I can't believe I haven't blogged since May, when I was 34 weeks pregnant. Life kind of got in the way - as happens so often! Since May, I have of course given birth to my beautiful baby girl, Jessica, and she's now 20 weeks old.
I've been looking to get back into blogging for a while now and, after talking to some friends and family, I've decided that now is as good a time as any. I'm planning on writing a series of posts on how I've found the first few months of motherhood; from my labour to my post-baby body, feeding and bonding, mental health and my recovery.
So, let's start from the beginning: the labour.
I was due to give birth on June 23rd but Jessica actually arrived on July 2nd - 9 days late. I was booked in for an induction and Mum drove us both to the hospital, having only experienced a couple of twinges in the lead up to my labour, feeling excited but very apprehensive about what was to come. The house was totally prepared and we were all looking forwards to meeting our little one.
We arrived at the hospital at around lunchtime; I was weighed, monitored (only about 2cm dilated) and left to relax for about an hour - as there was no sign of the baby arriving by herself, my waters were artificially broken at about 1pm. It didn't hurt and there was no big gush of water, in fact it just felt like I'd wet myself.
The midwife sent S & I off to go for a walk around the hospital grounds to try and get things started, as they wanted to avoid giving me a pessary, and after an hour of wandering about in the park opposite the hospital, with S and my Mum, we went back to the ward. About an hour later, halfway through a piece of chocolate, at around 3pm, I had my first contraction.
When people say it feels like intense period pain - they're right... at the beginning. The first couple of hours of contractions were just like horrible cramps; I couldn't eat as it was so painful and I couldn't find a position I was comfortable in. Once we were admitted to our own private room, my Mum was allowed in too and she and S were both amazing support throughout. I couldn't have asked for better birthing partners.
I started on gas and air once I was in my private room, and it did offer some relief in the early stages. I don't remember when it happened, but I was given diamorphine at some point which helped to dull the pain, but also made me incredibly sleepy - especially when combined with the gas and air for contractions. Throughout, my contractions were only about a minute apart, which was tough as it meant I had no relief in between them.
The room we were in was brightly lit, there was a fan whirring away as it was one of the hottest days of the year, there was a television, plenty of water and lots of room for me to walk about. However, I couldn't really walk as my contractions were right in my back. At around 9.30pm, I asked for an epidural. The pain was unbelievable and I couldn't see myself being able to carry on like that. As the midwife was discussing the epidural with the anaesthetist, I felt my contractions change - "I feel like I need to push!" I shouted. The midwife rushed over and had a look; yep, I was 10cm dilated and ready to push.
As it was too late for an epidural, I had to (literally) push on with just gas & air, and the previously administered diamorphine. As my only experience of childbirth so far had been watching One Born Every Minute, I was under the impression that after hours or contractions, you simply push a few times and the baby is born. How wrong I was. Midwives will allow you to push for up to 2 hours before they have to take emergency action.
After an hour of agonising pushing, Jessica was born, thankfully without any forceps or cutting, at 10:56pm, weighing a chunky 8lbs 9.5oz. That relief when they pull the baby from you is indescribable; the pain stops instantly (but not for long, unfortunately!) and instead you're overrun by a feeling that you just need to focus on your baby now.
Proud Daddy with his minutes old baby.
Jessica didn't cry immediately and, after a couple of seconds on my bare chest, was rushed over to a table in the corner of the room where she, thankfully, started crying. After having a few cuddles with Jessica, and having to push the placenta out (am I the only one who thought it just fell out?!) a doctor came in and did my stitches as I'd had an internal tear.
An hour later, as S and my Mum left, I showered and headed off (when I say 'headed', I actually mean 'waddled', walking isn't too easy when you've just given birth and had stitches!) to spend my first night with my beautiful healthy baby girl in the hospital.
Our first Mother & Daughter selfie.
I hope you've enjoyed reading my birthing story. It was the hardest, most painful, experience of my life so far but it's incredible what you gain in those hours or days - not just a baby, but so much strength and so much pride in yourself and so much love for those who helped you through it.
Next time, I'll be discussing how I found feeding Jessica.