After the heartbreak of a failed pregnancy at 11 weeks, I was fortunate enough to fall pregnant again straight away.
For weeks I spent entertaining the thought of having an adoring little boy (my preference at the time) to the point where I was nearly convinced that I was having one until I had my 20 week ultrasound and found out that I was having a girl. I was devastated. I literally cried for an hour. It was like I had bonded with a little personality complete with his full birth names already chosen and a picture of his little face in my mind and it had been snatched away and replaced with a stranger of the opposite sex that I didn’t know how to prepare for.
But like I said, after roughly and hour of total sobbing I suddenly got over it and out of nowhere, found a profound love for my baby girl to the point where I thought, if the ultrasound was wrong and I was having a boy I would be in tears all over again! I think it had a great deal to do with choosing the name. For some reason I can bond to a name and an idea of a person in the same way that I am able to bond to an actual living person.
Anyway, I felt her first kicks at 17 weeks and 3 days. It was a rhythmic feeling, like a muscle twitch and I realised what it had been the moment I felt it. Then, in roughly the same week or thereabouts, the horrible SPD (Symphasis Pubis Dysfunction) karate kicked me right in the pelvis. It had a lot to do with my weight gain (which probably had to do with all the emotional eating after my miscarriage that ballooned me right up to 15 st 6 lbs or 96.5 kg by the time I gave birth). I had trouble walking, sleeping was a nightmare just trying to roll over in bed and lifting my legs to get into the car took about five minutes.
After weeks of discomfort (thankfully the SPD was the only complication in my pregnancy) my due date approached and I was having some contractions that started mainly around 20:00 every night and lasted roughly 2-3 hours. It got us very excited only to be disappointed when it stopped. We later found out that this was prodromal labour, also referred to as false labour. I was already visualising how my baby would arrive a week or two early, spontaneously, and how she would spend Christmas day with us (she was due 31 Dec) but that was pure fantasy. My due date came and with not even as much as a hint of any New Year’s bundle arriving, I was given a membrane stretch and sweep (O U C H) by my midwife. Pretty much the female equivalent of kicking a man in the unmentionables as my cervix was still posterior and nowhere near ready for birth.
Another week passed where I was living on pineapples and walking up and down staircases, down the parade at the seafront, up over some mountains (okay, not really a mountain, more a mini hill in a local park, but you get the idea) and still no baby. Seven days after my due date, on the Monday, I started having some more contractions, where once again, we were blissfully unaware that they were only the “practice” kind.
My midwife came to see me on the Wednesday to do another sweep and book my induction for the Saturday (when I would’ve been 12 days overdue). Thankfully it didn’t hurt as much as the first one as I had started to contract properly and my labour would soon kick off. It was 11:00 am and I was 3 cm dilated and she told me that she was convinced that it was finally the real deal and that I would be going in to the labour room either the same day, or the day after. I never felt the contractions in my stomach but mostly in my back and spine – which had been down to the fact that she was facing my pubic bone instead of my tail bone.
All day I endured the pain with excitement as the contractions grew in intensity until finally at 19:00 pm, I decided that I would like to go to the birth centre to be examined and to check if I was making any progress. I was quite deflated upon hearing that I was still very much 3 cm but very nearly 4 cm, which meant that my active labour would start soon, but hadn’t yet. The rules for going in the pool were that I had to be 5 cm as to not slow down or stop labour, but thankfully they took pity on me (SPD was responsible for that one) and let me go in straight away.
Because of the pain and discomfort I was having with the SPD, I was desperate to get my cozzy on and get in the birth pool to ease the pain and get into a more comfortable position. I was examined again at 23:00 pm and was very pleased to hear that I was progressing nicely and at 5 cm. I continued to labour in the pool and by 01:00 am I was 7 cm, tired and ready to try the gas and air (Entonox).
The time flew past completely and at around 06:00 am I was told to get out of the birthing pool and bounce on a birth ball because I was on my back and it wasn’t helping the square-peg-in-a-round-hole situation that was already going to create a problem when it would be time to push. Once I got on the birthing ball it didn’t take long before my waters broke, and I would be informed shortly after that I was fully dilated and ready to push.
My beautiful daughter, Anna-Kathariena (Katryn), was born at 09:42 am on 10 January 2013, weighing 8lbs 1 oz (3.67 kg) and 50 cm long. Her face was swollen and her eyes were puffy from being pushed for so long in the wrong position but she managed to turn herself at the last minute before intervention would have become necessary, and I managed to deliver her without assistance. Because she had a bowel movement before she was born we had to stay in hospital for 24 hours observation but it was mainly down to the fact that she was overdue and not because she was in any distress.
I can proudly say that the only pain relief I had was the gas and air and the comfort from being in the birth pool. My labour lasted a total of 11 hours (10 hours in active labour, 45 minutes of pushing and 15 minutes before delivering the afterbirth) and all in all was a brilliant result!