Hello everyone. I wanted to share Leo’s birth story. I’ve put a trigger warning on this as I had some complications during the birth and after. We are both okay and Leo was never taken away from me. The complications were mostly to do with me.
Here is our story.
On Tuesday 24th November, I had a midwife appointment. I was 40+5. I had been having cramps on and off, but nothing consistent or painful. I was also feeling a lot of pressure and the baby’s movements were really starting to hurt. It felt like he was burrowing his head right into my cervix. I had been losing parts of my plug also. The midwife asked if I wanted a sweep. I accepted as I was ready to try anything.
I knew it was likely I would go over my due date, but once I got to about 35 weeks or so, being pregnant became so difficult. Then, at 39 weeks, the difficulty seemed to ramp up again and I was struggling to move about.
I had the sweep and it was not pleasant. The midwife explained what she was doing and why every step of the way. She inserted her fingers inside me and felt my cervix. She said it was soft and 1cm dilated. She then performed the ‘sweep’, putting her finger inside my cervix, touching the baby’s head and sweeping the membranes away to help encourage labour. It was a bit painful but mostly uncomfortable.
We also booked me in for an induction on Friday and I was also given some aromatherapy to help – a mixture of lavender and clary sage oil to sniff. Clary sage is said to help bring on contractions.
I had also been doing other things at home – collecting (hand expressing) my colostrum, drinking raspberry leaf tea, bouncing on a ball and eating dates.
I went home and it really did feel a bit odd. Like the discomfort in my cervix seemed to stick around.
About 11 pm that evening, I lost my plug. I had been having parts of it come away before that, but this was definitely the main part of my plug. There was no doubt. It was massive and disgusting.
I woke up at around 6 am and felt light cramps around my cervix. Thought it was from the sweep but they kept on coming. My partner was about to leave for work and I felt something come out of me, I thought my water was broken but they hadn’t. I’m not sure what it was! But my partner was a bit nervous to go to work.
About 10 am I started timing these pains but I still wasn’t sure if it was labour or just pains from the sweep. I expected to feel ‘tightenings’ but I didn’t. Just period type cramps in my cervix. My partner left work early and was home for 12.
I decided to go downstairs and watch a film while bouncing on my ball.
At about 5 pm they got more painful and I had to breath through them. My partner made us some dinner – it was fresh tortellini with chorizo and garlic bread – carbing up for all the energy I was about to need.
By 7:30 pm the contractions were 5 minutes apart and still manageable – but more painful than before. I called triage and told them what was happening. They said to take paracetamol and call back when I had 3 contractions within 10 minutes.
By 11:30 pm I was having them every 3 minutes and they were really painful. I called again and the midwife asked me loads of questions. She timed me having contractions and said I had one 6 minutes apart so it was too soon to go in and advised I take a bath. It was a bit frustrating because I was having them close together until the phone call, I think because I had been walking around before I called, then when I sat down they seemed to slow. I didn’t know she was timing them so I felt a bit tricked, especially as I was trying not to show my pain on the phone to be polite.
The bath made it worse as it felt like I had a trapped nerve every time I moved, I must have sone something getting in. I got out and tried to walk about even though all I wanted to do was lay down and sleep. By 2:15 I was in agony both with the contractions and the pain in my hip/leg. I started to get a bit panicked and was crying as I was concerned that it was so painful but the contractions were not close enough to go to the hospital. They were still 2-3 minutes apart but ever so often I’d have a 6-minute gap, or a shorter contraction. I called again and they said I could come get checked out but if I wasn’t 4cm or more I would be sent home.
I decided to go and get checked anyway because I was worried I’d leave it too late. I’ve not done this before so didn’t know what it would feel like, but I was struggling to cope. The contractions were still centred around my cervix and seemed to travel up towards my hips. They were explosive. I was worried my insides were rupturing. That’s the only way to describe the pain.
I got to the hospital about 2:30 am and thankfully was 4cm and was taken to my delivery room. I was so happy!! They seemed surprised as I think they expected me not to be ready yet and to be going home. They asked about pain relief and I said I wanted an epidural so they got the anaesthetist to come and do it (I just want to say there wasn’t a single time I felt shamed for wanting pain relief or like they were trying to make me go natural – they asked what I wanted and I got it – I was worried I’d be frowned upon for wanting pain relief!). I also had a Covid test. The epidural was fine and painless to insert. To be honest it’s just similar to a cannula which I also had inserted in my right hand.
The anaesthetist said I’d be feeling my last contraction at 3 am as he sorted out my epidural. After that, I could still feel them but they were less intense, but then I started feeling them again. They did a prick test down each side of my body and only one side was numb, the contractions started getting bad again, it was like my cervix was exploding as the pain travelled up my torso and outwards. I still had no ‘tightening’ to my contractions that I could feel, but this was picked up on the monitor and the midwives could feel them by putting their hands on my uterus.
The pain was getting bad again. At 5 am when the anaesthetist came back and did a top-up. This then worked on both sides and I was numb from the pain. It was brilliant, I felt like I was ready for anything!
At 7 am the midwife did another check and I was 6cm! They also inserted a catheter to drain my bladder (I had tried to wee over a bed pain but I just couldn’t do it, I was a bit shy I think!). There was a student midwife with her and they asked if she could have a feel and I let her as I was numb, I was like ‘do what you want, I can’t feel a thing’. I was in such a good mood after the pain I was in.
They then asked me to lay on my side as I had been on my back for a while, which is when I started getting pain in my right hip and back. The pain got worse and worse until I realised it was contractions in my back. It was so painful, I was basically holding to the side of the bed feeling like I was dying. They asked if I wanted to try gas and air, I was a bit reluctant because I thought it would make me sick. I was right, I started to throw up while having contractions. It was pretty horrific. I was sick another two times during labour. The pain then started in my hips. With each contraction, I felt like my hips were ripping apart. Then I could feel the baby come down through my pelvis and there was an urge push. I got checked again and knew what they were going to say – I was fully dilated. I could feel it. They kept saying the anaesthetist was busy with someone else but on his way.
My contractions had slowed down, so I had to go on an oxytocin drip to get them going again, I also needed to wait two hours until I was able to start pushing due to the contractions slowing. The anaesthetist was taking ages. I kept saying ‘I feel like I am dying’ and ‘where is that man’ as I clung onto the side of the bed in pain. About an hour later he finally came to see me and give me another top-up. They were hinting at me not having pain relief, but I had spent so long in pain already when all I wanted was an epidural, I did not want to push this baby out without pain relief. Also, he was back to back which is more painful. They numbed me again by the time I had to push.
The pushing part.
I was so motivated to just push and get the baby out once I was numb, it’s like I had a new lease of life. A doctor came in to see me and they had me try to do a push and said I pushed good, ha. So I spent the next hour pushing – which seems a lot worse than it actually was. In reality, I was numb so it didn’t hurt after being in pain for hours so it felt great! And because my contractions had slowed there was a decent break between each push. I could feel when it was time to push because of the pressure of the baby, but there was no pain.
They kept saying I was close and they could see the baby’s head coming out, I just needed to get him close enough to get around the bend. But then I started bleeding and the doctor came back in and decided they needed to assist because of the bleeding and the baby being back to back. The baby had tried to turn but hadn’t fully managed it. His head was at the wrong angle so the part of the head that was coming out first was the wider side.
The doctor said he was going to use a suction cup and cut me. Because I was already so close, he didn’t feel the need to take me to theatre in case I needed a section. A lot of people piled in and the brought the ‘resuscitation table’ in for the baby in case he wasn’t well. That was scary.
The doctor said that using a cup, the baby is usually out in three pushes. He kept saying ‘it’s time to meet Leo’ and I cried and decided I wanted him out in one push. He emptied my bladder, put the cup on his head and I pushed like mad when they told me to. His head came out!
He told me not to push anymore and to do short breaths then the strangest thing happened. I felt my whole body open up, this heavy pressure washed over me as I felt this large, warm, slimy thing just emerge out of me. He was born. It was like I had no control of this, he just came out. They put him on my chest down my top and he was just kind of there, eyes open looking around. He was covered in vernix, blood, meconium and the smell was so strange. I can’t believe how warm he was! That’s all I kept thinking – this baby is so warm! I was so overwhelmed and couldn’t believe her was here.
He was born at 13:48 on Thursday 26th November weighing 9lbs 1oz.
After the birth.
He went a bit floppy so they took him to rub him down and get him to do a big cry and then gave him back to me. The doctor then asked me to push again and I felt something come out of me then he said ’The placenta is born!’. I totally forgot about the placenta, I got a glimpse of it and it was absolutely disgusting. A lot bigger than they seem on TV.
They piled loads of blankets on him and the room was so warm, I passed him to my partner because I was going to be sick again and the threw up for the fourth time.
While I was doing skin to skin with Leo, the doctor stitched me up as he had cut me, put a vagina pack up me to stop the bleeding (like bandages to stop the bleeding) and put a catheter in me. My partner said they were scraping blood off the floor. They weighed it to find out how much blood I had lost and had been weighing my sick, too (those who work on the delivery ward do not have a glam job!). I was on a drip to try to get hydrated.
The doctor seemed to ages sorting me out and I was opposite a mirror and got a glimpse which was a site I never need to see again, I said I was traumatised so a midwife stood in front so I couldn’t see.
My partner then dressed Leo in his first outfit and my midwife gave me a bed bath and changed the bedding from under me and helped me put a clean nighty on.
It was about 18:30 by the time she was done and went home – I can’t believe how long it all took, but it’s all a blur.
The Dr came back to explain what he had done – had to cut me to get the baby out quickly because of the blood loss. He said I was to stay in the delivery room for the night to be monitored as I had lost a lot of blood. My partner left around 9 pm and I was just there, in this room on my own with a crying baby. I couldn’t move because my legs were still numb and I had the vaginal pack and catheter in me. It was had to pick the baby up and put him down while being numb and the midwives helped a bit, passing him to me. One also changed his nappy in the early hours of the morning.
I had to have my blood pressure done every few hours, someone came in to do it and asked how I was. When I said I had been awake nearly 48 hours and was struggling to pick him up and put him down to feed she said ‘you just need to grin and bear it’ which made me feel a bit crap. About an hour later the midwife who changed his nappy came back and took him out of the room for a couple of hours so I could try and rest.
I snoozed on and off, then she brought him back fast asleep saying he had been getting lots of cuddles.
It was 5 am by now and the midwife took out my catheter and vaginal pack which felt weird and uncomfortable changed my bed pads. She then took me to the postnatal ward.
They gathered all my things together, gave me Leo and wheeled me down to a 4-bed ward which had two other women on. Everyone had their curtains closed.
I had more bloods done and my blood pressure was taken and was introduced to the new midwife that would be looking after me. She asked me to buzz when I was feeding next so she could check his latch. I said I wanted to try to get up at some point and put some pants on and a maternity pad as I was still just in a nighty and bleeding onto a bed pad. I also wanted to try go to the toilet and brush my teeth. She advised I had some breakfast first and then call them to help me.
At first, they just told me to stand up and sit in the chair next to my bed. They brought me a sick bowl filled with water so I could brush my teeth. I got my wash bag out and cleansed my face, brushed my hair and teeth.
Leo started crying again so I managed to get back into bed and somehow lift him out to feed him.
I needed to go to the toilet within 6 hours of the catheter being out, so buzzed again about that as I had to wee into a bedpan so they could check it.
I bleed on the floor and the toilet seat which they said was normal. The wee wasn’t that bad, it was just the pressure of sitting on the toilet and the fear of letting go that was uncomfortable. I didn’t feel steady on my feet at all. I wasn’t sure if it was tiredness, stitches, my back or what.
I had some blood results back and my iron had dropped really low to 75. I was already anaemic when I went into the hospital, it was around 100 but losing over a litre of blood had taken its toll. I was also told I needed to keep my compression tights on for 10 days, also give myself injections for the next 10 days to prevent clotting,
I was offered and accepted an iron transfusion. They had to get someone to come and put another catheter in me because something was wrong with the current one and it felt like everything was just backing up inside my veins. The midwife couldn’t get another one in so someone came and put one at the side of my wrist. It was my 4th so all my other veins on my hand wouldn’t take it. My dinner arrived at the same time and the baby wanted to feed. Dinner went cold. I managed to eat some sausages with my fingers but the chips were grim cold.
Falling in love with Leo.
During my iron transfusion, I had my moment where I really fell in love with Leo. When he was first born, there was so much going on and I was so overwhelmed. It was more a relief that he was okay and a protective feeling more anything else. During my iron transfusion, I was feeding him and he was just looking up at me as he was feeding. That’s when I had my ‘I love you so much, you are mine’ moment. I remember wanting to cry so much but the midwife was keeping an eye on me in the empty bay opposite because I needed my blood pressure and temperature taking regularly during the infusion.
Since then, I just love it when he looks up at me while feeding. He just is so calm and content. I could look at him all day, stroking his little face and trying to keep these memories in my head forever as I know he will grow so quickly.
At some point, someone came to do a hearing test another person case to do a health check on Leo. All was fine.
I really needed the toilet again but he kept crying, I ended up having to buzz a midwife to come and hold him while I weed. Then I had to change his nappy which was such a struggle. My back hurt doing it in the crib and I didn’t feel well. Taking his clothes off, Leo decided to scream the place down. I was getting a bit stressed as I was on a shared ward and my baby was screaming, I was in immense pain and felt hot and faint. I managed to sort it and re-dress him and shove my boob in his mouth to stop him crying.
I perched on the edge of my bed, in pain, holding my baby to my breast and finally it was 4 pm – time for my partner to visit.
They knew I wanted to go home with him and I was so ready to home.
I was in pain and needed help with nappies and looking after Leo so I could give myself a break from the pain of my stitches and back. I was also so touched out, the number of people I had poking me bits, looking at my boobs, checking my blood pressure, sticking things in me – I just wanted to be at home. When my partner came I almost cried. I was so happy to see him, I passed him the baby and put my dress on.
The midwife came and sorted out all the discharge paperwork for me. She then took my blood pressure for the final time, it was high. The first time it had been high during the whole hospital experience. She said I could still go home but the community midwife would take my blood pressure the following day when visiting me at home.
This wasn’t the last time I would see the hospital. Read the rest here.