Can you believe that it’s been 4 months since our sweet little Amélie Olivia Rose entered the world. She’s just slotted right into our family and we couldn’t imagine life without her now. She’s so loved!
I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to get around to writing my birth story. With Aiden, I think I got that particular post up within a few weeks. It has been nice spending so much time in our baby bubble, but now I feel ready to share how our baby girl entered the world. Also, there is the fact that there doesn’t seem to be that much time around here anymore. There may be a pinch of second child syndrome going on too – I don’t feel like I’ve documented as much as I did with Aiden other than taking lots of photographs and using my baby milestone cards. Aiden had an entire blog series dedicated to his first year and a half. I do feel guilty and want to get better about recording these early days with Amélie more.
Life with two little ones has certainly been a learning curve for me which I’ve been documenting with honest and raw insights over on my Instagram feed.
The photo above is my last bump shot of my pregnancy with Amélie at 40 weeks, taken in the morning Sunday 29th July 2018 on my due date. Little did I expect that later that evening I would be in the hospital giving birth. To give you some background, Aiden was 2 weeks late so we just thought that our baby girl would be late too. Plus, she’d given no indication that she was planning her exit either – my bump hadn’t dropped an inch and she wasn’t low in my pelvis at all. We were so unprepared that her moses basket, car seat, and pushchair were all still in their boxes. It must have been the 4 hours shopping trip, Indian takeaway and bouncing on my ball the day before that did the trick to get labour started.
After the photo was taken, I felt like having a pamper session just in case something might happen, so I set about washing my hair, blow drying it straight and painting my nails. During all of this, I felt a slight pressure start below, like a mild period pain. Nothing serious or painful and I really didn’t think anything of it, to be honest. It was in the back of my head that it was my due date, but as I mentioned previously I never imagined that it could be the start of labour.
This was around 11.30 am when the intensity of the pressure went up a little (they still weren’t like proper contractions) I got my ball out, which I became attached to throughout my entire time labouring at home. We just carried on with our quiet Sunday at home, I wasn’t in any pain at all. I did mention to Alfie that I was having all of these sensations and thought that they might be Braxton Hicks contractions, but after a couple of hours had passed it dawned on us that this may be the real thing as practice contractions don’t usually last for too long. I bounced on my ball, which brought me so much comfort as the pressure progressed into proper contractions with the typical upward phase, peak and downward phase.
I remembered my breathing from the active birthing course that I did when I was pregnant with Aiden and some hypnobirthing techniques that I’d picked up from some videos from The Positive Birth Company. I treated each contraction individually and trusted that my body knew what it was doing. By this time my contractions were only 15 seconds long and about 10 minutes apart, they were still manageable pain wise. I have to say labouring at home with a 3-year-old running around and wanting to play brings a whole new dynamic. Aiden was mimicking me when I was on all fours swinging my hips and was in my face a lot. He also thought it would be fun to sit back to back with me on my ball when I was bouncing on it. When things started to get really sore I think I snapped at him because I just needed to focus on my labour. I felt bad afterward, he was actually being really sweet as Alfie had told him that I didn’t feel well and to leave me alone, but Aiden being so caring kept asking if I was OK.
At around 4 pm my contractions really intensified. I went to the toilet and found a bloody show in my knickers. Alfie thought it was about time that we rang the midwifery-led unit at the hospital and let them know what was going on and they agreed that it sounded like I was in the early stages of labour, but to stay at home as my contractions weren’t close together enough to go to the hospital yet. The contractions were now like powerful surges and we tried to keep on top of tracking their duration but they seemed to be really inconsistent. I was pretty much just glued to the floor either on all fours or lying on top of or leaning on my ball bouncing was no longer helping.
Alfie was brilliant throughout, he cooked dinner, which I think was a mish-mash of frozen sausage rolls, potatoes and other things from the freezer. To be honest, I didn’t really care what he served up, it helped keep my strength up and took my mind away from the labour. We rang the hospital again when the contractions went up another gear, but they just told me to take some paracetamol and carry on with what I was doing. Into the evening bathed Aiden and got him ready for bed, before running me a candle lit bubble bath complete with music, Ed Sheeran if I remember correctly. He then did the 30-minute drive to my mum’s house and took Aiden with him, so that he could collect my mum who was going to look after Aiden as planned.
While in the bath (around 9 pm), the contractions were still unrelenting, sore and intense, but the water was helping soothe and I was happy with my decision of a water birth. Literally, 10 minutes into my bath my waters broke, it was like this massive jet wash that took me by surprise. It was this weird pale yellow colour. I got out the bath drained it researched waters breaking and what colour they should be and felt reassured that everything was fine. After re-running a second bath I got in, but after 5 minutes I had to get out again as more of my waters had come out and it was still yellow. I gave up on the bath and got dressed. I’d read online to wear a maternity pad after your waters had broken so the midwives could check the colour, so I put one on from the pack I’d bought for my hospital bag. I was a little doubtful about the colour of my waters, surely they should be clear, so I rang the hospital again and the midwife reassured me that everything sounded fine, but I should come in to check that my waters had officially broken.
I’d expected the contractions to intensify now that my waters had gone, but they remained pretty much the same. Alfie had completed the hour round trip of fetching my mum and thankfully Aiden had fallen asleep on the car, so he put him in his bed and we headed straight to the hospital. Alfie kept track of my contractions, they were still only 6 minutes apart and 30 seconds long. When we arrived at 10.15 pm I had another contraction walking to the midwifery-led unit where we were greeted by a midwife who explained that the one that had been assigned to me was on her break and she will be looking after me until she got back. There didn’t seem to be any rush as I was only going in to have my waters checked over. After taking care of some admin and making sure I was OK she left the room and left me and Alfie to it.
While we were alone in the room (roughly 10 minutes) I had another two contractions, which I could still just about manage with breathing and hypnobirthing techniques while on all fours on the bed, but then unexpectedly with the next contraction was a massive surge of pressure and I needed to push. When you need to push you need to push, you just know. I turned to Alfie and told him that I needed gas and air, which took him by surprise as everything had been going pretty steady so far. Quickly another contraction came and I felt myself getting tense for the first time throughout the entire labour, I’d been pretty calm so far, which had helped to focus my energy in getting baby out. I screamed that I needed my gas and air and Alfie pushed the buzzer for the midwife, but they were taking too long to respond, so seeing that I was in agony and not managing by this point he ran to find the midwife. A junior doctor walked in at some point here too and I remember asking her if it’s OK to push. I was still wearing my dress and leggings so took everything off below so she could do some checks; her words were “I don’t think you need gas and air I think you’re having a baby. I can see the head!” She was just as surprised that the situation had changed so rapidly as we were. They also put a band around my bump to monitor the babies heartbeat as they were worried about the colour of my waters in my maternity pad -Amélie had done her first pooh inside me, charming!
With just a few pushes her head was born, which was helped by the warm compress the midwife applied. She was actually trying to cry so rather than wait for the next contraction to come I was advised to push to get the baby out. Then with a big gush of all this internal fluid, she was born at 11.06pm on her due date. I was so confused as I wasn’t mentally prepared for her arrival, one minute everything was going nice and steady and then I was pushing a baby out. There wasn’t even any time to get changed into a hospital gown let alone get a birthing pool ready.
The first thing I’d noticed about Amélie is how much she looks like her big brother, they could be baby twins. She was given straight to me so we could do skin to skin, do her first feed, and delayed cord clamping, which I had specified in my labour preferences. Also, I didn’t want any drugs administered to deliver the placenta and to help things along the midwife put some essential oils on a cotton pad for me to sniff (I can’t remember what they were, sorry!). However, after waiting for what seemed like forever, it wasn’t coming away and the midwife was worried that it was taking so long so she injected the drugs into my thigh. Afterward Alfie cut the cord when it had finished pulsating and took the baby while I got stitched up. I had an internal tear this time around (last time I had an episiotomy) and the midwife thought it was in my best interests to be stitched up (but she did advise that it wasn’t essential too as it was minor). I had some local anesthetic administered and 3 dissolvable stitches.
We were left in the room by ourselves for a while until the midwife came back and led me to the showers. I felt so sore and bruised in all honesty I just wanted to lay on the bed with my baby but had a shower anyway as there was blood dripping and I actually felt a little better afterward. Of course, there was an epic stack of tea and toast and after Amélie had been checked over, weighed etc. as it hadn’t been done yet we were taken upstairs (me in a wheelchair) to the ward where we stayed overnight. Alfie left for home at about 3 am so he could take Aiden to nursey in the morning and he came back with my mum around 9.30 am.
I didn’t get much sleep because I was still in shock over the whirlwind birth and the ward was quite noisy. Also one of the midwives on the ward was worried about Amelie’s temperature, it was lower than usual, so she took her to lay by a special heater to warm her up. Her temperature was a bit of worry in the morning to and we weren’t allowed home until it was within normal limits, thankfully by 13.30pm it was fine and we were discharged and sent home to begin our new adventure.
So there you go, that’s how our baby girl entered the world. I gave birth in a Primark dress, no water birth like I wanted. I have no idea how many centimeters I was dilated when I went in and I remained confused the following few days afterward because it all happened so fast towards the end. I was in labour with Aiden for 40 hours and even the pushing phase was so slow, so Amelie’s birth was so different. Although I didn’t get my water birth as I’d wanted, it was still a positive and calm experience. It’s made me appreciate the power of the female body even more and it left me feeling empowered by the whole experience.