A Year On- Olives Birth Story.
Christmas day 2016, Daniel took a picture of me in my new sweater that read 'MAMA' when I looked at the photo it occurred to me that my bump had dropped significantly, I was 1 day away from full term (37 weeks) so I knew it could be anytime from that moment but I had a feeling this yellow baby was going to keep me waiting a tad longer. Oakley arrived at exactly 39 weeks but I wasn't expecting this baby to be here until 2018, it hadn't ever occurred to me that I would have my second baby only the following year after my first. Christmas was lovely but Oakley was full of cold, we spent the majority of it at home with a grumpy toddler, by the 30th of December I had cabin fever and managed to persuade Daniel to get wrapped up and drive us to my favourite place, Elvaston Castle which is only minutes away. It would be a good way to brush the cobwebs off and have a bit of family time before New Years celebrations and then Daniels time off work ending. He had an amazing 12 days off work which was a Christmas miracle in itself, not for a second did we think we would be ending the festive holidays and seeing the new year with our new baby.
So we walked, well Oakley was carried and I waddled, who's bright idea was this? It was cold, we were all a little miserable and I quite frankly had no bladder control. I had joked to Daniel that perhaps it was my waters, but for one reason or another I assumed that they would go as they did with Oakley in a loud pop & gush. We got in the car, drove to buy cake from a local cafe and headed home. I had a little panic in the car that I hadn't felt the baby move all that much, I wondered if it was because after a few days at home being able to feel the movement so regularly that being out and about had perhaps distracted me a little. I went for a lay down once home, cake in hand so that I could monitor babies movements and have a cheeky nap. I woke 3 hours later, instantly worried about movements and decided to call the hospital, I was also wet again and finally the penny dropped, was this my waters? I told the midwife on the phone who suggested we get to the hospital in an hours time. We grabbed Oakley's overnight bag that was already packed just in case, then we grabbed the hospital bags after a brief debate about if we were actually going to need them or not. Leave them in the boot was the verdict, we were so sure that there was going to be a next time. Oakley went to my mother in laws house and we didn't do a long goodbye as I was convinced that I would be back to get him in a few hours.
I was monitored for 30 minutes, still no movement but heart rate was perfect. They decided to remove my maternity pad to try and figure out if my waters were leaking in this time too that way it saved me an unnecessary examination. The verdict was in, IT WAS MY WATERS. I wasn't all that surprised but now the problem was how much of my waters had gone and how long had I been leaking them? Oakley suffered an infection due to my waters breaking in early labour so I knew we could be having a similar scenario. The midwives told us to prepare for an induction the following day, they went to find a doctor and I went outside to call my mum and mother in law. When I came back Daniel broke the news that they didn't want to wait until tomorrow they infact wanted to get an induction started tonight and I was to get ready for an examination straight away. I broke down, I think it was a combination of worry & hormones but also the fact that I hadn't had the chance to soak Oakley up for that last time before his whole world changed. I always had this unrealistic idea of my waters breaking dramatically again and that I could go into Oakley's room and watch him sleep for one last time or cuddle him tightly and tell him that he would always be my baby. This was not how I had pictured it, but once the tears had subsided the excitement kicked in and I had to go back out to call everyone again to tell them 'ITS TIME'
I had 2 options in terms of induction which all depended on how the examination went, I could either have a pessary inserted or be hooked up to the hormone drip, I knew the pessary could be a slow process but I had experienced the hormone drip when I wasn't progressing in Oakley's labour and I remember the contractions being so much more intense. I blamed that drip the first time for my epidural which I hadn't planned on having, but I knew this time that If I was ever in a similar situation that I wouldn't wait as long as I did the first time. Its not a competition, the end result is always the same with an epidural or not, a happy and healthy baby was all I wanted! Although I secretly hoped the drip wouldn't be needed. Results were in (again), an examination showed I was in fact 3-4cm dilated already. It was like history repeating itself, my first examination with Oakley post waters breaking was exactly the same result, I didn't know if this was a good thing or a bad thing as of yet but was pleased that some of the work was already done so to speak. A pessary was out of the question now, I feared the dreaded words of the hormone drip would be said but I was given a few hours to see if contractions started naturally. I got comfy in my labour room, Daniel went to get the bags out of the car and get us some refreshments and I started listening to my hypnobirthing app and tracks. Great start, as I had really hoped that I wouldn't have a repeat performance of Oakley's birth.
So Oakleys birth went a little like this... Waters popped, a surprising 3-4cm dilated upon examination, midwifes filling me with hope of a quick labour, no progression, still no progression, mild contractions, 7 hours later 5cm dilated, a further 7 hours later 7cm dilated, dreaded hormone drip, PAIN, epidural, infection, 3 hours later 9cm, potential csection, pressure, pushing, shoulders were stuck, red button pushed, lots of professionals slicing my vagina open and then HELLO 9LB 3OZ GIANT BABY! Followed by 6 days of hospital for infections.
Now that's out of the way you can potentially see why I wanted a whole new experience this time, I had been listening to a Hypnobirthing app since 25 weeks, I had been falling asleep to it most nights and really practicing my breathing too. I had no birth plan as such but I kindly asked my student midwife to check what little plan I had, the thing is first time round I was extremely quiet in what I really wanted and I listened to the professionals even when I was uncomfortable. I had no idea that I could make informed choices, all I really wanted this time was to stay active. I didn't want to be confined to one space, I wanted to deliver in whatever position I felt best in, I wanted Daniel to announce the sex and I wanted Instant skin to skin with delayed cord clamping. There was so much utter chaos after Oakley's birth that I was unable to live out my 'perfect' meeting with him. I appreciate that childbirth is out of everyone's control but with my midwife on my side she said she would try her best. She was amazing, made me feel comfortable, she listened to me and not once did I have to remind her of anything I wanted! She went out of her way to help me achieve the simple requests I wanted.
My Mum arrived at around midnight, I hadn't had her at Oakley's birth so it was going to be a first for me. My back waters were popped as turns out only my front waters had gone, soon after that the dreaded hormone drip was in, it didn't take long for the crazy contractions to start and after an examination 3 hours later I was 5cm dilated. At this point I was using just the hypnobirthing techniques and nothing else. I would be lying if I said I wasn't disheartened as the pain felt so much worse than I remembered and I had all the memories of my previous birth flooding back in that moment, I tried not to beat myself up but It was hard not too, I just keep saying 'Why cant I progress on my own?' 'Why is it so slow even with help?' But I know there will be people who progress even slower, those hours just feel like a lifetime don't they and even more so with the drip being icreased every so often.
I managed another 3 hours until my next examination this time using gas and air, 7cm dilated this time. Better but I think it was purely down to the fact that the hormone drip had been ramped up to the maximum! Ouch! Epidural please.. I begged and begged and an epidural was administered just before 6.30am. I thought that like last time It would be an instant relief but I had been given a spinal block and was so confused when handed a button that I could only press every 20 minutes starting from now. So I waited and pressed the button but still nothing, it was failing, I started to get pins and needles all down my right side but it did not take even 1% of the contractions away. I was waiting for someone to come and check it when I felt a massive urge to push, it wasn't even an hour after my last examination so I was worried I wasn't dilated enough but my body was ignoring my mind and it was sure as hell pushing anyway. I shouted that I was pushing and the midwife warned me that I couldn't be examined for at least another 2-3 hours, but when Olives head began to crown I think she realised I was in fact fully dilated and that baby was defiantly on his or her way, It was only when she began putting her gloves on and another midwife entered the room that my Mum and Daniel stood up and began to encourage me. The pressure was so strong and I knew baby would be here so soon.
I remember the look on their faces, pure shock that suddenly after around 7 hours of me ignoring them with my earphones in that suddenly I needed them by my side and it was actually happening. It was now around 6.55am on New Years eve, my 2018 baby was going to be a 2017 baby and we were so close to finding out who was about to join our little family. It was all happening so quickly and after a few more pushes out came the head, I had the opportunity to touch it which blew my mind, it felt very surreal for the room to be calm and for me to be able to touch my baby as she was leaving me. My body started to shake dramatically like I remember it doing before and for what felt like ages I was sure that I couldn't go any further. It feels as if for a moment in that final break between contractions that its virtually impossible, but before I could say no more my final contraction was building and the final pushes started.
7.08am a beautiful bundle was placed immediately on to my chest, Daniel was the most choked up Ive ever seen him when he announced it was a Girl. He then went on to say it was a Boy because he got confused and I remember my Mum shouting at him 'No Daniel!!' So the midwife lifted the towels quickly so I could check for myself, it was indeed a GIRL and we were so surprised to have a daughter. Daniels family are predominantly known for Boys, Olive is just 1 of 2 girls that have been born into the Gray family in over 100 years so its safe to say this moment was made even more euphoric by that fact. Its only when I look back at those grainy photos that I can relive that surprise even a little, I had spent 13 years with Daniel at this point knowing his family history so my idea of family was me surrounded by Gray boys. This tiny little 6lb 15oz yellow bump was now a pink baby, she had changed all that and I can not put into words how I was feeling in that moment. If I tried I would fail to make you understand!
She was perfect, we spent the next few hours face timing family to reveal our new surprise, I uploaded onto Instagram but didn't reveal her gender. A little naughty I know but we wanted to make sure all our family and friends knew first. I uploaded a picture with a caption that read 'So it was you all along. Happy New Year' My phone went wild and it wasn't long before I could share our little girl, whom we named Olive Iris Hazel Gray. Olive was always our favourite girl name, Iris was the name of our wedding song (by the Goo goo Dolls) and Hazel was my late Grandmas middle name too. We had no idea what we would call a little boy, so it was fate that we were blessed with our little Olive girl.
We were supposed to be at a New Years eve party at our friends house that night, they lived only 7 doors down so on the drive home we decided to knock on the door and surprise the party around 30 minutes before midnight. So we were able to see in the New Year with our friends after all, it felt like a dream. Holding her tight whilst everyone cheered and hugged each other as the clocks chimed at 12, only 12 hours previously I was being hooked up to the drip and now I was sat with people I love with the daughter we never thought we would have. I'm sure when shes older she will love the fact she attended her first party only hours old. Party girl by name, party girl by nature and she will ever now have a reason to party on her birthday.