I do love a birth story.
Even before we were considering having a baby, when friends of our’s had newly become parents, I was always keen to whisk past the ‘how you feeling?” and “oh he/she is just adorable…” formalities so that I could get to the nitty-gritty. I was always intrigued by that part of becoming a parent that frightened me and yet fascinated me the most- the birth story.
After Elsie arrived, I spent many a long night reminiscing about her birth and the key moments I wanted to write down and remember forever. Time went on and I never found the time to sit down and actually write it, although I also wonder if I’ve been putting it off for fear of reliving details of an experience that was so wonderful yet so physically painful and life-changing. Remembering the day that Elsie entered the world is like an out of body experience. I still find it hard to comprehend that that was me.
One of my first thoughts after giving birth, other than ‘holy crap, will I ever be able to sit on a park bench again?“, was that women are bloody incredible. I literally wanted to call every woman I’ve ever known to have given birth whether by c-section, natural or sneezed the kid out for all I cared. I just wanted to tell them that we were all supersonic. But there’s no denying that however one does give birth, it’s a trauma. Your body goes through such an intense and physical ordeal that it’s hard not to relive some of those emotional moments and not remember the fear.
Yes, women have been giving birth for a bazillion of years, but it still is, and forever will be, one of the most intense and frightening experiences a person can go through. It’s hard not to think back to that day without feeling quite emotional. Remembering my husband’s face and all the little snippets of memories where I recall we felt that fear. We had come so far and were so emotionally entangled in the process that it’s only natural to fear that something could go wrong. But we were lucky in our experience and for that, I will always be grateful.
So here it is, a year after it happened, Elsie’s birth story…
Due to my having gestational diabetes, we were booked in to be induced on Tuesday 25th August, five days before baby’s due date.
Like most Mummas ready to pop, I was already having trouble sleeping, (or what I thought then was trouble sleeping, ha! How naive I was…) so I was up super early, around 6am. Plenty of time to wash and straighten my hair and shave my legs. Little did I know then that this would, in fact, be the last time in a very long time that I would have the time to achieve all of these things on the same day.
“Call us at 7.00am and you’ll be given a time to come into the ward…”
I was literally pacing the flat waiting for 7am to arrive. Everything was packed. Bag for baby, a bag for me, a bag full of snacks and my crisp new nursing pillow already by the front door. Not forgetting my perfect little bag of colostrum test tubes waiting patiently in the freezer. I couldn’t eat anything I was so nervous and thanks to having spent the previous three weeks nesting, there was literally nothing to do around the home, except pace. Again, if only I’d known then that having nothing to do would soon be a thing of the past.
7.28am, Tuesday 25th August 2015
“Come in for 8.30am”
Eeek! I remember driving to the hospital I kept holding the Hubster’s hand thinking this is the last journey we’ll do together, just me and you. I wish I could remember the song that was playing, but my mind was all fuzzy, but I do remember that comfortable silence, just me and you.
We arrived on the ward and chose a bed right by the window and I’m so pleased we did. I loved being able to see the sky and on this particularly warm day, the colours of the sunset later that day became a calming focus during what I now know was labour.
10.30am, Tuesday 25th August 2015 Induction
“You’re only half a centimetre dilated”
Brilliant. Having had two sweeps previously leading up to this day, the midwife with extremely long fingers went in for a third attempt. Turns out three is the magic number. Either that or she did really have extremely long fingers. Nice.
We made ourselves comfortable and tried to take away the nerves by watching Catch Me If You Can on the iPad. We got to about seventeen minutes in and I couldn’t focus on it anymore, something was happening.
1.30pm, Tuesday 25th August 2015
“You should try and get some fresh air, go for a walk”
Sickness, diarrhoea and a certain pain that meant I couldn’t talk for a few minutes each time began in waves, but no one ever said I was in labour. Holy cow bags. If this wasn’t labour, I wasn’t going to survive it.
We managed a walk around the hospital building but we kept having to stop every ten paces so that I could breathe through what I now know to be back contractions. Over the course of the next nine hours, everything got more intense and the world filtered out whilst I focused on surviving and throwing up.
10.30pm, Tuesday 25th August 2015
“I need to assess you to see how things have progressed…”
Nope. Not happening. I’m not moving. If I open my eyes or move an inch, I’ll crack.
11.00pmm Tuesday 25th August 2015
“Do you think she’s ready to move so I can check her?”
Nope. Still not moving. Still not looking. Do not interrupt my counting or weird hand gesture woman or I’ll crack. Leave me alone here to die and think about what on earth makes women EVER want to put themselves through this again?
I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t open my eyes.
The world around me had disappeared and only my breathing, counting and some weird hand gesture that I saw my yoga teacher do, existed in my head. If I’d taken even a peep into the real world I would have cracked and there would have been no going back. However, I was very aware that there had been a midwife hovering around us for quite some time now, waiting to poke her fingers up my foof to see if the pessary was working. It bloody better be otherwise what the heck was this pain?
11.30pm, Tuesday 25th August 2015
“I really need to assess her now…”
She wasn’t bogging off… I had to eventually muster up the energy to move. Slowly and carefully and without opening my eyes.
11.40pm, Tuesday 25th August 2015
“I’m afraid you’re only 1.5 centimetres dilated…”
That’s it. I’m going to die. This isn’t normal and I’m going to die.
1.17am, Wednesday 26th August 2015
I need a wee.
Or so I thought. This wee turned into one almighty gush of just about any liquid excretion from one’s body as humanly possible, including my waters and a lot of blood.
1.30am, Wednesday 26th August 2015
“She’s fully dilated we need to get her up to delivery…”
Our peaceful corner of the ward was shattered as an alarm was raised and before I knew it were surrounded by midwives all busy doing something.
They tried to get me to sit in a wheelchair but I shook my head and said that I needed to push. Sitting in a chair was definitely not an option at the present time. So back on the ward bed I went and off they rushed us to the delivery ward.
“There aren’t any delivery suites available,” one midwife said nervously and it was at this point it dawned on me that babies can be born absolutely anywhere. When you hear stories of women giving birth in car parks and on the side of motorways I’ve always thought, really? Couldn’t you hold it for a bit longer? Ha! When a tiny human is ready to exit the body it’s bloody ready to exit the body and you have about as much control over it as stopping a poo mid flow when you’ve had a dodgy curry the night before. It ain’t happening.
“Shall we take her to a birthing pool? Would you like that Katie?”
Er, I would have very much loved that pool sweet midwife FIFTEEN HOURS AGO. You’ll be lucky to fill up a water balloon before this sprog exits my vagina let alone fill up a whole bloody great bath tub.
I so needed to push and at this moment in time, I didn’t care if I gave birth in a shark cage let alone a delivery suite. This baby was coming.
1.45am, Wednesday 26th August 2015
This is it.
With no delivery suites available, they whizzed us into a recovery room instead and within moments the midwives had turned a stark hospital room into a calm, dimly lit sanctuary and I can honestly say I’ve never felt more ready for anything in my life. This was happening and I knew exactly what I had to do. Everything we had waited for and everything we’d planned for had brought us to this moment. The moment where we became parents.
“Listen to my voice darling and only my voice…” my fairy Godmother Midwife Pauline said… I listened. Pushed when she said push, I rested when she said to rest and I breathed when she said to breathe. My quick, safe and fairly straightforward (as much as anyone could hope for) birth will be forever owed to this woman and for that, I will be eternally grateful.
At 2.11am on Wednesday 26th August, in the amber glow of a recovery suite, our little bean said hello to the world. The midwife placed baby on my chest and it squawked and squirmed with its long arms flailing everywhere like a monkey falling from a tree.
The Hubster and I spent a few minutes checking over every tiny finger and toe and it was a while before it dawned on me that we didn’t even know whether our baby was a boy or a girl. “Don’t you already know?” asked the midwife. Clearly, they don’t get a lot of gender surprises these days. “Let Daddy find out,” she said as she helped me lift baby off my chest.
“It’s a girl!” Daddy said.
“Is it really?” Mummy said.
“I don’t know…” Daddy said in true Del Boy style as he checked again.
Our daughter, Elsie Belle Albury had arrived safe and well and we couldn’t have been more shellshocked happy. Well, as happy as you’d expect new parents to be; one can be having downed a shed load of gas and air in the space of fifteen minutes and the other having witnessed something so mind-blowing before swiftly being asked to dress a tiny alien in very tiny clothes.
Life changed forever in that moment and we were given a gift that has since challenged us in ways we could never have imagined, but has made our hearts bigger and fuller than ever thought possible.
Elsie Belle, you will forever be my greatest achievement little one. Thank you for making me a Mummy.