It’s been several months since I last blogged but I’ve had the rather time consuming matter of the second and third trimester of a pregnancy after loss, a birth and seven months bringing up a baby to keep me busy!
Even though I’ve only recently finished my maternity leave, I wouldn’t say I have had more time on my hands, just different type of time. I have been meaning to continue blogging where I left off but as more and more time passed it just got harder to start. It has infact taken me exactly 51 days to complete this blog post!
However here I am blogging again finally and when trying to decide what to blog about, I thought the birth of our daughter Edie is a perfect place to start.
This was my second birth experience and I was determined to have a positive experience and outcome. I didn’t want the fact that our firstborn died during early labour make me fear it. We were offered an elective c-section and induction but I was so determined to see what happened naturally. Obviously if there had been signs of any issues we were willing to consider these options.
Towards the latter part of my third trimester my appointments, checks and monitoring really increased. At 30 weeks I had to go to hospital for monitoring as I thought my waters might have broken. They confirmed they hadn’t but during this visit they decided to test me for Group B Strep which is normally done at around 36 weeks. I came back positive which meant I would need antibiotics through a drip several times during my labour to protect my baby. It also meant that I would probably not be able to experience early labour at home which disappointed me but I knew the drugs were important.
I had chosen to start my maternity leave a month before my due date because I knew this was going to be an intense period with appointments and just trying to get through it. I’m so glad I did because I went into labour three weeks early at 37 weeks gestation. It was a Saturday and my husband and I had attended the hospital for a scheduled monitoring appointment in the morning.
Following this we went out for lunch and decided to enjoy the sunshine and went for a little walk afterwards. I remember saying to Rik that it felt like the baby was quite low and getting several braxton hicks during the walk. I placed his hand on my stomach during one to show him how hard it was. As we were getting back to the car I remember feeling a slight gush and went to the cafe toilet. I came out and told him we would have to return to the hospital as I am sure it was some amniotic fluid.
We returned and I got monitored again although they felt it wasn’t amniotic fluid. During the monitoring slight contractions were showing up and the midwife asked if I could feel them. For about 5/10 minutes we thought this was it and I was having our baby, but then they petered out. However the midwife wasn’t 100% satisfied with the report so I was monitored again. This time less contractions showed up and 40 minutes later I was going home.
I joked with her how I was going to a friends for Chinese that evening and she said I should avoid it if I was going into labour! I was shattered when I got home and all I wanted to do was take a nap but there wasn’t enough time so I didn’t. Something I would later regret!
Whilst I was sitting in the packed Chinese waiting for our order under a loud TV, I remember thinking I shouldn’t be here, and I was right. I kept thinking it would be okay if I went into labour as one of my friends was a midwife. We joked how it could be anytime. I went home and started getting ready for bed when I had my mucous plug show. I texted my midwife friend a picture, believe it or not, and she said it was a good sign.
With my previous birth, the plug had appeared a week before going into labour so I wasn’t panicked. I had literally just got settled in bed, when I felt the need to go to the toilet. I sat up in bed and felt a gush. Not loads but enough to think something was happening. It kept coming so I texted my midwife friend back again saying “Phoning hospital as just had some water come out x”. I remember my body started shaking uncontrollably as I went into panic mode.
A phone call to the hospital later and I was getting dressed still in shock. Unfortunately I hadn’t quite finished packing my hospital bag but fortunately I had made a list on my phone of what I had still needed to pack so as I read out each item Rik went looking for them.
We drove to the hospital and it all felt like a dream. I remember questioning whether we should bring in the bags because I kept doubting that I was in labour and that I would need all the baby items this time. There was always a little niggle at the back of my mind whether it would end in devastation again.
We got shown into a room to have a scan to check on our baby. Unfortunately this was the same room we had been told there was no heartbeat last time but somehow we were strong and coped. The on call obstetrician confirmed my waters had broken and gave me until 6am the next morning for my contractions to be fully established. They gave me my first drip of antibiotics. We were then moved into our own room which we would occupy for the rest of our stay.
We decided not to tell family that we were in hospital and wait until the morning. By the time we went to sleep it was 4am and I knew I had to be woken at 6am for my next dose of antibiotics. It’s very hard to sleep when you know you are going to have your baby in the next 24 hrs! It was lovely having Rik there to keep me company and support me.
In the morning I was examined and found to be 3cm dilated so I didn’t require to be induced. This was good news but because my contractions had not established fully I was told I would require some syntocinon to speed things up because I needed to have the baby 24 hours from when my waters broke to reduce infection. This meant a water birth was not an option which upset me. I had hoped to have a water birth with Freddie but chose to have an epidural in the end so to then be told I couldn’t have one was disappointing. I was therefore determined to ensure that I was happy with the rest of how things went. This included wearing some special pieces of jewellery including a necklace I had made with Freddie’s footprints on. I wanted it close to hand to rub if things got tough and I needed extra encouragement.
After breakfast the overnight on call obstetrician was just about to finish her shift but before doing so introduced the team of midwives and the next on call obstetrician assigned to me and assured me that they had all read my birth plan and care plan. This was about 8am and by now I was starting to feel regular twinges so they moved me to a delivery room.
I had requested the delivery room we had with Freddie if it was available and fortunately for us it was. It had been redecorated since 2013 and had a brighter feel with blossom on the wall and new beds which changed into tiered seating. I remember thinking it was a beautiful sunny day and we had the windows open. I asked the midwife if we could have the battery operated flickering candles I’d seen in the room during a tour of the ward and some meditation music I’d got with me. To make me more comfortable I’d also asked for the wireless monitoring system so I wasn’t tied to a machine. I was quite comfortable swaying from side to side on my Swiss ball.
It was at this point once he knew I was settled that my husband took the opportunity to phone our family to let them know what was happening. It was a Sunday so a few of them were about to go to church. My mother said she would pray for me. My sister said she’d seen a robin in her garden and believed it was a sign from Freddie. I took delight in telling her that yesterday when we were returning to the ward we had seen a robin just sitting on a fence in the hospital car park and had taken it as a sign from Freddie that he was present and that everything was going to be okay.
Rik then thought he would pop home to pick up a few things we’d forgotten and have a quick shower. I didn’t know how long I was going to be in labour for and wanted him to be as fresh as he could be after two hours sleep! Whilst he was away I just relaxed really. The only thing that was a bit stressful was when I went to the toilet and got in a bit of a pickle as I had to take the antibiotic drip stand with me and keep the monitoring belts in place which I failed at. I remember thinking that the midwife must have been wondering was going on as the traces disappeared on her machine back in the labour room.
Rik returned around 10am and decided to sit behind me on the tiered bed whilst I sat on the Swiss ball so he could massage my back. He remained there for the rest of my labour and was an amazing support physically and emotionally. I was breathing through my contractions well and they were coming at a rate of about three every ten minutes. As they got stronger and stronger I needed to push harder against Rik’s hands and breath deeper. The midwife kept saying the baby is very happy as her heart rate was stable.
Prior to giving birth Rik and I had spent one night a week listening to a hypnobirthing CD and as the contractions seemed to roll into each other I found myself going back to one of the exercises and imagining being stood by a waterfall with Rik by my side holding hands. At this point I still hadn’t had any pain relief and after two strong surges I remember thinking I don’t know how long I can take this.
I had heard you can feel the baby shifting down and I certainly did. At first I thought I had imagined it and just ignored it but a few contractions on and I pushed a bit and felt the baby move further down. I didn’t tell anyone as I didn’t realise how ready my body was.
It was at this point I said to Rik that I felt nauseous, I then started to weep and as a second midwife went to get tissues I had one or two really strong surges where I was lifting myself off the ball back against Rik’s hands. It was now when I needed that extra support and I rubbed Freddie’s necklace knowing that I could endure anything in his memory. Rik whispered in my ear “it won’t be long now Nic” as he just knew I was ready. The next contraction I was up on my feet which took the midwife in the room and the second one returning with tissues a bit by surprise.
I was encouraged to turn around and lean over the bed as they quickly pulled down my bottoms. I heard one midwife quickly opening a welcome pack whilst the other told me to do what felt natural. This is when my inner cave woman came out as I let my body naturally birth Edie. It felt so euphoric and I remember listening to myself thinking is that me making those noises. A minute later and Edie Pierrine Bromley was born in the Blossom Room at the PEH, Guernsey at 12.20pm weighing 6lb7oz.
I went to grab Edie and there was that moment before she cried where there was silence from her and I panicked and said she wasn’t breathing but to our relief she did. Having asked for delayed cord clamping, I was encouraged to lie down as she was passed to me. It was a funny moment as I felt the cord tugging but we realised we didn’t have much cord to work with. Lying there with her in my arms I didn’t cry, I just looked at her, looked at Rik and back to her and said “Hello I’m your mummy”.
Two minutes later and Rik cut the cord and then I had further skin to skin with her. Eight minutes later and I had to stand up again as a strong surge came on to birth the placenta. I looked down as it was caught in a container and noticed what a mess I had made. On inspection I required some stitching and I think enduring this was the hardest part of the whole thing! The midwife said just concentrate on your new baby which I did but I was very relieved when they had finished.
A midwife encouraged me to try breastfeeding Edie and she fortunately latched on straight away. It was wonderful to know that forty minutes after giving birth she was feeding from me. We were then left for around an hour to have some quality time together. It was during this hour that Rik stood opposite me in the room and rang my mother and said “I’m looking at your daughter and your granddaughter”. I can’t even begin to imagine the relief and excitement that she must have been feeling.
I know only too well that pregnancies and births don’t go according to plan but on that day I had no doubt and that Edie was here to stay. It was an agreement I had with Edie when we first both looked into each other’s eyes and remains a very strong agreement today.
A few weeks after giving birth to Edie, a friend asked me how my birth was and I could honestly say I really enjoyed it. I know that not everyone can say this but I felt empowered by how I coped and we both worked together to bring her earthside. It really is amazing how your body knows what to do and by trusting it, birth can be a calm, relaxed and enjoyable experience. I am very lucky to have experienced giving birth to two beautiful children.