We went to the hospital and they put me on a monitor to see if there were any contractions, I was just having very mild ones. They examined me and confirmed that my waters had broken. The woman thought that I would have the baby over night. So we set off back home via the supermarket to get some magazines for my stay. I didn't tell people that my waters had broken.
Nothing much happened until about 4.30pm when I got my first contractions: it felt like period pain and only lasted 30 seconds. I didn't get another one until 5.15pm. See the timings of my early contractions [right]. I was just keeping busy at home. I was in contact with my Mum and we kept ringing each other every hour. I made sure that my bags were already. We also told my neighbours who were going to take us into hospital when the time was right.
Damon put the TENS machine on me about 7.30pm and it seemed to help. I had hired the Boots one. It wasn't very easy to use as there were different levels of intensity for different parts of the labour. It helped at the beginning, but got very confusing towards the end. In the end Damon had to switch it off for us to try to start again.
The contractions started to come about every 5 minutes from 8.30pm. I called the hospital a few times and the midwife just said stay at home as long as you can. She said to try to have a rest. I went to have a lie down, but I could not go to sleep as the contractions were coming fast. I took a paracteamol and went to have a bath and try to read a book. But as soon as I got in the bath the contractions were getting worse and we called the midwife again and she said that if I could not take it any more and needed more pain relief to call them again and to come in. Damon even asked if there was anyway he could tell how far I was dilated. Then I had the urge that I needed to go to the toilet I didn't know that this was actually the baby pushing down. But I felt safe sitting on the toilet.
I didn't have chance to change into my nightdress, as when the midwife examined me I was 9cm dilated and therefore almost fully dilated to push. I was given gas and air, which helped when the contractions came. I had sips of water and also ate glucose tablets, which gave me energy. When I was fully dilated and ready to push, I used the gas and air to help me through the painful contractions, they were long and came very fast after each other.
For what felt like ages, the baby's head kept showing but kept slipping back. Damon could see the hair. The baby's heartbeat was getting fast and I was getting tired. They got a doctor in to have a look and after a James Herriot moment they found out the babys hand was up at the side of the face so could not come out with my pushes. It was decided that I needed assistance in delivery and would need to have ventouse. Even though I was fully dilated they gave me an epidural. By that time I did not care and wanted my baby out safe and fast. It took the anesthetist a few goes to get the needle into my spine. It took about 20 minutes to take effect. Then the consultant came in and in a matter what seemed like minutes he had attached the ventouse and a tug and my baby girl was born. Damon didn't get to cut the umbilical cord. The staff placed her on me for a few seconds. When Ellie was out I felt wonderful and all the pain seemed to go, even though in spite of the epidural I had been able to feel when I was pushing. I had an injection to speed up the delivery of the placenta. Ellie was taken to the resusitaire and was fine, when I first heard her cry was lovely as it meant that she was okay. Damon stood next to her all the time and was very proud.
Within half an hour of Ellie being born she was placed on me to feed for the first time, she latched on okay and had a few minutes of feed which was good. She was very sleepy so spent a few hours in her very proud and tired daddy's arms while I was looked over and told that I need a few stiches as I had a tear.
After I'd had the stiches I was able to go and have a shower which made me feel much better. It was funny to see my stomach in the mirror: was there once a baby in there? I wasn't sure whether I was supposed to wear a nightie and dressing gown, but as it was the middle of the morning I didn't feel right, so wearing my clothes made me feel better.
The change in Ellie when she was first born to just a few hours later was amazing, she changed from a swollen baby to a little person. Damon described her as going from looking like Winston Churchill to looking like my dad.
After she was dressed for the fist time by the midwife - with Damon looking on taking tips - she slept in the crib until it was time for me to be transferred to the maternity ward. Damon and I took the opportunity to have a nap on the delivery bed together, now I think Damon was more tired than me and I had given birth!
So 10 hours after arriving in hospital I was transferred to the maternity ward and I was beginning a new life with my family.
After Ellie was born and I was home I weighed myself just to see how much I had lost through the birth. I had lost almost 1 stone (11lb/5kg) and it took me 6 weeks to get back to my prepregnancy weight. I put on just under 2 stone (25lb/11kg) in my pregnancy, and breastfeeding helped me to lose the excess weight as well as all the work involved with a new baby. I wasn't trying to lose the weight: it just fell off.
Would I go through it all again? I certainly hope so. It is one of the most amazing experiences that I will ever have, knowing that I have bought into the world our wonderful daughter.
It certainly looked very uncomfortable, and had we not been in a modern hospital with good staff things could have gotten very nasty for mother and baby. In particular, I'm glad we had the very capable and unflappable ward sister as our midwife, and she and I kept Jean gently wound up with our banter. And the consultant had Eloise out so quickly that I hardly saw anything and I was standing right there; lightning compared to the hours and hours of exhausting "nearly" that went before.
By the way, the Boots' TENS machine was hideously complex to
operate, and with very poor instructions. I'm a gadget guy
and have no problems programming multi-million-pound credit-card
systems, but this was panic-inspiring when I had very little time
between Jean's contractions to try to adjust it. Whoever designed that
little monster should be forced to go through labour while trying to
use it. At least renting rather than buying it means that we're not
My rating: 4/10.
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