I am sitting here in a little bit of disbelief that eight days have already passed by since our little Florence made her entrance in to the world. In the same breath, it really does feel like she’s been a part of our family forever. She’s slotted into our life so effortlessly and I really cannot imagine being without her now.
This time last week, I was 40+2 weeks pregnant and operation ‘Get this baby out’ was well underway. I was determined that our daughter would be a May baby. Sean and I had been for a 5k walk every day for almost a week, I was bouncing on that birthing ball like a crazy person at every moment possible and curry was on the menu. None of my shoes fit, getting comfortable was impossible and both Sean & I just couldn’t wait to meet our little girl. We’d even half agreed on a name!
I had my 40 week midwife appointment at which I was expecting to have a stretch & sweep as recommended by the midwife the week before. Imagine my annoyance when I got there and she almost refused to do it!
Another day, another 5k walk around the Lakes. I am 40 weeks and 2 days pregnant today and after another confusing midwife appointment I’m feeling a bit deflated. Last week my midwife said I would be able to have a stretch & sweep today to see if we could get things moving. Today as she went to send me on my way after the normal BP & HR checks I asked about the sweep and she said she’s not supposed to do it until 41 weeks but would do it with my consent. I was a bit taken aback but had been so worked up to have one that I just agreed and said yes. Now I’m wondering if I should have asked more questions. Did you have a sweep at 40 weeks? How did it go? – Posted on Instagram 30/05/2017
Once home, I contacted the lovely ladies at My Expert Midwife who were so reassuring. Lesley completely put my mind at ease and informed me that it is common practice for the procedure to be carried out from 40 weeks. And so, I spent the evening on my birthing ball and writing a huge blogging to do list to keep my mind busy. By 10.30 I’d given up hope of labour starting that evening and headed off up to bed.
I finally nodded off around 11.15pm but awoke when Sean turned over to give me a cuddle and I felt an excruciating pain from my belly button, around my back and down through my bum. I immediately got up and felt my waters brake.
I phoned the maternity ward and they asked me to go straight in. Contractions were coming thick and fast – roughly every 3 minutes and lasting between 60 – 90 seconds so we were convinced everything was going to happen quite quickly. We jumped in the car, dropped the dog at my Mums and made our way to Pembury Hospital. Of course, the main route to the hospital from our house had a road block! They were resurfacing the road! Sean jumped out of the car and asked the workmen to see if they could clear the way so we didn’t have to make the 30 minute detour and thank goodness they did – we were escorted at 5mph by a tarmac truck until it was clear! Longest couple of miles of my life.
We arrived at the hospital at around 12.40am and once we’d finally found a door that was open after walking the length of the perimeter a couple of times, we were greeted by the maternity triage team. Once they had checked my waters – they were a pinky colour – I was examined and much to my dismay was only 2cm dilated. We were sent home to have a bath & come back when contractions got closer together. They didn’t seem to believe they were already coming every couple of minutes and while we asked for clarification on what to look for we left feeling a little confused. They’d given me some paracetamol & codeine for the pain before we left which didn’t stay in very long at all. Five minutes into our journey home we had to pull over so I could be sick – vomiting mid contraction, hanging out the car at the side of the road possibly wasn’t one of my most attractive moments! Poor Sean just held onto my hand with one hand and frantically searched the hospital bag for a tissue with the other.
It took us 40 minutes to get home & the contractions were still coming at the same 2-3 minute intervals but seemed to up it a notch on the pain scale. I got straight in the bath where I counted up and down from ten through each one with Sean until I could bare it no more and asked him to call my Mum and ask her to come over. She’d either tell me to man up or help us decide whether we should head back to the hospital. And back to the hospital we went – Mum in tow.
Again we were directed to maternity triage and I was examined once more. I couldn’t believe it, three hours had passed and I was still only 2cm dilated! As I begged the midwife not to make me go back home again, she offered me three choices – go home, go for a walk or take some pethidine to ease the pain and see how we got on. Home was definitely not an option, and it’d taken me an age to get from the car to the ward so a walk wasn’t really something I fancied either so I asked for more information on the pethidine and once it was explained that it wouldn’t harm the baby we opted for that.
I don’t really remember much of the four hours that followed, the pethidine knocked me out between contractions which tended to only wake me at the peak of the pain. My mum & Sean took it in turns to be designated hand holder, I think I even bit Sean a couple of times. I just remember being so very hot and sticky & I was losing more & more water with each contraction. At 9am, the midwife came in to assess me and I am sure she was convinced I’d been making it all up as she was quite surprised to find I was now 4cm dilated. Time to get ready to go to the delivery suite. I got up and went to the toilet and Sean & my Mum packed up the few things we’d used from my labour bag ready to go. As we waited while they prepared the pool (Yep! I got my water birth…ish!) , in walked a familiar face – my delivery midwife would be Caroline – one of the first midwives I saw when I fell pregnant – a really lovely, friendly lady who I’d wished had remained in charge of my care all the way along. I was SO pleased to see her!
Once in the warmth of the pool I began to relax a little again, and with the help of gas and air and a whole lot of squeezing Sean’s hand I managed the contractions pretty well. By 1pm I was 9 centimetres dilated. Soon the pushing began. Oh My God. If I thought contractions were painful, they were totally wiped out by the pushing! I made noises I didn’t even know were possible and while the gas & air took me to a very happy & away with the fairies place in between and made the contractions a bit more bearable I’m not sure anything could have made much difference to the pain of the pushing. I just remember thinking ‘Thank God I’m in the water, this would be hell if I had to lay flat or put pressure on my bum / back.” Florence’s head crowned at around 2.24pm and at this point the temperature of the pool went up and the combination of the heat, the exhaustion and the drugs I was beginning to really struggle. Sean & Mum took it in turns to hold cold, wet towels to my head to keep me cool, offer their hands for squeezing and make sure I was drinking enough. Bless them, I couldn’t have done it without either of them.
After another hour of pushing it became clear that nothing much was really happening despite Caroline’s encouragement and persistence in telling me how well I was doing. She could see that baby had a lot of hair but Baby just could not get through and I was increasingly aware that time was ticking away and I was starting to flag. My Mum got me to change position and tried getting me to stay a bit more upright but after another half an hour had passed and the changeover from Caroline to a new midwife, Charlotte, it was clear there was going to need to be a change in tactics too.
A bed was bought in and after a bit of persuading I got out of the pool and onto it. Despite being completely naked I was still soooo hot and the plastic covered mattress under the bed sheets was making me sweat. I was up on my knees, leaning over the back of the bed and pushing as hard as I could when I begged for someone to please just help me, I couldn’t do it any more. They had trouble finding her heartbeat and I was beginning to panic – she was just in an awkward position but it scared the life out of me. I laugh at it now, but I was getting so annoyed with them as to why they wouldn’t just reach up and pull her out already! Couldn’t they see I was rubbish at this?! Within about 10 minutes, I’d been turned over, was laying on my back with my legs in stirrups and had an audience of 6 medical staff, my Mum & Sean all looking back at me, umming and aaahing and watching me push – now with no pain relief at all. Whatever happened then obviously made them all quite happy and the episiotomy they’d planned to give was called off. Another midwife had joined us and she seemed very old school and to the point and pretty much told me what was what. There was no way she was going to let me take much more time at all.
At 4.51pm Florence’s head was delivered and by 4.57pm she was here. Her little cry filled the room and she was placed on my chest for a cuddle. On her way out, between her head coming and the rest of her, she’d done her meconium poo in my tummy and combined with the rest of the amniotic fluid it went EVERYWHERE! All over her, all over the midwife, all over me and all over the bed & floor. We were all covered in sticky poopy liquid, but I honestly didn’t care, it was over and I’d managed somehow to bring our little girl into the world safe and sound after all this time. The feeling of relief was unreal and swiftly followed by complete shock once I’d delivered the placenta. I couldn’t move or do anything but just lay there, holding my baby girl close to my chest for what must have been about an hour. Somewhere in that time I was examined and by some miracle didn’t need any stitches and Florence was weighed and checked, but honestly that first hour is all a bit of a blur.
She was here though, and was the best thing I’d ever seen. She was mine, ours, and not one ounce of the pain, one second of the labour mattered any more. We were already totally and utterly in love. Welcome to the world Florence Ivy.
Florence’s first few hours with us: