Surprise! Because he is super awesome, Donovan Vincent decided to make an early appearance on the 15th of May – 12 days early. And here is as much of the story as I can remember 🙂 Be warned – there’s way too much information at some points but somehow during pregnancy I lost what little modesty I had left.
I think I look a lot more serene than I felt.
On Wednesday 14th I had a pretty normal day apart from feeling some cramping and lower back pain. I had about a week off because we moved house, and we had finally got everything sorted on Sunday 11th, but was due to go back to work for three more days on Friday. I was really not looking forward to that because I was tired all the time, achy and had a real kind of heavy/pressure feeling in my pelvis. I had been feeling pretty ready to have a baby since we had got everything sorted in the new flat, but was very prepared to go overdue. So in preparation, I was bouncing on my yoga ball each evening (also it was super comfy at the time). And although I was tired and feeling kind of shitty, me and Jaime had also been having fairly regular sexy times. I felt very attracted to him so even though it was kind of difficult and awkward we still went for it. So perhaps, that’s what brought it on quicker. I also went for a little walk on Wednesday and felt absolutely knackered by the time I got back, with more pressure in my pelvis than before.
At about 7pm I noticed I was getting some contractions, which hurt. I had been having lots of Braxton Hicks, but none so far had actually hurt. These felt like mild period pains. In a sort of jokey way I got out my phone with the contraction timer app and started showing Jaime how to use it. We timed contractions through the evening. They were reasonably regularly about 1 minute long, but the intervals were all over the place – 10 minutes, 6 minutes, 8 minutes, 4 minutes, 8 minutes again, etc. So I was convinced this was absolutely not the real thing. It was way too early and although they hurt, I had expected labour contractions to hurt more to be honest, so just told myself it was nothing, false labour at best. But, all through the day I had been pooing way more than usual so a small part of me was thinking that maybe this was actually it.
I had a bath in the evening which felt amazing but didn’t really ease anything. For some bizarre reason I took into my head to shave my legs and armpits, a very rare occurance throughout the rest of my pregnancy. So by the time I got out I felt all smooth and beautiful, which was nice, but I was still contracting.
Jaime was due to work a double shift starting at 7am on Thursday, so at maybe 10pm we went to bed. By this point I was struggling a bit with the pain and would go up on all fours while contracting to help it. We were still timing and they were getting a bit close together – averaging about 5-6 minutes apart – but still not very regular. Poor Jaime was super tired so he rolled over to get some sleep. We were both telling eachother that this was not really it. I tried my best but at this point really couldn’t even try to sleep through the contractions, so I got up and wandered around a bit. I was still firmly convinced that at any time, the contractions would just stop. I bounced on my ball, then spent about an hour on the toilet, timing again. The intervals were still irregular but now much closer together, between 2 and 4 minutes. I now couldn’t walk or stand up through them either, so kept going down on my hands and knees and trying to breathe slowly.
I went back into our room and Jaime rolled over and asked if we should call the midwife. I was really quite tired by this point and still thought it couldn’t possibly be real, so I was reluctant, because I was sure that if we went to hospital everything would suddenly stop and we’d just have to go home again. But I was in fairly consistent levels of pain through each one – now I would say, they were like medium-painful period pains, but the intensity and regularity made them more difficult to deal with. So, I got out my folder and showed Jaime the number to call.
Jaime had to explain what was going on to three different people and I knew he was very tired and finding it difficult to explain properly. He said things like ‘my partner has been having contractions for one minute’ and I was like ‘no no! I’ve been having them for HOURS’. Eventually we got through to the right person at the midwife-led unit we’d planned on going to, and she asked to speak to me. She asked if my water had broken (it hadn’t) and if I had had a show (I hadn’t, although had been having mucusy discharge for a while and could well have been losing it slowly). I was having difficulty talking through the contractions at this point, and the midwife told me that it was up to us whether we wanted to come in yet. I was completely divided and was too tired to make a proper decision, but when she said she would suggest we probably should think about coming in pretty soon, it convinced me that things were probably Starting to Happen. She also said it would be horrible to contract in the car and the later it got the worse it would be.
We had about a half hour drive, so we took our time getting all our things ready and left just before 3am. Jaime had to call his boss and the girl on the night shift who he was supposed to take over from, to let them know he probably wasn’t going to be coming in. I had to climb down 2 flights of stairs from our flat, which was horrible, then just as the midwife promised, the contractions were awful while we drove. Neither of us were entirely sure where we were going (protip: DON’T leave a practise drive to the hospital to the last minute…) and I had to keep grabbing onto things. Jaime was also very tired and struggling to drive.
We eventually got there, had a brief moment of confusion trying to figure out where we were meant to go, until we just wandered through into the A&E department to ask there. They pointed us in the right direction and asked if I wanted a chair – I really didn’t, because aside from the pain during the contractions (and being super exhausted), I felt pretty much fine.
As I was low-risk, we were going to a midwife-led unit which was part of the hospital. The midwife I had spoken to on the phone showed us to the room, asked some questions and took my maternity notes. She started to explain how things would work – basically we had a lovely private room with our own bathroom, a nice adjustable bed, sink, water jug etc. There was a kitchen just down the hall where we could make tea/coffee and get snacks. She said we could feel free to walk around or do whatever felt comfortable and they would check on us. The first midwife then had to go help another woman, and about half an hour later my new midwife, who I think was called Rachel, came and introduced herself, took a pee sample, did a blood pressure check etc.
She asked me if I wanted a cervical check now or later – she said I was free to settle in a bit if I preferred, but I said I’d rather get checked now to see if this was really happening. Rachel said that it was hard for her to tell how things were going, as I seemed to be coping well – so either I wasn’t that far along/wasn’t actually in labour, or I just had a high pain threshold. Just before 5am, I got my first check – my cervix was fully effaced, and I was 3cm dilated. Success! Up until then I had been feeling kind of dazed and a bit rubbish, because I honestly STILL thought it was all going to stop any second. When I heard that I felt like everything was going good and the pain started to be easier to deal with – it felt more ‘productive’. I texted my mum saying ‘It’s go time’, we put my lovely Spotify playlist on my Kindle, and Rachel left us to do what we liked after bringing me a ball to bounce on.
She also went through pain relief options with me – they had TENS machines available, rooms with birthing pools, gas and air, and pethidine. She asked me if I might want any, and at that point I really didn’t feel like I needed much, so refused. I didn’t have a birth plan but had thought I would prefer not to have meds if at all possible since I don’t like injections and prefer to feel more in control of myself.
The next couple of hours passed very oddly. I was really tired and a bit shaky. I tried to eat, but had a bite of cereal bar and then felt horribly sick. I was bleeding a bit from the check but nothing too bad, and my waters hadn’t broken. The contractions were steadily worse – I found the best positions to cope with them was either sitting on the edge of the bed, leaning fully on Jaime or grabbing his hands tightly, or sitting on the ball and either leaning over to grab the side of the bed, or grabbing Jaime’s hands. Jaime said later he could tell they were getting worse because his hands were getting progressively more sore!
Rachel came in several times to check Donny’s heartbeat with a doppler and check on how we were both doing. At around 6am Jaime managed to catch a nap in the chair. I was really getting tired now and was still shivery. I always tend to feel cold/shaky when I get overtired, and I would have liked to eat something but still felt too sick. I was drinking lots of water though.
At 7am the shifts changed and my new midwife was called Helen. She was super amazing and ended up being the midwife to deliver Donny. Again she checked on us plenty, kept offering pain relief but I still felt like I was doing OK without any. Around this time was when the contractions got pretty bad to the point where I had started saying ‘ahhhhhh’ through them (before this I had been just breathing and sometimes saying ‘come on, come on’. Though I’m not sure if I was talking to myself or to the baby). Both Helen and Rachel commented several times that I seemed very calm and was coping well so that was really nice to hear.
I could hear one of the other women was having a real struggle in a room down the hall – I’m not sure how far she was, but I could hear lots of yelling and crying and it made me feel super bad for her, and also lucky that I didn’t feel as bad as that! Something that helped me was just remembering that each contraction was another one I wouldn’t ever have to do again, and was also one more step closer to having my baby, and those thoughts really helped. In fact quite often I found myself just sort of grinning as the contraction faded. Which probably made me look a bit hysterical.
Just before 9am I was checked again to see how we were progressing. This time I was 7cm! Helen asked if I wanted any pain relief, and I decided it might be good to get in the pool, so she went off to get it ready for me. These contractions were pretty painful now but I still felt pretty good about everything, especially because I seemed to be progressing really well – pretty much exactly as expected, about 1cm every hour. We stayed in the room for another hour and by this point I was really grabbing onto Jaime’s hands, and at about 10am Helen came back to take us into the other room. She suggested I peed first.
We all went (fairly slowly) down the corridor with me still contracting every now and again. Helen asked if I wanted to keep my bra on, I actually wasn’t wearing a bra and by then was completely past caring, although to be honest I hadn’t cared that much in the first place, her fingers had been in my vagina, after all. Another midwife called Lucy was helping me into the pool. IT WAS AWESOME. So warm. Helen suggested I tie my hair back but I was kind of confused and hurting so Jaime tried to do it for me. Jaime is apparently not good at tying back hair, so Helen did it instead.
The pool had steps to sit on or lean against and two great handles on one side that you could grab. I floated about on my back for one or two contractions then flipped over onto my hands and knees, leaning against the side. Helen explained they had to keep the water at at least 37 degrees (internal body temperature) if I wanted to deliver in the pool, because the cold stimulates a baby to breathe and you don’t really want a baby trying to breathe in water. Or, if I wanted, I could just labour in the pool and get out for the actual birth. I wasn’t too sure right now but all I knew was that the water was awesome and if I had my way I’d never get out ever.
Jaime got given a sieve to fish the ‘bits’ out, I was bleeding a bit from the checks and there were some chunky bits. Then Helen again left us to it, so for the next half hour or so I contracted until I felt like I really had to poo. I didn’t want to push yet but couldn’t really help doing a little one, and I felt a really obvious ‘pop’, like I had inflated a water balloon with my vagina. Jaime said there was a gush of yellowish stuff and he said ‘I think your water broke’ and I was like ‘yes, yes it did’.
I don’t know if Jaime called her in or she just happened to come in at that point but Helen was there and asking me if I felt pressure and the urge to push, which I did. She said to go for it with the next contractions, so I did. She was monitoring Donny’s heartbeat with a doppler all the way through, and I barely had to move, so that was nice.
Pushing was pretty difficult. It definitely felt like I was going to poo everywhere (although apparently I didn’t! I’m not sure there was any more poo left), and after a few goes I felt it all ‘stretching’ down there which was a new and fun kind of pain added on to the contraction pain. All the way through though I remember thinking ‘is this it? I can handle this.’ Helen had asked if I wanted gas and air while in the pool but I refused because my stomach still felt unsettled and I was worried it might make me sick. Plus, I still felt pretty OK about this level of pain. The pauses between contractions felt like heaven, so there was that to look forward to.
I felt his head descending which was weird and Jaime went to have a look. I remember someone saying ‘look at his hair!’ Helen kept accidentally calling me Lucy because of the other midwife, and also her daughter was called Lucy, which I thought was sweet. I hadn’t taken any antenatal classes so I had been worried I would have no idea how to push right, but it really was quite instinctive. I was thankful I had read about how it really did feel like you need to poo and you should push in the same way, otherwise I probably would have done something different.
The last few pushes kind of sucked. I had been trying to be careful with my pushes and not push past the end of the contraction, and sort of let him go back in if he needed to, since I really did not want to tear. With one, I could feel his head was right there, then on the next one it suddenly seemed to get sucked back in. That was kind of hard to deal with since I thought I would have to start over. But on the next push, at 11:13am, his head came out 🙂 The rest of him didn’t quite follow though, so he was there, half-in half-out, wriggling around. That felt WEIRD. I had to wait a few minutes for the next contraction so I could push the rest of him out. I had sort of expected him to just slide out after his head was out, but he didn’t, it still needed a good push, but the stinging feeling had almost all gone and it was just the pressure-type pain of the contraction. And also by that point I think I was forgetting the pain.
They got me to turn around and Helen pulled him up out of the water. He cried instantly, and was a pale blueish pinkish colour at first. The midwives helped me lift my leg over him and the cord and then put him on my chest. Jaime says I said ‘hello!’ and he couldn’t believe how much love was in my voice – he said it was like meeting someone you’d known for years but hadn’t seen in ages.
The midwives wrapped him in a towel and helped me support him on my chest, making sure his head was above the water. Jaime took a couple photos of us, then Lucy took some pictures of all three of us. I said ‘he’s definitely a Donny’ because we hadn’t been sure about his name and didn’t want to make a firm decision until he was born. Helen let the cord pulse because I’d chosen to deliver the placenta naturally without an injection (I hate needles, they’re horrid). Then Jaime cut it, and I passed Donny to him so I could get out of the pool and go deliver the placenta.
Jaime got to sit down and take off his shirt and get some skin to skin, while I lay there attractively bleeding and looking over at them and almost crying. Helen pushed on my stomach a bit to help the placenta get going – I’m not sure how long it took since my sense of time was right out the window, but after a contraction and a nice slimy push it all came out at once. Helen asked if we wanted to look, and weirdly we did, and she showed us all the bits. It was kind of cool. Jaime passed Donny back to me so he could lay on my chest and be cute some more. He had a vitamin K shot in his thigh while I tried to distract him with boob (this did not work and he yelled, but not for long). Helen left us alone again for a little bit, so we texted everybody to tell them and sent out a few pictures. Then she came back to weigh him – 6lbs 6oz, or 2.9kg, which was pretty much what the last ultrasound had estimated his weight at. Small, but for almost 2 weeks early, not that small. She also checked me to see if I would need any stitches – I didn’t, in her words I had a few ‘grazes’ but other than that had a ‘textbook’ birth. She said I had been very ‘controlled’ with my pushing, which was super nice.
After that everything just seemed really slow and relaxing. I was suddenly STARVING so Jaime went to the other room to get our bags with the snacks in them. I ate a pack of crisps and a cereal bar and we put a nappy on Donny, and got his snuggly dinosaur blanket we’d brought from home. Helen said whenever we were ready we could get dressed and get back to the other room so I could shower and sort myself out a bit. It didn’t take us long – I lay back for a bit and tried to remember that it was real, then Jaime helped me get dressed and we put Donny in the little Perspex crib and wheeled him over to the first room.
I wanted a shower basically straight away and also realised I really needed a wee. Peeing HURT, even when I poured a cup of water over myself, but I had to pee so bad I didn’t care very much. The shower was awesome and I came back out feeling much more human. Helen came through and brought me some lunch – sandwich, yoghurts, apple, pack of dried fruit, bag of crisps and ice cream, and then made me a cup of tea. Jaime went down to the canteen to buy himself a salad and a sandwich. I pretty much inhaled my food, and me and Donny sat in the chair and tried to get the hang of breastfeeding.
Helen finished her shift and we thanked her profusely, she wished us luck, and then introduced a new midwife whose name I can’t remember. She was kind of old-school and kept calling me Mummy as if it was my name, but really only when she wanted to tell me off – e.g. ‘Keep him wrapped up Mummy!’ when it was about a million degrees in there and he had a blanket on anyway. She asked me if I wanted to stay the night and I said I hadn’t really planned on it, so they said that was OK but they would need to see him latch and feed, and also wait until he pooped before we could go. We managed to get him interested enough in feeding and another midwife came to help me get him latched on. It didn’t take too long, he needed a bit of encouragement, but it wasn’t too difficult. The midwife commented that I seemed very laid-back about it, not entirely sure she thought that was a good thing though.
At about 7pm he finally passed his meconium plug and did his first poo. The midwife had been bringing us paperwork and filling stuff out so we were pretty much ready. She gave us what felt like a ‘quiz’ about what we knew about babies and what we planned to do with feeding, sleeping, dummies, etc. We got given a leaflet about SIDS which, summed up, suggested that sharing a bed with your baby is pretty much guaranteeing their death. I also got a few leaflets about postnatal exercises, breastfeeding groups and support, and some family planning numbers for the area.
We took him home at about 8pm the same day. I felt AWESOME, sure I was sore and walking was kind of hard, but I was really ridiculously happy holding my son.