Teddy’s birth story starts with Tom and I being over 200 miles apart, celebrating Christmas separately with our respective families. We knew not being together, and me not being in Sheffield near the hospital was slightly risky, but my due date wasn’t until the 3rd of January and first babies, we were told, are often late!
I had a seriously relaxing Christmas with my Mum, Dad and sister, basically just napping and eating. I was very tired but nothing unexpected for nearly 39 weeks pregnant. I managed to sleep quite well that night, waking up a few times to change position but managing to get back to sleep pretty quickly. Around 4 or 5am on Boxing Day morning I woke up feeling crampy. I got up for a wee and went back to sleep. Every hour-ish I woke up crampy again, still managing to sleep in between. Around 9am I got up for a wee again, Harriet the pug was awake and wandering around the landing, but surprisingly everyone else was still in bed so I went downstairs to make them all a cup of tea. I took myself back to bed with some tea and grapes and yoghurt with cramps still coming in waves. I text Tom to tell him that I had some period like pains and shouted Mum and Zoe to come in and see me. Zoe said if I only had pain and no tightening it was unlikely to be labour and Mum said she’d felt similar in the few days before I was born.
We had plans to spend Boxing Day at my Auntie and Uncle’s with the whole family so I started to get ready, showering and washing my hair. I ate a Christmas dinner leftovers sandwich in bed and Mum dried my hair for me (pregnancy perks!). I couldn’t really get comfortable or settle and kept having to get up to walk around when I felt crampy. Tom phoned to see how I was getting on and when he asked why I kept going quiet I realised I was stopping to breathe through the pain. I still didn’t believe I was in labour so we didn’t make any definite plans on the phone, but Tom text me a short while after saying he was going to drive back to Sheffield just in case as he would find it hard to relax being so far away. We realised that I was too uncomfortable for a family party so made the decision to head back to Sheffield too. Mum finished packing up my things for me and around 2pm we set off. I took the recommended two paracetamol (which I’d scoffed at but actually helped!) and somehow managed to get comfortable in the car, sat very upright with a heat pad and pillow on my bump, holding on to the handle each time I felt pain. The journey takes about 1hr45 and I started to time the contractions using an app and they were pretty regular. I was just about ready to accept that they might be contractions at this point! I was still coping fine with the pain, just closing my eyes and breathing through each contraction. I’d never got round to practising hypnobirthing fully during my pregnancy but watching YouTube videos from the Positive Birth Company definitely enabled me to have some techniques to use during labour and gave me a sense of calm and that I could do this.
When the car pulled up outside I couldn’t get out until a contraction had passed and was definitely spotted by a neighbour! I made it into the house and on to my birthing ball in the living room, in front of the Christmas tree. I had to ask Zoe to sit on the rocking chair so I could lean on the back of it without it sliding forwards. I managed to hobble up and down to the loo a couple of times. The pain suddenly moved to my back and the only way I could get comfortable was to kneel on the floor and lean on the sofa, it was suddenly incredibly painful and I shouted for mum to run me a bath. She asked if she could make a cup of tea first! (Erm no!). Luckily the pain moved back to my bump, the biggest respect to anyone who has back labour, those couple of contractions were the worst!
After making it upstairs and getting undressed for the bath, Tom arrived home. I don’t think he was expecting to find me naked on the bathroom floor leaning against the bath, I’d told him I was just a bit crampy! Once in the bath I was ok for a while, breathing through the pain and the water felt really good. Zoe was timing the contractions for me, mum was pottering around and Tom was unloading his car (including our new double glazed windows that were on the roof rack) and fitting the car seat.
All of a sudden it all got a bit intense and I started to feel panicky. I could no longer get comfortable in the bath, I tried turning round onto my knees but it didn’t help. Around this time I had a show and we think my waters went too. The blood in the water worried me and I started to panic a little more. Tom called the hospital who asked about the timings of my contractions and told me to come in.
Tom pretty much had to drag me out of the bath, I really didn’t want to move. The contractions were coming quite quickly, I had to lean on the bath and kneel on the floor to get through them. I couldn’t manage to get dressed so ended up in just my dressing down and knickers. Tom had to help me down the stairs, into my slippers and out of the door. I had to stop again at the car to lean on the bonnet through a contraction. Mum has covered the passenger seat with a towel and puppy pad.
I think Tom probably drove quite quickly to the hospital, the 9 minute journey felt even shorter than that. We pulled up and pretty much abandoned the car. Zoe ran in ahead to ask where to go while Tom helped me in. I had to stop on the sofa in the entrance and the woman on reception shouted ‘there’s pain relief through that door!’. They tried to take me to triage but when I ended up on my hands and knees in the corridor they decided to take me straight to a room (I think it was number 17). I think they thought I was being over dramatic and asked quite patronisingly if it was my first baby, but on examination they found me to be maybe 6cm dilated, although she said baby’s head was in the way making it hard to tell.
I got into the room at about half 6 and at 7 the midwife changed over. My body seemed to want to push and it was a lot of effort not to. I was super hot and took of my dressing gown and declined the offer of a hospital gown but accepted the gas and air. After a while the new midwife examined me and I was fully dilated. I got back onto my knees (in one quick flip, I didn’t want to get caught out with a contraction half way through turning!), leaning on the back of the bed and holding Tom’s hand on one side and Zoe’s on the other. I wouldn’t let either of them leave my side for a second and I’m pretty sure I bit both of them at some point! Its such an intense feeling, your body literally takes over and pushes itself, its easier to go with it than trying to stop yourself pushing. In hindsight I coped very well and really used my breathing techniques to help, but I repeatedly apologised to the midwife (‘I was meant to be more zen that this!’) and was a little bit sweary.
I pushed that way for a while, I pushed well but seemed to suck the baby back up after each contraction. The midwife suggested I move onto my back with stirrups, which had been my idea of how I absolutely did not want to give birth. However she convinced me that since the baby had moved around the corner already this position would not make it harder to deliver so I tried it. It was good to have something to push against and pushed well in this position and it wasn’t long before I was panting to deliver the head. On the next contraction the baby seemed to just flop out, which is just the strangest feeling. He was born at 9.41pm, just over 3 hours after arriving at the hospital.
The cord was a little bit around the baby’s neck and I remember asking repeatedly if they were ok. Eventually (literally only a couple of seconds but felt a life time) the baby was passed to me and cried on my chest. The plan had been for Tom to tell me the gender but he was being far too slow ha so I looked myself and saw it was a boy. I didn’t feel at all surprised, it was like I’d always known, although I’d definitely spent the whole pregnancy telling people I thought were having a girl. The midwife asked for a hat for him and at this point I realised that the bags hadn’t even made it in from the car (so much for the fairy lights and essential oils!).
I’d asked for delayed cord clamping, and while it was delayed slightly the apparently needed some cord blood so didn’t wait quite as long as they would have otherwise. Tom cut the cord. I needed some stitches so agreed to have the injection to speed up the placenta delivery so they could get on with it. It took a little time and a bit of a stomach massage then it suddenly felt heavy and was out. I had a second degree tear and I’m sure the stitching was worse than labour, I used a lot of gas and air. The baby was weighed, I guessed he was little and he was 6lbs 12oz, and he had the vitamin K injection.
We stayed in the room for a while trying to feed, although he wasn’t particularly interested at first. Mum came in from where she’d been waiting in the entrance and we all just hung out for a bit and Tom brought our things in from the car. We discussed baby names as there had were no boy names on our list, Tom suggested Teddy but I just laughed (it took us 17 days to decide that we did actually want to call him Teddy!). They realised I hadn’t been for a wee the whole time I was there and the midwife seemed a bit worried about this and threatened me with a catheter if I didn’t go soon. I drank lots and ate my toast and eventually went for a wee and a bath. I was kind of hoping to be allowed straight home but since it was the early hours of the morning by this point everyone seemed to agree that a night on the ward would be best. I got myself and the baby dressed and we packed up our things. Mum and Zoe left and Tom came with us to be taken to the ward. As I was wheeled through the hospital another mum and her new baby were wheeled past too and we gave each other a little knowing smile.
I had to have the anti D injection and once settled on the ward Tom went home in the sleet. Then it was just me and this teeny tiny brand new little human. He cuddled up on my chest for most of the night and I didn’t sleep at all. The night was long and quite surreal but I remember feeling very content. We managed to establish breastfeeding with a little help from passing midwives, although when someone asked me in the morning if he was having wet and dirty nappies I realised I hadn’t changed it once ha! I was glad of the reduces sandwiches mum had panic bought from Tesco but found eating really painful after my apparently aggressive use of gas and air!
The next day at the hospital Baby Boy Welbank slept for most of the day in our arms, I was desperate to get home to sleep as I couldn’t settle on the noisy ward but the discharge seemed to take forever. There was the newborn check and hearing test and some checks on me to wait for and in the end we had to threaten to discharge ourselves before we could finally leave and take our little Boxing Day bundle home.