Following the birth of my first child in May 2020, when lockdown restrictions meant my husband was asked to leave shortly after she arrived and unfortunately I sustained a third degree perineal tear, it was fair to say I was a little apprehensive about going into labour with my second baby.
I had a straightforward pregnancy (other than caring for a toddler at the same time!) until 38 weeks. At my 38 week check up the midwife advised that my bump had suddenly grown quite a bit and suggested that I have a growth scan, just to check how baby was getting on. I had the growth scan the following day and was told that baby was looking to be on the heavier side, with a predicted weight of 9lb 1oz at 38+2. I was advised to go to triage at my local hospital as there was no doctors available at the maternity unit where I had my scan. Just before I set off, the lovely midwife who saw me after the scan suggested my options were induction, elective caesarian or doing nothing - something she said probably wasn’t the best idea.
I was starting to panic a bit on the drive over to the hospital. I asked my husband to meet me there and held back the tears in the car. I’d really hoped to go into labour spontaneously and it was rapidly looking like the chance of this happening was becoming quite slim. We waited for what felt like forever in triage before we saw a doctor. As the midwife predicted, she advised an induction in the next few days once I’d said I’d really like to try for a vaginal birth. It was the evening before new year’s eve and she suggested we start the induction in the morning. I really didn’t feel prepared for this, so we agreed to wait until after the bank holiday to book the induction. She asked if I wanted to have a membrane sweep before we went home, suggesting that it might get things going and if it didn’t I still had the induction booked in case I didn’t go into labour before then.
The sweep was a bit uncomfortable but nowhere near as painful as I had imagined. I was shocked to find out I was already 2-3cm dilated, the doctor was very hopeful that the sweep alone would be enough to start labour, so she said to go home and relax and see how I got on. In hindsight I think some very mild contractions began as I drove home and for the rest of that evening but I think I was in denial that baby was now on the way. I got home around 9pm and told my parents to go home for the night (they’d been looking after my toddler whilst I was at the hospital). I went to bed as normal and woke around 3am with contractions which were starting to build a bit. I convinced myself that I wasn’t really in labour yet (I most definitely was!) and tried to go back to sleep because I felt guilty about calling my parents back to look after my toddler when they’d only been home for a few hours.Around 6am I told my mum I’d been having some ‘twinges’ and asked if she could come over today. I probably shouldn’t have downplayed it quite as much as my parents casually turned up around 9am!
As soon as my parents arrived, and I knew we had someone to look after our toddler, the contractions became much stronger and regular. I called the hospital around 11am as I was now having quite intense contractions every 5 minutes. I’d been coping at home by having a shower, bouncing on a ball and using a TENs machine. I wanted to stay at home for as long as possible but my mum and husband convinced me that it was probably time to set off for the hospital now. I’d been 9cm dilated when I got to hospital with my first so I think my husband was worried about not making it on time. The triage midwife was brilliant and said to come in whenever I felt ready, just to let them know when we were setting off.
The TENs machine was brilliant for the 30 minute drive to the hospital. We arrived and were taken through to maternity triage straight away. I had really wanted to use the birth unit, rather than delivery suite, but was advised delivery suite would be safer as I had a large for dates baby and previous perineal tearing. After a quick assessment in triage I was told I was 8cm dilated and could go to a delivery room. The room was lovely, with fairy lights around the ceiling, and although not quite as homely as the room I’d given birth in at the birth unit, was nowhere near as clinical and scary as I’d imagined.
My midwife introduced herself and offered me some gas and air. My contractions slowed a bit and in between each surge we had a lovely chat and discussed my birth preferences. She was brilliant in keeping me calm and told me to just go with my body and tell her when I started to feel a bit ‘pushy’. After a while I started to feel like baby wasn’t far off and the contractions started to get very intense - especially in my lower back and pelvis. I started pushing and my waters broke mid contraction.Luckily the midwife had just stepped away from the end of the bed or she would have got a soaking. The pressure subsided a bit and I concentrated on pushing again. It felt like I was pushing for a long time, I have no idea how long it actually was. Everyone had said how easy the second baby feels compared to the first but I felt like baby wasn’t budging. Eventually that familiar burning sensation came and I knew it wouldn’t be long before I had baby in my arms.
My midwife applied a warm compress to try and reduce the chance of having another perineal tear and she helped me with my breathing and when to push, exactly like I’d asked. After what felt like a huge push, the baby’s head was born. I didn’t know it at the time but she had been born back to back, so was staring up at my midwife and husband. Another push and her body was born and she was passed straight to me for skin to skin. Apparently I let out a squeal of delight at this point but have no recollection of this!
Matilda arrived at 3pm exactly on new year's eve, weighing 8lb 4oz - less than the 9lb that had been predicted the day before!
I chose to have the injection to deliver the placenta, which was delivered very shortly after. Unfortunately I had another 3rd degree perineal tear, despite my best efforts to avoid this. Whilst I was waiting to go to theatre for stitches we stayed in the delivery room, having skin to skin and having her first feed.
It felt magical being allowed to have my husband with me after the birth. We got the time to bond with baby that we sadly missed out on with our first. He stayed until I was settled on the ward once I’d had my stitches in theatre and then went home for the night. I came home the following day to introduce Matilda to her big sister.
That was a bit longer than I thought it would be! Feels good to share it though, it wasn’t exactly the birth I’d hoped for but I still remember it fondly and am still in awe of what our bodies are capable of.
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