Wednesday 22nd March was when it all started with my pre-labour symptoms; backache, period-like cramps and walking like a cowboy. These were the signals that made me believe my baby was finally nearly ready to meet me!
The next day – on the Thursday morning – I went for my sweep, quietly confident that I felt things we’re already starting to take shape. The doctor confirmed that I was 2cm dilated and that it was a positive sign I was getting backache although for some people it can still be a matter of days and even weeks before the actual ‘active labour’ starts. But I kept thinking positively and knew in my heart that my baby must be on his way.
I carried on my usual business for the rest of the day, like popping into town to get some last minute Mother’s Day gifts etc. It wasn’t long before these period-like pains started turning into stronger cramps and tightening across my whole stomach. They were still totally manageable and when I say that, I mean someone talking to me at that point would have been non-the-wiser. Inside I was jumping for joy walking past people thinking you have no idea what’s going on for me right now.
Late into Thursday night I woke up with the pains now getting stronger, too strong to sleep through. I was thinking this is it, today is going to be the day, it had turned midnight and we were on the official due date of 24th March – it seemed fitting that we were going to meet our little prince.
My mum had stayed over and I told Ayman that I thought it was definitely happening so he put his work emails to ‘out of office’ and started his paternity leave. By this point my contractions had kicked in and ranged between every 3-7 minutes with some of my contractions being a lot longer and intense than others. It had reached that point where I couldn’t talk through them so I knew they were definitely progressing.
The hypnobirthing breathing techniques really helped at this stage as I imagined riding a wave with each breath where they reached a peak and then came back down again. I focused with every contraction that I was pushing the baby further down the birthing canal and reminding myself that it was one less contraction before his arrival. I felt very in control. Before my mum took Hugo to nursery for us, Hugo stopped and watched me as I entered another contraction and said ‘you blowing mummy’ the little highlight of my day! ‘Yes, darling mummy’s blowing!’ – very hard haha.
As the day went on, we went for a long walk, ate lots of pineapple and a curry to try to help things progress further. I even had a friend’s husband round helping to do some last minute DIY jobs in the house. By about 7pm my contractions were now ranging between two and a half minutes to four minutes apart and were so intense, we decided to head to the hospital. I was also really aware that with it being my second child things tend to progress a lot quicker and I didn’t want to leave anything to chance.
After arriving at the hospital at the birthing unit, I could hear a lady absolutely screaming the house down whilst in labour! I think psychologically this made me put my barriers up and I felt very apprehensive about what was just ahead of me.
I was taken into the triage room where they assess you but I was already a little worried as my contractions had completely slowed down. When the midwife came in she said ‘I can tell by just looking at you that you’re not in labour.’
I replied and said, ‘I don’t know what’s going on because at home they’re so frequent and strong and I don’t know why it feels like they’ve completely calmed down for some reason.’
She said that this was such a common thing and when ladies come into an unfamiliar environment their bodies can produce adrenaline that fights against the labour and basically slows it down. So I was sent back home to progress more there. Feeling a little deflated, as soon as I got back home, things kicked up a notch again, I tried taking myself off to bed with a hot water bottle to try and rest as much as I could but when the contractions came they were so unbearable lying down. I ended up getting up and just pacing around my bedroom and putting my hands on the side board pushing into the wall as I breathed through the contractions. I was entering my second night of no sleep and I was physically exhausted. I kept trying to stay in control but doubt was entering my mind, thinking ‘I can’t go on another day and night like this’ and that I just needed to sleep and rest my body before ‘showtime’.
The next thing my ‘mucus plug’ went, sounds lovely doesn’t it! If you’re not sure what it is then you can read up on it at your own pleasure here http://www.mucusplug.net. It’s definitely a sign that things are happening and labour is about to get serious and so it did… My contractions were reaching new levels of pain and honestly I can’t describe to you how exhausted I was. All I wanted to do at that point was fall asleep but this just wasn’t an option. At 4.30am I’d had enough of pacing up and down in my room and thought I must be at a point now where I can stay at the hospital and get a bit of pain relief.
You won’t believe it but arriving at the hospital my contractions slowed down AGAIN!!! WHAT ON EARTH WAS GOING ON?!!!! I was thinking the midwives are going to think I’m some sort of crazy person who thinks that they’re in labour when they’re actually not. The midwife just reiterated what she said before and said it happens all the time and not to worry but I needed to go back home again. I was mortified, why does it keep slowing down when I’m at the hospital?! All I could think of was that my body was being reminded of the last time I was there which was when we had that very traumatic experience of my nephew being born.
Anyway after nearly bursting into tears I just said I needed something to help the pain because when I’m at home they’re so intense and close together and I’m unbelievably tired. I was just worried that I wouldn’t have enough energy to see me through to the end. The midwife eventually gave me a dose of dihydrocodeine which is prescribed for severe pain. It definitely helped as I was able to have a little rest at home with a hot water bottle again, getting around an hour and a half’s sleep. The contractions – although they were further apart – when they came they were on another level and I just remember clinging onto our bedframe until they passed. Some were lasting two minutes and I was slowly feeling like I wasn’t in control anymore. My sister Laura had texted me asking for updates at 6 in the morning and I wrote this very message back to her:
I’m not good, I’ve been back and forth to the hospital as contractions getting really intense and in-between 2-4 minutes apart. Lots of high intense back ache only to be sent home until I’m further on. They said that the baby feels like he’s back to back which is why I’m getting more back pain. Feel absolutely exhausted and emotional as second night of no sleep and it seems to be progressing really slow even though the pain is increasing like crazy. Think I’m going to go back and opt for an epidural as can’t handle another day of this 😭
I was in tears and feeling very emotional because I knew I was having another long and intense labour and after hearing so many quick labour stories for other second babies, I just felt like it wasn’t fair! I was obviously extremely over-tired and hormonal and at this point all I could think about was wanting an epidural and going to sleep.
Laura turned up at my door at 6.10am with me standing there in tears. Not wasting any time she got straight to work giving me deep back massages every time another contraction came. This REALLY helped and also helped take the focus off the pain and to try and relax and take back control again. I had a bath with both my mum and Laura taking it turns with the back massages until the contractions soon changed to that of a pushing urge. It was at that point my mum was saying, ‘right we need to get you back to the hospital’. I was just so scared that I might be turned away again but they reassured me that I wouldn’t be.
So on our way to the hospital AGAIN for the third time (good job it’s only 10 minutes away) and can I just say… contractions in the car – oh my word!!!!!!
We arrived at the birthing unit at 8.30am and when I got there they nearly took me into ‘that’ triage assessment room again for the third time in about 14 hours and I just burst into tears thinking ‘I don’t need assessing again, I’m in labour here!’ There was a different midwife there who was just starting her shift, her name was Anna and she was absolutely lovely. She said ‘shall we just get you straight into the birthing room?’ and all I could fathom was a pleading nod. I was 6 cm dilated at this point – YES!!!! I still knew I had a while to go but at least I could stay and get some pain relief wahoooooo. I hopped in the bath straight away and at about 9am I was finally given my first dosage of pain relief – gas and air – wow!! This is what I was waiting for, what I needed all those hours back and I finally had it.
The pushing sensations became greater and the midwife said ‘I think this baby is going to be arriving sooner than we thought’. I honestly thought she was just saying it and still thought I was in for the long haul.
I actually can’t believe that this pushing urge turned into actually pushing my baby out. The encouragement from the midwife Anna was amazing as she kept me so focused and having Ayman and my mum there on hand to help with massages and drinks and support was amazing. What I will say is that when a midwife says ‘push into your bottom’ at the end of your contraction you get this other urge to push into the right bit and you’re like woah that’s where I need to be pushing. You have to use every last bit of energy as for me it came right at the end of a contraction. I was pushing for over an hour with the baby’s head nearly crowning on several occasions. I’ve got to say that this was one of the biggest tests of perseverance and endurance I’ve ever experienced. I remember distinctively when his head was finally out and then with the next contraction and an almighty push, out came his body and I was able to pull him up through the water straight onto my chest for an embrace. He was birthed at 10.20am in the birthing pool… I actually did it!! After all my pre-birth fears and anxiety, I can’t believe I did it!! His cry was the sweetest sound, my boy, Remy, so perfect, safe and sound in my arms. Where on earth did all that dark hair come from? I was so surprised but every bit in love!
The umbilical cord was left attached for another ten minutes or so until it stopped pulsating; something that is known as delayed cord clamping which allows all the blood and iron to transfer to the baby from the placenta which helps the baby to establish normal breathing quicker too. You can read up more on this natural birthing technique here. You often find that babies who have had this are often a lot pinker after the birth because of all the extra blood they’re given. It was lovely that we were given the option to do this; it wasn’t something I was familiar with but it was an amazing thing to experience and once reading all the health benefits I think you’ll be asking for it too if you’re expecting.
When it was time to clamp the cord, Ayman did the honours. The rest as you can imagine was the usual injection to help the placenta to come out and the after care of myself. I had a second degree tear that needed stitching but all was worth it for this babe.
Remy was weighed at 9lb 6oz and 54cm long. (Thank goodness a little smaller that Hugo hehe).
I can’t tell you how proud I was for doing it and sticking it out until the end after two nights of no sleep and crazy intense contractions. My prayers were answered and Remy is here, safe and sound and absolutely perfect in every way!
I can’t thank God enough for this amazing blessing in our lives! Our little miracle.
I want to end by saying a big thank you to my amazing midwife Anna and the beautiful birthing unit that I went to which helped me stay relaxed at the most crucial point. I never thought I’d ever be able to experience a water birth and I feel so blessed that it all ended up happening this way. Also to my wonderful husband Ayman, my fantastic mum Cheryl and fabulous sister Laura and finally to all of you who gave me non-stop encouragement and positivity- I couldn’t have done it without all your support!
I’ll do a proper introduction of baby Remy soon but I just wanted to write this down first whilst it was at the forefront of my mind, here’s a couple of delicious photos of him until then…
Lots of love