Kieran's Birth Story

By Cerys Byrne

Our second child was due sometime over Christmas 1998 (due dates ranged from the 25th to the 27th) and as our daughter, Emily, had been 2 weeks early I was quietly confident that we'd have a baby well before Christmas. I'd planned a home birth as I could see no need to go into hospital. If Emily was anything to go by, having babies was a doddle. Unfortunately, the person I'd forgotten to inform about how easy it was all going to be was my baby.

Our NCT (National Childbirth Trust) Branch AGM came and went, our NCT Christmas meal came and went. Finally on Christmas Eve I stopped willing the baby to be early and told him he'd jolly well better be late. Then on Boxing Day I went down with the flu and spent the next three days in bed with a raging temperature.

At around 8 pm on 30th December, still feeling far from well, I felt the unmistakable feeling of a contraction, and then another about 20 minutes later. I wasn't too worried as, although labour with Emily had only been 4 ½ hours once established, it had taken over 24 hours from the first contraction until it was established. We carried on as normal and had a reasonable night's sleep.

When we woke the next morning I put on the TENS machine and my husband phoned his parents to come and get Emily, with me foolishly promising her that she could come home before bedtime (never make promises to 3 year olds that you aren't sure you can keep). Just after 9.00 am I called the midwives' office and was told that Andrea, my midwife, was on duty and would be with me shortly.

Andrea arrived at 10.30 am and examined me, I was 3cm dilated and the contractions were coming every 5 minutes. We spent the morning with me wandering around the room, leaning on the ironing board during contractions and listening to Classic FM. As the morning wore on the contractions were getting more painful and I was unable to cope with using the gas and air as it made me feel stifled and also made me sick. At one point I was being sick at the height of every contraction which was very tiring.

At 1.00 pm Andrea decided to examine me again. I couldn't believe it when she said I was only 4cm as I was finding it difficult to cope with the contractions and had been sure that I was further on than this, so we made the decision to break my waters.

I knew from Andrea's expression that there was a problem as soon as she broke my waters. There was meconium in them which meant that the baby had been in distress and also meant that we had to transfer to the hospital. Andrea phoned for an ambulance while Paul sorted me out some clothes and found my hospital bag. As we were on our way out the door I asked him to pick up a 0-3 month sleepsuit from the airing cupboard as I'd only packed newborn size in my bag and I had a feeling this was going to be a big baby.

The journey to the hospital was very uncomfortable as I felt unable to sit or lie down and had to kneel on a bench in the ambulance for the whole journey, only about 15 minutes but it took in 4 roundabouts.

From the time we arrived at the hospital everything took on a rather surreal feel and I have no idea of timings at all. We were ushered into a delivery room and I was put on a monitor but for some reason the monitor couldn't pick up the baby's heartbeat and they had to put a scalp monitor on him. This meant that I was unable to walk about and was stuck on the bed. I was desperate to be upright and wanted to kneel on the bed but the baby didn't like this position and his heartbeat dipped worryingly so Andrea suggested I turn round and sit on the bed. I was being sick during the contractions again and they were becoming unmanageable. The baby was much happier when I was on my back but I was finding it very hard to cope with the pain. Andrea examined me again and I was 8cm but my contractions were slowing down and I was exhausted.

I tried the gas and air again but it just made me feel worse. Andrea said that she felt I ought to have something but that she didn't want to give me pethidine (aka Demerol) as my contractions were already slowing down and pethidine can have the effect of slowing them even more. At this point I asked for an epidural and could see the relief spread across Andrea's and Paul's faces. Andrea had obviously hoped that I would ask for one but hadn't wanted to suggest it as she knew I'd wanted as natural a birth as possible. To be honest, by this stage if they'd said they were going to do a caesarean I wouldn't have complained, I was done in.

While we were waiting for the anaesthetist my contractions virtually stopped and Andrea was talking about putting in a drip once the epidural had taken to get them going again. The epidural only took down one leg but as soon as the pain was bearable my body decided that this baby was jolly well going to come out and flipped into second stage.

Andrea was saying "We'll test your legs to make sure that you can't feel anything and then we'll put in the drip to get your contractions going again" when she broke off in mid-sentence and called to the other midwife "come and look at this" - I'd pushed and the baby's head was visible.

Within half an hour Kieran was born. He weighed 8lb 11 oz and was born at 5.10 pm on New Year's Eve. Because of the meconium and the epidural we didn't go home that day but I can think of worse things to be doing at midnight on New Year's Eve than feeding your newborn baby.

Cerys Byrne
Cerys @
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