Saturday, 13 February 2021

Isabella's Birth Story

As my due date, 15th March 2020 approached, I prepared our home, my body and my mind for the birth of our baby. I watched videos of the signs of going into labour, watched how my body felt and looked for the signs on myself. 
I wanted to give birth on my due date because in Hungary it's a national holiday, commemorating the 1848 revolution. It's a special day and if we ever move back to Hungary she would always have a day off from school or work which I think is pretty great. Priorities, right!? Haha! 

My Birth Plan:
All in all, I had an easy pregnancy, no major issues, nothing to complain about that I didn't expect beforehand. The main thing I was a bit afraid of was giving birth. There is a bit of mystery about it for first time mums. People are afraid of the unknown or unexperienced, I guess...
When I imagined giving birth everything was very straight forward in my mind with no complications whatsoever. We went to a birthing class with my boyfriend, Gabor where the midwife talked about her recommendations and how an ideal birth looked like without sugar coating about the pain etc.
I wanted to go as natural as possible with my birth, no C-cection, no epidural, just gas and air for pain relief. I definitely did not want a home birth or even use the birthing pool in the hospital. I only wanted a room, being able to move around and a nice midwife who would guide me along with pushing the baby out.

While having a birth plan is great, things usually don't go according those plans. So here is the story about how our baby came to this world. (It will be TMI at some points, just a heads up!)

I woke up Saturday, 14th March around 4am to having contractions 10 minutes apart. First, I wasn't sure if I have a bad tummy and was in a sleepy state but in between the pain I kept dozing off and then kept waking up to the pain. I ended up getting out of bed and moving to the living room and waited out what is to come. The day went on, Gabor went to work and I tried to go back to sleep and rest throughout the morning but it was too uncomfortable and painful so I switched between walking around and jumping on my birthing ball to get my mind off from the pain. At noon my contractions were still 10 minutes apart but they were longer now, 35-40 seconds long. I felt nauseous after each contraction and in the end around 3pm I threw up and a bit of my water broke. I honestly was not sure if I weed myself or it was some water and I still don't know it this day. I decided to take a shower and washed my hair at this point, thinking that at least that will be fresh if we end up going to the hospital. I threw up at 4:30 pm and then again an hour later. At that time my contractions were 6 minutes apart, lasting between 40-50 seconds.
At 5pm I asked my boyfriend to come home from work because I wanted to go to the hospital to get checked. The contractions got even more frequent and I panicked that I end up giving birth at home and that's my worst nightmare not having any professionals around. This was only the start of the Covid-19 virus and the city started to cancel some trains and it took my boyfriend a bit longer to get home than usual. In the meantime, I put some makeup on, dried my hair and finished packing our hospital bag. We called an Uber and we got to the hospital around 6:30pm, and I threw up again as soon as I got out of the car. I literally had nothing solid in me anymore it was just water and bile. I really felt rough, the pain was horrible and thought the baby will come any minute.

When we got to the hospital we were escorted into a small room where they told me to get comfortable, someone will come and examine me shortly. I was a bit discouraged because from the heavy pain I thought that I will give birth right there and then and it wasn't really what I had pictured. Imagine a big room that's divided into smaller sections only by curtains. You can hear everything and everyone can hear you. Next to me a lady had her little son with her and the little boy kept peeking through to our section. I hope he was not traumatised for life by anything he saw there...

The midwifes were super busy so it felt like an eternity until one of them came to examine me. When she did, she gave me the news I really didn't want to hear. I was only 1 cm dilated and if that didn't go 4 cm in the next 4 hours they would send me home. They asked me if I wanted to stay or go home at this point but I knew it would not be better to go home and then come back again so I wanted to stick it out and crossed my fingers that the magical 4 cm will happen in the next hours. I got some paracetamol at this stage and really just tried to breathe through the pain and get in the zone.

Around 10pm a more private room freed up and we were asked if we wanted to move there. Yes, please! Having a door we can actually shut sounded amazing at this point! I also got my gas and air machine with the move. Around this time was when I realised that I can't pee and I haven't had a wee in a long time despite drinking constantly. I sat on the toilet close to 10 minutes and I just couldn't feel where to push to wee. I wasn't sure if during the contractions that flows out of me with the water or how this works during labour so I mentioned it to the midwife and she recommended putting a catheter in. One of the reasons I didn't want an epidural in the first place was the catheter part. I never had one, in my mind that would have meant that I would be restricted and would not be able to move as freely as I wanted to during labour. All in all, worrying about another thing was not what I wanted so I got the catheter and I'm really glad I did in the end. My bladder was full, I just didn't feel it because of the pain caused by the contractions. 

Around midnight I had another examination and yippee, I reached 4 centimeters! I was in active labour! 
I also asked to get a shot of diamorphine that my original midwife recommended for pain relief during our appointments.

I found out that I'm really not the dramatic screamer in labour, more the type that closes their eyes and counts it out until the pain is over. It really helped me that I had my boyfriend there, so he would count when I gave him a sign and stop when I told him the contraction was over. This is a great distraction because you try to focus on his voice and counting not the pain you feel. Also it occupies the partner and makes them feel helpful when they think they are a bit useless in the situation.

We moved into another room at 3:45am which was really lovely, spacious and had a separate bathroom with a tub. They later told us that that was the nicest room on the whole ward with the best view. What a treat! Obviously I couldn't care less about the view at this point though. 
I made use of the nice bathroom and took a warm bath to refresh a little bit. Felt pretty gross with the constant flow of the waters with every contraction. 

I went through so many of those huge maternity pads and bed sheet pads because my water kept coming out with each contraction. I kept my poor boyfriend occupied with changing the bed pads, bringing me water and counting through each contraction. Bless him, he was very tired too but he encouraged me and didn't complain. The midwife came in every hour to check how everything was going and to check my blood pressure. Around 7am she told me that I am 10 cm dilated and things should speed up a little bit now.
Then, in the morning when there was a shift change I met the lovely midwife, Angela who helped me through labour in the end. She examined me too and she said that I'm only 9 cm dilated, not 10 so she will do a sweep to speed things up a bit. That was one of the worst feelings I experienced that far during this labour. Around 9:30am I had a slice of toast with jam just to get a bit of energy for the next hours. I really had no appetite but I knew that I had to eat something because my stomach was empty due to vomiting several times the day before.

At 10am I was moved again, now into a room that had a delivery bed. So far I was walking around and  mainly leaned against the bed when I had contractions, but I was on my feet with the gas and air in my hand. With this move I had to lay down on the bed and Angela attached two straps around my belly to monitor baby's heartbeat and the contractions. Hours went by with not much happening, contractions came and went,  got even more tired but there was no baby in sight. Around 1:30pm my midwife got in touch with the doctors who also came to examine me, and they also checked the baby on the scan. 

I was nearing to 24 hours since my water broke and the chance of infection increases with time. Finally, at 2pm I was told that I have an hour to push the baby out, and if I don't make enough progress they have to do an episiotomy to try to deliver the baby. If that is not successful we have to do a C-section. Hearing the chance of episiotomy and C-section did motivate me and I gave my all in the pushes for the next hour. My midwife could see the baby's head but it always slid back after the contractions. I was sooo exhausted at this point I can't even tell you! By the end of that hour I just thought that they will take me to the theatre anyway, I just want her out now! As my hour was up I was moved into the theatre at 15:15 and they prepared me for the epidural. I already had the catheter put in earlier so this process was super fast. They put me in position for the episiotomy, legs up and all. Weirdest feeling seeing my lower body but not actually feeling anything from the boobs down.

I was in a room full of women and could sense such a good energy coming from them. They were surprised how calm and quiet I was. They must meet some hysterical women in their day to day.
I was lying down looking up at these ladies helping me meet my baby and I couldn't not notice how perfectly threaded their eyebrows were, so I just randomly complemented their eyebrows! Haha, WTF!? I think I was a bit delirious and didn't really held back and impulse complemented everyone like when I'm drunk. In turn, they complemented my makeup and asked if I worked in beauty. That combo of Studio Fix Fluid and Double Wear kinda did the trick, but you can imagine what I looked like after almost 24hrs in the same makeup. Well, not super fresh or flawless. My boyfriend, the only male in the theatre didn't know where he was for a few minutes with all this beauty talk.
I remember I was just so at peace, knowing I'm in good hands and I will meet my baby soon. 

At 15:32, my little daughter, Isabella Lottie was born weighing 3250 grams, 51centimeter long and a full head of hair. All that heartburn was worth it in the end, haha!
They did struggle to get her out, I had to help with pushes when they told me and in the end they had to use forceps to deliver the baby...
Poor little girl had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck twice, that's why she couldn't come out with the earlier pushes. Dad cut the umbilical cord with shaking hands, they measured her and gave her back to me to do skin to skin. Poor baby was finally out, it wasn't easy for her either and she had a big red mark from the forceps running on one side of her face through her eyes.
It was the most surreal feeling finally holding her in my arms! 

After the delivery, we were pushed into our next room which was another one divided by curtains into more private sections for the new families and we waited there until a bed freed up for the night. We called family and let them know that the baby finally arrived and we are all doing well. After taking our first family pictures and gazing at her for about an hour, Gabor went home to take a shower and refresh a bit, while we got to know each other more. It was a weird couple hours just the two of us, as I couldn't really move normally because the effects of the epidural have not fully worn off yet. I was just holding her, tried to breastfeed but she wouldn't latch on and eventually she just fell asleep as I watched her. I was moved to our final room (another communal one for 4 families divided by curtains) around 10pm, Gabor also arrived back by this time so he could help carry the bags, coats and other belongings. 

Spending the night at the hospital was an experience in itself. Not a great one, might I add. I did not sleep a second even though I've been up for almost 2 days at this point. 
I was super itchy due to the epidural and it was way too hot in our room for my liking to keep the newborns nice and toasty. I'm sure that all the excitement from the birth and our neighbours' incredibly loud snoring also contributed to my lack of sleep. So during the night I was just thinking about everything that happened, watched her sleep and informed more friends about our little arrival.

I got my catheter taken out at 6am, and thankfully everything went back to normal on that front. Now that I was able to move away from the bed I got myself ready and put a bit of makeup on to feel more like myself. 
I kept trying to put Izzy on my boobs to feed but she just couldn't latch on and got really angry with us for trying to push her. I had nurses and midwifes trying to help, pushing my nipples both sides to see if there's colostrum. It was rather comical but there and then you just don't care that everything is hanging out and trust that they know what they are doing. 
During the day we took Isabella for her little checkups, also did her hearing and eye tests. 
In the afternoon we couldn't bear the heat in the room any longer so we walked to the dining area to cool down and to take some pictures with the Thames and Westminster in the background. We sat down here for no longer than 20-25 minutes but it was so refreshing to leave the dark, hot room that I can still remember how great I felt then with my new baby and boyfriend just passing time, waiting to go home...

Before we got discharged, a doctor came to check Isabella and as I barely had colostrum at this point he gave her 60ml of formula. The weird thing was that the midwifes we met were all pro-breastfeeding and we were told that it takes days to get colostrum and then milk, yet a doctor comes in who has not seen us before and overrides everything. I would not let them do that now, but I was pretty clueless and tired. I tried to breastfeed her all day with no success and she was clearly hungry so I felt like a failure as I watched her drink the formula in a few seconds.
My midwife wanted to keep me in for another day to help with breastfeeding but I really wanted to go home because I couldn't go another night without sleeping and I generally hate hospitals.

We were discharged in the late afternoon and then got home around 8pm to then start our life as a family of 3 with our baby Isabella. 


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