Tuesday, 24th May marked Roman (middle names removed) Quinn turning four months old. I can't quite believe how fast our family has grown into this wonderful little unit that we have become. I absolutely love and cherish my role as a mother - I am so proud and I think I might burst!
I will keep saying this: my birth was amazing. I'm not sure I will ever find the words or description to explain just how amazing it was. From start to finish it went beyond anything I could have ever hoped for. I say that because we're met with a lot of negatives about labour and birth - a twofold event in my view.
It was a scary start because I wasn't sure of my journey ahead, but I remember feeling very woozy and crampy. I couldn't eat and only managed half a toasted pitta bread. I drank loads. I remember at the start of the journey that all I wanted to do was have music playing non-stop and no one was allowed to do anything aside comfort me (haha how reasonable of me!).
It got tougher as the day dragged on - but it didn't really drag. Time was speeding ahead of me and I kept asking for the time expecting it to be earlier and was surprised every time I was told it was later than I thought. I remember about half past three in the afternoon I just felt tired and wanted to lie down on the bed. Bryan joined me because the one thing I didn't want to be was on my own. He sat on the end of the bed and told me lots of small, whispering comforts that really pulled me through my discomfort.
I can't really remember contractions, but if you've ever suffered from a bad period then you're probably close to a contraction. It also felt like a really bad stomach ache, hence why I didn't want to eat anything. A few hours on the bed, these tightenings got stronger so I decided to end my labouring at home and put myself in the hands of the doctors and midwives at the hospital - a decision I broke down and made. I was scared to go to hospital and that's why I spent so long labouring on my own at home. A few people who'd had home births had told me things like; "It's probably better that for your first, you're in a hospital." I just didn't believe that. I made a decision that if I was going to go to hospital then I'd go at the point where they couldn't do too much to me in terms of drugging me up to hopeless hormones that just landed me a C-section.
I was very lucky to be blessed with such an amazing mum and parents-in-law. They didn't make a fuss or cause a scene or leap about screaming "You're having a baby!" (Which I might have been prone to do if it was my daughter or daughter-in-law, haha). They were all so calm and the whole drive I forgot I was in labour - apart from when we drew nearer to hospital and I really had to bare down with each spasm.
I was taken into triage and then examined. I was told I was 4cm dilated and had gone into "spontaneous labour." I was a week overdue and this basically meant my labour had started and was progressing. No need for the horrible induction - if you're two weeks overdue in the UK they medically start your labour - that I had been dreading and was booked for the 13th of February. I had visions of being stuck in hospital on Valentines Day - my first Valentines Day as a married woman, stuck in hospital.
Things got a bit hairy when they took my blood pressure and pulse - both were up so I was whisked down to the delivery suite. Every midwife or doctor that came into the room said I was "dealing with the pain so well." and "Breathing through each contraction so well." To me this felt like a gold medal because at home I'd really been struggling in the last few hours and began to think I was weak and pathetic. The midwife said I could have pain relief and I said I was fine - at home I'd been begging both my mum and husband for an epidural, ha!
So I continued breathing through each contraction and honestly was dealing so well with things, I even began to picture having the all-natural birth I had so wanted. This wasn't easy to cope with, but I honestly felt I could go for the non drug route. How wrong I was.
The midwife came in and explained that my blood pressure wasn't dropping the way they had wanted it too. That it was actually rising. That this might mean I have pre-eclampsia and all other manner of scary things. They said that giving me the blood pressure drugs wouldn't work as quick as they'd like it too so the next solution to help me out (and baby) was to go for the epidural. The midwife said she knew it was against my birth plan, but she really recommended it. I cried at this point because quite frankly the epidural scared me. My mum has had four, one of which didn't work...so I was terrified.
I sat with my mum and we talked about it. I decided to go for it because at this point I'd come this far labouring and I'd only opted for the epidural if I'd medically needed it. I was lucky that the anaesthesiologist was in the other room at the time I made my decision, because by the time I'd decided to go for it he was free for a chat. He was lovely and explained everything at great length. I signed the consent form and they brought through the trolley with the needle and drugs through. I looked at my mum and saw she was terrified - I told her it was okay to look away. And she did. It sounds weird but her scared face actually made me feel strong. I felt like I could do it, if she'd gone through it so many times, then I could do it this once.
The epidural was really strange. That's the best verb I can conjure up to explain it. It felt like they were cracking my back and kicking my tail bone all at once. It was freezing cold. It was strange having my head planted into a strangers arms and sobbing all over them - crying is such an intimate thing and I shared it with everyone in that room. Everyone in the room told me it was okay, that it would be over very soon. Once the needle was in place I felt better. I stopped crying. I sat up and did everything I was asked to do - I didn't want to mess it up and end up paralysed. Again, the specialist was so nice and made everyone feel at ease.
At some point my mum decided to swap over with Bryan (stupid hospital policy that I won't explain here because it will just make me upset and I might cry thinking about how much my mum missed). He was annoyed (just stating a fact, dear) that he'd been kept out of the loop for three hours. Three hours? It had felt like twenty minutes to me!
Also, at some point they'd broken my waters and set up a hormone drip to speed up contractions. In reflection of the events I don't remember a single medical person asking me if I wanted the hormone drip in - they just did it. At the time I wasn't phased, but now, when I think back it annoys me a bit.
After my epidural was in place I was feeling no pain whatsoever. I wanted to eat! (Ha!) But wasn't allowed because it might make me sick. Things were pretty non-eventful after the epidural, just some checks and some moving me about because baby had moved into a posterior position...and because I'm no good at explaining that, here you go:
"A less common position, known as posterior position, occurs when the back of the baby’s head, or occiput, is against the mother’s tailbone. This position often results in prolonged labor and is accompanied by greater back discomfort."
I hated having the trace monitor strapped around my belly - it was so tight and horribly uncomfortable, so they attached a monitor to the baby's head and took off the horrible belt restricting my belly's comfort.
I slept a lot (read: napped, woke up and got bored) and all in all the run up was very boring indeed. I was examined at three hour intervals and was progressing super fast. At one point I had dilated 3cm in half an hour - earlier in the night they had said that they usually allow for 2cm every half hour up until the transition (the before the head coming out bit). At some point my epidural had worn off and I could feel really strong contractions at this point - the kind where I couldn't talk and no one else in the room was allowed to talk when I had one haha. The student midwife (read: my guardian angel) said I should have gas & air. It was magical. I drifted off for ages on this stuff and in between puffs I kept singing, saying things to the midwives and my husband and generally making a fool of myself. Haha.
At 5.20am I was told that I was 10cm dilated. I couldn't believe it. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I remembered that something happens when you reach 10cm dilated, but I couldn't put the pieces together in my drugged up mind (I wasn't really drugged, gas & air leaves your system very quickly). Then the midwife informed me I would have to come off the gas & air - I honestly felt like breaking down into tears. I also did not feel ready for delivery. My body was ready - I knew it was, but my mind was not willing to co-operate.
Before I knew it my husband was telling me he could see various facial features of our baby - at first it was the top of the head, then the ears and then he said the head was out and whoosh out came the rest of the body. All in all I spent forty minutes pushing. It truly felt like five minutes. Then my husband said; "It's a Roman!" in this really moving and excited tone of voice I will never forget.
I couldn't believe the weight of this boy on my chest. This precious, warm child cawing and blue - I have no memory of him being blue at all, but Bryan says he was. Then he was taken away. He needed oxygen and they took him to Resuscitation - which didn't freak me out whatsoever, I just knew everything was going to be okay. On the walk to Resus he started breathing normally and was brought back to me. I was exhausted and overwhelmed. I wanted my mum. I told Bryan to get her and the midwife told him she would tell my mum everything, that we needed to be together in that moment. I now know that was just a way of getting things done on their agenda and if I could go back in time I would have phoned her up - me in the delivery suite and her in the waiting room, barely metres apart yet separated by a stupid policy and staff agenda.
My mum was in the room after they spent three hours stitching me up. She took several photos of the new baby and was desperate to hold him. She called my dad and I remember being on the phone and wanting but not wanting to speak to him. I felt overwhelmed with so many weird and wonderful feelings. I wanted to tell him how I was truly feeling and I wanted him to swoop down and save me from all the madness going on around me.
Then my mum and B left and I felt this huge feeling of being alone. I had acted like I was fine with them going home and actually told them to go - what choice did they or I have? My brother needed to sleep because he was working that night, neither my husband or mum drive and I didn't want them heading back on the train/bus because they'd been here all night, sitting on hard chairs. I didn't want them to go, inside of me I was screaming for them both to stay...but I knew that was selfish and really silly. I'm glad they did go because all I did was sleep.
It was weird adjusting to the new boy. Breastfeeding was great at first, but went weird. His sleeping patterns were all out of sorts - some nights he'd sleep all the way through and some nights he would wake three or four times. I felt like a failure a lot, but I kept going despite these crisis's with my self-esteem. I plowed through it all.
And now, at four months old, he's the most delicious little man you could ever hope to meet. He sleeps exclusively in his crib (he has a separate daytime one). Our evenings are our own again. That little piece of freedom has given us all a happy family feeling. I am so blessed each and every day more that I get to spend with this One.