This time last year I was in labour with Alfie. Time really flies doesn’t it? Everyone tells you this when you have children and it is a cliche but it is so very true.
Writing down the story of Alfie’s birth was something that I wanted to do and have been meaning to do, along with I don’t know how many other things, since Alfie was born. I thought I’d share an abridged version so that I at least have the highlights written down before the first year is done!
My waters broke at 5.30am on Tuesday 17 June. That’s the first thing that they said wouldn’t happen in our birthing class. “Don’t think it will be like the movies, all waters breaking and gushing fluid everywhere.” Well actually, it was a little bit like that and therefore somewhat of a surprise. Even more so that it was almost three weeks before Alfie was due. Naturally, Nick didn’t believe me. I mean, he didn’t have his bag packed and ready, therefore it wasn’t time. It was also far too early in the morning for him!
I called the hospital and they said that I needed to come in – although at the time, I had not had a contraction – so we got everything together and headed off, wondering what was going to happen in the next few hours/ days. It’s so true that you just have no idea how you’re going to feel. A mix of excitement and fear, and relief that it wasn’t yet rush hour.
We arrived at the labour and delivery suite just before 7am and I was checked by the doctors to confirm that my waters had broken. Well, they had! However, my cervix had not dilated at all – hence the lack of contractions. As a result, I was given a drug, placed directly on the cervix to help the dilation along.
9 hours later….. I’ve not yet had a contraction, we’ve had some lunch, I’ve tried to read a book, I’ve walked and moved about the room and labour ward (as much as you can while attached to a drip and monitor) I’ve cancelled the haircut and lunch date I had booked for that day, Nick has tied up some loose ends at work and claimed to be bored…. but the drug is starting to work and I have dilated to 4cm.
After telling our parents that I was in labour early in the morning, I had been exchanging texts with my mum but had said that I was going ‘offline’ earlier in the afternoon so that I could better concentrate on the job in hand. Nick was keeping her and his parents up to date.
I’d actually dilated enough for me to be given Pitocin to help induce contractions. It was at this point I was glad that I had listened to one of the things that the birthing class was useful for – suggesting you have an IV line put in as soon as you go into hospital just in case. I should have paid more attention to what they told us about the effects of Pitocin though.
Anyway, I think it was only a couple of hours later when things changed for me and I would say that labour kicked in. Nick had gone to get himself some dinner and came back with beef tacos. We had America’s Got Talent playing on the TV. It started with me feeling that the TV was just too much. I felt like it was an assault on my senses. Then, I could not bear the smell of Nick’s food – making him finish eating it outside and brush his teeth afterwards.
Before going into labour, I was convinced that a warm bath would be my saviour, so our nurse (who thankfully was also a midwife -it’s a different system here in the US) ran a nice warm bath for me. Gosh, I hated being in there. I was uncomfortable and hot and wet. I did not last long. I remember crying when I got out. It felt like when you’re little and poorly and just too tired to dry yourself off. You know when you need your mum to do it for you? Thankfully the heavenly midwife and Nick helped me out with that. Imagine, you’re in labour and crying because you can’t be bothered to towel yourself off. I had to pull myself together to be bothered to do a lot harder before the night was out.
To be honest, I don’t remember very much after that. I know that Nick was amazing, rubbing my back continuously it felt like and just being really present and so encouraging. I also know that without the midwife, we would have been in all kinds of trouble. When I felt un focused or didn’t know what to do, or when Nick didn’t know what to do for the best, she stepped in, changing the music, turning down the lights, suggesting a new position.
The next thing I remember was feeling like I wanted to push and telling the midwife so. Not long before this a doctor had been in and they had suggested that it could take a while longer yet, so I didn’t think that this could be right. The midwife checked and confirmed that sure enough I was fully dilated and therefore could push. Nick said that this was when my attitude really changed and that I became very internally focused.
It also got a little hectic in the room! Nobody was quite ready for the laboring to take place so quickly and they certainly weren’t ready for the pushing to take as little time as it did. There was no time for hanging around as the doctor and midwife got the room and all the necessary instruments ready. My OB/GYN walked in the door just in time.
At 3.22am Alfie James Mortimer Farrar made his entrance into the world. The doctor plopped this amazing, tiny, damp little thing onto my chest. All I can recall now is just looking down and seeing this beautiful, small head with a whole lot of hair and it just feeling so normal and right that this little body should be lying on top of mine, rising and falling with my breath.
The pushing part was quick. Too quick really. I know some would say that is a ridiculous comment to make but… well, Alfie came out pretty quickly so the pushing didn’t clear the fluid out of his lungs, nose & throat properly. As a result they had to take him straight over to the special care area which was right opposite our room. We decided that Nick should go with him, while I got stitched up. We didn’t want Alfie to be on his own. They would monitor him for an hour and if he was doing well, he could come with us to our room on the ward but if he was not doing as well as they would like, he would go to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
I don’t know how it can be, but despite the fact he had been in our lives for less than ten minutes, I already felt bereft without him. Nick came back in to see me and showed me some photos that he had taken and it just didn’t feel real. He also told me that although there was some improvement, they thought it would be best if he went to the NICU. On the way down to the ward, I was allowed to go into special care and see him and touch his tiny hand. Again, Nick walked down with Alfie to the NICU so that he would know that he was OK and settled. Meanwhile, the midwife took me down to the ward.
Seeing Nick and Alfie go one way as I was pushed another was so much harder than the labour itself. (Which, yes, I do still remember hurt A LOT. That ring of fire is real.) Of course there were tears. I was so scared for Alfie. I knew he was in the very best place but I just wanted him to be with me.
Not being able to see Alfie at this point was just so hard. Nick was able to go fairly freely but I was not encouraged to get out of bed for the first few hours. I was encouraged to use a breast pump as I couldn’t nurse Alfie, but that is a whole other story! I felt very emotional. I felt like I just didn’t know what Alfie looked like. I didn’t know what he smelled like and it was so hard to believe that what had just happened had actually happened.
And so it was, almost 12 hours after giving birth, I was able to go and see Alfie and finally cradle him in my arms.
24 hours after that Alfie was able to be with us in our room.
And 24 hours after that, we brought him home.