It’s been seven weeks since I gave birth to our beautiful daughter, Aria Lilley Smith, and I thought it was about time to share my birth story.
To be honest I don’t think I’ve felt ready to write about my birth experience in any great detail before now, and talking about it still makes me feel emotional.
When I was pregnant I loved reading other people’s birth stories and I had what I now realise was a naive idea in my head about what labour would be like. During our antenatal classes we’d heard the worst case scenarios regarding first time births, including assisted deliveries and babies in the ‘wrong’ position. I never thought that would be the way my labour would go – how wrong could I be!
We had planned to go to our closest birthing centre for a natural water birth, and I’d been practicing hypnobirthing in the weeks leading up to my due date. I hadn’t planned on having any pain relief except gas and air and imagined my daughter coming into the world without a problem.
I was due on the 3rd February and honestly thought I would go into labour early, but as the 3rd came and went the birthing centre where I’d planned to have my baby started to talk about induction dates. I was determined this wouldn’t happen as, firstly, it would mean going into hospital to have my baby rather than the birthing centre and, secondly, it was likely this would mean my labour would involve more intervention and pain.
My induction was booked for Saturday 15th February and up until then I was doing everything I could to encourage our little one – walks, curry, bouncing on my exercise ball…everything! Nothing seemed to be working but I was convinced she would come on her own, and so asked for my induction to be moved to the Monday 17th February – the last day I would be able to go up to within guidelines.
On Valentine’s Day at around 10pm I was laying on the sofa when my waters broke. I’d read this would most likely be a trickle and not a gush like you see in films, well mine was the latter! Not to be too graphic but it would not stop flowing. and my husband had to get towels to put underneath me as I stood in the living room unable to move!
We called the birthing centre who asked me a series of questions to confirm my waters had broken. They advised us to remain at home until my contractions started and this happened during the night. Gradually they became more and more intense as I bounced on my exercise ball, using my friend’s TENS machine, until I felt it was time to go to the birthing centre. We arrived there at about 10am and were eventually led to our own room with a birthing pool, as my contractions became more and more intense. At this point I was still only using the TENS machine but I could feel the contractions becoming more and more painful, particularly in my back. I just kept thinking over and over – “she’ll soon be here, it’ll soon be over.”
A few hours later I was examined and the midwife informed me I was only 3cm dilated. It felt like hours since my waters had broken and I couldn’t believe I was only 3cm dilated. The midwife also discovered Aria was back to back, which would explain why the contractions were so painful in my back and she advised that I move into the birthing pool to see if I could encourage her to turn.
It was such a relief to move into the warm water and at this point I gladly accepted gas and air. It did help but the pain was getting worse and was mostly in my lower back. I honestly never thought it would be so painful and I didn’t know how much longer I could go through it.
After what felt like hours, the midwife examined me again and confirmed Aria had not turned and I was no further dilated. Because of her position the contractions were not being effective. As it was now 6.30pm she advised I move to hospital, as they couldn’t keep me in the birthing centre for much longer.
By this point I felt almost delirious from the pain and couldn’t bear the thought of having to move to hospital, which was a 4o minute drive away. I kept asking if an ambulance could take me, as walking to the car felt like an impossibility! This wasn’t an option and so my poor husband had to help me into the back seat of the car and drive me to the hospital.
With me laying on the back seat moaning in pain, I can’t imagine what he must have been feeling as he drove us to the hospital. But he was amazing and managed to stay calm, letting me know how far away we were every so often to keep me going.
As soon as we arrived at the hospital all thoughts of a natural birth went out of my head and I wanted the drugs! Whatever the strongest drug was that they could offer me, I wanted it.
We were led into a room where I doubled over the bed whilst a midwife massaged my back. When people say you moo like a cow during labour, believe it!
I asked for an epidural and this was administered fairly quickly. I felt such a relief to be out of pain and just wanted the whole thing to be over as soon as possible.
I was then given oxytocin to make my contractions more effective and hours seemed to pass as various people came in to monitor me, and I was told by a doctor I would be examined every four hours. This felt like forever but seemed to go quite quickly. On the third occasion I was examined about 9 hours later, at about 3.30am Sunday morning, I was fully dilated. However Aria’s head still hadn’t moved down fully and I was told we would have to move into theatre as forceps would have to be used to deliver her. If this failed, my only option was a caesarean. The sudden rush was due to the fact my waters had broken hours ago. They also thought Aria was in distress as her heart rate had increased and her oxygen levels were dropping.
A caesarean was what I had been dreading and it felt so unfair after the hours of labour I’d been through, only to be told I may have to have one anyway. As the doctor brought in a form for me to sign I cried as I felt defeated, but knew it would have to happen if need be and all I wanted now was to have my baby here safely.
As my husband was led away to be changed into scrubs, I was taken into theatre. I can only imagine how he felt aswell, as this was not the experience we had expected at all.
Thankfully, after three pushes and the use of forceps Aria was delivered safely at 4.14am on Sunday 16th February. I was so thankful not to have had to have a caesarean, but as I waited for her to cry I was told they were worried she may have swallowed meconium and she was taken to special care.
Eight hours later she was brought to me on the ward and I was told she hadn’t swallowed meconium, thank goodness. As I looked at my girl I was just so thankful she was here and was healthy. Her birth wasn’t what I had expected at all and it just goes to show, no matter how much you want your labour to go a certain way, ultimately it’s out of your hands.
Although I had wanted to have Aria at the birthing centre, I’m so glad I went to hospital. It was closer to home and everyone there – from the midwives to the anesthetist – were absolutely amazing and so kind.
I think things like this also test your relationship to the limit, and I’m glad to say my husband was amazing. I couldn’t have got through it without him.
Welcome to the world Aria Lilley Smith.
Thanks for reading.