My Second Birth Story

I prefer to write here than in my journal. I’m required to write a journal for my university course and it always feels like a chore rather than how enjoyable I find it to write here. Maybe I prefer the pitter patter of typing or maybe I find comfort that someone might find my words and relate to me or understand a part of me. I don’t know.

Today (I started this days ago and have picked it back up today, a separate day and it could be extended to a 3rd day because I don’t have a lot of time to myself. It did extend to a 3rd day) I’d like to write about my second labour story and maybe a little about how my life is at the moment. Okay so it’s many weeks on since I wrote most of this.

This is going to be a long one- future me, grab a brew and a snack!

I feel like it’s important to document the births of my children. I have this fear that important memories will fade, which I guess they will but my memory has never been good.

I gave birth to my second daughter Florence on the 9th June 2018.

I like to think about labour and my time in hospital because it’s magical. On both occasions I felt strong and important. These memories are important to me. The day my labour started I was 9 days overdue, it’s hard to pinpoint when labour starts but I say it was around 8am on the 8th June, though I felt “funny” during the night. It started as period pain and changed to very mild contractions shortly after. I wrote down a majority of my contractions in ‘notes’ on my phone, I’ve still got the list of times. The first one that I wrote down was at 9.17am and the last one I documented was at 23.58pm when I was making my way to the labour ward at Stoke hospital. That day (8th June) I had my 41 week appointment with my midwife, I would have been 41+2. I didn’t tell the midwife I thought I was in labour because I didn’t want her to smile and pity my hopefulness. I read so much about symptoms of labour over about 3 weeks, I literally Googled everything- none of it really helped, some things I read annoyed me actually. One woman wrote to another that she would be certain when labour had started because of the intensity of the pains, it seemed patronising and narrow-minded. I wasn’t certain that my labour started at all, the pain was mild for hours. During my appointment with the widwife my contractions had stopped for at least an hour. I thought this meant it was a false alarm- whatever that means but apparently it happens. My midwife did an examination and was able to do a sweep. I went in a week previously and a cover midwife wasn’t able to do it. In my experience midwives don’t tell you much, they assume you know their work; I didn’t know sweeps couldn’t always be performed. I didn’t know what being posterior meant. Thank you Google! I didn’t ask many questions because I didn’t want to seem useless which in hindsight is unfair, they should ensure that you know what they’re talking about. I wouldn’t start talking about UPR, actualising tendency and frame of reference to some poor soul who knows nothing about person-centred counselling. Anyway this time I was 2-3cm dilated which turns out doesn’t mean you’re in labour according to the many forum comments that I had read, most damn women were at least 2cm by 36 weeks! Quite disheartening. But it did mean that things were looking good. I had started losing my mucus plug that morning but only a tiny bit, this lead to excessive reading about the topic which is quite an unpleasant one. Very varying thoughts on this. I only lose mine when I’m in labour, not weeks before.

I called Stoke hospital twice that day because I was uncertain when to go to hospital. My previous labour was induced at Stoke and I was admitted before labour started. My first phone call was made at 17.35pm, I told them I was in labour and asked when I should go in. I was already feeling anxious because last time I struggled to walk during labour. The hospital asked how far apart contractions were and then they told me to wait until contractions were every 3-4 minutes apart and took my breath away. That was that. I felt worried but the contractions weren’t too bad. At some point in the evening Mike’s parents came over to take Eva for the night. I was having a bath and I felt upset that I couldn’t say bye to her. They collected Eva’s bags and Eva and took her home, wishing me well through the bathroom door on their way out. I got out of the bath and I watched some TV with Mike. The pains got worse and I knew I was definitely in labour. Mike was getting increasingly worried about getting me to hospital. I told him a few times that the contractions weren’t bad enough and I didn’t want to be turned away. My contractions didn’t fit the criteria but they never got to the stage where they fit the criteria! I’m still upset that the hospital deterred me from going in. My second call was at 22.54. I told the midwife that the contractions were worse and asked if I could come in, she asked how far apart my contractions were and I said they were about 4 minutes apart which wasn’t true, they were all over the place, between 2-6 minutes apart. The midwife said I could go in, I asked her if I could have an epidural and she said they don’t offer them to low risk pregnancies, I was horrified. She said if I really wanted one she could call another ward and ask, I told her that I really wanted one, though I felt weak for asking after finding this out. She sorted it out for me to have one and told me which ward to go to. We got the bags and ourselves in the car and headed off. I felt anxious and excited. I put a coca-cola towel down on my seat in case my waters broke and I kept thinking what if I’m only 3cm still and they laugh at me for being so weak and I’m sent home feeling like an idiot? I got to the assessment unit and spoke to the lady on reception through my contractions. They asked me to wee in a foil tub thing, it’s all about weeing and blood pressure. After that I was given a temporary bed and the curtain was drawn to separate me from the other patients. It all reminded me of being their before, it’s such an exciting experience. I had a short wait and a lady came in to do my blood pressure and ask me a couple of questions, she seemed nice and calming. Then I was taken into a small bright room with a bed and equipment, I was asked to take my lower clothing off and lie down to be examined. The midwife did two things; she checked to see how many centimetres dilated I was and checked if my waters had broken. She said I was 6cm and that they hadn’t broken. She was impressed at how relaxed and quiet I was for 6cm and I felt proud of myself and so relieved that I was past half way! The lady checked that I still wanted an epidural and headed off to get me a midwife. Whilst she was gone (oh and their might have been another lady present who also left) I had the longest, intense contraction, I thought it was never going to end. For me these timings of 3 minutes apart and lasting 90 seconds aren’t how it goes for everyone. My contractions never had an exact pattern. Before she got the midwife I was given gas and air, I took a few breaths of it and completely zoned out for a minute, I remember Mike watching me probably concerned that I was staring intently at the wall. The lady (sorry lady I don’t know what your role or name is but you were lovely) came back with the midwife (whose name I do not know either, apologies, you were amazing) she introduced herself and asked how I was, I continued with my weird, drugged-up staring and said that I felt sick, the 3 of them laughed. I think they found it funny because it was a rude response, I didn’t even say hello or look at the midwife (sorry again, I was out of it). The staff got me a wheel chair and my waters broke, my maternity pad didn’t help much, my new shoes were wet. Mike helped me get out of my clothes and into the hospital gown like he did before and they sat me in the wheelchair with my gas and air. I was wheeled to my room and helped onto the bed. The midwife did her checks and took my blood (I think), she got that drip thing set up which took a while and was difficult because my contractions were intense. She was preparing me for my epidural. Things moved along quickly and for a reason I can’t recall because of all the pain she told Mike that I might not be able to have the epidural, it might be too late. Panic. She told me that she was going to continue to prepare me for it anyway. I don’t think I was examined again after the 6cm examination. Shortly after arriving in this room I was really struggling. I felt intense pressure and my body started to push the baby out without me intentionally using the muscles which is a very weird feeling. I remember the midwife telling Mike that I was pushing and I remember thinking ‘No I’m not’. Soon after she announced that I definitely couldn’t have an epidural and started to encourage me to push. I was really scared but I didn’t have time to worry too much. I made sounds that I’m unsure how to describe. At first I pushed half-heartedly, feeling uncertain that it was time because it was so casual and quick. Then I started to put effort into the pushing and the sounds were louder. Pushing relieved the pain and I felt empowered. In a fairly short time the midwife asked if she cut make a cut so that I didn’t tear, I agreed so she numbed the area and told me not to push on the next contraction. I stayed still whilst she made the cut. Then out popped the head, it might be because of the anaesthetic but this part wasn’t that painful. The midwives (there was two present for the birth) were amused because she started to cry, I thought it was all over but they told me only her head was out, then I saw why they were amused – how weird? I don’t remember this part being painful. Seconds later, at 1.45am Florence was born. I had only been in hospital for 2 hours. I had no epidural and I didn’t react badly to the pain again. It was a very good labour. Florence weighed 9lbs1oz! She was 10 days overdue. It was amazing to meet her. I held her for maybe half an hour, she pooped on me and then Mike held her for quite a while because I had afterbirth pains (something else I had never heard of). The midwife went away for a bit, then came back, gave me more anaesthetic and stitched me up which stung! I was ordered to go for a bath which I was glad to do after lying in a blood bath and being pooped on. I left a very, awfully tired Mike with brand new Florence and went for my bath, another blood bath.. No one really tells you about the bleeding afterwards. Just everywhere. I took some photos of Mike holding her and some are amusing because he looks drunk from lack of sleep. Who went through labour?? Haha. By this point we didn’t know the impressive weight and the midwife, Mike and me made a bet on what she would weigh, Mike was the closest with 9lbs3oz. We were given a cup of tea at some point and then I was wheeled to the other ward by a really miserable member of staff. Midwives and staff were in and out up until the point that we left. Mike was able to stay because I had my own room. I don’t think any of us got any sleep. Despite the physical exhaustion I couldn’t get relaxed enough with the most pitiful pillow ever, the daylight, the fresh new person grizzling next to me and the various interruptions. After giving birth the maternity ward requires you to urinate a certain volume before they can let you go home and they do a few checks on the baby, an examination of the baby’s body, and a hearing test. Florence has talipes, she’s been to an appointment in Stoke for a scan of her hips which were described to be on the thin side. This might mean that she needs to wear special boots for a few months to correct it. We have a second appointment on the 27th of July. Later that day Mike and I went to introduce Florence to my mom who wasn’t expecting us to drop by but she was only down the road from the hospital. After that we went to Mike’s parent’s house and spent several hours with them. They had bought Eva a sand and water table and we sat in the garden with a coffee. Eva introduced her baby sister to Barney the dinosaur and kissed her on the head. I took photos of their meeting but they’re not that great.

Life has been very tiring. We have a tantruming toddler and a very hungry baby. Eva is such a lovely kid, I love spending time with her, making her laugh or teaching her things. It’s incredible. And she’s so gorgeous! She’s so clever and sensitive, she comforts people when they’re upset, she’s not even two and she’s been emotionally aware for several months now. She’s 21 months old and she strokes people’s arms and hugs them when they’re sad. She loves shoes and bags and bottles and baths and sodding Peppa Pig. I’ll never forget the beautiful time when she first requested a bath for the first time, I wish I had videod it. She said “bath?” in a I-know-it’s-probably-going-to-be-a-no-but-I’m-asking-anyway sort of way, almost resigning as she asked. She had the bath of course. So innocent and utterly precious. I feel so lucky and happy to have her. I just know our relationship is always going to be good and that we’ll be close. I’m going to be so supportive and involved. Everything I feel like I’ve lacked in my life I want my kids to have, particularly the togetherness of family and financial stability.

We have a good relationship with Mike’s parents, they adore Eva. We see them most weekends which I love because it means that Eva gets to spend time with family. My own family don’t make much effort, some of them haven’t met Florence yet and she’s over 11 weeks old now. I want more from family but I guess it’s just how we’re wired. Since I had Eva I’ve been sad about family. I’m not gonna go into it any further though.

Aside from my kids and Mike my other love is my counselling course. I’m doing a post-graduate course in counselling and psychotherapy. I really love it and I’ve met the most caring bunch. I’m in another dimension. We’re in the business of emotion, mindfulness, sensitivity, empathy, thinking outside our own world. The last one, what a wonderful thing – in counselling we call this the client’s frame of reference. The counsellor sets aside his/her  own views and sees the client’s world through the client’s frame of reference. Me being me I’m already excited about doing my dissertation, I’ve been giving it some thought and one of my ideas came about from sitting in the sand pit in Stafford park. The park was empty aside from me and Eva. I glided my hands through the sand and I felt so relaxed. I thought about combining a zen-garden with ASMR and counselling. In short my idea was for the client to spend time in a sand box and for me to provide a soft-spoken guided session  before or after the session, I wanted to find out if relaxation helps the client to feel better in some way. I later decided against the idea but recently found out that there is such a thing as sandbox therapy! I’m currently applying for my counselling placement for year 2. We have to go out into the world and do 100 hours of counselling. At the moment I’m most interested in working in a prison. I have been offered the details for Stafford prison by the placement officer but I couldn’t work there- it’s a prison for male sex offenders. I’m going to contact a different prison on Monday. Mike’s mom has spoken to someone at her place of work and the lady has asked that I email her and tell her a bit about myself so that’s exciting and it’s nice to have her helping me. It’ll be great to work at the same place as her. I think there’s two opportunities relating to her job and I’ve applied for one and she’s put in a word for the other. Mike’s dad is printing my application forms for me. It’s nice that they’re part of it, even just the printing. I hope they’ll one day be proud of me. I loved the first year of uni, one assignment was to submit a recording of a 20 minute practice counselling session along with an evaluation of the session, I loved doing it! I love attention to detail and I found it easy to critique my work and to relate practice to theory. So my kind of work. I’m so excited about the rest of the course.

(This post has been written over seperate times. Florence’s hip and leg bones are fine and she doesn’t need to wear special boots)

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