my birth story

:: by Lizzie

It was Monday 5th March 2018 and mum and I were off out for a particularly special ‘girls day’ in the West End. Our plans were Nopi for breakfast followed by a pedicure for me and manicure for mum at DryBy. We’d then mooch around the shops and make our way to The Dorchester for, in my opinion, the best afternoon tea in London.

 

I was pretty much 8 months pregnant and was starting to feel a little limited mobility-wise. Dan and I had spent the previous day at our friends Sam and Katie’s. Katie had very recently given birth to their third little girl, Daisy. Of course, they totally had everything under control and were focussing on looking after us while seamlessly tending to their three beautiful girls. Normally we’d hope to be making a fuss of our ‘new parent’ friends by helping with food or at least washing up but Sam and Katie are now dab-hands and were hosting and parenting the shit out of life. I had been experiencing quite a lot of pain in my back that day and had done for the few days previous too, so ended up asleep on their sofa (a spot and habit usually reserved for Daniel).

 

But back to the next day in the West End with mum. After a yummy breakfast at Nopi (side note – in my experience, brunches and breakfasts when you’re 8 months pregnant can be slightly frustrating as you can’t eat as much as you’d like, due to the tiny person taking up all of the spare room in your tum) my back was getting worse. It was a low thudding pain at the base of my spine which was moving into the middle of my back. But that wasn’t going to stop me from getting my luxurious pedicure. So off to DryBy we went for our treatments and more mother daughter catch up time. It was lovely. I’d highly recommend DryBy for a special mani or pedi treatment. I had a shellac pedicure which is, as well as being a real treat, very practical in the winter I find as you can pop your shoes straight back on. No flip flops in sight. The only problem was, that lifting my legs and feet up, even from a soft and squidy armchair, had done no favours to my back. Upon leaving I was in even more pain than earlier and started to worry about how we were going to make our visit to The Dorchester for afternoon tea work. (Side note – afternoon tea at The Dorchester with my mum is my absolute favourite treat of all time, so you can imagine how much pain I was in by this point to be considering abandoning our plan).

 

As we were so close to my hospital I thought I’d better just pop in and get checked out. We might even still make it to The Dorchester I thought. We did not. We waited and waited and I became more and more uncomfortable (uncomfortable being a huge understatement). I ended up doubled over in ‘discomfort’, experiencing waves of extreme pain. I was aware that I looked like someone in the early stages of labour and become increasingly frustrated that the nurses and doctors didn’t seem particularly interested in tending to me. We watched as pregnant lady after pregnant lady went off to their check ups (many giving the ‘shouldn’t you see her before me’ eyes). I waited and waited. At this point I decided that we needed to call Daniel and get him to leave work and come to join us. I waited for a moment that the pain wasn’t so bad and texted him to come asap.

 

Once I was eventually seen and was able to describe the extreme pain in my back, I was simply asked to lie on my back for a speculum (a vaginal exam). I explained that I would find lying on my back absolute agony and asked if they couldn’t focus on finding out what was causing me such pain in my back instead. My first priority was for them to check that the baby was okay (they’d normally do this with a scan not a speculum) but this was clearly a back/kidney problem not a foof problem and it was very frustrating that after a long time in the waiting room and with now very intense pain, that they were not listening to what I was saying to them and just wanted to look at my fanny! I was told I’d have to wait longer to see a doctor about my back and we were essentially back to square one. I learnt the hard way that being a pregnant person with anything wrong with you that wasn’t seemingly baby related sucked. They had no idea what to do with me.

 

The evening was drawing in, Danny arrived and I found myself in a wheelchair being taken up to a ward and given a bed. I was to be given a course of antibiotics that would be safe for a pregnant woman but that needed to be administered in a hospital. We’ll manage your pain they told me. Still no suggestion of what was wrong. They had by this point at least checked that the baby was okay which was a relief but still no review of what was causing my pain or happening in my body. All they could think of to do (or maybe were qualified to do) was a speculum. Many of you will think it odd that I refused this I’m sure. However, I had had to have one earlier in my pregnancy and it had caused me a huge amount of pain (side note – I’m told I do actually have a very high pain threshold) so 1. I wasn’t up for undergoing a procedure I’d find very unplesant and painful, knowing the baby was well and 2. I was pretty pissed off that they had no idea what to do other than look at my vagina and were making no efforts at all to examine any other part of me or listen properly to my symptoms. All that was offered was pain relief and I was put on oramorph (sort of like liquid morphine) and expected to hanker down for the night. Danny in the armchair beside me. Mum went home to get some sleep and was back the next day.

 

I had another full 24 hours after waking up that morning of pain killers but no specialists. I was seen by two junior doctors in that following day I think (I was pretty out of it and had my eyes closed the whole time so it’s a little hazy). Danny was having to almost carry me to the loo any time I needed to go. Otherwise I slept or just lay there and tried to get through the waves of extreme pain. It felt like a never ending cycle of broken sleep, pain, queasiness, more pain. They kept saying that what they could do for now was manage my pain. Whatever they were doing, it wasn’t working. I was hooked up to a machine that monitored the waves of pain to be sure I wasn’t in labour. I was not. It was decided that it was kidney related and I was told I would see a specialist. I never did. By this point I was experiencing a new symptom, the waves of pain were now in my bottom! TMI I know but I’m afraid birth stories are a bit like that. I had a cannula fitted in my left hand by a nurse who admitted to being not very good at them when I had explained that the thought of it made me queasy so I’d close my eyes and please could she do it as quickly as possible. She failed to do so and kept making new holes in my hand and saying things like ‘oh, can’t get the vain, oh, lots of blood’ and other such things that certainly did made me feel very queasy. It was actually so bad that it was sort of funny by this point. My mum ended up pressing to get someone else to come and help who fitted it in an instant thankfully.

 

It was almost like the horror/humour of this helped me find a bit of strength to come out of the drug and pain induced haze and pull myself up to my full strength. I managed to talk to Dan and mum about trying to find a way forward. I had not had the strength to talk much at all since being admitted and it must have been pretty scary and to be honest a bit annoying for Daniel and mum that I hadn’t really been able to communicate with them much. I’m pleased they had each other. But somehow at this point I did find the strength to say that enough was enough and that we needed to insist on seeing someone to talk about a plan. Were they expecting to keep me on these meds for a month until the baby came? Were they expecting me to have a C section? There was no way I could give birth in this condition. I asked mum to try to get hold of the female junior doctor who had seen me briefly earlier that day. Or was it the day before? The hours and days for me all blurred into one. I had remembered liking her though. I had felt that in her voice (I hadn’t seen her face as my eyes had been closed) that she seemed more sensible and able and had tried to hear what I was attempting to communicate more so than anyone else. She was essentially the only one who wasn’t doing this treating a pregnant person by numbers thing that the rest of the hospital felt limited to. I was not getting proper or helpful care and she had acknowledged that.

 

When she was at last found hours later I explained my concerns and she agreed that the suggested ‘manage my pain’ line wasn’t working and had no tangible outcome. She said she would push harder for me to see a kidney specialist, explained that she was not one but that her guess was that the baby was pushing down on and kicking my kidneys which was inflaming them to the point that I was experiencing something akin to kidney stones. I talked to her about the ‘bum pain’ and she explained that the oramorph was likely to have made me very constipated and she suggested my attempting to take less so I could try to be up and about to get the baby to move off of my kidneys. The catch twenty two was that without the pain medication I could barely move so couldn’t walk around to get him moving but with it I was groggy and confused and again, not able to move around to get him off of my kidneys. It was going to be unpleasant and it might not even work but at least we had a plan. I would stop taking the pain medication and try my absolute hardest to be up and out of my bed and walking with Danny’s support through the pain whenever they would let me be disconnected from the monitor that was checking that I wasn’t in labour. She gave me a suppository to help with the constipation.

 

A bit more TMI I’m afraid but after a while of the suppository doing its job I decided I’d try to go to the loo. Danny helped me up and to the disabled loo, through the door and literally held me on the loo. I started experiencing much more extreme and severe waves of pain and ended up shouting out in agony. It was the worst pain I’d experienced. I hadn’t had any oramorph for some time and was feeling the full effects of my symptoms. I sent Danny to tell mum I was okay and not to worry and that I just needed to focus on going to the loo. While Danny was gone a gush of liquid left my body, landing in the loo. I knew deep down at this point that my waters had broken but said nothing of it on his return. I was still super weak, out of it and confused which is my excuse for not alerting him to this information but I also knew that after 24 hrs of a woman’s waters breaking she would now be induced which I wanted to avoid at all costs. I was in a hospital, I knew I was safe and I knew what I wanted – to be left alone by everyone (but Danny) to do a poo! After what I’m now told was 2 hours of wailing on the loo and no poo to speak of I returned to my bed.

 

Nurses arrived keen again to do a speculum and I again refused. I was twisting in pain and practically kicked away any staff who came close bandying that word around. I needed more time. More time to try to get rid of this feeling of the most enormous poo pushing down on my lower back and bowls. My mum stepped in when the nagging nurses continued pressing me. “Look, she’s not saying never, she’s saying not now. You have her hooked up to the monitor, you say the baby is fine. Give her a moment. She’ll let you know when she’s ready”. My mum is a super hero and a double hard bastard. She read my mind, made my case and got me that extra bit of time that I needed to prepare myself. They continued to check on me at regular intervals and soon announced that they thought I was in labour and better go downstairs into the labour ward. I didn’t want to be moved but as soon as there was any mention of the baby being in any discomfort I of course agreed. And we were off! My bed being wheeled through the corridors, down in the lift and into the delivery room.

 

The team of midwives, doctors and nurses that looked after me in this room were awesome! Such a far cry from the care I’d had in the same hospital up until this point. They finally knew what to do with me. The baby was on the way and it was time to get cracking. I did of course at this point allow a speculum and was told I was at ten centimetres. The baby had been making his way down the birth canal over that last couple  of hours it had seemed and was back to back which was causing the huge pressure on my rectum! But once he was in position for me to push, all of the back and bottom pain disappeared. He was off of my kidneys! The pain medication had completely worn off by this point. It was over 12 hours since I’d taken anything but I was no longer in pain. It was time to push. And I pushed! Having had over two days in agony, weak and unable to speak let alone walk, I was able to push. I don’t know where the energy came from. Hormones are amazing and God is good. My mum prayed for me, as she had been my whole stay in hospital, but now with a new intensity. The baby was coming! I held on to Danny, listening to an mp3 from our Hypnobirthing coach on repeat and holding his hands so very tight. The midwives guided and cheerleaded for me and I pushed. In the gaps I smiled. I did not experience pain. Just a powerful strength and the excitement of knowing I would soon meet my little boy.

 

Because he was back-to-back, had his hand up by his face and due to the fact that they were a little worried about both of us after my already longish hospital stay and the fact that he was a month premature, they gave me a episiotomy (I did have an injection of anaesthetic for that) and used forceps to get him out that last little bit. He was plonked on my chest, funnily shaped peanut head and all and I held our son. It wasn’t long before he was whisked away into special care because of being a whole month early. I was sewn up (which takes longer than you might think) and eventually we were taken to a new ward and given a bed. After a while we were able to visit our new baby in his special care unit, glowing blue from his billy blanket (he was jaundiced) and with a little tube up his nose (he had to be fed with formula straight into his tummy) and his own cannula in his tiny hand. We took it in turns to hold him. It was wonderful.

 

blue glow

 

blue hat

 

I actually fainted later that night on the ward. From exhaustion I guess. I hadn’t eaten anything since arriving in hospital days earlier. It was sad not to have him with us when we went to bed but we knew it was the right thing for him and I was able to sleep for several hours in a row. We still had 6 more days in hospital before us, although we didn’t know it at the time. We had breast feeding to learn, he had jaundice to overcome and there was much more to happen for us as a family on that hospital ward, but those stories are for different blog posts. He had arrived. We were parents. And it was the beginning of our new and even more love-filled life as a family.

 

 

me and stan  stanny_square_2