Firstly, I want to apologise for the a hiatus in posting. The past month (sheesh it has actually been two… I’ve just checked) has been MENTAL. To cut a long story short… WE ARE BUYING A NEW HOUSE. Anyone who has sold and bought a house knows, the amount of time you have to set aside to get your house ‘on the market’, secure mortgages, find estate agents, find solicitors, find the new house of your dreams, put in offers, have offers refused, have offers accepted… the list goes on, is actually obscene and totally drains you of any lifeforce, let along time to do anything else (apart from drink A LOT of wine). We are finally nearly there and subject to searches and surveys should have an exchange and completion date THIS WEEK! YAY. So no excuse, back to the writing and gosh, it feels good to flex my brain a bit.
We love our current home, but as a family of three (four if you count Norman our Bulldog) it all of a sudden is starting to feel a little on the small side. We would love more space, especially for Geoffrey, who turned one last week. A bigger garden, a few more bedrooms, and perhaps in time a playmate for our gorgeous boy.
I honestly do not know where the past year has gone?! Each morning I wake up and cuddle Geoffers in bed, not noticing that my little baby is not so little anymore. This time last year he was a few days old and we were in that blissful, hibernation stage of parenthood. Feeding, cuddling, napping and not doing much else. So lovely. Now?! Well, life hardly stands still as any parent to a one year old knows. Thankfully however, we are getting a bit more sleep.
To mark his first birthday I want to revisit my labour and the lead up to Geoff’s birth. It was such an incredible moment of my life, if I don’t do it now I fear I may forget it…*
Let’s start on the 1st of May 2016. Nine days before Geoff’s official due date and we were at my Aunt’s 50th birthday party at Chapel House in Penzance. I was feeling huge. Like, super super big. All of a sudden I had swollen up and was retaining quite a bit of water (I now know this is a potential sign that things could be about to happen), I couldn’t even get my shoes on for the party without a lot of help from Sam. Having been told four days prior to the party that the baby wasn’t even one fifth engaged yet, I wasn’t hopeful that I would go into labour on my due date, let alone before and this was exactly the sentiments of everyone at the party. “Oh goodness no, if this is your first baby AND you’re not even slightly engaged yet, you are definitely going to go overdue I am afraid”, one very helpful party guest declared. Just what every uncomfortable pregnant lady wants to hear. “Shit” I thought and waddled off to tell Sam that I wanted a Mac Donald’s and to go home.
Despite committing myself to a lot of walking in an attempt to open my pelvis and lots of bouncing up and down on my birthing ball in the weeks leading up to the birth, on the Monday I still didn’t feel any closer to having a baby. I was told by lots of people that you almost feel like your baby is in between your legs when engaged… I did not have this feeling. That evening we walked up to Sam’s parents for supper and on the way I had what I thought was a Braxton Hicks contraction. Nothing major in the slightest, just a mild cramping feeling just above my knicker line. Totally bearable (I have had waaaaay worse period pains) and nothing I though to take notice of. I had another one or two during dinner, and Sam’s parents both GP’s said it was unlikely to be anything to get excited or worried about.
This, little did I know, was the start of my labour. The first stage. I continued to have these pains once or twice an hour from then on. Weirdly that night I slept like a log, I didn’t even wake up for the usual six or seven trips to the loo. The next morning I was still quite possibly in denial, and not wanting to get my hopes up dismissed the pains once again, the pains that were now 20-30 minutes apart but still not the type of contraction I had heard described by so many. There was no surge from my back round to my tummy, just this dull ache in my lower abdomen. So I cracked on with my chores for the day, finished my husband’s VAT return, had a friend round for a cup of tea and folded some washing. The only thing I did think was rather exciting was my ‘show’ appearing at about 11am that morning. But yet again, many people had told me that this can be lost weeks before your baby arrives and I was only 39+0, still one week until my due date. So again, I put it to the back of my mind, after sending Sam a picture of it (*evil villain laugh*).
At about 4pm I thought I would treat myself to a film and plonk my arse on the birthing ball again. I was about 20 minutes into Fifty Shades of Grey and not really enjoying it that much, so decided to get a drink. As I stood up off the ball, something really monumental happened. My waters broke. I’m not talking a little… I am talking A LOT. A pop, and a gush. I rushed to our bathroom and sat on the loo. OK, what did I learn at our NCT classes? Let the midwife know your waters have broken, but stay calm. I wasn’t contracting (or so I thought) so we could still be in for a bit of a wait. Before calling my midwife I called Sam, and then my mum. I said to Sam to get home at the normal time (he arrives home from work at about 5.15pm, nothing was going to happen between then and now) and Mum said she was having a cup of tea with a friend (in a twist of fate who happens to be a midwife, who said by the sounds of things I might be in labour, but just at the beginning, so no panic and no rush) and would pop over afterwards. As I hung up the phone to my Mum, BANG, I had what I consider to be my first proper contraction. HOLY MOLY. It was a biggy. I turned on the app on my phone that times contractions and got back on my ball. Ooooooooof! is the best way to describe that first contraction. It lasted a minute and it was intense. I hit the button again. ‘Jeez, I hope the next one isn’t as long’ I thought. I had enough time to text my sister to say ‘I think I am in labour, my waters have broken’ and the next contraction hit me. This time I had to get on my hands and knees. Despite going through this position with Amy my yoga teacher each week, instinctively it’s where my body put me. I couldn’t sit or stand up straight. I couldn’t sit at all. On my hands and knees I could just about find my phone to hit the start button on the app. Wowza, 90 seconds, and a sensation that things were moving south. Surely not? I caught my breath when the contraction stopped, and had just enough time to pull myself up on the sofa to see Sam parking his van on the drive. Thank goodness. As he came through the door I was timing my third contraction. On it finishing a notification popped up. ‘You have experienced three contractions in ten minutes, go to hospital, or call your midwife’. What. On. Earth?
My Mum arrived at this point and I remember the look on her face as she walks in to find me on the floor, on all fours exclaiming ‘I think I need to push’. It’s pretty hazy, but in that moment I think she tells Sam to pack the car, and to call the hospital. Which he dutifully does. The midwives at Treliske Hospital tell Sam to bring me in right away. The tell tell sign being that I couldn’t speak to tell him how far apart my contractions were, but was groaning about needing to push instead.
At this point however I did not want to get in the car, I wanted to sit on the loo. I had this feeling that I needed to sit there, and as soon as I did I needed to push. Fortunately Sam and Mum persuaded me to get off the loo and into the car in between my contractions, which are now coming so thick and fast I can’t even open my eyes. On route to the hospital (only a 20 minute drive) I have over six contractions. Had Sam asked me if I wanted him to pull over, I am certain I would have said yes, and Geoff would have been born on the side of the A30, near the Chiverton Cross roundabout.
Stupidly, I knew exactly where the labour ward was, however as I thought I would be compos mentis enough to direct us there once in labour (duh!) I hadn’t felt the need to share this information with my darling husband. What occurred next is nothing short of a scene from a soap opera. Seriously. Sam drives up to the maternity wing, jumps out of the car and runs to the reception. It’s now about ten to six and of course no one is manning the desk. He runs back out and flags down a car and starts babbling to a total stranger that his wife is in labour and where should he go. Of course they point to A&E. Sam jumps back into the car and drives to another carpark. This time I fling myself out of the passenger seat and onto the car park floor. I need to push, but know I can’t, and perhaps being on all fours will help me control this urge. Knowing that we are in completely the wrong place, Sam calls the maternity wing for help, and they tell him they will send someone down with a wheelchair. My heros.
After clambering on, and being wheeled into a delivery suite, instinctively I fling off most of my clothes. They are restrictive and I don’t need them. I need to be as naked as possible and I need to push. I get on the bed, on all fours and the lovely midwife tells me I can’t push… WHAT?! She explains that until they do an exam and see how dilated I am, I can’t push. “Can she examine me?” she says. I don’t even notice when she does. “Well” she declares in her lovely Irish accent “you’re fully dilated and you can absolutely push, let’s get you some gas and air”. Heaven.
In planning my birth, I wanted to have as natural a birth as possible, just a bit of gas and air, and yoga, and breathing. However, on hearing Margret the midwife telling me that as I was now fully dilated and as such could not have ANY drugs, I was furious. By this point I wanted them ALL, or at least the choice. My contractions were now coming thick, fast and with little or no break. I was pushing, as hard as I could, and if someone had offered to knock me out with a bat I think I would have said yes. You see, my labour had come on so quickly, I was panicking. I had forgotten to breath, and to try and relax into my labour. Bizarrely I was fighting the urge to push, just incase it hurt, or worse. I pooed myself. I remember looking at the other midwife, Jen. Margaret was now down at the business end. Her face was so smiley. Like a big, yellow sun, radiating calm and loveliness. She looked at me so kindly (what a talent) and caling told me, ‘don’t worry, everyone poos themselves’ and with that I relaxed and my body took over, I felt as though I was properly pushing, and without the need to really push at all.
What I hadn’t realised at this point, was that with every push and with my baby coming further down the birth canal, his little heartbeat was getting weaker. I also hadn’t realised that one of the midwives had pressed a big orange button above my head and an alarm call was being raised. A consultant comes into the room, and asks me to turn onto my back and put my feet in the stirrups. “OK, Mrs Jones. The umbilical cord is around the baby’s neck and we may need to assist you with this delivery, unless you can give us a big push now”. I remember him saying this to me. I remember feeling like this was my one and only duty. I wasn’t scared anymore and I felt no pain. I pushed. I must have pushed so hard, as out slipped Geoffrey. As if it was no effort in the world. After quickly checking him over, and the delivery of the placenta, Sam announced to the room that we had a little boy and he was placed on my chest. Geoffrey Thomas Jones. Born at 6.45pm on May the 3rd, 2016, weighing 6lb 12oz. Half an hour after I entered that delivery suite, the world stood still and the most incredible person I have ever met arrived. He was perfect, like all babies are to their parents. But he was ours.
I escaped relatively unscathed, just a few little grazes, and a few stitches (I thank Amy my yoga teacher for that) and after a much needed bath us Joneses, a family of three, slowly made our way back to our little home. To bed. Where we stayed for about three days. Feeding, napping, cuddling. Bliss.
I realise that although it happened so quickly, by labour was text book and I was very lucky. I honestly think that yoga had a lot to do with preparing my body (more on this another blog post) and the staff at Treliske Hospital were nothing short of amazing. Praise be to the NHS.
I am really so fond of this little place, our house by the sea, it has done us proud and for the first year of Geoffrey’s life we haven’t needed anything else. Yet, as Geoffrey grows, turning into the most adventurous of chaps the need for space is ever increasing. Fields, grass and the great outdoors. I also would love to have a home birth when we have future children… and perhaps it would be kinder on our neighbours (who can see right into our place) if we do this somewhere else ha ha.
Geoffrey’s First Year in Pictures
(because who doesn’t like a bit of Baby Spam?!)
*I think it only fair to mention that the below isn’t for the faint hearted. My labour was amazing, but on recounting it just now, I realised that it was an adrenaline fuelled afair, and as far from the calm, hypnobirthing inspired labour I had planned. Lets just say the birthing ball, and all my other belongings, hospital bag included, stayed firmly in the boot of our car for the duration of my labour. I would also like to add that it is a complete cliche and there is much truth in that you can’t quite remember the pain of labour. It disappears completely, and is forgotten entirely once that baby is placed on your chest. It is magical and I would love to do it all again.