This post has been a long time coming. Originally I wanted to film it and put it up on my YouTube channel, but in all honesty I just haven't had the time. To save you scrolling through reams and reams of my ramblings, I'll try and keep things as brief as possible.
After a less than successful sweep the day after I turned 40 weeks, to say that I was over being pregnant was a complete understatement. I was ginormous, uncomfortable, and just so ready to get that baby out. Knowing that I was booked in for a C-section at 41 weeks should have made me feel more calm, but instead, I was just working myself up more. Aside from my own grand entrance into this world, I have never been admitted to hospital for anything, and I was completely, totally and 100% freaking out.
So when I started having extremely mild cramps on 30th March (3 days past my due date) I got so excited. After spending days bumbling round the house in nothing but one of Ryan's t-shirts, no underwear (in case my waters broke) and a dressing gown, I was taking it as a sign. This child was finally ready. Ryan had been on alert all week, ready to dash home from work as soon as he got the call, so on that day, I made sure he definitely wasn't going to let his phone out of his sight.
And of course in so doing, the cramps completely vanished. MG was up that day and I remember sitting in a cafe sipping on my hot chocolate and moaning my guts out. I had literally tried everything to get things going, and I just felt like this pregnancy was never going to end.
In the early hours of the Friday morning the cramps came back in full force. The first one I got was so strong it actually woke me up from my sleep. But I simply refused to believe I was having contractions. For starters they weren't across my belly as I was expecting, but bang on my knicker line, and at the end of the day I didn't want to build my hopes up to have them come crashing down.
The cramps came and went in waves throughout the night and then seemed to dissipate later on in the morning, pretty much as soon as we headed into the Liverpool Women's Hospital for my pre-op. Assuming it had been false labour all along, Ryan and I decided to head out for some lunch to occupy and distract ourselves. It was on that drive during a phone call to my parents, that the "cramps" came back, and really rather strongly (to the point where walking was difficult) but with no seeming consistency. Chugging down a pineapple smoothie, we decided it would be best to get in touch with my midwife in the hopes that she might confirm that things were potentially starting off.
Which - thank goodness - she said they seemed to be! I was honestly so relieved I could have cried. By this point I had been struggling on for about 15 hours and was absolutely exhausted, so now it was just about playing the waiting game, sleeping, eating, and keeping as hydrated and distracted as possible. I knew there was no point phoning the hospital because nothing had any apparent pattern, and although I was in pain, at this point I was coping on my own.
This was how things went for the next 24 hours really. The pain got worse. I got more and more tired. But there was still no pattern to the cramping. Feeling distraught and very emotional, at about 5am on the Saturday I rang the hospital to basically be told I just had to power through. Even though I knew they would say that, it was still so upsetting to hear. But by 4pm or so I just couldn't cope anymore. Looking back I don't remember much of the pain, but I do remember crying, not being able to sit down, crying out, and dancing around the living room holding on to Ryan. The hospital said we could go in, but to take our time (probably to make sure I was going in dilated enough to be admitted). With bags packed, car seat in, my push playlist blasting out and me singing through contractions whilst sitting on a towel, that is where we went!
Now this is where everything becomes a bit of a blur. In between really strong contractions and grunting my head off it's a bit difficult to remember in what order things happened. I remember my cervix being initially checked and being told I was 3.5cm, being given codeine and paracetamol (and it doing nothing), sucking on gas and air, and then finally being offered diamorphine before spending the rest of the 16 hours I was in labour completely high as a kite. Ryan tells me my contractions were awful. I was getting them every minute and each was lasting two so I just wasn't catching a break. The midwife during the night shift was fabulous and held me so I could sleep a bit, but I was just incredibly uncomfortable.
Fast forward to the morning, and I recall having a few bites of toast, a sip of tea, then turning to the midwife on duty and saying "there's pressure...there's pressure" before dragging myself up on all fours on the bed to get ready to push. I couldn't tell you how long I was trying to get the baby out, but I'd had my quota of diamorphine was only using gas and air. I must have been pushing for a while because at one point several doctors came in to check on me because I don't think anybody could quite find an accurate reading of baby's heartbeat because of my position.
Ladies, I am going to be brutally honest. Whereas I can't remember most of my labour pains anymore, what I can vaguely recall is trying for those final few pushes to get baby's head out. And for me they bloody hurt. Just think ring of fire and you'll get the gist. Half afraid and half exhausted, my contractions weren't providing enough support to help me through and I really, really had to focus. Then of course I only went and dropped my gas and air tube so was flying completely solo. Baby's head kept popping in and out like a yo-yo and I was struggling. But it was Ryan's sister who gave me the incentive to get him out. She is a midwife and came in to see us briefly. It was her telling me that she had to go back to work that built up my strength enough again to let her see her nephew be born - that and The Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack blasting out in the background.
Finally at 10.44am on 2nd April (our 1st wedding anniversary) Baby Ginger came into the world - all 6lbs 11oz worth of him. It hadn't hit me that I'd just given birth and I just sat there for a few minutes completely baffled and overwhelmed. Ryan cut the cord and had the first cuddle and that was it. He was here. And I was a mother.
I cannot sing the praises of the staff at the Liverpool Women's enough. Every midwife who took care of us was amazing. The ward had a wonderful, calming atmosphere, and nothing was ever too much trouble for anyone. Whereas I was terrified about having a baby, now I wouldn't hesitate to do it again in the future. I think back on my time in labour and feel very emotional to have had such a fabulous experience there, and it would be a real shame if it were to close.
And as for Baby Ginger now? He's an absolute joy of a baby. We cannot imagine our lives without him and every day he just amazes us. He is our light and love, and I cherish every moment I have with him. He hasn't taught me how to be a mother, but he's helped me realise how strong a person I can be and just what pure adoration is.
To get a play-by-play account of me going into labour, you can watch my vlog below. Click here to find our more about the Liverpool Women's Hospital, and to find out about the Save Liverpool Women's Hospital Campaign, head to this Facebook page.