Apart from my sister, whom I'm certain is a real life Disney Princess, I don't know any one who has had a 'normal', straight forward birth. I certainly did not. In fact I will go as far to say, that I had an insane birth!
Forgive me if you are reading this and you are pregnant with your first baby. In fact feel free to look away or click the close button now if you don't want to be scared, you can read and add your own stories to my COMMENTS PAGE once you've given birth yourself.....
OK, so if you're still reading you have either given birth and know just how horrendous it can be (there's no delicate way to put it) or you the hardcore and want the truth. Because that's just it isn't it, no one actually really says how fucking mind-alteringly painful it is until after you've given birth and then finally, other women look at you sympathetically and say things like, "It's the worst thing ever!" - "I thought I was dying" - or they just glaze over and shudder. It's like there's a secret code between women, that we only admit how truly explosively painful child birth is to other women who have already given birth and we definitely don't tell pregnant ladies. For days after I gave birth I ranted to every one, "Why didn't any one tell me it would be that bad!" and I didn't even get to the excruciating pushing stage...
I'm afraid I am breaking the female code to share with you my birthing story now but if this blog is about the truth then I suppose I owe it to you. Plus I'd go through ten times the pain just to have Phoenix in my life, so the pluses definitely out way the mind numbingly painful minus.
My whole pregnancy was pretty stressful and at some point I will go in to why. I had remained pretty fit though and right up until about 3 days before I gave birth I was running around and generally feeling great. In that last month of my third trimester, I did feel like I was about to get metaphorically, beaten up though. For me the unknown of going in to labour was like being 'mugged'. I didn't know where or when it was going to happen or exactly how painful it was going to be, but I knew IT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN any time soon and I was just waiting for the unknown, to jump out on me. As it turns out it didn't really happen like that at all.
We had our first, what can only be described as, a comedy false alarm, on our way back from a lovely day out in Whitby. It was a week before I actually gave birth and Ayden and I had stopped off at a farm shop to get cake. It was a lovely hot day and I had my shorts on. I got out of the car and realised I had a really wet bum. I looked at Ayden horrified and said, "I think my waters have broke cos my bum is wet through and I'm quite sure I haven't wet myself cos I've been doing my kegal exercises every day and I think I'd have felt myself weeing." As if I even needed to explain that! He kind of looked disgusted (which made me laugh) but very calm (which kind of impressed me) and said, and I quote, "Well why don't you call the midwife and see whether we need to rush to hospital (we were about 2 hours away) and I'll go and get us some cakes!" Now you'd think I'd freak out at that - but I just agreed. The midwife told me to go to the loo and put a pad there and see how much more water came out and then head off to the hospital and call again when we were setting off. I did that. We decided we would finish our cake first before we set off though, as it looked so nice and we even had time for a chat to some fans of Ayden's. Then we headed back to the car. We were really so calm, it was commendable we thought. When we got back to the car though, we realised exactly why we were calm.
Ayden had left a bottle of pink lemonade on my seat and actually what had happened was it had leaked on to my seat and soaked in, I had then sat on the seat and the pink lemonade had soaked on to my shorts. I'm not gonna lie, It took a while to figure this out, haha I think we must have got sun stroke or something. I then had to call the hospital and take the shame, explaining to the midwife that, my waters hadn't broken at all and that it was in fact just pink lemonade. She laughed at me and said that was an absolute first in her many years of being a midwife. We then drove home, congratulating ourselves on our calmness and laughing about, what complete twats we had been. The next 'false alarm' was a bit more painful though.
Saturday the 22nd August 2015.
I started to get what I thought were bad contractions (how naive I was). I really felt like if I ate anything I'd be sick and after having contractions all day, that night Ayden decided he should take me to the wonderful Arrowe Park Hospital. It was time....I felt pretty calm and thought, if this is it pain wise, I can stay on top of this. When we got there no one seemed in a hurry. They put me on a monitor and took urine samples. When the midwife finally came back she was really quite stern. "I can see from the monitor that your contractions are quite strong but you are not yet in full labour. You are Ketoctic though", she barked at me, "And if you do go in to full labour tonight, you probably won't have the energy to deliver your baby. So I'm going to make you some toast, you will eat it and then go home and eat some more". So that's what I did. We went home and Ayden made me Pizza. About an hour later though, I was sick until I could not be sick any more. My contractions then stopped and I fell asleep finally knowing that my baby was now definitely on his way
Sunday 23rd August 2015
My pains had gone. No more contractions but I still felt weak and sick. I stayed in bed sleeping all day and then finally that evening I had what I think was a show (yuk).... I slept some more, thinking, it's gonna be soon!
Monday 24th August 2015
Woke up in the early hours with contractions and although there was no gush or trickle of water there was a spot every now and then but it was tiny and almost imperceptible. Certain that this time it wasn't pink lemonade and listening to my body, I knew something was different, so Ayden and I once again went to the hospital.
He was filming at 2pm that day (he is an actor on Hollyoaks) so we rushed to try and get there and back before he had to go in to work. I told the midwife that I thought my waters had broken, although there had been no obvious sign and she said she really didn't they could have broken, but she'd do a test anyway, then she would send us back home until my contractions were closer together. Even at this point, some of my contractions were making my legs buckle from underneath me but they were at least 8 minutes apart and less than a minute long, so I still wasn't in full labour, but I was close. About an hour later, after she had finally run the test the midwife said, "I'll be blowed, your waters have broken, you will have to come in at 8am tomorrow to be induced unless your contractions progress before then." So once again I was sent home.... but this was finally it, after the longest 9 months ever, tomorrow there would be a baby
We now knew whatever happened, I would be induced Tuesday morning at 8am, so my mum came over that night, to be at the birth alongside Ayden the next day. He's really squeamish, so we decided it might be good to have my mum there, just in case he fainted :P
From about 10pm that Monday night my contractions were hatefully painful but only 6 minutes apart, so no point going to the hospital. By 2am I was in the bath trying to ease the pain- but sometimes the pain was so bad I had to jump out of it because I couldn't just lie there and take it, but then my knees would buckle from underneath me as I jumped out. We called the hospital but as the contractions were still 6 minutes apart, I was told to take a paracetamol and wait until they were closer together. This went on until 5 in the morning! My mum sat with me in the bathroom and at 5am she called the hospital for me. She was told to give me more paracetamol, to which my comedy mum said. "She is in so much pain! How would you like it if a dropped a brick on your toe and then told you to take a paracetamol? A Paracetamol does nothing for this kind of pain, how stupid you are for suggesting it! We are bringing her in now!" Haha - I love my little mum!
Tuesday 25th August (Phoenix's day of birth)
We set off in the car. By now I was in so much pain with my contractions (still only every 6 minutes) that I couldn't bare for Ayden to drive over even the smallest bump in the road. I think I only shouted twice the whole day and this was one of those times. I think I screamed, "For fucks sake, please stop going over bumps!" My mum told me a few days later that Ayden was literally driving in the middle and on the wrong side off the road to avoid bumps for me.
We finally got to the hospital at about 6am and I was put in a waiting room for about an hour while they got a room ready for me and the nurses changed shift. This was the second and last time I shouted. This time I said at about 7am. "What's the fucking point of being at the hospital, if they're just going to leave me to suffer? Please can they just give me some gas and air or something?" My mum ran off to get a nurse and the next thing I knew I was being taken to a room.
Although, I'd avoided any sort of birth plan, in the back of my head I'd thought I'd maybe go for a water birth. Arrowe Park is an amazing hospital with lots of different birthing facilities. However, because my waters had broken at least a day before and I was possibly going to be induced, I no longer had that option and had to have a hospital room birth, so they could monitor me.
The midwife was an absolute babe, which for some reason I was really pleased about, I don't even know why? I think I thought she would look after me better because she was so well turned out. She told me, I was about 3cm dilated and she'd give me until 8.30am (an hour) before she'd induce me, as it might all progress naturally now I was already in labour. I also had some gas and air, which I was thankful for but this is when it all started to get a bit mad.
GAS AND AIR
The minute I'd had my first gulp of gas and air, which I'd been told would, only reduced the pain and wouldn't change my focus, I felt weird. I was still ketotic, even more so in fact, so I had a drip attached to me as well as the inducing fluid or whatever does that job. I hadn't really eaten anything since Friday and I'd been sick on the Saturday, so I felt weak and weird anyway. I started to freak out about the drip at first. I thought it wasn't deep enough in to my vein and was going to split my hand open. Not wanting to cause a fuss, I didn't say anything. I kept pretending I needed the loo to gather myself together and get my head straight. I knew the gas and air was starting to have funny effect on me but I didn't realise just how bad it was going to get.
Not only was I now having severe contractions but I was feeling light headed and quite frankly a bit, 'off my tits'. Pretty quickly and after not very much gas and air, I completely forgot I was having a baby and I actually thought that, the midwife was trying to kill me with pain and that Ayden and my mum were in on it!
By now I was being induced, so the contractions were making me feel like I was going the burst open. Being induced definitely raises the pain level considerably, as if it's not already bad enough. Every time the midwife tapped on her computer, I thought, she's sending me more pain, I'm being tortured to death. Then Ayden would say, "Come on babe, It's alright have some more gas and air." And I'd think, "Oh my gods, he's in on it, he's drugging me, so I can't fight back or run"
Interestingly, the whole time I was in this paranoid state, I did not fight back or even scream out or ask them, what they were doing or why they were killing me. I whimpered at the pain a bit, but in the main desperately just tried to hold on until I couldn't take any more. This went on for about 4 hours, until at about mid day I remember my mum saying, "For goodness sake Sarah don't suffer this any more, just have an epidural." I thought she was saying this because they were finally going to kill me and I was in so much pain by then, I agreed.
By now, I was so paranoid I would not look at anyone. When the anaesthetist came in. I just sat on the bed as still as the pain would allow me to. I remember him saying his 'schpeel' to me and not daring to look at him or answer him. I actually thought he was my executioner. (My mum and Ayden later confirmed how weird I had been). He told me that I must give him some sign that I understood what he had said, so I remember nodding and thinking, well this is it, they are finally going to kill me but at least I won't feel any more pain. My contractions were so painful by now, I just remember my mum telling me, I must keep still, but I didn't feel a thing of the needle going in or hurting and then, l finally fell asleep.
Happily they had not killed me!
When I woke up, I realised once again that I was having a baby (yay) and not in some sort of weird 'Walking Dead' type torture, horror scenario.
I told Ayden, my mum and the midwife that because of the gas and air, I'd thought they were trying to kill me and that I'd had forgotten I was in labour. I must say they all looked pretty shocked. The midwife just said, "Thank goodness we only gave you gas and air and nothing stronger". She then examined me and confirmed that unfortunately I was still only 3cm dilated, so she cranked up the contractions and left me pain and hallucination free but now unable to move.
At 6.30pm I was examined again and I was still only 3cm. The midwife said, that she could totally feel the babies face (way to much information I thought and not something you want your partner to hear) and that she thought he was wedged in sideways and that I definitely wasn't going to dilate any further now. She was pretty certain I would probably need to have to have a C- Section but she would get a final check from the Dr.
Amazingly, in all this time Phoenix did not get stressed once and his heartbeat was healthy throughout. What a little soldier.
When the Dr came, she was even more beautiful than the midwife! She agreed a C Section was the way forward and that they would have me down to theatre soon. By now I was so tired and hungry (I'd not been allowed to eat in case I'd needed a C -Section) I was super pleased I didn't have to push. Quite frankly, I knew I just couldn't be arsed to push!
I'd heard Ayden chatting to my and mum freaking out about, how he might faint in the theatre while I was chatting to the Dr. I didn't want him to feel uncomfortable, so I insisted he didn't come in for the operation. I told the midwife that as soon as I'd seen my baby he must then be taken to meet his dad. She said, they really liked to leave the baby with their mum for about an hour after birth, to do 'skin on skin' bonding, but I said, I knew I'd bond with my baby and it was more important to me that his dad see him straight away and thankfully she agreed. I was then whisked down to theatre with my mum. I shook all the way there and kept apologising for that. The nurses were so lovely and told me not to worry and that most women do shake. Next thing I knew the operation was under way.
It all happened very quickly. I was shaking, there was some tugging, which made me feel like my stomach was a football and the Dr was trying to wriggle a baby that was quite wedged in out of it - and then I heard her say, "Congratulations, you have your boy." And she held a very angry looking baby over the top of a green screen for me to see.
At 8.31pm on Tuesday 25th August 2015, weighing 6lbs 1 ounce, Phoenix Hudson Callaghan was born.
What a poppet he was, but in all the strangeness of the day, my immediate thoughts from the voice in my head were as follows; "This is like a punch and Judy Show - he looks like an angry Mr Punch" - "He's quite brown" (this was obviously blood) and finally and somewhat randomly I thought, "Ooo he has a huge schlong."
Now, please don't ask me why I thought this wholly inappropriate thought, I just did and as I'm always honest, there it is. I guess subconsciously I was checking him over to make sure he was all there and that he was in fact, a boy as promised. So that's what my head went there I guess!
He was then taken off to see his dad before he and I were checked and taken up to the ward. Because he was a C-Section it meant I would be on a ward that night and not in my own room, so Ayden couldn't stay. He was really devastated by this but he was allowed to return the following morning at 7.30am, so quite overwhelmed and distraught at leaving us, the new daddy left and mother and baby were left alone on the ward.
Sadly I was so out of it I only took a very brief video of my new pride and joy by accident. I'm pretty gutted about that.
It was a wonderful night though. I felt the most peaceful I had ever felt in my life. Phoenix, was in his cot most of the night next to me and he watched me all the time, not really sleeping. There was a quiet understanding I felt running between us, that although we had just met, we recognised each other, like we had known each other many, many life times. I have to tell you though, this was in between intervals of more hallucinations from me. A few times that night I looked at Phoenix and he was a radio! I wasn't freaked out, as I kind of knew it wasn't real. I did wonder why my imagination had made him a radio though. Whatever it meant, I knew; I had found my souls desire in seeing my baby boy and that the drugs they had given me to get me through the C -Section were pretty bloody strong.