Time has a funny habit of playing tricks on you, because going into labour and giving birth to Little Ored seems like it was only yesterday and yet it already feels like a very long time ago. Some bits I can remember with complete clarity, others are already a bit fuzzy but I’ll do my best to finally share my labour experience!
Why? Because Pampers UK have launched a fantastic campaign encouraging parents to thank their Midwife/Midwives for the hard work and support they provide during what is arguably one of the most incredible and life changing moments we’ll ever experience (if also completely terrifying). And for every #thankyoumidwife that is posted on social media, Pampers have promised to donate £1 to the Royal College Of Midwives so let’s spread the love!
I was ten days overdue and by this point my already ridiculously huge bump had somehow managed to find the space to grow even larger. I was beginning to feel uncomfortable and for the first time in my pregnancy, I was starting to feel anxious. I had already had one sweep which had failed and whilst the midwives at Eastbourne Midwifery Unit were busy planning my next one I was busy listening to the relentless ticking of the metaphorical clock because time was running out. As EMU is solely run by Midwives there are lots of procedures in place to ensure a safe labour and delivery for both Mum and baby, and so in order to birth there I had already had to meet a list of criteria that deemed me low risk.
And so the longer our baby made us all wait (“I’m way too comfy in here. Deal.”) the more I was becoming a high risk. If this second sweep failed, I would have to be induced and give birth at a hospital which isn’t what I wanted. EMU appealed to us because of the fact it’s run by midwives, with an emphasis on one-to-one care with little to no medical intervention. Partners are even able to sleep overnight in individual rooms with Mum and baby, maximising that initial bonding time as a new family. In short, it was exactly what Ored and I wanted. Giving birth on a hospital ward was not.
So when the second sweep rolled around I was visibly concerned, so much so that the midwife carrying out the procedure said to me, “I know it’s hard, but the more you worry and the more stressed you make yourself, the more baby will pick up on it.” And I knew she was right. Anxiety is completely counterintuitive when you’re trying to encourage a little one to leave the safety and warmth of the womb, where they’ve been quite happy for the past nine months, and enter the big wide world! As much as I desperately wanted a pool birth, I knew that as long as our baby was delivered safely, it didn’t really matter where we were and so I left it to our unborn babe to decide. What would be would be.
Sweep completed, we did as we were told and went for a brisk long walk. Well, at least Ored did- I waddled behind! Nighttime came and went and still nothing, so we went for another walk in the morning and I can remember talking to my bump pleading, “I know I said I only wanted you to come when you’re good and ready, but we’re just so excited to meet you!” Yet still there was nothing.
As I complained of chronic back pain (what I later realised were the first signs of early labour) I contemplated what it would be like to be pregnant forever– only for my waters to break. Four hours later I was lying in the birthing pool, exhausted yet feeling like a firecracker (never underestimate the power of adrenaline) as they handed me our baby.
Yes it really happened that quickly, so quickly that I never had time to mentally prepare myself for what was about to happen (i.e pushing a baby out of my vagina) because it WAS happening. So thank God Ored and I had Denise. Overseeing our delivery from start to finish, which meant staying long after her shift had ended, Denise was the calming, reassuring and encouraging presence we both desperately needed. Because for all my relaxed, take-it-in-my-stride approach to life (not to mention Ored’s quip that I’m “tough as old boots”) when the pain takes over, panic sets in. All of a sudden you wonder, “can I do this?” Denise was there to make me believe I could, not just that I had to.
And the care from the midwives that Sunday evening didn’t just extend to telling me when to breathe and when to push. It was showing me how to help little Ored latch during those first tentative attempts at breast-feeding. How to dress him and put his nappy on. Demonstrating how to bathe him the next day. And when we left, how to put him in his car seat safely. Oh, and let’s not forget the thousand and one questions we asked not only during our overnight stay but for the next month, calling EMU whenever we found a rash, a raised temperature or anything else that scared the crap out of first time parents.
For this, both Ored and I are eternally grateful to the team at EMU. And whilst the words thank you will never seem enough at least the #thankyoumidwife will hopefully go some way to showing the midwives and the NHS just how much we value you. Because quite frankly, we couldn’t push these babies out without you!