I tested positive for Covid-19 on Boxing Day so Chris, Mum (who was staying with us for Christmas) and myself were spending the day at home in quarantine, relaxing around the swimming pool and doing bits at home.
In the morning Chris pumped up the gym ball for me to use in labour that we had borrowed from Immy ands Min, and Mum was reading her book with my dog Inca in the sun in the garden. Chris and I also did some stretching pilates in the garden.
Covid had given me a bad cold with the worst symptom being a mucus cough which kept me up at night so I had had very little and broken sleep over the past couple of nights.
During the night of the 27th I felt the baby wiggling a lot, as opposed to the usual kicking, and the following morning it looked like my bump had dropped a little bit.
Around mid morning of 28th I started to get mild period pains every ten minutes or so, but I was so convinced in my head that the baby was going to be late and come in January that I assumed it was Braxton Hicks and ignored it. At around 1:30pm I had a show and told Chris quietly but didn’t tell Mum as I didn’t want a fuss. I still assumed this was early stages and baby wouldn’t come for at least another couple of days / maybe a week. We carried on relaxing in the garden and had leftover pizza in the garden for lunch.
Mummy was due to fly home to the UK on 29th December but Chris and I decided to invite her to stay a little longer. She was enjoying relaxing in the sun and was quite easy to have around, and if I were to go into labour she could stay at home and look after Inca for us. Previously we were going to ask friends to pop in and walk her whilst we were in hospital but since I tested positive we thought it wasn’t fair to ask this.
Later in the afternoon the pains started to get a bit more intense so I ran myself a bath to help ease them off. Whilst I was in the bath they got quite painful so Chris sat with me and counted my breaths that we had learnt in hypnobirthing. I was lying on my back but each time a contraction came I used the side of the bath to grip for support. It was at this point Chris and I both realised this was probably labour and not Braxton Hicks, so he started to go and prep the bags and car in-between my contractions and he was also tracking them on an app on his phone. The app asked to rate the pain between 1-5, but, trying to manage my own expectations, I never said more than 3 or 4 as I wasn’t sure how much more intense it might get.
After about an hour in the bath we decided to move downstairs to the living room and asked Mum to go upstairs so we could focus. I was lying on all fours on a yoga mat next to the Christmas tree hugging the gym ball and rolling forward each time a contraction came. Chris had messaged the hospital to ask at what point we should go in, and they said that as I wanted a natural birth to stay at home until I felt I needed pain relief. Lying on the yoga mat I remember Inca coming over and nuzzling me which was lovely. At about 8:30pm we left home, I sat in the back of the car behind Chris, sat on a pile of towels as my waters hadn’t broken, gripping the headrest fixing in front of me each time a contraction came. I distinctly remember Chris saying as we left Springs 1, “let’s go meet our baby girl”, and me asking how he knew it was a girl and he just said he had a gut feeling.
We arrived at the hospital at around 9pm and were shown into the triage room by a midwife who then showed us into a labour room but there was no birthing pool and we asked about it but as I had covid we were no longer allowed to use one. I hopped on the bed so she could check how dilated I was before calling my doctor and we were shocked to hear I was already 8cm. This gave me a massive confidence boost that I only had 2cm to go and that was (what I had been told) the hardest bit almost over.
Chris helped me with the same position with the gym ball on the floor for the rest of the contraction stage. He was sitting infront of me and I had my arms wrapped around his shins which I tightened each time a contraction came. He was also feeding me water, gummy bears and breakfast bars to give me energy which helped a lot. His counting my breaths - in for 4 and out for 6 - was the main thing I was concentrating on. He also put Louis Armstong on the speaker which was lovely, although there was one song which had lyrics about sweeties which neither of us had heard before and we both got the giggles.
My doctor arrived just before the pushing stage started. For the pushing, I was standing by the bed, holding the metal arm rests, legs apart and trying to push each time the urge came. However, in the back of my head I knew that pushing too hard could make me tear and I also felt my energy flagging so my pushes weren’t making as much progress as they would have liked. I also felt a huge amount of pressure on my lower back which was making me worried as I wasn’t sure if it was totally normal or if its because my back wasn’t strong enough and I was damaging it. This was also preventing me from pushing with all my strength. At this point the doctor suggested a different position where I sat on Chris´ lap and when it came to push I squatted with him holding under my arms. This position didn’t work as well for me as I was a bit worried about hurting Chris with mine and baby’s body weight so wasn’t giving it my everything!
The nurse suggested I go to the loo as my bladder might be blocking the baby’s passage. I had never heard this before but gave it a go and as I was doing a pee I felt the best push so far. However I also thought about those teenagers who don’t realise they are pregnant and give birth in the loo so wanted to move back to the bed as quickly as possible!
The doctor then suggested that I try getting on the bed to see if I prefer that position. It seems to go against gravity but it did actually work, so I went through the rest of the labour on my back, pulling my thighs towards me each time I had a push. Chris was on my left side, holding my neck to support it, Dr Britt was at the end of the bed and the nurse was on my right hand side. I actually found this pushing stage almost the hardest and I really felt like I went into my own mind at this stage, concentrating on my breathing and the pushing and not fully aware of what else was going on around me. It was also frustrating as each time I felt her pushing out, as I stopped pushing she would go back in a little, so it was a bit two steps forward, one step back. It felt like huge waves of dizzy adrenaline but also super clear in what I needed to do, giving myself a mental pep talk.
As the baby started to crown the doctor grabbed my hand and made me touch her head. I could feel lots of hot hair which really shocked me, partly as it was weird to feel her there, and partly because it also became so real - our baby was really there!
At one point the doctor said my perineum was very tight and she thought I would tear, so asked if I would prefer her to cut me in the right place. That suggestion made me feel a bit sick so I said no, and later it turned out to be a good decision as I only had two tiny first degree tears and doctor acknowledged they were smaller than she thought they would be.
A few more big pushes and out she came, although I couldn’t see that until the doctor lifted her up and she was put immediately on my tummy. Chris told me she was a girl, which was amazing.
I was holding this hot little pink baby on my tummy and I think I was in shock! What a feeling, and with Chris standing right next to us. As I was holding her I think the placenta followed, and I remember the nurse checking it to check it was whole with nothing left in there. They clamped the cord at two points and gave Chris a pair of scissors to cut it.
The doctor asked if we had a name yet and Chris asked me what I thought, and I remember saying shall we go with Marina…
I needed a couple of small stitches to the two tears, which the doctor did, I had a local anaesthetic so only felt some small pulling as she did this. She asked about my concern for my lower back during the labour, and I explained that I had always been told it was quite weak due to my Spina Bifida which was why I had been concerned.
After some time I was helped into a wheelchair and we were lead to our private room in the hospital where we spent two nights as the three of us.
We had a great first sleep and the nurses helped me breastfeed, show us how to change the nappies and swaddles, and checked on mine and Marina´s progress. We were discharged on 30 December, in time for New Years Eve at home with Mum and Inca.
Tuesday, 28th of December 2021
Mom Lucinda, dad Chris & baby Marina