the last picture of me pregnant, in hospital, about 7 hours before I had Lily
My labour started on Friday 2nd of March at around 5pm. I had been getting lots of strong, painful braxton hicks since around 32 weeks and it was 8 days before my due date. I started getting what I thought were braxton hicks again, but this time they were getting closer together and more intense. I was already in hospital for possible pre eclamsia, and staying on the maternity ward overnight to be monitored. By 10pm, they were about 5 minutes apart and strong. A midwife examined me at midnight and found I was 2cm dilated, 50% effaced and in early labour. She also told me that my baby had lots of hair! I felt so excited- I would get to meet my baby soon!
However, by the morning, my contractions were slowing and coming every 20 minutes. The midwife explained that early labour can take a long time, but she felt positive that I would have my baby by the time I reached 40 weeks. That was a whole week away, and at this point, when I was uncomfortable, in pain and impatient, that seemed forever away! I went home dissapointed.
The contractions that evening got closer together again, and were more painful than they had been the night before. I went back into hospital, but was told I was still 2cm and that I needed to go home and wait. I cried. I'd decided during pregnancy on some positive things to think of to help get me through contractions, 'this will only last a day, then I get my baby!' 'this day for the rest of my life will be spent celebrating my childs birthday!' but these were useless now. It had already been a day, and it seemed like Lily was never going to arrive. I started to wonder whether I would be contracting for another 3 weeks until I was induced. It was a horrible thought!
The first picture ever taken of Lily, when she was about 30 minutes old
The contractions stayed at around 10 minutes apart until Tuesday 6th, when they started getting closer together again, eventually to 5 minutes apart. I'd been contracting for 4 days and not slept, except from drifting off slightly between contractions. I was exhausted and desperate for my labour to progress. I phoned the hospital, and was told it was still too soon to come in, and they only wanted me to come in when my contractions were 3 minutes apart. It was so frustrating that the hospital wouldn't do anything. I was in so much pain, and so tired. I had said all the way through my pregnancy I wanted my labour to be as natural as possible, but I didn't expect my labour would take so long. Now I wanted help, whether it was having my waters broken or drugs to speed things along, or pain relief so I could sleep. But I was offered nothing and left to just deal with labour as best I could.
During these days and nights of contractions, I tried the best I could to get comfortable and deal with the pain. Lying down was torture, so I spent my nights sat on the floor, rocking my body through contractions, and resting my head against chairs between them to try and sleep for two minutes until the next one. I found it was more comfortable to be leaning forwards and moving my body when I had a contraction. I would lean over the backs of chairs, or get onto all fours, or lean onto David, and rock my hips while breathing through the pain. I tried things to speed labour along, and walked lots, drank lots of pineapple juice, took lots of raspberry leaf tablets, covered my food with pepper and chilli, walking up and down stairs sideways. But it wasn't until the afternoon of Wednesday the 7th of March at around 3pm that the contractions went from 5 minutes apart, to 4, and soon after to 3 minutes. They were getting more intense and hard to deal with. My deep breaths became groans and shouts of pain. I phoned the hospital, barely able to talk to them (they will only accept calls from the mother though, as hearing them helps them assess whether they need to come in or not) and very quickly was told it was time for me to come to the hospital. It was a relief, but I was still scared my contractions would slow again and I would be doing this for another 3 weeks. David and my mother ran around getting last minute things for the hospital bag then off me and David went, excited and nervous.
Once we arrived, I was assessed by a midwife. I was 3cm. After 5 days of labour, I had only dilated one more cm. It was so disheartening and frustrating, but it was still progress, and I was sure this was it. My contractions were so strong and coming so close together, I hoped things would now move faster. The midwife suggested going home would be the best thing for me. I refused. I told her I was exhausted and I had been doing this for almost a week with no help, and I would much rather be in hospital. Luckily she listened to my wishes and sent me to delivery suite.
I was put in a small room with a hospital bed, chair and birthing ball and given a midwife who was very young and just out of uni. She was very nice, but not very experienced. She seemed nervous and reluctant to do anything, especially examine me. She seemed to keep putting it off and making excuses. She also seemed to think I should go home too. I felt like the midwives didn't understand how much pain I was in and how exhausted I was, it felt like they all thought I was making things up. But I was determined to stay and have my baby now, no matter what they said.
the first picture of me and Lily
I tried to find ways of coping with the pain on my own again. I bounced on the birthing ball between contractions to help speed things along, and then when a contraction came, I would lean forwards onto David who was knelt in front of me. However, David has a bad back and couldnt do this the whole time, so I started pacing the room and then leaning over the end of the bed during contractions. But not sleeping in almost a week was really starting to affect me. I was wobbly on my feet, and my eyelids would droop when I wasn't in pain, and I kept almost falling over. However, when I lay on the bed, the contractions were more painful when they came. I began to worry that when it came to pushing, I would be too tired. I didn't want that to happen. I wanted the birth to be as natural as possible, and felt my choice was either no pain relief but would maybe need help in delivery such as with forceps, or temporary pain relief so I could rest and be able to push her out myself. At midnight I asked the midwife what pain relief I could have. She said as I was still in early labour I could try paracetamol. paracetamol. I barely found paracetamol to be effective when I had a headache. I was trying to numb excruciating pain so I could sleep, and she suggested paracetamol. I told her I felt I needed something stronger, but she wanted me to try it. I took it, had a contraction, and vomited, bringing the pills back up. I continued to vomit with a few more contractions. Apparently I was vomiting because of the pain. This seemed to make the midwife take me more seriously, and she got me gas and air to try. This gas and air helped, but not much. It took the edge off the pain slightly, gave me something to focus on and bite, but I was still in a lot of pain. I tried laying in bed and getting some rest with the gas and air to have when I contracted. I tried really hard, for nearly three hours, but it was no good. I was also still vomiting, and was put on a fluid drip, which the midwife put in badly and caused nerve damage in my arm. The experience of having the drip put in was horrible anyway- I am bad with blood and needles! All of this meant sleep wasn't going to happen and I felt terrible. I told the midwife I just wanted to sleep for a little while. I didn't want anything that would have a lasting effect for too long as I still wanted to do this mostly naturally, but I wanted something so I could sleep for a little and be more awake and refreshed for the rest of my labour. She suggested diamorphine and I took it.
After 20 minutes, I could still feel the contractions, but just as a tight feeling, not as pain. And I slept for 2 hours, until the diamorphine wore off. In 6 days, I had two hours sleep, but I felt amazing for it, and ready to deal with the rest of the birth. I went for a walk to get a little fresh air, and then continued my pacing and breathing to get through the contractions once I was back. At 11am, the midwife finally examined me. I was 4cm. I was dissapointed I was progressing so slowly, but relieved I was progressing. 4cm also meant I was in established labour, not early labour anymore, which was a good milestone to reach. The midwife asked whether I would prefer to be in the birthing centre instead of delivery suite. She explained that the delievery suite is more medical and I had more options of pain relief, but in the birthing centre they try to let you have as natural birth as possible with as little interference as possible. I agreed to try it, and was moved at 1pm.
I got a new midwife who was lovely and much more confident than the other one I'd had, making me feel safer and more relaxed. The room was so much nicer than the other I had been in! It was huge with its own en suite bathroom and shower. It was much less medical and clinical. There was no bed, instead there was a cushion/sofa style arrangement at one end of the room which curved inwards in the centre and there were mats on the floor, birthing balls and seats. I knelt on the mat and leant over the sofa in the curve which was much more comfortable to have contractions than anything else I had tried so far. The midwife was also trained in aromatherapy and helped us pick some oils for David to massage me with to help relax me.
our little family
However, as my contractions got worse and worse, I became consumed by the pain. I dont know how to describe it, but it's like I wasn't in the room. All I was aware of was the pain. The next 4 hours are a blur, because all I knew was pain. I couldn't think, I couldn't speak. The contractions were too intense and too fast.Then at around 5pm, they reached a new level. I could no longer cope as I had been. I needed to walk again, and I tried to focus myself. The contractions were more intense, and there was a new sensation. I wanted to push.The midwife came in to examine me soon after I started to feel this at 5.30pm, and at this point my waters broke too. I felt sure this was it now, I would be 9 or 10cm and ready to start pushing. I was 7cm. She said the pushing sensation was probably because I needed the toilet and I should try and empty my bowels, and I still had a while to go yet. I went to the bathroom to do as she said, feeling at my lowest. I heard David outside the door ask her how long it will be now. She said they would expect me to dilate half a cm an hour. This would mean there was 6 hours left of my labour. She said she would come examine me again in 2 hours. I told her I wanted more diamorphine. I felt like I could almost cope if it was time to push, however 6 hours of this horrific pain and fighting the urge to push was too much. She left to get it.
Still in the bathroom with David, things got worse. My body had to push, and I had no control over it. The pain was horrendous and I screamed! I didn't think I would make much noise during labour as I'm quite a quiet, reserved person, but David said my screams were blood curdling. Trying to fight the urge to push was impossible. Knowing I could be dealing with this for another 6 hours was too awful. The midwife came rushing back in when she heard my screams, and she said she knew from them Lily was coming. She checked me and said that yes, the baby was coming now. David sat on the sofa and I knelt in front of him, holding on to his legs for support, and I pushed. It was torture, extreme pain and burning, but I could feel my little girl moving down, and it kept me going. Feeling her crowning was the worst pain I've ever experienced, but also an amazing feeling. I used all my strength, more than I ever knew I had, to push her out as I was so desperate to meet her.
Lily's tiny toes
Lily Belle Rose arrived at 5.53pm 6lb 12oz. I had gone from 7cm to delivered in 30 minutes. Even the midwife was shocked! Scooping her up into my arms and onto my chest was an amazing feeling, I cant describe it. Here she was, and I was in awe of how perfect she was. David cut the cord and after 30 minutes of skin to skin and breastfeeding, she went to her daddy for the first time. Seeing David hold her and how much he loves her melts my heart. It is amazing. Our family.
Lily is perfect. Mummy's mouth and dimples, daddy's eyes and chin. She has red hair, which we did not expect but I love it. She has the most perfect and tiny feet, smells like parma violets and stares at people with her big blue eyes in the cutest, most curious way! I am completely in love with her and feel so lucky we have a little family.
my beautiful Lily
Giving birth was hard, in many ways. I've found pregnancy, the birth and recovering afterwards difficult and exhausting, but I would do it 10000 times over to have my little Lily Belle. Having her in my arms makes all of it worth it. I love her more than I can explain and am the happiest and proudest mummy in the world.
p.s: sorry about the poor quality of the pictures, my camera broke last minute and we had to take my dads very, very rubbish one!
p.p.s: I did a kind of birth story part two here