I've decided to blog about Sophia's birth as I think it is possibly something I will eventually not remember very vividly so it will be interesting to look back on one day! Fortunately I had a really good (as good as the worst pain I can ever imagine can be..) labour so it wasn't in any way, shape or form as traumatic as some women's, for which I am very grateful.
My contractions started at midnight four days after my due date. They were very mild pains but were coming every 3 minutes on the dot which is how I knew they were definitely contractions and not just strange pregnancy niggles. I tried getting in the bath because this is how I had imagined in my mind that I'd pass the time before going to hospital but we didn't have enough hot water so I lost interest in that idea pretty quickly as the lukewarm water wasn't doing much for me! We went to hospital around 3am and I really have no idea how we spent the three hours between my contractions starting and us leaving the house. I think we mostly tried to find the "last minute" items I had not packed in my hospital bag (next time I will know better and EVERYTHING will be packed because searching for a hairbrush in the middle of a contraction is pretty much the last thing I wanted to do. It was a waste of time anyway as looking at the photos of myself from the hospital, I don't think the hairbrush was actually unpacked..)
I was examined by a midwife at 4am and was 4cm dilated - for a first baby it's meant to take roughly an hour for each centimetre you need to dilate so we estimated I'd be fully dilated by 10am. I was having a midwife-led birth and never saw a consultant throughout the pregnancy or labour, this was actually great as it meant I didn't need to be attached to a heartbeat monitor in early labour which apparently the consultant-led ladies did have to be in my hospital. I asked to go in the birthing pool so they gave me gas and air while they filled it up. This was in my birth plan and I had more or less set my heart on a water birth - there was only one birthing pool at the hospital so I was VERY relieved nobody else was using it! The gas and air wasn't as good as I had hoped, it took the edge off the contractions but they were still really painful in a way I can't describe, it is a pain I have never felt before and I can't compare it to anything else. The contractions were still coming every 3 minutes precisely but were getting stronger and stronger and I kept thinking there was no way I could go on until 10am! At about 4.30 the pool was ready so I jumped in and it was all very nice but the contractions were getting worse all the time and there was no way sitting in a bit of water was going to stop the pain! I carried on with the gas and air in the pool but each contraction felt more unbearable. The midwife popped out of the room at 5.15 and all of a sudden I knew I needed to push, very odd how you know but I was certain the baby had to come out! I told Mr T that I needed to push and he told me not to be silly (still thinking it would be about another five hours before I got to that stage) I told him in no uncertain terms to get the midwife back so he rang the alarm and in she came (doused in Eau de Cigarette, but we'll let that pass...) The pushing part was quite good in that it stopped the contraction pain a bit. After a while of pushing I became convinced that if the baby wasn't coming out in one push then I should stop (and do what exactly, I don't know), so as the contraction ended and baby obviously didn't come out in one push, I asked the midwife if I should "suck the baby back up?" at the time it felt like a completely reasonable question but she couldn't stop laughing and told me no I shouldn't "suck baby back up" as that would be the wrong direction! I put this down to the gas and air!
Eventually we got to the point where the head was visible and with one push her head was halfway out, the next push could only be described as horrendous, her whole head was born and it was the most intense pain I've ever felt in my life, I felt like I was being ripped apart, I couldn't see or hear - I had a kaleidoscope-like pattern in front of my eyes and white noise in my ears. It was agonising and I can't pretend it was anything else. The rest of Baby was born in the next push which I had expected to be 'easy' after the difficulty of birthing the head but it still wasn't a walk in the park by any stretch of the imagination. Mr T cut the cord and I had to clamber out the pool to deliver the placenta which as you can imagine, was easier said than done.
The placenta delivery wasn't too pleasant, even after having an injection to speed it up, as I was feeling really shaky and a bit in shock at this point. I needed two stitches as had second degree tears but the stitches were fine although I was dreading them - they gave me gas and air again and it was amazing as I didn't have any major pain any more so I really felt the effects this time!
So our beautiful daughter Sophia was born at 6.05am which meant I dilated the final 6cm in just two hours which is why my contractions were so intense as they were coming so quickly. I'm so pleased with how it all went and really felt proud of myself even though it's something women do all the time! However, immediately after she was born I told myself I'd never do it again and I really meant it, I didn't for one moment forget the pain instantly when I saw her, like people say! But now the memory is fading and I know I will definitely do it again (but only if I can use the birthing pool..!)