Enter Rex: Labour, birth and everything inbetween
Updated: Jun 12, 2020
Hey guys – I’m alive. HURRAH! Although there have been times in the past week where I’ve thought I’m not. Rex Jack Eames came into this big bad world on Saturday 3rd June at 16:33 and, even though it was only seven days ago, it feels like that was a lifetime ago.
Just a warning, this blog post is a long (and probably boring) one. It’s my account of labour and all that it entailed, meaning it includes talk of various bodily fluids and functions that might be a bit too much information for some.
On Sat 3 June, I woke in the early hours feeling like I needed a poo. Standard. I knew pretty quickly that this wasn’t all that was going on, mainly because we’d planned to have a BBQ and Eamo had said from day one that the baby would make his/her appearance when the first Lions tour test match was on and make him miss it. For once, he was right.
I woke Eamo at 0430, said I thought I was having contractions and that I was going to go downstairs so as not to keep him awake. I also really wanted some tea and toast with lemon curd, as you do at four in the morning. My thinking was it could be a long day and that breakfast that early may just help me later on.
Eamo got up about half hour later, by which time, I knew I was in labour. I’d been timing the contractions and they were 4-5 minutes apart and lasting anything between 30-50 seconds. We called the RUH and they suggested going in to be examined as my contractions were quite close together.
My first internal, at around 0530, revealed that I was only about one cm dilated but the midwife said labour had definitely started. She gave us the option to stay or go home but knowing we’d be more comfy at home, we came back and I decided to get on my exercise ball to see if I could get things moving. I stuck a cushion on the floor, knelt on it and hung my upper body and arms over the ball and just rocked back and forward. I used the hypnobirthing breathing techniques we’d learnt to breathe through the contractions. Calm breathing worked really well at that point as the contractions weren’t too intense.
Got the idea pretty quickly that it wasn’t a poo that I needed!
After an hour or so on the ball, my contractions were starting to get stronger until all of a sudden I felt like I’d wet myself. I remember making a groaning noise of utter relief, like I needed a wee forever and finally my body had let it release. It felt like a huge amount of liquid coming out of me, and it was then that I started to panic a little. Shit, this was really it.
Eamo worked wonders at keeping me calm. You’ll be pleased to know that I was wearing trousers, which thankfully caught everything and didn’t ruin the cushion or carpet in the living room. Yes, not wanting to soil the carpet did genuinely cross my mind at the time too.
Finally made it off the floor and up to the loo, where my gloopy liquid-filled pants revealed it was in fact my waters that had broken and I hadn’t just pissed myself. Eamo called the RUH again and told them. It was then that I noticed that quite a bit of the fluid that had come out of me was green, which after speaking to the midwife I realised might be meconium, which is where the baby has a poo inside you. Let’s face it, if anyone’s child was going to crap inside them, it was going to be mine, right?
I stuck in a surfboard-style sanitary towel and got our bags together. Poor old Freddie didn’t know what was going on. I think, at that point, he was more annoyed at having been woken at 4am than anything else.
We got back to the RUH at just after 8am where one of the midwives, Karolyn Mooney, examined me again. I was 4-5cm dilated at that point and in ‘established’ labour. I also had to give Karolyn my sanitary towel (what a job these women have) so she could determine for sure if there was any meconium present. There was, so our hope of having a pool birth went out the window as the baby would need to be monitored the entire time.
I was obviously disappointed, but my priority was keeping the baby safe, so we moved to a delivery suite and I had two monitors attached to me, one for the baby’s heartbeat, another for my contractions.
The next few hours were spent breathing through my contractions. My birthing plan has specified that I didn’t want to be offered any pain relief, and only given any if requested by me. As the contraction intensified, I used used hypnobirthing breathing techniques, which really helped manage how uncomfortable they were. In fact they helped so much that I actually think I fell asleep in between quite a few of them, something I never thought I’d be able to do.
Now is no time to be sleeping Hughes!
As the contractions continued, I began to tire and become more uncomfortable, so I asked to try some gas and air on my next contraction to see if it would take the edge off. I took one long drag on my next surge, which was quickly followed by me projectile vomiting, caught by Eamo in a sick bowl.
Must’ve been like a scene out of a horror film as once I started I couldn’t stop and he had to quickly swap the bowls over as I filled up two. It was totally gross but I felt so much better after, and in my mind that was a sign that gas and air was out. Pain relief was never discussed again after that point. I didn’t ask about it and the absolutely bloody brilliant staff at the RUH completely respected my birthing plan and didn’t offer any.
Just before 1300, Karolyn examined me again and she said I was fully dilated. I’d told her about 10 minutes before that my contractions were now giving me the overwhelming urge to push. I hadn’t been actively pushing to that point, my body had been doing in involuntarily, obviously knowing that I was ready.
What followed, from my memory, was a very long two hours of pushing, contractions and changing positions to try and get baby moving. I do remember a few people coming in and out during this time to check on my progress. While I was in this state for a while, baby’s heart rate was stable and suggesting that he/she was dealing with labour well so the staff wanted to intervene as little as possible.
So dignified… 😉
After a couple of hours, I was feeling absolutely exhausted and really disheartened. I felt like I was doing everything I could to get Rex out but wasn’t getting very far. The midwives thought that the fact that I couldn’t wee might not be helping, so they stuck in a catheter to drain my bladder, which was possibly worse than a contraction.
Having a tube stuck in your pisshole, mid-labour is toe curling. It makes me cross my legs just thinking about it. With that done, one of the registrars, Rachel, asked if she could examine me and then hold her fingers inside me when I pushed on a contraction to see how well I was moving the baby. It was here she discovered that there was still a bit of cervix in the way, which was making things even harder. On the next contraction, she moved it and luckily it stayed put.
Despite identifying and sorting out these two issues, Rex was still moving pretty slowly, even though I was pushing so hard I genuinely thought all of my insides would soon be on the bed. Rex’s heart rate was still ok but because I had been pushing for so long, Rachel asked me how I felt about assisted delivery and if we wanted to try ventouse, which from my understanding was basically attaching a vacuum plunger to the baby’s head to help delivery.
I’m not going to lie, the idea didn’t fill me with joy but, at that point, I really knew that I needed some help. I asked if we could give it another half hour to see if I could do it unassisted, which she was totally fine with. But within the next 15 minutes, Rex’s heart rate had dropped and she said she wanted him out so we should proceed with the ventouse. I agreed and the next half hour was probably the hardest of my life.
Before the ventouse was used, a baby doctor came to speak to me. By now, there were six people in the room, two of them baby doctors with a ventilation machine at the ready. She explained why she was there, the fact that there was meconium in my waters and that his heart rate had dropped that they needed to do some checks on him when he was delivered.
My only concern at this point was that my baby was safe so I simply agreed and thanked her.
By this point, I was on the bed, legs in stirrups and with four medical professionals stood at the end of the bed looking up my chuff. The vaccuum device was put inside me, a feeling that I can’t quite describe. I asked if it would hurt before they did it and they told me it would be uncomfortable. It was, is all I’m going say. The rest is honestly a bit of a blur.
All I remember was Rachel telling me that within the next four contractions, our baby would be here. And that was totally my focus. I concentrated on each one and counted the down, knowing it would all soon, finally, be over. On the third, Rex’s head was born, a feeling that is very difficult to explain. Relief, I think, really sums it up.
“Please just pull the rest of the baby out. PLEASE!” I pleaded.
Rachel, very calmly and reassuringly replied saying she couldn’t but that we were going to do it together and on the next contraction I had to give her the biggest push I’d done so far. I trusted her completely and did as she asked. As the last contraction came, I felt Rex be born and I cannot express the sense of relief and emptiness that I felt. My whole body just sank into the bed.
I’d asked that Rex be put on me immediately after birth but circumstance meant he was taken straight to the incubator where all I remember seeing was a little purple foot and lots of people gathered round him. That was a feeling like no other. Was he ok? What was happening? It felt like a lifetime before they told me that he was ok and just needed a bit of help breathing. He was shocked apparently. Yeah, no shit.
It felt like a lifetime but Rex was back in my arms within 10 minutes of him being born, he had the most incredible Brian Harvey-style little yellow beanie on and I couldn’t stop thinking how, even though he was in my arms, he wasn’t quite real. Or mine. I think we were both in a bit of shock.
As I held my baby boy, I thought I would be emotional. Overrun with happiness that he was there and safe. But all I could do was stare at him and watch him breathe to make sure he was ok. Next thing I knew, Karolyn jabbed me in the leg with a needle, the injection you get to help deliver the placenta. ‘Sorry, just doing it while you’re distracted’, she said with a little smile. Made me laugh, that was nothing in comparison to the past half hour.
8lb 13oz – what a little chunk!
Not five minutes later I felt like another baby fell out of my vagina. It was actually the placenta but holy shit, I could not believe the size of it! Karolyn took it away in a big plastic tub and as I followed her I noticed how the room looked like something out of one of the Saw films. Bloody stained items everywhere. But not a poo stained one, guys. We all know that if anyone was gonna shit themselves in child birth, it was going to be me. But alas, my bowels stayed firmly shut the entire time. SCORE!
When Rex was delivered, he bought with him a second degree tear in my perineum, which as I had stitched back together by a lovely lady called Louise, we chatted about our dogs and how they quickly adapt to life with a baby. That was a surreal conversation, chatting away about life while a stranger pieces back together your lady bits like it’s the most normal thing in the world.
I’ve heard so many people say it about childbirth and it’s totally true that by that point you don’t care who sees what anymore. Any dignity you had before well and truly leaves you at that delivery room door. One question I did ask her…
“I haven’t torn my bumhole, have I?”
“No sweetheart,” she said. “The tear isn’t anywhere near your bum.”
Thank fuck for that. Small victories and all that. I have no idea how many stitches I have but I felt like Louise was down there for a while. During this time, Eamo was having skin-to-skin with Rex and as I looked over at the two of them, I found it difficult to comprehend what had actually happened that day. It started with a baby in my belly, said baby was now resting on his dad’s chest and I was alive at the end of the process.
Ok, so my undercarriage had taken a severe battering and I needed a lot of help to get there. But me and my body had (relatively) safely birthed another human being and I felt an immense amount of pride in and love for all three of us.
Poor little boy’s head. Deep bruising and blistering caused by ventuose delivery 😦
“Never, ever again”, I think came out of my mouth on multiple occasions that day and the following and the following. And everyone has said the same, ‘you’ll be surprised how quickly you forget all this’. I can see why people say that. My body has and is recovering in a way that I will forever be in awe of. Never say never, I guess. All I do know is that Eamo is not coming anywhere near me for the forseeable… 😉
Not sure how I made this 🙂