Indiana’s birth story – Emily Vaughan

emily vaughan 3Our latest post is a looong birth story from Emily about the arrival of her 4 month old daughter Indiana. As I was induced and as a result had an artificially short labour, the drawn out process Emily describes here is unimaginable to me! The strength that she shows being told time and again that she wasn’t dilated enough to be admitted, and having labour pains for the best part of two days, is a great example of what women can cope with when we really have to. Featuring an epidural, culminating in a ventouse delivery with episiotomy and postpartum haemorrhage, this story has got everything!

Emily is 20 years old and lives in Kent with her boyfriend Jack and little Indiana. She is blogging as well as vlogging about their life together and all things baby!

Emily blogs at emilyandindiana.blogspot.co.uk

I was due the 24th November 2013 and after everyone telling me my little lady would be early, I was still pregnant when my due date came around. So I got on my hands and knees, scrubbed the bathroom then went on a long walk with Jack around some local shops. After a well needed Costa break (this will be a recurring theme in my blogs as it’s our favourite place, haha) we headed home.

It got to dinner time and I’d given up hope of a due date baby when all of a sudden I started getting back pain on and off. By 7.30pm they were coming every 10-15 minutes and I was having to squeeze Jack’s hand as it was pretty intense. It was at this point we started roughly timing them and they were becoming more like 5-10 minutes apart. We got in bed to try and get some rest but the pains were getting stronger so I got zero sleep (Jack was snoring away much to my annoyance).

By midnight the pains were around 5 minutes apart and much stronger. I felt an odd ‘pop’ sensation so got up to check. I had finally lost my mucus plug! It was then Jack got up to go to the loo and my waters broke. We had spent my whole pregnancy saying how waters breaking weren’t like in the movies, but boy were we wrong. They gushed out all over our bedroom floor with a massive splash! Jack didn’t even realise they were my waters, bless him. It was after this the pain got 10x worse and we called triage for the first time. We were advised to go in so at 1am off we went.

On arriving I was checked and told I was only 2cm dilated :(. I was given co-codamol as paracetamol was useless (so was this but worth a try, eh?). I was given a sweep and we were sent on our way, much to my disappointment. So home we went and we got back in bed and watched Bedtime Stories. I say we but Jack was snoring away from the second his head hit the pillow. The film ended and the pain was getting worse so I woke Jack up and we called triage again. They suggested a bath to ease the pain.

Baths have never helped me with any pain yet I thought I’d give it a go. The midwife said the water had to be covering my bump for it to work, but I’m sorry this was impossible! My bump was pretty average but there was no way it was going to be covered. I had to lie at a sideways angle to keep my bump under; all that was while Jack fed me gingernut biscuits as I was starving!

No surprise to me the bath didn’t help, so triage was called again and we went back in. Checked again and I was STILL only 2cm dilated. I was so upset, I was in agony and for no reason! I was given another sweep and sent home again. My waters were still leaking too; luckily Jack had a mat in his car to protect the seats, haha.

emily vaughan 2By now it was around 7am and the pain was excruciating. My sister Laura came over as she was my other birth partner. She was so helpful as I was becoming so distressed and upset with the pain and lack of progress. Wherever I was or however I positioned myself the pain was no better. I remember kneeling on the floor with my head in Jack’s lap rocking. I needed more pain relief badly! By 10am I couldn’t take it anymore. I was crying through being so tired and from the pain. So we went back to triage to see where we were.

Anyone who has experienced labour will understand just how bad contractions are. But contractions in a car are by far the worst. You’re stuck sitting with no way of moving, and where my pain was all in my lower back sitting was so so painful. We then had to park ridiculously far from the entrance as I didn’t want to be left alone during my contractions. Crying in pain I walked back to triage.

I WAS STILL ONLY 2CM! Hearing this news made me break down again. I felt like I was doing something wrong. I also had the most horrible midwife who basically told me to take some more co-codamol and go home. She even gave me a sweep during a contraction which was awful! Jack also became upset as he felt useless and hated seeing me in so much pain. So we left again, but decided to go to my mums for more support and change of scenery.

My mum had run me a bath and made us lunch while we were there. She was literally the most amazing person at this point; I’m so glad we went. She helped me to breathe through the pain and never left my side. The bath helped a bit more this time and I had lots of company while I was in there for over an hour. I got out and we started to time my contractions again. By 3pm they were less than 5 minutes apart lasting about a minute and so painful. So we tried our luck and went back to our second home, triage.

From this point on I had the most amazingly lovely midwives and care. I was given the best news that I was finally 4cm and allowed to stay! Yay! I was taken straight to the delivery suite and given my best friend, gas and air. I loved the stuff and it was such good pain relief. I was more in control and my normal self between contractions now. I had asked for an epidural but while being set up for it I told my midwife Claire that I felt pressure. She checked me again and by 6pm I was 8cm dilated – how the hell did this happen!? It was this point I decided I’d try with just gas and air as things progressed so quickly.

I was laughing and giggling on my gas and air. I remember telling Jack and Laura I wanted to watch Friends With Benefits and even had a giggling fit but for no reason at all. This didn’t last however as it got to 8pm and the pain was getting worse again, and after being checked I was only 9cm. This is where things took a downward spiral again.

I was in so much pain and had stopped making progress again. So I gave in and got my epidural at around 9-10pm ish. The first attempt hit blood so it had to be done twice. But oh my God, it was amazing. Yeah having a catheter and cannula wasn’t nice (this was actually more painful than the epidural) but hey it was worth it. I was also put on a hormone drip at this point to get me progressing again. Soon enough I was 10cm but was told to get some rest before pushing to let her drop into the right place more.

After a blissful 2 hour nap I was woken and told it was time to push! Not the best wake-up call but I was so excited to finally meet my baby girl. Pushing is so hard! My epidural was wearing off too so I felt everything and this was definitely the worst pain yet. My bum felt like it was going to explode. Sorry TMI, but hey I think it’s best to be honest! As I had my epidural I found pushing harder so I had my legs in stirrups with Laura and Jack holding a leg each. By this point the midwives had switched and I had a lovely midwife as well as a student midwife (I was always against having one but she was amazing and I’d definitely recommend them as they’re very supportive!).

I was pushing for over an hour with not much progress. I was literally exhausted, after being awake for over a whole day now I was running out of steam. Labour really does mean what it says! The pain was awful and I remember screaming at Jack telling him to make it stop and saying I couldn’t do it – haha, cringe! A doctor was called in to give me a hand. Within a few seconds the bottom of the bed was whisked away and he had given me an episiotomy! I had asked at my antenatal classes if I’d be told and was reassured I would – this was not the case at all! However he gave me a hand with a ventouse and out came her head, followed seconds later by the rest of her at 2.12am on the 26th November!

emily vaughan 1We were in complete shock; our baby girl was finally here… and she had hair, haha! She was placed straight onto my chest and I couldn’t believe how big she was (Jack was crying again bless him, he’s so emotional it’s cute). I had some skin to skin time with her until she was taken away to be cleaned up. I was upset to learn the doctor cut the cord and not Jack, but I guess it had to happen! She had her checks which she passed with flying colours, and we discovered she weighed a chunky 8lb 4oz!

I was stitched up while Jack and Laura had cuddles with our little girl, who we had decided to name Indiana Rose. It wasn’t until I read my notes that I discovered I had lost 1000ml of blood. This is considered a postpartum haemorrhage. This explains a lot why I was now anaemic and felt awful for the first few weeks postpartum!

I was taken up to my room around 4-5am, which was a private room with our own bathroom and TV. We were given a sandwich each and left to bond with our baby. I couldn’t even sleep despite being knackered as I just couldn’t stop staring at her; she was perfect.

We were allowed to go home on Wednesday around lunch time. We would have gone earlier but I had a high pulse and had to have extra checks. I now know it’s because of my blood loss, but obviously at the time I just wanted to go home and rest with Jack and Indiana, not stay in a stuffy hospital (Jack agreed as he had to sleep on the floor for two nights, haha).

So that’s it, that’s my very long story! You wouldn’t believe I left bits out, but I tried to be as thorough as possible. I hope you enjoyed it and I look forward to reading others’ stories as I love seeing what other people went through to get their babies!

Emily xx

Follow Emily on Twitter @EmilyVaughanx

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Anna’s birth story: dad’s perspective – Ben Harrison

emily harrison picLast week I posted the birth story of Emily and her daughter Anna – a long and arduous labour culminating in an assisted delivery with forceps. I was thrilled when Emily got in touch to say that her husband Ben wanted to write a post about the experience from his perspective as the first time dad in the situation.

Obviously as mums we are often in our own little bubble when it comes to childbirth, with memories clouded by the intensity of it all. Here Ben tells us how he supported Emily through her labour, but with great clarity details some of the things he wishes he had done differently. He raises some really interesting points about how involved birth partners actually feel and how much influence they can have in the delivery room.

Huge thanks must go to both Emily and Ben for sharing their experiences with us. Can any other dads relate to Ben’s post?

Emily blogs at confessionsofafailedbreastfeeder.wordpress.com

Ben does not have a blog but is happy to be known as ‘Emily’s husband’.

When my daughter, Anna, was finally born, my most overwhelming feelings were not related to joy, love, instant recognition or even ‘What Do I Do Now?’, like all the parenting books said they would be. Some or all of those feelings were there, of course, but my overriding emotion was one of relief. Relief that, after 42 weeks of pregnancy and the same number of hours of labour, our little girl had arrived and was healthy.

If you are reading this, the chances are that you have already read Emily’s birth story, so I will not go into details of the birth itself; suffice to say that I spent a lot of time pacing the floor, holding my wife’s hand, getting her what she needed, saying that everything would be fine when I wasn’t sure that it would be, and eating rubbish food.

As Emily has already said, the outcome of the birth – a beautiful baby girl – was more than we ever imagined, so from that point of view, nothing that preceded it really matters. However, as time has gone on and memories of the experience crystallised, I have increasingly felt that the labour could have been shorter and less eventful had I been more assertive. There are three specific points at which this is the case:

1)  When Emily was in the induction suite and we were waiting for the pessary to kick start labour, I was sent home at 11pm and told to get a good night’s sleep, as there was ‘no chance of anything happening for at least eight hours’. I did as I was told, which meant that when Emily’s waters broke at 5am and she was in a lot of pain, unnecessarily having to convince the midwives that she was in labour, I was 20 miles away, failing to get a good night’s sleep. I wish now that I had refused to leave the ward, or at least the hospital.

2) In the middle of the next afternoon, the labour was progressing as planned but Emily couldn’t keep fluids down and she kept being sick. As a result, she became dehydrated and the labour stalled.  When Emily was being sick, I suggested to the midwife that she be put on a saline drip to avoid dehydration but was told that there was no need. Looking back, it was clear that Emily was dehydrated and I wish I had insisted on the drip.

3) After the labour stalled, Emily was quickly put on a saline and hormone drip and things started proceeding very quickly again. However, we had to wait another 4 hours to check to see that Emily was sufficiently dilated to start pushing. This proved to be the case, but things had moved so quickly that I wondered whether it had been necessary to wait the full four hours.  I wish that I had suggested checking to see if Emily was ready to start pushing sooner – had she been, then her exhaustion may not have been so severe and the forceps may not have been needed.

It is difficult to be assertive in this situation – the midwives and doctors are the professionals and they know far more about labour and birth than any first time dad, however many books or articles on the internet he thinks he has read. Many readers will think that me having such thoughts after the event is at best pointless, or more likely utterly self-indulgent, and they would be right.

However, us men are the ones who know our wives or partners best, and are therefore well placed to respond to their needs in any given situation. It may be the case that none of the steps I’ve outlined above would have made any difference and I must stress that much of the care we received in hospital was outstanding, but I still wish that I had been more assertive.

If and when we have a second baby, I will certainly not hold back from saying what I believe to be in the best interests of my wife and child.

Follow Ben’s wife Emily on Twitter @failedfeeder

Anna’s birth story – Emily Harrison

emily harrison picI was amazed by the resilience and strength that Emily shows in this post about the birth of her daughter Anna. After a long and difficult labour culminating in a forceps delivery, Emily could be forgiven for holding on to some negative thoughts about her experience, but here she looks back on the birth positively and without distress.

Whilst her labour was highly medicalised, the support she received and the fact that she still felt as though she retained some control over what was happening, means that her story is an empowering and encouraging one.

Emily lives in the Midlands with her husband and 6-month-old daughter, Anna. She recently left a career in banking to return to her passion, teaching music, though is doing more nappy changing than piano playing for the moment.

Emily blogs at confessionsofafailedbreastfeeder.wordpress.com

When I look back on the birth of my first baby, Anna, I wonder how I managed it. People talk about how childbirth has become too medicalised but, even though I needed significant assistance during my labour, I still marvel at what my body (and mind) achieved.

Like most new mums, I waited for the slightest twinge as my due date approached. It quickly passed with no sign of labour. Once or twice I had some lower back pain in the evening, so I decided to go to bed and hoped to sleep through some of the early parts of labour. Each time I woke up in the morning after a good night of sleep and without any further symptoms.

I turned up at for my allocated induction slot (now 12 days overdue) to discover that I was, in fact, already in labour and probably had been for a day or two. The midwife said that I probably wouldn’t need a full induction using a drip and might just need a “kick-start” with a pessary.

She was right – I went into labour at tea-time on the first day, my waters broke and I dilated to 5cm very quickly. The problems started when things started moving too fast: the contractions were so strong that they made me sick EVERY time, so I couldn’t keep any fluid down. The midwives tried two sorts of anti-sickness medication and neither made any difference so I had to resign myself to throwing up until the baby made an appearance.

By lunchtime on day 2, I had been in hospital for 30 hours and in labour for 20. I was tired, weak and dehydrated, but the thought of being so close to meeting my baby kept me going. I was active, I used the pool and generally followed everything I had been told to do in my antenatal classes. The midwives said I couldn’t be doing anything any better but the pain got worse as I got weaker. I used gas and air throughout and then had diamorphine when it just didn’t cut it.

A few hours later – tea-time on day 2 – an examination showed that my labour had stalled and I had not dilated any further in 4 hours. This was probably due to either the dehydration or the fact that the artificial hormones had done their job and my own hormones just weren’t strong enough to keep going alone. The hospital staff acted quickly and I was swiftly hooked up to a saline drip, a hormone drip and constant foetal heartbeat monitoring.

At midnight on the second day I finally started pushing. I had not eaten anything (or at least kept anything down) or slept for more than a few minutes for 2 days. I think what I’m like now after having only a few hours’ sleep with my six month old and wonder how on earth I was still conscious, never mind prepared to give birth. I pushed for nearly two hours to no avail.

I clearly remember the point where I started to doubt whether I was going to be able to do it: I was in the bathroom, one leg on a stool and leaning over my midwife and husband. It was as if the midwife had been waiting for me to say something because she took me seriously straight away. A doctor soon appeared using the words “theatre”, “c-section” and “urgent”. I thought “I’ve been doing this for two days, I am pushing this baby out!”, but like the good patient that I am, I nodded and got on with it. The midwife must have read my mind because she took the doctor aside and all of a sudden we were going for a forceps delivery instead.

And the rest is history? No, not quite! My daughter’s head was delivered using the forceps and then nothing happened. After a few moments, my husband asked if everything was ok. “Yes…”, was the response, “the baby is fine but the her body is going to need some more help to come out”. His reaction was one of relief – the baby was fine! Mine was more one of complete horror that the forceps had to go back in! Eventually, Anna was born at 2.20am on my third day in hospital.

My labour was long and eventful, but it was never truly distressing in the way that some women encounter. If anything, my memories of those days get more difficult as time goes on. Biology continues to do its work, however, because my experience is one that will prepare me for another childbirth rather than put me off.  Though medication and medical procedures saved mine and my baby’s life, I still feel as though my body was calling the shots. It wasn’t the birth I would have planned, but the outcome – my beautiful baby girl – is more than I could ever have imagined.

Follow Emily on Twitter @failedfeeder