Throughout my pregnancy, I joked that I was going to give birth to a Godzilla baby. I measured off the chart at my midwife appointments and they estimated my baby would be around 8 and a half pounds. My bump was enormous. As I looked down at it, I couldn’t imagine squeezing it’s occupant out of me. But, hah, I did, and you know what- she wasn’t Godzilla baby, she was a very regular 7 llbs 9 ounces and as for the squeezing…well, here’s the birth story.
Two sweeps, several pineapples and after many waddly walks, I went into labour on a Tuesday evening. I was 9 days overdue. I was in the middle of cooking dinner (spag bol fyi) when the small twinges I had been feeling on and off for a few days were most definitely getting hurty and regular. Contractions! They had arrived! I finished dinner, got on my bouncy ball and breaaaaathed. Naively, I thought I was going to have Ava that night.
Around midnight, we hit the Birth Centre- unsure if the bleeding I was experiencing was a normal show or something more serious. Spoiler- it wasn’t serious. We were sent home for me to labour on some more. Now as luck would have it, by the time we got home from the hospital at 2am, my contractions decided to really kick it up a notch. I left Robin to sleep and for the rest of the night, I mooed and huffed and breathed through the pain that was now starting to get intense.
The rest of the day was a blur. We timed the contractions all day and still they weren’t the magical ‘3 contractions in 10 minutes’ rule the Birth Centre had advised us. By midnight on Wednesday night, I was tired, in tears, and desperate to get into the hospital. For the second time, we got into a taxi- with me whimpering into a pillow at every bump (fyi, taxi drivers were super nice and gentle on the road when they realised they were on a hospital run!)
Taking one look at my face, the midwife finally admitted us into a birthing suite and dosed me up on some nice old diamorphine and hooked me to the gas and air. Diamorphine is the best. I was on cloud 9. It was my Trainspotting toilet scene moment. I could still feel the pain but I felt separate from it too, which meant I was able to get some much needed rest for the next 5 hours until it wore off. As I was in the birth centre, we had a nice double bed to crawl into. The midwife propped my legs with a bouncy ball shaped like a beauty blender and let me doze off in my purple haze.
…5 hours later, at 5am (we’re now into Thursday morning folks) my waters broke. That was quite the wake up call. It’s like a water balloon going off. Robin leapt out of bed, buzzed for the midwife and then to be honest, it was all a blur after that. I recall being told that my contractions would feel stronger now that my waters were gone (and obviously because my new BFF, Diamorphine, had worn off)
The birthing pool was filled with water and then a team of student midwives came in and took over the morning shift. They were amazing. They were truly the best thing about my birth story- just very sweet and supportive even when I was shouting and mooing my head off at everyone. Also, the whole time I had my eyes closed because I was most definitely on a whole other intense planet. I didn’t want anyone near me (as nice as they all were) As I laboured on, I just wanted to be left alone in bed or the pool but to help get Ava out, I had to keep moving- the pool was making me too comfy and I wasn’t pushing hard enough. In an effort to shake her out of me, I had to do squats which are the worst even when you’re not in labour.
At 10am, 39 hours later from when I first went into labour, Ava was finally born.
And. I. Felt. Every. Bit. Of. It.
Because my gas and air had run out and no one told me.
So, there we go. I unintentionally gave birth naturally. I even had it written in my birth plan that if I requested an epidural, then we’d move to the labour ward- but in the thick of it all, I just had one focus- managing the pain to push and get my baby out. I had made the decision to have an injection for my placenta to…eject? deliver itself? and I don’t even remember that bit happening, because I was too busy marvelling at my baby.
It was only when I was getting stitched up (a couple of mild tears and grazes, totally normal) and Robin was having skin to skin time with Ava that the midwife told him it was an unusally big placenta. As he lovingly took the first selfie with his baby daughter, there in the background, placed in a huge tupperware with scalpels and scissors sticking out of it was my big, fat placenta- photobombing that precious moment. Robin said it looked like Krang from the Ninja Turtles. Krang stole his baby bonding thunder. So that’s the mystery solved! That’s why my bump was so big, yet my baby so regular sized. Krang was taking up residence.
As for my birth centre experience?
Well, once I was stitched up, the midwives left us alone to rest and marvel at our new baby girl. We piled into the bed. A nurse brought me tea and toast. I even got up for a shower and then went back to bed to cuddle my baby. If you’re in two minds like I was about using a Birth Centre, I completely recommend it. It was so cosy and calm and just lovely- the midwives popped in to check on Ava and I got to chat to the student midwife who caught her- and it turned out Ava was her first delivery and I could have cried I was so emotional. Also, I was just hanging out with my boobs out as the midwives were helping us breastfeed. There really is no dignity in childbirth, but you know what? You do not care. Not one single bit. You fall in love with your midwives a little bit- at least I did- because they’ve helped you through this incredible moment. So, midwives of Whittington hospital, you are wonderful.
And that’s my birth story. It wasn’t positive, it wasn’t negative, and it certainly didn’t go to plan (not that I expected it to, but still. 39 hours. Come on)
The day I went into labour, when I was still able to talk on the phone for a casual chit chat, my sister said that birth is the only pain with a positive outcome. And that thought kept floating into my head during labour and I found it strangely comforting and grounding. So with that, remember- the outcome is totally, completely, absolutely worth it 🙂