I’ll start the story on Saturday April 6th 2013 my due date was on the 10th. I had been on maternity leave for 7 days and I had spent those days watching crap on TV and sleeping (living the dream). We woke up on the Saturday morning and my (brave) husband made some comment about it being a good idea for me to get out of the house and maybe get some exercise. He suggested going to Beeston Castle in Cheshire for a walk. Someone at his work had said it was a nice place to have a walk so off we went. As we arrived in the car park and I realised that the castle was on top of a bloody hill I wasn’t best pleased. I was a bit of a grump and said that there was no way that I could be arsed to walk up the hill. Joe said that there was a walk around the bottom of the hill that gradually went to the castle. So we did that one.
It was a lovely walk. The weather was lovely and there were loads of beautiful spring flowers everywhere. That spring had sprung really late and most of the daffodils weren’t out yet but there were loads at the castle. We had a slow walk around the hill for a few hours. It was so nice to spend some time together. I was in a good mood despite my initial grumpiness. We nearly managed to get to the castle but the last bit was very steep so we (I) decided to go back to the car. On the way out I bought the baby a story book about knights and dragons (I’m a sucker for a gift shop!) We got home and had dinner and I went to bed early because I was pooped.
I woke up at 3.15am and just like every morning since being pregnant, I needed a wee. I went to the bathroom and whoooosh. My waters broke. Agh! I remember being both happy and a bit gutted that they’d gone while I was on the loo. Typical me, I wanted more drama like my waters breaking in the queue at Costa or something (you get a years supply of stuff if your waters break in a supermarket, right?) My initial “oh yay my waters have broken” was quickly over shadowed by a feeling “oh my fricking God the next bit is suppose to be bloody horrendous and we’re not even a little bit ready aghhhhh”. To be honest it was too much emotion for 1 trip to the loo especially as my usual visits are emotion free. Anyway I managed to calm down and then I decided that I needed to wake Joe up.
Again panic set in. What is the best way to wake a sleeping man with the news that the birth of his son might be imminent? It’s an important announcement and I didn’t want to bugger it up. So I stood next to his side of the bed, in silence, try to figure out my next move looking like a confused incredibly pregnant apparition… Which is when he woke with a start and a “Emma you scared the shit out of me. What are you doing?” My waters broke on the loo, I explained, he asked if I was having contractions which I wasn’t. “You’ve got ages to go yet, you might as well go back to sleep” he advised and helped me put a maternity pad on the bed to catch any dribbles (overshare, sorry) and back to bed we went with a few little squeals excitement.
I couldn’t sleep. Of course I couldn’t! So lay there thinking. Worrying mainly. Going through checklists in my head of things that needed to be done (to my surprise we’d done most of them) and then I decided to have a look at my maternity notes to see if it had any words of wisdom. It said that I needed to call the maternity unit and at 5am, that is exactly what I did. They told me to come in at 7am for a chat.
Ugh. At 7am we dragged ourselves to the hospital and sat in the waiting room. And sat. And sat. After a several alarms going off, a few frantic looking people dashing through and 45 minutes later we were finally seen. They monitored the baby for a while, booked us in for an induction at 9am the following day, told us to go home and await contractions. It was a bit of an anticlimax. I thought they’d make more of a fuss about my waters breaking but there was no cheering, no fanfare and no party poppers. It was almost as if they dealt with people’s waters breaking everyday, haha!
Now the rest of the day is a bit of a haze. I did some cleaning, contractions started very gently, I called our parents and my best friend, contractions continued, I bounced on the birth ball, contractions got a bit stronger… It got to about 10pm and nothing much was happening so we went to bed. My contractions were quite strong at this point and coming about every 10 minutes. I slept for a couple of hours and then the contractions were gathering pace and coming quicker. I got up to have a long soak in the tub at about 2am. Then I went downstairs for some more birth ball bouncing fun. Then I think I went a little bit insane. I decided that it would be a brilliant idea to sort out all out DVD’s. I took ALL our DVD’s out of their cases, chuck the cases away, arranged them all alphabetically and then numbered them all with a sharpie as I put them into a huge DVD wallet (don’t panic, I left spaces for future purchases). Then to fully commit to the insanity of this task I listed all the numbered DVD’s in a spreadsheet to make it easier to find them in the wallet. Oh and this was all done from the comfort of the birth ball, in a heavily candle lit living room whilst watching Tim Minchin DVD’s (which I totally forgot to catalogue…muppet!) I presume this is called nesting?!
At about 5:30am I went to rouse Joe. My contractions were now about 3 minutes apart and feeling quite strong and I was anxious to get to the hospital. I really didn’t want to be induced. I was desperate to have a water birth or at the very least to give birth in the midwife led unit of the hospital and I knew that induction meant that both of those options would be out. We rocked up at the hospital at about 7am again but the car journey had slowed my contractions down to about 5 minutes apart again. Groan. We were kept waiting again. Then we were booked in, monitored and taken around to the induction ward. Bye bye water birth. Bye bye Midwife Led Unit.
The midwife let us settle into our curtained off bed area of the induction ward and then came to get me for the insertion of the induction pessary. She took me into an examination room and explained that the pessary was in the form of a “teabag” and that she would pop it in… I won’t go into too many details other than it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. She also told me that I was 2cm dilated. Whoop! Then me and Joe sat in the induction bay, waiting. We popped on The Wright Stuff to watch something but it was really loud in the induction ward and we couldn’t hear the TV so we turned it off. I had a look through some of the magazines that I’d packed and Joe went for a walk to grab a coffee.
After the pessary was put in, I had been strapped up to a electronic fetal monitor (EFM) but it wasn’t making very good contact and it kept losing the baby’s heartbeat. The midwife kept pulling the straps tighter and tighter – it was so uncomfortable. It still wasn’t picking up the baby very well so she asked Joe to hold the monitor onto my tummy. This basically meant that for a few hours while I was contracting in pain my poor husband had to ram a little plastic disc into my tummy. The stupid thing kept not working properly so eventually I took it off. No one was checking on us when the alarm was going off to say that there was no heartbeat anyway and I was in so much pain… Then a new midwife turned up and strapped me up again and said that if she could get good readings for 30mins then she’d take it off me and just monitor every half hour instead. All this time it was only the baby heartbeat monitor that wasn’t working, the contraction monitor was making good contact and it was revving up and up and up. The last time I looked it was at 70% whatever the heck that means! But after the new midwife changed things the contraction monitor wasn’t picking up contractions as well any more and the figure went down but the pain for me was getting stronger and stronger. After 30 minutes she checked on us and said we could have the monitor off and as she was leaving she said “there is no way this baby is coming today, you’re hardly contracting at all” WHAT?!? I started to have a bit of a freak out. If these weren’t actual contractions then I definitely couldn’t handle actual contractions!!
It was at this point that I started to beg for some drugs. I had always wanted a natural birth but if I wasn’t even having proper contractions then I thought I would need something pretty strong when the contractions started properly. I was using my TENs machine since the early hours of the morning and I had it on quite high and I didn’t think it was doing much. I had also been asking to have a bath as I knew that water could help with the pain. Joe suggested that we went for a walk to get some food from the hospital cafe or shop. The midwife said to go for a walk, then a bath and then she’d consider giving me some pethidine. Thanks love! I popped my slippers on, put on my new “in labour” dressing gown and off we went. Worst walk ever… My contractions were getting much stronger and closer together so I was having to stop every few feet to steady myself and breath through the contraction. When we got to the shop I was a right grump. I didn’t want to eat anything and I was feeling sick (I’d only eaten a few 10p bags of Haribo as the idea of anything turned my stomach). Joe bought a sarnie (a chicken and bacon, if memory serves) and we had a very slow walk back. I must have looked a right state!! Staggering about, staring daggers at any passer-by, doing the grumpy labour waddle. I remember being utterly outraged every time a porter strolled past me with a wheelchair but didn’t offer to give it to me, rude!
We eventually got back to the induction bay, my new grey home. Joe found my towel and the midwife led us to the bath. Joe ran me a warm bath while I removed the TENs machine, I got in and he settled himself on the loo to have a little read of his book. Worst bath ever! I don’t know if it was that I’d taken the TENs machine off or what but my contractions strengthened. I don’t think I lasted very long in the bath before I needed the loo. The pessary had fallen out so Joe collected it up, lucky guy! Joe helped me out, I dried off and sat on the loo. Oh my god. The pain. I kept telling Joe that I was going to die and that I loved him. Dramatic, yes. I kept my eyes closed through most of this but I remember seeing Joe’s face and he was white with fear. Poor bloke didn’t know what to do. I tried to get up but couldn’t so we pulled the emergency alarm…
After a few minutes I managed to get up with Joe’s support and we started to make our way to the induction bay when we were met by my midwife. I explained, through the groans, that my pessary had fallen out and that I REALLY needed the drugs now. She led me to the examination room to “pop it back in” and for the drugs. I somehow got on the bed and she got ready to reinsert my pessary when she said ” Oh… did I want the good news or the bad news?” Erm. Any news. I really didn’t care. “You can’t have the drugs, Emma. You’re 8cm dilated. We need to get you to the birthing suite right now”. Then something just clicked in me. Literally clicked. I went into “I am going to give birth soon” mode and all the fear and a large wadge of the pain disappeared. She pulled the alarm cord, got me a wheelchair (finally), Joe grabbed our bag and off we went.
I was helped onto the bed and they put my legs in stirrups (such a sexy look) and some amazingly lovely person handled me the gas and air… Yes! Finally! With the next contraction I sucked hard on it and it really helped to centre me and calmed me down even more. I had 2 more contractions with the gas and air until the consultant came in and took it off me. “You can puff and push darling” he told me… Great! For most of the this bit I kept my eyes close, I have a few crystal clear memories of Joe’s face and the clock on the wall. I got into the birthing room at 5:40pm. At about 6pm someone popped her head in the room and said that my Mum was on the phone and did I want to speak to her… er, no not really! (My poor Mum had called the labour ward asking for my maiden name only to be told that there was no one with that name here, she freaked and then remembered that I was married!). By this point I was pushing. By 6:10pm the (mean) consultant was telling me that if I didn’t get the baby out soon then he’d have to use forceps. And at 6:21pm on Monday April 8th 2013 by beautiful baby boy Dylan Peter Hartley entered the world. He weighed 6lb 12. It was love at first sight. He was the most perfect thing I had ever seen and the pain stopped instantly.
We did skin to skin, he did the baby shuffle down to his first breastfeed and all was blissful. After his first feed Joe had a cuddle with his son while I called family to tell them the good news (I started with my brother as I had about 50 missed calls from him). After calling my bro, my Mum, Joe’s parents and his sister we had to stop telling people as my Dad was flying back from Spain and I wanted to tell him before telling other people. I’ll leave the story here with me and Joe exploding with love and pride for our brand new, beautiful baby boy and with 2 midwives examining my placenta (haha).
After a few hours of cooing over Dylan, hugging him and just being all loved up the Midwife said that I needed to go up to the ward with Dylan and that Joe would have to go home. Agh. It was so sad that he had to leave us and go back to the house alone. By this point I was utterly ravenous and totally knackered and the prospect of a night with one of these newborn things that supposedly cry all the time and don’t let you sleep on my own wasn’t exactly a good one. But we said goodbye and I was wheeled up to the ward. It was about 11pm.
The only reason I am continuing this story is that a few “funny” things happened on the ward. The first was that as Dylan slept next to me I popped the TV on for some “normal” and Maggie Thatcher was on every channel. What the fuck. Was it her birthday? What was going on? My brain was buggered and I had the TV on very quiet so that I wouldn’t wake up Dylan (coz you know, headphones on nearly mute might wake up a tiny baby!) No, she’d died! But I just remember being so confused and bewildered by the whole thing. It was so surreal. After a bit of channel flicking I found that Lock Stock was on so me and a now awake Dylan settled in for our first, rather inappropriate movie night. I know I should have slept but I was so wired!
Then this lady with a trolley turns up. “Hello, darling. Have you just had a baby?” She said in a really thick Jamaican accent, which all of my friends and family will tell you that I cannot impersonate for love nor money, I said that yes I had and that he was called Dylan. She said he was beautiful, which you have to say about a newborn by law, and then she said “I bet ya real hungry my darling”. Yes I was. I eyed the trolley and thought that maybe she would have some pasties or a slab of cake or something, anything! I was thinking best case scenario was she was the Trolley Witch from Harry Potter and I was about to have all the yummy things my heart desired bestowed upon me, worst case scenario I get a pack of biccies… “Dats a shame darling, I just gave away my last sandwich before coming here. I am completely out of food”. Right, ok love, so why on earth are you on my ward at 11:30 at night, just taunting women?! And off she bumbled. I could have cried.
After a little while longer I needed to wee. But what to do with the newborn while I weed. I can’t take a teeny weeny little newbie to the obviously MRSA riddled toilet of the maternity ward (said my rather dramatic over protective new Mummy brain). I pressed my buzzer. A nurse popped her head in. I explained my sitch to her and she gave me a bit of an exasperated looked and said “just go to the loo and leave him here, no one is going to pinch him! Or wheel him in there with you, the loos are massive here” Jeez, thanks for planting the baby-snatching idea in my sleep deprived brain!! The thought hadn’t even crossed my mind!! Needless to say, we braved the toilet together and we were fine (well, he was. I felt like the entire world was going to fall out of my arse!)
Then Dylan started to be a bit hungry looking so I latched him on and he had a little feed and then stopped. Right, I thought, time for some winding. So I sat him up and leaned him on my palm and tried to rub his back. He pulled his head up. Erm, nope, that’s not right. I tried again and he did it again. I kept trying to lean him forwards and he’d pull his head back and hold it up… So I rang the bell again. I explained to the nurse what was going on and she gave me the “idiot new mum” look and said that she’s try. And he did it again and she stammered “newborns can’t do that, how did he do that? He shouldn’t be able to do that” ha! We decided between us that maybe he didn’t need winding, haha.
Thanks for reading… sorry it was a bit of a Lord of the Rings style epic.