What does giving birth REALLY feel like? Part 2

Now that I have explained in graphic detail how I pooped on the table, panted like a dog and rocked about on all fours during the delivery of my first child, I feel that detailing the second experience would round off the story nicely.

Are you still with me? I hope so. Do check out my first post about my first baby’s delivery.

I am not writing these experiences to scare or put off pregnant women, rather I think it’s good to know the full truth of what labour can be.

It’s different for all of us, but it’s a messy and hard experience. Would you rather be surprised by it, or have all of the information? I’m sure women come down on both sides of that debate, so if you want the grizzly details then read on, but be warned this one isn’t pretty!

My contractions for my second birth began at around 5am. I tried to bite down on my pillow so that my other half could squeeze out another hour’s sleep as I was sure they weren’t close enough yet to warrant going to hospital.

However they were pretty intense and in the end my fidgeting and grunting woke him up.

It’s amazing how much more calm I was this time. While many, many people had told me this baby would come flying out in half an hour, actually I could tell there was no rush. Nothing was that far along yet. So I called my parents at 6am and asked them to come and collect my eldest.

Then I called the hospital, who said that my contractions sounded pretty close and that I should come in.

I had been hoping to wait it out a bit longer, they weren’t too painful just yet, but in the end I figured the hospital was the best place to be.

My labour started in the Holy Grail of places to deliver, the birth centre. This is the midwife-led delivery ward, where the rooms are way nicer, more modern and every room has it’s own private birthing pool.

With my first baby I did not write a birthing plan, preferring to wing it. With this one, I wrote a few things down as I recalled being asked awkward questions in the middle of contractions, like did I want the vitamin K injection for our baby when they were born.

I was quite determined to not have any pain relief except for gas and air this time, as I believe the diamorphine injections I had with my first labour contributed to our struggles with breastfeeding in the early weeks.

The drug can make newborns a bit dopy when they’re born, so it is worth bearing in mind, however I would never say never because it’s a bloody wonderful painkiller!

I found it nearly impossible to find a comfy position this time.

Standing didn’t help, walking didn’t help, kneeling didn’t help and sitting up didn’t help. My room had a bar at waist hit which you could grip on to and I found myself standing and rocking at that quite a bit, but I felt more out of control with the contractions this time.

They seemed to be more intense, more paralysing than last time. Possibly that is because I didn’t even have gas and air until the very end of the labour, or maybe because all labours are different.

My waters did not break on their own this time, so the midwife used a skinny plastic stick with a hook shape on the end to pop them.

The ensuing gush was an odd sensation and the baby immediately dropped downwards, which made walking difficult and left me feeling like I needed to wee constantly.

As time went on, the gush continued. I was bleeding heavily, and as the midwife examined me for a third time in a row, I could tell even she was getting concerned at how much blood was flowing. I was soaking through pad after pad on the bed, and it was showing no signs of slowing.

My contractions were now at a point where I triggered one when I moved even one centimetre. Standing triggered them off, shifting to get comfortable in bed triggered them. They seemed all over the place, as if the pain was simply constant and I occasionally got to take a deep breath in the middle.

I felt desperate to escape my own skin to free myself from the pain, but there was nowhere to go.

Finally, as the blood continued, the midwife said I needed to be looked at closer by a doctor. There was too much bleeding.

So I left the birth centre and was taken down the regular delivery ward. I felt zero disappointment at this, I was just desperate for it to be over, although it was awkward in the lift down to the other ward when I hospital porter joined us on the next floor and had to listen to me grunting and moaning through contractions.

A very calm and very business-like consultant examined me. Unlike the giant baby doctor in my first labour, this woman was tiny and immediately assessed the situation.

She reminded me to breathe properly, and seeing that I was not dealing with the pain at all, ordered an epidural – with my enthusiastic agreement – immediately.

As luck would have it, the anaesthesiologist was right outside the room wondering the corridors at that very moment. As he strolled in like a rock star, I declared “I love you”, despite my husband being within earshot. I would have gladly married him right then if he demanded it in order to get out of suffering through any more contractions.

As he went through the usual spiel of warnings about possible paralysis and blah blah blah, I will him to get on with it and enthusiastically nodded to every warning. Finally he began preparing the needle, it was so close to being ready, when all of a sudden, without any warning, a wave of need to push came over me.

It was so strong there was absolutely nothing I could to stop it, and I pushed down with all my might.

Then the words every labouring mother wants to hear came: “The bowels have released.”

Oh joy, I’ve pooped in front of two midwives, a consultant and an anaesthesiologist. That’s just great.

And to cap it off, it was then announced it was too late for the epidural, because the baby was coming. I was devastated, like a child told my puppy had been run over and that I couldn’t stay up eating ice cream all night. That innocent, zero control kind of devastation.

I just couldn’t see how I was going to manage it. To be honest I was so exhausted and in so much pain, I would have happily taken a C-Section at that point. I wasn’t feeling rational, I had just totally had enough.

Unfortunately for the midwives, it meant they had to really up their game with talking me through the delivery.

It took 30 minutes to push the baby out. Thirty minutes of huffing and puffing, and feeling as if I might break in two. I felt trapped, as if I was tied to the bed unable to move.

Every nerve ending was screaming and panic was impossible to fight. The midwife decided to go for tough love with me. “Come on now Vicky, you need to push now, you have to do this.”

And so I pushed. When the head finally came into view, the midwife thought it might be motivational for me to feel the head.

“Absolutely fucking not,” was my response.

With a big push most of her head came out, then I had to give another little one to clear her nose. With my brain in a constant battle between fight and flight, I screamed through the final pushes, which I’m sure was not at all encouraging for the other ladies on the ward who still had a few hours of this torture to go through.

Finally she was out, here in one piece. and I could breathe again. It was 3.30pm. So much for second labours being super fast! Although this once was six hours less than my first.

As with before, I have no recollection of delivering the placenta. Only my husband staring at it once it was out and remarking it looked like some kind of weird alien that had exploded.

The stitches this time did not make me feel quite so squeamish. I had suffered a second degree tear, again, but the tugging and pulling of having the stitches put in were a relief compared to what the labour had been like.

I feel that I bounced back from this labour quicker, although on the whole I believe it was more painful. I was showered and sitting up in a chair about 90 minutes later.

Would I do it all again. This is a question I ask myself often.

To get myself another baby, yes I absolutely would go through it all again. But I wish it didn’t involve such a humiliating display of human suffering.

The raw pain, and despair, that I experienced are not things you really want to go through in front of others. And yet, equally, you don’t want to do them on your own because it can be so very terrifying at times.

Like my first labour, this birth is nothing special. It doesn’t stand out for any particularly dramatic reasons, or feature any scary complications.

I was reminded starkly of this when our midwife said she had to leave us, because a lady who was just 26 weeks pregnant had just gone into labour in a room a few doors down. I never found out what happened to her, but it makes my complaints about pain and panic seem ridiculous. I can’t imagine what she went through.

But all birth stories are dramatic, and a little traumatic, for those experiencing them. I honestly don’t know where midwives find the energy to deal with this day in and day out, though it must be magical to see parents leaving with their babies.

At this point in my life I have no idea if I will ever have another labour, but I know I’m not afraid of doing it again. I’ve definitely shown myself that I am tougher than what I believed.

I would love to hear your birth stories, did you have a long labour? Did it shock you how hard it was? Let me know!

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