Cole Alexander 23rd May 2012

In the run up to going into labour with my second son I’d had many, many false starts, including one that landed me in hospital at 34 weeks having steroids in case he made an early appearance. Finally the night before my due date I started having what I knew were proper contractions and at last he was on his way. I spent the night downstairs watching
TV, bouncing on my ball and breathing through the contractions with the help of my TENS machine. By 5am I was feeling I could do with some support so woke Stephen to get ready and come sit with me. Things were picking up, but luckily we managed to get Seb round to nursery, which was a weight off my mind knowing my parents would have  plenty of time to get down to pick him up later.

We finally rang the hospital (Bolton hospital for this one, we moved away from Newcastle 2 years ago) at 9am when the contractions were every 3 minutes and lasting 50 seconds and off we set. We got there only to find upon examination I was only 3cm! I was gutted. I’d really hoped that these days and weeks of BHs had been doing something, so why on earth had I been contracting for nearly 12 hours and nothing had happened?
We were sent off for a walk as they couldn’t admit us until I was in established labour and they were really busy. After walking and having something to eat we went back to the delivery suite, but again after examination had only moved on 1cm and my contractions had all but stopped. We were given the option of going home if we wanted, by which point I was exhausted and decided trying to rest might be a good thing. I was still having irregular contractions through until about 8pm, at which point they slowed to about every 30 – 40 minutes and I managed to drop off to sleep. I didn’t actually wake until 1am and felt much better for having some sleep and the contractions kicked back in at every 7 minutes. I lay on the bed, then had a clary sage bath and finally sat then lay over my birthing ball to cope with the contractions. Finally when they were coming every 3-4 minutes again I woke Stephen at 6am and said I needed him to get ready so we could
go back to the hospital, which we did at 7am. My parents woke as we were leaving and gave me a massive hug and wished us luck, which made me all teary.

Back at the hospital they were now mercifully quiet, this meant they had rooms up in the birth suite rather than the consultant led part of the hospital, I was delighted about this as I wanted so much to try for a water birth and be midwife led (plus the rooms were far nicer on birth suite!). We were shown to a room and met Amanda, who would be with us
right the way through the rest of the labour. Finally I was 5cm and we were told we were staying! I asked about using the birthing pool and she said that the pool was free, but that she wanted to wait until my contractions were coming regular again before we went across to the pool room (they’d slowed down again on the journey in). Thankfully by the
time the pool was run everything had picked back up again so I jumped in the pool, ah bliss! I was sad to see the back of the TENS machine, it had given me so much relief up until this point, but by god the water was good. I had my natal hypnotherapy CD on, the lights were dimmed and there were twinkling lights in the ceiling above the pool, it was
such a serene atmosphere it was lovely. I was knelt in the pool, resting my head on a recess in the edge and Stephen was sat there in front of me encouraging me through every contraction. My time in the pool was fantastic, the pain was manageable, I could breathe through the contractions and they were getting longer and closer together. The one downside was that I kept losing feeling in my feet and having to move around to find a comfy position, which was a PITA because the contractions felt more effective when I was kneeling! At 12pm the contractions seemed to change, they were suddenly more painful, lasting longer and accompanied by awful back ache. This is where I started to panic, the back ache seemed all too familiar and having done one back to back labour my biggest fear was having to do it again. The midwife was lovely, I’d written in my birth plan about S’s birth and we’d discussed it briefly, so she knew how frightened I was of ending up with a forceps delivery again. She kept telling me that this was a different labour, a different birth and that I still hadn’t actually used any ‘proper’ pain relief yet, so I had options open to me. She started to prepare the entonox and within a couple of minutes I decided that I did actually need something because the back ache was making it harder to relax through the contractions.

God I love Gas and Air. It’s bloody amazing stuff. Apparently within a couple of contractions I was wittering on about it being like a good night out on the Bigg Market and Stephen was laughing at me. I soon got into the swing of taking it and completely relaxed again, but kept complaining about the back ache and a stitch type ache in my side. At 12:30 I had to get out of the pool to be examined, which isn’t the easiest thing to do when your legs decide they don’t want to work. With a lot of help they managed to get me to the sofa/beanbags and again I was laughed at by Stephen for demanding that
the gas and air never be too far away (I may have been slightly addicted by this point!).
As the midwife was getting ready to examine me I told Stephen that I was terrified that things hadn’t progressed and that we’d be going down the same route that we went down with Seb (no progression in the pool, waters broken to get things going and the cascade of intervention that followed). So when she said the words ‘fully dilated’ I burst into tears. Within half an hour I was feeling awful pressure with every contraction, it wasn’t a feeling like I needed to push, just more like I could feel my waters bulging every time and it bloody hurt. This is where things start to get a bit hazy for me, the pressure, the back ache and the contractions were taking every ounce of concentration I had, I couldn’t speak, I didn’t open my eyes and I couldn’t answer any of the questions they were asking me.

After a while longer in the pool it was agreed that they would take me back out again to empty my bladder and have a look at breaking my waters, which hadn’t shown any sign of breaking even though I was now trying to push with the pressure. It took the poor midwife several attempts to break them as apparently the sac was quite tough and
when they did I soaked the midwife, bed, floor and Stephen, ooops. They then tried to get me back in the pool but I refused to move. I can remember shouting that I needed to get off my back and kneel, so three of them helped me turn on the sofa and lean over a beanbag. This part was all new to me and all I could think was why the hell did I want
to do this? I remember feeling cheated that I never got the urge to push or the feeling of Seb coming out and suddenly realising that it was too late for pain relief and I may have been wrong for wanting to feel it! My body started pushing of it’s own accord, I was getting far too carried away on the gas and air to concentrate on what I was doing, they kept telling me off and Stephen was doing his best to convince me to breathe. I know I started shouting I couldn’t do it, I was telling them his head was coming down but going back up again. Stephen had his head against mine and just kept telling me over and over again that I could, that I was doing it and how proud he was of me. I did at this point turn into one of *those* women, the ones you hear screaming when you’re walking down the corridor that terrify the living daylights out of you. I couldn’t help the noise, it came out of nowhere. His head crowned and bloody stayed there until another contraction came and finally it was out, but the pain was still there and I continued to scream and abuse the G&A. Everyone was shouting at me to push with the next contraction and I felt every little bit of him come out and by god is he a long baby!

I couldn’t move, I was absolutely paralysed and shaking, I couldn’t even turn around to look at him. Someone told me it was a boy and then he was passed up through my legs and I got that first skin to skin cuddle that I’d missed out on the first time round. He looked just like his big brother. I was helped to turn around and sit down for a proper cuddle. I looked at Stephen who was crying by this point and we both agreed that he was definitely a Cole. I couldn’t stop crying, neither could Stephen, he kept telling me that I’d done it and how proud he was. Cole latched on perfectly first time and we had our first breastfeed within 30 minutes of him being born.

We spent a few hours in a lovely private room cuddling on a nice double bed and my parents brought Seb to meet his new brother. He immediately jumped on the bed, announced that Cole was ‘mine baby’ and tried to take him off me!

We were let home 4 hours after he was born. He was feeding like a pro and I honestly felt like I could take on anything. The feeling post birth was amazing, I wish I could bottle it. I still can’t quite believe I did it. I got a 9lbs 3oz baby out on water and G&A. To say it’s helped heal some of the mental wounds over Seb’s birth is an understatement.

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