*I’m warning you now there’s probably waaaay TMI in this post so read on at your own peril!*
In general, this pregnancy was quite different to my last one. I was almost 7 weeks pregnant when we found out and it was only because I’d felt horrendously nauseous for 2 days and a work colleague had joked that’s how his wife felt when she was pregnant that I did a pregnancy test when I got home from work. However, I’d been feeling rubbish for a few days anyway as I was having only my 2nd period since having A so it was all a bit confusing and uncertain. I called the GP after the positive pregnancy test and explained I was bleeding and he sent me to the Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit (EPAU) at Barnsley hospital. I had an internal ultrasound which showed a teeny embryo which was estimated to be about 6 weeks and 4 days old.
A couple of weeks later, when we were camping, I started bleeding again in the night. This time it was heavier and I had some mild cramps but the blood was fresh and bright red so again I felt very uncertain about what might happen. I called my midwife and she advised me to wait and see what happened and call again if anything changed. The bleeding continued for a couple more days before I had a gush of blood and much worse cramps. I took some paracetamol and went to bed feeling pretty upset and called the midwife in the morning and was referred back to EPAU again that evening. I saw a Dr who performed a very awkward internal examination as he made me lie in a very odd position but he thought everything was OK but asked me to go back the next day for a scan. Thankfully all was still well. I had my booking in appointment later that day, also back at the hospital, where I mentioned the bleeds and returned home feeling quite upset as the midwife I saw said they’d see me at X weeks “if you get that far”. So compassionate and caring of her.
The early nausea I’d felt ramped up over the next few weeks, as did fatigue. I regularly nodded off on the sofa on my non working days whilst looking after A and watching Bing and I felt so guilty for that; both because he was watching more TV than I thought he should but also for his safety! He was active enough that I only ever nodded off for a few minutes and he was happily watching TV but it was really really hard work to stay awake and when I had the opportunity to let someone else take over (mostly Mr.J or Aunty C), I let them! I remember one afternoon when Aunty C woke me up to tell me she had to go and I realised I’d been asleep for about 2 hours and she’d just got on with playing and sorting A out. I was never actually sick when I was pregnant with A but I was sick a couple of times this pregnancy and I have to say I felt soooooooo much better after I’d been sick!
The nausea did improve at around 22 weeks but I never quite got back all of my energy but that might have been due to running around after A and being pretty hectic at work. I had my swollen calf at 35 weeks and then measured small at my 36 week midwife appointment. Although the midwife said not to worry, and rationally I knew that the way they measured wasn’t that accurate and I’d eaten loads less chocolate because the heartburn wasn’t worth it, etc I couldn’t help but worry a bit, especially as this baby liked to have much longer quieter periods and decided to be quite sleepy for a few hours just to ramp up my anxiety. I went in to hospital the next day (my penultimate working day before maternity leave!) for monitoring; a cardiotocograph (CTG) which tracks the baby’s heart rate and movements together. Everything was fine but I had to wait a few more days until I had the growth scan. Once again, all was well – baby had a lot of hiccoughs but at that point was about 3.2kg and if they followed that centile would be about 3.8kg (8lb 4oz) at 40 weeks.
I enjoyed my first week of maternity leave; I had an amaaaazing pregnancy massage and met friends for lunch on the two days I had on my own. I also had the immense pleasure of celebrating my best friends birthday at The Man Behind the Curtain, a Michelin starred restaurant, in Leeds. I made Mr.J drive me there whilst Aunty C babysat for A as I was worried about the baby arriving whilst I was further from home. I had really bad back pain the day after the meal and I was optimistic that this baby might come soon but the pain went away and I think the baby had just changed position, or engaged but then popped back up!
The next 3 weeks were pretty hard work and much less fun though. Looking after A whilst heavily pregnant was pretty tiring; he definitely got faster just as I was getting slower so going out and about was especially difficult as I couldn’t chase after him. We did a lot of baking and watched some films – including his first trip to the cinema! I have to say that I was completely unprepared to go past my due date. With A being born ‘on time’ I just didn’t expect to go over and I was also convinced that having sex started my labour last time so the same would work this time. It did not! I went for a walk nearly every day from 39 weeks but I didn’t have any signs anything was going to happen. Needless to say I was very grumpy, I felt very sorry for myself and wasn’t the most pleasant person to be around, let alone respond to anyone who asked for updates/news (sorry).
I had also been very worried for almost all of this pregnancy about making it to hospital in time to deliver this baby since it was a fairly close run thing last time, so I’d made a timetable of who was on call to look after A but that ran out by the Thursday, when I’d be 40+4. I saw the midwife that day and she booked me in for a sweep at 9am on Sunday morning, when I’d be 41 weeks. I was also starting to feel the pressure of delivering as Uncle P (aka Kung Pao chicken) and Aunty H came all the way up from Bournemouth to see us, and hopefully the newest addition to the JenkinSunts, but alas that was not to be. It was fairly close in the end though…..
I finally started to have some contractions at about 3am on Sunday morning. They were roughly every 10 minutes until about 5am, when I woke Mr.J up to let him know and he then inadvertently woke A up too (yes, he’s still bedsharing). We all chilled out in bed for a bit and I went for a shower but that seemed to put a stop to things but I did notice that I’d had a show so I was cautiously optimistic we wouldn’t have to wait toooooo much longer. I went for the sweep and the midwife said I was a couple of cm dilated but I was booked in to be induced on the following Friday, standard procedure, but she advised me to drink plenty and eat plenty of carbs so I had lots of energy if things did start happening.
We went home and saw Uncle P and Aunty H off and hung out with Aunty C for a bit and then Aunty W popped down mid afternoon and we all went for a walk and my contractions started again, albeit fairly irregularly, and I had a bit more show. Aunty W left to go and get her tea and of course that’s when my contractions started to get a bit stronger and more regular so we called her and asked her and my cousin A to come back down to look after A. The contractions still weren’t painful and were only lasting 20-30 seconds but they were every 5 minutes and getting closer together so I called the hospital triage and spoke to someone. We agreed to see what happened for another 30 minutes and then call back and let them know if we were coming in and in the meantime they’d get my notes ready. Mr.J was anxious to go, having taken a fair bit of stick for only just getting me to the hospital in time last time, but I wasn’t as worried as although frequent the contractions weren’t very strong or painful but we set off anyway (and he made me sit on a towel in case my waters broke in the car).
We arrived at about 7pm and met Lois, a lovely midwife who was on triage duty. She asked me some questions and did a basic examination and felt one of my contractions and said she didn’t think I was in established labour just yet as it would be very unusual to be able to talk and make jokes easily as I was, but that sometimes it can be the real thing, though that was very unlikely. She asked if I wanted to have an internal examination with that being the case and I said that she might as well since we live 20 minutes drive away so we should at least be certain what was what. And I’m really glad she did as she looked rather shocked and said I was one of those rarer cases as I was in fact in established labour! She asked how far away we lived and when we said it was a 20 minute drive each way she said she didn’t want us to go home but there wasn’t really anywhere for me to stay there either it seemed….
So, she gave me two codeine and Mr.J and I took a stroll round the streets near Barnsley hospital. It was just getting dark and it was quite a nice evening really. We set off at random and Mr.J did a quick check on Google Maps to make sure we weren’t about to do a ridiculously long loop and I put him in charge of timing contractions at that point. By the end of the walk (around 8.30pm ish I think) they had started to get longer – around 40seconds – and were more painful. I could still keep walking but I noticeably slowed down or needed to focus on my breathing a bit more. We updated Lois on what was happening and she brought me a birthing ball and some tea and toast and I carried on having my contractions in the triage area.
I have to say I felt a bit awkward as there were other women in curtained off areas nearby who had to listen to me doing all my breathing every time I had a contraction; from what we overheard (it was hard not to!) one lady had already had her baby and was back in due to an infection and the other had a suspected UTI, but she thought she was in labour. Hopefully I didn’t put the latter lady off too much! The contractions started to get more painful and last a bit longer and my lower back started to hurt more too; I carried on bouncing on the birthing ball and doing lots of deep breaths in through my nose and out through my mouth. It was probably during one of these contractions that Mr.J laughed at me – yes, that’s right, my husband laughed at me when I was having a contraction. Apparently it was because I made the same noise as I do when I’m annoyed. I gave him the finger and told him that he wasn’t being very helpful. I think he lucked out here as if other people hadn’t been within earshot he might have got much worse.
It was also around this point that I decided to use the TENS machine. Mr.J hooked me up and I started to get zapped. I’m honestly not sure if there’s a physiological benefit or pain relief from the TENS machine but squeezing the button during contractions definitely made me feel better. Lois came back in and said she could tell it was getting worse and that they were just clearing a delivery suite for me so I’d be moved soon. It was at this point that I told her that I’d felt like I needed to poo during my last contraction and she said she’d be back with me sooner! She examined me again and said I was 4-5cm dilated and I have to say I thought “Is that all?!” as the contractions were really quite painful and I wasn’t sure how I’d manage to get to 10cm on that basis.
Another lovely midwife, called Laura, then came to get me to take me to the delivery suite and explained she’d be helping me to deliver the baby. I was offered a wheelchair but it wasn’t far to go so I said I’d be fine to walk. I think it was about 10.15pm now. She listened to the baby’s heart beat and asked if I wanted to get set up with the gas and air but I said I was OK with my TENS machine at the moment as I only had it half way. She popped in and out as she was writing some notes and doing some checks and encouraged me to keep walking (pacing) and offered me some water but I had my camelbak bottle so was sorted on that front. I had a mental wobble a few minutes later when things started to get pretty painful but I just told myself I could do it, kept breathing and squeezed the life out of the TENS machine button. Mr.J also said that he’d overheard Lois tell Laura that ‘this baby will fly 0ut’ so he didn’t think it would be long and I should hang in there. That’s when I also realised I’d turned the TENS machine down and not up so I whacked it back up to 6 (out of 8) and persevered.
I really wanted to squat down so I just sat on the loo for a couple of contractions and also decided that I was too hot and I wanted to take my dress off. Laura helped me get undressed, harder than it sounds with all the TENS machine wires, and told me just to do what I felt most comfortable with. I had progressed to making the classic lady-in-labour-ooooooooh noises and she told me not to panic. I wasn’t panicking; I was just in pain but I was in too much pain to talk back so I just did the breathing thing again. I really felt like I needed to poo/push during the next contraction and felt so uncomfortable and she told me that it was just because my waters were really bulging and to do what felt right. I was thinking ‘why don’t you break my waters for me?!?!?!’ but what I said was ‘Am I dilated enough to start pushing?’ but she said not to worry about that as it’s different 2nd time.
I decided to get onto the bed and squat there instead and during the next contraction my waters broke and the relief was enormous. It felt sooooo much better. Don’t get me wrong, it was still painful, but just far less uncomfortable and I really needed to push now, so I did. I think it was about 10.45pm. Laura gave me really helpful, constructive comments and being completely blunt, it really was like doing a poo. I was able to do 3 or 4 long pushes during each contraction and she was really encouraging and telling me that I was really moving the baby. I felt like the psammead (Google it!) when I was pushing, and I said as much, and she said she knew what I meant, though Mr.J was clueless. After a few more contractions (3?4?) she told me she was going to press a button shortly to get somebody else to come in but not to worry. She also told me that soon, she wanted me to take a deep breath and do short panting breathing out and to only push really gently but she’d tell me when.
I didn’t notice any button pressing or noises but Lois appeared and said how well I was doing (or something like that). And then she said on the next contraction that I needed to only do a little push and do the panting breathing. I tried to do what she said as much as possible and she seemed happy with what I was doing. She said the baby’s head was nearly there and I needed to do the same again next time. I did. It flipping well hurt as the baby’s head was half in, half out at the end of the contraction and I felt like I might rip in two. In the last 15 minutes or so, the respite between contractions had been blissful – breathe, have a sip of water, relax, etc but I’ve never wanted another contraction to come as soon as I did then! Same again during the next contraction and the head was out – phew. I asked if I’d torn but Laura said it was too early to tell. I’d expected crying at this point and asked if everything was OK but they said that was normal and not to worry. She said they had full lips but not much hair and I said “Like your Dad!” to Mr.J. I also felt like I’d done enough hard work at this stage and couldn’t believe I still had to get the body out. However, I managed that during the next contraction, when it seems there was a second gush of my waters which splashed in the midwives faces – sorry! I was completely unaware of this though as I was facing the other way and more worried about why I’d still not heard any crying.
Laura said she (she!!!) was fine but just shocked and that the cord was wrapped around her neck and then asked me to put my hands down so I could reach and get her. I’m not completely sure what happened next to be honest as I was focused on holding my little girl and taking all of her in. She had really dry hands and feet, with long fingers and toes and long finger nails and as Laura had said, not much hair and full lips – lots like her brother really. It was 23.06pm.
I had an injection to help deliver the placenta. Everything looked fine with it but I had to have another injection because I was still bleeding quite a bit. I spent the next…. I don’t know how long having lots of skin to skin cuddles but because the bleeding was still a little on the heavy side I had to have another injection and a saline drip. Laura tried to put a canula into both hands but couldn’t get one in so a Dr came and put one in my arm instead. I’ve still got bruised hands/wrists 10 days on. Having the canula in meant it was hard to feed on that side but we managed and it meant I couldn’t have a shower either so I had to have a very awkward bed bath. We had more skin to skin time before she was weighed (8lb 60z, compared to A’s 7lb 15oz) and I kept asking if I could feed her and was eventually told I could try and latch her on. It took a few goes but once she was latched on she had a good feed.
We were moved up to a ward at about 3am, at which point Mr.J had to go home. There were 3 other ladies and babies on the ward and between them, the drip machine I was attached to bleeping lots and Miss.A (I’ll have to call them Mr.A and Miss.A now!!) I only got about an hours sleep. I should have felt pretty shattered as I’d been up since 3am on Sunday morning but all the crazy, happy, post-natal hormones meant I didn’t feel THAT bad.
Mr.J and Mr.A came back in the morning and Mr.A got to meet his little sister for the first time. He walked onto the ward and said (quite loudly) “What’s he doing Mummy?”. In his defence, he’s been saying he was going to have a brother for most of the last 9 months so he probably needed a bit of time to readjust. A Dr came and checked Miss.A over and I had my blood pressure and temperature monitored a couple of times. I think the presence of a curious and outgoing 2 year old on the ward may have pushed us up the discharge order as we got the all clear to go home at around 1pm!
The after pains have been much more painful this time than last time; that’s the way of things apparently but they stopped after 4 or 5 days. I haven’t been quite as teary this time either though I have had a few moments. It’s strange how ‘normal’ things seem really – there hasn’t been an enormous shift in things, this is just how things are. Mr.A has been fantastic; he likes to put nappies in the bin and says ‘Can I kiss her here?’ (pointing to a spot on her forehead) and ‘Can I pat her back?’ and on the whole doesn’t seem too put out at all (though he’s been inundated with big brother gifts which I’m sure have helped).
Miss. A lost a whole 30g (0.7%) by day 3, no change from that at day 5 but had put on 325g as of today so she’s doing just fine. She hardly had any jaundice but she does have a bit of a gooey eye so she had her eye swabbed this morning and we’ll know if she needs some antibiotic drops in a couple of days. The health visitor is coming tomorrow so she’ll be measured then and we’ll see how long she is.
We’ve had so many lovely gifts for Miss.A and lots of help and support for us too – we are so, so grateful and we’ll be sorting some thank you cards soon.