“Oh my God!”
“House stinks like shit!”
“Switched from Tens to Gas & Air”
These are just some of the brief notes I managed to make during the main event. I’d starting keeping track quite well, but than as the whole thing dragged out, there are definitely some gaps that I need to try and remember. But, remember I shall, I’m sure. So if you’re so inclined and you have a spare 10 minutes, here’s our story of how two became three. Well, not the whole story. I’m not starting from the beginning, you’ll have to just use your imagination for that.
Wednesday 1st August 2018 – Due Date
The due date came and went like any other day. Sort of. I was at work, and Jen kept herself busy spending the day with her Mum, Sister & family. So busy in fact, that as I walked in the door after work, she suddenly realised that she had not been keeping track of any baby movements that day.
We’d planned to go to the cinema that night, all part of the plan to take our mind off it being the due date. I think we were going to see the new Mission Impossible film. Mission Impossible 27, or whatever it is now. But instead, it was a phone call to the 24 hour hotline to explain Jen’s predicament, which or course was followed by a trip to the maternity ward to get checked out.
Lucky for us, it wasn’t very busy and we managed to get seen pretty quickly and sent back home with the all clear and a belly full of McDonald’s. So back home we went with the intention to go to the cinema the following night. Well, that was the plan.
Thursday 2nd August 2018
1:30am – I’d been asleep for probably a couple of hours, when I was suddenly woken up by Jen, sat bolt upright in bed shouting “Oh my God! Oh my God!” It soon became clear that either that Jen drank too much of my McDonald’s Fanta and had pissed herself, or alternatively, as she penguin’d her way to the bathroom leaving a trail of wet destruction behind her, maybe, just maybe, her waters had broken!
All those NCT and NHS classes, books, advice, all that new knowledge that we were now brimming with, yet we still had to google “what should you do when your waters break?”.
It turns out that what you’re supposed to do, is call the maternity unit (or hospital/labour ward). So we did and were asked to come in to get checked out. But were told not to rush. So we took our time, had some toast, had a shower, loaded the car with everything, naively thinking that perhaps we would not be coming back home until baby had arrived, and trundled off the to Midwife Lead Unit.
5:30am – We’d set off for the hospital at around 4am, but were back home by 5:30am, with instructions to call again at 11pm and let them know how close together the contractions were (which had begun at approximately 2am), unless they got to 3 in 10 minutes, lasting a minute each, then we should call regardless of the time.
I remember walking back upstairs into the bedroom and thinking, “Blimey the house stinks of shit! What was in her waters?!” But then I realised that there’d be some muck spreading nearby earlier that day, and we’d left the bedroom windows open! Ha! That was a bit of a relief!
So once back home, we tried to go back to sleep. Not so easy really when you think you might be having a baby that day. I think I got about 45 minutes. Jen wasn’t so lucky, so she tried a bath. That didn’t work either. So she headed back to bed for another go and getting some zzz’s, while I went downstairs and played some X-Box. What? Don’t look at me like that! I couldn’t sleep!
10:00pm – It was a long ass day! Jen was clearly in a lot of discomfort with the contractions. We tried watching TV, and I spent the entire day trying to force some food down her, but to no avail. Around 3pm, we put the TENS machine on her and she cracked on with that. It took some getting used to, but it seemed to help. Also, with her reaching for the button every time a contraction began, it was another visual cue for me to stop whatever I was doing and shut the feck up! Silence is golden folks. Golden!
While looking for something to watch during the day, Jen made a strange request that I’m going to make a note of as it’s quite interesting. I could put anything I wanted on TV, but nothing that had any anxious, scary, worrying or generally bad moments. Like a chase scene in an action movie, or the build up to a scary bit in a horror film. All ruled out. I think I narrowed it down to a Reese Whetherspoon movie, because pretty much nothing happened at all throughout that movie. Oh year, and Mary Poppin’s. Although it was a bit touch and go whether that would be allowed.
Anyway. By 10pm, the contractions hadn’t progressed like we’d hoped, so I called the MLU who told us to come in again and get the once over. Actually, first I got a telling off for the fact that Jen had hardly eaten all day. I did try! So I was instructed to get some food down her first, then come in.
Friday 3rd August 2018
12:15am – When we arrived, we were put into a little room with a bed and an en-suite shower room. We explained where we were up to (2 in 10), what had happened since the big wet and wild event and Jen was awarded with the dreaded internal examination. Not a very nice one. In fact, the worst one out of all of them.
Jen was only 1cm dilated, but the baby’s head was fully engaged. We were told that Jen would not be able to stay in the MLU, and instead would have to transfer to the Labour Ward and be put on “the drip” in order for things to move along. We were told to try and get some sleep (in that little room), and that someone would move us over at about 1.30am.
2:30am – Nobody had been in to see us yet, so I went for a wander. I was told that there were no beds currently available on the Labour Ward, so that we would be transferred to the Midwife Observation Ward until one became available. They could not say for sure when that would be, so we should try and get some sleep. If only. I’m guessing they’d never tried spooning a partner on a hospital bed while they were having contractions every few minutes!
4:00am – There was a knock on the door, and someone came in and walked us down to the MOW. It was a ward with about 6-8 beds if my memory is correct. We were told that we would be there until they could move us over to the Labour Ward, but they could not tell us when that would be.
After a few hours, it was starting to get very hot in the room. There was no a/c, but instead each bed had a fancy looking Dyson Fan, which according to one of the Midwives, cost about £250 each, and they were absolutely shite. The country was having a heatwave, and here were were in a busy hospital ward with a crappy fan.
At this point, I just want to mention that you will not hear me say a bad word about a single member of staff who we came in contact with during this life event. They were all, ok, mostly all, fantastic. They can only do so much with the tools they’re given.
3:30pm – A few hospital meals, tears and lots of contractions later, and we were finally transferred to the Labour Ward. Oh the joy of being put in our own room, with a/c. I could finally get our bags from the car, put up some fairy lights (yes, you heard right) and play some relaxing music. Jen was told that she was about to be nil by mouth, so had one last bowl of cereal before being put on the drip, and we met our first of 3 more Midwives who would be with us. She was lovely, and we talked about our Birth Plan, most of which needed to go out of the window due to the current situation, and she really did help put our mind at rest.
5:30pm – Lights on, music on, let’s get the ball rolling. Jen was put on the drip to progress her labour. Its quite a precise science as they constantly tweaked the amount of meds Jen could get, keeping a close eye on her contractions and the babies health. Too many contractions and they had to reduce the amount, too few and they had to increase it. It’s not like keeping your foot on the accelerator though, they can only adjust it by a certain amount and at a particular frequency.
8:00pm – They put a clip on the babies head in order to better monitor its condition, but because of this, Jen had to now switch off her TENS machine. Instead she switched to Gas & Air. Now that is some crazy stuff. I had one puff and it felt like my ears were turning inside out! Of course, I had to do it.
Every hour, another Midwife came into the room for what they called “fresh eye’s” as the assigned Midwife pretty much spends their entire shift staring at the monitor, checking heart rates, counting contractions, checking blood pressure etc. So it’s a great system them have where they get a second pair of eyes to check everything is on order every hour. Upon entering our room, seeing the lights and hearing the music, every single Midwife commented how lovely and calm the room was. Big brownie points for me!
9:30pm – At this point Jen was averaging 4 contractions in 10 minutes, and it was her next scheduled examination which revealed she was 3cm dilated. I think everyone had been hoping for more. It meant this was going to go on for a while longer yet. Next examination was scheduled for 1.30am.
11:00pm – Myself and Jen had spoken in great length regarding what kind of pain relief she would consider using during labour. We’d learnt quite a bit about it at NCT and more still from the Midwife who was with us at the start of the evening. At that point, Jen’s contractions were really up and down with the drip constantly having to be tweaked. Sometimes the gaps between were so minimal, and Jen was actually using the Gas & Air more so than not. She was clearly in a lot of pain, discomfort and around 45 hours after her waters had broken, and about 44 hours after her contractions began, Jen decided to ask for an epidural.
Saturday 4th August 2018
1:00am – There is so much taboo and lack of knowledge from people surrounding the epidural, and so I know that the decision itself had been an absolutely huge one for Jen, which I backed 100%. So imagine being in so much pain and discomfort that you finally decide that you want an epidural, only to discover that the anaesthetist had just gone into theatre and so would not be available for at least an hour.
It was 2 hours later when the epidural was actually administered. The anaesthetist was amazing. Such a nice guy who really put us at ease. And talk about a miracle drug. The difference was quite frankly unbelievable. Jen was like a different person, she could stop using Gas & Air, and just generally be a bit more with it. I think that anaesthetist will be getting a Christmas Card from us this year!
2:00am – Time for another examination. Jen was now 4cm dilated.
6:00am – After Jen’s next examination, it was noted that she was now measuring “a good 6cm, maybe 7cm”, which meant another 4 hours to wait before the next one.
7:15am – For the second time (I don’t remember the time of the first) there was another shift change, so we said goodbye to our 2nd Midwife, and hello to our 3rd, who came with a student Midwife. So we essentially got two for the price of one.
10:00am – Time for another exam and progress check. This time she was just about fully dilated. Which meant two things. We were gonna start pushing in about an hour, and I needed to carefully plan my next toilet break!
11:10am – Shit just got real. Lots of stuff going on, lots of people made aware of what was happening, and understandably, I stopped taking notes, so the rest is purely from memory.
Firstly, if anyone tries to tell you that you can’t “push” a baby out (NCT people) and that all that “push” talk is just for TV, stand up, point at them, take a big deep breath and bellow the words “bull” and “shit”. Likewise, if anyone says that when you have an epidural you can’t push, see previous advice. Jen was pushing alright. Full on, chair gripping, head about to explode, pushing. They just wouldn’t wouldn’t put anyone through that if it didn’t make any difference.
12:15pm – After an hour of pushing and still no baby, they needed to bring in the doctor. There were all kinds of things that could have gone wrong at that stage, particularly as Jen’s waters had broken so long previously. So things were getting even more serious. The doctor explained that they would be back in 10 minutes, and if there was no progress, they would be forced to intervene.
The Midwife did her absolute best to help Jen deliver her baby without intervention, but 10 minutes later, pretty much on the dot, the doctor was back to check on progress. She explained that she was going to have to intervene and use forceps. Well, she advised this. They generally cant just tell you they’re going to do this, they have to ask for your permission. It would take an absolute brave (or stupid) individual to say no and hold out for a natural delivery, because you just feel so absolutely helpless. I’m there at Jens side, doing whatever I can, whatever they ask me to do. I’m there completely in their hands. When the doctor said that she needed to use forceps, we believed her and trusted her entirely.
12:30pm – The next 30 minutes is a bit of a blur, I expect even more so for Jen. I just remember how serious everyone was. How confident and authoritative the doctor was, and how the Midwife did whatever the doctor asked. I could sense people outside the room on standby incase something went wrong.
Now, I once had a wisdom tooth pulled out, and I could not believe the force and strength with which the dentist had to tug at that tooth to get it out. Well, pulling a baby out with forceps, it turns out, was a lot like that! While being absolutely nothing like that of course.
I stayed up towards the less serious end of the bed (not that Jen’s face looked anything other than serious) but couldn’t help but glance down at the tug of war taking place beside me.
Then, all of a sudden, I could see our baby’s head. Facing away from me. And the doctor explained to Jen that with the next push (yes she was still pushing, even with forceps) our baby would be born. And just like that, our world was forever changed. Held up for us to see, was a beautiful baby girl. Pippa Juliet Ryan. Born at 12.56pm on Saturday 4th August 2018, weighing in at a healthy 8lb 11oz.
Never one to take the straight forward route, Jen continued to have further complications after Pippa joined us, with her placenta intent on staying put. Apparently, placenta’s are not allowed to stay put. So after several attempts, it was decided that Jen would have to go into theatre to have it surgically removed.
So following some skin to skin with mummy, and lots of crying from daddy, I was left to watch over little Pippa, while Jen was wheeled off to theatre. From where she returned, a little over an hour later, and we were once again reunited as a trio.
Monday 6th August 2018
6:15pm – Two days later, after a couple more sleepless nights (on Jen’s part), we were finally all on our way home. We had planned to be on our way much earlier that day, but Pippa decided that she didn’t want to have a wee for a period of about 36 hours and so we were stuck there waiting, patiently (or not) for the wee one to have a wee tinkle.
Jens waters broke at 1.30am on Thursday Morning. She didn’t get any decent amount of sleep until the following Monday night. I honestly don’t know how she did it, let a lone have the strength to give birth to a baby in the middle of all that. She truly is amazing. I was passing out mid sentence by Saturday evening!
We are both absolutely besotted with Pippa, and consider ourselves so lucky to have been blessed with such a beautiful and healthy little girl.
Now the adventure really begins!