Welcome to the world my darling baby girl. On Sunday 7th February 2016 at 4.35pm our lives changed forever as I delivered our beautiful angel and our hearts were filled with overwhelming love the very moment she lay on my chest. 6lbs 11oz of pure perfection – let me introduce to you my daughter, Florence Joy Wilson.
Back in July I started to document my pregnancy journey and loved sharing with you all my bump progress pictures every few week up until my last post last week at Week 40 where I felt very ready to pop. I look back at those photos and find it inconceivable that the baby we now know as our daughter was growing away in there and it was always her great plan to come on Sunday 7th February, five day overdue and on the day that I had hoped for all along. 7 has always been my lucky number. Mine and every member of my family’s birthdays all feature the number 7 in them and I thought a Sunday baby would be such a treat – a relaxed day where I knew Rob would be my side all the time without having to startle him at work to come home if I went into labour on a week day. As a fitting way to round off my pregnancy series here on my blog I thought I would write up my labour story, more for my own personal reasons over anything else. There are so many small yet incredibly special moments from that day that I want to remember and cherish forever so I hope by writing it all down I can simply revisit this post and keep the memories fresh.
So it all began on the morning of 7th February 2016, five days past my due date. I went to bed around midnight after consuming a spicy vegetable Jalfrezi and a pint of pineapple (no joke) and as I lay down I felt very subtle stomach cramps. Barely there but I remember thinking to myself that tomorrow might be the day we meet our baby. I woke with a start at around 5.45am on Sunday morning as the cramps had slightly intensified and I was feeling a little uncomfortable. I went to the bathroom and the start of my early labour was confirmed. For those who have had children will know what I mean there! I went back to bed and whispered to Rob that I think today was the day. At this stage the contractions were totally manageable – just like a very subtle period pain so I dozed in and out of sleep until about 7.30am when I decided to get up, shower and prepare myself for the day. Even at this stage it didn’t feel quite real and I almost didn’t want to get my hopes up that I would give birth within the day as we all know labour can go on for 24 hours or more. By 8.30am I was feeling the contractions were gradually increasing so Rob and I began timing them on my handy pregnancy app so we had an idea how long they were lasting and how close together they were coming. At this point they were lasting around 45seconds and were coming every 3 to 4 minutes. I knew I still had a way to go especially as my waters hadn’t broken yet and the contractions were still manageable as I was able to talk through them and feel quite relaxed in between each one. I didn’t want to call the birthing unit too soon and face disappointment of being sent home again so we popped on a few episodes of Catastrophe and doubled checked the contents of my hospital bag. By 9.30am I felt it was worth calling the birthing unit to let them know the details of my early labour and to see if they thought it was worth me coming in. The midwife said I should come down to be assessed so we headed off for the short 10 minutes drive which felt like the longest and bumpiest car journey of my life. I was assessed by the midwife and she confirmed I was 3-4 cm dilated at this point and could either stay in the birthing unit as my labour progressed or go home and wait until my waters break or I feel the contractions are becoming unmanageable. Even though I was a bit disheartened to be going home again I felt confident that things were progressing nicely and we would meet our little child today. Once home I continued to follow my hypnobirthing techniques to remain calm and relaxed as much as possible and tried to remain on my feet as well, pacing around the living room, stopping every 3 minutes or so to lean on Rob and breathe through the contraction. After an hour or so the pain was crippling and I could only find solace curled up on the floor with my eyes closed whilst Rob tried to soothe me. And then pop, my waters broke! Luckily I was fully prepared for this and had towels at the ready. Now I knew it was really was time and despite the intense pain I was so excited and happy that the end was in sight. As Rob got our bits together and tidied around the house (even in my state of pain I couldn’t leave the house without the cushions plumped and my tea mug washed up) I crouched in the shower to seek relief from the hot jet of water on my back and then Rob helped me to dress and bundled me up in the car. The time was now around 2.30pm and from now on, the day was pretty much a blur. All I could do to manage the pain was close my eyes tight and be escorted by Rob to the birthing unit, after an agonisingly slow lift journey to the fourth floor!
My birth plan from the very beginning had been for a water birth with minimal to no pain relief. Luckily because I was very low risk I was able to be admitted to a birthing unit rather than a labour ward. Birthing units are run by midwives without the medical facilities of a normal labour ward but are always close by should medical intervention be necessary. They aim to create a more homely, comfortable environment with sensory stimuli that foster the feelings of calm and control. This is exactly what I wanted and I knew that this combined with the use of a birthing pool and my hypnobirthing techniques should result in the labour and birth I had always hoped for. The same midwife who had seen me earlier that morning greeted us and assessed me for the second time. At this point I was 5cm dilated and in active labour. The contractions were coming thick and fast so she decided to start running the pool as I think she sensed that this little lady was not going to wait around. I knew that it could still be hours and hours until I was fully dilated and ready to push but I just knew that things were going to happen a lot quicker than that. Call it a mother’s intuition maybe. As the pool was filling (definitely didn’t realise they take over an hour to fill up completely) I started walking around my room, hoping gravity would lend a hand. The midwife suggested I tried the gas and air but I really did not like it so viciously pushed it away. By this time the fear was beginning to kick in. Could I really do this? I was shaky and scared. It was like I had a one way ticket on the pain train and I was hurtling towards the station with no way of stopping the train and getting off. Everything was building at an astonishing rate – the pain, the anxiety, the fear of the unknown and I had no way of stopping it. It was the most overwhelming feeling I have ever experienced but I tried to remain calm and focussed even though with every contraction I thought I was going to pass out! The nausea meant I hadn’t eaten or drunk anything since the night before and my energy levels were depleted. I had no concept of time and all I could hear and focus on were the voices of Rob and my student midwife, who had been case loading my pregnancy from the very beginning, and the distant gush of running water as the birthing pool filled. And then suddenly everything changed. As I was standing in the room, palms pressed flat on the wall and my head between my arms, the sudden urge to push became overwhelming. It had only been an hour or so since I was examined at 5cm but I knew this was it. I think the midwives didn’t quite believe it was happening so soon and tried to control my urge to push especially as the pool was still filling up! The time was now around 4pm I think and I was finally able to ease myself into the warm water which felt sensational. The warm swirling water around my belly was bliss and even though the pain was still crippling at this point and I was feeling more scared than I had ever felt before, the relief of being in the pool distracted me from this for a while.
All concept of time was lost once I was in the pool but within half an hour of entering the water, I had delivered our little girl. I pretty much remember every push I had to endure during that 30 minutes or so and all I could do was think that with each push we were one step closer to meeting our baby. The baby we had watch grow for nine months, the little being that I had kept so safe inside me all that time and the one thing that was going to change our lives forever and show us a whole new meaning of the word love. I remember that moment when I looked down and saw her head with her little fluffy hair and knew with the next push she would be here. As I delivered her I scooped her out the water and lay her straight onto my chest whilst the midwife popped a little hat on her. Within seconds she cried as she clung onto me and my heart just melted. As you know we didn’t find out what we were having so after a few minutes I lifted her off my chest and looked away so Rob could be the first person to tell me – we had a darling daughter. I had asked for the midwives to allow the cord to stop pulsating before it was cut so they let us lay there and drink up every wonderful moment before Rob cut the cord and I was allowed out the pool. My labour was only 2 hours 50 minutes and at 4.35pm we had become a family with a new, gorgeous bundle of joy to take home and love forever.
The next few hours were probably my happiest memories from that day. I was in a daze of exhaustion, elation and crippling love for my little child. Florence and I had skin to skin and I fed her whilst the midwives assessed me after the labour. I was bleeding a lot and it was confirmed I had suffered third degree tears during delivery. The consultant had to come in and give me a local anaesthetic to stitch me up in two places. This was the first and only time I properly sobbed throughout my whole labour and afterwards. Of course I knew it was necessary but it felt so invasive and all I wanted to do was to be left alone with Rob and Florence and cherish every moment together. The procedure took about half an hour and once over we were given that peaceful time, just the three of us, whilst they prepared me a stack of toast, jam and tea. Honestly I don’t think anything has tasted so good as that toast on that day. All my senses were heightened and having not eaten for nearly 24 hours, it was the most delightful meal ever. After a few hours they returned to weigh little Florence and do some checks before Rob popped on her first nappy. I had a bath which was when I really appreciated what my body had been through. I ached all over like I had been hit by a train. I was feeling sore, sensitive and fragile. It’s funny but I had kind of forgotten that I would be suffering after the birth – I think you spend so much time focusing on the labour and then looking after your new baby, you dismiss the fact that you have just endured a massive assault of your body and it will take time to feel like ‘you’ again. The midwife had to come in and help me out and dry me off as Rob rocked Florence off to sleep and moved my bags into the room I would be staying in overnight. Once warm, clean and dry in my pyjamas I felt instantly comforted and I settled down in my new bed with Florence by my side in the crib, staring around in wonderment. Rob left me around 10.30pm to go home and all the emotions from the day hit me with full force again as he kissed his girls goodbye, vowing to return at 6.30am the next day to take us home. That night I barely slept, startling at every whimper and sniffle from Florence. I remember just watching the clock and praying for morning to come so we could finish Florence’s checks and tests and head home to curl up in our little bubble.
The morning came and we were discharged around 11am once all the necessary checks and paperwork had been completed. I remember feeling like it was a dream walking out of the hospital with our new baby. We had entered as two and were leaving as three – it was surreal and scary. Daunting yet so exciting. I wanted to weep with happiness. I will never forget that special day, the 7th February 2016, when our angel was born and I will cherish every single moment, the good and the bad, with such such fondness.