As a first time Mum, my idea of labour and birth was shaped by horror stories from family members and TV documentaries. I read into home birth, hypnobirthing, free birthing, and it all got a bit overwhelming. I eventually decided on a natural labour for my birth plan, followed by a drug free, hospital water birth. I was adamant about the drug free part…
At 41 weeks +10 I attended my term plus appointment where after a routine swab, I found out I had GBS (Group B Streptococcus) and was advised that an induction was the best option as I would need intravenous antibiotics as soon as my waters broke. I wouldn’t be suitable for a water birth because of the infection, and obviously my natural labour was out of the window. I was devastated and felt totally out of control.
On March 21st at 9.30am, I reluctantly checked into the induction suite where I was started off with a gel pessary of Pitocin. One of the extra special things about being induced is that is literally takes forever, and there isn’t really much to do but just wait. By 7pm, after a second gel pessary, there was still no sign of labour (or so I thought) and I was fed up. Harry (my partner) did his best to keep me entertained but I was anxious and uncomfortable and tired of being strapped to a monitor.
I decided to try one last walk before settling down for the night. I barely made it to the bathroom before it started. I went from feeling nothing, to some seriously intense pains and had to be walked back to my cubicle. I had been in slow labour for about 4 hours, and what I thought was just babe moving around were actually pretty strong tightenings.
By 8pm I was being transferred to the delivery suite with Harry and my Mum and was feeling a little bit out of my depth. The pain had started so quickly that it had taken me totally by surprise and my drug free delivery suddenly didn’t sound so appealing. I tried gas and air but it made me sick, so I laboured for 6 hours naturally.
Around 12am I’d fully checked out. My contractions were coming every 45 seconds and the pain had gotten the better of me. I remember crying intensely and telling Harry I was sorry but I wasn’t going to be able to do it anymore. I don’t know what I thought that was going to achieve because there was really no going back at that point.
My contractions got progressively worse and I didn’t know where to go with the pain. I had a cannula in my hand and had been strapped to a monitor for 12 hours at this point. My body however, wanted activity and I couldn’t stop it. I kept climbing off the bed and losing his heartbeat, which was terrifying for everyone.
At 3am, in a moment of madness, I asked for an epidural. Harry tried to remind me of what I really wanted but the pain was so intense that I didn’t care anymore. My midwife tried to talk me out of it too, telling me there were other options and I had time but I wasn’t listening. I knew my babe was coming and I wasn’t going to be able to do it naturally.
Thankfully my body had other ideas and was pushing without me even trying, which meant there wasn’t going to be time for the epidural. I freaked out, so the midwife suggested morphine instead. I didn’t even have time to think about it at that point and it was administered straight away. Instant relief. Thinking back now, it was this decision that saved my whole labour and allowed me the birth that I wanted. It gave me just enough relief to get myself back together and get my baby out safely. I still felt it all, which was what I wanted, but I felt in control.
At 4am I started actively pushing and by 4.13am, after an episiotomy, he was here. Samuel Nash Ives – 7lbs 12oz!
90% of my labour is still a blur, but seeing my babe for the first time will stay with me forever. The midwife put him straight onto my chest, his eyes were wide open and we stared at each other for a second before I let out the happiest, most relieved cry.
Harry and my Mum were unbelievable birthing partners. They kept me on track and supported all of my choices. They say your relationship changes once you have a baby and I couldn’t agree more. I met a whole new person in Harry that night that I’d never seen before, and I fell in love with him in all over again. It’s an unbreakable bond, labouring and birthing a baby together. It’s so personal. Second to seeing my baby for the first time, seeing the love of my life holding him holds the biggest place in my heart.
I didn’t get the birth plan I wanted, the labour that I’d planned on paper, but I’m so glad I didn’t. The real version forced me to reach inside myself and pull out strength I didn’t know I had. It made me work harder than I ever have before and make choices for me and my babe to keep us both safe. My first true test as a mother.
It was the hardest thing I have ever done, but my god, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.
Liz is a 25 year old Punky Mum living in Liverpool with her partner and their son Sam. You can find her at www.instagram.co.uk/twothenyou