It was 1st July, a day I had never really thought about. For the past nine months, everything was building up to 30th June: Due Date. But here I was, 1st July. Still pregnant!
For the past few days I’d had a few mild cramping pains, and I’d experienced a few that morning. I’d explained this to my One to One Midwife, Jo, when she came for my 40 week appointment.
It was nothing out of the ordinary, women can experience little aches and niggles for a few weeks in the lead up to labour.
I could have a cervical sweep and this would encourage things along if the baby was starting to get ready to make an appearance.
It was a very hot day. My next appointment after this wouldn’t be for another week. Assured that the sweep wouldn’t force an unready baby, I opted for it, and prepared for a 48 hour wait to see if things would move along. It was around lunchtime when I said goodbye to Jo. Still a long way to go.
So I made some lunch, and sat down to an re-run of ‘One Born Every Minute’. After a little while, those cramping pains had returned , a little stronger than before. Soon, One Born became uncomfortable to watch (!). I hopped onto my birthing ball (though, not for long), put some washing on the line (practical!); all the while becoming increasingly more aware of these ‘cramps’. It was about 2:30pm when I thought I’d call Jo to update her and that I thought I’d passed my mucus plug too (gross, I know. I’d taken a photo and compared it to one on google… honestly, the things that pregnancy makes you do!) Jo assured me that all was normal, I’d only had the ‘sweep’ a few hours ago and was only 1cm dilated at that point. This wasn’t happening anytime soon.
But these little aches were becoming that little bit stronger, that little bit more frequent. It couldn’t be contractions, I remember thinking; they were too familiar, they felt like period pains. I called my husband, Steve, told him not to worry but also not to work super-late tonight.
I surprised myself when I recalled lessons learned from my Hypnobirthing Class; I remembered the breathing exercises we’d practiced. Funny, as I was convinced I’d forget it all when the time came, but the breathing was helping to make it all the more manageable. I found some relaxation music on YouTube, closed the curtains and lay down on my bed. I must have gone into a semi-sleep, I felt relaxed and calm.
It was around 5pm when Steve arrived home and downloaded the app to time the frequency of what I was now convinced were contractions. Steve wired me up to my TENS machine which seemed to alleviate the pain, or else distract me! Being able to move around at home was good, and I’d found the most comfortable place to sit was on the toilet! Classy. By around 7:30pm, these contractions were coming three times in a ten minute period. We’d texted Jo who said to contact her when this was happening for two hours straight.
One of my worst fears had been going to hospital and being sent home so my intention had always been to stay at home as long as possible. I was incredibly thankful to Jo for making the journey out to me at around 10pm to observe and examine me. By 10:45pm I was 6cm dilated and lying horizontally in the back of the car on our way to Liverpool Women’s!
Jo had called ahead, and on arrival at the Midwifery Led Unit a beautiful little room was awaiting me, birthing pool ready, dim lights: just as I’d wanted. I was just getting changed into my tankini when I seemed to lose a lot of blood; something I was told afterwards was an impartum haemorrhage. The midwives insisted me that it was best for me and baby to be monitored closely and that I’d need to be moved to the Consultant Led Unit. Before long, I was in a wheelchair being transferred across, away from my beloved birthing pool! All the while wearing a tankini!
I was pleasantly surprised that the Consultant Led Unit wasn’t as frightening or clinical as I’d feared. I was able to have dim lights and have my music playing, just as I’d put in my birth-plan! I had some gas and air and that eased things a little bit. I just remember breathing and praying at this point, and can honestly say, without sounding spooky, that I felt as though I was in a different place, above all that was happening! The sounds of monitors beeping, having my waters broken for me, being given an episiotomy was all not in my plan, and the very thought of such things freaked me out ordinarily, but being in ‘the zone’, I surprised myself and was able to power through it!
Our Obstetrician Nicola Tempest was so calm and reassuring and we had two lovely midwives who I just remember being really encouraging and lovely the whole time. One of them even held my hand!
At one stage, the baby’s heart-rate had dipped a little and the consultant advised that the baby should be delivered via ventouse. A few pushes later and at 2:17am on 2nd July, our lovely baby Joshua Stephen Barrow was born weighing a chunky 9lb 14.5oz.
Quicker than anticipated, slightly different to how I’d planned, my birth was without doubt the most intense and beautiful experience of my life to date. And its true what they say, the moment I held Joshua for the first time, that moment he looked into my eyes, it was worth it all.