Fame at last for the Daddy Smurf! – Rob George

Expectant first time dad Rob has been watching a bit of TV – and then saw himself on it! Well, a Tweet at least. How many of you like to watch ‘One Born’? Do you find it educational or are you just morbidly curious?! Or do you prefer to steer clear altogether? Let me know your thoughts @BlogsForBabies.

Rob blogs at www.daddysmurfdiary.blogspot.co.uk

tweetSome of you might have seen one of my Twitter ramblings was given national exposure last Thursday night during One Born Every Minute on 4Seven, one of Channel Four’s vast family of digital channels. To say I am still rather hyper about this is an understatement – I can’t believe many of you respond to my ramblings let alone a national broadcaster picking a tweet out to show during a programme!

My thanks for 4Seven for showing it during One Born Every Minute, a show which I am beginning to find really does polarise opinion. For every mum who enjoys it there seems to be one that rolls their eyes and dismisses at as nonsense or ‘not representative of what really happens’.

But isn’t that the case for all such programmes? Not many are going to show the calm delivery, controlled pushing and the joyous and peaceful moment the baby arrives – that isn’t ‘entertainment’.

No, you want to see the screaming, the silly comments, the much vaunted ‘back story’ – that drives the emotion which leads to more viewers and more ‘entertaining’ TV.

I will speak up for One Born though, since beginning to watch it I have seen a good selection of birth experiences, from the screamers and the ranters and ravers to the calm serene births. I think they do choose entertainment over real life but the selection of births they have screened is good. Remember they can only show the women who consent and want to be involved!

From our experience, Pam drew a lot of confidence from a couple of the ladies who stood up to deliver; seeing it happen can inspire a mum to be to believe they can do it themselves.

Programmes like One Born aren’t gospel – you take what you want out of it as a viewer. Whatever your opinion on it, surely that is a good thing?

Follow Rob on Twitter @DaddySmurfDiary

Baby C’s Birth Story – ‘Resident Blogger’ Hannah

baby cIt is an absolute joy to bring you Hannah’s story of Baby C’s arrival – or Toby, as he should now be known! Those of us who were waiting for the big announcement on Twitter once we knew Hannah had gone into labour were on tenterhooks to find out what was happening. Here is her lovely birth story – and the first of our Resident Bloggers to welcome their new arrival!

Hannah blogs at www.buddingsmiles.co.uk

Those of you who have followed my bump updates will know that I was due on July 9th and we’d opted not to find out if we were having a boy or girl.

On Sunday 6th, I started getting some mild, irregular contractions. Not hugely painful, but definitely stronger than the Braxton Hicks I’d had for weeks. We had friends round for tea and I was fine cooking and chatting, although I spent a lot of the evening on my birthing ball, willing things to get going!

On Monday morning, Phil and I had decided to go out for a nice breakfast because we were pretty sure we’d have a baby by the following weekend. I was contracting fairly regularly by then, but they were still mild.

Back at home, I had a bloody show and what looked like some of my waters. I was advised to go in and be checked out, so we packed the car up with our bags and car seat and headed off. From then on, the contractions were increasingly painful and I was sure I was in early labour. At the hospital I was told I was 1cm dilated and given a sweep. The contractions really started to heat up after that and soon they were every 7 minutes, reducing to every 5 minutes by bed time.

I say bed time, by then the contractions were so painful I couldn’t bear to lay or sit down, so on went the TENS machine and I spent all of Monday night pacing the living room and timing the contractions. I tried to take some paracetamol in the hope of getting some sleep, but that made me throw up so I just gave up trying to rest and got on with walking around!

By 4am each contraction was bringing me to the verge of tears, the TENS was on full blast and they were 3-4 minutes apart. Phil called the maternity unit and we we’re told we could go in, but that I’d be best staying at home as long as possible. I managed until about half 5, but by then I was in tears because I was scared I wouldn’t have dilated and would be stuck like this for the rest of the day!

Off we went, Phil driving the 35 minute route as carefully as possible and me pressing that lovely boost button on the TENS machine. I loved that button!

hannah ropeTo our delight, I was 5cm dilated and we were shown through to an en suite room in the midwife-led unit. I was impressed by the variety of bean bags, balls, stools and suspended rope available to me, but I still found that my best coping mechanism was walking. I was offered gas and air, but I hated it and felt sick from it, so decided to leave it for as long as I could.

At 08:52 my waters broke naturally, much to my joy. The student midwife who was caring for me called for her senior and unfortunately, due to a small amount of meconium in the waters, I had to be placed on the monitor which meant being on a bed. We walked down to another private room in the delivery unit and I was strapped up to the monitor. The baby’s heartbeat was okay but there were very few movements so I had to go on to my side. The contractions were so much worse lying down, so I began having small goes on the gas and air.

I can’t remember all the details from here, I know that I was sick a couple of times and that it took a lot of encouragement for me to use the gas and air through the whole of each contraction. I remember asking Phil to put my labour playlist on, then finding my favourite songs too emotional so he put Lucy Rose on, which was a good choice!

I lost all track of time but I remember feeling the need to push and informing the midwife of this in a slightly frantic manner! I heard the midwife in charge mention an internal to confirm I was fully dilated, but they decided not to as my instincts had been spot on up to that point and they trusted me to know when to push.

I pushed and pushed, with Phil and the midwives cheering me on, but Baby C kept crowning then going back in. I had desperately wanted to avoid delivering on my back, but with the midwife telling me I had to come off my side, I knew the pain was too intense to get on my knees, so with everyone’s help I went on to my back.

Things really got moving then and I was able to reach down and feel the Baby’s head, which was amazing. I kept asking Phil if he was okay standing up and apologising to everyone for making noise, apparently that was quite funny!

hannah and tobyAfter what I was told was about an hour of pushing, I felt Baby C make a final descent into the world and Phil and the midwife placed our baby on to my chest.

“What is it?” I asked Phil.

“It’s a Toby”

Our beautiful son arrived at 11:58, weighing a fantastic 7lb 9oz, he latched for a feed soon after and we both spent a long time having skin to skin cuddles with Toby. Phil and I are overwhelmed with love for our son and can’t speak highly enough of both the student and senior midwives, Liz and Laura, or any of the other wonderful staff at Peterborough hospital. We were discharged 6 hours after his birth and off we went, taking our son home.

Follow Hannah on Twitter @BuddingSmiles

Emergency vs elective caesarean – Ali Shattock

RB pic - AliIn a brilliant post, the wonderful Ali shares the birth stories of her two children Harley and Lola – a tale of two caesareans. After finding herself in a potentially dangerous situation in her first labour, Harley was born via emergency c-section safe and well. Ali was then faced with the dilemma that many women have in a second pregnancy – to attempt a VBAC or opt for the elective c-section.

We’d be interested to hear your experience of c-sections – have you had a VBAC or more than one caesarean? How did you feel about making those decisions? What influenced your choices, and did you feel you had one? Get in touch on Twitter @BlogsForBabies or via our contact form if you’ve got a story to share.

Ali blogs at mylifemylove.com

when harley met lola
When Harley met Lola

I often get asked about the labour and delivery that I experienced with both my babies. In truth, both experiences were so completely different even though I had a caesarean section for both of them; the only difference being that one was an emergency and the other elective. So I thought I would share my experience of both, for expectant mums.

At just over 40 weeks, I felt my waters break; well it was more of a trickle but I was pretty sure that this was the moment! I rang the maternity unit and was told to go down, only to be sent home again because they said that my waters hadn’t broken yet. I thought that I was going mad because I kept having the sensation that everyone talks about – when your waters break, you can’t stop it like you can if you’re going for a wee. The next day it was exactly the same, so I went to the maternity hospital again. This time they agreed with me and kept me in.

I started having contractions through the night but the minute my husband arrived in the morning, everything stopped. I was later induced. Before I knew it, I was 5cm dilated and was asked if I wanted an epidural. At that point I wasn’t in any real pain so couldn’t decide whether to have one or not. In the end I took it, as it was offered. I didn’t want to regret it later on when it might have been too late to have one.

Labour lasted 16 hours. I remember watching the Big Brother final on TV and topping up the epidural whilst my husband slept on the floor! Despite being rather drawn out, everything had gone to plan so far but the turning point was when I had my final assessment. The midwife who had been with us throughout the whole labour was due to end shifts. She swapped over with another midwife and a student midwife.

I was told after the examination that I was fully dilated however the student disagreed and felt that I was still only at 9cm. The experienced midwife overruled this and so I pushed for an hour. But sadly nothing was happening and I was getting so tired. The doctor was called and was very disturbed to see that I was not fully dilated and should not have been pushing at all. It was similar to pushing my baby against a brick wall! He then said that I would need an emergency section to prevent further distress to baby. I distinctly remember begging them not to send me home or to make me wait for the op!! The doctor humoured me and said it would have to happen right now.

baby harley
Harley

Luke was ushered out and changed into his scrubs and I was wheeled into the operating room. By this point I was so unbelievably tired and pumped with drugs that I remember drifting in and out of sleep on the table. It was precisely 8 minutes from the start of the operation to getting Harley out. I remember Luke and I holding our breath until we heard his first cry. Harley needed a little bit of oxygen but other than that he was a happy 8lb 9oz baby boy.

I lost 2 litres of blood but fortunately, I didn’t need a blood transfusion and I felt really well. For me, the hardest part about it being an emergency section was that I wasn’t allowed to hold Harley. Luke took him into another room. Even now it breaks my heart that I missed that first cuddle, that first skin to skin contact.

My recovery from the operation was remarkably very quick. Within 5 days, I had no pain at all and we were going for a short walk around the local park. I could move around as normal and wondered why on earth I wasn’t allowed to drive for the next 6 weeks as I felt so well. In hindsight, I now know that I was simply incredibly lucky, as recovery from my second caesarean was not nearly so easy.

For my second pregnancy I was offered a section if I wanted it because of what happened last time. I was actually very surprised that I was offered one and that it took me many weeks to decide what I wanted to do. I weighed up both options as I had done similarly with my sister who was in the same boat, a few months previously.

As much as I wanted a natural birth this time, the memory of last time didn’t leave me. All I could think about was the mistake that the midwife made and the harm that it could have caused my baby. I didn’t want to run the risk of that happening again. Equally, because my recovery from the operation was so quick, that was also leaning me towards choosing an elective.

There was part of me that was expecting the hospital consultants to sway me towards choosing a natural birth but they understood my experience of last time was very traumatic. They assured me that a planned section would be completely different from an emergency, inevitably in a good way.

So I was booked in for the day after my due date. Because Harley was a week late, I never thought that my daughter was ever going to come early – if she had we would have crossed that bridge when we came to it!

So I was given some tablets to take at set times the night before and on the morning of the op and by 7.30am I was down the hospital ‘checking in’.

There were 3 other mums in the ward with me booked in for the same day and it was lovely to see us all so calm. I had an underlying nervous anticipation but ultimately I was excited. My excitement turned quickly to nerves when I was told that out of all of us, I was going to go into theatre first and that I should get changed into my gown.

It was so unbelievably different, walking into theatre as opposed to be being rushed there on a bed. This time, I made the mistake of scanning the room and seeing all of the equipment and the many people in the room with us. It was all a blur last time and I was completely unaware of what or who was around me.

I was so nervous when the anaesthetist put the needle into my back but I remembered the position I needed to get into from last time. I remembered the hideously cold spray which was sprayed up my body to see where the spinal block was working. It took all of my efforts last time, to concentrate about feeling the spray, but this time it was much calmer, I think I was actually smiling. The anaesthetist was fantastic, both times. She stood by my head and talked me through every stage.

baby lola
Lola

Whereas with Harley it took 8 minutes for him to enter the world, everything was much longer this time and it was 43 minutes for Lola to make her appearance. (My bladder was stuck to my uterus so a surgeon had to come in to separate them, which is why it took a little longer than it should have; it didn’t help that he wore a massive mask with ‘Splatter Shield’ written on it – nobody needs to see that!!).

This time, I was holding my beautiful 7lb 12oz bundle while I was being stitched back up. It was so lovely to have that moment that I had lost with Harley.

I lost less blood this time, so I wasn’t in the High Dependency Unit afterwards. However, my recovery once home took much, much longer. I was so frustrated that I couldn’t enjoy my baby because it was too painful to move. I was frustrated that I had to rely on my husband to do everything. I was frustrated with myself for not healing as well as I did last time. I had expected too much of myself. It was a good 3 weeks before I started to feel comfortable sleeping and moving around. All of this was simply due to having a second section and the surgeons having to cut through previous scar tissue.

harley and lola bath
First baths at home!

We don’t plan to have any more children, but if I was in the situation again, I wouldn’t think twice about have an elective caesarean again. I took comfort in it being planned and having a ‘date’; it was calm; it was reassuring; I knew everything that was happening.

They came into the world via the same route but in very different circumstances. Both are beautiful, in my eyes.

Follow Ali on Twitter @aliandlucky

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

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