In HuffPost Birth Diaries we hear the extraordinary stories of the everyday miracle of birth. This week, Debbie Tayor-McDonald shares her story. If you’d like to share yours, email email@example.com.
My biological clock first went ballistic at 33, but it wasn’t until I was 39 that I had my first baby (and the birth was rubbish). Fast forward eight months and I unexpectedly found myself pregnant again. It was a shock, but we rolled with it.
This time, I had a textbook pregnancy, until around 36 weeks when I tripped over my toddler while he was playing on our slate floor. In an effort to save myself and my bump, I went down knee-first. It was agony.
Initially, I steadied myself and got up, assuming I was headed for a nasty bruise. I had friends coming for coffee that morning – one of whom was a doctor – so I just got on with it, until my friend, the doctor, walked through the door and I burst out crying. But when she looked me over, she said I’d be fine.
So I just ignored the pain and carried on with my morning.
When they left, I didn’t feel fine though. I phoned my husband and we agreed it was best to go to the maternity ward to get our baby checked out – I didn’t care much about me at this stage (despite the fact my knee was pretty swollen). The baby was scanned and were assured everything was fine, but the consultant took one look at my knee and sent me straight to A&E.
It was this point I realised it was far from “just a bruise”. I had to have an X-ray, which meant lying down with three, incredibly heavy iron aprons on top of my bump to protect the baby. The scan revealed a broken knee.
My pregnancy had gone from textbook to high risk because of blood clotting – which meant my husband had to give me daily injections to prevent the chance of it. I was also put in a thigh-to-ankle cast for a couple of days, but it made me so immobile and, as a result, unhappy. I couldn’t do anything – not even put my pants on – and I just cried the whole time.
The consultant had a chat with me and we compromised – he gave me a velcro sports splint. It was still thigh to ankle, but so much more flexible. There was also a lot of chat about c-sections at this point, which I really didn’t like. I had a 16-month-old baby to take care of, so felt like I’d do anything to avoid a caesarean when the time came. I practically begged them not to give me one.
It was a Saturday night when I went into labour. In the weeks leading up to my birth, I had been using crutches and also had a lot of support from my family to help around the house. But that night I was sitting on the edge of my bed, feeling rough, with Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway on in the background – and I just remember staring at the TV feeling sick.
My mum had come to look after my toddler because I thought something might be happening. After about half an hour, my husband and I decided to head into hospital to get checked out. This was 8.30pm. The midwives checked my cervix and said it would be quite some time away before Esme arrived. Little did they realise I’d be her within half an hour.
“I remember shouting, 'Oh my god I’m going to have a poo!' and the baby slithered out so quickly.”
We were given a room with two lovely midwives. They laid me down on the bed – my splint was still on – but I felt uncomfortable and wanted to stand up. Yes, even with a broken knee. The midwives raised the bed as high as possible, up to my chest, and allowed me to stand up with my arms over the bed, leaning forward on it – most of my weight was on my non-broken knee, but I still had the splint for support.
The contractions hoiked up a notch while I was in that standing position and I was given gas and air. Shortly after, I remember shouting, “Oh my god I’m going to have a poo!” and the baby slithered out so quickly that one of the midwives had to catch her.
As she stood up to hand me Esme, she hit her own head on the shelf. Honestly, it was a comical “is-this-happening” situation. But I felt so energised and genuinely couldn’t believe I’d given birth so quickly – standing up is the way to go without a shadow of a doubt.
I cuddled my baby girl and fell in love all over again. The room I was in was right outside the midwives station – and they’d all heard what had happened. As I walked out the door to go across to the shower, everyone gave me a round of applause. “That’s the way to do it,” one of them said. I felt like taking a bow!
My birth advice?
Listen to your body and what it’s telling you! I absolutely did not do that the first time at all. Just stop and listen. What is it telling you to do?
As told to Amy Packham.