Birth During A Pandemic (Not Your Typical Story)

By Emma trott @minitrott2020

So we’ve all seen the films where the pregnant woman is washing up while her husband has his feet up with a cup of tea in hand and suddenly her waters brake and contractions start and off to hospital they go for them only an hour later to have a beautiful (2 month old looking) baby. Mum has beautiful hair and makeup and dad still has his feet up. I would love to say this is reality (and for some of you lucky readers this might be) but for me it was not.

I, like every other pregnant woman had a birth plan conversation with my midwife and discussed what I would and wouldn’t like; pain relief- yes, epidural-yes, interventions-if it’s required, water birth- ooo yes that would be lovely!
I came away happy with my decisions and knowing that I was in control of my labour and birth. I merrily got to my due date (I say merrily I may have been smiling on the outside, on the inside was a different story) or so they should call it ‘due from date’, but I reached it! I had survived 40 weeks mostly unscathed with minimal morning sickness, no swollen ankles and none of the other glorious pregnancy related ailments. I had made it. Surely now any day I was going to just spontaneously go into labour like on TV and my beautifully planned out birth plan would lay way for my beautifully healthy baby to arrive. My baby/body had other plans.
40 weeks and 1 day I was offered a ‘sweep’. It is as gruesome as it sounds and only the first of many intrusive encounters I experienced while at this stage of pregnancy but trust me you honestly end up not caring who looks at what.
40 weeks and 3 days; the sweep hadn’t worked. But I was fine (as fine as can be full term and in a lovely UK heatwave!) and baby was fine, happily kicking away just living his best life.
40 weeks and 5 days was sweep number 2 (&3) this time a rough sweep to ‘get things going’. The student midwife practiced first and then my midwife ‘had a go’.
It didn’t work. Cue getting marginally irritated at this point.
I’d just like to add that I don’t usually moan but when you’ve grown a baby for 9 months and then find out it’s actually 10 months and then find out that they happily let you go over 2 WEEKS and it’s June and the hottest time of the year I think even the calmest person might start to feel ever so slightly twitchy.
Back to the story, so sweep 2 (&3) didn’t work, and when I say didn’t work I mean I didn’t have a lovely sudden feeling that I was going into labour. (I will be vague about this feeling because I never had this feeling so can’t comment on what it feels like I just assume it would be really lovely but I’m sure you’ll all put me right!)
This is where things went slightly off piste of my wonderfully thought out birth plan, I had to go into the hospital for reduced movements. My little tiny bean had decided he was going to snooze for about 13 hours which is quite terrifying. No amount of sugar or hot vs cold drinks would shift him from his slumber so off to the hospital I went. He was absolutely fine but due to now being 41 weeks and 2 days they suggested induction was the way forward.
Now up until this point I had only heard of being induced and it linked with articles where woman claim it not ‘not being very nice’ (I think I used a polite and light hearted persons view on induction here) so as you can imagine I was thrilled but I wanted to not be pregnant for the rest of my life so agreed and got myself ready for my baby to arrive the following day.
Apparently that’s not how it works. And if you are squeamish or the type of person to say ‘TMI’ (too much information) then I’d probably just skip to the bottom and have a look at my beautiful boy and know that he arrived safely… eventually.
Hospital day 1. I arrived midday, had myself some lunch thinking ooo isn’t this lovely. Got a little run down of what was going to happen, hormone pessary to ripen the cervix, hook to break the waters and then lastly an oxytocin drip to get the contractions going. Fairly straightforward no? Let’s do it. Pessary in, sat on ward chatting to other mums, feeling cramps thinking ooo this is it… pessary falls out. Not a problem pop another back in along with sweep number 4! Joy. No problem this is normal no let’s carry on. More cramps… pessary falls out again. One more sweep (yep number 5!) and pop that bloody thing back in! I was told at this point I was 2 cm …. only 8 more to go?!
Overnight as you probably guessed the pessary fell out again. Typical.
It was then just a waiting game to go down to labour ward. Meanwhile I am in pain, not omg kill me now pain but cramps and (my favourite midwife used word) tightenings.
Not much happened between then and Tuesday morning, I was still having pain, I tested out a tens machine, (in my opinion it was horrible!) had some pain relief, was fitted with a catheter, (low babies head was squashing my urinary tract) and spent most of that 60 hours of hospital squatting in the shower as this was the most comfortable position I could find. (Did I say all dignity gets lost in labour?)
Finally my time had come, I had a space on labour ward, I was finally moving from one station to the next. Lots of weird things go on in your head when you’re in pain and overtired. Mine was picturing myself on a delayed train waiting to get to the next station… don’t ask?
My husband was now allowed in as due to COVID regulations I had spent the last 72 hours on my own (not including the other ladies on the ward with me!). I called him frantically while packing my stuff away that had been slung all around, he assured me he’d be on his way once he’d finished his cuppa tea and crumpets.
I got waddled down to labour ward, arriving there at 9am, my husband arrived shortly after at 9.30am. I demanded epidural, pain relief of any kind, anything to basically help me through what I thought would be at least another 24-48 hours or slow labour. However it wasn’t exactly the slow labour I had thought it would be. Upon examination they found I was fully dilated and my little babies head was just there, patiently waiting for me (or the midwifes) to realise he was ready to be born. Oxytocin drip in and cranked up to warp factor 10! Drugs were off the table due to me needing to be ‘with it’, thankfully shock and adrenaline kicked in and I had my beautiful baby boy at 11.40am, all 6lbs 8oz of him and at 41 weeks and 6 days!
Our family was complete (for now!) and after several stitches, a well deserved bath for mummy and an unfortunate 5 more days in hospital on Neonatal Ward we finally made it home for the adventure of a lifetime to start.

In short don’t get hung up on due dates, babies come when they want, this can be anytime before this date and after (within 2 weeks) so just try to enjoy being pregnant. Enjoy the little flutters that turn into kicks, the kicks that wake you in the night but at least remind you they are still there; alive and kicking.
Don’t spend hours stressing about your ‘perfect birth’, you may be one of the lucky ones where it goes to plan but if you’re not who cares?! You’ll have a miracle at the end of it and at the end of the day when you are holding that amazing tiny incredible human you made in your arms all the nasty gritty ness just melts away.’

Leave a Reply