Friday, 10 August 2012

Walter's Birth

I've tried to keep the details as reader-friendly as possible, but read at your own risk!


I didn’t expect to be putting Walter’s birth story up on the blog, as I figured it would be fairly routine, unpleasant, and private. But as it turns out, mum and I have been retelling it to people so many times...

My NHS-issued due date was July 28th, but due to the length of my cycles plus the charting I do for NFP, I figured that July 31st would be closer to the actual date of arrival. Still, after the midwife had promised me a membrane sweep at noon on August 3rd (ewwwwwwww) I was pretty determined to have my baby out by then. The days of waiting after my NHS due date passed were agony, particularly as David had to leave for a major conference in Germany in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Now I can look back and chuckle, but at the time the number of people who thought nothing of asking my really personal questions about how many centimetres I was dilated (never did find out) or whether or not I was having contractions and what they were like etc was not amusing. As mum points out, pregnant and delivering women lose a bit of their dignity, or at least modesty!

I felt uncomfortable for most of Thursday, so we ordered in some spicy Chinese food to ensure I had a good amount of calories just in case. I spent the evening drinking mugs of raspberry leaf tea and watching The Color Purple with mum. By about midnight I was having recognisable, regular contractions and had a steady back-ache. Mum called the Birthing Unit which led to the first disappointment of the evening – even tho’ I’d been signed off as having a low-risk pregnancy, and even tho’ the midwife who checked me at 36 weeks had sent in my paperwork, they refused to take me because of my pre-pregnancy weight. I was really annoyed, since all along the midwives had been telling me that I could go wherever I wanted. Still, we got advice on where to call when my contractions got stronger, and I tried to control my levels of annoyance as they were interfering with my contractions! Now I keep enjoying the irony that I’d been turned away from the midwife unit only to end up with a home-birth!

I soaked in a hot bath and tried to stay relaxed while waiting for my contractions to reach 45 seconds, so that I’d be able to call the delivery unit and go in. After their brief assessment on the phone, we were told that I could come in but that my contractions likely weren’t long enough. We got there and the nurse who saw me decided that I didn’t seem to be in enough pain to even warrant a physical examination! I was sent home with codeine and told to call back if my water broke, if I couldn’t manage the pain with codeine & tylanol, or if my contractions finally hit a minute’s length and felt much worse. The drive back home was hellish, especially knowing that the pain I was in didn’t even count as ‘labour’. Every bump we hit in the car was awful.

I went back into the bathtub and tried to practice my deep breathing exercises. By this time it was 5:30am. My contractions still weren’t a minute long... and then...

THEN I noticed that every 15-20 minutes I would have a minute-long ‘contraction’ that was actually a quadruple contraction, with my stomach tightening up so hard that being in the bath was my only saving grace, since I could just allow the water to support me through it. The intervals weren’t regular enough for the hospital charts, so I stayed in the tub and kept monitoring the minutes. Those quadruple contractions were the most terrifying part of the whole thing, actually—I don’t remember much pain from them, because I mostly had back-labour, but the way my body was spasoming terrified me mostly because I knew I’d have to manage to get out of the bath, into my clothes, and back to the hospital. I kept having to push with each of those long contractions, since it was the only way I could manage to get through them, but I’d heard all about the little indignities of giving birth so I figured this was just one of those bowel-movement risks people go on about! It certainly felt more like that than a baby making it’s way down.

By 8:15 I felt I warranted getting back to the hospital for a shot of painkiller, as I needed to sleep. So mum got on the phone with the delivery unit, who said I could come in, and I sat down on the toilet to try and get dressed. Thanks be to God that it took me almost five minutes just to gear myself up to grab clothing, as otherwise we’d have been in the car and on our way out! As mum got off the phone with the hospital I felt another one of my long contractions starting. But this time when I pushed the weird ‘feeling’ was suddenly happening in the front as well as the I put my hand down and felt the baby’s head. The first thought that flashed through my mind was “dear God, please don’t let me be like those women in the Walmart stories who give birth in the toilet!” followed by telling mum to call 999 because I felt the baby’s head.

It’s only by the grace of God that I managed to get down the hall and into my bedroom. I was so worried that Walter would just fall out, or that I wouldn’t be able to move and would have to give birth on the floor. The 999 operator told mum to tell me that if I felt like pushing I could push, which was great because I couldn’t really not do it by that point! So I hobbled down the hallway, hopped into bed, and a minute or two after that I had to push and out came Walter’s head. Mum was then receiving instructions on how to deliver the shoulders, which she was going to try to do with one-hand since the other was holding the phone. Fortunately our buzzer went at that point and David rushed downstairs...literally seconds later he was running back upstairs behind Simba the paramedic, who ran down the hall just in time to help mum deliver the rest of Walter.

The rest of the day was a blur. I think we were at home for two hours, with various paramedics and then a midwife coming in. Because Walter came so quickly and there was no supervision, I ended up with a third-degree tear. This sounds a lot more painful than it actually is. Unfortunately it meant that we had to be taken to hospital (via ambulance! Complete with sirens and lights!) since I needed an epidural and proper stitches in the operating theater. And once you’re in the hospital they don’t like to let you leave, so we were kept in for 24 hours.

Needless to say, nothing went as planned. The idea of a long and painful labour, followed by tears and family photos, was pretty much non-existent as I spent most of Walter’s birth-day hooked up to machines and unable to move from the waist down. My labour itself was short and relatively painless. Pain-wise, the most excruciating thing I felt was back-labour, and what was hardest for me was being unable to sleep. Actually giving birth hurt but in a very manageable, not extreme way. Now we just joke about how Walter is wrapped in the lucky number three—born on the 3rd of August, after 3 hours of labour, in only 3 pushes.  

When we made it to the hospital--before my surgery

One proud daddy!

Trying to get a proper look at my son--I'd hardly seen him other than some skin-to-skin cuddles at home


  1. Thanks for posting. So glad you were safe. Love you and congrats again

  2. AWESOME! Can I please have labor as pain free as that! I had 14.5 hours of back labor with hours of those piggy back contractions! This is seriously an awesome birth story though! Glad everything turned out well!

  3. I don't know if I was just lucky OR if the relaxation exercises I practiced beforehand helped. This site was a big help: and I made a point of doing deep-breathing exercises every time I was in the tub, and then I spent most of my labour in there so it came more naturally than trying to do it in a chair. Mine certainly wasn't pain-free, but it was a sickish sort of pain rather than utterly unbearable. No screaming from me at least.

  4. Things must be very different in the UK! I went to the hospital just a few hours into labour and stayed for 12 hours until the baby was born! I can't believe they kept telling you when to come and go. Also, I laughed when I read that they offered Tylenol for pain management...if only Tylenol could take away that pain :)

    Sounds like you did amazing considering the circumstances! Congratulations on your beautiful son.

    1. Things are quite different. They play it up as being more comfortable at home, and thus better for you (which is true to some degree) but most people suspect that this is due to staffing shortages and them not wanting to fill up the hospitals.

      Most of my experience, however, was due to the nurse deciding I didn't need a physical examination. No one has been able to establish when I was in labour, because I was trying pain-free labour techniques and either they contributed to my comparatively calm state (not that I was pain free by any means!) or I only had a three-hour labour.

  5. Thanks for sharing your labour story. I am glad I was able to ready the details (I had read the short version on facebook). Good job Mama! And what a story to tell! With my 5 children I have experienced back labour, an epidural, various other "drugs", a c-section, the comfort of the bath... along with many other things but never a home birth! With Rebekah the nurses were trying to get an idea of what my labours are typically like but each one has been very different from the others. Now that nearly 4 weeks have passed I hope you are nearly recovered and I am so glad to hear (and not at all surprised) that you are enjoying motherhood. Congratulations again!