Wednesday, 3 August 2011


As I mentioned in this post, neither of the births of my children was straightforward. Monkey's birth went on for several days, involving lots of wasted trips to hospital, extra visits for monitoring, an induction that was advised but wasn't necessary, a cervix that reached fully dilated then went backwards, a full bladder and a baby that covered everyone and everything within a 2 metre radius with poo as he made his grand entrance into the world.

So, when Missy Woo came along, I was hoping for a birth that was quicker than that, and possibly less dramatic. (I forgot the call for infant cardiac arrest at a critical moment... only to be told later that it had been a practice and there wasn't a baby in trouble at all.)

Missy Woo certainly kept me waiting but then, so had her brother. I was convinced she was going to arrive early as I had lots of Braxton Hicks in the evenings in the month before, and sometimes I started timing them because they were so regular. This may have been a bit of wishful thinking on my part as this was during the hottest June I think I can ever remember. It was boiling. I had a bit of a falling out with the medical profession as I'd lost a fair amount of blood when Monkey was born which was considered a borderline post-partum haemorrhage. Despite that, I was told I could probably give birth at the local midwife unit down the road as long as everything progressed well, but then, at 36 weeks, I got told I couldn't because I was high risk. I went mad, because it turned out I should never have been told that the midwife unit was an option and my only option was to go to the consultant unit at Preston. I also ended up having a "frank discussion" with a registrar who wanted me to book for an induction I didn't want when I was a week overdue and refused to let me leave the clinic until I had an appointment to see a consultant - because they'd booked me an appointment to see a consultant who was on holiday. Luckily, I was accompanied by a fab midwife that day who kept interjecting "I think this lady has already made up her mind" when she continued to try to convince, if not  scare me into accepting her way.

The very next morning, I woke up at 5am with pains that seemed to be regular. Not wanting to believe this was it, I tried to ignore it and go back to sleep but failed. All through that day, I kept having regular contractios but not close enough together to warrant any concern. It was still boiling hot and we spent a lot of time out in the garden with Monkey.

I got him to bed that evening and my husband cooked dinner. I don't know if it was conscious or not, but over the hour after Monkey went to bed, everything seemed to progress quite quickly and the contractions got a lot closer together. I rang hospital and they said to come in when you feel like it. We were watching football - it was the night of the semi-final of the 2006 World Cup between Germany and Italy - and I told hubby to put his parents on alert as they were to come over and look after Monkey. I reasoned they should come over now as we were likely to go to hospital overnight and I'd rather get them to come over rather than get them out of bed. I went to have a shower and by the time I came out, I decided that we would be going as soon as they arrived. They arrived as the match got close to the end of extra time and I said we wouldn't wait because it looked like it was going to penalties and that would have been another half an hour before we left and I'd got to the point where I couldn't wait. Italy scored as we got in the car and then again before we'd reached the main road!

When we got to the maternity unit (after a fairly uncomfortable journey for me), the midwife went to take us to a room but I asked if the pool room was available. It was - which happened to be where Monkey was born. However, I was told I could not deliver in the pool because of the risk of haemorrhage. They also put a cannula in my hand and took some blood tests - just in case.

I wasn't actually allowed in the pool for 3 more hours by the midwife but I loved it once I was. The midwife was very impressed with how calm everything was - we used hypnobirthing techniques as well as a bit of gas and air The midwife nearly fell asleep at one point. After a couple of hours, where I felt I wanted to push, I had to get out. After a bit of faffing about, she suggested I needed to lie on the back to help with the delivery and things started to progress a lot quicker.

Missy Woo on the morning she was born

Missy Woo then proceeded to arrive with the minimum of fuss and she was passed up to me. Everything seemed straightforward. She was born at 4.52am  - just under 24 hours after I'd first woken with contractions. But then, all hell broke loose. From there being 2 midwives being in the room, there were suddenly about 7. Some were connecting up the cannula in my hand to a drip, one was what felt like ripping the placenta out of me, my blood pressure was being taken - everything. I was bleeding and obviously, they appeared a little concerned about it. I couldn't really hold onto Missy Woo in my arms because it was pulling on the cannula so she got put in the crib. Poor thing got left there quite a bit that morning but thankfully, she was pretty laid back about it.

Bizarrely through this, I was fine. I didn't feel ill; just a little tired, and I was weirdly calm. The only difficulty was when the doctor came into stitch me up and I told him I could feel everything he was doing. When he said he'd numbed it, I repeated a little louder that I could DEFINITELY feel that through tightly gritted teeth! They were taking my blood pressure every half an hour and I was kept in the delivery room for ages. (I remember a lady popping her head round the door of the delivery room at one stage - she was taking mums to be on a tour and decided it was not a good idea that they come in just at that point! The place looked like a warzone.)

The reason for all the fuss was brought home when the midwife came in and told me I'd lost 2 litres (4 pints) of blood and that I would need to rest and take it easy for a while. The reason for my needing to be a consultant unit was obvious - it was just a shame they couldn't have explained that to me from when I first asked to go to the midwife uit. I was transferred down to the ward in a bed at lunchtime and no allowed to stand up again until 7pm that same evening - during which time, Monkey came in to see his sister and jumped on my tummy, lovely!

Despite losing all that blood, I never suffered any ill effects from the haemorrhage. Miraculously, although they had units from the blood bank ready, I didn't need a transfusion. I have my religious taking of iron tablets and Floradix in late pregnancy to thank for that - my haemoglobin levels remained above the level at which a transfusion is considered necessary. Mind you, the nurses found this amazing - I was like a pincushion over the next week as they kept taking my bloods just to make sure.

Although I didn't get to give birth where I wanted, I still managed to transfer back to the midwife unit the following day. The first person I saw was the midwife who stuck up for me only 3 days before and my first words to her were "I told you I could do it by myself!"

You can never predict what is going to happen in a birth. Although there was drama, I am happy with what happened, and I was really glad I was where I was when I started bleeding. I shudder to think what could have happened had I not been so close to medical assistance.  I cannot fault the care that was given to Missy Woo and me and it remained an overwhelmingly positive experience as a result. And I've got my gorgeous, funny little girl to show for it.

God bless the NHS, eh?
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