I've been meaning to write my Birth Story for some time now, but every time I go to put pen to paper my emotions get the better of me. Now that Florence is nine weeks old I thought that it's time I get it written so that I don't forget any details. Birth really is the most beautiful thing a person can experience and I would do it all over again in a heart beat.
My pregnancy was completely low risk and problem free – thank goodness. Florence and I ticked all of the boxes at every midwife appointment: clear samples, good blood pressure, growing week by week, perfect heart rate. There was only one little hiccup – Florence spent the entire time in the womb breech. Of course this would happen; my birth plan was four pages long that intricately detailed the perfect, natural, pain free birth that I longed for!
Due to Florence being breech we had to have several presentation scans to confirm her position. My community Midwife booked me in for our first presentation on the 20th November. It was the quickest appointment but we had to follow the Hospital’s procedure so that we could be scheduled in for an elective section. The Hospital started to put in plans in place imminently and told me to wait for a letter in the post confirming the date.
I had been experiencing leaking during the days leading up to the scan, and used this opportunity to be examined by the Midwife at the Hospital. My Sister was leaking her waters leading up to the birth of my Niece, and as a result Sophia had an infection when she was born. I wasn’t sure whether I was leaking urine (the joys of pregnancy!) or whether it was in fact my waters. It is always best to be safe when pregnancy is involved so I sought medical advice. The Midwife confirmed by a speculum that my waters hadn’t broken but she couldn’t confirm that the leaking I had experienced wasn’t my waters. I went home and didn’t think too much about it and carried on life as normal.
The following week I had two interviews for Primary SCITTs. I was still leaking from time to time but tried not to worry, following the advice from the Midwife. I called the Hospital a couple of days later because I still hadn’t heard about a date – typical. The receptionist told me that I was penciled in for my elective caesarean on the 9th December, 13 days from the date of the phone call – eek!
We spent the weekend of the 29th November at Chris’s parent’s house in Wembley, London. Life carried on as normal; Chris went to work and I spent some time with the in laws. On the evening of the 30th December we had just gotten into bed when I felt a big gush of water. I quickly ran downstairs and the water wasn’t stopping. I was soaking through thick hospital pads every minute or so and there was a little blood which made me worry the most. I called Chris downstairs and we both started to panic. We had been preparing for this moment for months. Everything was ready... The bags were packed, I was full term, this could of happened at any moment but we still felt so under prepared.
Chris had seen this friend that evening and had had a drink and didn’t feel comfortable driving me to the hospital, even though he was well within the limit. Luckily, Chris’s Father was able to take us to the nearest Maternity Unit – Kingston. We had to wait for hours at reception before we were seen. There were women in labour next to us, breathing through their contractions and I was becoming restless. When we finally got seen I was hooked up to the monitor and Florence and I were monitored. Everything was fine and Florence was happy. The Midwife didn’t perform another speculum because she could clearly see by the water running down my leg (lovely) that it was my waters that had broken and was happy to confirm this.
Yet more worries had set in at this point; I was 50 miles away from home and I know that Hospitals don’t usually let women home once their waters had broken due to the risk of infection but there was no way I was having my baby in London if I could avoid it. Luckily, they arranged a transfer with the Maternity Unit at Southend Hospital on the basis that I got in the car and went to the Hospital straight away. I was given a steroid injection by the Nurse to support Florence’s lungs as she would be arriving 17 days early and then discharged.
On the journey to Southend Hospital I had started to experience some mild contractions but they were very irregular. Come 5am they were coming every 3-5 minutes but were manageable at this point. We arrived at Southend Hospital at 5.30am the morning of 1st December. My Mother met us at the Hospital with our bags and we were welcomed by the team of Midwives who had arranged a room on the delivery suite for us. All of my obs were done again and I had yet another speculum and ultrasound to confirm that my waters had broke and that Florence was breech.
Everything happened so quickly. Soon the suite was full of Nurses and Drs who were discussing the consent form and asking me to sign my life away, it was so overwhelming and I just wanted to scream STOP. I was then prepped for surgery and Chris was asked to change into scrubs. We had to walk to the theatre with the Midwife (whilst I was having contractions) and then it all began...
The nurse opened the door to reveal a crystal white theatre; it was so bright and clean, full of Drs, Nurses, Midwives, Anaesthetists, Scrub Staff and Surgeons. They were all here for me. I couldn’t physically walk into the theatre due to the fear and burst into tears. I am so thankful for the Chris and the theatre team for calming me down and ensuring that I was well looked after. The anaesthetist inserted the spinal block and made sure that I was completely numb from the waist down by spraying cold water on different parts of my body. The screen was then put up and the surgeons began to perform the caesarean.
My anesthetist was incredible, and I’ll never forget him. I told him that I didn’t want to know when they were cutting me open, and I just wanted to know when Florence was earth side. Him and Chris started making small talk about home life, the weather, Christmas, anything they could to make sure I wasn’t thinking about what was happening on the other side of that screen. Of course, I didn’t listen to a word they were saying. The time felt like it was going so slow, all I wanted was for them to place my tiny little girl onto my chest and then everything would be okay.
At 9.40am on the 1st December 2014 Florence was welcomed in the World. She was held up for us to see and Chris and I both poured our eyes out. For 9 months we had been waiting for her arrival and she was finally here. Our hearts were so full of love and it was a feeling that nobody could ever explain to you. She was checked over by the Midwives and Paediatrician before being placed on my chest for skin-to-skin. All the pains and worries really do disappear as soon as you are given your baby.
They didn’t weigh Florence straight away so once we knew that she was happy and healthy I asked for her to be weighed. The Midwife took her off of my chest and popped her onto the scales. She weighed a tiny 6lb 10oz which was completely unexpected as we were always told that she would be a big baby.
Whilst I was being stitched up Chris and Florence were moved to the Recovery Ward where I shortly joined them. On the Recovery Ward I was quite sick, due to the aesthetic I think. The Doctors came to check on me and the Midwife helped Florence to latch on for her first feed. It took some time and some practice, but eventually she got the hang of it and fed for about 15 minutes. I was very surprised how quickly the numbness from the aesthetic wore off, within about half an hour of being on Recovery I was able to wiggle my toes and soon after was able to lift my legs.
We were then moved to the Post Natal ward where a bed was already waiting for us. I was hooked up to a drip that was providing pain relief and to be honest, I felt great. Once the pain relief medicine had finished I didn’t have any more medication, but they wanted me to keep the cannula in just in case. The rest of the morning and afternoon were spent as just the three of us (minus the Midwives coming in to check on us every now and then). We cuddled, slept, reflected, and stared at our perfect little girl who filled us with so much happiness.
I was given a pasta lunch and the carbohydrates filled me with energy and perked me up. I then felt that it was the time to try and get up and have a little walk around so we buzzed for the Midwife to come and support me. Before they let me get up they wanted to remove the catheter which was a little uncomfortable, but it didn’t hurt. I walked a few laps of the ward with the midwife, at first it was a struggle but it’s something that I needed (wanted) to do.
The nine hours we spent alone seemed to vanish so quickly and it was soon time for our family to come and meet Florence. I changed into a fresh nightie, put some light makeup on and brushed my hair. I wanted to feel more human, more myself. I didn’t want to mope around in blood stained hospital gowns and backcombed hair.
We were visited by our immediate families but the time they spent with us was a blur; we were both so tired after being awake for a solid 48 hours. After they left Chris and I had some alone time with Florence again. I clung onto every second we spent together because soon it would be time for Chris to leave, and for Florence and I to be all alone.
The overnight stay was the thing I was dreading the most and I didn’t sleep at all that night. I laid in silence next to my perfect, newborn baby. We spoke, we cried, we cuddled, we bonded. This was time that nobody could ever replace. Although I was desperate to take my tiny baby home I didn’t want that night to end. Soon it wouldn’t just be Florence and I. Soon I would have to share her with everyone else that wanted to meet her.
Partners were allowed back onto the ward at 9am. Chris came back with treats for me and tiny Micro Baby nappies for Florence as the size 1 nappies were massive on her. A paediatrician came to perform Florence’s hearing check but she was only able to receive a clear response from one of her ears. The other ear still had too much fluid in it which is common apparently so she booked us an appointment for a later date. Another paediatrician came to check Florence over before they sent us home, she got the all clear and the Midwife started the process our discharge notes.
Because Florence was born via cesarean section I was prescribed daily injections to prevent blood clots. We were shown how to use the injections and we gave Chris the lovely job of giving me the injections every day. I was also prescribed a course of Iron as my last blood test showed that my levels were slightly low. After all of the paper work was complete we were able to take Florence home. Leaving the Hospital was such a surreal moment. We were now responsible for this tiny little being and life would never be the same again.
"Sometimes, the smallest things take up
the most room in your heart"
- Winnie The Pooh
the most room in your heart"
- Winnie The Pooh