This is the second of a series of two posts about the birth of my two amazing children. These are no unusual stories, or ones of great achievement and bravery. Nonetheless, they are both very dear to me and tell two sides of one the same story – giving birth. I have been lucky enough to be able to look back with a smile and peace to these memories. However, because I had such a different experience with the two, as they happened in different countries, I thought it would be interesting for others to read about and possibly compare with their own. You can read about my first birth, the one that happened in Bulgaria, here. As for the second one, you can find out more below…
How it all started
With this pregnancy I was having false contractions all throughout the last 3 months. However, that’s all they were – false. The day before our daughter was born, they were starting to become kind of painful and I had quite a few as the evening approached.
We went out for dinner with some friends. These were the people I counted on to drive me to the hospital if things started to develop while my husband was away for work. I remember jokingly saying that I might be giving them a call the next day. Funnily, I guess our girl took it as a hint it was time to come out. While with my first kid I wanted him to come out earlier than his due date, with my daughter I never felt completely ready. Despite that, she seemed to had waited long enough and it was time for her to arrive into this world.
In the morning on the next day, I was having even more contractions. They were quite far apart and were not coming regularly. Still, I warned my husband that he may need to come back from work early – just in case.
I was going about my day as normal, trying not to pay attention to the contractions. It was a Monday so our son was not at nursery that day. On these days we usually go out in the morning. That day, however, for some reason we did not manage to go to any of the playgrounds and I think that was good. My mother-in-law was already with us ( we had planned for her to arrive a few days before my due date and help with our son if I was alone with him when it all started).
At one point I noticed that I lost my mucous plug. Unlike with my first birth though, it had a rusty colour. Not going to lie – this got me a bit worried. I called the triage line to let them know I was starting to go into labour. After we discussed it with the midwife, she reassured me that everything seemed okay. Then she told me they did not need me to go to the hospital just yet, but she was expecting to see me later that day.
I continued doing what we had planned for the day. At noon we had lunch and then put my son to bed for his afternoon nap. In the meantime, we had to prepare dinner. I was already starting to feel like I would not be able to finish with the cooking. The contractions were now every 10 minutes. And just like that all of a sudden they started coming every 2-3 minutes – my nightmare was coming to life. Almost throughout my entire pregnancy I’ve been worried that I would not have enough time to get to the hospital and would have to give birth at home. So I called the triage once again. This time, even though they did not think it was already time, they agreed that I should go and get checked. Reason was mainly because I had not felt the baby move all day.
I called my husband to make his way to the hospital and then our friends to come and drive me there. Then had a quick shower and we were on our way.
As per usual, the parking situation at the hospital in the middle of the day was horrendous. I had to leave my friend circling around, while I sped to the maternity unit.
First hours in the hospital
For anyone who is not familiar with the birthing situation in the UK – I was given a choice of 3 options in terms of where to give birth. First one was at home, which I completely disregarded the minute I heard it. Second one was a midwifery-led unit, where you get taken care of by midwives, no doctors, therefore no epidural. However, the overall atmosphere there is more relaxed with all kids of extras like a bathtub, birthing ball, etc. Third option is the delivery suite, where the doctors are. That is also where they usually send the more complicated births as well as c-sections. For a number of reasons I chose the second option. I was still reassured that if something was to go wrong they will quickly send me to the doctors, who were a few floors down.
Once I was there I was taken to a room to get checked-up. We also had a listen to the baby’s heart to make sure she was okay. I remember the midwife telling me that I did not looked like I was in labour. Well, 4 hours later I saw my baby girl for the first time, so I guess I was. Meanwhile, my husband turned up looking excited. He had to go back home, though, to our son, because I was worried how he was going to react waking up to find out I was gone.
I got moved to the delivery room – a very nice and cozy one, with all the extras listed above. Changed into the night gown I had prepared for the situation and was invited to choose where I wanted to sit/lie down. We discussed with the midwife my options for “pain relief”. On that floor they were gas and air and some injection, which I was told would take away the pain from the peak of the contractions.
I started with the gas, which made me fairly dizzy. You are supposed to breathe it in from the moment you feel a contraction starting right to the very end. The only difference I thought it made was to make the end of the contractions extremely pleasant. To be completely fair, maybe the gas did work. At one point I had to go to the toilet, where I had two bare contractions and I really felt the pain. I also got the injection, because the pain was starting to get really bad.
After a while I moved onto the bed, where I lied down on my side. Although they told me I may need to change position at some point, I actually gave birth this way.
Very quickly the contractions started to pick up and it felt like as soon as one ended another one started. I did have a few minutes to chat with the midwife, who was taking care of me. It turned out that she was only 21, but I felt so confident with her that I did not question her judgement for even a second. One thing she told me got stuck in my mind. Whenever I was starting to lose it, because of the pain, she would tell me not to panic. I know it seems so simple, but it kind of worked for me. She was so calm and made me realize (as much as my brain was with me) that it was really panic I was feeling. It was the pain that made me question my ability to go through this.
Not much time had passed when I felt the urge to push for the first time ever. This was something I never felt with my first one. I could not stop myself, even though I thought it was too soon. In the end, gave in to that urge and that’s when my waters broke. TMI! A few contractions later the head was starting to come out and I felt it go out and come back in again, which really made me panic. I remembered asking why she’s going back in, but they said it was normal. At one point I got a bit irritated at that back and forth motion. That’s when pushed as hard as I could and the head was out.
While I was pushing they put a warm towel on my perineum to prevent any severe tears and that helped so much. The next urge I knew I could push harder. When I felt she was almost out I just did not stop when I felt like I needed a break, because I knew she needed just a little bit more. I felt it so vividly when she came out. This time I really felt it and it was like I was completely present and in control.
They gave her to me the minute she was out. We had so much more time together. A lot more than I had with my son. Unfortunately, because she was not crying much (she’s making up for it now) they took her aside and gave her a bit of oxygen. It took a few minutes for her to get in shape, but I knew she’d be okay because she was strong. When she cried like she really meant it, they gave her back to me and we stayed lying there – skin on skin, for a few good hours. I even got to feed her for the first time.
Meanwhile, I was asked how I wanted to deliver the placenta ?! I ended up getting an injection that helped it go out. An interesting detail they told me was that the umbilical cord had a knot in it. What was she doing in there? I had some minor tears so the midwife stitched me up. I don’t remember if I got any pain relief for that, but it did not hurt at all.
They also called my husband on the phone to tell him he had a beautiful baby girl. He arrived at the hospital about an hour later and got to meet Her for the first time. They even encouraged him to put her on his chest and they had some skin-on- skin contact for a good half an hour. I got to get a shower, before we were both taken to the post-partum ward and freshen up a bit. My husband had to leave for the night. However, I was discharged the next day so we quickly came into the reality of being a family of four, which we love and enjoy immensely .
Two things to add
Epidural. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to go through without it but was determined to give it a try. The midwife did not try to convince me of either. Still, statistics show that if the patient has had an epidural, more often they needed to use “help” ( vacuum, forceps) to get the baby out. This information is what took me back to my son’s birth. I’m now wondering if that wasn’t the reason why he needed assistance. Also this time I really “felt” everything so I kind of knew what I was doing and didn’t even need anyone telling me to push.
Another very pleasant thing was that almost at every step of the birth I was asked what I wanted. I was told it was entirely up to me to decide how I want things to go about. I did not always knew the answers but it was nice to be asked and they did help when I wasn’t sure. Everything was explained in detail and I always knew what my options were. And so it felt more like I was in control of the situation and that gave me a bit more strength to go through.
One thing that really surprised me was that we needed to bring absolutely everything for the baby from the very start. We had forgotten the diapers at home and my husband had to rush to the hospital shop to buy some, as they didn’t have even one to “lend” us. Clothes we had, even though they encouraged us to hold her mostly skin-on-skin.
Another thing, which is not entirely about the birth, was that the babies stayed with their mothers by the side of the bed at all times. That meant that I had no one to leave her with when I needed to go to the bathroom. I found my own solution to that problem though. 🙂
So this is what birth number two was like – a birth in the UK. It was a lot newer to me, because I had no one to prepare me for it with stories. I did look online for some, but found very few – mostly for home birth, so I hope my story will find its place online and will help any future mums prepare.
If you’d like to share your own experience, or have any questions regarding mine, please feel free to comment below.