Most women get fed up in the run up to their due date.  Logically it makes no sense, that you can endure 8 months of pregnancy and yet the mere thought of one more month seems impossible.  

Truth be told, I love pregnancy. The magic of it all never goes away. Despite being obese and having an anterior placenta I felt a surprising amount of activity from monkey-bum.  I could never keep my hands off my bump, it was a compulsive action and often was reciprocated by a little nudge against it from inside. My blood pressure had behaved surprisingly well, she assumed head down position fairly early and stayed there.  For the most part it was problem free. Granted measuring 3+ weeks ahead bump wise for at least seven weeks, was a new one for me and the insomnia paired with M.E was a killer. There was also the chronic headaches for a long while.

The biggest problem, as always, was pain.  Constant, chronic, debilitating pain. My pelvis constantly felt like it had been shattered with a baseball bat, my hips felt like my legs were being constantly pulled from the sockets, been both of them areas it felt like I’d been dropped from a very high height onto a horse and my lower spine was excruciating.  Then there was the sciatica.

This was the first pregnancy I’d been home alone.  Even the school runs were agony. I’d spend hours every day in the bath because it was the only place I was pain free.  It hurt to stand, sit, bend, walk, turn, lay and to exist. By the evenings I was crawling up the stairs on my hands and knees. Naturally this impacted on everything and everyone and exacerbated my already fragile mental health.

My due date was 20/12.  Generally if left i go overdue and all four other births needed a sweep to start them.

At each appointment the midwives would watch me literally stagger and limp, they make sympathetic sounds and although they heard me, it never felt like they listened.  Plus the fact I rarely saw the same mw twice meant there was no rapport being built, no familiarity.  

I’m also tremendously crap at showing weakness; at asking for help. It’s just easier to be fine. 

The other issue panicking the shit out of me was childcare.  My in laws were due to go away before my due date and my mum goes away on my due date.  Neither drive (nor do we) and the former live in a different county. There is nobody else.  I’m as alone as I am lonely. Moomin, other than at school, has never even been left with anyone other than The Husband and me. I couldn’t go into labour not knowing who would look after my kids and the only other option was labouring alone.  The thought of The Husband missing the birth was incomprehensible.  

I was told the “earliest” I could have a sweep was 41+.  Then another mw said 40+ and my next appointment was booked for 40+3.  That would be the 23rd. If successful sweeps trigger labour within 48 hours.  Because of blood types I’m *always* kept in overnight, sometimes 2-3. This would put me in hospital over Christmas.  There would be nobody to look after the kids and visiting would be the cost of a people carrier taxi (double that of a normal taxi then doubled again for Xmas day) and the thought of not waking up on Christmas Day with all my kids broke my heart.

Then at 38+ I had two midwife appointments, on the second the midwife seemed to hear me for the first time.  Maybe it was my nails digging half moons into my flesh in silent panic or maybe it was the simple words when talking about the immense pain “I’m running out of cope” either way she insisted on referring me to the hospital for an early sweep.  She said she’d have done one there and then for be but community midwives aren’t allowed to do them early, only a consultant can.  

For the record, regardless of pain and poor mental health I’d never ever go for an early induction unless baby was in trouble.  An induction is a one way train. Once started they don’t stop until baby is there. With a sweep, they only work if your body and baby are ready to labour anyway.  Otherwise, nothing happens.

I assumed she’d get me seen at 40+0.  I was ok with that. One more week.  

I assumed wrong, she classed me as an urgent referral and I was seen at the hospital the next day at 39+0.

The consultant didn’t hesitate to agree and the tiny woman proceeded to give me the most thorough and brutal sweep I’ve ever had, I swear she was trying to reach my brain via my cervix and pull it out.  I’ve never seen “after” a sweep before and will admit to feeling a little panicked as she removed her blood covered gloves afterwards. A lot of blood.

She smiled, wished me luck and exited the room.  I waited for the MW to write in my notes looking for a bishops score or something to indicate my chances.  With the others I was told the bishop score or i was significantly dilated with bulging waters. This time my cervix was still posterior, long and thick and I was only dilated a few CM’s which for a none first pregnancy is no indication at all.  I’ll admit to feeling a little defeated, it was already a crap day because of the election results. But at least I knew. As I waited for the taxi home I knew that the likelihood of imminent labour was minimal.

It was a contemplative journey home.  I’d been to the bathroom after the sweep and was bleeding, not a show but just… blood.  Traveling often makes be nauseous yet it was raining too hard to open the window. I was feeling a crushing sense of guilt too…. For trying to rush her even though I knew if she wasn’t ready it wouldn’t work.  I was painfully aware that it was my last ever pregnancy. I’d never be feeling pregnancy again. 

Once home I spent considerable time on my birthball and had an inexplicable urge to eat lunch despite feeling nauseous and not at all hungry.  Then I went for my daily epic soak in the bath. As is tradition for me after a sweep I used Clary sage oil and just like every other pregnancy it didn’t give me a single cramp.  

A brief bump massage with it afterwards and then on to the school run.  It’s uphill home and for weeks it has taken triple the usual time due to pain and as usual the pressure from her was immense.

There’d been no real cramps and no show, just blood. Zero signs of success.  There was a vague discomfort but that’s to be expected after a sweep. 

My nausea continued and by tea time I don’t know if it was exhaustion from lack of sleep, the nausea or the general melancholy but I couldn’t eat.  Then came the strange part, I started shaking uncontrollably. I couldn’t make the shaking and shivering stop and I felt freezing. I decided to wallow in another hot bath to try and warm up.  I was feeling slightly crampy but not contraction crampy.

In the bath at around 19:00 I started to ponder some tightening.  They weren’t too painful and I figured they were BH and a bath would make them stop soon anyway.  This was around 19:10. By 19:20 I figured I’d time them for shits and giggles and was surprised that they were 3 minutes apart and lasting 40-55 seconds. Oh.

I decided getting out the bath would stop the nonsense.

Originally I wanted a home birth but after lots of soul searching I realised that the reality of the planned homebirth I wanted was completely incompatible with the one I’d get.  The house is a slum, I’d be too conscious of the kids somewhere and expecting them to start fighting, the door on the lounge doesn’t even work, there’s cats everywhere. No way could I relax or focus. So, the week before I let the midwife book me into the birthing center. I’d had a positive experience there last time and was on track this time to finally getting my water birth that I’d wanted for 15 years.  I’d come to peace with my decision of where to birth and with that came relief that I sort of knew what to expect.

The contractions continued and were starting to really hurt.  My last labour was 90 minutes from first pain to birth and this time I’d already been feeling contractions for around 40 minutes. It was manic last time waiting for grandparents to arrive for childcare and waiting for the ambulance so I figured no dillydallying.  I phoned my mum asap so at least I knew someone would be with the kids. Contracting every 2.5-3 minutes at this point I was refusing to acknowledge the pain ramping.

Next call was to maternity Triage.  The call lasted longer than it should have because my contractions were hard and long and I couldn’t speak through them. She suggested we go straight in. I'd never experienced that with my other labours, that intensity of pain making it hard to talk.

Next call was for an ambulance.  We don’t drive and my labours progress quickly so a taxi wasn’t an option. In the past, maternity have insisted we get an ambulance and sent one for us.

I was in denial that things were imminent and feeling slightly satisfied that everything was arranged and sorted and in motion.  I felt in control. That was good.

Time went by. No ambulance.

The person on the phone whilst we waited was telling me to go to my bed, lay on my back, remove lower clothing etc and told The Husband to get towels , a blanket and string etc.

This was fucking ridiculous. I was going to the birth centre. Ambulance was on its way. I felt like a dick and put my clothes back on.  I wasn’t doing this. It was silly. I wanted to go to hospital and I was going to hospital. I’d been here before, they arrive … come upstairs and take you to the ambulance. That was what happened last time and is what would happen this time. Laying half naked on a bed readying for birth was just ridiculous and wasting time. The Voice on the phone kept asking a million times if I felt the need to push. No. No. No. Stupid woman. I barely push. I just wait. Then when a MW finally tells me to push they kinda slip out lol.  I don’t really do the needing to push thing and the women constantly asking me if I needed to was annoying.  Naturally all I “said” was no. Eventually she had to end the call. Usually they stay on until the ambulance has arrived, but there was no sign of it and she needed to take other calls. I was quite relieved to get off the phone.

I decided I wanted to go outside.  To be ready so the paramedics didn’t have to traipse through the house. I could just meet them at the top like with my third (you can’t park outside our house)

Where the fucking fuck was the fucking ambulance?

It was dark. It was freezing. I’m contracting like there’s no tomorrow. The Husband keeps suggesting a taxi would be quicker, over and over until I’m pretty close to punching him. I did not want a fucking taxi.  I felt in my every nerve that it would be a bad idea. Best case scenario? I’d be in fucking agony and forced to sit down. Worst? My waters would break and we’d be liable for a soilage charge. 

I wanted the ambulance. I wanted hospital. I wanted gas and air.

Some people wail, shout and scream when in pain.  I go rigid. And quiet. To the point it’s not even obvious I’m in brain exploding agony. I appear “fine”

45 minutes had passed. The only thing remotely distracting me from the pain was the fact I was literally freezing cold outside.  It hurt to move. Hurt to breath. I hadn’t bothered timing contractions again because there were too many. I couldn't tell when one ended and another started.

Without a word I turn around and head back home, Dean followed. I had this need to be inside.  So straight up to my room. Silently I take off my shoes and lower clothes. Trance like I kneel on the floor and lean over my bed.  

It’s been nearly an hour. Still no ambulance. I’m not even sure if there’s any gaps in the pain anymore.

The Husband is on the phone again, they promise the ambulance is on its way still.  Then starts the “does she need to push” no stupid. I’m not pushing. I’m not at the hospital.  “Tell her if she needs to push then she must push, she can’t stop it would be dangerous” well it’s a good fucking job I never get that urge then, isn’t it? “Can the head be felt/seen?” Well duh that would mean checking and I’m not doing that. Lalalalallala they’ll do that at the hospital

It’s hard to focus. Literally. The pain makes everything seem blurry.  I resign to the fact the paramedics will just have to be met by my naked arse when they arrive.  I’m sure I can cover it on route to the ambulance

It’s been about an hour. They finally arrive!

They don’t want to do a birth. That much is obvious.  That’s fine with me,I don’t want them too either so come on! Let’s go….

Before they can move me to the ambulance they needed to do checks. They time my contractions and realise they’re 90 seconds apart and lasting 50 seconds.

I think they were hoping if they waited they’d stop.

When one comes back minutes later with G&A they’re now 60 seconds apart.   They just seem to be looking at me then at each other. It’s obvious they want me to go to hospital at much as I do.  So they just stand there. Waiting. Still seemingly hoping the contracting will magically stop because they know… they can’t move me.  The contractions don’t really have a break anymore. I hear them radio for a community midwife to attend, they’re told none are working.  They’re seeming desperate. They request a special paramedic, who’s currently in Bury, because apparently they’ll have more skills.

The tube and mouthpiece keep separating on the G&A and only I seem to notice.

Nobody seems to actually be paying any attention to me or the baby. It's like I'm just an inconvenience.

So I’m still just there…. Kneeling over my bed…. Everything going fuzzy from G&A … I’m so tired. So fucking tired and my knees hurt.  I start trying to frantically make a nest demanding pillows from Dean. I needed to lay down but knew being flat wasn’t going to work…I just *needed* to be as propped as possible.

The person on the radio is asking them if i need to push .

I’m really fucking bored of being asked that. I don’t fucking know! Ok? I’ll push when I’m told to, when someone tells me I’m ready.  

They’re asked if they can see a head, just as the special paramedic arrived. She looks as thrilled at the situation as the others.  She suggests I try a small push and they all concur they can see a head.

It’s like I have the lurgy, the distinct feeling that they don’t want to be there or get too close.

In a rare moment of lucidity I remind them that my waters are still intact and usually I don’t birth until a MW breaks them then the baby usually flies out straight after. 

They just look at each other.

My waters are intact, thus baby isn’t coming yet. That’s my logic and I was sticking to it.

But they decided as they could see a head descend after a little push that really I should probably push again but harder. I didn’t want to push.  I hadn’t really properly pushed since my second labour. Aren’t they going to break the waters? Nothing will happen until they do. They’re saying I should probably try and push, but what if I’m not 10cm? Nobody has checked. Nobody has done anything.

And then the G&A starts to run out, it stops completely at one point and the SP runs out to get another. There’s no way I’m pushing without it.

To shut them up I push. Everyone including The Husband gets excited because they see the head again.  The contraction has basically nearly finished but they’re telling me to keep pushing, that she’s crowning, to push HARD… To keep pushing… Chin to chest…she’s nearly there, they say. So I just keep pushing without the contraction and then her head is apparently out within a second of my waters exploding.Then with the next contraction her body is out.

I don’t know what happened and it bothers me. I’m pretty sure the SP recoiled to avoid the waters. I’m already on the floor so I’m pretty convinced nobody guided her out… That nobody “caught” her and that again really bothers me.  They all kinda stood back, watched and pointed what to do. It’s all blurry. I hate not knowing. Not remembering. Not being sure as to what happened and how. I do remember feeling detached. I remember not really feeling like I was there. Yet also feeling like I was there, alone. I remember asking them why she wasn’t crying…. And then she did.

They’d vaguely read my birth plan so she was then placed in my arms.  They knew I wanted skin to skin, she was covered in vernix and then I saw the cord and started panicking because it looked wrapped around her and it was… Thankfully not her neck, just her torso and under her arm.  I’m trying to feed her but she’s not interested. Nobody mentioned the placenta, pretty sure they’d forgotten until I felt it slip out and mumbled “ooh and there’s the placenta” They knew I wanted delayed clamping but after seconds they got The Husband to cut it and then they were wrapping her up. I’m shaking again and I want to tell them not to rub off the vernix, it’s good for her skin! I want to tell them not to wrap her up that she should be on me, that’s the best way to keep her warm! But I just can’t stop shaking, nobody has noticed and nobody cared. I can’t find my voice and obediently watch as they hand her to The Husband to take and show my mum and ¾ of the other kids. I want to cry. To say no. Not yet. To bring her back. But I have no voice. 

I put some clothes on and she’s handed back to me to carry to the ambulance and it just feels wrong. We’ve barely said hello and those irreplaceable first moments are gone. It all feels wrong. I don’t feel present. There’s layers and layers between us.  Like strangers.

They strap me on the bed thing and place a carrier bag with my placenta in between my feet.  The whole journey the SP asks over and over if she’s feeding yet. She isn’t. And being asked constantly isn’t helping.

Nothing feels real. 

We’re taken to the birth suite. A MW checks me over and decides I need stitching. Usually they’ve done it there and then but this time I have to go to a different room. I don’t question. It’s like more than a physical cord was cut and as requested I hand her away. Again. I want to tug on the distance to feel her.

It seemed to take ages to sew me up even though it was apparently only a small second degree capillary bleed. I’m shaking still. My teeth chattering. And that’s all I can hear.

The paramedics apparently hung around waiting to hear her weight.  After weighing her the MW says to dress her because the journey there had been cold.  

I’m itching to feel her skin on mine. To melt mum into baby and connect. But she’s dressed now 

They can’t get blood from the cord so once again she’s taken from me so they can go to a different room and “bleed her”.

I’m mourning the distance. 

Nothing feels real. Nothing feels right.

There’s a chance we can go home, they just need to wait on blood results.

In the meantime, the MW is aware of how desperate I am to go home so tries to do as much discharge stuff in the wait as possible.  She claimed Ione has tongue tie but two other midwives and another since all assure me she doesn’t. Briefly talking about the birth she comments that paramedics hate births and never want to do them (another mw the next day echoed this) and said that she never understands why they insist on cutting the cord and wrapping baby up when it’s not an emergency as I was right…skin to skin would have kept her warmer and the cord didn’t need detaching.

She’s fussing but not really feeding. The hours are melting away. We’re conscious of my mum at our house with nowhere to sleep. The blood results still aren’t back so The Husband has to go and relieve my mum. It’s about 4am now. She’s about 5.5 hours old. I’m finally alone with her. I love her fiercely yet nothing still feels real. I’m trying to tug on a connection that feels broken.  I barely put her down all night. She screams when I do anyway. She sleeps on me.

About 7am I’m told she tested positive in coombs test and we have to stay another 24hrs.  She’s taken away again to have her bilibrum levels. I’m used to seeing her being taken away from me by now.  Thanks to my crazy I’m thankfully given a side room on my own on the post natal ward. They ask me to fill in a form for lunch and tea only at lunch I get what the person who was in the room before me ordered and for tea I got nothing until I mentioned it later and then they found a pile of snacks to give me.

With baby sleeping on me most of the time and a room that was either so cold you shivered or so hot you literally melted, sleep was impossible.  It was lonely. I wanted to go home. I missed my kids. It wasn’t until mid afternoon that they all finally came and visited with The Husband, it seemed everything else was more important than visiting me and then just like that, they were gone again.

Finally got discharged dinner time on Sunday. It was weird walking back into my room again.

Baby sleeps, a lot. She’s feeding fine now. She shits constantly.  

She tends to go psycho when she wakes up. Especially at night.  She’ll scream and scream and scream. She wants to feed but won’t latch because she’ll have wind. She’ll scream when I wind her because she wants to feed.  Then she’ll refuse to feed despite screaming for it until she shits. Then she screams because she has shat. She screams to be changed. Screams because I’m changing her then screams because it’s done.  Urgent, world is ending screaming that increases in intensity regardless of what you do.

Sometimes, I don’t think she likes me and to be honest…I don’t blame her 

She was born with hair! None of my other were and it’s so fluffy, I can’t stop touching it.

She’s still in disposable nappies, I was about to switch to cloth tonight but I’m so useless I’ve lost both packs of nippas.

I can’t do anything right.

PGP has improved about 80% but sciatica has actually worsened and very painful.

Only when writing this did I realise how much I needed to.  

I feel ridiculous.

Nothing went wrong. There was no trauma. Baby is fine. 

Yet thinking about the birth, I cry.

Some women have horrific and traumatic births and/or poorly babies so I have no right to feel like this.  I have a healthy full term baby.

It wasn’t even that it didn’t go to plan. No birth ever goes exactly to plan, I’m not that precious nor naive. I just feel so detached from it and like I had no choice or control in anything. I feel like something was stolen and I don’t know what. Just that it was something priceless.

I don’t recall any exhilaration or elation. I’ve given birth five times now and all I know is this just felt different.

And I can’t tell anyone I’m so sad.

Because I have no right to be.

I’m just being silly.

I feel useless and pointless. My legs ache all the time. My back hurts. I can’t stop eating. I think everyone would be much better without me.

So Monkey-Bum was born at 39+0 on Friday 13th December 2019 at approximately 22:10 weighing 8lb 4oz at home.

She’s beautiful and we adore her.