Where the hell have we been?! Yes, I know, the sudden disappearance was a little bit unacceptable but in the run up to the big day, things just got a bit hectic. I thought that maternity leave would mean more time to work on the blog, but what it actually meant was more time for people to come and visit me, time to be in to take parcels, supervise workmen and decorate a nursery. Turns out I was busier once I finished work than I was when I was still there. However we are back, with the long awaited birth story fresh from the Countess of Chester Hospital.
You’ll remember in our July Bucket List (that list which was dumped out of the window pretty sharpish. We’ll start again in September!) that one of the items on there was to have a baby. Didn’t manage that one either, because we went all the way to 41 weeks and 1 day before the little man made his long awaited arrival. He’d clearly heard me moaning about the idea of being induced and how it meant that none of my birth plan would be able to happen and whatever else I was chewing Wes’ ear off with that Saturday night. On 1st August, we decided we were doing nothing, knowing it was the very last weekend we would ever have to ourselves for the foreseeable future. It was glorious, all the way until 11:30pm, just as we were getting into bed and I fired up the Playstation Vita for a bit of unwinding before going to sleep.
That is when the whole thing started.
As soon as my body hit our mattress, I felt what I can only describe as a twang. Like someone had pulled an elastic band as far back as it would go and let it spring back in my uterus. It took my breath away, but since his kicks also did that, Wes didn’t flinch. Being my first time, I didn’t know what a contraction was supposed to feel like and I had always imagined labour to be a slow burner, but as with most of my pregnancy, I wasn’t going by the rule book. As the pain subsided, I initially chalked it down to just laying on the bed at a funny angle and proceeded to fire the game up and get comfortable. 7 minutes later, same aftershocks of pain. It took one or two more before I turned to Wes and told him to get the iPad out. We needed to start timing these things.
They were 7 minutes or so apart at that point. Regular, strong but too far apart to even consider the hospital (our antenatal experiences taught us as much) so I started to potter about as much as I could, knowing that my game of Final Fantasy wasn’t a viable option anymore. I jumped on my birthing ball as Wes couldn’t help but look at the time, knowing how typical it was that our baby was eight days late and had decided to make his move literally the moment we decided to go to bed. You often hear about women who manage to sleep through the early stages of labour, but clearly not me.
Wes dutifully timed my contractions for me, as I kept trying to go ‘floppy’ as I’d been instructed and relax my way through them all. I dropped to the floor like a sack of spuds every time it got to the really intense bit and did my best to breathe through them without waking the neighbours. Within an hour and a half, they were less than 5 minutes apart and I rang the labour ward. It was explained to me that they like for people to be between 4cm and 5cm dilated before they hop into the birthing pool anyway, so they were happy to have me in, but if I could breathe through it, it was better to wait until there was roughly 2-3 minutes between each contraction and they lasted longer than a minute. They were already more than a minute long, so it was just a case of hanging on until I was a little further into the process. We finalised the hospital packing, which we’d started over a month previously, and waited. I kept dropping to the floor, Wes kept timing the contractions and finally, at 3:15am, I decided it was time to go. I rang the hospital again and told them I was coming. Thankfully, their birthing pools were still free.
We were met by the lady who would be my midwife, Eleri, and her student midwife, Joanne. They hooked me up and checked baby’s heartbeat, which was all hunky dory and they asked me to provide a urine sample.
Hah, no can do. I tried three times and got absolutely nothing. It didn’t seem to matter.
An examination or two later, I was told that I was 5cm dilated and my waters would ‘break any second’. Perfect! Halfway there and I’m not even in the tub yet. This labour thing is a doddle! The midwife was almost alarmed at ‘how calm I was, especially for a first time mum.’ Even now, I’m not sure if she meant it or whether it was just to try and actually calm me down. Regardless into the pool I went.
The room was lit in blue, with a motif on the wall saying ‘believe in yourself’, a bed in the corner and nice plants and frames on the window sills to make you feel at home. The water was colder than I thought it would be, but as I carried on filling it up, it got hotter just like my baths at home. The heat of the pool had an effect on Wes too, as he took his seat next to the pool and slumped over the side of it, trying not to fall asleep (it was 5:00am by this point after all). The midwives opened the windows and put a massive fan in front of me, offered me food and drink and generally did everything they could to make me comfortable in the circumstances. They left me to it after that. I was starving, and managed two whole mouthfuls of a rice krispie square (the ONLY thing that we’d packed in terms of food. We’d threatened to go and buy stuff earlier in the day, but decided against it in favour of slobbing out of the sofa) before I felt sick but managed sips of cold water every now and again.
Then they wheeled the cannister of gas and air in. I swear it had a glowing light behind it, like it had been sent from heaven itself. Before I even had chance to ask for it, the most intense contraction so far hit me and I made the first bit of involuntary noise since I’d come into hospital and the midwife just said ‘There’s no award for being brave, use the gas and air if you need to,’ and use it I did. Almost every other contraction after that, unless I was too late to catch it, I was breathing through that mouthpiece. If Wes had wanted a go on it, I didn’t give him the chance.
This carried on, with only a brief intermission where the water in the pool was changed, until 8:00am when the midwives changed shifts and we were introduced to Helen and her student counterpart Jenny who would take it from here. Again, comments were passed about how not hysterical I’d been throughout the ordeal and I was told that I’d have another examination at 9:30am, to see how much further along I’d gotten. If I got to that point and hadn’t progressed that much, I knew I’d be massively deflated… we had an hour and a half to avoid eviction from the birthing pool.
At around this point,I put my hand down between my legs to readjust and I felt something new, just as the midwives were handing over to each other. What the fuck was that? I thought I’d said it in my head, but it turns out I said it out loud as the midwives told me to sit up so that they could see.
‘That’s your amniotic sac. It’ll break really soon. Don’t panic, it’s fine,’ was the reply I got from the midwives. Now I know we only went to two classes, but I always thought that the waters just broke? This wasn’t normal, surely. But hell, if they weren’t worried, neither was I. I was so exhausted by this point that I stopped moving about in the pool like I had been. Wes was promoted to mouthpiece holder (because I’d nearly dropped it in the pool a bunch of times) and shoulder rubber.
The midwife mentioned something about inserting a catheter because I hadn’t been able to pass urine and they were worried about me damaging my bladder. I’d almost definitely peed in that pool, but that was totally gross and I wasn’t about to admit to it (because you know, I needed to retain a tiny bit of dignity). That and, it just sounded like I was trying to get out of the scary sounding catheter. The catheter would happen in the next ten minutes or so… ‘But you never know what will happen in the next ten minutes’, she said.
Well, I’ll tell you what happened in the next ten minutes. Something changed. The pain changed. Everything changed. It’s very hard to describe it to someone who hasn’t experienced it… but I can only describe it as the pain changing from something on the inside, to something on the outside. It was sharper, it was more of a sting or a burn. I think instinct took over from there, because I stopped the gas and air and stopped breathing altogether at times. I didn’t say a word to anyone, but in hindsight, I was definitely pushing. I hadn’t been told to, but screw that, I was doing it anyway because I’m a rebel.
Luckily, Helen noticed what was going on. In fact, I’m fairly sure she’d seen something because she looked me dead in the eye and told me ‘On the next contraction, I want you to just push as hard as you can.’ Now if that isn’t midwife code for ‘I CAN SEE THAT BABY’S HEAD’ then I don’t know what is, but I did as I was told.
The next contraction felt like it took ten times longer than all of those before it, but when it came, I pushed…. and yelled a bit and cut off the circulation to Wes’ hand, pushed and yelled a bit more and then all at once the pain stopped (sort of) because in one moment, our baby entered the world, complete with amniotic sac. My waters finally burst as I gave birth to him, with the midwife having to peel the entire thing off our son before placing him on my chest. Wes likened it to someone blowing up a condom and putting it over their head, but I didn’t see it because I was too busy savouring the fact that I wasn’t having contractions anymore.
At 08:51 on 2nd August 2015, after just under 7 and a half hours of active labour according to my discharge report, Mason Arthas Duxbury was born weighing 6lbs and 15oz and after a sleepy start, I’m pleased to say he’s even more perfect than we could have hoped for.
So now, the big event that we were waiting for on this blog has finally happened. The midwives, all four of them, who helped me out during this experience were amazing as were all the staff for the night we were in hospital. If you’re in the area, I’d definitely recommend the Countess of Chester for all of your birthing needs as they’ve been nothing short of awesome throughout the past year, for both my appendectomy and the birth of our son. We spent the night in the hospital, with my only complaint being that Wes wasn’t allowed to stay with us. That was mighty unfair and I found it a tiny bit traumatic, especially given the fact that the last time he had to leave me in a hospital, we’d just found out we were expecting. Everything turned out fine though and after passing all of his pre-flight checks, we were home on Monday afternoon.
A little over two weeks on, I’m pretty ecstatic that I’m not pregnant anymore and I have a bunch of posts coming up about the lead up to my giving birth and the first two weeks of Mason’s life. He has more clothes than he will ever wear and sometimes, he treats me to six uninterrupted hours in bed, which is pretty amazing. We’ve allowed a few photographs of him to be shared online by family, but we’re hoping (as far as this blog allows) to keep his internet exposure to an absolute minimum until he’s old enough to upload them himself. Then he’s fair game just like the rest of us.
We’ve got a bunch of content being lined up, we’re almost starting anew with the blog as we are with this huge new chapter in our lives, so stick around and I pinkie promise that we won’t just disappear again like we did before. Now I’m off to put some washing on before he wakes up again!