I may never get the ‘dream' birth I want, but I am lucky to have had the best outcome both times. Two beautiful boys. And nothing beats holding your baby in your arms for the first time does it? Time stops still.
As most of you know, they discovered I had gestational diabetes a couple of weeks ago. After another growth scan last Thursday, baby was still measuring big and I was advised an induction was the way forward. I really wanted to go into birth naturally but equally took on board the doctor's advice. So I was booked in for Monday 24th June. So that weekend I was eating hot curry, bouncing on the ball, drinking raspberry tea, tweeking my nips – doing what I could to try get baby out (not all at the same time). I’d had a sweep on the Thursday and my braxton hicks were becoming stronger, I lost my mucus plug and I felt like my body was close to go into labour – if not already in the early stages. But I had accepted that I was going to be induced and felt positive (thanks to hypnobirthing and general excitement to meet baby). Rang up the hospital in the morning and told to go in for 12. I cleaned the house again (obviously), had a shower attempted to shave my legs and finished packing my bag. I’d been up since 3.30am in discomfort so in hindsight I should have just slept! It was surreal to go into hospital to have the baby – but not be in labour. But both husband and I were excited/couldn't quite believe it. Got to hospital and shown into our room and it was lovely this time round as because everything happened so fast with Rafe (went into labour natually), my husband and I were able to spend some time together, do some random quizzes as you do and talk about everything and nothing, which made everything more calm. I had some student doctors come in to try and hear baby's heartbeat in this old school instrument (scientific word for it I’m sure) and seeing their faces light up when they did was pretty magical to be honest. I was having mild contractions at this point so was quite nice to be distracted. I was popped on the monitor and they could see I was having regular tightenings and at this point a plumber came into the room to fix a tap!! Which made me and Chris piss ourselves laughing (me almost literally). Not quite the hypnobirthing experience I had in mind, hearing a drill and watching a tap get fixed, but it made everything even more calm - surprisingly. At about 3pm, they inserted a pessary to see if they could kick start labour. They explained could be 24-hours, may have to do another pessary, or may be able to break waters. Either or - I expected a long wait. Then about an hour later my contractions were getting closer together after a little walk round the hospital, then an hour after that they were becoming quite painful. I was put on the monitor and they were coming thick and fast. I couldn’t believe how intense they were and I wasn’t even in the second stage of labour yet. Was checked and was still only 2, almost 3cm dialated so was really disappointed. My midwife went to speak to the midwife in charge and they thought the pessary had overstimulated me and that my body was already in/ready for labour so basically I had two lots of hormones in my body that were causing the really painful contractions. So they took the pessary out and could see they could break my waters to try and ease the pain a little and give me a break. So that’s what they did. It was quite painful so I remember squeezing Chris's hand hard. Then I heard the midwife say to the midwife in charge – “the cord.” She didn’t hear her so she said again, “the cord.” And just like that everything moved at rapid speed. A button was pressed, my bed was tilted down and a team of people rushed into the room. My midwife had hopped on the bed at this point, kneeling over me with her hand still inside me. I could hear the doctor saying they needed to get the baby out now and I needed a c-section. I just nodded and was being wheeled along while an anaesthetist was asking me questions and explained what was going to happen. I was trying to stay calm and everyone else seemed calm and in control. But I kept looking at my midwife who still had her hand inside me and was thinking what the fuck is going on? Is my baby ok? I found out after it all happened that her actions saved my baby's life. The cord had come out of my cervix (cord prolapse) when my waters broke so she was holding the baby's head away from the cord as the baby would have squashed it and then would have lost its oxygen supply. Someone asked me for my verbal consent for the c-section, but basically said if you don’t - your baby will die. At that point I trusted every single person in that room. I had oxygen on my face and the anaesthetist said I would be going to sleep soon and would wake up in an hour. I was looking up at the big light above me and I remember my last thought being of tremendous fear that I wouldn’t wake up ever again. And I wouldn't ever see my Rafe or meet my new baby. I think that light and that thought will never leave me. Everything happened in seconds, I can't explain how fast it was. But while I was 'knocked out', Elijah Austin Copp arrived at 7.20pm, all 9Ib 4oz of him and that’s all that mattered.
My next memory was waking up with someone trying to put a tube in my arm and I turned my head and saw this bundle in a purple blanket. My baby. I can't remember if I asked or whether I was told – but it was a boy. A beautiful baby boy. My husband came in and I was just really out of it to be honest. I kept grabbing all the theatre staff saying thank you. It is a surreal moment to go into labour, still be pregnant, then wake up with your baby next to you. The midwife and my husband (who was outside in scrubs, he wasn’t allowed in as I was under general anthetestic) said that Elijah screamed the place down when he came into the world. Which was a relief for both and my husband said it was literally minutes after I went into theatre. It is hard to know I never heard his first cry. Or I wasn’t the first person to welcome him into the world, or hold him, or to comfort him and wrap him up warm. Chris wanted to wait to find out sex with me and they wanted to keep baby with me in case I woke up and thought the worst. But after waiting for an hour, he caved and the midwife told him, “you now have two boys" – and he burst into tears. He met him while I had just woken up.
I think after what happened with Rafe's birth, I am naturally worried I will struggle after what happened as it was terrifying - and traumatic. And I don't think any of it has sunk in yet and I can't really put it into words. But for now, that is my birth story.
I can't thank the staff at Northumberland Specialist Emergency Care Hospital enough. Their calmness and their care was outstanding, without sounding overly dramatic, they saved my boy's life. And I now feel like the luckiest (most exhausted) woman in the world.
Thank you so much for all your messages. Means so much. Two boys! 💙
P.s We chose the name Elijah Austin as we just love both names and my grandad (dad's dad) was called Austin, a lovely man, so a tribute to him - I think he was looking out for us.
Royal Marine Wife. Mum to Rafe.