The Birth of Ridley James

First baby hospital birth with an epidural and Salt n Pepper’s “Push it”!

 I had always wanted a hospital birth for the first baby because I didn’t know what to expect and as a nervous first time mother wanted every available assistance on hand “just in case”.  I also knew from friends’ experiences that babies have their own agenda and things don’t always go as planned.  I really wanted a water birth but if that wasn’t possible and the labour was long I wanted gas and air and as a last resort an epidural.  We chose St Michael’s because I had been born there and my best friend Holly who was a trainee midwife at the time was working there.

 Four days before I was due, I woke on the Tuesday night/early hours of Wednesday with mild period like pains.  I had experienced something similar earlier in the week and had been told it was just the baby moving down.  I went to the loo and then back to sleep.  I woke again about 4am with the same mild pains but just turned over and went back to sleep.  At 6am I woke again – strangely the pains were still there, they hadn’t disappeared like the last time.  I noticed there was a wave like quality to them, they came and went and it dawned on me “this might be it!”.  I tried not to get too excited but gently prodded my husband James awake and told him what I was feeling.  I then ran a bath and started using my contraction timer app on my iPhone.  They were every 5-6 minutes apart lasting between 45-60 seconds but it was still a very mild pain.  I sat in the bath reading and told James to carry on and go to work as it didn’t feel like anything major was happening, there was no show or waters breaking.  The pain got a little stronger and as he was about to walk out the door at 9am I asked him to stay home as they were still every 5 minutes.

 I got out of the bath and put on the tens machine we had rented from the doctors surgery.  It didn’t seem to be working well and when James pushed a wire back in place he gave me the biggest shock ever – ouch that did hurt!  After sticking the wire with Sellotape to the machine so it worked properly I played around with the boost button etc and it seemed to work more as a distraction than anything else.

 In one of the birth stories read at our NCT classes, a woman bounced on a birthing ball while playing Mario Kart, we liked the sound of that so did that for most of the morning and I got pretty good, just pausing to hit my boost button on the tens machine every time a contraction hit.  I telephoned Holly who was going to be my second birthing partner and told her I thought things were happening.  It was a lovely summer day so I kept as active as possible  walking around the garden and making lunch.

 Holly came around and felt my tummy as I was contracting and seemed impressed they were that frequent and regular, but she told me not to be disheartened, I probably wasn’t in labour – I was too happy.  We watched Housewives of Orange County and sure enough sitting down doing nothing my contractions became less frequent, the longest gap being 20 minutes.  Holly had to go to work and said goodbye, it was around 3pm.

 I sat down again taking the tens machine off and switching off my app feeling bitterly disappointed.  Then I thought “ No – this IS going to happen”, with a new found determination I started pacing around the garden listening to Kylie Minogue stopping for a little bounce every time a contraction hit.  I went from lapping the garden 3 times between each contraction to having 1 every time I passed the flower boxes.

 They started getting quite painful and I put the tens machine back on.  James reminded me if I was going to have a baby I shouldn’t wear myself out so I came in and started watching Catch Me if You Can. I phoned my Mum while alternating bouncing on the birthing ball and sitting on an upright armchair.  I had to pull the phone away 3 times during our 15 minute conversation.  I then had a big glass of white wine with my tea!  I realised I wasn’t able to follow the story much because the contractions were really hurting so I switched up the tens machine.  I had only had a tiny spot of blood and no show or waters so I was waiting for the contractions to happen more frequently before we went into hospital, I really didn’t want to go in and be sent home again.  The pain was getting really bad and I kneeled by the side of the bed gripping a pillow saying “never again!”.

 I phoned up St Michaels and told them what was happening, they said to come in when I was having 3 contractions in 10 minutes.  I paced up and down the hallway upstairs timing them and as soon as I hit 3 in 10 minutes I said to James – lets go!

 The car journey was painful but short and uneventful.  We arrived at about 10.30 and were shown into a delivery room quickly by Amy who would be my first midwife.  The excitement was back again as there I was, in hospital about to have my baby!  Amy said kindly that she didn’t think I was in labour – I was too happy.  My face fell and I asked her to examine me – she said of course and they would never send someone home without checking first.  I was 4 cms – “YES! active labour”  I wasn’t going to be sent home.  I asked for the birthing pool and she went to start filling it up.  James bought my suitcase in.  Throughout my whole pregnancy my blood pressure had been perfect, however on the big day it was very high.  I couldn’t have my water birth as she wanted to put a trace on me.  I was a bit disappointed but as James had reminded me, the baby hadn’t read our birth plan and obviously had its own ideas!

 James phoned Holly who said she would get a bit of sleep and be in later.  I tried gas and air and found I absolutely hated it, it made my heart race – feel dizzy, sweaty and sick.  Every contraction felt like I was hyperventilating.  I had taken off the tens machine before lying down because it didn’t feel like it was working anymore.  The contractions felt a lot more painful and so I tried getting up and having a little walk as that had helped at home but I just ended up doubling over the bed too nervous to let go.  I remember seeing James’ worried face but I can’t remember him saying anything to me (apparently he talked almost non stop) I was lost in my own world dreading each contraction.  Every time one came along I tensed up and then after it had peaked I would remember to relax my muscles and instantly the pain would ease up.  But each time I did the same thing – tensing at the worst bit unable to think followed by remembering to relax at the end.

 At 2 am I was examined again and was 6 cms.  I was hoping to be further than that – it could be another 8-10 hours before I was ready to push.  I tentatively asked for an epidural expecting to be told ‘your doing so well, you should carry on‘ but quick as a flash Amy was gone to find the anesthetist.  She was very lucky and managed to catch him before he was going into surgery otherwise I would have had to wait an hour and a half.  Holly arrived just as I was meeting Dr Dave.   I didn’t really notice the injections, they were nothing compared to a contraction.  I sat on the edge of the bed trying to stay as still as possible wondering how I was going to do it when a contraction hit.  I let them know when they were coming and it seemed in no time at all I was lying back down and being told it should take 20-30 minutes to take effect.  The contractions got less and less painful and then I was back in the room!  What a relief!  James was noticeably more relaxed and I was able to hold a conversation.  Dr Dave came back into check on me and I commented on what soft hands he had and how I could kiss him for taking all the pain away.  Holly and James were in hysterics after he left!  “Only you could flirt with someone, while in labour in front of your husband” Holly said.

 I could still feel my legs and noticed I needed the loo, I asked to wheel the drip into the toilet but was told I couldn’t and was given a bed pan, everyone left while I dubiously crouched over the cardboard thing on the bed – so awkward!  After 5 minutes I still couldn’t “go” so Amy came in and switched on the tap and left again.  That did it.

When they came back in she fitted a catheter.  James said afterwards that Dr Dave had passed in the hallway while they were all out there and said I could have gone to the toilet – but where would be the fun in that!

 We then spent the next few hours listening to my iPod,  Holly and James chatted and I managed to sleep a bit.  At 4.30am I was examined again, I was still around 6 cms.  Amy suggested she break my waters.  I talked it over with James and Holly.  I was worried that if we started intervening it would lead to more and eventually a cesarean.  I also knew that the longer labour went on the more likely things would get difficult.  I asked Holly and she said if it were her, she would do it.  That was enough for me so out came the crocheting needle.

 I went back to sleep and at 6am when I was checked I was fully dilated.  I was told to roll on my side to put the baby in the best position.  I asked Holly whether she wanted to deliver.  She had originally said no but having gone out to get some breakfast and coffee for her and James she felt full of energy again and wanted to do it.  Amy sadly had to leave us as her shift had finished.  She had been by my side the whole time and was absolutely fantastic.

 Michelle came in and after talking with Holly said she was happy for her to deliver.  She cleared the room like an old fashion matron and we felt like naughty teenagers that had been slobbing around.  She apologised in advance for her direct manner but said it was the best way to get the baby out – I said I didn’t mind at all just tell me what to do.

 Then it was time to push.  We put on the playlist I had made especially starting with Salt n Pepper “Push it” of course.  I was on my side first of all but it really didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere.  I then sat up and with James holding one leg and me the other I started to push.  My face went bright red and I held my breath.  Michelle said “that was rubbish, do it again – not into your face, into your bottom”.   The next one was better and then I really started to get the hang of it.  With each push I could feel the baby wriggle down getting ready for the next one. Babba was leading the way!  AC/DC, Pendulum and the Prodigy spurred me on.  I could feel everything (the stinging) but the pain was not bothering me (not sure if that was the residual epidural or adrenaline or that the contractions were so bad this wasn’t painful in comparison) .  I could feel right before I tore but had been told that the baby’s heart rate was dropping with every contraction and if it went on for much longer I could end up with an emergency Caesarean.  This didn’t worry me – I knew with complete confidence I was pushing this baby out and when a doctor came in to check progress, Michelle told him this.

 After an episiotomy (my worst fear! – but wasn’t painful, more of a relief).  Holly said she could see the hair and told me to feel it’s head!  I couldn’t believe my little one had hair – both James and I had been bald babies.  With another few pushes the head was out and with another one the baby was out!  At 10.01am on Thursday the 23rd June 2011 my Son was born to “Breaking the Law” by Judas Priest.  Holly announced loudly “It’s a boy”- just like I’d asked her to.  In my birth plan I had asked for the baby to be cleaned off before given to me (they looked so icky on One Born Every Minute).  However Michelle plonked him straight on my chest and I wouldn’t have had it any other way, a second away from him was too long.  He cried, James cried and I cried.  It was the best moment of my life, the rush of unconditional love and happiness was overwhelming and James and I both carried on sobbing long after our newborn Son had stopped.

 Holding him in my arms looking at his blinking blue eyes, I said to James “I still really want to call him Ridley”.  We had discussed names and had a favourite for a boy and a girl but it wasn’t set in stone, we wanted to meet the little one first.

 The little blue hat I had bought was put on Ridley and the pink one put away.  James put him in a tiny baby grow but he still looked like he was swimming in it!  7lb6oz – my friend Helen had won the sweepstake I thought!

 I tried breast feeding him and he latched easily but the pain was very unexpected.  “It feels like an electric shock”  I said to Holly, “like the most painful lovebite”.  After 10 minutes it still didn’t feel any better.  I couldn’t believe how enormous my left breast was compared with his head, it looked like I was going to suffocate him!  I had made a promise to myself before Ridley was born that I would enjoy everything as much as possible and put his and my happiness above everything else.  I didn’t want to dread feeding him, its supposed to be special.  I asked for a bottle and without question they respected my choice and got me one straight away.  If I have a baby in the future I would like to try breastfeeding again but I feel I made the right choice at the time.

 I had to stay in for a few days because of my tears, the wards were very busy and the midwives completely overworked, but the delivery was a brilliant experience. Although I remember the “never again” moments, I look forward to doing it again – and maybe this time a home water birth? Unless the baby has other ideas of course!  In which case “Dr Dave!”

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