It always seems so blurry, filled with emotions I could never explain! Every time I go to talk about it, my eyes well up and I just look at him in amazement. What we both went through to get him here safe and sound will always feel like a triumph.
Let me set the scene. We are two days past his due date and like most expectant mums, I was already impatient! I had been given something called ‘The Miles Circuit’ by my midwife – a series of positions that you hold for half an hour each in the hopes to bring on labour. She said it had worked on everyone she had given it to, so, with nothing to lose I gave it a go. Five minutes later, nothing.
I ended up calling my best friends and asking them to lunch in a local cafe, thinking to myself that it hadn’t made the slightest of difference. Little did I know an hour later I would be having my first contractions whilst trying to enjoy a cheese and onion panini and chasing after my friend’s toddler!
I of course rang Alex, my husband, immediately and he told me to go home and get comfortable. I always thought I was really prepared for labour and the first phase of labour, but the pain really ramped up quickly and I hadn’t actually had my ‘show’. My waters hadn’t broken either, so I thought maybe I was just having Braxton Hicks.
For the next 10 hours, the pain increased and they were coming thick and fast. Still, I forced myself to stay at home and ride out these contractions knowing I wouldn’t want to be in hospital too early. My midwife came to check me at 2am – I had only dilated to 4cm, but the pain was becoming a little too much for me, and after 11 hours I was becoming so tired.
Alex and I both jumped in the car with my midwife following. It must have been something to do with the bumpy car ride because when we arrived at the birthing unit, I was 5cm and was able to go straight into the birthing pool like I had planned.
At this point I was on gas and air, listening to music and talking about pigeons for some reason. I was in the pool around two hours later and the midwife asked to check baby’s heart rate. We couldn’t get a reading so of course I got out to check. Unfortunately, it had lowered a lot.
Upon checking, my waters were bulging and the midwife broke these for me, only to find out that baby had produced meconium so I could no longer stay on the birthing unit and had to be moved in a wheelchair over to the main maternity wing.
At this point I was so disheartened, in so much pain and absolutely exhausted. The beautiful birth I had planned and was so close to having was taken away in seconds.
What I realise now when looking back is that you cannot control anything. Even though I thought I was prepared for things to go differently than I wanted, I ended up really disappointed and couldn’t control how gutted I felt. Things got worse when I found out I hadn’t dilated anymore at all.
I made the decision after another two hours to have an epidural and the ability to try and claw back some energy. Six hours later, I was checked again and had only dilated to 6cm, therefore we made another decision to be induced.
The time continued to pass. I was pretty relaxed until a midwife came to check Abel’s heart rate and we were advised he had yet another meconium and his heart rate had slowed. At this point we were strongly advised he would need to come out via C-section or we could try forceps. However, I had not dilated fully.
All we wanted at this point was to get our little baby out safely and I didn’t care what had to happen. So, Alex got dressed in scrubs and even though it didn’t follow the path we thought, we now knew we were so close to getting our baby in our arms.
We were rushed through to the theatre and by some miracle I had finally fully dilated so forceps were an option again. The NHS staff in the theatre were absolutely amazing - so kind and supportive. We were both so scared, so tired and so worried about little Abel. I actually have a video of Abel being born and it just makes me bawl my eyes out every time!
With a few strong pushes, amazing doctors and Alex by my side, our little boy arrived into the world. We couldn’t believe it, his little body so red, his tiny swollen face and his arms spread wide!
Abel was put on my chest at first, but suddenly he wasn’t making noise or breathing, so the nurses whisked him away to check on him. That may have been the longest few minutes of my life. We finally heard him cry and with that he was brought back to us to cuddle and meet properly for the first time.
I have never and will never again feel the same rush of love I felt in that moment (unless I go for baby number two of course!). It was the scariest, most challenging time of our lives but I would do it all over in a heartbeat if it meant getting our boy here safely.
I will always remember spending those first hours in the quiet of the hospital room with Alex and our little Abel, snuggled close and safe in my arms. It was worth every ounce of my being.