"Lucas’ due date was on the 29th of April. Of course, only 4% of babies are born on their due date and most firstborns are late or at least that’s common thought. So, I knew there was a possibility of having to wait two weeks past my due date until I met him. I couldn’t though. I really couldn’t.
I started feeling sick at midnight when I was 6 weeks pregnant and basically spent the next 9 weeks feeling hungover all day, every day. My theory is that it was a man that called it morning sickness. On top of that, I felt really anxious and just wanted to get through the next six weeks to feel more at ease. After the 12 week scan, I could finally breathe. The second trimester went well, my bump popped at around 16 weeks and I loved it! I could touch it and take photos of it all day. I don’t think I’ve ever loved my body more than during pregnancy. I still didn’t feel like a superhero, which is what a lot of people said the second trimester would feel like, but I felt okay and enjoyed it. During the final weeks, my weight creeped, I had gained weight very steadily and suddenly my bump was growing by the minute. I felt uncomfortable, everything hurt, my sciatica was killing me… I was ready to meet my baby. On top of that, I knew my baby was big, he had measured in the upper 90th percentile from the first scans but I wasn’t scared of delivering a big baby, I was just uncomfortable and ready.
Thankfully, I had read Make Your Birth Better by Siobhan Miller, founder of the Positive Birthing Company and it really gave me a sense of control. It did highlight the benefits of a non-medicated birth and hypnobirthing practices, but what I gained most out of it was a feeling of empowerment during my pregnancy and also I learned about all the birth place possibilities: birth centre, labour ward, theatre or home birth. Of course, I was inspired by all of these unmedicated birthing stories and coming from a country where we don’t even have midwives, my preference was to give birth in the birth centre without any intervention or any high level pain medication. I say preference instead of plan because this is what the book highlights but also because I was lucky enough to have a lot of good friends giving birth in the months prior and I knew that anything could happen and that things rarely went as planned so I wanted to keep an open mind.
Finally, the day came. One day before the due date, on April 28th at 4:40 am I felt like I had peed myself so I went to the bathroom. At that same minute, one of my best friends texted to check up on me. She’s a doctor and a mother of 3 so I immediately told her what had happened and she said she thought my waters had broken. I started laughing and shaking and almost crying. I was going to meet my baby soon! I woke my husband up and said “My waters might have broken” and then at 5:15 am a gush of water came out onto the floor. This had to be it, I thought. Because I tested positive for Strep B, I had to go into the hospital as soon as anything happened to be put on antibiotics before delivery.
We got to the hospital at 6 am. I showed the midwives in the antenatal ward the photos and explained what happened. According to the photo and the story, my waters definitely broke but after an internal and very painful examination, they couldn’t confirm it. How? We were so confused. In the meantime, I was given a bed in the antenatal ward and put on IV antibiotics. Because of Strep, I needed to be induced but I still wanted to go to the birth centre so we started with a mild induction using a gel. After 6 hours, I was still at 1 cm, so the birth centre was no longer an option. It was fine, at this point all I wanted was to meet my baby. We were supposed to go to the labour ward where I would be put on the drip, but there were no rooms available.
Sixteen (yes, 16!) hours later, with almost no contractions, I got to the labour ward where an obstetrics consultant was going to break my fore-waters. Well, it turns out that I have an unfriendly cervix that was far back and that’s why the internal examinations hurt so much. She couldn’t reach my cervix, let alone break my waters. I was in so much pain, I cannot explain it and labour hadn’t even started. A second consultant had to come in to try to reach my cervix. After a lot of effort - and a lot of pain - she was able to break my waters. At this point, I had to decide on pain medication. I had been told that the induction drip was quite painful and that it was best to get an epidural beforehand. However, I really wanted to stay away from the epidural because I knew it could have a negative effect on breastfeeding and I already had some things playing against me there, but after those examinations and all that faffing around with my unfriendly cervix I didn’t even think twice about the epidural.
They call it a mobile epidural and say that you can control it, but the reality is that you only control the top-up of the epidural, not the regular doses, so after two or three doses, there is no moving around. This was a shock, more than being induced or being in the labour ward. I had always pictured myself moving around the room, getting into different positions to manage pain, holding on to my husband during contractions, etc., and this was no longer possible as I would be bed-bound. I had a little cry - weird the things that triggered me - and got the epidural.
I got checked after 6 hours and still, one centimeter. Four hours later… o n e c e n t i m e t e r. At this point, we had been in the hospital for 39 hours. Also, the amazing midwife by my side had been timing the contractions manually for 10 hours because my bump was so stretched that the machine was not picking them up. The doctors said I could keep going but we had to consider that if I did, I could end up with an emergency cesarean if the baby went into distress and I had already been overstimulated twice with the drip because of the manual monitoring. I really didn’t want to wait any longer, so we opted for the c-section. I had another little cry as surgery was not what I expected either and off we went.
Finally, at 10:21 pm, on his due date, with Elton John’s Tiny Dancer playing in the background, Lucas arrived, weighing 4.6 kgs, yes, four point six kilos and measuring 53 centimeters. A healthy and beautiful boy that, I think, was never going to come out vaginally. It wasn’t until I had a c-section that I properly realised that it’s a major abdominal surgery. I had a good recovery but it is very painful. I couldn’t walk easily, getting out of bed and sleeping was tough and all of this whilst taking care of a newborn. Trust me, a cesarean is not the easy way out."