Every pregnancy is very different, and I think I was lucky in that I didn’t suffer from any pain – no hip pain, and my bump was small, so wasn’t a lot to lug around until the last few weeks.
I kept active, doing Pilates videos on YouTube, and was running (if you can call it that) up until 33 weeks. I even completed a very teary half marathon at 7 weeks, just before the lockdown kicked in.
I wasn’t prepared for how ill I’d be, or how tired I’d feel. Of course, I’d read that the first trimester is exhausting, but this was another level! I was very lucky to be working from home thanks to lockdown, so I could sneak in a lunchtime or mid-afternoon nap.
I started working from home 2 weeks before lockdown, because my sickness came on so strong that, twice, I drove into work and headed home within an hour. This was before week 6. I’d only just found out I was pregnant, and got sick 4 days later. There’s a reason I’m not calling it Morning Sickness – mine was all day and all night, constant nausea and regular vomiting. If you are what you eat, then I am a sandwich – I ate them non-stop for months. I ended up trying various prescription tablets just to take the edge off, but would say I only returned to ‘normal’ at around week 22, only for the dreaded acid reflux to kick off at week 28, and for the vomiting to return.
I mentioned my bump was small – I’m average sized and fit and healthy, and I was constantly measuring small, so I had a lot of growth scans throughout my time, which contradicted each other, and I was going to give birth to a baby anywhere between 3rd and 50th centile!
I started Maternity Leave at week 38, and I fully expected my baby to be here early – I was ready, everything was organised, I’d finished my book and done some jigsaws. I was bored by this point, but baby still hadn’t made any signs of leaving – not even a solitary Braxton Hicks.
I had 2 cervical sweeps at 40+2 and 40+5 (finding I was already 2-3cm dilated, and ‘favourable’), but at my 41 week midwife appointment, my bump had miraculously shrunk, so I was sent for another growth scan. They weren’t able to get a good measurement on that scan, since baby had turned back-to-back, so it was inconclusive, and induction was suggested. I declined, and asked for another scan the next day. I wanted to make the decision based on known data, rather than speculation – we knew the cord had good blood flow, we just didn’t know whether the baby was still growing.
That second scan was still difficult to do, but the measurement showed a slight slow in growth rate, and induction was suggested again. I agreed, and was booked in for the next day – I already had my bags in the car and sandwiches packed!
My induction, unlike many, was quick – a bit too quick, if I’m honest, but it got it over with quickly.
I arrived at 9am on a Saturday, ordered lunch and sat and read for a while. I had an examination at 11am, and a pessary was advised, although I was already 3cm dilated. The pessary was slightly too successful, and contractions started within 15 minutes, ramping up quickly, until I was having 6 x 40 second contractions every 10 minutes, sometimes without a gap. I was strapped up to the monitor so that they could monitor my baby, who seemed to be totally oblivious to the contractions and pretty chilled. Since the contractions were so regular, my pessary was removed and I was given an injection into my bump which calmed the contractions down to maybe 3 or 4 every 10 minutes, which was far more manageable. I was 5cm by this point and we were waiting for a bed to be
available on the delivery suite so I could have my waters broken. Once I knew I would be moving ‘upstairs’, it was time to call my husband to get a taxi to my bedside!
I was moved up to the suite at 5:30pm, after waiting about 3 hours for a bed to be available. I was still contracting, had put my TENS machine on, and had been given some Codeine. I didn’t know that Gas & Air was an option on the induction ward, otherwise I’d have been all over it!
After a very painful 10 minutes while two midwives attempted to break my ‘John Lewis quality’ waters, they were finally broken, and the contractions ramped up quickly again. I was on the Gas & Air right away, which made me vomit, and I was squirming around a lot. The lovely midwife was trying her best to keep the monitoring straps on properly, as I was kneeling on the bed, burying my head into the pillows. After some time, I was asked to lie on my back, since the baby wasn’t liking the contractions and it was becoming hard to monitor baby’s heartrate – this was harder for me, but better for the baby. I asked for an epidural at this point, but realistically, I was contracting so often and squirming so much I’m not sure how I’d have kept still enough for it! A quick examination showed I was at 9cm anyway, so it was pretty much showtime. My midwife unfortunately had to leave at that point and miss the grand finale, which she was gutted about.
I’m not sure I ever felt the urge to push, but at some point just got a bit sick of being in so much pain and wanted baby out of there ASAP! I was 10cm dilated, baby was in position (and had thankfully turned around) but they weren’t enjoying the contractions, and baby’s heartrate was dropping with every contraction, and not recovering in time before the next wave. The Doctor was called in, and she decided a Ventouse delivery was needed – I don’t remember any of this bit except the contractions and trying to keep pushing! My husband tells me that they did the episiotomy, and that it took 2 contractions with the Ventouse attached before they “upped the suction” and really yanked the baby out. He was just so relieved that the baby came out ok, as apparently it was getting quite tense in the room – I was so wrapped up in me that my main relief was that the pain was over!
I don’t know how long it was before my baby was on my chest, but it wasn’t long, and the midwife helped me try and instigate breastfeeding, which was a lot more technical and faff than I’d anticipated – babies are totally useless at the beginning, it turns out!
We were allowed to stay all together until almost 2am, when I was moved down to the postnatal suite, and my husband had to go home. I was discharged the next morning first thing, at my request, as we were both doing fine, and passed all the checks – I even managed to have a shower and feel a bit more human, despite not having any sleep at all that night.
We had kept baby’s gender a surprise, but apparently had both unknowingly expected a boy, so we were taken aback to deliver a girl! We have a lovely daughter, born 3.18kg (7lbs), at 9:15pm, only 12 hours after I’d arrived at the hospital. She’s 6 months old now, and I’ve enjoyed every stage more than the last. The first few weeks weren’t fun, and I struggled to come to terms with the fact she’d arrived and taken over our lives. I was keeping her alive, but I wasn’t enjoying it – but, time passed, things got easier, I got some help and some more sleep, and at some point I realised I do love her, and now with every day that love grows.
Congratulations Elyssa from Emma & Debbie x
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