i have hesitated to write about my labour because do people really want to hear about that? but i have had lots of questions about it, so apparently people do want to hear about it. but then i wonder how much detail to include. i am mindful that people like my father-in-law and brother read this blog. how much to do they really want to hear about my experience of birthing a child? but nevertheless, i will acquiesce and write out what it was like for me.
All through out my pregnancy I had convinced myself that birth wouldn't be so bad. sure people talk about the pain and hours of anogy that labour entails, but i was convinced that it was one of two things: 1.) they were being too negative and having negative perceptions to begin with or 2.) they were just being pansies. really, birth couldnt be all that bad. as long as i had a good attitude and went in thinking positively i would be ok. plus i always considered myself to have a pretty high pain tolerance. I mean come on, in May I had 45 minutes of stitches with no anesthetic. so that makes me tough right?
Lesson #1: no amount of previous experiences with pain can prepare you for birth. its unlike anything you have been through before. granted birth is different for every person, but it doesnt matter how many stitches you had with no pain relief or the fact that you were run over 7 times by a car and still managed to drag yourself to the nearest hospital with your arm only hanging on by a thread....birth is different and if you have never experienced it before, its hard to prepare yourself for it.
lesson #2: even my husband agrees with me. after being with me for the entirety of my labour and birth (depending on who you ask, somewhere between 22 and 15 hours) he agrees. birth is intense. the whole time i was pregnant we had the 'which is worse' discussion getting kicked in the balls or birthing a child. after watching me give birth, he was quick to say he would rather get kicked in the balls than go through anything close to natural labour. nice to have that one settled finally.
my due date was 23 July. the 23rd came and went with NO BABY!! I was furious. to put it nicely. I compare my situation to that of Rachel on Friends. She was late and miserable. and miserable to everyone that she was around. i think its safe to say that i was like that. i could not wait to have the baby. i was so tired of being pregnant and it felt like it was never. ever. going. to. end!! when i got into bed on the night of the 23rd, i was so discouraged. i just wanted a baby! all along the midwives had said that my due date was wrong and to except the baby early, but it here it was, my due date, and still no baby.
i was up at 1.30am with a very intense contraction.
and they didnt stop.
woo hoo labour! i was thrilled. i remember thinking "yes! i am in labour! i am so excited!!" perhaps a weird reaction but remember 1.) i was SO tired of being pregnant and 2.) i was convinced labour was not going to be that bad. My contractions kept coming all through the early hours of the morning and by 6.30 we decided to go to the hospital. Not sure what the procedure is in the states, but over here they say not to go to the hospital until your contractions are 2 to 3 minutes apart consistently. my mom found that advice appalling so i imagine it is a bit different in America. anyway, we got to the hospital and i could barely walk. every few minutes i had to stop because i felt like my insides were trying to come outside. and it was not very comfortable. a midwife examined us and said i was only 4cm dilated so not even in real labour. they were going to send me back home. i asked it i could stay and finally the midwife relented. so i was admitted about 7am. a new midwife came on shift at 7 and she was so lovely. young, but cheerful and pleasant. rhys, my mom, kayleigh the midwife and me settled in for the day.
the UK is very particular about birth plans. you write one, sign it, have your midwife sign it, take it to the hospital and that is what they stick to. since i was convinced that labour wasnt going to be all that bad, i was very adamant that i wanted no pain relief.
lesson #3. be flexible. i should have allowed for more flexibility in my birth plan. writing no pain relief AT ALL meant that they didnt even offer. never having been through labour before i should not have assumed i knew what it would be like. i should have offered myself some options...hmmm something to remember for next time.
they came to check me again about 11. i was only 5cm dilated. apparently my body wanted to drag this process out for as long as possible. i remember calling stef, tara and leah between contractions, having a chat when i could then passing the phone off to my mom when an intense contraction came. jack johnson and stereophonics were playing in the background, in alternating playlists. all day it went like this, intense contraction, nothing, intense contraction, nothing. no pain relief for little kristina meant that i was pretty tired and in pain all day. since things started at 1.30am i had not slept at all. Plus the midwives kept telling me to walk around. so here i am, 5 or 6cm dilated, in intense pain, struggling to walk up and down the hall. one midwife even suggested that i talk a little stroll outside! i got as far as the hospital door and ended up almost in tears, so we just turned around and went back to bed.
finally at about 5.30 i was determined far enough along (between 7-8cm) to get into the birth pool. off i went down the hall, jack johnson in hand, and got into the giant hot tub like pool, positioned my arms nicely on a floaty and prepared to birth my child in the warm water. about 6 i got the urge to push. so i did. 45 minutes of really intense pushing in the birth pool amounted to absolutely nothing. the midwife had me get out, examined me again and decided that the pool wouldn't work for me. so back to the room i went. walking down the hall at 9cm dilated, fighting the urge to push...lets just say i was not a happy camper.
by this point my mom is getting worried. which was making rhys and i a bit nervous. my midwife called another midwife in and they were discussing what seemed to the be problem i had been pushing for about an hour now with no real sign of baby. They determined that my water had not broken and that they would manually do it and that would speed along the baby. i was still standing up at this point, leaning on rhys, and just as they decided they would have to break my water, it broke. all over rhys. (he later told me that it was one of the most disgusting experiences of his life. i can imagine) there was lots of blood in the water which freaked me, and everyone else, out. my mom was asking for an emergency c-section. the midwives were saying it was ok and i was exhausted, leaning on rhys, just wishing the baby would come already.
by now its almost 8pm. i have been in intense labour since 4 in the morning! i have been pushing for 2 hours! the average it about 30 minutes. so 2 hours is crazy!! i am exhausted both emotionally and physically. i cant imagine anything else. plus its time for a shift change. thats right, i went through an entire 12 hour shift and NO BABY! kayleigh, my all day midwife, said she would stay on until the baby was born since she had been there all day. and a new midwife came on to help out. the new midwife had practiced for nearly 10 years and she recognized right away that there was no way this baby was coming out on its own. my muscles were too tight. great when you want to look good in a bathing suit. not great when you want to push a baby out.
so after 15 hours of labour and 2 straight hours of pushing, i was told that nothing i could do would get the baby out on its own. i needed some help. some she helped the process along (i am trying to be discreet for the male audience)with a cut and 2 pushes later, at 8.08pm, out came little eleri. all through out my pregnancy my midwife was estimating the baby was about 7 pounds. when i was admitted to the hospital based on my weight gain and what they could feel, they also estimated about 7 or 7 and half pounds. but out came eleri. 9 pounds and 7 oz. yeah, she was giant.
she was also bright purple and i thought she was dead. i kept asking if she was ok but no one would answer me. obviously everything turned out ok, so i will spare the details there but basically the moral of that story is that the NHS sucks.
then, after all of that, they asked me to get out of bed, get into a wheel chair, go down the hall and get some stitches. but then again, thats a whole other story. and one that will have me ranting about the NHS. so i will leave that alone as well.
lesson #4 the NHS really sucks. from long labour, to non-private rooms, to 1950's style beds, to bad advice. and the lists goes on and on. so whilst i was actually pretty positive about the whole midwife and natural birth thing, after going through it. well cant say it was all that is was cracked up to be. and i will never birth another child in the UK. ever.
lesson #5 i am really glad that i gave birth naturally. it was really important to me whilst i was still pregnant to be as natural as possible. i wanted to be fully aware of everything that my body was telling me. i wanted to be awake, alert and in full control. believe me, i was aware of absolutely every single thing my body was telling me. but i wont do it again. there is something to be said not for no pain, but for the end result. After labouring for so long, in so many different positions, with such strong intensity i was beyond exhausted when it was all over. they made rhys and my mom leave that evening and left me with a newborn that i couldn't even pick up because i was so weak (again, a long story that involves many negative words about the NHS) with pain relief (and perhaps a doctor) that wouldn't have been the scenario. so next time i birth a child, i will have an epidural. hey, i have been through it once so i can safely say what i will want next time. if i labour for 15 freaking hours again, it will be a heck of a lot less painful.
so there it is. my labour story. hopefully that satisfies everyone questions of what it was like giving birth in england. and hopefully it was not too detailed for people like my father-in-law :)