Almost four weeks after Freddie came into the world, and the first time I’ve sat down at the computer for more than 4 seconds, I feel compelled to start writing my birth story. Freddie is asleep in the pushchair after a long walk (for the moment), I have a cup of tea and a piece of cake by my side and I am actually awake enough to type – a miracle. I always knew I would write about and publish my birth story on my blog, partly because I love reading others, but also partly because I really want to have it recorded. I warn you, although it has a wonderful ending (well, I think so) my story is not a perfect one. So, where to start?
I thought my birth story would start with my waking to wet sheets from my waters breaking in the night, or realising the stomach cramps I had been having whilst walking around the supermarket were in fact contractions, but it actually begins almost a week before Freddie arrived. It was a Tuesday and I had my routine 37/38 week check with the midwife at the local GPs. The week before there had been a little protein in my urine (something that gets checked every time you go) and so the midwife was on slightly high alert. She tested my sample to find that the level of protein had gone up and I had (very unusual for me) raised blood pressure. Before I knew it I was sitting in the hospital antenatal assessment unit being monitored and checked more thoroughly and being told that I more than likely had pre-eclampsia. Although I wasn’t overly worried at this point, I was pleased that Tom had been able to rush home from work to take me in and that I had packed my hospital bag the week previously as it became obvious quite quickly that I wasn’t going home that night. After an hour or so of monitoring to establish that baby was absolutely fine, but my BP had not gone down, I was transfered to the ward and seen by a consultant. As the pre-eclampsia was mild (i.e. I didn’t have any visual disturbances and I felt fine), they decided they didn’t need to get baby delivered urgently. The decision was made to keep me in for 24 hours to keep checking my protein levels whether my blood uric acid level was raised (a sign of stress on the kidneys), which mine also was.
The next day passed slowly, but with me feeling fine and just being able to keep myself occupied. As the 24 hours came to an end I finally grabbed a doctor (yep – I hadn’t seen one all day) and he allowed me to go home as long as I went back to the antenatal clinic on Friday, unless I went into labour before then as I was already 1 cm dilated. I returned home grateful that I didn’t seem to be getting worse, but with the realisation that this baby was coming sooner than we had planned, which was slightly daunting. I kept it very easy for the next few days, whilst also trying to get things sorted should I need to go back into hospital without much warning, and dutifully returned to the antenatal assessment unit on the Friday. The midwife there was very surprised to see me as she had been sure that I would have had the baby during the week and as all of my symptoms were either getting worse or staying the same (although baby was still happy as larry throughout) she made it clear that I would have to be induced in the next couple of days. We discussed everything with her and the doctor, I was given a stretch and sweep – which was really not that bad – and booked in for an induction at 10.00 on Sunday.
As we drove home – seemingly over every bump in the road within a 20 mile radius, something I did not appreciate – Tom and I were calm. I was already on my way to going into labour, was having very mild contractions and felt confident that I could get things going myself without having to have the induction. The next day (Saturday) my contractions started to get stronger, but were still not very regular, and it was looking like I might be back in hospital in labour that day. I was determined that I wouldn’t need the induction – I had already progressed to 2 cm dilation with little intervention and I knew how I could get things moving.
The next part of the story is quite strange, in that it involves Tom and I hosting my youngest sister’s 18th birthday party with all of my family at our house. It was a completely bizarre afternoon, involving various delays, some undercooked meatballs and me trying to smile through ever strengthening contractions. But there was lots of cake, so that’s fine. We’ll leave it at that.
By the evening, my mum had decided she would stay until the baby had arrived and the rest of the family had gone. My contractions had started to slow down again and I was able to have a good night’s sleep – the last good night of rest I was going to have for a while, it turned out…
Sunday morning arrived and we felt positive. It was a nice day and I was rested: we’d had chance to tidy the house, have a good breakfast, make sure we had everything we needed to stay in hospital and let a few people know what was happening. We made a conscious decision not to tell the majority of our friends or close family about what was happening as we knew the induction could take a few days or I could end up having a caesarian, and we didn’t want to be bombarded with “how’s it going??!!” texts. It felt very weird pulling into a quiet hospital car park, knowing that the next time I got into the car we would have our baby boy with us, and, with a mixture of nerves and excitement, we went up to the maternity ward.
Part 2 coming up soon…