Strap yourselves in – this is going to be a long one.
I found the last few weeks of my pregnancy very tough – I’m a very small woman anyway in terms of both height and weight so the last stretch was a real struggle. Coupled with sciatic pain, constant nausea and the need to pee every 5 minutes, I couldn’t wait for it to be over. My due date was the 17th of November 2017 but around Halloween, I started feeling a pain that I can only describe as being like mild period cramps. I put it down to more stretching and decided to ignore it. The pain would come and go in waves but I could get on with other things so I wasn’t too panicked. Looking back now, I definitely know it was very early labour!
Fast forward to Bonfire Night (Sunday, November 5th) and Jon and I were going into Cardiff to meet my mum and dad for a catch up before the baby arrived. We had agreed to meet in Cafe Rouge for lunch but beforehand, as it was Bonfire Night, and we have Sherlock, we needed to stop off at Pets at Home to buy some calming medication. He had been very stressed in the run-up with plenty of rogue fireworks going off so we needed to intervene.
In the car on the way into the city, I started to feel more period type cramps but these were much more intense. They would still come and go in waves but they were much stronger than before. I remember being in Pets at Home and not being able to find the medication and being quite short with the staff member who eventually came to assist (sorry, whoever you were!)
As we were parking up in the city centre, I really didn’t feel well. I didn’t feel like I could walk – I could feel a lot of pressure in my pelvis and found it quite tough to talk to my poor husband. At this point, we should have turned back for home and phoned the hospital but I didn’t want my parents to have had a wasted trip! As we walked through town, the pressure and pain only got worse to the point where I said to Jon, “I don’t think I’m going to make it!” However, we did and I’ll be honest, I don’t remember much of that lunch. Apparently, I visited the bathroom several times, I couldn’t really converse with anyone and I barely touched my food. Hardly surprising, considering the agony I felt. I think it was at that point that I allowed myself to believe that this really was labour!
We left the city immediately after and headed home where Jon ran me a warm bath with a Lush Twilight bath bomb (relaxing, as it contains lavender and just so happens to be my favourite) and called the hospital. Using a contraction timer, we could see a pattern emerging and they were coming every 4 to 5 minutes. With this being my first pregnancy, I wasn’t really aware that this is actually considered to be established labour. The hospital advised that we make our way down which we did.
On arriving at around 5pm, a midwife showed us to a room and whilst we waited for the verdict, we could hear another lady giving birth next door. It absolutely frightened the life out of me. As I lay on the bed, I could feel that my contractions were waning and the intensity was wearing off, much to my annoyance. The midwife monitored me and after a few minutes decided that we should go back home. Looking back, it was the right thing to do, but at the time, I really was not amused. She hadn’t even examined me!
We got back home and I decided to go for a lie-down on the bed in the dark. The contractions slowed again and I realised that I needed to be up and active if I was going to have the baby any time soon. Jon was watching his team, Chelsea FC, play on the TV and strangely, as soon as the final whistle blew, the pain became unbearable. It was time to break out the TENS machine (an absolute lifesaver for me) and for Jon to call the hospital back. The contractions were coming now every 3 minutes and they advised us to go straight down.
On arriving this time, we were shown into a delivery room and instantly, there was a contraction. The midwife, who was preparing to examine me, said, “I think we may be farther along than you think!” Here’s to hoping!
I had made it to 8cm all on my own!
I felt so proud of myself and my body for doing so much of the hard work. I was labouring awfully quickly for a first-time mum (I took 29 hours to come into the world!) but there was no stopping this baby! At 10pm and plenty of gas and air (this stuff is amazing!), I reached 10cm and was ready to push. This was by far the hardest bit for me. Already exhausted and desperate to meet my baby, 2 hours felt like forever. We tried every position you can think of to bring him out, but he wouldn’t budge. I walked around, squatted over a toilet, got up against the back of the bed, on my back, but nothing worked. As the minutes ticked by, the midwives were getting more and more keen to get baby out but there was nothing I could do. And although the baby was being closely monitored throughout and was absolutely fine, I couldn’t help but start to panic.
After 2 hours (the maximum amount of time you’re able to push) I was wheeled down to the high-risk ward. The baby’s head could be seen but was not budging and at this point, I just wanted it all to be over. The doctor was called in to examine me and advised an emergency forceps procedure in theatre under an epidural. A whole heap of emotions landed on my lap – relief that it was all going to be over, scared of going into theatre, the excitement that I was going to meet my baby and disappointment that I’d done all the hard work myself and now I needed some help. However, there was no time to dwell. I signed some papers and was whisked away into theatre. The spinal was inserted and instantly, the pain was taken away. I remember telling the staff that my legs felt like “liquid gold,” something they all found very amusing!
Jon reappeared after a few minutes in his scrubs and the theatre staff did what they needed to do. I had to have an episiotomy to help get him out and as the surgeon was pulling him out, she said that there was a very good reason why he didn’t come out on his own. His arm was up by his head like Superman, meaning he would not have been able to come out on his own!
The baby was placed on my chest and I remember thinking how big he was! I didn’t cry – I think I was more in shock that he was suddenly here. He whimpered and just looked up at me with the biggest eyes I’ve ever seen. I’ve never felt love like it.
Raife Edward Davies was born at 01:59am on Monday, 6th November and weighed 6lb 15oz. which is a good size considering the size of me! We really couldn’t believe how fortunate we were and still to this day, that feeling has stayed with us.
And that’s it – my birth story. It wasn’t what I wanted and I’ll be honest, for a little while after I felt disappointed that I didn’t do it all myself. However, the midwife who came to visit for the first few times after we got home was incredible. She made me feel like I had actually done a great job and encouraged me to talk about the experience openly. In hindsight, I am really proud of myself and yes, I would do it all over again in an instant (once I catch up on some sleep!)