My due date was estimated to be Friday 13th November 2015, finding out at 17 weeks that I was pregnant and without having a period for over a year his due date was worked out by estimation from his size at the scan on the day we found out – How I found out I was pregnant.
I only have one kidney so I had two extra scans with Frankie at 28 weeks and 36 weeks to make sure he had no renal problems whilst I was carrying him. The week of my 36 week scan I was having really bad cramping pains and losing a lot of mucus and discharge which was a greeny colour (sounds absolutely gross and it was), it was my ‘mucus plug’ aka ‘the show’, I mentioned this to my midwife who was concerned so he (yep HE, my midwife was called Alan, he was great!) rung up the hospital for the results of a swab I had done prior to my 36 week scan two weeks earlier which showed I was GBS positive and had Strep B.
GBS or Strep B is one of many bacteria that can be present in our bodies. It doesn’t usually cause any harm. When this happens it’s called “carrying” GBS or being colonised with GBS. It’s estimated about one pregnant woman in five in the UK carries GBS in their digestive system or vagina. Around the time of labour and birth, many babies come into contact with GBS and are colonised by the bacteria. Most are unaffected, but a small number can become infected.
Alan told me that 1 in 5 women are affected by Strep B, which can be passed onto the baby, I was beside myself, I thought I had done something wrong or missed something, should of said something earlier! He put my mind at ease and reiterated it WASN’T ANYTHING I HAD DONE and nothing could of prevented it. He went on to explain that if/when my waters break I need to get straight to the hospital to be put on IV antibiotics as a preventative way of stopping the bacteria coming into contact with baby. He told me under absolutely no circumstances that I should go home and google GBS/Strep B or cause myself any worry or stress.. Of course I went home and googled it a lot but I tried not to think about it and stay calm.
At my 36 week scan a few days later we saw baby who had an estimated weight of 6″12! We couldn’t see much but they were confident he had no renal or other problems and I would be giving birth to a healthy little boy! They were however concerned that he was going to be a big baby if he went overdue so they contacted my midwife to bring my induction date of the 25th November to 20th November but they needn’t of bothered, he was almost ready to make his appearance!
I went on maternity leave on the day before my birthday, October 24th, I went for a meal with friends and family and celebrated hitting 37 weeks, we all joked that I was such a birthday diva that I needed to keep my legs crossed or he would try upstaging my day! The next week I washed all his clothes, packed my hospital bag and tried to relax, I was so uncomfortable suffering from sciatica towards the end most of my nights I stayed up until 3/4am watching Suits, thank you Harvey Spectre for getting me through those final weeks!
The week before my due date started, I had a check up with my midwife who told me that baby’s head was engaged but still back to back but there was still hope that he could turn, I bounced on my ball, went for walks and drunk a shit load of raspberry leaf tea!
On the day my waters broke I felt like something was going to happen, it was maybe Mother’s instinct and it was coincidentally the day that my Mum had predicted on my card at my baby shower. All day she kept joking she was going to make me a curry for lunch and to keep bouncing on my ball! I was trying to walk to and from our little Tesco once a day to ease my back pain, on the way back I felt a lot of pressure down below and felt like I was wetting myself, when I got to my front door the pressure stopped as fast as it came on but I had to go and change but I knew it wasn’t my waters.
One of my best friends lives next door & she happens to be a midwife, she popped in after work to check up on me and felt around, she was like a Duracell bunny on speed after examining my stomach and feeling about she exclaimed that my hind waters had definently gone and she would be very surprised if I wasn’t in labour in the next 24 hours!
She honestly walked out of my front door and 10 minutes later the back pain started. I was on and off that ball more than Michael Jordan in a NFL final, we were watching ‘Can’t Pay or We’ll Take it Away’ and the pressure in my back was getting more and more excruciating, despite having a bath that morning I decided that I really needed some relief so I walked up the stairs to run another at around 9:30pm. Frankie’s Dad was working nights at the time and had left so I was at home with my Mum and Dad, I bent over to run the taps, the pressure came back and whoosh went my waters!
I screamed for my Mum who came running up the stairs closely followed by my Dad who then went running back down the stairs after seeing the position I was in and rung my other half to get to the hospital. Me and Mum had a huge cuddle on the stairs she told me to go and get changed and meet her downstairs. I remember going into my bedroom looking around and thinking, I won’t be coming back here alone so I reached for one of his hand-knitten cardigans and took this picture, knowing next picture I took would be of him!
We rung the ward and explained my waters had broke, they said they were having a ‘quiet night’ and to come into the ward. We got to the hospital, met my other half and went to the maternity unit. We were given a room with an en-suite, they were right it was oddly quiet not another person in sight, we handed over my birth plan and the midwife explained that due to the Strep B they would be in every 15 minutes checking my dilation and hooked me up to an IV drip pumping in antibiotics.
Hours went by without anything happening, I stayed at 3cm all night long, no contractions, no pain, NOTHING. I thought I was bossing labour, I walked around, I bounced on the ball, I was taking deep breaths but staying at 3cm! At around 6am, the staff change, the midwife came in to say bye and explained that the decision had been made to induce me based on the strep B and risk of infection as it had almost been 12 hours since my waters had gone so I was moved to high dependency.
All hope of my birth plan dreams went out the window, no birthing pool, no £22 Accessorize bikini top being worn, no calm environment, no popping out my son in the bath. I was now panicked and as soon as the panic set in so did the agony that followed!
We were put on the high dependency ward, bright lights, clinical feel & the room was easily a quarter of the size of the nice big en-suite room I had just been in. The midwife came in and explained that another cannula needed to go in my other hand for the drug to induce me, they struggled to find another vein, at this point I was overtired, exhausted, emotional and scared. They finally found a vein and she told me it can take hours for anything to happen and she would be back soon. She attached the straps on my stomach to monitor baby and then everything started happening.
My other half was one side of me, the contraction monitor side, exclaiming at me every time it started climbing and my Mum was the other dabbing my head and trying to keep me calm. Some people don’t want both in the room, I NEEDED both, he was there for our baby and she was there for me. Of course he was there for me too and she was there for her grandson but evolution took it’s natural position and they both settled into their roles.
I wasn’t allowed off of the bed, the pain in my lower back was excruciating, the monitor kept going off the scale, I kept sobbing and begging my Mum to help me when I saw those numbers creeping up, every contraction was worse than the one before. Despite the midwife telling me it could take hours, within the next hour I went from 3cm up to 8cm, it was fucking agony, if anyone ever tells you labour isn’t that bad they are LIARS, it hurts, so so fucking much. I always thought I had a high pain threshold but I was wrong, very wrong! BUT Frankie was back to back and in my birth plan I had stupidly underlined, bolded and instructed my Mum and other half under NO circumstances to allow me to have an epidural, gas and air only, I’d read the pamphlets, seen horror stories & I was shit scared of the thought of a needle in my spine, especially when I was writhing around in pain so it really wasn’t my best moment.
That first midwife was CRAP, I don’t know if she was tired, worked a long shift or what but everything I told her I was feeling she dismissed, ‘I really need to wee’, ‘there is no way you need to wee again, please try and close your eyes and save your energy’ but then I would wee again. I told her that the pain in my back was excruciating and despite being November I was sweating and wanted the fan on, she told me I was overreacting! Luckily about an hour before Frankie came there was a swap and a lovely midwife named Sara took over, she came in and saw my sweaty pain-ridden self on the bed and introduced herself. I cried to her and asked her to pull him out of me, cut me, do something just get him out and she reassured me I could do it!
In the midst of my labour I also agreed a trainee paramedic who needed to witness a labour to pass some exam in, despite my other half and Mum’s wishes I apparently told them I was happy for this 19-something year old boy to stand watching my cervix deliver my firstborn into this world for the next two hours. I’m sure he will never forget his first birth!
I clung to the gas and air for dear life, at around 10am I was fucking shattered, exhausted and couldn’t stop crying, I wanted him out now and all of a sudden there were three midwives and a doctor in the room as his heart rate was decreasing and they needed him out ASAP. Sara put my legs in stirrups and willed me to get him out, she told me if he wasn’t out in the next 10 minutes then they would need to cut me to get him out and I didn’t want that! So that was that, my mind was made up, mothers instinct set in, I listened to her, I pushed and I pushed and (I sound like the big bad wolf) out came his head, then then came the shoulders, FUCK the shoulders, once they’re out they wriggle out like an alien from a putty egg!
Thursday 5th November 2015 – 10:18am – my Son was born weighing 7lbs 14oz
I had done it, he was out, crying and healthy I had made it through somehow! My darling boy was put straight onto me, skin to skin and I had specified ‘delayed cord clamping’ in my birth plan so at least two of my requests came through! When your baby is first put on you it’s a feeling indescribable to anything I have ever felt or come close to, it’s also absolutely terrifying, his little eyes, his little nose and pursed little lips. His head wobbled up and he found his way onto my breast and started trying to suckle, Sara said it was very normal and he would be drawn to the colostrum, it was an emotional moment. My other half cut the cord and Mum went to give us some alone space. I happily took the injection to labour the placenta as quickly as possible and I didn’t need any stitches.
For a long time we were set on Oscar as top runner, which seems so odd now as Frankie looks like nothing other than his name! We both looked at him and I said he isn’t an Oscar is he? And he agreed he wasn’t, I asked what about Frankie? He smiled and said he liked Frankie and there he was named. My Mum came back in and we told her his name, she cried again, in came my other half’s Mum and Sister & my Aunt and we told them his name. If I am being totally honest I have no idea where Frankie came from, we had never even discussed it as an option, but a few weeks prior to his birth we had watched ‘The Business’ late night with Danny Dyer, ‘the kid Frankie’.. So there it was born!
We had to stay in for the night to make sure that the GBS hadn’t transferred to Frankie, we were taken to a ward, I had a shower and something to eat and tried to hide how tired I was feeling. The nurses were great, kept coming round to check how he was feeding and gave me some lovely breastfeeding tips and techniques, I still have the photos of him latching on that the nurse took to show me the ‘right latch’. It was later that night when everyone had gone and it was just me and him I took him out of his little crib and laid him back on me, out of the window fireworks were going off and I was happily crying looking at him and the fireworks, I whispered to him they’re all for you baby! It was the standout moment of the whole day for me, just me and him against the world forever, my new best friend, my little boy, my son x