My only birth plan was to have our baby delivered safely in my arms. It had been such a rollercoaster getting pregnant and if I was honest I still didn’t even allow myself to believe that was possible let alone actually meet my baby safe and well.
I remember in one of our NCT classes we were asked to stand in a line and position ourselves 1-10 with 1 representing a natural birth with no intervention and 10 the complete opposite with intervention and drugs. I very quickly stood at 10 feeling confident that I would take any drugs, intervention or general advice from the midwife/doctors as long as it allowed me to meet my baby safe and well. IVF is so clinical, so manufactured, with so much intervention and I actually think I felt safe in that environment. Natural or planned just didn’t resonate with me.
With a successful IVF you have almost an exact conception date (within 48 hours of the embryo transfer) so it had been agreed by my consultant that I would be booked in for a sweep on the morning of my due date as they were keen to get things moving as soon as possible. My due date was my husbands birthday (23rd March) and in all honestly I really didn’t think our son would be born that day. My mum had two inductions for both myself and my brother and I am not sure why but I thought maybe I might be the same.
There were a few “plans” I did think about with my impending birth. One was that I wanted to preserve my placenta, you can read all about that here. I also wanted delayed cord clamping if possible and skin to skin, again if possible. Pain relief wise I just wanted to see how I coped and was more than happy to take what was needed.
Like clockwork my labour started around 5am on my due date. I abruptly woke my husband on his birthday excitedly announcing I had “the show”. I did wonder if the night before something was starting as I went to bed with a very achy back that felt different to anything before. Naively and rather smugly I believed that I was about to give my husband the best birthday present ever. I phoned my mum around 6am and she very calmly told me that I would need to be patient and the likelihood of actually giving birth in the next few hours was very unlikely.
The next few hours were a blur of getting bits sorted and trying to time the contractions. I was slightly confused because I only felt them in my back and it was hard to follow. I phoned the hospital around 11am and they confirmed I was in early labour but to stay at home until I had approx 3 contractions within 10 minutes. By 3pm it was ready to go to the hospital and at this point the pain was bearable. After seeing a midwife in triage I was told I was only 2cm dilated so was sent home. We got back by 5pm and I had some dinner and tried to watch some tv and relax. By 10pm the contractions were more intense and I told Phil I thought it was time to go back to the hospital.
Unfortunately after another examination at the hospital I was still only 2/3cm dilated and after another sweep I was sent home again. I was so frustrated as the pain was more intense and paracetamol just wasn’t cutting it but I was coping quite well. The midwives at the hospital did warn me that this latent phase of labour could be very long. So at this point Phil had taken himself to bed (after all he needed his rest right?) but by 5am (24 hours after my show first appeared) I was felt much more pain and I woke Phil saying it was time to go back to the hospital. I was adamant I would not allow them to send me home this time.
After another examination I was told I was still only 3cm dilated. I was so tired and frustrated and I couldn’t believe after 24 hours how slow my labour was progressing. I was very stroppy and refused to go home and the midwife agreed to give me a low dose shot of Pethidine and I was admitted to the labour ward. I remember the intensity of the contractions and how little breathing space in between to catch my breath. Once on the ward the Pethidine succeeded in making me sleepy but the contractions were still strong and intense. Phil went to the car to get the bags and phone my mum to let her know I had been admitted.
The labour ward from what I remember (I was a little high) was full with women in early stages of labour very whimsically chanting on their birthing balls and inhaling/exhaling with grace and calmness. I on the other hand was swearing, shouting, crying and thrashing about on the bed like a woman possessed. I remember thinking my fellow ward warriors must have been scared shitless by my loud potty mouth. Why were they coping so well? I asked the midwife if I could have some more drugs. Phil returned and after another 20 minutes or so I was examined again only to be told I was now 9cm dilated. What!!! I had already started pushing. I still can’t believe I managed to get that far and that quickly.
I walked to a birthing suite (which was lovely) and Phil frantically called my mum and we just hoped she would arrive in time. We needn’t have worried, 2.5 hours later I was still pushing. I think at this point I was so tired, I hadn’t eaten much in the last 24 hours and I started to give up a little. Mum and Phil were great, urging me to keep going but I just couldn’t push him out. How hard is it to push a baby out?? Seriously, I just couldn’t do it! My midwives Becky and Celine were amazing, trying to feed me lucozade and biscuits but I just couldn’t sustain the pushes and every time my contraction finished Austin disappeared back up the birth canal. It was so reassuring having my mum there, obviously knowing exactly what you are going through and even for Phil who I think was also grateful for her support. A week or so after Austin’s birth Phil wrote my mum a lovely card thanking her. This made my heart melt a little.
The decision was made, I would need some help to deliver Austin so I was moved to a delivery suite and within minutes Austin had a ventouse attached to his head. It was very calm in the room and I laughed and joked (between contractions) with the doctor delivering Austin. I think I was so relieved that it was nearly over! A few pushes later and with a very strong pull from the doctor Austin arrived at 11.01am on the 24th March after nearly 30 hours of labour. He came out screaming but soon calmed with skin to skin. I needed an episiotomy and it took nearly 45 minutes to stitch me back up but I really didn’t care I was happily holding our little boy and completely oblivious to any pain or discomfort.
Austin had a slight cone-shaped head and quite a bruise (picture below a couple of hours old). The doctors reassured me that within 24 hours the bruising would disappear. By the time we were discharged from the hospital (the next day) he was healing well and the bruise had faded.
My birth was a really positive experience and I am grateful for that, but most importantly Austin arrived safe and well. So for me, my birth plan was spot on. Although I needed intervention for Austin to arrive safely it was still a very calm and peaceful birth. The sudden emergence of doctors didn’t make me feel panicked and I always felt in control. I loved the dynamic of both my husband and my mum in the delivery room with me which all lead to such a nice bonding experience for us all.