Monday, 10 January 2011

My family (the ones I actually birthed)

As I've mentioned a time or two... I'm a mother of five.  Boy, girl, girl, girl, boy!  Number One Son is 18, Miss Thing is 16, Space Fairy is 12 and The Wee Weapons, Lady Baby and Boy Child, are 7 in February.  It seems only fair to tell you of my own birth experiences.

Number One Son was born by caesarean section back in 1992.  I remember watching Hook the night before he was born.  I had a backache and couldn't really settle in one place.  I had done no antenatal classes and so was rather unprepared for what was to come.  At 7.30am I woke with lots of intermittent pains and set off to the hospital.  Oh the joy of hindsight!  I arrived at Chase Farm Hospital where a midwife (who I can only describe as incredibly large with enormous fingers) gave me a vaginal examination, laughed at me and told me that I was only 1/2cm dilated and shouldn't make a fuss.  It was the 15th December and the hospital  had wanted to induce me (Christmas was looming after all) so I wasn't sent home.  Instead a pessary gel was inserted and I was left on the antenatal ward.  Because I had been told off by the admitting midwife I tried hard not to make noise as my contractions built.  A passing midwife came over to me as tears ran down my face.  She asked if I was alright.  All I could do was shake my head and cry.

I was moved to the labour ward where I was given an epidural (I didn't have the wherewithal to ask about other options and my lack of knowledge also meant that I didn't know to ask).  I had progressed to four centimetres, but didn't budge from there.  Number One Son didn't like the epidural and his heart rate plummeted.  I was whisked in to an emergency caesarean and six and a half hours after my labour started my first son was born.  I lost two litres of blood during the caesarean and had to have a blood transfusion through the night.  Number One Son was cared for by midwives and his first feeds were formula milk.  I had no knowledge or real care as to what was happening to him.  I was completely out of it.  The next day he breastfed like a champion and after five days I was allowed home.

Miss Thing was born just under two years later at The Whittington hospital.  Like her older brother her labour started four days after her Estimated Due Date.  I remember that they gave me Pethidine for her birth.  I didn't like floating away from my body, and I could still feel the pain.  As with her brother's labour I was stuck at 4cm.  I could feel the dread that the same scenario would be repeated.  This time, however, the midwife broke my waters and I progressed very quickly.  I remember constantly asking if Number One Son was watching Sesame Street and being told that he was.  The cord was wrapped around Miss Thing's neck twice and tightly.  So it was cut and she was ventoused out rather quickly.  She lost a lot of blood and had to be taken to SCBU (Special Care Baby Unit) where she would have a blood transfusion.  And so my second baby was separated from me after birth.  Like her big brother, however, she also breastfed like a champion.

My gorgeous Space Fairy was born at the end of a hot summer four years later.  I remember having a bit of a back ache the day before but not thinking much of it.  Her brother and sister had been born four days after their EDDs so of course I knew that Space Fairy would be another eight days in arriving.  I woke with a real need to clean.  The rest of the family were sleeping and I didn't want to wake them.  I spent the beginning of my labour loading the washing machine, cleaning the sink and doing gentle squats as the dull pain filled me.  In the end I called the hospital and apologised for not knowing whether or not I was in labour.  I got the usual advice, have a hot bath and take a couple of paracetamol.

I remember travelling to the hospital but not really having many contractions at all until I pressed the button at the entrance to the delivery suite.  Then my contractions rolled over and over me causing me to bend over double.  I was sent to the bathroom to provide a sample and told that the delivery suite was full but that I'd be fine as I probably had a while to go.  It was a sheer force of will that got me out of the bathroom because the contractions were intense.  In the end I was found curled on the floor in the corridor trying to get back to the Midwife's station.  I remember hearing them ask if anyone had seen me and I couldn't make my tiny squeak heard as I whimpered "I'm here".  Space Fairy was my easiest birth which is funny because the Midwives and Doctors thought she would be enormous and that I would need a Caesarean.  I was using "Gas n Air" which my Midwife took from me because she said it wasn't helping me concentrate on pushing her out.  This baby stayed with me from the start and like her siblings, breastfed beautifully.

The Wee Weapons were a different birth entirely.  Finding out that it was twins was enough to send me into hysterical denial.  I'd always dreamed of having four children.  Five was taking the mickey somewhat.  My blood pressure shot up at seventeen weeks and so I was monitored closely and I remain amazed that my arm retains any blood.  As I was at risk of Pre-Eclampsia it was decided that I should have a Caesarean section three and a half weeks before my EDD.  It was a very different experience to my first section.  It felt cold and clinical.  I remember looking at the babies and wondering if they were mine.  I didn't feel the same emotional rush as I had with the others.  I know now that when a woman goes into labour oxytocin flows and that hormone is the love hormone.  Again my babies were taken from me, after I had seen them briefly, whilst they were being checked over.  Boy Child was the big twin at 5lbs 14oz and he was also the one that was taken away for three hours of observation and no-one came to tell me how he was doing.  Lady Baby was away from me for about an hour, all 4lbs 5oz of her.     Their first feeds were formula because "well they're twins and they're so tiny they need help".  Again my current knowledge tells me that I could have breast fed and expressed straight away.  We were home a week after their birth where, despite the doubts of my Community Midwife, I breast fed them.

So there you have it.  My birth stories.  I wish I had known what a Doula was because I could have done with one for each birth.  Of course my own experiences have simply informed the way that I practise and I encourage my ladies to know their options.  I think it also explains the joy I have when I see Mum and baby/ies tucked up together after birth.

Miss Thing, Boy Child, Number One Son,  Lady Baby & Space Fairy


  1. I LOVE how you have used your not-so-good experiences and used all that insider knowledge to create better experiences for other people. I've heard people say that's the difference between victims, survivors and overcomers. It's how life should be - it's what we were created for :) xxx

  2. I wish you had had YOU as your doula, but next best thing is you being doula to so many lucky women!

  3. I hadn't heard your own birth stories before, Mars x x x