The Birth of Alice
After a difficult pregnancy – being constantly sick and having gestational diabetes – I was looking forward to giving birth as it meant the end of constantly feeling rubbish, being able to eat again, and of course being able to finally meet our baby girl.
Chris and I had attended Abby’s group Hypnobirthing classes and had been practicing the relaxation techniques for the last couple of months of pregnancy.
As I approached my due date of 15 December check ups at the hospital resulted in recommendations from the doctors to induce me on or around my due date due to the diabetes (and my age!) which can result in a deterioration of the placenta. This probably isn’t something most people say but I felt quite positive about being induced due to how I was feeling whilst pregnant and a week before the due date we agreed to be induced on 13 December. The same day we agreed to the induction, the consultant performed a stretch and sweep with my consent – I was 1cm dilated, and the breathing techniques learnt in our hypnobirthing classes came in handy, though I was surprised by how painless it was. The stretch and sweep didn’t result in anything – as we expected.
Tuesday 13 December arrived and we had gone to bed the night before feeling excited. We waited for the call from the hospital to let us know there was a bed free for the induction. The call didn’t come until lunchtime but once it did, it didn’t take us long to be on our way (after stopping off for a ham and coleslaw sandwich on the way, not sure why!) We knew in advance that the hospital was busy with inductions as everyone obviously wanted their babies in time for Christmas!
We were booked in and settled into our private room – with ensuite no less! I was pleasantly surprised with the surroundings as was Chris and the lovely midwives at Calderdale proceeded to commence the routine regular monitoring of our baby’s heartbeat. It was lovely to lay there and just hear her little heart beating knowing her journey to the outside world was nearly over.
Late that afternoon the midwife (first of many during our stay!) inserted the first pessary and we waited for the contractions to start. Nothing! The evening meal came round – which partners were also welcome to tuck into – and we spent the evening watching tv on the ipad before Chris went home choosing our comfy bed over a ‘put you up’ bed a the hospital. Staff that came and went commented on how relaxing the room felt with the fairy lights hung up.
The following day Chris arrived at the hospital at 6.30am to beat the rush hour!! Obviously he – as I – couldn’t wait to get cracking on the day ahead to see what it would bring!
We went for walks around the hospital, watched telly, and I was examined in the afternoon before having another pessary inserted. Nothing. That evening went much the same as the previous one with another decent hospital meal and an evening in front of the ipad.
Thursday came – my due date – and we thought this had to be the day our little girl would arrive. Wouldn’t it be great having your baby arrive on your due date?!
Rather than having a third pessary, the doctors who came to see me decided they would break my waters that afternoon as that could trigger labour. The breathing techniques came in handy as the doctor fiddled around with her hook. Then all of a sudden I was leaking everywhere! How much water?!!!! After laying for a while and thinking it must have all gone I stood up and was surprised when even more came out. It kept coming out all afternoon! All the leaking fluid meant my bump had shrunk. We waited for the contractions to start. Nothing.
So that evening, I was moved down to the labour ward with my fairy lights and started on the hormone drip. We watched more tv on the ipad and waited. I started to feel things happening at about 10pm – finally! Just a bit of cramping at first, nothing major. Hmm. Because I was ‘high risk’ (because of my age and the diabetes) the consultant and docs were keeping an eye on me.
I started feeling the surges more strongly at about midnight and Chris kept me stocked up with lavender oil as I calmly breathed through them whilst listening to the hypnobirthing audio, all the while hearing primal screaming coming from the rooms either side of me.
Things seemed slow and I was examined in the early hours of the morning and was about 4 cm dilated. Hmm. A long way to go. The lead doctor and midwife in charge came round at 3:20am and the lead doctor started to talk about a cesarean but I was grateful to the midwife in charge who argued just to let me be.
I as determined not to have to go theatre and over the next few hours Chris was telling me to prepare for it…but things hotted up as the next time I was examined it was around 8am and I was 9cm dilated.
I was being as mobile as possible, bouncing on the ball, walking around, and was comfiest in the latter stages bent over against the bed alternating sniffs of my lavender with gas and air. Chris came in handy taking me to the toilet with all my drips and wires, giving me water to keep me hydrated, and mopping my brow periodically. I wasn’t too impressed when he said he had back ache though!!!! (though in hindsight it was a long night and an uncomfortable chair!) I also ended up with an extra drip to hydrate me as I was throwing up the water I was drinking.
I remember looking at the clock at 10am and thinking it couldn’t be long; the surges were strong and close together. But nothing seemed to be happening and at 12pm the doctor said to the midwife he’d give me another hour. Whether it was just exhaustion or I just lost the plot I had absolutely no sensation to breathe downwards or if I did it certainly wasn’t doing anything, and I just ended up pushing. At 1pm the doctors decided an assisted delivery was needed. It all of a sudden became very clinical with instruments being wheeled in and extra staff on hand, just in case.
Chris got quite upset at this point – understandably – but I was so calm. I was reassuring him, telling him everything would be fine. And I just knew it would be. It didn’t matter to me at that moment how she came out. I pushed with the next contraction and couldn’t feel a thing while they made the necessary incision and went in with the forceps! A couple of seconds later we heard our baby cry; the sound we had longed to hear for so long. She was here! They had to cut the cord quickly as it was wrapped around her neck, but they placed her on me straight away and both Chris and I sobbed as we looked at this red and squished little bundle which we couldn’t believe was ours. Baby Alice had the vitamin K injection and I had the injection to deliver the placenta, which came away quickly.
Our beautiful little girl lay on me and had her first feed as I was stitched up by the doctor – which felt like forever but it didn’t matter as we were now a threesome. And that first cup of tea tasted immense, as did the second one!
After I was sorted I asked the midwife if I could look at the placenta. I was surprised by how big it was. They said it was super healthy. The midwife seemed to be clearing up for ages and then she asked Chris if he was going to dress our baby – at which point we realised we didn’t have the baby’s bag with us!!! So she was in a hospital onesie with a blue hat until Chris went to the car to get the sleepsuit we had bought on the day we found out we were having a little girl. I remember just laying watching Chris dressing Alice and being so unbelievably happy.
Looking back on the birth, it may not have been the ‘ideal’ scenario, but we went in to the situation informed and in control, which counted for a lot, and faced the situation positively – and Hypnobirthing gave us the tools to do that.
Helen and Chris, Mirfield