Max’s Birth

I was just about to write a post about the differences between both my births and the advantages of having an amazing midwife, then I realised while I’ve written about Max’s first few weeks in hospital, I haven’t actually dished out the gory birth story details. Here we go:

We had always known I’d be induced and we’d had a date for weeks that we were working towards, although a hospital stay at 32 weeks had meant we knew there was a fairly good chance we’d go earlier than 37 weeks.

As it was, we had a growth scan at 34+6 so the three of us (myself, Dylan and Alexandra) went along to the hospital with the intention of doing something fun in the afternoon before having some friends over that evening. At the scan it became apparent quickly to me that there was an issue. Normally they’d talk me through the details straightaway but instead the sonographer asked us to go and talk to our obstetrician. She said it looked as if our son’s growth had slowed down from the 50th centile to the 10th since the last scan four weeks previously. There was also a concern over the blood flow from the placenta indicating it had potentially started to fail.

The doctor said all this, combined with me having slightly raised blood pressure, meant now was probably the time to start the induction process.

We had to wait a couple of hours and my sister came to pick Alexandra up while my parents sorted out the arrangements for getting all our bags and hers sorted. Then we were shown to our bay in the induction suite.

At around 7.30pm that evening (Friday) I had the first prostin tablet inserted. Overnight Dylan stayed at my mom’s to try and get some rest (it’s nearer to the hospital than our house) and I had another tablet in the morning.

They ended up doing a third one because, while I was getting tightenings, they weren’t regular enough and my cervix wasn’t dilating very quickly. Then the doctor came at around 4pm on the Saturday to check if I could have my waters dilated, this was the most painful part of the process including giving birth! In fact the doctor who did the check came back a few days later and apologised to me for how awful the check was.

It was then a wait to get a room on the delivery suite: we were told it could take days although I was given priority because of my condition. In the end it was about 12 hours before we went round. In that time we’d gone on endless walks to try and progress things. I tried sitting on the birth ball but found it really uncomfortable this time round (although it did wonders helping me dilate during Alexandra’s labour).

It then took an hour and a half to get a cannula in my arm before they could break my waters. Nothing much happened and then at 8am our midwife Antoinette came on duty. She was fabulous! She got everything organised straightaway and then after a couple of hours it was time to start the drip to see if they could progress my contractions.

Nothing happened for a while and then all of a sudden it was like a switch had been flipped. I went from 2cm to 5cm in a matter of minutes. They decided I could have an epidural (they’d said no originally because of the blood thinning injections I’m on – but it had been long enough since my last dose to make it safer) so I said I’d like one.

The anaesthetist came to have a chat to me about the procedure and I agreed to it but it became quickly apparent there wasn’t time. I had a check as Max’s heart rate had dropped a little, to see if he could tolerate the epidural, but by this point I was 8cm. I was just using gas and air (although probably mentioned a few times that it was painful and I’d really like some more pain relief!) and feeling really out of control during contractions. I then realised instead of concentrating on breathing in the gas and air during a contraction, I actually needed to focus on the fact my body wanted to push.

Because I had a ventouse delivery with Alexandra, I’d never experienced the urges to push so it took me a while to realise I just needed to trust my body and go with what it was telling me. Dylan said he could visibly see when that happened and I became much more focused and wasn’t thrashing around the place like I had been previously.

All of a sudden I was fully dilated and it was time to push. Then his head was out and one push later our son Max was born at 11.57am weighing 4lb 13.

He was lifted onto my chest and Dylan got  to cut the cord (for the first time even though Max is his fourth child – with Alex because she needed a bit of oxygen straightaway the doctors cut it). We had 15 minutes of skin to skin before he was taken for his checks and taken upstairs to transitional care while I was sorted out. Although that process was a lot easier this time (just a small tear with no stitches required compared to an episiotomy with 27 stitches).

Antoinette had said to us it would all happen quickly once it started and wasn’t she right! It was amazing to actually get to push the baby out by myself this time. As I mentioned earlier, I definitely want to discuss the differences between the births soon!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Rejecting Advice

I’ve written before, way back when I was pregnant with Alexandra, about the kinds of advice you get when you’re having a baby/a parent and how ridiculous some of it can be. Clearly if your mother/neighbour/another mom at a baby group gives you some advice you can decide for yourself if it’s useful or not, thank them and politely move on with your day. It’s your choice whether to accept and implement what they say or completely ignore it. However, one thing I’m finding myself baffled by is some people’s attitudes about rejecting advice which comes from experts (when I say experts, I mean proper trained health professionals, not people who went to a baby class once and now think they’re Supernanny).

Time and time again I’m seeing women calling into question every little thing their doctor, midwife or health visitor has said. Now clearly, you shouldn’t blindly accept what someone says just because they’ve got a piece of paper saying they know what they’re doing. If they suggest something which seems absurd, unsafe or just plain wrong then you have every right to question it with them, perhaps get a second opinion. But what riles me is when people just seem to have a ‘thing’ about saying no just because doctors/midwives are seen as a sort of authority figure.

‘I’m not going to have an induction because I don’t want one’ – now it’s one thing to do your research and decide that you’d rather opt for daily monitor than an induction just because you’re overdue if baby/placenta etc seem fine. It’s quite another to just blindly say you won’t be induced at any point. Surely it’s obvious no doctor is going to suggest inducing just because they feel like it? There’s always going to be a sound medical reason for it if that’s what they’d like you to do.

‘I’m so annoyed because my midwife/health visitor was ten minutes late. I don’t want to see her again’ – well I really hope you’re the person asking for help because your baby won’t feed or your stitches are infected or you just need to cry at someone for five minutes and she says ‘oh sorry, got to go to see someone else now’.

‘My midwife thinks I’m measuring small and wants to send me for a growth scan. I can’t be bothered to go to the hospital, what a waste of time’ – excellent. Going and finding out your baby is absolutely fine and feeling slightly aggrieved cause you’ve probably spent a fair few hours at the hospital is the BEST case scenario here. You just know these would be the same people complaining if a potential problem with their child wasn’t picked up.

‘My doctor says I need to be on these meds but I don’t want to take them’ – you know, cause doctors love handing out pills to pregnant ladies just for the absolute sheer fun of it.

I can’t even go into anti-vaxxers on this post because they deserve a whole post of their own quite frankly! I for one am super glad there are people in this world who spend their life looking after pregnant ladies, helping people give birth and offering advice in the newborn days. I am very glad there are people who know how to keep me and my children safe. I don’t blindly accept what they say but I do know that 99.9999 per cent of the time they are going to be far more knowledgeable than I am and, just because I have access to Google, that does make me a doctor.

Harriet, Alexandra and bump x


A Labour Of Love


I want to start this post by saying a massive congratulations to my sister Henrietta and her other half Ben on the birth of their son Zachary. He made his grand entrance last Friday and I could not be prouder or happier! I am so excited to be an aunty and to watch the relationship between Alexandra and Zachary as the cousins grow up together.

Henrietta being in labour has reminded me of something: I am terrible at waiting. Even more so when it’s for something as important as a baby.

I’m the kind of person who is always early, I’ll get the train before the train before the one I need to be on, I’ll hang around for ages waiting for people, I’ll set my alarm super early if I know I need to be out (this is counterbalanced by Dylan who lives in a different time zone to anyone else in the world, his family actually look puzzled and shocked if he manages to get somewhere on time). If someone’s coming round I hover by the window waiting for them. I can’t help it.

So transfer that knowledge about me to the situation last week: Henrietta went into hospital on Tuesday morning, Zachary was born on Friday morning. A whole three days. Now clearly this experience was about three gazillion times worse for her than me as she actually had to do the whole ‘pushing a baby out your hoo har’ business. But at some points I genuinely felt like I’d rather go through labour again than be waiting for the news! At least during my own labour I knew what was going on (most the time. Pethadine is wonderful). During this one I had no clue.

I tried not to be that person that texts and calls every three seconds for an update because clearly that’s about the most annoying thing you could do. But I couldn’t help myself. If I hadn’t heard anything for a few hours I normally ended up messaging my mom who was one of her birthing partners.

I spent the whole three days jumping every time the phone went and then getting sorely disappointed when it was only Pizza Hut texting me about their latest deals (it’s always damn Pizza Hut even when you’ve opted out of their messages a dozen times and you have no clue how they even have your number). Then when I knew she was in active labour it was even worse! Having been through a labour myself it made it all the more nerve wracking for me, knowing much more than I ever did pre-Alexandra about all the potential pitfalls and complications.

But I guess those three days of being on edge made the good news even more sweet and all of a sudden I felt like the whole world had lifted off my shoulders! And getting to see him on his first day in the world was amazing, plus he was born on our nan’s 84th birthday so that is truly special indeed. It’s like it was meant to be.

Harriet and Alexandra x


Having A Baby! My Birth Story

I can only describe my look here as 'relief'!

I can only describe my look here as ‘relief’!

My last post announced the arrival of my baby daughter Alexandra but I wanted to go into more detail for those who want to know what happened during the birth and afterwards. Warning: I will be fairly graphic about it all so maybe don’t read during dinner or if you don’t like (a small amount of) gore.

So I made it to 37+3 and other than the headaches I’d been experiencing for weeks, everything seemed to be running fairly smoothly. I went for a routine appointment with my midwife who said my blood pressure had gone up (it had been low throughout my pregnant) and there was some protein in my wee. The blood tests I’d had done at the hospital a couple of weeks previously had shown that my platelets were slightly lower than they’d like so she made the decision to do another blood test and see what was going on.

The following morning I had a call from her saying my platelets had dropped even further and I needed to go in to see the consultant at the hospital as I was showing a lot of the signs of preeclampsia. That afternoon I had my appointment where it was confirmed that’s what I had and decided I’d go in every other day for monitoring. If my blood pressure went up any further he said they’d induce me but they wanted to try and get me to 38 weeks if possible (this was the Thursday and I’d be 38 weeks on the Sunday).

The following day I didn’t feel very well at all so I went into the day assessment unit with my mom and as soon as they hooked me up to the blood pressure monitor I knew I wasn’t coming out of there without a baby – it had gone up even further and the consultant on that day said actually he was more concerned about my platelets so let’s induce!

I was transferred up to the antenatal ward where I was checked (cervix was soft at this point) and given the first lot of gel. They said it might take two or three to get me going but within an hour I was having regular tightenings and wondering how the hell I was going to get through labour if this first bit was so bad.

Dylan managed to finish up everything he had to do at work and home and then come down for what was a long night! I had a little walk around and a bath but neither of us got much sleep as he was sat in a chair for the night – although we managed to fit in the bed together for an hour’s nap near morning. Fast forward to 2pm and we’d sent him home to sleep and my mom had come back in, I was examined again and it was decided I was 1.5cm and my cervix was ready enough that my waters could be broken.

I was taken upstairs to the labour ward and my waters broken and put on a drip to get things going a bit more. Immediately I felt very out of control – like the midwives were controlling my labour not me (not because of what they were doing, they were great, I’d just got into a weird mindset about it all) and felt quite distressed. Dyl came back and my mom left for a while although she was back for the pushing bit (we hadn’t intended to have her there but things just worked out that way as we both wanted the extra support).

I went on the birth ball and Dylan encouraged me to keep mobile and do all the things we’d learned at our antenatal classes – although apparently I was moving round on the ball so violently I was in danger of knocking everything over. I was using solely gas and air at this point for pain relief and I didn’t feel like it was working but the midwife said I’d tell the difference if I didn’t use it for a contraction. We had a slightly comedy moment when the mouthpiece of the gas and air came off and we both completely panicked but luckily I got it back on again really quickly and could carry on using it through the contraction I was having.

I wasn’t meant to be examined for four hours but I begged them to do it an hour early at 5pm which I’m glad I did as it turned out I was 5cm dilated and could have some pain relief, although my options were limited cause of the platelets and blood pressure, so I had pethadine. I then can’t really remember anything until what must have been about twenty to seven.

In the meantime baby’s heart rate had started dropping and the midwife had pressed the buzzer prompting more medical staff to come in. I had my legs up in stirrups and could hear the doctor talked about EP which I knew meant episiotomy and it turned out they were going to use the ventouse to get her out. I really wasn’t very good at pushing at first but thankfully got myself a bit together in the end – although we had a slight mishap when the ventouse slipped off her head. Thankfully second time round it worked and less than a couple of minutes later our baby daughter was born!

She was put on my stomach for a while – the first thing I asked was whether she was really a girl! They got me to check and yes she was!’ – but then she needed a little bit of oxygen to get going, they said because of the shock of being born so quickly. I’d gone from 5cm to fully dilated (10cm) in an hour and a half and she was born half an hour later, so my recorded established labour is actually just under two hours.

I can’t remember where she went then but I think she was either with me or Dylan during the time I was getting stitched up – I asked how many stitches I was having and the doctor said ’20 but it’s only really one’ as it’s all in a row. I’m claiming 20 though! That was slightly painful and felt like he was stitching up my leg! So I had some gas and air during that which helped a little. After that (the placenta delivery I hadn’t even noticed!) the whole ‘birth’ business was done and it was time to start being a family and recovering from the labour.

Now there is a whole lot of drama to come but I’m going to have to split up the posts otherwise it’ll be the longest read ever! So I’ll grab some time soon to write up the first part of the post-birth story.

Harriet and Alexandra x