In HuffPost Birth Diaries we hear the extraordinary stories of the everyday miracle of birth. This week, Stacey, 34, shares her story. If you’d like to share yours, email email@example.com.
I’m a sweary person. I swear a lot. When I’m happy, when I’m not, when I want to, when I don’t. With the birth of my first child, I was determined not to swear. Even in the worst bits of it, I didn’t want to give my husband any grief, to shout “fuck off” when I didn’t need to, or turn full-on fiesty mama.
I did end up swearing – twice. The first was when a member of staff at the hospital said she was getting me paracetamol while I was in the depths of painful contractions. The second when I had stitches post birth. It was genuinely worse than the birth itself. But I stuck to my guns. On those big urges to push – when I probably should have been focusing on the situation in hand, I was really trying not to scream or swear. No one thought I could do it, which gave me the motivation to go back and laugh in everyone’s faces (and I did).
My whole pregnancy was chilled, to be honest – like, ridiculously chilled. I’d read quite a bit about hypno-birthing, but I wouldn’t say I was an expert. I practised the techniques – listening to audio, affirmations – and felt comfortable with it all. Yet when I went into labour, I had no idea it was labour.
It was a Sunday morning and I woke up about 5.30am, which wasn’t unusual. I felt normal, maybe slightly uncomfortable, but I put that down to wind. I went downstairs, put ‘Downton Abbey’ on, made a cup of tea and bowl of granola, and settled down on the sofa.
I really have got wind, I thought to myself, going back and forth to the loo – but no luck. I couldn’t get comfortable, so I climbed back in bed with my husband. At this point, neither of us clocked that it could be labour.
My mum was staying with us at the time – when I shared my wind problems with her, she dropped the bombshell that hadn’t even crossed my mind. “You don’t think it’s labour, do you?”
Obviously it was, of course it was bloody labour. I was 40 weeks pregnant for Christ’s sake. I scurried back to my husband and broke the news as things started to escalate. These “wind pains” (contractions) were two minutes apart and lasting more than a minute. My mum was halfway through doing her makeup at the point where I told her we had to leave – right that second.
At 7am, we all hurried into the car. It was far too painful to sit down properly, so on the 40-minute journey through country lanes, I was on my knees, facing backwards looking out the window. Just picture that for a second. To make things worse, there was a cycling event going on that slowed us down.
I remember saying “I’ve left it too late,” thinking I was going to my birth my child right there in the backseat. By the time we got to the hospital, the pains were coming thick and fast. I was examined, only to be told I was only 2cm dilated. TWO CENTIMETRES.
They wanted to send me back home but I, in no uncertain terms, said there was absolutely no way on this earth I was going – I told them I’d walk around the hospital instead of having a room but I knew my baby was coming soon.
Fifteen minutes later my waters went. It was happening. “I’ll get you some paracetamol,” a woman said – and that’s when I dropped my first F-bomb.
I was completely in my own world, trying to stay calm, focusing on the end goal. With an hour, I was 8cm dilated and it was too late to have any painkillers. Too late for my birth playlist, my cosy darkened room, my whole entire birth plan.
I was taken to the delivery suite, where I was pushing and pushing and pushing and pushing. Nothing was happening, though, even after I really felt the urge to push. The midwife decided I needed a ventouse, a vacuum cup to stick on my son’s head to pull him out. They found meconium in my waters, which is a baby’s first poo, so there was a pressure to get him out before he could breathe any of it in. To be honest, I don’t remember a great deal of that part, aside from the pain of when his shoulders came out. I distinctly remember that.
[Read More: What Does Childbirth Actually Physically Feel Like?]
Finlay was taken from me straight away before being brought to me. When I finally held my baby, I had this overwhelming sense that I already knew him. He didn’t feel brand-new, he had been in my tummy for months and now he was in my arms.
You’ll laugh at my first words, though. Because of the suction cup, his head was elongated and swollen, and I said out loud “He looks like an alien!”. Honestly, he really did. Like something from Space Invaders. There was one more “fuck” when I was being stitched up, but I’d say I did pretty well on the swearing front.
My birth advice?
Tell midwives on your notes what you do and don’t like. My midwife was amazing – you can write down things like: “I respond best to people who are like X” and it’ll really help.
As told to Amy Packham.