I’ve had this blog post roughly written up and sat in the ‘draft’ section of my blog since my baby was about 3 weeks old. There’s a couple of reasons why it’s taken me so long to get it finished and published. Looking after a tiny human is hard and time consuming. You can’t just take a break from being a mum whenever you like and that means that I no longer get half as much done as what I want to, like this blog post for example. But the biggest reason behind it taking me such a long time to get finished, is because it quite simply makes me emotional. There have been a few times where I could’ve sat down and got it done, but I have to be in the mood to reminisce and get a little bit sad. I’m sure any mum will agree with me that the whole experience still makes them emotional. Or are my hormones still all over the place?

Anyways, it’s quite a long one….

The ‘latent’ phase of labour, also known as early labour (when your cervix is dilated from 0-3cm), started on Monday 9th July, however at the time I was completely oblivious to it. I was uncomfortable throughout the night with really bad lower back pain and what I thought was trapped wind. I was up every hour in the night trying to go to the toilet. My boyfriend woke up and found me on all fours trying to let out wind! In fact, I thought of every possible scenario other than labour. Was my backache due to the fact I slept with the fan directly on me? Did I eat something that caused real bad constipation or trapped wind? It’s hard to know what’s going on when you’re a first time mum and have never experienced labour before. I was also expecting to go overdue as well which is why I didn’t think it could possibly be labour.

For a couple of days before 9th July, I had been bouncing on my bouncy ball whilst watching the World Cup football matches, much to my boyfriends annoyance, (apparently my head bopping up and down in the corner of his eye whilst he was trying to watch football was annoying). Good job you can get away with most things when you’re pregnant.

All the bouncing led to me losing my mucus plug; a jelly like substance which lines the cervix. But even so, I still didn’t think it was the early stages of labour as I knew of people that had lost theirs and still nothing happened. I don’t think I wanted to get my hopes up to be honest.

I spent the day with my mum; We went out shopping to Next & Mothercare and also got some food and popped to my aunties. The whole time I was having period like cramps which started in my bottom, which was what made me adamant I had trapped wind. “It could be the early stages of labour”, my mum kept saying. But it wasn’t enough to convince me.

By the evening I was really uncomfortable. I was drinking Fybogel and popping rennies whilst moaning to my boyfriend that nothing was getting rid of this awful ‘trapped wind/constipation’ pain I was experiencing. I couldn’t sit down directly on my bum and was in the weirdest of positions outside on our garden furniture. It was hot too, 22 degrees. Jack went off to bed as he was starting a new contract the following day and I ran a bath to try and relax. I thought it might take the pain away but how wrong was I. After the first bath, I threw my dinner up. Again, I didn’t think much of it because I suffered with Hypermesis Gravidarium since week 9 of my pregnancy and thought I was just being sick, again. I tried to join my boyfriend in bed to get some sleep, but I was in too much pain and didn’t want to disturb him so I found myself pacing around the house. I had another two baths that night, somehow believing that one of them would get rid of the pain, but what I didn’t realise is that by having so many baths, I was actually speeding up the process.

By 1am, the pain progressed but I decided to lay in bed and listen to relaxing music and to just breathe. I thought I should practice my breathing techniques through this painful trapped wind as I would need to practise for labour anyway. Seems crazy of me now when I look back. In the end, I started to make a few weird noises which woke my boyfriend. “Shannon are you okay?”…. “Yeah just still got trapped wind”, I replied. “That doesn’t seem like trapped wind”, he said. He had already downloaded a ‘contraction timer’ app on his phone and started to use it, timing the contractions and the duration in which they were coming and going. It wasn’t long before the app on his phone was beeping and telling us to go to the hospital. But even then, I didn’t think I could be in labour. I wouldn’t even call my mum because I didn’t want to wake her up. Jack finally convinced me to phone her, so I did and I told her that I had really painful trapped wind. I then had a contraction whilst on the phone to her. She could hear I was in pain and knew it was labour and so we all made our way to the hospital.

We were greeted by a really sweet midwife as soon as we got there who took me into a room to be examined. Despite the pain, I was expecting her to tell me one of two things; that I had a bad case of trapped wind or I was in the early stages of labour and needed to go home to rest. Wrong.

“You’re a good 6cm dilated”.

Omg. Fuck. I’m having a baby….. TODAY.

She told me to sit on the wheelchair so she could take me round to the delivery room. I was still unable to sit down, so I was on all fours, in my nighty, being wheeled through the hospital saying hello to every doctor, nurse and midwife I passed on route. At this point I was somehow still about to maintain some sense of humour.

Explaining the pain of contractions is quite tricky. For me, it was like really bad trapped wind, which came in a wave, starting in my bum, with the pain then circling round my stomach and back to my bum. I felt like I was in a completely different world, like none of it was real. That was clearly the adrenaline rushing through my body.

As soon as we arrived at the delivery room, the midwife started to fill the birthing pool with water and told me how to use the gas and air. I can remember the relief as I took the first breath of gas, I instantly felt like I’d drank a glass of wine, it was amazing but looking back now it did make most of it a blur. For some reason I thought I needed to keep my finger on the button at the back of the gas and air handle, so on a few occasions it was suddenly shooting out loads of gas. I was so high, I felt like I was back raving at a festival sucking nos in and out of balloons. Jack had to take it off of me until I figured out how to use it properly. I forgot to take any snacks with me to the hospital (typical forgetful me), but I wasn’t hungry anyway. Although the midwifes wanted me to eat and so Jack was feeding me jam on toast and my mum was giving me orange juice.

Time seemed to go really quick. It didn’t seem like I was in the pool for very long before my body started to push at the end of every contraction, which by this point were really painful. I can remember looking at my mum and asking her to “please help me mum”. Up until this point my mum had been able to help me in most situations, but this was all down to me. When I was pregnant I used to think to myself ‘how am I gonna be able to push a baby out?’. Sounds crazy but I just couldn’t imagine myself being able to do it, but it’s crazy how you’re body literally does it for you. By this point two other midwifes had swapped with this first lovely midwife that saw to me, as it was 8am in the morning. When they examined me I was 10cm dilated, which explained why my body was naturally pushing.

I once again experienced that amazing feeling of ‘omg I’m gonna see my baby so, so soon’. The excitement is unreal, despite the pain and nerves of getting the baby here safely. Up until this point labour had been straightforward and was going to ‘plan’ and people had told me prior that pushing the baby out was a relief after the pain of the contractions.

But this wasn’t the case for me.

I was pushing for over an hour. I really wanted a water birth however the midwives needed to examine me better and figure out why my baby wasn’t coming out. The head was crowning nicely but would then get to a certain point and go back in and there’s not much they’re able to do when you’re in the birthing pool. They wanted my legs up on the stirrups. Even I could see it all with my legs up that close to my legs! But still, it didn’t change the fact that the babies head was getting to a certain point and then going back in.

It had been an hour and half of pushing...

Another midwife came into the room and the whole atmosphere changed. She was so bubbly and gentle. She calmly came up to speak to me. She told me that my baby was getting tired and that it was going to really sting, that I may tear a little, but I needed to get the baby out and into my arms. I was panicking, because my baby was tired, but she reassured me that everything was going to be ok.

With no access to the gas and air, I shut my eyes, tried to switch off from the overwhelming stinging sensation that I was experiencing (let’s just say a blow torch to your vagina), and I just pushed with everything I had in me. I was told to pant, and then to push again. After that, the pushing was over and my baby shot out so fast, with his arm up near his face like superman at 10.26am. One minute I was struggling to push him out and the next minute he was in my arms. It was all so surreal and I’m pretty sure I shouted out ‘OMG’ as it happened.

This tiny little bundle of perfection was placed into my arms and in an instance I fell in love so deeply, a love I’ve never felt before. A love you can only grasp when you’ve had a child. He was so clean, not a speck of blood on him. I just looked at him and saw these big piercing blue eyes. He was perfect. I was so relieved, I couldn’t believe what had just happened. I was kinda’ in shock, or maybe just still high from the copious amounts of gas & air I’d inhaled. But I was so happy.

We never found out the sex of our baby throughout my pregnancy. I’ve always said I would keep it a surprise but with that being said I had a gut feeling I was going to have a boy. I’d always pictured myself with a boy growing up, all the old wives tales pointed to a boy and my mum thought I was having a boy too because I was carrying the same way she did with my younger brother. This was the reason why it took us what seemed a good couple of minutes to actually check and confirm the gender. I had a little peek and yep …. definitely a boy.

We named him Lorenzo.

Lorenzo Joe Jack Grice

10th July 2018 – 10.26am

Our lives changed forever in a single moment.

AFTER BIRTHI

After birth I delivered the placenta after having an injection in my thigh. It didn’t hurt at all and was all over quite quickly. It’s a lot softer than a little human head and instead of pushing, I was told to cough. I knew about this part whilst pregnant because my midwife talked me through it, but what happens after that? You hear of people delivering babies in the morning and being home by late afternoon. You see pictures on social media of new parents walking out of hospital carrying their bags and babies in car seats. It all sounds and looks so simple. But depending on how your birth goes determines what happens next. For myself it wasn’t as simple as getting up and walking out. Just the thought of even trying to stand up was petrifying...

Once the placenta had been delivered, I was examined for any grazes and tears down below. Ouchie.

The midwives explained to me that I had tore and a doctor would need to come and have a better look to determine which type of tear I had suffered. They explained that if it was a second degree tear I could be stitched under local anaesthetic here on the bed in the delivery room but if it was a third degree tear then I would need to go down to theatre for a spinal as it would require a deeper stitch. I honestly didn’t even care. I was buzzing. I was on the biggest high and nothing else mattered all the time I was admiring Lorenzo. Nothing could’ve damaged my good mood.

When the doctor came in and began the examination I soon reached for the gas and air again. It was stingy and really uncomfortable. I mean, I’ve just pushed out a baby and now I’m being prodded and poked down there too. Ouch. What does dignity mean again???

Unfortunately it was a third degree tear and I was going to have to prepare for theatre.

The hardest part about that wasn’t the massive needle that was injected into my spine to numb me from waist down, it wasn’t even the fact that my insides were being stitched up and the whole thing watched by a good dozen doctors. It was just the fact I was separated from Lorenzo. I instantly missed him the minute I left the delivery room. The midwives, doctors and surgeons were all lovely and stayed by my side speaking to me whilst the procedure was taking place. I had a good laugh with one of the doctors, a Scottish lady who was really bubbly and kept me company throughout. The weirdest part was seeing the doctors move my legs, yet I couldn’t feel a thing. I had to look away because it was making me cringe.

After the surgery I was moved into the recovery ward to be monitored and frequently have my blood pressure taken. I also had a catheter inserted but I couldn’t feel it as I was still numb and was going to be numb for a good 6 hours yet. I was bed bound and unable to go to the toilet but I didn’t care. Just get me back to my baby!

I must have been away from him for about 3 hours in total. It felt like forever. But once again I was hit with that overwhelming profound love as soon as I was wheeled into a private room to see him. I was so happy to be back with him. By this time it was late afternoon and I wanted to chill out a bit with our new little family, my mum and some other family members that visited. I was going to have to stay the night but still, nothing was going to knock my good mood.

I was placed on a ward with three other ladies and their babies. I was trying to get Lorenzo to latch onto the boob. I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing, but I persisted. He hadn’t fed much since he was born and every time he did feed it would take him a while to latch on. It was very sore.. I had to bite my finger every time he latched on. It was toe curling, but I kept at it and then late on that evening he latched perfectly and fed for nearly an hour before falling asleep. I on the other hand barely slept a wink. I kept reliving the whole birth over and over in my head trying to take in what had happened, all the time whilst staring at Lorenzo. I kept placing my hand lightly on his chest to check he was breathing. I still do that now. Whenever he woke he would never cry, but instead look at me with these big blue eyes. It’s the thing that still sticks in my head most; how his big eyes really stood out, even in a dimmed out room, and how he would just look at me. Such knowing eyes, like he already knew everyone and everything about life.

I was quite uncomfortable at the time as I was experiencing quite heavy after pains, especially whilst breastfeeding. I could literally feel my stomach contracting back together as such. It was like mild contractions again, coming and going in waves. As I got the feeling back in my legs, I was left with a numb bum from being laid down for so long. But even moving my legs and sitting up was painful. I was sore, bruised and wired up down below. Lovely aye? Even getting Lorenzo out of the hospital cot proved difficult.

By the morning I couldn’t wait for Jack to arrive with some requested snacks. I was speaking to the other ladies in the ward, one of them had delivered her ninth child a couple of days before. “You’ve done this NINE times?”, I asked her, and then told her that she was bloody superwoman. I had my catheter out which was pain free and then had to go to the toilet; something so simple yet so scary after child birth. Not as scary as the dreaded number 2 though, haha. Shortly after I got back to my bed, a nurse came in and asked me what contraception I was planning on going on. I laughed at her. “I am NEVER having sex EVER again”, I told her. But she laughed and told me that most people say that, but then she see’s a lot of people again the following year having more babies. But I was completely adamant that I was never going to be the same again and so contraception was the last thing on my mind with the state I was in. Nothing is pretty about after birth recovery. Jack soon arrived with snacks, sweets and my favourite; a big bottle of Lucozade orange. I was so happy that we were back with him.

It was July 11th and England were in the semi finals of the World Cup, so I realllly wanted to get home to watch it. We joked and said that Lorenzo decided to arrive a day early because he wanted to see England play in the semi finals. Cause it’s very rare and all that. But we didn’t get to leave until around 5pm. We were still being monitored and Lorenzo had to have various checks. I was still being given medication around the clock. Every time I was given medication I had to confirm my name, date of birth and whether I had any allergies. Every. Single. Time. I was tired and just wanted to get home so it was really getting to me. I felt like writing it on the wall with a big black marker pen. Poor nurses and midwives have to deal with so many hormones.

Finally we got our ‘get out of jail free card’, (the midwives words), and were able to get Lorenzo into his car seat and leave. He looked so tiny in it. When leaving the hospital, you’re hit with so many emotion yet again. You know that having a baby is going to change your life, but you don’t know exactly how until you experience it yourself. And now here we were, with our little boy who was entirely our responsibility. It’s so scary. It’s so exciting.

The car journey home was nerve wracking. Suddenly you’re 100 times more worried about other drivers on the road and how they’re driving. But we made it back safely, got Lorenzo inside, put the football on and began our life as a family.

It has been life changing to say the least. A rollercoaster journey full of sleepless nights, nappy explosions, “am I doing this right” questions, snuggles, happy memories and LOVE.

Every bit of pain I endured was completely worth it, and although it still makes me emotional looking back, giving birth was one of the best experiences of my life to date. I birthed a beautiful, cheeky, happy, bright eyed baby boy.

What a beautiful reason to smile.

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