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The Birth of My 1st Child - Nellie Pearl

Hello Everyone, Me again and I’m back with a new blog post all about the birth of my first child, Nellie Pearl. Nellie was born on the 08/08/2020 at 08:34 pm at the Norfolk and Norwich University on Delivery Suite. Here’s a quick brief overview on medication used… paracetamol, gas and air, and a TENS machine.

Having children was something Lewis and I had always wanted for a very long time, pretty much from the day we met. We were both on the same page and knew that starting a family was our next step. There were various reasons why we decided to wait though, such as buying a house, going on a few holidays together, getting engaged, and getting a cat (which wasn’t on the cards, he kind of just fell into our hands haha).

Fast forward to March 2019, I made the decision to come off the pill and start tracking my cycles. I had been on the pill since around age 13, which would have been around 8 years, and I knew that for every year you were on the pill, it was potentially a waiting game on conceiving. I really wanted to get in tune with my body, its natural cycles, and ovulation so that when Lewis and I were ready, I knew what my most fertile days would be.

We went on holiday in September 2019, and it was honestly one of the best holidays ever. We had 10 nights in Greece, and every day we were eating healthy, going to the gym, and just chilling. It was bliss, spending 10 days together in paradise. Our chats always revolved around our future, and after Lewis proposed, I just knew babies were next! I wanted and pictured babies at our wedding!

November came around, and we had our engagement party, and then we decided it was the right time to start trying, so that’s what we did. Fortunately, we fell pregnant straight away, which we are so blessed for! I was so very in tune with my body, though, that I am certain that I felt my egg drop lol.

I’m a very anxious person, and birthing a baby and anything vaginally, such as examinations and smear tests, have always been something that had terrified me, to the point of crying myself to sleep. Anyway, I had a few sessions with a counselor, and it did help, but I was still worried and scared. When I fell pregnant, I decided I was going to try hypnobirthing, and it honestly changed the whole way I looked at birth, and I truly believe it’s why I had such a positive labor.

I had such a smooth pregnancy, and I absolutely loved being pregnant. I didn’t suffer from any sickness. The only bad part of my pregnancy would be suffering from piles, which may I add, I had bad piles before pregnancy, and pregnancy just made them worse… they do get better, I promise haha!

I wouldn’t say I would change anything about my pregnancy apart from being pregnant during a pandemic. However, I loved the one-to-one time with my husband and the golden time between us three as a family because we were in lockdown. I missed out on a baby shower and showing off my bump to others, but in all honesty, pandemic or no pandemic, I don’t think I would have had a baby shower anyway… I’m not a fan of all the fuss haha! I was lucky that I had the opportunity to work from home and to stay safe and still be paid from 19 weeks pregnant as I was an NHS worker, and there was yet to be evidence on the impact of COVID and pregnant people, so I decided to not take the risk and work from home. It was really lovely to be able to roll out of bed and be at work and go for lunchtime walks around the area, prep lunch easily! It just meant my self-care during Nellie's pregnancy was on point!

Anyway, that’s enough about the pregnancy, let's get to the bit you are all here for: the birth! It all began on my due date 07/07/2020. I went to bed on the 6th August and woke up at 3 am on the 7th to go for a wee and when walking to the bathroom, I was losing fluid (red/pink fluid). I wasn’t sure what it was, as it didn’t seem enough to be my waters, and it didn’t look like the “bloody show” (not the photos I had seen anyway). As it was a red colour, I got so worried thinking I was losing blood, so I got up quickly and rang delivery. They asked me to pop in a pad and go back to sleep and rest to see what it’s like in the morning around 8 am.

At 8 am, I woke up and had lost a small amount of fluid, but again, not a lot and not enough to make me think it’s my waters, as I was fully expecting a huge gush if it was my waters. I rang back again, and they asked me to go in to have a test to check if it was my waters and have the baby monitored to check everything was ok. The 7th August was typically the hottest day of the year, hitting 34 degrees, I was praying today wouldn’t be the day as the heat was unbearable!

At 10:30 am, I arrived at the hospital and had the test. I was very anxious and almost hoping it wasn’t my waters, as my contractions were yet to start, and I really didn’t want to be induced, and I knew that if it was my waters and my contractions hadn’t started within 24 hours, they would suggest an induction.

The lady who did the test came in and said, “yep, it’s definitely your waters.” Instead of feeling excited, I just felt so upset and started crying, as this isn’t what I expected at all. I wanted my waters to break like in the movies, and I wanted my labor to start spontaneously without induction, I wanted a water birth, and I knew that idea was out of the window due to infection. I honestly felt super deflated.

After I had a cry and understood the implications, I used my BRAINS, and I accepted to be induced the following day if my labor hadn’t started. I was booked in for induction at 9 am on the 8th August. During COVID, due to infection risk, birth partners were not allowed to be with the birthing woman until they were 4 cm dilated, and my biggest fear was doing this alone in pain. The midwife had a good chat with me and said, look, it’s still early, you have around 20 hours to start contracting naturally. It is still possible. She told me to try all the old wives' tales, such as remain active, nipple stimulation, raspberry leaf tea, bouncing on the ball, relaxation!

I went home, and from that moment, it was project get these contractions started, so I had a cup of raspberry leaf tea, bounced on my ball, ate some pineapple... then this crazy woman (me) decided to go to the gym on the hottest day of the year and do an hour of walking... then I came home and had a bath and set up some mood lighting and just relaxed in the bath and after that did the deed. I can remember lying there hoping my contractions would start, but then I had an overwhelming sense of happiness that regardless of the situation, I was hopefully meeting my little girl the following day.

Off I went to bed about 11 pm hoping for the best sleep of my life ... 08/08/2020 1 am I woke up for a wee and checked my phone and got annoyed that still my contractions hadn’t started. I went back to bed, and this is when I fully relaxed and thought, well, f**k it ... it’s not happening. Well, 3 am I woke up, and I was losing more Pink/red fluid ... but still not like the big gush you see in the movies.

My cat was acting super strange and wouldn’t leave my side; he was literally lying on me, and he never does this! And then the contractions started. They were coming about 10 minutes apart, and I lay in bed for a good hour just timing them, trying to dose back off to sleep, but it wasn’t happening. Then at 4 am, they were about 7 minutes apart. Lewis made sure we went downstairs and got the living room set up with mood lighting and my headphones in, listening to my affirmation tracks.

Then at 5-6 am, they had ramped up and were coming every 4-5 minutes. I was so excited as I knew this was it, and that I wouldn’t need to be induced. However, at 8 am, they started to slow up and were coming every 12-15 minutes. I rang the hospital at this point and explained the situation and said I would rather stay at home until my contractions are 3 minutes apart, so when I got to the hospital, I was 4 cm and Lewis could stay with me.

They weren’t happy with this idea and wanted me to come in about 10:30 am to be monitored. I got told Lewis could bring bags with me but would need to wait until I was examined and confirmed I was 4 cm. (I think about this now, and it's just awful that during COVID we were bribed to have examinations so our birth partner could stay with us)

Contractions at this point ramped up again, and Lewis put my TENS machine on for me, and off we went to the hospital. The car journey was a very uncomfortable car journey, and a 15-minute journey felt like 15 hours… I couldn’t stop jiggling around and was just shouting like ‘ouch, slow down’ and ‘ouch, speed up’; my poor husband couldn’t win regardless haha!

We arrived at the hospital, and it all became very real; we were not leaving without our baby. We turned up to the ward, and they gave me my own room, and nothing was mentioned about Lewis having to leave and wait, which meant he was staying with me and wasn’t leaving until our baby was here! My labor had officially begun! I started bouncing on the ball through contractions, rolling my hips, walking around the room, and just remaining positive and active. I had a jacket potato with cheese and beans. It was terrible haha!

The midwife then came in and said as I didn’t seem to be progressing, they would get the pessary prescribed and start me on the drip. I was a bit annoyed with her saying this as the contractions were coming thick and fast, and I was thinking I am progressing so why the hell is she suggesting induction.

Again being a first-time mum, I kind of assumed I had to say yes to everything they said. The midwife came in and asked me if I would like to be examined (I didn’t want to be examined, but again, I thought it was essential). I was then examined by the midwife at about 3 pm.

I kept saying to Lewis I was so scared about having it done, and the midwife was aware of my worries as it was on my birth plan. I was brave and had it done, and she confirmed my cervix was very stretchy and that I was 3 cm, and she also said she had stretched me to 4 cm and said she was going to call delivery to collect me. I was so proud of myself that I had the examination and the sweep and told the midwife she had officially made me get over my fear; it was a very tearful moment and a moment I never thought I would be able to face again.

I then asked if I could have some paracetamol, not that it helped at all haha! Delivery came by to pick me up, and by this point, I was getting contractions really close together. I was focusing on my breathing and remaining calm and kept telling myself every surge is a step closer to meeting our little girl.

When I got over to delivery, my contractions were so intense in my stomach, something just didn’t feel right at all. I mentioned that I didn’t think I was weeing enough and finishing properly. I started on gas and air, and then I had a catheter fitted, and it worked instantly!! The catheter bag started filling up, and my contractions were less intense in my stomach, and they were more in my back. I continued with my breathing techniques, TENS machine, and gas and air.

It got to about 4:30 pm, and I remember the midwives saying in the background to each other “this is going super quick, we need to get everything ready as this baby is coming sooner rather than later” ... they then said to me that they would love to deliver the baby before they leave off shift at 7:30 pm. I looked at the clock and thought OMG and asked them if it’s possible, and they said yes, the rate your labor is progressing, and I just couldn’t believe it! The end was in sight, and it was all really happening!

I was contracting at such a rapid pace by this point, and I could remember the adrenaline kicking in, and I was shaking, saying I couldn’t do it, which I know was me hitting the transition phase and I was near the end. I kept asking for more pain relief and kept saying I can’t take much more. However, I recognized this was the transition phase, which made me think in my head I must be 8 cm dilated +. I think this is the point where it got difficult for Lewis as my contractions were coming every 45 seconds to 1 minute, I just had no rest at all, and I could see him getting emotional.

They had the monitor attached to me, and the moment I would let my mind be overruled by the surges, my baby's heart rate would go up. That was my motivation for remaining calm, knowing that the calmer I am, the calmer she stays. At about 6:30 pm, I remember the nurses saying I was 9-10 cm dilated, but I had the tiniest bit of cervix waiting to disappear. The long wait for that bit of cervix to go was about an hour but felt like 10 hours.

This was the point I was bloody exhausted. These contractions were the contractions where your body couldn’t help but push, but I had to stop my body, otherwise, I would cause tearing as my body wasn’t quite ready!! I can remember crying, saying I couldn’t do it, but with the help of Lewis and my mum on FaceTime telling me I was doing so well and was nearly there and to just keep going with it. At 7:30 pm, the nurses swapped over. I was examined and was officially ready to push. I started pushing on my hands and knees as I really didn’t want to give birth on my back, as I was so worried about birthing, and I knew that birthing on your back reduced the space in your pelvis.

After about 45 minutes of pushing, the nurse said that we weren’t getting anywhere and to try on my back. The pushing stage for me was the most annoying as you could feel her head coming down but bobbing back up again. At this point, I was sucking on the gas and air continuously as I was having back-to-back contractions.

I turned over onto my back and gave the midwives the benefit of the doubt. I can remember crying, saying I was so worried about tearing, and I was so worried about my piles getting even worse. The midwife kept saying don’t worry about it, just focus on getting your baby out, and we will deal with the rest afterward.

Looking at Lewis, I could see in his eyes how proud he was of me, and I was excited that this was the finale and soon our little girl would be in our arms. The contractions started coming, and I pushed with everything I had, each push was very successful, and I could feel her head crowning. They called Lewis down to the end of the bed and said look she’s got loads of hair. This gave me so much motivation. Three contractions later, her head was fully out. They told me to look down, I got another contraction, and her body came out; I grabbed her from between my legs and pulled her up to my chest at 8:34 pm.

Lewis was crying, I was crying, and my mum on FaceTime was crying. In fact, Lewis and I were screaming, it was so surreal, and I couldn’t believe my body had done it!! It was the most magical and insane feeling in the world. She was so incredibly beautiful and already so so loved. The way she was looking at me and Lewis was priceless. 40 weeks of waiting, I would wait 10000 years for that feeling again. Lewis cut her cord, and my placenta was delivered shortly after. She was on my chest for a good hour while I was getting stitched up (seven labia stitches), and Lewis and I were just besotted by her. Watching her every movement. We couldn’t believe how much hair she had, and we just couldn’t believe she was all ours, our beautiful little creation. It’s true that once they come out everything disappears, and all you can think about is that beautiful baby. We got five hours together as a family; we had tea and toast, and I had my first dreaded shower, which I must add was bloody awful I hated every moment of it haha! Felt like I had been run over by a bus 100 times!

I was then transferred to the ward at 1:30 am, and Lewis had to go home. That first night with her, I didn’t sleep a wink, I spent the whole time admiring every inch of her. She’s just perfect. I was so incredibly proud of myself, never ever did I think I could do it, and never did I imagine I could give birth using just gas and air. I was in absolute awe of what I had just achieved. I felt like superwoman. One thing I never thought I would say is that I would happily do it all over again.

As soon as Lewis got home, I received this message, “I love you so much, you don’t even know how incredible you are! Seriously so so so proud of you and you should be proud of yourself! I’m in absolute awe of you and our gorgeous girl, thank you for being amazing. You’ve overcome the toughest task of your life with a breeze and it was incredible. After today, it’s not possible for me to love anyone as much as you. I watched you birth a baby on gas and air! What the actual f**k. Wowowowowowo. I swear the best thing I’ve ever seen xxx”.

I was finally discharged at 5:30 pm on the 09/08/2024, the best day ever taking our little Nellie Pearl home, she’s the best present we have ever received.

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