We found out we were expecting our first baby a few weeks after we returned from our honeymoon. It was such a surprise, but we were overjoyed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nerve wracking – your emotions are sky high as it is. That overwhelming sense of instant love, enhanced responsibility and protection fills your body from head to toe. It was a dream come true.
Lockdown happened when I was 22 weeks and work instantly furloughed me which was a welcome relief. I spent most of my days decorating the nursery, ironing baby clothes and relaxing in the garden. We signed up to the Positive Birth Company course which worked really well for us, I felt so much more informed of what was to come.
My midwife appointments were a solo affair. Masked up and coated in hand gel, it was the only experience I knew. They felt a little lonely at times and my husband missed out on lots of exciting moments. Hearing the heartbeat for the first time was unbelievable - it was addictive. Hearing that little babe we’ve created brought us so much joy and happiness through those uncertain times.
The pregnancy itself was what I would describe as normal. I suffered with sickness for the first 16 weeks and it was a rough few months – I was off work for about a month with the constant need to be near a bathroom. I developed an iron deficiency from around 30 weeks and each day became tiring, so it was great being at home for most of my pregnancy.
My due date was looming and at 38 weeks the midwife told me our baby was facing down and engaged. The reality of birth was kicking in and nesting took over. Towards the end of my pregnancy, I was laden with swollen ankles and legs, so our daily covid walks became shorter and shorter.
The 40-week mark came and went with not much action, I was visiting the midwife every three days at this point and after a trip to the hospital at 40+3 I was advised to book in for an induction at 40+12 due to my blood pressure increasing and our baby not wanting to make an appearance.
Induction day came and we’d stocked up on snacks, drinks and Netflix series – we knew we were in for the long haul, but luckily my husband was allowed to stay in for the duration of the induction and until our baby was born. Our own room was clean and simple with a small bed in the corner for my husband.
The induction process began around 5pm with the insertion of the pessary. I was prepped by our lovely midwife that the first one often didn’t change much and it would be a surprise if I didn’t need a second. So, as you can imagine, six hours later once the first pessary had worn off and nothing had changed, a second attempt was on the cards.
At 3am I had my second pessary. It wasn’t until two hours later when I started to get tummy aches and cramping that I thought "This was it.” However, I would later learn it was not! I vividly remember the midwife coming back to our room a few hours later asking how I was feeling, I replied with "I think it’s started" and her saying it definitely hasn’t – you’re only one centimetre dilated!
Since the two pessaries hadn’t started, I was then told stage two of our induction was down to the labour ward to begin the drip. The anticipation was overwhelming - it meant another step closer to meeting our baby so even though each step was longer, we knew it would be worth it. We were hooked up to the monitor, listening to our baby the whole time, and were taken down to the labour ward and into our own private suite.
The suite was calming and quiet. It had my dream water birth set up – a bath in the corner, dimmed lighting and a real sense of calm. My whole pregnancy I had been focusing on my breathing and positioning to ensure the birth was plain sailing, but I guess you can never really plan for what might happen during labour.
The induction drip began and the strength of the drip was increased over a period of time during the six hours. Contractions came and went, as I thought they would, and the midwives artificially broke my waters to encourage the baby to get moving.
After the first drip we were told not much had changed and they would increase the next drip with the hope that labour would ramp up, contractions would start and our baby would make an appearance. However, another six hours down and I was still only 3cm dilated so we slowly knew a natural labour wouldn’t be the way our baby would enter this world.
I’d had gas and air on the first drip which didn’t soften the inductions, so I opted for an epidural not long after to help with the pain relief. It was like a switch had turned once the epidural took effect. The contractions became so much more manageable, and I was able to control my breathing and pain relief so much better.
I suffered with a lot of sickness once the drip started and I had several anti-sickness injections to support me through. My husband was amazing through the whole thing and I couldn’t have done it without him. Every decision and step we took, we did together.
An hour into the second six-hour drip, the doctors and midwifes were bustling around in the room. There seemed to be a sense of urgency at the time but they came and went without saying anything. They came in and out every 30 minutes, turning the machine on and off whilst having a discussion in the corner of the room.
By this point exhaustion was setting in. We were 34 hours into our labour and my sickness became worse due to all the medication that had passed through my body. The uncertainty of what was happening began to worry us.
My husband pulled the doctors to one side and asked what was happening, to which they replied our baby’s heart rate had dropped and we needed to turn the drip off for a few hours. We needed to give our baby a break. I needed a break. The uncertainty of not knowing how long the drip would continue was exhausting. In this moment we requested an emergency C-Section.
After extensive conversations with the doctors, we all came to the agreement this was the best decision for me and the baby. The caesarean felt like such a relief - we knew this was the moment we would meet our baby. I felt relaxed and after introductions and a big debriefing from the nurses, doctors and anaesthetist, the procedure began.
Two hours later it was announced we’d had a baby girl and our daughter arrived to Lewis Capaldi playing on the radio at 4:49am – 36 hours after we arrived. It was such a beautiful moment, and I will always remember that day.
Birth and labour can be the most exhausting of times, but that moment when you meet and hold your baby for the first time is one of love and pure joy. Cherish and enjoy every second of it.