Ever since finding out I was pregnant with my second child I have been knee deep in anxiety. Not because of what happened to me previously when I gave birth to my daughter (story to follow) I wanted to forgive my body for what had happened. I wanted to believe I could birth another child without worrying about the repercussions.
I took my last bump picture on the 30th of October in front of my not so clean mirror in my bra which isn’t something I would normally do. Something told me it was our last.
Wednesday the 31st of October – Halloween. Personally I dislike Halloween. Something was different that Wednesday too. I had woken up feeling extremely exhausted and uncomfortable. I got up, got Nieve dressed for nursery , took 300 pictures of her in her Halloween costume and sent her on her merry way with her Dad. I then took myself to bed for half an hour for a cat nap (again something I wouldn’t normally do but something told me to take my ass to bed for a little boost!) Before collecting Nieve a friend of mine kindly drove me to the local dump and helped me get rid of a pile of crap that was getting in my way in the hallway. Again something that wouldn’t normally bother me but I had a feeling I was clearing way for something or someone! That taken care of I picked up Nieve and spent the afternoon making her lunch and planning whose door I was going to knock to let her experience trick or treating with her Halloween hating Mum. I was grateful for my sister keeping her entertained that evening with face painting and helping me visits the 3 houses we knocked at! Charlotte was desperate for me to have the baby before she headed off to Melbourne Australia for University. If anyone knows my sister she is partial to a game of football and I am partial to accepting it as part of my childhood being surrounded by men watching it every weekend and then Charlotte when she discovered her love for it. She was going to head down to my parents’ house to watch it with my Dad (sorry Dad) but something told me I was going to need her with me that evening so I asked her to stay and watch it with me. Her reaction being ‘why do you want me here? Are you lonely?’ No not lonely Charlotte, I just needed my sister but I didn’t know why. Nieve eventually let me take her to bed once she had come down from her sugar high from all the sweets she had collected that evening. We must of got into bed just before 9pm. I lay with her and read her a couple thousand Mr Men books which are a big favourite in this household. Eventually she drifted off after me telling her to calm down 300 times and I got up to go and join my sister downstairs. I stood up from her bed to the sound of a pop which followed a lovely stream of warm fluid. 2 things went through my head -1. Have I just wet myself? 2. Shit is going down and I am in labour. I did not experience my waters breaking with Nieve so I had no idea what I was looking out for.
I waddled to my bathroom and quietly shouted from the top of the stairs to Charlotte to join me in my soggy state on the landing. A quick phone call to Ben who had just started a night shift and to build the seasonal wall at his store (sorry Ben!) and he joined us 20 minutes later. That is when I decided to call Jen, my doula for some moral support and ask her what the hell do I do now? She was clearly buzzing to get my call – ‘her favourite sort of call!’ She talked me through my options and suggested I shower and have a rest. I decided to shower and waited a little while longer before I called the hospital I was booked to have my baby. They were very keen for me to come in to have my waters checked (yum!) and I was very keen not to. More a pain at that time of night than anything and we did not have a clue how we were going to get there. Ben started calling his friends and I priced an Uber (£30 each way! No thanks) I left it a further hour or so and called them back and said I really wanted to just stay at home and labour but the midwife was keen for me to be checked. I sat and sobbed in my living room saying I didn’t think I had been very nice to Nieve this evening and I had snapped at her when I was trying to get her to go to bed. I think my hormones were taking over and my sister soon reassured me that she won’t remember any of that and that I was just in shock. She was correct. We soon were joined by Ben’s friend Jamie who kindly whizzed us out to St John’s in Livingston in the very dead of night. Low and behold my waters had broken and the midwife was keen to book me in to be induced the next evening (1/1/18) The word induction sent chills through my body. Not because I am against it but because it was not happening. I gave them a pee sample, let them take my blood pressure and let her hand me the induction leaflet. She left the room to confirm a few things and I turned to Ben to tell him I was NOT going to be coming back to be induced but I was going to be going home to labour and hold my baby girl and drink tea. We were told to go and rest (HA!) and sent on our merry way back to the North of Edinburgh, thanks Jamie hun xoxo. Nieve woke up with all the commotion at 230 and I climbed into her bed (that Ben and I have renamed the death bed) because it is where we spend 90% of our time trying to get her to stay there! I wanted to lie with her just in case it was our last evening just me and her. For the record I did not rest. I lay there thinking am I going to pee myself? Should I get up and put towels down? Should I get up and repack my hospital bag? Should I go into my bed with my sister? I did eventually get up around 4am and found Ben sleeping on the sofa. I told him I couldn’t sleep and that I could feel little twinges happening but nothing that was too painful as yet. He encouraged me to go lie down for a little bit so I took myself back up to bed and lay next to my sister for a couple of hours tossing and turning. I downloaded a contraction app and started to time these bad boys! I wasn’t very good at timing them but I think that it is because I kept drifting off to sleep to be rudely awoken every now and again by a contraction and baby shuffling about in his or hers temporary home.
I began to slowly believe my body was doing all the things it wanted me to do to birth on that day
1/1/2018 Morning finally arrived. I decided to send Nieve to nursery as I did not want to disrupt her day just because of me (denial creeping in!) Nieve kindly got her doctors set out before leaving for nursery and gave me a once over whilst I sat on my birth ball. She let me hug her when I was contracting and I honestly think just breathing her in and holding her close to me really helped with my nerves and emotions. Jen arrived (thank the lord!) Charlotte took her to nursery and I continued to wiggle around on my ball and drink lots of tea. My neighbour had joked the previous day that I better not go into labour. I text his wife to say low and behold that is in fact what had happened. She popped round with a TENS machine (again…fate!) and Ben strapped it to my back. I could not get my head round how to use it. Things were heating up. Jen built a little area around my ball so I could attempt to be more comfortable. I decided that standing and leaning on the table was the best option for me at that stage. I began to slowly believe my body was doing all the things it wanted me to do to birth on that day so I panicked and insisted Ben print the birth plan I had spent so long writing (HA!) Rule number 300. Don’t buy a printer. Handwrite it. Don’t have one. Just don’t trust a printer. Don’t trust a printer that has plastic forks and knives inside it (Thanks Nieve) and listen to the people around you when they say stop worrying about the fucking printer and just concentrate on breathing and pushing that pain out with your contractions. I am really glad I did give up on the NEED for my birth plan and just asked people to talk and fill the silence in the living room. I remember my sister talking about pesto and discovering that is not in fact vegetarian! Learn something new every day and all that. Jen had been sitting quietly in the background timing each of my contractions and writing them down. We decided that it might be time to get into the car and head towards the hospital. Shit got real. I remember suddenly not feeling in control and needing assistance with my jacket, walking, talking! Ben bundled me into the back of Jen’s car (a sorry sight!) me in the foetal position hugging her sons car seat (why? I have no idea) and off we went leaving my sister in charge to keep Nieve amused and plan for what may or may not be happening. The journey from my house to St John’s in traffic on a Thursday morning should not take long at all. However in my head I felt like I had been in the car for about 4 hours. Every time we stopped at the lights I thought great we are here and I can get out of this situation. Ben sat quietly in the front offering me a gentle hand that I wanted so badly but just to throw it back at him when the pain was too intense (sorry hun xoxo) I think if anyone had seen our set up they would of thought Jen and Ben were kidnapping me but trust me…no one wanted to pay my ransom that day! After what felt like 3 months in the back of Jen's car, we arrived at St John's Maternity Unit where two angels (ie Midwives) and I was at their mercy. They kindly asked me what I wanted, not what they had planned for me. This part is a bit of a blur. I do remember a reasonably sized room, a bed, a bath / pool in the shape of Mickey Mouses head and a bathroom. I know if it hadn't been for Jen that I would of birthed my baby on that bed which was not my plan. Jen kindly informed the midwife and student that I wished to have my baby in water and to get the pool filled up. She has filled the midwife in on a few things written in my birth plan (which was saved on my laptop at home) Including no vaginal examinations due to previous childbirth trauma from contracting sepsis. My feelings were that this was happening and it was going to happen very soon. I felt immense amounts of pressure down there and I needed in the water as quickly as possible. Items of clothing were removed by the midwives and Jen and next thing I knew I was being crane lifted into the water (why is it so high up!?)
The water was where I remained calm. I did not feel scared for what was about to happen and I knew it was about to happen. I was encouraged by the midwives to change position but I don't think I was playing ball. 20 minutes from steps to water to baby. He arrived, between my legs and I could not quite beleive what had just occured. Ben was robbed of telling me what the sex of the baby was because I got first glimpse of what I had just given birth to. A beautiful, calm and quite lovely little boy. It took him a little while to make a sound but I strongly believe that because he was birthed in water he was peaceful when he finally entered the world at 11:51 on the 1st of November weighing 8 pounds and 3 ounces (3 ounces smaller than his big sister!) What had I just done? Birthed a little human...that is what.
I cannot stress how amazing it was having a doula and having Jen as my doula. We clicked from the very first meeting when our toddlers were climbing on both of us. She listened to my same anxieties over and over again. She encouraged me to read as much as I could (thank you the positive birth book) and she BELIEVED in me.