We had loosely booked in for some zoom quizzes with family and friends, but we ended up not attending them- things were beginning to happen! After a chilled day of baking, walking and playing board games, Jamie went to write a poem on our bed in the afternoon. At 5pm I come into the bedroom and bounce on the bed exclaiming “I’m bored!” Only to then have a pop- my waters had gone! I checked and popped a pad on, which then was getting soaked. I texted my friend and Midwife who was actually working that day in the hospital, and then phoned triage who advised me to come in to get checked over. I wasn’t having any cramps or twinges at this point, so Jamie and I quickly ate some dinner, I jumped in the shower and washed my hair, and finished getting the loose bits for the hospital bag ready so we could pop them in the boot of the car, although I was fully expecting to be sent home after getting checked over as nothing was happening!
We arrived at the hospital at 7ish, and because of coronavirus restrictions, Jamie stayed in the car. I was seen quickly in triage, and had had some occasional, mild period cramps on the journey in. However once in triage, the cramps began to increase in intensity- so that lying down on the couch was uncomfortable, leaving me wanting to walk around or be upright when a contraction began, and beginning to feel the need to focus on my breathing through them, slowly counting in my head and breathing in for 4 and breathing out for 8. I then thought I’d better download an app to time the contractions- by 19:45 the app was suggesting I start to make my way into the hospital, with contractions recording as 3-4 in 10 minutes, lasting between 30-45 seconds! I sent a screenshot of this to Jamie in the car, much to his confusion, as this was not what was happening when I left him!
The early labour room was lovely, with dim lighting, lavender aromatherapy, beanbags and space to walk around. Jamie and I were mostly left to ourselves, which is what I wanted, with occasional midwives popping in to check my blood pressure, pop a cannula in, take some bloods to rule out pre-eclampsia, or see how I was coping. At various points I was offered an internal examination, but I felt like I was coping ok and that I was probably still in early labour, and thought I’d be disappointed if I wasn’t as far along as I’d hoped for, so declined all the examinations and focused on my breathing and staying calm and relaxed!
At about 10pm my friend and Midwife Jo arrived, and it was a relief to see her calm, smiling, reassuring face! It felt like the contractions had ramped up a notch about 10 minutes before she arrived, so it felt like perfect timing! She offered an examination again after receiving her handover and staying with me through a few contractions, and this time I accepted. Jo confirmed that my cervix was a good 6 cm dilated (stretching to 7 with a contraction and baby’s bottom pressing and stretching the cervix) which I was amazed by: I had convinced myself that she would say I was still in early labour! She offered further pain relief and I accepted the gas and air before she popped out to arrange moving to a birthing room, however found it more of a distraction then a help with the contractions- as were the music labour playlists I had prepared! Instead silence or listening to Jamie helpfully counting slowly for the breaths were the soundtrack to my labour! I was also offered an anti sickness injection, after I vomited a few times (including vomiting up medication to reduce my blood pressure!)
Because labour ward was busy and as the initial set of blood tests were normal, the doctors were happy for me to be moved to a birth room on the midwife led unit: which was great news for me, as less far to walk! However, they were still advising to have continuous monitoring which I agreed to, but I requested the sound of baby’s heartbeat to be muted: as whilst it was lovely to hear, when the transducer moved or if I moved position and the monitoring changed I found it distracting to listen to and off putting for breathing through contractions.
Once in the room I got used to my bearings- it was a bigger room with more space to walk around in, but still with the bean bag which I was using to lean over and sink into when I had a contraction- which I was still feeling all in the lower front abdominal area. Moving rooms and the excitement of finding out how well I was progressing slowed the contractions down a little bit, but they were still as intense and they began to increase in quantity too as I relaxed into the room. Between contractions I was listening to my body, either drinking water or lucozade, resting and having a massage from Jamie, or walking around and swaying my hips.
By midnight I was beginning to feel an urge to push with some of the contractions, and was advised to follow my body- with the anticipation of breech births usually progressing quickly through labour! At about 1am after not much change, I accepted an internal examination, where it was confirmed that all the cervix had gone, with baby’s bottom staying at spines.
From now it all gets a little bit of a blur with the timings, as it felt like forever but also no time at all! I was continuing to have my blood pressure monitored every hour or so. Given that there was limited decent when I was pushing, I was encouraged to breathe through the contractions again. The contractions then slowed down again, which definitely felt frustrating and like a big step back! Instead it was returned with a continuous dull ache at the lower front of my abdomen, which didn’t go away despite changing position. I mentioned this to all the midwives, and I was encouraged to move into some different positions as much as possible, thinking that it may be baby’s cheeky arm getting wedged above the pelvis- it was gently said that if this was the case then I may need a c/s if it continued. I remember not being disappointed at this- instead I had a feeling of great joy that my cervix had reached 10cm dilated with no pain relief with a breech baby! I had some time off the monitor at my request, and spent some time sitting on the toilet in the dark, with just Jamie sat quietly next to me and helping me through the contractions, which were just as intense as ever! During this time the frequency of the contractions then began to increase, but I was still breathing through them as much as possible.
We agreed that we’d reassess in an hour or so, and during this time I remember feeling convinced that there was no change, and I was spending the time preparing mentally for a c-section: mentally reiterating to myself how far my body had come; that I had given natural birth it’s absolute best attempt; that I would do whatever was needed to ensure my baby would safely arrive into the world. I spent that hour moving between being monitored and moving around the room into different positions, and having some time off the monitor in the dark bathroom!
At about 2:15ish. I knew that this was the crunch-time examination, which would confirm if baby was going to arrive naturally or by c-section. I accepted the examination... much to my surprise the baby’s bottom was right there, it had descended through the pelvis and was visible when she parted my labia!
It was then all systems go- I was encouraged to turn to a more optimal position for a breech birth, and then encouraged to follow my body! I turned around to be on my knees on the bed, leaning against the raised head of the bed. Jamie was tucked in the corner up that end too, so was great to squeeze his hand during the contractions and see his face for reassurance and a cool flannel or sip of water between! Everything then happened very quickly- the consultant came into the room and introduced himself (mid contraction and pushing!) then stepped aside into the corner of the room, meanwhile with each push I could feel baby descending and slowly stretching everything, then receding as the contraction ended. Until baby’s bottom wasn’t going back- as the bottom was rumping a stinging, burning sensation occurred as I was encouraged again to focus on slowly breathing. I looked down at this point- and without my glasses on, I could see a big pinky-purpley blob! With the next contraction at 02:49 Baby was then born and landed on the bed- too speedy for the midwife! I then turned around and pounced on the baby, who was looking around with big eyes, looking a little startled, and their legs up to their face; clearly showing that she was a girl! She then let out a loud cry as she looked around and waved her hands and feet about, still wide eyed and taking in her new world! We had a lovely 20 minutes or so from the placenta being delivered to the beginning of suturing- where Jamie and I confirmed that our daughter is Florence Joy; some skin to skin and general amazement that Florence had safely arrived!