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Helen's Story

 
Baby Joseph finally made his grand entrance into the world last Monday 28th July, 8 days after his due date.
 
If I have learnt anything about childbirth over the last few months it is that labour doesn't always go to plan and that was certainly the case with me! 
 
Having gone a week over my due date the midwife performed a membrane sweep on Sunday - she thought that it was unlikely to be successful due to the position of my cervix and she thought that the baby would not be arriving for a few days at least.  Not expecting anything to happen we went to bed late that night (I thought i'd have a lie in the next morning), so at 2am i'd not even fallen asleep when I felt something pop, I got up to go to the toilet and seemed to be leaking a little but nothing major.  Almost immediately I started to feel cramps in my stomach like period pains but I kept remembering what the midwife said about me being nowhere near ready to go into labour so I assumed that I wasn't.  The pain eased off and came back again so I took note of the time just in case it was contractions.  Over the next hour the pains got stronger and went from every 10 minutes to every 8 minutes.  By 4am I thought that I must be in labour and as I had planned a home birth I decided to call the midwife to let her know that I would be needing her later!  I was advised to call the midwife again when the contractions were coming every 2-3 minutes so in the meantime I put on the TENS machine as the contractions were getting very strong and were coming 4-5 minutes.  They continued at this rate for the next 5 hours and at 9am were at every 3 minutes so I called the midwife again.  During this time I tried taking a bath to help ease the pain but I personally didn't find this helpful so I got out and put the TENS machine back on.  I was focusing on my breathing and couldn't cope with operating the TENS machine as well so Andy was in control of that whilst also breathing with me which really helped me to stay focused.
 
The midwife arrived at 10am when she examined me and found I was only 2cm dilated.  After 8 hours of intense pain I was very disappointed but she said she would come back at 12pm and so I carried on.  By this time I was struggling with sheer exhaustion having not had any sleep at all, it was also an extremely hot day and I was being sick throughout the labour which also was very dehydrating.  I used my birthing ball to rock backwards and forwards which I found did help but I was so tired out I kept almost nodding off between contractions and nearly rolled off the ball!!  At 12pm the midwife came back to check how I was doing, and she said she would return at 2pm and examine me then.
 
At 2pm I was still only 3-4cm dilated inspite of 12 hours of frequent, strong contractions.  As I was making little progress the midwife said that I could stay at home for another 2 hours but after that I would need to go into hospital to go onto a drip to speed everything up.  I couldn't face another 2 hours with no progress so decided to go to the hospital there and then. 
 
When we arrived at the hospital I was given gas and air to help with the contractions and I continued using the TENS machine.  I had been in labour for almost 14 hours now and was so tired and struggling to manage the pain because i'd had no respite between the contractions from the outset, and knowing that the contractions may worsen when I went on the drip I asked for an epidural.
 
I moved to the delivery room and the anaesthetist arrived to give me the epidural, there were a few problems getting it into the space in my back as it kept touching a nerve and making my legs tingle but I wasn't concerned and it wasn't uncomfortable (in comparison to the contractions!), after about 25 minutes it was in successfully and was working and the relief was immense.  I was hooked up to a monitor so that they could observe myself and the baby and it was then that they noticed the baby's heart beat drop a couple of times.  Each time it came back strong and each time a doctor came in to check everything was ok. 
 
They started me off on the drip to speed things up and said that they would check me again at 10pm to see what progress I had made, (it was 7pm at this time).  The midwife suggested Andy go and get something to eat as it was just a case of waiting for the time being so he went off to the canteen and no sooner than he had left the room the baby's heartbeat dropped again but this time for longer.  The doctor came in and attached a monitor directly to the baby's head to make sure that they were picking up his pulse but it wasn't strong and at this point she said I would have to have an emergency caesarean.  A number of people came into the room to do whatever they needed to do, it all happened very quickly so it's a bit of a blur and I was worrying about them getting hold of Andy.  They called him but it went to voicemail, I was just hoping he would get the message in time. (Note: the mobile reception at LRI can be a bit dodgy!!!)
 
They took me into theatre within 10 minutes and started to prep me ready for the operation.  Someone came and told me that Andy was outside getting washed up and dressed which was a relief but they wouldn't let him in until they had got the baby out.  All of the staff were really reassuring and explained to me what was going to happen.  Before I knew it I felt a tugging sensation as the baby was pulled out and the midwife quickly showed him to me before taking him off for the paediatrician to have a look at.  Joseph was born at 7.35pm.  Andy then was allowed into the theatre and the midwife brought the baby in and handed him to his dad.  She said that he was fine, they had given him a tiny bit of oxygen to help his breathing but he was absolutely fine.
 
Andy and the midwife took the baby and weighed him whilst I was being stitched up and it wasn't until I got into recovery that I was able to have a cuddle.  It was amazing to hold him for the first time but I wasn't upset that I didn't get the chance as soon as he was born because I thought it was great that he had a chance to bond with his dad on his own first and my only concern was that he was ok.
 
The whole experience was obviously very different to what we had planned but I was open minded and at the end of the day both mine and the baby's safety was the most important thing.  Inspite of everything it was still a positive experience.  The staff at LRI were all fantastic both during labour and birth as well as during our 2 day stay afterwards.  I'm proud that I managed 14 hours at home but knew the hospital was then the best place to be.
 
Now we are all settled at home and it's been brilliant meeting our little boy after such a long time.  No matter what happens during labour, it is just 1 day of a lifetime and totally worth it!
 
The breathing that I learnt in your classes was invaluable and helped me to focus and to manage the pain through the labour.  I found myself on all fours for most of the contractions which was the most comfortable position and I also found rocking to be really useful.  The yoga was also particularly useful throughout the pregnancy and it was great to meet everyone else and it is lovely that we have all been able to stay in touch.
 
If you want to use my birth story on your website then please feel free.
 
Hope to see you at a yoga class in the future when I have recovered fully from the c section.
 
Helen x