Is a story shared. Obviously.
I have been debating for quite some time if I should do this post. It was much like the post where I announced to the world that I was one of those Mum’s…. a young, failed relationship type of Mum. But then I decided maybe I should. Because at the time, I honestly would have liked to read something like this…. an honest account.
This is the story of Leona Amy’s birth. (I said that in like a narrating Disney kind of voice.)
Do not read if you are squeamish, have a desire to have kids, or just hate me in general! This post will not change your dislike for me 😉 Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Yes I was young, this is a well known fact. Let’s cut all the bullshit though, me , falling pregnant young, was an informed choice. When I was a CHILD , I used to announce that I would be a Mum by the time I was 21. I always knew I wanted to be. Just so happened I was 20. That isn’t to say I was looking for any excuse to get pregnant, I’m not a complete idiot. I was in love, very happy and very secure in the knowledge that I was doing the right thing. I didn’t plan for Leona, but I also didn’t take HUGE preventive steps from not having her, so it was a risk I was willing to take.
I get sick of the judging. Sick of the young Mum stigma. Why should a younger Mum be any worse than an older Mum? I still wanted to work, provide, look after the kids I would have. I never wanted to be a ‘benefit Mum’ …. it makes me ashamed to live in a country where that is deemed as the norm. But as I said, you do get young Mum’s who are in no way like that.
Anyway, on to the story. I just wanted you all to know that she was wanted and loved from the first moment. She really, really was.
I didn’t realise I was pregnant until I was 14 weeks gone, I struggled to get a doctors appointment, and by that time, I was 16 weeks. I had no symptoms, no time of the month stopping, no nothing. No gaining weight, no sore boobs, no nothing. (Just trying to see how many times I can say no nothing.)
Obviously my 20 week scan whipped round pretty damn quick, and I decided not to find out the sex of the baby. And man, am I glad I made that choice. The not knowing was (other than actually having babies) the most exciting thing I have ever been through in my life.
I just wanted to know that the baby was growing. Because my belly sure wasn’t. I just wanted to know the baby was healthy. Everything checked out fine.
I had the best pregnancy. It still carried on with no signs, no cravings, no mood swings. It was a breeze. The only complaint I would have about the pregnancy was the lack of a)Dr’s or Midwives appointments I had and b) The lack of respect they showed me when I did have to see them. I wasn’t young enough to be treated with kid gloves and mothered, and I wasn’t old enough to be treated with respect. I was just another statistic on their list who they had the right to frown upon. Side note : I’m a person. I think. And should have been treated like one.
Because of the lack of appointments, I never had a ‘set’ midwife. This made me anxious. My sister in law who happened to be pregnant at the same time as me (my wonderful niece Evelyn was born a month and a half before Leona.) would often inform me of how wonderful her midwife was, how she saw her fortnightly, then weekly, and how she would be the midwife with her when she would be in labour. I had about three scattered appointments during the whole pregnancy, two different midwives and one Doctor. I never had a constant.
I had another scan at 37 weeks due to my ‘bump’ being so small. Seriously, you hardly knew there was a baby in there. At this scan, they told me to stock up on preemie clothes because the baby was likely to be smaller than 5 pounds and could have to spend some time in the neonatal unit. This obviously scared me, I was worried I had done something wrong, Obviously I didn’t drink or smoke, I didn’t even do that before pregnancy , but you never knew if it was because you had eaten the wrong thing or something.
My due date came and went, and five days after, I saw my DR. It was an early appointment at 9am, and she checked out my temperature and something else… and told me that she would be admitting me to hospital straight away. She told me to go home, by taxi, and to grab my hospital bag and get a taxi up to the hospital. She was adamant about the taxi, she knew that I couldn’t yet drive and she insisted on the taxi even though the hospital was a 15 minute walk away. I tried to protest, I felt fine and I loved walking, but she was having none of it.
So off I went. Obviously I grabbed my bag , told my then partner who was at work and made my way to the hospital. When I got there, It was a boiling hot April day, unusually hot , and I was wearing a frickin cow jumper. I loved that jumper. It wasn’t even a cow jumper, I just called it that because it was black and white and very fluffy. The hospital admitted me to a maternity ward which was full, and hooked me up to some heartbeat monitors. I had to sit like this for hours. I got to the hospital at around 11ish and I was still hooked up to these by 4ish. Halfway through this, I decided it wouldn’t be great if I boiled alive before I could meet my baby, so I took off my cow jumper , and sat there in just my bra and black tracksuit bottoms. And that my friends, was the first of my dignity being torn away 😉
At around 4, a male Dr who looked close to retirement age, came to my bedside with a group of five all male trainee students , and asked if it was OK if the students were here for ‘this bit’ . I obviously had no clue what ‘this bit’ involved because nobody had said a word to me all day. I actually remember briefly wondering if I was in labour, and if that was the case then why did people make such a fuss? What?! Don’t look at me like that! I got sent straight to hospital and hooked up to machines with no information, I so could have been. And no, I didn’t think to ask if I was, I assumed they knew what they were doing.
Anyway, I am very much for trainee anythings because everybody has to learn somewhere right? I remember with horror my days of being a trainee hairdresser, the utter contempt on peoples faces.
My Boss : “This is Laura, she’s a trainee hairdresser and with your permission, I would like to supervise her doing your hair today.”
Customer looks like I am a three headed alien with razors for fingers who is going to brutally murder her.
So yes, I am totally up for giving the trainee’s a chance, and besides , they had already seen me looking hot and sweaty with nothing but a bra on so….
‘This bit’ involved him telling me I was going to be induced. My Doctor had called him and from my results it was clear that I needed to be induced. That was it. He then told me he was off to get a midwife so she could start the inducement and the trainees all waved goodbye and that was that. So that was painless.
If you are a long time reader of this blog (I have many, hi Ali and Tanja…… ) You will know that I tend to over share and can be a bit… disgusting. I am now going to attempt to explain a labour story without horrifically and mentally scarring everyone involved. But if you are squeamish, then you should probably read no further.
The midwife came along and I asked her…. “So , I don’t really know what’s happening because nobody has told me, but I am guessing this means that the next time I leave the hospital , I will be a Mum?”
She looked at me like I was crazy, nodded sternly and said ‘Of Course’ then she held up a square tablet.
“I’m going to insert this up there…. and it will induce your labour. You will need at least two more of these. The first one you have may just leave you with labour pains but you might not actually be in labour.”
“Oh. Fantastic. Everyone loves labour pains without an actual labour… ha ha ha.”
She does not look amused.
Put’s her gloves on.
“Wait, so you are putting that up my …. you-know-what? Will it hurt?”
“You will be pushing a baby out of your vagina very soon, that is a stupid question.”
She had a great sense of humour, as you can tell.
Me being me, wouldn’t be discouraged.
“I’m aware of that, but this being the first stage and stuff, i would like to know.”
“Trust me, this is the least of your worries.”
She was a bit of a bitch actually because let me tell you, it fucking hurt. OK , I may have had worse to come, but having a hand and a square tablet the size of a brick (warning, exaggeration) shoved up your ahem felt pretty damn uncomfortable . (So far, I am probably not doing a great job of trying to keep this post classy.)
McHappy the Midwife informed she would be back at 8 o’clock with another tablet thingy . So that gave me something to look forward to.
Long story short, nobody did come back. And I did get pains , for sure. Standard labour pains. I kept waiting for somebody to come back and give me this second piece of torture, but nobody did. At half ten, a grumpy looking midwife walked in (think she was related to McHappy) and informed me that nobody was available to give me another round of these pessary things, they were short staffed, oh and by the way… the Dad to be had to go home. I wasn’t in labour so he had no right to be here.
It’s a scary thing, lying in a strange hospital bed, knowing that you are to become a parent at any moment, and being left alone without one kind face to look at. It makes you question if you have the right to feel scared, it makes you wonder if you offended the midwives, it just makes you think…. a lot.
Part of the reason I am telling this awfully depressing and frankly rather gross at times story is because I firmly believe that if you work as a midwife, if you are around the joy of seeing a new life brought into this world everyday, then you should be cut out for it and happy. You have no right to rob people of their happiness because you had a busy shift. Granted, I have never worked in the NHS and I know they are under strain, but I have briefly worked in a care home. Twelve hour days in a care home and let me tell you , they were some of my darkest days , but my smile never , ever faltered. And nor should it if you work in a role caring for other people.
I just hope nobody from that job ever saw me running for the bus on the way home , tears streaming down my cheeks, head hung in desperation, calling my best friend so I could cry and weep some more 😉
Back to the story, if you are still reading, you deserve a fucking cave of gold.
At around midnight and what seemed like hours of non eventful labour pains, I had a ‘show’ . Girls with babies, you know what it is…. girls with no babies and men… it’s just like icecream and jelly. Ahem.
I went to proudly inform the midwives on duty, pretty darn chuffed that this was a sure fire sign I was in an actual labour and not just a labour with pains that wasn’t an actual labour. Confused? I am. The midwives who were clearly from the same family as McHappy and McGrumpy, were not as pleased as I was and barely looked at me as they told me to sod off back to bed.
I went back to my bed and sat clutching my stomach for hours. At around 4 in the morning, a midwife came along to tell me she thinks I should have some pethadine. This is some sort of pain numbing drug offered to Mums who they didn’t think were dealing with the labour very well. And it greatly offended me. Because I got told the following day by the Doctor who was my shining star and saved my daughters life, that I was the quietest, and one of the most bravest people he had ever seen. OK , so the brave bit may have just been unnecessary praise, but the quiet bit was true. I didn’t utter one groan or moan throughout the labour.
The midwife injected the pethidine into some part of my body, probably my back , and informed me it would knock me out for about three hours. Brilliant. Well, it would have been, but the only thing the pethidine done for me was heighten my anxiety and make me feel dizzy. The pain was still very much there. I weakly asked at one point if I could call the Dad to be up, I was clearly in labour and the hospital rules say they are allowed to be there with you during labour. And I could see two other woman with their partners. But for some reason that I will never understand, I wasn’t allowed.
That night felt like an eternity, which is not mutually exclusive to me, it feels like that to most women in labour. At around 8am, I greatly needed a pee. I should point out I also got lucky with that during the pregnancy. The whole pregnant women needing to pee loads more than usual thing baffled me because my bladder was much like my heart…. made of steel. Well, you know, I peed the average amount. It’s not like I never peed. I just didn’t overly pee. Yeah, so anyway, I needed to pee. Except I didn’t, because just before I made it to the toilet, I just sort of burst like a balloon, heard a popping sound, jumped up in the air , and then, as if by magic or a womb kind of exploding, I had water all around me.
A midwife who had been walking along the corridor, stopped, looked at the water, shook her head in dismay like I had done it on purpose, and then told me it was time to ring the Dad to be. So obviously it was a fun experience waddling down this corridor, my light grey PJ bottoms soaked with soaking stuff, and what felt like a babies head in between my legs (I’m being serious, when I popped my waters, the baby sort of just… decided to shuffle down to a really uncomfortable spot…) and all eyes on me. I got about half way down the corridor, with one hand sort of between my legs in case the baby just fell out (Again, don’t look at me like that. I wasn’t an expert on this, OK?!) and the midwife just sighed, marched past me and threw me a disgusted look.
“I’ll do it. What’s the number?”
Number was said, phonecall was made, and I was ushered into a stock cupboard room with a bed because all the birthing rooms were taken.
After the phonecall recipient arrived, a doctor came strolling in the cupboard. He told me of a wonderful thing called an epidural. It sounded like heaven . He said that he thought I would benefit from it. Again, I don’t know why, I wasn’t making a fuss. He did mention that my graph was showing strong contractions, maybe that was why? Anyway, he gave me all the details of an epidural, how I would lose feeling i my legs or something? I don’t know,maybe I wasn’t listening. I agreed to it, but I didn’t sign anything which always struck me as odd because I have been told that you have to sign to have one of those.
I had the big arse injection in my back, and then they had to put the needle thingy in a vein in my hand. This probably should have been an easy bit, this was their job. But for some reason, the two who were doing it, were mad keen on gossiping about the previous nights Eastenders, and I actually looked up at them to see if they were joking right now…. like…. they could not be talking about Eastenders when I was being tortured. And as I looked up, I saw the man grimace at the woman who had my hand, then I looked at the woman who grimaced at my hand, and then I looked at the blood, squirting out of my hand and straight up to the ceiling. It was like a waterfall of my own blood, hitting the ceiling and landing on my cheek. Some would say awesome, some would say not so awesome.
They somehow managed to stem the flow, and wrapped my hand up very badly and very painfully, and then I was left to just sort of …. sit in my own blood for a bit.
So an epidural only works if you aren’t too far dilated right? Well, since nobody had checked me since the previous night, they gave me the epidural, and then all looked at each other a teeny bit embarrassed when they realised they shouldn’t have given me it due to the fact I was 8 cm dilated. Also, it done bollocks all to help the pain. It just sort of intensified it.
This is where I should point out I’m weird. I mean, I know you all knew it anyway, but seriously, I’m odd. When I had a major heart operation when I was three years old, they had to give me a hefty dose of adult anesthetic because I refused to be knocked out by a mere childs dose. So apparently , medicine doesn’t really work on me….. Which isn’t ideal……
Listen, all joking aside, at this moment in time, I was scared. I’m not going to pretend like I was OK with what was happening. I had noticed on the monitor the baby heart rate kept decreasing, and I realised things weren’t quite going to plan with the labour. This was made more obvious by the fact that there were around seven people crammed in my ‘cupboard room’.
A miracle did kind of happen then….. A Dr walked in. A complete and utter love and angel face of a Dr. An Indian Dr, probably near to 50 maybe? He walked in, he pushed past people in the room , and bent down so we were face to face.
“Hello Laura, I’m Dr **** , and I am here to look after you and help get this baby into the world.”
I could have kissed him. He was the only person in that whole place to call me by my name. He was the only person in that place who had kind words for me. He was the only person who genuinely seemed to care.
He explained that he was going to use a vontousse. For those that don’t know, it meant my day just got better, he was going to stick a plunger up my girl parts. 😉 OK , not quite like that , but you get the picture. It helps the baby out. They decided I had a rather small pelvis. So anyway, they tried that for a bit. Then this Dr, he leant over to a midwife and told her to go and get the ‘theatre’ set up for a c-section.
Then he told her words I wasn’t supposed to hear.
“If we don’t get this baby out in the next three pushes, it’s not going to make it. It will be a close call for both of them.”
Well I pushed. I pushed like absolute…. fuck. I really pushed. Like… when I say I pushed, I pushed ya know? My baby was getting the hell out of my body. My baby who I had never met was everything to me. My baby was going to live. And plus, I wanted to make the kind Doctor happy, he looked so worried bless him.
I got the baby out on the third push.
“Congratulations, you have a little girl.”
Wow. Tears. The baby I thought was a boy then a girl then a boy then a girl then a boy then a girl was actually a ….. girl. How absolutely amazing.
But wait, I thought you got to hug your baby? I thought you got to have your baby on your chest so you could marvel at the gooey blood and sweet head. Sweet head first of course.
But for some reason, the kind Dr who treated me like a human had my baby at the other side of the ‘cupboard room’. I could only see blue skin. *Shudders. This is hard to write about, no joking here. Just pure fear in these words.*
I looked at a midwife who wasn’t able to look me in the eyes.
“Is she OK ? What’s wrong with her? Is my baby OK ? She is OK isn’t she? Is she just being weighed? Why isn’t she crying? Is she OK ?”
The midwife didn’t say anything actually. She didn’t even pretend. That’s how I knew it was bad.
I should also point out that me being a bit of a fuckwit, had sent Dad To Be out of the room an hour or so before. Why? No idea. Maybe it was the drugs, maybe it was the being scared for my life and I didn’t want him to see me die, maybe it was just because I wanted to suffer this pain alone, but I sent him out. Which is why I was desperately asking the midwife if my baby was OK .
Who knows how long that time was? I can confirm at least two minutes went by. I can’t say how much longer it was than two minutes, but it was definitely a minimum of two. Two minutes is a long time thinking your baby isn’t OK . That she is…. (I am glad this isn’t a paper entry, tears would be dropping down like in a dramatic film, making the ink run. Oh shit, I’m on a plugged in laptop, maybe I will electrocute myself with my own tears) …… Two minutes felt like forever. Two minutes of watching people scattered around the room who couldn’t look at me or my blue little girl. Two minutes of watching this miracle man talk softly to my little girl and do something to her chest. Two minutes of pure hell. I had never known fear until that moment. I thought I feared heart operations and tonsil operations and labour and heartbreak and all the silly stuff when I was younger. But no, this was fear. Not hearing your baby cry is fear. Thinking that you fucked up the labour and now your baby is….. not breathing. That is fear. I am sure you get the point.
The smallest, tiniest little sound suddenly happened. It was quite weak and puny , but it was shitting beautiful. It wasn’t a cry, it wasn’t a yell … it was just a sort of…. I’m here noise. “Egh” Is probably how I can describe it. Everyone in the room sighed in relief , and the Dr wrapped her up in a towel, and brought her over to me. If I’m not mistaken, he even sort of hugged her as he walked over, then placed her ever so gently on my chest. It was my first look at my little doll. Her skin was already turning peachy/white, and she was perfection.
The Dr bent over and kissed me on the cheek.
“Congratulations Laura, I’m so proud of you. A beautiful baby girl to love forever.”
I looked at her, my Leona. My Leona who was going to be an Amy, but then….she just didn’t look like an Amy, she looked like a Leona. Which is how she is Leona Amy. Not even ten minutes old and already giving me heart attacks. Come on, I am not going to spend this part of the post telling you all how much I loved her. How much I still love her. How much my love for her deepens every single second of the day. She’s my Leona. And she knows how much I love her. And that Dr knew how much I loved her, I know he did. And I hope you all can feel how much I love her.
Anyway, turns out my little tiny baby who had been scanned at 37 weeks wasn’t so tiny after all. She was quite the whopper compared to what they were expecting. 6lb8oz.
There were a few bad points afterwards. Like the fact I got to sit in my own blood for six hours. The fact that they left my placenta on a trolley while I had visitors. The fact that my blood was still on the ceiling. The fact that my hand had completely swollen up to ten times it’s normal size and was black and blue. The fact that when I pointed out the state of my hand and asked if it’s safe to actually carry my own daughter in the state I was in, the midwife told me to ‘Get over myself as I had just had a baby’ …. I mean, she had a point I guess but all I wanted was a kind word. I wanted my Dr miracle back.
And don’t get me started on how they humiliated me by claiming in front of the whole ward that I had wet myself and peed the bed, because when I went to get dinner they found the bottom of the bed wet and how I had to tell them the truth. So as I had four other Mums staring at me in disgust, I pulled the bed covers back to see a deflated ice pack there. A midwife finally remembered that she had brought me one earlier after I complained about my hand , and that I had been somewhere else (Probably the toilet) so she had just left it there. I didn’t get an apology of course. I think they all realised that the fact they thought I had peed ice cold clear water just after giving birth that randomly ended up on the bottom of the bed rather than the middle where my peeing area would be was a bit silly even by their standards.
My Dr Miracle came back to say goodbye the next day and I thanked him for saving my daughter. He wished me luck for the future and told me I would be a great Mum. That man…. well, I owe him a lot obviously.
During my pregnancy with Lex, I found out that I had Pre- Eclampsia with Leona. I had it again with Lex. They just didn’t tell me when I had Leona that I had it. I will never figure out why. It’s vital information after all , and the thing that nearly killed us both.
The reason I told this story is…. Well, actually … I’m not sure. I mean, a few people have said they wanted to see the birth stories on here. I guess I wanted to show what can really happen. I wanted to show that sometimes, things can go wrong just the same as they can go perfectly right.
Honestly, if anyone has read this and are planning on having babies in the future , don’t be scared. It really is true what they say , nobody’s labour is the same. Ever. Mine went wrong due to a lack of communication with officials, due to my inability to not stand up for myself, due to Eastenders , due to all little bits that accidentally flitted together and made it tough.
But I think the most important thing about all of this is that…. Leona and I, we got a happy ending. And some people don’t. So I never complained. Life is too short as we all know. I walked out of that hospital with a little piece of perfection. And that definitely makes me the luckiest Mum in the whole universe.