I had initially planned on writing this sooner than I am as I thought it would be better to do so when it was still fresh. Due to the birth trauma I experienced however, I really didn’t feel ready to delve into it so deeply until now. I do love a good birth story, not something you can truly appreciate reading until you have in fact given birth yourself and I feel that now is the right time to tell mine without the worry of me not remembering it all as I realised when writing this that I don’t think I’ll ever forget a second.
The days grew so long leading up to my due date, constantly fidgeting and clock watching was I, desperate to see the number twenty five on my dice calender which sat taunting me on my bookshelf.
The twenty-fifth of April was my due date, falling on a Thursday and, in my mind, the perfect day to have a baby. I was so convinced that it was the perfect day, of the perfect month and that he was definitely going to be arriving on that day, why wouldn’t he? I simply didn’t like the sound of the twenty third or the twenty fourth and I wasn’t keen on the idea of giving birth on a Saturday or Sunday because, you know, as a heavily pregnant woman with nothing but time on her hands, you can spend a lot of time fussing and thinking over these things down to the last detail. The trouble is, they’re absolutely not things we have any sort of control over.
Most first-time pregnant Mama’s to be will, like me, ignore everyone telling them that baby will simply come when they’re ready because there’s so many myths and things that may or may not help to induce labour. Believe me when I say that feeling like you’re about to burst at any given second, you will try at least a few of them and I tried as many as I possibly could: walking, sex, nipple stimulation, raspberry leaf tea, as much sex my pregnancy pillow would allow, dancing, walking up and down stairs, fire noodles, trying to talk him out and eating so much pineapple I acquired burns on my mouth (I was even eating the core so we’re talking a whole lot of pineapple).
One failed sweep and no signs later, with my due date just days away, I decided to just bounce on my birthing ball constantly and hope for the best.
Twenty fifth of April two thousand and nineteen: the big day. It was finally, finally here. From the second I was told that this was when to expect our bundle of joy, I’d been counting down and now I needn’t add another cross on the calendar. It felt like Christmas as a child when I woke up that morning, I could not contain my excitement any longer and began organising all the hospital bags and the car seat at the front door. I hurried around the house, a spot of tidying here and there, making sure the nursery was perfect and that everything was just so for our little baby K’s much anticipated arrival.
A spot of breakfast with Carl and a nice warm bubble bath later, I did my hair all nice and even painted my nails before making my way down stairs, sitting on the edge of the sofa and waiting.
I literally didn’t feel any different at all. Not a twinge, pain or pull in sight and I was so confused. You spend all this time and it is a lot of time at that, waiting and waiting and nothing happens, it’s such a strange feeling with an undertone of disappointment. Off we went to bed that night and I remember lying awake, hands on bump, unable to drift off incase something changed- it didn’t for another four long days.
Three AM the morning of Tuesday the thirtieth and I was awoken by some pains in my stomach. I knew that it must be the start and, even though they were moderately painful, I was excited all the same. I woke Carl to let him know even though we had already decided I was going to try and wait the pain out as long as possible before going into hospital and, coincidentally, I was booked in for another stretch and sweep later that afternoon anyway.
At my previous sweep, the Midwife informed us that baby’s head was engaged three fifth of the way but I wasn’t dilated at all. Imagine my excitement to to be told this time around that his head was pretty much fully engaged and in the right place plus I was two centimetres dilated (three if she stretched). She also confirmed that I was in slow labour and to return home to wait it out until my contractions were around three to five minutes apart.
Leaving the doctor’s, with a small wait for the bus, we nipped into the Co-op for some ice lollies that I had developed a strong fancy for. All the staff were keen for an update on how far along I was and I was able to tell them that I was actually in labour! Them and the bus driver on the way back who was clearly slightly concerned he’d have to deliver a baby on shift. Carl himself is a bus driver and it had been a long standing joke that I would give birth whilst on a bus and wind up in the newspaper!
Sadly, no bus baby.
We made it home and somehow ended up drifting off for an early evening nap. I was awoken by pains which, for some reason, led to me leaving Carl sleeping and going downstairs to make a huge portion of rice, peas chicken and chips that I hardly even touched. The pains were definitely becoming worse and more intense, seeing to it that I spent the majority of the remainder of that night wide awake, pacing around and in and out of the bath.
Carl made sausage sandwiches that morning, he’s always laughs at the way I associate food with memories. Another few uncomfortable dips in the bath and it was dawning on me that I could no longer wait out the pains that were now around three minutes apart exactly.
It was time and I was terrified.
Carl’s Mam arrived moments after calling her to let her know and so, dumping half of the hospital bags into the back of her car in case we were turned around and sent back home, we headed to Durham for around ten AM. I remember calling the delivery department on route and having to literally convince them that I was, in fact, indisputably in labour even though the lady on the phone sounded so sceptical that I was beginning to second guess it.
After a very bumpy, scenic journey that seemed to last a lifetime, we arrived at Dryburn University Hospital of North Durham Durham which, unbeknownst to me at the time, was to be my home for the next four days.
Yet another inspection of my bump and my vagina later and it was again confirmed that I was in labour, now five centimetres dilated, enough to be admitted.
When we were shown to our room consisting of what you would expect: a bed, table and chairs, cupboards, bathroom with a toilet, sink, shower and bath and, of course, the little cot on wheels for baby when they arrive, I was skeptical to relax or make myself at home with the notion that we were getting moved into the pool room once it was cleaned as we were next in line to use it. I was elated as I’d had my heart absolutely set on a water birth long before this pregnancy was even dreamed of and although I was told it was an improbable occurrence, the odds of it happening were now looking pretty good, or so I thought.
If there’s one thing you should know about me and Carl if you’re to be a regular here on my blog, it’s that from the get go we have been renowned for attracting bad luck together. Be it minuscule things such as forgetting our bank cards when going out or seeing one magpie every time we had something planned and it usually going wrong to larger things such as putting down a two hundred pound deposit on a house just to get double-crossed by our previous rogue Landlord or walking to the car after a long shift just to see that it has been wrongfully clamped. It is, believe it or not, something that brought us closer together.
As you can imagine, it didn’t then come as much of a suprise when only minutes after sitting down in the room, my contractions pretty much stopped, spacing out to around two every half hour. You really couldn’t make it up!
It was such a dramatic change of pace that I was starting to think my labour had somehow halted all together and that I would be sent home, which of course at five centimetres dilated was pretty unlikely. A few hours of pacing, stepping in and out of the bath and, you guessed it, more bouncing on the birthing ball and the Midwife came in to inform us that I could no longer have my water birth. My heart literally sank. It wasn’t just the assumption that doing everything in warm water would be more pleasant that had me set on one, it was also because I am petrified of hospitals, needles and all the likes.
My waters were broken with what I can only describe as giant knitting needles and I soon realised that my dignity had long since passed me by as I sat on an inflatable ball covered in doggy pads to mop up any leakage. The contractions did pick up and were uncomfortable but nothing unbearable. I did have the gas and air hooked up but it wasn’t until later that I learned the correct way to use it. We were informed that the Doctor wanted me to go straight onto the hormone drip to get things started but the Midwife had persuaded him to give me a few more hours.
Those hours came and went a lot quicker than I would have liked and before I knew it I was tethered to the bed at six PM, drip in my hand and heart monitors over my bump. The second the hormones began entering my veins is the moment that really kicked things into gear and I was instantly in absolute agony. Every time I got a contraction, Carl took pleasure in telling me how strong it was in accordance to the monitor and in those moments you can probably imagine how much I wished it was him strapped to that bed.
Roughly ten minutes of increasingly intense contractions now all in my back went by and what followed is kind of a blur caused by my losing and regaining consciousness but I will tell it how it is embedded in my memory.
One of the earlier recollections I have is of the change over taking place and being introduced to our new Midwife who instantly came to check things over and do an internal examination which confirmed that baby was back to back (explaining a lot). I will never be able to describe the magnitude of pain nor do I believe that the words exist to do it justice. The drip coupled with baby’s positioning were equal contributors to the most agonising experience of my entire life. Every time a contraction came I was pushing back and down into the bed,my bodies’ attempt to try and achieve some moderate relief but this, in turn, was causing baby’s heart rate to drop and I was told so each time but ended up repeating the movement despite my efforts to stay put and upright.
A little while later the midwife came in and told Carl I would be given until one AM to make progress otherwise there was a chance I may require an emergency C-section because of baby’s heart. I missed that and only head the one AM part, looking at the clock which was from then on seemingly stuck on eight o’clock. I remember thinking out loud that I simply couldn’t do it, there was no way which received laughs from Carl and the Midwife who merely stated the obvious: it was too late. There was no turning back and I was beginning to lose my sanity.
It’s difficult to describe how claustrophobic child birth can feel in that sense. All you want in the entire world is for your baby to arrive safe and sound yet you don’t think you have it in you to cross the hurdles.
I’d envisioned my labour so many times with great attention to detail and this was a far cry from what I had prepared for, the obvious being my bikini top left dry in my suitcase from the lack of the birthing pool. I thought it would be like you see on TV with regards to me and Carl. Scenes of hand holding and eye-contact, really coming together and being in the moment, using that love to channel baby out but I was so consumed by the pain that I didn’t give Carl so much of a glance as the time went on although I know he was fantastic and could hear his encouragement even if I paid it little note at the time.
I had also made two promises to myself:
1.) I would only accept pain relief in the form of gas and air regardless how much it hurt
2.) I would absolutely not, under any circumstances, be one of those women who wail
The first I kept, much to both mine and Carl’s astonishment given how I was screaming for an epidural each time a contraction came but when they went and I was somewhat in my right mind I would refuse the offer and I am proud of myself for doing so as I wanted everything to be as natural as possible.
The second, I regret to admit, I most definitely did not keep. I recall very clearly the moment that I came back round from one of my many passings out wondering what in the world the cow-like sound was and I quickly realised it was me, all me. Once I started making sounds they only got longer, louder and more dramatic. I was wailing to say the least, haunted to this day by the echoes of the inhuman sounds I had never before made. Throughout the cries I was only able to string together three sentences, one being ‘I have a pain in my noonie’, the next that ‘my tailbone hurts’ and the third and final one which I am told I repeated the most was ‘I need to poop’ emphasis on the word poop because I really did feel the urge through the excruciating pain.
I was struggling and sweating, completely surpassing the threshold I thought I could cope with as the midwife told me I wasn’t to panic but there would shortly be a lot of Doctors running into our room.
I blacked out.
This time when I came back around there was nothing. No contractions, no pains, nothing. It was as if my body had shut off completely.
My eyes opened to the sound of a man’s voice. “Everything is okay, you’re okay”.
No mention of my baby.
A completely contrasting atmosphere to that only moments ago.
There were no raised voices, no panicked words, no beeping but most importantly no crying.
Something caught my eye and I glanced up to see three large medical tables affront my bed with various silver tools amongst other things but something stood out to me. A carky green garden waste kind of bag wrapped up on the right hand side.
I felt whatever colour remaining in my skin, if any, drain and I went completely and utterly numb. I started to shake uncontrollably as bile made it’s way up my throat, my head spinning.
A sudden urge to poop again snapped me out of my trance.
I honestly thought I’d lost him. My sweet boy, my baby who I carried, spoke to and doted on for so so many months. The love of my life I’d waited for what felt like a lifetime to meet. I still feel sick thinking back to how I felt when I saw that bag. As it happens, I had actually been taken off the drip which had made my contractions stop completely or reduce in pain to the extent that I couldn’t feel them, the bag was just first aid supplies and I was ready to push.
Going from what I can only describe as the most devastating, gut wrenching feeling ever to adrenaline pumped excitement in the blink of an eye would have, under normal circumstances, most likely needed some adjusting to but all I knew was I needed to snap into action and help my baby boy depart.
I was exhausted. It still amazes me just how much I pushed my body to the absolute limits with thoughts of my baby more than enough to motivate me.
I pushed with all my might and more each time I got the urge, every push stealing energy I didn’t even have left to take.
In the end I lacked just that tiny bit extra to do it without help and the Doctor had to intervene, cutting me and using the ventouse suction as I pushed.
I don’t know whether it was the adrenaline or the excitement to meet my boy but there was something about the pushing part that I actually really enjoyed. I would take hours of that over the drip and contractions any day.
Hearing the Midwife shout happily that she could see the head and that head had a lot of hair was all it took for me to muster up all I had left and push one last time.
That last push, the last second before my life as I knew it changed forever.
A hand pulled up my nightie and I felt a blanket of warmth across my chest.
My baby boy entered the world and our skin met for the first time as he found his way to my nipple and latched on.
Kaiber WIlliam McNally was finally here.
An infinite moment.
A moment that saw the shift in me as a person, as a woman, as a Mother.
I felt strong, fierce, protective.
Relieved. Elated. Overwhelmed.
Most of all I felt love, a love like nothing I had ever felt before or maybe ever will again.
Stroking those wrinkly, tiny little fingers.
Taking in every inch of what we had made, this being that is half me, half the man I love.
I knew in that moment that my purpose in life was now him.
Everything that happened after; the blood and the stitches, none of it mattered now that I had him in my arms.
He was everything I’d hoped for and more, only then did I learn the true meaning of perfection. I kept wondering how we had created something so beautiful and I’ve wondered so every day since.
I would do it one million times over for my little Kaiber who has never given me my breath back since the day he arrived and took it from me.
What an absolute gift.