I’ve been wanting to share this for ages, more for myself than anyone else, so I can remember the details of one of the most amazing days of my life, so here it is. Get yourself comfy, maybe grab a brew, and I hope you enjoy. This is my story, of bringing our Rory-Roo into the world..
It was August 5th 2016. I was 1 day past my due date, and I was feeling pretty darn certain that I had the two longest weeks of my life ahead of me, as this baby was definitely in it for the long haul, and wasn’t going to make a move until I was physically induced into labour. Everybody had told me, ‘oh you’ll go early, because you’re so active.’ And I thought they were probably right, with my 5 gym sessions a week, and daily cross country treks with the hound. However, as the due date came around, I accepted the fact that this baby was coming when he/she was ready, and there was very little I could do hurry him/her along. (Gender unbeknown at the time.) I had tried all the tricks in the book, with no success, so I’d just have to wait it out, even if that meant going to 42 weeks. So, that morning we did as we had done pretty much every day for the last 3 weeks since reaching the 37 week mark – we put on our walking shoes, grabbed the dog lead, and went for a walk. – I’m not talking a leisurely mile or two, we walked 5-10 kms across all sorts of terrain in those final few weeks in an attempt to get things moving.
For the past couple of days I’d been experiencing Brixton hicks, which I’d excitedly mistaken as contractions, and had been confirmed as braxton hicks at the 40 week midwife appointment. Along with the fact that baby was now facing back to back, and not engaged at all, having spent the past 3 appointments in perfect position poised and ready to go. So to my frustration, I was booked in for a membrane sweep. I feel silly now after actually birthing a baby, for being so grossed out by the idea of the membrane sweep, as when you look at the bigger picture, and all the things I did endure, a membrane sweep in the comfort of my own home, would have been a very small unpleasantry. But believe me, dignity is something in short supply when a watermelon sized human is forcing its way out of your footh. The midwives also gave me several exercise ideas, to encourage the baby to turn its back to my front, making it very clear that a back to back labour would not be fun for anyone, and could mean higher risk of complications during labour. As we wanted to have our baby in the midwife run birthing centre, the birth would need to be relatively complication free, unless we were to be transferred to one of the surrounding hospitals. I had insisted that I had to have our baby in the swanky midwife led birthing centre, with the ensuite bathroom, and cosy double bed, so hubby could stay with me in said bed, and we could be all cosy and cuddled up like we were at home. (Unsurprisingly there was very little in the way of cuddling. After having my lady bits sewn back together, and witnessing the river Taff meets the Red Sea, flowing out of my hoo-haa, celibacy wouldn’t have been a far off notion.
Anywho, I digress. That morning we set out for our walk, opting for our local nature reserve. It was far from a comfortable walk, with what I suspected to be round ligament pain; something I had experienced since the second trimester, and can best be described as a sharp stretching sensation at the bottom of my bump. But, I was determined to keep active, as advised by my midwife, in an attempt to get baby moving, and back into position. About an hour into our stroll, the over thinking/ worrier in me cane out, and I blurted to Trist about how I was still scared something was about to go wrong, and had read an article the previous night, about how babies that go over 42 weeks, have a higher risk of being still born. (Seriously, if I ever do this again, I’m staying away from Facebook click-bait, and horror story articles!) Fortunately Trist is used to my hypochondriacal ways, and was quick to reassure me, and remind me that I was being ridiculous. He knew I was getting fidgety waiting, and that the days were really dragging out by now, so as a distraction he came up with a plan to keep us busy and not thinking about the baby, and it’s imminent arrival. So we decided that that evening we would go to the cinema to watch The BFG and then go out for one last meal before baby Woods made their appearance. Back at home, it was mid afternoon and I was still feeling generally really uncomfortable, with an unpleasant attack of Brixton hicks. So I suggested that we go to the shop to get something nice to eat instead, really not feeling being in the presence of other people while I ate. We popped to the local shop, but by now the braxton hicks were causing me a fair bit of discomfort in my back, so I let Trist go in alone, while I waited in the car. All of a sudden, I was double over from the pain, and it suddenly struck me; these may not be just braxton hicks.. so I popped my timer on, and surely enough they were coming every 5 minutes, and lasting 30-45 seconds, starting as a full throb in the depth of my lower back, and then spreading across the width, and growing in intensity. When Trist returned, I told him, ‘maybe we won’t go to the cinema. It probably is, but I’m not sure that it is just braxton hicks anymore.’
After months, of very little in the way of an appetite, I ate a real feast that night. In hindsight, it was probably my bodies way of preparing me for what was about to come, and also due to the fact that baby had lowered them-self, so my stomach was finally getting a little bit of relief after becoming increasingly squished over the past few months. We called the hospital around 8pm, and told them the frequency of the contractions, which by now were at 4-5 minutes apart, lasting well over a minute, and causing some pretty evil pain across my lower back. (Yup, our attempts to get baby to reposition definitely hadn’t worked.) Our bags were all packed and ready; I’d packed them out about 32 weeks, and they’d been in the back on the car for the past 3 weeks, after a night away for my birthday the previous month. We were advised to come in and be looked at. Half an hour later, we were there, being directed into a room, awaiting an examination. In came the night duty midwife, hooked the bump up; baby doing fine, but stubbornly remaining back to back. She then gave me a little examination, which was quickly interrupted by a very unexpected contraction, as in I had just finished my last one 2 minutes ago, so was still due another 2 minute gap at least!? Second attempt, examination complete, only to be told, you are 1cm dilated… 1 cm?! Are you actually kidding me?!! I could have cried. To make matters worse, she then went on to tell me that if baby remained back to back, I could expect a long old labour. Reluctantly we drove home, where Trist ran me a lovely warm bath. The bath was pure magic, and eased my contractions no end. In fact, I ended up staying in there for an hour. When I eventually emerged downstairs, it was mid night, and the Rio Olympics opening ceremony was in full swing in the television, whilst Trist snored. My contractions, were back with force. (They hadn’t really ever left, but the bath had certainly made them much more manageable) So, I took position on the exercise ball, to see if a gentle bounce might help.
By 12:30am the pain was getting unbearable, and with each contraction, I’d be on all fours, crippled by the intensity of the pain in my back. So I decided to wake Trist, and let him know I was ready to go back to the hospital, this time, sure that I had made huge progressions. Another examination complete, and the midwife breaks to us, ‘you are 2cms dilated.’ This time however, telling us she can see I’m clearly in a lot of discomfort, she settled us into a room with an en suit bathroom, a birthing ball, a big old comfy corner chair, a bed, and a tv. So we were here for the night. The contractions continued, and by this point I was wearing all but a bikini top and oversized gym T, crying with each new wave. I must have looked a right sight, but at the time, I really could not have cared less.
At around 01:30am in the morning, I distinctly remember wailing at my husband, ‘why did we do this?! I’m never doing this again! This was a stupid idea!’ By this point I was 9 hours deep into back to back labour with my, unbeknown at the time, daughter. My waters hadn’t even broken! There had been no ‘mucus plug’ (seriously, who came up with that name *gags*). And much to my distress, the contractions had missed the memo about giving me a few minutes in between to recover, and kept going through spurts of every 15-30 second, one after another, lasting for 1-2 minutes. (How very inconsiderate!? I wouldn’t wish a back to back labour on anyone, it literally felt as if my bones were about to snap under the force- not even slightly exaggerating.) Contractions are weird, the most intense pain, and then suddenly, the throb dulls and fades to nothing, until suddenly it strikes up again, more intense and aggressive than the last. I could hold a reasonable conversation, and have a good laugh in between, but the second that contraction hit, I was gone, and devil Lisi was unleashed. I probably looked possessed! So glad Trist didn’t insist on us filming any of it! Haha. On several occasions I found myself finding it all too much, bursting into tears and asking my midwife to talk me through pain relief options again. There was very little available, in the way of pain relief. Pethadin was an option, but I wouldn’t be able to use the birthing pool if I had it. Eventually at 3.30, after reaching 3.5cm dilation, I was given gas and air. So I decided to hang in there with the gas and air, in the hope that I could manage the pain long enough to have a water birth. Had I experience a normal labour, I’m sure gas and air would have been much more effective, but every single contraction was hitting my back, and absolutely crippling, and I couldn’t escape that pain, no matter how deeply I inhaled on that nozzle.
At 6.30 am, I was told I was 4cm dilated, and they would start filling the birthing pool for me, so that I could relax in there and hopefully it would take an edge off the pain; no mention of actually giving birth in there. So I wondering into the, thankfully empty, corridor, accompanied by a midwife holding my bed sheet up around me, in an attempt to preserve my modesty, which in real truth, was several miles down the road by now. The pool was definitely my saviour. From the moment I got in, the pressure on my back, was far less evident, though the contractions were still coming strong. It must have been about 7.30am, when mid contraction, I suddenly had a sudden urge to push, and the focus of the pain changed. For want of a better description, it felt as if I was about to poop a huge, very heavy bowling ball! This was when fear suddenly came over me. I had a mental block and didn’t believe that I could push out whatever size it felt like was coming, out! I just kept hysterically crying, and saying, ‘it’s not going to work’, ‘I can’t do it’. Again, another contraction came, and the overwhelming urge to pus, but along with this came a noise from my mouth, I can only compare to something of a cow! Trist’s grip on my hands had really tightened by this stage. He told me he could see some sort of water balloon when I’d had my last contraction, and I looked up to see his eyes full of tears, as he reassured me, ‘you can do this, Lisi! You’re nearly there.’ By this point I was hysterical and convinced I couldn’t do it; they’d have to get me out the pool and give me pethadin, or they’d have to transfer me to a hospital for a c-section. But the midwife, told me to calm down, and that in 2 more pushes my baby was going to be here, and that that water balloon was actually the fully in tact waters still in their sack! Another contraction came, and the push felt like it lasted forever. But surely another after one further push, the pressure was gone, and there she was! The sack & waters had burst as she’d been born into the water of the pool; a real mermaid baby.
There are rare moments in your life, where you feel an overwhelming sense of joy beyond any words, and this was one of them. I had done it. And I don’t know what I was expecting our baby to be like, but she was now here, and she was so much more than anything I could have imagined, and truly took our breathe away. For a moment she was silent, then with a firm rub in the back from the midwife, she let out a brief cry to let us know all was well. Time stood still. Here I was in a room with 4 strangers, submerged in blood and gunk, and all I could see was this little life in my arms. She was tiny, and purple, and perfect. Absolutely perfect. She was half of me and half of the man I love. She. Was. Perfect. And I knew in that very moment nothing would ever be the same again. She was everything, and my life would, from here on out, revolve around this tiny, vulnerable, little person. So for however long it was, I just sat there, in my bubble, chest deep in the birthing pool, in a sweaty haze, cradling this little of perfection. The previous 19 hours seemed like nothing. Birthing a child is surreal. And in an instant my world was turned on its head. Trist cut the chord, and shortly after the midwives took her from my arms and wrapped in a towel.
I’d love to tell you that it ends there, and you just spend the rest of the time nursing your newborn, but this isn’t quite how it goes. Reality is, while baby girl Woods went on to have some skin-to-skin time with Daddy, I was beckoned out of the pool, and into a reclining chair, leaving a trail of gore behind me. They then went on to give me an injection to help me to deliver the placenta. Thankfully I don’t really remember this part, I was too engrossed in the glorious scene playing out in front of me; my husband, the man who was terrified of holding babies, cradling our tiny 7lb 2 daughter, gazing st her with utter amazement, and love, and looking like a total natural. In that moment, I loved him more than ever. I can’t even remember when they gave my the injection! I just remember a mass, and then telling me it was done, and they would show us to our room. Unfortunately, I do remember the next part, very very vividly. I remember laughing when the midwife had explained what a perineal massage was, at my 20 week appointment, and thinking, no thanks! But, at that time, I hadn’t thought I might tear, and need several stitches, or at least, if I did, that it would be so excruciatingly painful! Sure all the back pain and pregnancy, discomfort was gone almost in an instant, but stitches in your lady garden are not fun! I was given several numbing injections, but there was one very sensitive area where it just plain didn’t have the desired effect. Back on the gas and air I went. For the next week, I couldn’t even go for a wee unless I was in the shower, because of the pain that accompanied it. Footh. Stitches. Are. Not. Fun.. However, once that was finished with, all that was left to do, was enjoy my little family. I had been awake for well over 24 hours, and had felt exhausted during the last few hours of labour, but I was high on life; on the life we had just bought into this world, and I couldn’t take my eyes off of her, or stop staring, so it wasn’t until the afternoon that I finally let sleep win, and got my head down for an hour or so.
Aurora; Our goddess of the dawn. Our northern light. Our sleeping beauty. I’d do it all again in a heart beat to know the love, the joy, and the happiness, that she has bought into our lives. I am 100% obsessed with that girl. She’s my best friend in the whole world.
I’ve wanted to share this story for a long while, just so I have an accurate account for myself to look back on over the years, but I hope you all have enjoyed it too! I love labour stories, as ultimately they are the stories that resulted in our worlds changing forever, so if you have a labour story to share, I would LOVE to hear it! ❤️
Lots of love