Ok, firstly I want to point out that I don’t mean this to be a depressing account of my sons birth. Of course, it was the most majestic day of my life because it meant he was now with me – but – the ending wasn’t quite how we had thought about it or planned it.
I got my first contraction sitting on my birth ball around 9pm on 7th April 2013, there was no mistaking it. It was the most agonising pain I have ever felt in my whole life. I told Nick I was going to try and get a few hours sleep (yeah right!), but when I got into bed they were coming thick and fast and I was writhing around in pain saying if it hurt this much already, how the hell was I going to be able to do this.
I text my sister and she suggested to get into a bath to try and ease the pain. It didn’t ease a damn thing and I was almost in tears. My contractions had gone from 10mins apart, to 6mins apart, to 3mins apart literally within about 20mins. I was a bit worried about how quickly they were getting so close together so called the labour ward who told me to come in.
We went and collected my mum and made our way to the hospital. When we arrived I went to the midwife led unit, but my blood pressure was high and so I had to go down the corridor onto the consultant led unit. My contractions were so strong and there was no let up in between them! I was wired up to a monitor and had a band on my arm checking my blood pressure every five mins – SO annoying!
Firstly I tried gas and air but it made me puke loads, so I asked for pethidine – she hadn’t even got back with the pethidine before I was telling my mum and Nick that I 100% needed an epidural! There was no gap in between my contractions which made it difficult to cope with, once one was tailing off – another was beginning to build.
I got my epidural at 2.30am and within 15mins I couldn’t feel a thing! I napped through the night and when I was examined at 5am the midwife told me that if I continued to progress then I would start pushing at 10am.
The midwife who took over from her, unfortunately, was an agency midwife and not known to the hospital. She was nervous and didn’t know her way round and just didn’t seem confident at all.
I started pushing at 10am but I couldn’t feel my contractions to push as she had topped my epi up too close to the end. I wasn’t pushing effectively and she said once it got to an hour she would have to inform a doctor, so for me to try really hard. An hour came and went and she decided ‘I think you can do this, so i’m gonna let you go on a bit longer’ – that’s when Nick started to get concerned.
She let me go another 45mins and even though I was begging to go on all fours as I was so uncomfortable, she wouldn’t let me.
This bit is all a bit of a blur…….
His head seemed to take an absolute lifetime to come out, it was painful and uncomfortable and it didn’t seem right how long it was taking. As soon as it was out and his body didn’t follow, she leant across and pressed the crash call button. Red lights flashed, sirens went and within minutes there were about 10 different doctors and midwives in the room.
All I remember is them ripping off the end of the bed and pushing the head of the bed right back so that my head was lower than my body. They then contorted my legs up to my head and fully back down – where I could feel Noah’s head in between my thighs, it felt like they were crushing him. They did this twice and I can remember absolutely screaming in pain with how much it hurt. A little consultant in a suit ran in, no time for gloves, and pulled him out whilst a midwife applied pressure to my pubic bone.
He was chucked onto my stomach but taken away within milliseconds to the cot in the corner. A doctor had an oxygen mask over his face and was trying to get him to breathe. I was in tears, my mum and Nick were in tears, apparently I kept saying “Is my baby dead?” The doctor reassured me he just needed some help. Then I saw him blink, and some weird part of me relaxed under the adrenaline and I had an overwhelming feeling of calmness as I decided to myself “he’s going to be ok”
They brought him over for a 10sec hold, and then he was wheeled round to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
The midwife was completely unprofessional and didn’t offer to clean me or change the sheets on my bed. My mum and Nick had to scrabble round to find fresh sheets and give me a bed bath. The midwife then reappeared, in tears, and cuddled me apologising – I cannot believe how unprofessional this was, and it made me so angry. I should not have had to comfort her!
I didn’t see my baby or know what was happening with him for three hours. It felt like a million years. Luckily, hormones are an amazing thing and they allowed me to be cool headed and confident that he was going to be ok – Nick on the other hand was a mess, so I was able to be there for him.
Noah had a breathing tube put in which caused a pneumothorax in his lungs, so he needed a chest drain as well. He was receiving morphine through a tube into his umbilical stump. He had wires in his head to measure his brain waves. He had a feeding tube in his nose. He didn’t look like a newborn baby should.
He was transferred to another hospital an hour and a half away for specialist cooling treatment which is where they lie the baby on a special mattress which reduces the babies body temperature right down to put them in a coma like state in order for their body to repair itself effectively. Usually a baby is cooled for 72hrs but Noah’s brainwaves were so good, they started warming him back up after 12.
I wasn’t able to go with him as I was receiving IV antibiotics due to a temperature to rule out infection. I was given a side room on labour ward. There was nothing more heartbreaking than hearing the babies crying on the ward when mine was so far away, but luckily his amazing Dad was with him! Nick was sending me pictures and little videos. I never got to hear Noah cry for the first time.
When I arrived, we were given a family room next to the NICU. It took 2 days after giving birth for the sadness to finally overwhelm me. I was hand expressing colostrum in our room and it took me half an hour to get a miniscule 10mls out. Then, I accidentally spilt half of it. I burst into floods of tears and finally let all my emotions out.
He was in this hospital for 3 days before being transferred back to our local hospital. We slept on chairs for 2 nights next to our babies bed before they got us another family room here. He was doing fantastically but they were keeping him in to make sure his feeding was established.
On the Friday, Noah was 6 days old, we came back from getting breakfast to the amazing news that he could stay in our room with us that night with a special mattress and that we could take him home with us in the morning! I remember crying my eyes out as I was so so happy.
Shoulder Dystocia is a scary scary thing as it cannot be recognised until the head is out and then it is too late for intervention and the oxygen deprivation countdown begins. Thankfully, Noah is perfect, but some babies aren’t that lucky. I feel truly blessed to have such an amazing boisterous little boy, he truly was a little soldier!