It's been almost a week so feeling less raw (me not my vagina) so thought I'd write down my birth story. I was aware that you can plan all you want but the baby has other ideas on how they want to enter the world - but still feel a little shell shocked. The relaxing, natural water birth I had planned was far from the reality - well apart from the no drugs part - but trust me I wanted them all at one point!
So for over a week I'd had signs. Mild cramps, a little show - but nothing major. Then on Thursday (5th October) in the morning I didn't feel Bear move much so I went into Arbroath Maternity Unit and after being monitored, Bear's heart rate dropped so I had to be taken to Ninewells (Dundee) to be checked over. Everyone was calm and there were no blue lights in the ambulance so I just tried to be relaxed. When I got there, there was talk of being induced but after being monitored and scanned - they were happy to let me go home - plus Bear was wriggling loads. The doctor said it could have just been his head moving into position and had got a bit squashed. They were still happy for me to have the baby at Arbroath too. I'd been having mild tightening’s while on the monitor so they said it would hopefully be soon. Deep down I felt that something was going to happen within a day or so.
We came home in the afternoon and went to bed early. I woke up at 2am and knew this was it. Although I had previously had mild contractions - period like pains - they felt different than before. I started timing them and they began to regualte quite quickly. I tried going back to sleep but was impossible, so got up, had a cup of tea and bounced on my ball and then woke my husband up at 5am to take the dog out. I wanted to see whether the walking stopped the contractions but they started to get more regular. I rang Arbroath and they advised to stay at home as long as I could. So I thought it would be a good idea to clean the house. As you do! It got to midday and I went in to be checked over as I thought some of my waters may have come away (they hadn't – it was just more of my mucus plug). I was checked over and was 3cms dilated. I decided I was fine to go back home as contractions were still manageable so we went to grab a KFC and literally within the hour my contractions were coming on thick and fast - and were much more painful. (I didn't get to finish my KFC sadly). My waters broke in three separate gushes and I knew something had changed. We went back to Arbroath and the midwife who greeted me wanted to hold off until the midwife who had saw me earlier came back from a community visit. However, she then saw me have a contraction and wanted to check me over herself. She checked my pulse and the baby’s heart rate and immediately wanted me on the monitor. My heart rate was sky rocketing and the baby's heart rate began to dip. All of a sudden the baby's heart rate dropped to in the 70's and the midwife screamed out for someone else to come in the room and things started to get more frightening. Two other midwives came in wheeling oxygen which I was told to start breathing in really fast to help the baby. I will never forget the look of panic on the midwife's face. They called an ambulance and told my husband to go to Ninewells immediately. When he left my contractions suddenly became so painful and I felt like I wanted to push. They checked me and I was still only 5cms. The paramedics came and they strapped me into a stretcher which was horrendous. I was desperate to move during my contractions as they were so painful now but I was promised gas and air once in the ambulance. The pain was pretty bad now and I took a breath of gas and air - well they might as well have given me paracetamol. Pardon my French but it did sweet fuck all. Like absolutely nothing. Although the blue lights were on - it was still a good 20 minutes to Dundee. I kept screaming at the paramedic and the midwife that I couldn't stop pushing. They said it might just be my baby moving position but it was uncontrollable - my body was pushing and I couldn’t control it. They pulled over to see whether anything had progressed but said they hadn't. I think I kept saying "I'm pooing. I'm pooing" too. You really do lose all dignity - not that I had much left.
After what felt like the longest journey ever I arrived at Ninewells and the midwife who looked after me the day before was looking after me. My poor husband's face when he saw me. He'd left me when I was able to cope with the pain but I was screaming I was pushing and was visibly in a lot of pain now. The midwife who came with me in the ambulance told the midwives I was only five cms so they got me and Bear hooked up to a monitor and as Bear's heart rate was still dipping they wanted to put a clip on baby's head to monitor more closely. As she was doing this she said: "okay Faye you can push, you are fully dilated." I felt like screaming "I bloody told you!!!" So in the space of 45 minutes I had gone from being 5cms to fully dilated and I think my body was just in shock as there had been no gradual lead up - just feeling okay to HOLY FUCK this is the worst pain of my life. I think they thought as this was my first baby, my labour could not have progressed this fast.
So I started pushing and tried with the gas and air again but within a few pushes I chucked it away and didn't use it again as it literally did nothing to ease the pain. I asked if there was anything else they could give me but they said I was too far gone. I really wanted to be that person you see on One Born Every Minute who makes no sound but that didn't happen. I wasn't screaming but I was making a groaning noise loud enough for most of Scotland to hear. If I could describe the pain it would be....you know in Indian Jones Raiders of the Lost Arc and Harrison Ford is getting chased by that giant bolder? Well imagine feeling like you are trying to push that out of your bum - and then someone is squeezing your stomach together as hard as they can. Yeah - it's fun. The midwife and my husband kept telling me I needed to push down into my bum more but I swear I was - I felt like I couldn't do anymore. The doctors came in as I was tired and baby was too. She said they would give it an hour of pushing and may need to come help me. "Pet – there is nee chance that I can do this for an hour." I really wanted to move more but was restricted due to being hooked up to the monitor. And they kept trying to get access to my veins in case I needed anything after the birth but I couldn't keep still through the contractions. And yes - you do shit yourself during labour. I kept saying sorry and the midwife said I wasn't but I saw her cleaning it away and could smell it and I knew it wasn't my husband, (I think)…but you honestly really don’t care. Thanks to moving into a few different positions (on my knees, on back, feet pushing down on pads and then finally on my side) and pushing for just under an hour, things progressed. They thought they might have to cut me to help get the head out so I was injected with local anesthetic as the head kept popping in and out. But after listening to my husband to push without sound and the midwife saying that baby had loads of hair and after I gave myself a pep talk "come on Faye!" I got that head out with some little pants. My friends told me that it feels like your vagina is on fire at that point and that's true but I think I'd gone past feeling any pain. So the head was out. It was so weird as baby started crying. But my contractions seemed to stop. I even said: "I've never wanted a contraction so much in my life." Still nothing. So the midwife just said for me to push and Bear literally plopped out at 18.11 on Friday, 6th October (two days before due date), weighing 8Ib 1oz. We wanted my hubby to let me know the sex but I caught a glimpse as baby was put on my chest. But hearing my husband say "it's a boy" was the best feeling in the world. And there he was. All chunky and purple in colour and screaming his head off. I didn't feel the rush of love that people talk about immediately as I think I was in shock. It had happened so fast and in a dramatic fashion that I was literally like "what the fuck has just happened?" And there was my baby boy on my chest. And my vagina hurt. And I had to wait for what seemed like ages for my placenta to come out.
Because the bruiser came out with his hands on his face, which was why it was quite difficult to get out (he’s going to be a boxer said the midwife) and so fast, he had grazed me and I had torn from the inside out. I had to be stitched internally and externally. Ouch. The midwife who did it was a pro and literally stitched me like she was sewing a dress together. And when she had finished, the other midwife looked and said "beautiful". I would have used another word.
They weren’t sure why his heart rate kept dropping but they think it was because he came so fast. He was checked over and was a healthy little man so we were so lucky that rather than stay at Ninewells where I would have been on a shared ward and Chris would have left, we were able to go back to Arbroath that night so Chris could stay with me and have our own room. So after having the best shower in the world and the most amazing cup of tea and toast, we headed back to Arbroath.
I still feel quite raw and emotional about it all as I don't think I will ever forget the panicked look on the midwife's face and the fear that something might be wrong with my baby. I have never been so terrified. But he's here. And he's perfection. I also feel so grateful that my husband was home. Having him there got me through it all – he was amazing, beyond supportive and encouraging and I know it must have been hard for him to see me in so much pain. And I couldn’t fault the hospital staff. Midwives are angels sent from God.
So our little man is Rafe Owen Copp. Rafe means wolf and Owen is after my husband's friend who passed away last year so I definitely think he had his own guardian angel looking down on him.
Now it's the easy part right? HAHAHA FUCK NO. In my next blog post I will talk about after labour. The stuff nobody really talks about. The exhaustion, like nothing I have ever felt. The blood, the fear of the first poo, the unimaginable difficultly of breastfeeding and the pain. But here's a little photo of our little man to end on a positive! Faye xx
Royal Marine Wife. Mum to Rafe.