The big day arrives
Well not quite yet. Before any of this happened we had to have a stretch and sweep because my wife was slightly overdue. Oh what a dignified thing to have done.
Eventually we started having contractions and as everybody knows that can be either long or short. For us it was a few days which isn’t too bad, some people go weeks with contractions. Others have mere minutes.
I certainly remember a few patients from my junior doctor days doing obstetrics and gynaecology. Sometimes women would come with only a few hours of contractions and be delivering a few minutes later. I particularly remember one lady who came in after only 30 minutes or so of contractions, she thought she was having her baby.
I remember the midwives being actually quite dismissive saying it couldn’t possibly happen so quickly and wanting me to see her first, which was the protocol if they didn’t think it was a labouring woman.
Well after talking to her, finding out this was to be her 7th vaginal birth and obviously seeing her looking like a labouring woman I offered to examine her to which she agreed. Minutes later she had a new baby.
So my wife has having contractions. She didn’t get the Braxton-Hicks ones, you know the ‘pretend’ ones. Now I actually really hate it when people call it that and I’m sure any woman reading this will too so I apologise. I use the term because that’s what others use.
So my wife has having contractions. They started infrequently and weak, as they do. Over time they built up though. We made our plans, had our bag packed and ready to go. As you probably have seen from those shows like One Born Every Minute, you get 2 main types of expectant parents. Those who prepare everything, the bags packed with everything including the kitchen sink, like they are preparing for a nuclear holocaust. The others who pack nothing apart from a bag of chips.
As is often the case, it was the middle of the night when it started to ramp up. My wife dutifully told me to go to sleep so I could drive her to the hospital when the time came. I tried, managed a little. Of course she couldn’t sleep at all. In her own words ‘it’s hard to sleep when you feel like you are shitting a bowling ball every minute’.
Time had come. This was it!
Things were ramping up. We knew our daughter was on her way. We rang the midwives – in the UK low risk care is Midwife lead. They didn’t seem fussed.
Now I knew this baby was on its way. I knew enough from my medical school days to know that contractions less than a minute apart and waters breaking meant that things were happening. The midwife we spoke to initially though said no. It wasn’t happening.
How dare they! Now they were just doing their job, in the middle of the night shift, but I still to this day don’t see how anyone can possibly assess you over the phone in the throws of labour.
Her rationale for this was that she could speak to my wife. Huh? She asked me to put my wife on the phone to see if she could speak. Not being able to speak through a contraction is a sign it’s really ramped up which I knew. My wife said 1 word to her, at the end of the contraction after it’d already faded, and apparently that meant she could talk through her contractions.
Sorry but I wasn’t having any of this. We told them in no uncertain terms that we were coming in and they’d have to lock the doors to stop us. They graciously allowed us to come in (as if they had a choice) to be assessed.
Bundled in the car, bags pack, off to the hospital
The birthing suite was located at the hospital, but was a midwife lead separate unit. It was really nice, and we lucked out that we were the only ones there and could use the birthing pool. More on this later.
We were shown in to a holding room (didn’t think we were livestock) as they called it and examined. Only 3cm. ‘You should go home’ it’ll be days.
Pretty sure what came out of my wife’s mouth was illegal in most countries, so let’s just say that she said ‘No’. We politely declined their offer to return to our home and told them we were staying. Faced with an obstinate medical couple they didn’t really have much choice.
Being doctors we could assert ourselves a little more than perhaps other couples can. We had the knowledge and confidence to know that little bit more. I often feel sad for my patients who seem to just get brushed off so easily because they trust the doctors and nurses, and just don’t have the confidence to say no that’s not acceptable.
Anyway we were now in a beautiful birthing suite. Not the Ritz mind you, but pretty damn nice compared to the alternative – a cold clinical room on the busy ward. It had a CD player (yeah, a bit old school there), a TV with a DVD player built in but of course no DVDs to actually play, a couch and some comfy seating and that birthing pool I mentioned.
These things are amazing. If you ever get a chance to use one when prepping for labour then grab it because they really do make a huge difference. There’s so much evidence that these can help labour progress and reduce the pain and trauma of child birth.
As is always the case (and you’ll see if you watch those birth shows) I thought I could jump in there with my wife. We’d have a wail of a time and we’d both be in there when our daughter was born. Not to be sadly, the midwives promptly stopped me when I started taking off my clothes.
Once it was full my wife got in and instantly felt at ease. The pain was fading, her body was relaxing, and she felt good. Of course this had the desired effect and within a short space of time there was progress.
She felt like something was coming out, but not sure what. It wasn’t a poop like you may think, no it was a head. I promptly pulled the buzzer and we got ready to see our daughter for the first time.
It all happened quite quickly after that. She was out within about 30 minutes and was quickly scooped out by the midwife, but not before hitting herself on the bottom of the tub!
Thankfully we had a beautiful healthy little darling girl and we were extremely proud happy parents. Tired, but happy.