did not have a nightmare birth. I did not have the perfect birth. My son arrived healthy, noisily, and in a flash after 40 plus hours. To me, this can only be seen as positive.
If you’ve kept up with my blog, you’ll know that I had a fairly average pregnancy, nosebleeds aside. I was hormonal and growing … oh and falling, but it was pretty normal.
This was the case up until the end of May. Five weeks before I was due, I had my first bout of high blood pressure. My midwife sent me to the hospital to get a more detailed check with a trace of the baby’s heartbeat, urine samples and a blood test. All of these came back normal to the point that the doctor looking at my case actually questioned why I had been sent down to the hospital at all.
A great four hours spent. Totally validated by this lovely doctor.
In the following weeks, I became a regular visitor to the hospital – single-handedly funding at least one parking space, I’m sure! During these visits, it became evident that my blood pressure was becoming a bit of an issue. Each time my blood pressure crept up, but I still didn’t have any other symptoms. Unless you count the fact that I was swollen to the size of a hot air balloon!
I had already gone through my birth plan with my midwife and was really hoping to get to use the birthing pools. With each visit to the hospital, this was becoming less and less likely.
Both Mum and Gran have three children. This is currently my aim, but who knows how it will go. Gran had pre-eclampsia – or toxaemia, as it was called at the time – with each pregnancy. Mum had gestational hypertension, high blood pressure, with all three. Gran had to be monitored in hospital, but for both of them it meant that they had fast births.
I had confirmed gestational hypertension with some signs of pre-eclampsia. The latter was never confirmed.
I didn’t know what this would lead to other than just not being able to give birth in the pool. I didn’t for a minute think that there would be other implications.
I went into spontaneous labour a week before our due date. My waters broke in the middle of the night with contractions starting an hour later. We grabbed our pre-packed bags – yes for once I was actually organised – jumped in the car and headed off excitedly. Our baby was coming.
Once we arrived at the hospital, we went to the birthing suite. I was clinging on to the hope that I could give birth in the pool!
This was not to be!
A lovely nurse offered us tea and toast. We didn’t end up getting the tea or the toast. It was confirmed that I was in labour and confirmed that my BP was too high for me to remain in the birthing suite or go home.
Off to the labour ward we went.
At this point I felt a little disappointed, but I had said from the beginning, I would do whatever was necessary for the safe arrival of our baby.
Upon arriving at the labour ward, we had to wait in the waiting area. This was probably the only part of my experience that I don’t particularly have a fond view of. It was completely understandable, as there were women before me who were literally giving birth. However, pacing in a waiting room as my contractions increased was a little tough with people coming in and out.
After an hour we went through into the actual ward.
Our own room. A welcome break from what we had just been experiencing. A nurse took some observations and told me that I would be moving into one of the wards once a bed freed up. At this point I was just so happy to be on a bed.
We were then moved into our little ward. There were three other women. One had pre-eclampsia, another was being induced, and the final lady wasn’t there for long as she was whisked off in active labour shortly after I arrived.
Little did we know that this was going to be our home for more than fourteen hours. Fortunatel, we had our own space and a shared bathroom between the four of us. Mike and I decided to try and rest, as things weren’t going particularly quickly. Michael took the chair and I had a rather nice sleep in the bed. I was still hooked up to the trace and having my BP taken regularly.
However, I was very happy. My husband and I were at the hospital and before we left we would have our baby. I felt safe and secure, exactly where I needed to be.
Everyone talks about the pain killers in labour, and people have lots of opinions. Take them all or none at all seemed to be the advice I was offered.
Well, the first medication I was offered was blood pressure medicine. They really hadn’t discussed this in any of the classes I’d attended. The risks were explained to me that if my blood pressure continued to increase, I would potentially be at risk of a stroke. This was more than a little scary so I obliged and took the medication. Within fifteen minutes of taking i, my blood pressure had begun to come down. Unfortunately, an unanticipated side effect was that my contractions also pretty much stopped. I was a little deflated at this as we started to realise my labour would be longer than I had thought.
This continued to happen as a pattern. My contractions would increase, my blood pressure too, I’d take the medication and it would stop. This happened three times. I was pretty exhausted but my body took over the third time and the contractions refused to stop completely. We still weren’t going anywhere, though, so we decided Michael and my mum should do a shift change.
Mum came down around 9pm, twenty hours after my waters had broken. She brought a lasagne with her for Michael, and we sent him home with strict instructions to get some sleep. My next check wasn’t until 1am, so he would be able to get a couple of hours sleep.
Well, at 11pm they decided to give me a physical examination. The midwife seemed excited. She looked at us and, with a smile, told us that I was going to be moved to my own room. Labour was well established enough for me to move on.
Then she told us I was the grand total of … 3cm dilated!
Was that it!? We both definitely thought she was going to say at least 6cm!
Ah well, onwards and upwards. Oh, and we had to call Michael back as the arrival was obviously imminent!
Mike came back and we said goodbye to my hero mum. He was still knackered but at least we’d tried. We were now on to our third midwife and thought this must be it! We had until 8:30am for this baby to arrive! Our calm and controlled midwife was sure it would happen! However, once again, it was not to be. They offered me pethidine, I took it and had a fabulous sleep!
The sleep left me feeling renewed and refreshed! Ready to start on the final straight! Or so we thought …
Here we go again!
The shift changeover came and went. Our new midwife brought new energy to the room. She was fun and bubbly and kept our spirits high. There was no way the baby wasn’t arriving this time! My contractions intensified and my midwife thought I was fully dilated. I’d been on the gas and air for a while and I was allowed to push! It was game time!
Sadly, after a while it became clear that we weren’t getting anywhere. Our midwife called the consultant for a physical examination. In she came. All I’m going to say is, I’m sure in her spare time she must attend a boxercise class – you get the picture. She determined that I was in fact only 9.5cm dilated and as such should stop pushing. Due to the amount of time that had lapsed since my waters had broken we needed to consider a C-section. This was because of the potentially increased risk of infection.
Our only option in between was to have an epidural and see if I dilated to 10cm in the next hour. I accepted, as the epidural is a two bird, one stone kind of thing. It would reduce my blood pressure and allow me to rest a little, due to the pain relief.
I had been offered an epidural earlier on in the process, due to its ability to reduce my blood pressure. At the time it was offered, I was far too scared and believed that I could give birth without it. That fear turned out to be completed unfounded.
Then the anaesthetist came in and he made me laugh. I don’t know whether he was genuinely amusing or whether it was because I was slightly delirious! He said: ‘This could take four minutes or forty, it’s up to you1’ Was this a pep talk or a warning? Either way, he was fabulous and put me right at ease.
As you can see there’s a running theme here of fabulous NHS staff.
I thought that setting up the epidural took the four minutes he mentioned, and I felt like a trooper. Mike said it was longer than that and I hardly held still at all. Who knows how long it was really but I’m going with the hero option of four minutes!
I had had moments of disbelief during my pushing phase where I felt like giving up, but had managed to overcome them. I swiftly forgot and moved in to the next contraction.
A woman’s body truly is amazing.
Pleasantly, the epidural surprised me by revealing how much strain my body had been feeling! I cannot tell you the relief I felt when it took effect. I had not realised just how exhausted I was.
We ended up having slightly more than the hour we’d been advised, due to other emergencies. When the consultants came back, I was still hopeful that they’d change their minds and that a C-section could be avoided.
Unfortunately, it was not be. Michael and I decided, alongside the doctors, that it was time to move forward with surgery. Then we were quickly given some super attractive scrubs and briefed on what would happen.
I would be rolled into the operating theatre, where I would give my best performance. Well, actually, I’d just lay there and take whatever came my way.
I went in and Michael waited outside. That was a little unexpected. Being alone in the operating theatre without my partner in crime was scary. Even if it was just for a minute. Yet again, the staff were very reassuring and made me feel at ease.
They numbed one side then tilted the table and numbed the other. Then the anesthetist checked I was numb using a freeze spray and a little tool that scratched me. It was surreal. As the drugs took effect, I lost the sensation in my lower body.
Michael came back in and the doctors got to work. There were at least ten staff members there with us and I felt completely safe in their hands. The lead anaesthetist kept talking to us all the way through, with other people chiming in at various points.
Within fifteen minutes, our baby was born. One of the surgeons held the baby above the curtain and told us we had a boy. A beautiful baby boy.
He screamed and screamed and screamed and I couldn’t have been happier. I looked at Mike who was holding my hand and he simply said ‘we have a son’.
The most beautiful words.
Just like that we became even more of a family.
After our son was taken to have his tests, he was placed in Mike’s arms. I didn’t feel alert enough to have skin-to-skin at that point, but I did not feel disappointed. He was safe in his dad’s sturdy arms. Far better than my flimsy self at that point!
The rest of the hour was spent stitching me up. There were remarks about my ‘floppy’ uterus which, at the time, I thought was hilarious. Basically, one side was contracting better than the other. I was given a drug to start contractions which made me want to vomit instantaneously, followed by a different drug to stop it.
At all times, I felt so well looked after. Even as I was attempting to roll off the operating table to reach the sick bowl! I was definitely a little bit of a liability!
There you have it. My birth story.
It was long. There were ups and downs. There were drugs and tools. More than I could have ever anticipated and I simply could not be happier.
The staff looked after me impeccably. They gave Michael and I plenty of information and time to make decisions that affected my progress. The support and care was outstanding.
Our baby boy, Heath, arrived safely and screaming.
What more do you need for a positive birth story?
**Originally published on Merin and Co.**
Thanks so much, Erin, for sharing your amazing story! Stay tuned for Kelly’s story, next week! (Please note that submissions for this series have closed.)
Erin is a 28-year-old, first-time mum to her son, Heath, and dog mum to Nala. She lives in the Midlands with
her husband Michael, and is currently enjoying maternity leave to the max. Erin blogs at Merin and Co. and vlogs on a channel under the same name. Both her YouTube channel and blog document her life, loves and adventures with her little family. They love to spend lots of time outdoors and are hoping to share more of their life with you as their journey continues.
Mini Mummi Blogger is a first time mummy to a beautiful baby boy. Currently on maternity leave, she is looking to put her writing/publishing experience to good use through her blog, helping other mummies navigate through the wealth of often conflicting (and, sometimes, even discouraging) information out there about pregnancy and motherhood. She believes that every mummy knows what’s best for her own baby – even first time mums!
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