Part one – a birth in Bulgaria
So, I already have two children, but you know what people say – no two births are alike, even if the parents are the same. However, in my case things were completely different from start to finish. The main reason was because one happened back home, in Bulgaria – BG, and the second one in the UK, where we live now. Thus, I’ve got a lot to compare and I thought it will be interesting to show both sides of the same story i.e. giving birth. A little disclaimer here – I haven’t made my mind up in terms of which was better. The main thing is that I was fairly happy with both and am proud to be the mother of two happy and healthy children.
How it all started
I woke up in the middle of the night, not paying much attention to the fact that I was having contractions. I was thinking it was just going to be one of those sleepless nights I was having. Going into the kitchen I saw that one of the sheets I had washed the previous day had leaked onto the floor, making a puddle. Being very pregnant I kneeled on all fours and started wiping the floor with apparent devastation considering my condition.
At one point I noticed something was happening with my belly and these sensations were starting to get quite regular. Looking at the clock on the wall, I realised they were quite close to each other (every 6-7 minutes). I woke up my husband and we spend a few minutes sitting on the edge of the bed, trying to decide what to do. I remember saying to him: “Shall we go to the hospital?” and his response was : “I don’t know. You tell me.”.
Since the contractions were not painful, and a bit out of shame not to go to the hospital only to have to return back home because of a false alarm, we decided to wait. My husband went back to bed and I was going to do the same, but first – toilet. I saw there was blood on my pad and thought that was either a sign I was in labour, or something was wrong. Either way we had to go to the hospital so that’s what we did. I took a shower, grabbed my bags and we were off in the middle of the night.
First hours in the hospital
They admitted me with 6cm dilation. We filled in some papers, I changed into a hospital gown and was taken to the delivery room. Since I chose to give birth in a private hospital, the room was super comfy. It had lots of extras like a birthing ball, music, private bathroom, etc. I knew I wanted an epidural and when they asked me, I was like: “Yes, yes, yes!”, even though the contractions were just starting to get more painful. The midwife warned me that if I get the epidural, they will have to give me Oxycontin as well. This was meaant to speed up the delivery, but I was fine with that. I mean, who wants to suffer for hours if it can be avoided.
In the meantime, I had to have an enema, so that I won’t embarrass myself while pushing and to avoid having any extra substances coming out together with the baby. If you haven’t had one done before it can be quite discomforting. However, I was kind of glad they did it. From then on I was not allowed any food until the baby was out – only some tiny sips of water.
When the anesthesiologist came in to give me the epidural, we had quite the laugh. I feel like people from this profession have a genuine sense of humour. It might be something that comes with the job, because, after all, they are there to help patients feel better. So he told me I’ve done well by not putting too much weight. That, he said, was going to make his job much easier.
Little did he know, the reason for that was not trying to maintain a healthy weight. Rather, I was trying to keep the baby’s weight within some normal boundaries. That’s because my doctor had told me the baby was growing way too much which would eventually mean I will have to have a c-section, as he would not be able to come thorough the regular path. That’s when I realized I was eating way too many sweets and pastry, and these are the things I tried to cut out of my menu.
But back to the epidural. The anesthesiologist told me it was super important not to move when he was putting, what I imagined to be, a needle in my back. However, I did flinch. And he was really cross with me, telling me off. Thankfully, the midwife, who was taking care of me, was there as well and she was holding me still, just in case. At some point the pain started to cease off and eventually it was like I wasn’t in labour at all. I think I also fell asleep for a little while. My husband was joking that it seemed pretty easy that birth thing 😊
When the effect of the epidural started to wear off, I was already 9cm dilated. They told me to call the midwife as soon as I start getting urges to push. The contractions were starting to get really painful and really close to each other, but there were no urges. At some point the midwife came in.. She did check-up and said she can see the baby’s head so I had to start pushing. That was the point when I made my husband leave, because I didn’t want him to see the actual thing. I tried squatting by the side of the bed, but ended up delivering the baby lying on my back with my feet up.
I was told I needed to try and get three pushes within one contraction. For some reason, though, I wasn’t sure I was doing it correctly. By the time I was supposed to be pushing regularly there were quite a few people in the room – 2-3 midwifes and the doctor. I knew I was pushing, but they were all encouraging me to push better, which I honestly did not know how to do. At some point I guess the baby was almost out, but I wasn’t able to help him. Then one of the midwifes jumped on the bed with me, grabbed what looked like a belt and put it over the top part of my bump. Then she started pushing my tummy with her hands and that belt. It did not hurt at all and I am super thankful to her for doing that. As it turned out, my son WAS a big baby. In addition, he decided to come out with his hand on his cheek, making his head even bigger.
During the antenatal classes the lady explained that the birth would go like so: you push push push, until the head comes out. Then you’re told to stop so that they can see how the baby will turn his shoulders and they kind of help him. That’s when you need to start pushing again for the body to come out.
Well, I did not realize when the head was out. At some point, he just sped out all purple and looking like some sort of a squid with his hands and feet all wobbly. They immediately asked me if I wanted to hold him and put him on my tummy for a few minutes. That, honestly, was the most overwhelming feeling I’ve ever felt. That living, breathing tiny person made me so incredibly happy that every time I remember I burst into tears of joy. I loved him from the moment I first saw him and no matter what people say I now DO believe in love at first sight. I also remember thinking how much I wanted my husband to have been able to experience that. In any case, only one of us could give birth. And I think it is a nice trade-off for all the difficulties during pregnancy to be able to experience that magical moment.
They took him almost immediately after that to clean and test him (do the APGAR score). I also had to be taken care of, because I had an episiotomy. Another anesthesiologist came in to give me a milder kind of anesthetic, so I won’t feel anything while they stitch me up. The doctor spent quite a bit of time doing this. So if we say the actual birth was 15 minutes, the stitching took twice as much. My husband said he heard the baby cry for the first time and was wondering why no one called him in. To me they said they needed to make me “presentable” for him.
After they were done with me, my husband came in and we got to enjoy some time with our little boy. He was all dressed and wrapped up, and we took turns to hold him. That’s when we really became a family – us two and the little one.
I know that this blog reaches people from different countries all over the world. However, I feel that it is kind of my duty as a mother to recommend the antenatal course I visited before I had our first child, because it is what made me completely relaxed and positive going into labour. It also helped me go through the actual birth – the first and the second one as well, easily and speedily cause both my kids came out in about 15-20 minutes. Here is a link to the website – http://www.ma-mabg.com/ . The lady who does it is amazing. Sadly, I haven’t had a chance to thank her, but I hope that this little gesture will lead other future mums to her and help them as well.
The not-so-pretty part
I like to say that I’ve had two very positive births so far. Regardless, there were a few things I wasn’t too happy about during both. I feel like I need to mention them, so as not to hype up any expectations.
So with my first birth, one thing that made me uneasy, was that I most definitely did not want to have a c-section. However, not just my doctor (the one who followed through my pregnancy), but also the one who was present when I got admitted to the hospital, they both tried to convince me not to have a natural birth. Reason was that they both said the baby was too big for me to deliver naturally (check out my bump here). At the end of the day this did not seem to be such a problem after all. Thankfully, the doctor, who was actually present at the birth did not even mention it.
Also, there’s one thing I found out from my second birth. Hadn’t I had the epidural, I might have been more “present” during the actual pushing phase and would probably have not needed to have assistance. In any case, I am not even sure that it would have been such positive experience if things have happened differently.
If you liked this post and are curious to find out how my first birthing experience was different form the second one, do come back to read about it next week. I will be publishing the story of my second birth in the UK, next Tuesday evening .
Also, if you’d like to share your own story or have questions about my experience, please feel free to comment below.