Third trimester. The final stretch. The end is finally in sight.
Except it isn’t really is it? I’m at that horrid stage of pregnancy when I feel like I have been pregnant forever, having found out I was expecting at around 4 weeks pregnant due to the vomiting, yet the birth seems just that too far away to be close. I liken it to school in June, we’ve been working all academic year yet the summer holidays are just beyond reach! However, with the last few weeks coming I have started to look forward and make the necessary plans for labour, birth and beyond. It has also led me to reflect on my previous birth experience, something I think many women do with subsequent babies.
My birth experience with Izzy was hard. On paper it looks like a hellish experience and a cascade of intervention. It was far from ideal but still we got through it and because of the level of care I received I still look back at it as a positive experience. It has also given me the strength to know that I can manage when things don’t go to plan.
Initially as part of dealing with my antenatal depression last time I went into planning mode, as a teacher this comes very naturally to me so I set about writing my birth plan in the similar way I would plan a scheme of work for school. It helped focus me at the time admittedly but looking back I can see how it also didn’t really help either! The problem with my birth plan last time was its inflexibility. I had the perfect birth in mind and I was going to have it, after being out of control for so much of my pregnancy I think planning the birth gave me some of that control back. Unfortunately no one told Izzy the plan.
I used hypnobirthing and TENs to great effect once my labour actually started proper (it had been on and off for 10, yes TEN days previously, I was the first of our group to go into labour and the last to give birth) and if my labour had been the average length for a first baby I’d have probably succeeded in having the birth on my plan. However, the labour carried on and on and on……and on….
Izzy was back to back so I couldn’t sleep, I have CFS so was getting exhausted at a much quicker rate than normal due to not being able to rest, I kept going with the hypnobirthing techniques and the TENs whilst pacing the downstairs after I sent my husband to sleep (no point both of us being exhausted). Eventually i couldn’t face anymore and we went to hospital, I was crushed to discover I was only 2cm dilated after all that hard work & pain. I was given a sleeping tablet and sent home. Couldn’t sleep. Did another day and night of pacing as the pain got worse, I eventually got up to 9 on my TENs machine and then had to go in again. 2-3cm dilated. I cred, I collapsed on the assessment room floor and wept, my husband explained that I hadn’t slept in days and they admitted me to the ward with a shot of pethidine so I could sleep. My TENs machine finally ran out of battery in the middle of night, boy at that point I realised now well it was working!
In the morning, thankfully, everything had moved on and I was now in active labour and on the gas & air finally. The midwife sat and read my epic birth plan, at which point I told her to chuck it out of the window as it was useless. I had come to realise that my birth was going to be very different and I had to relinquish control. At that point I was able to relax more and let the professionals do their job. Like I have said before the standard of care I received at WSH was first class and without it I would not look back on Izzy’s birth in the way I do. Once at delivery suite things seemed to be progressing finally but once I got to 6cm my body shut down. I had crashed and my contractions stopped. I felt I was going to end up in theatre for certain. Our midwife sat down with us and discussed our options and left us to decide on our next course of action, her non pushy nature meant that we felt in control of our decision and we decided on the drip and epidural route. Let me tell you once that epidural was in I was a different woman! I could finally sleep, and I did. I had to be woken up to be examined to see if I was fully dilated. Which I was, finally! They left me for an hour due to the epidural (to which my response was apparently “cracking, just wake me up when I need to push”) and then the pushing started.
Of course something else went, well not wrong exactly but haywire, and Izzy got stuck in the U bend. A ventouse was needed but that was fine as there was a midwife trained so we didn’t need to leave the room. Lights were dimmed, music played in the background and with some big pushes Izzy was born finally.
My first words as she was placed on my chest? “She smells funny.” Yup just give me the Maternal Comment of the Year Award right now! She was here and we couldn’t have been happier. I spent our first night together just staring at her, I couldn’t sleep a wink I just stared at this wondrous little bundle next to me.
So this time my birth plan will be pretty much this.
- Get baby out (preferably via water birth but no worries if not possible)
- Have tea and toast (my husband got mine last time the cheeky git)
Obviously there will be a bit more detail about Vitamin K etc but flexibility is the key this time round. Hopefully this little lady will not take her time coming like her sister but you know what? If she does I know I can cope.