By Charlotte Millar
Having a baby at any point in your life is overwhelming at the best of times. Let alone giving birth during a global pandemic. Here I share my birth story, what it was like to go through the induction process, and give birth to a baby during the first peak and national lockdown
I experienced reduced movements from Evelyn. However, I didn’t want to go into hospital unnecessarily during a pandemic to be told everything was fine and be sent home again. Over the weekend her movements picked up but then dropped again come Monday. I reluctantly went to get checked out. After being told off by the midwives for not going in sooner, I was told everything was fine and sent home. With the instruction to call if they reduced again.
Friday 3rd April…
Tuesday 7th April, I had little to no movement. I rang the pregnancy advice line and was advised to get checked out. I head to my local hospital where I was greeted by Rachel. A midwife I’d come in to contact with many times – a true gem! She was dressed in her PPE ( plastic apron, gloves and face mask ) and as she popped me on the monitor, she took a full set of observations.
Asking if I’d any symptoms of Covid-19 – which I hadn’t. I was observed for 20 minutes and baby was perfectly fine, but had hardly moved. As I was 37 weeks, and had been contracting for 10 weeks, she offered to examine me and see where we were at. Turns out I was 1cm, and she offered a sweep. I had the sweep and was told to really pay attention to baby’s movements. If they hadn’t increased by dinner time, I was to call the advice line again.
I went home and bounced on my birthing ball, hoping to either have baby kick up a storm, or to go into labour. Neither happened. 5pm and I ring the advice line again, explaining what had been going on. I was sent to delivery triage to get checked over again. Due to hospital regulations, Liam was not allowed with me. I had to go in alone.
A Surreal Experience…
When I arrived, all midwives were in full PPE and scrubs. It was weird and overwhelming. I was incredibly anxious and not having Liam there made it worse. However I had a lovely midwife who eased my anxiety straight away. We were checked over, and baby was fine. The Dr on shift had a look at my pregnancy history, and considering the reduced movement episodes advised an induction. But a natural as possible induction without hormones. This is because I was already contracting (like I’d been for weeks) and they didn’t want to risk making them uncontrollable. So it was decided that I was to have a Foley catheter inserted. Its a small balloon that’s inserted and inflated with air or water to naturally encourage the cervix to open. I had this inserted at around 9/10pm and then I was then left to try and get some sleep.
The next morning I was moved down to the antenatal ward. Liam dropped off a bag of drinks and snacks for me, I had to meet him by the lifts as he wasn’t allowed on the ward. The catheter fell out around 9am. I was checked and was dilated just over 1cm. They decided to insert a tablet to help get things going, this was left in for 6 hours. The plan was that once that 6 hours had passed, if nothing had progressed, I would be taken to delivery and have my waters broken.
I spent the day on my own. The small room I was in had three other empty beds. So I was quite bored. I ate snacks, watched Disney+ and face-timed my mum and Liam continuously as well as having the odd nap. To some that my sound perfect, but I hated being alone. I paced round the room to try and get things going but nothing was working.
It All Happened So Fast..
4.30pm came and I was checked. I was told I hadn’t progressed an awful lot, and was taken to delivery to see if they could break my waters. When I arrived, they got me settled. I unpacked my candles and got my oil roller out, the midwives set up the candles for me and shut all the blinds to make it dark. It instantly became a calm, relaxing space to give birth in. They told me I could ring Liam and he could come join me. This made me extremely happy as they said that because my birth with Molly was so fast, things could progress quickly if waters were broken.
Boy were they right! My waters were broken at 5.30pm My contractions started pretty much straight away. Evelyn’s heart rate dropped so I had to be checked to ensure the cord hadn’t prolapsed. It hadn’t , but I had to lay on my side. Liam arrived not long after and I face timed my mum to give her an update.
At 6pm things got super intense very quickly. I was 3cm. My contractions were now back to back. I was using gas and air and trying my hardest to implement Hypnobirthing breathing techniques. Gas and air makes me high as a kite, I was more talkative during this labour compared to Molly’s though. My mum was still on face time through all of this. Her and Liam were talking and even the midwives were joining in the conversation, including my mum with everything. I was checked at around 7.15 and was told I was 4cm dilated, they also put a clip on baby’s head so they could take off the Doppler from around my stomach – as I was on my side, they weren’t getting a clear reading.
A Quick Birth…
I don’t know if it’s just me that did this during labour, but with Molly, I reached a point where I asked for an epidural. This was when I was 10cm and about to push. Well, the same thing happened this time. At around 7.45 I asked, no begged, for an epidural. The midwife said she needed to examine me to see how far gone I was.
As I went to turn from my side to my back, my body started to push, uncontrollably ( if you know, you know! ) and suddenly they could see Evelyn’s head crowning. The midwife pressed the emergency bell to ask for help as nobody was expecting her to be coming quite so quickly, considering I was 4cm 30 minutes earlier.
Suddenly the room was full of midwives, Evelyn’s heart rate dropped so I was quickly rolled onto my right side, with a midwife holding my leg. Then 10 minutes and three pushes later, Miss Evelyn Elizabeth entered the world at 7.56pm.She was placed onto my chest, and Liam cut her cord. Guess what? My mum got to witness the whole thing via face time – completely unintentional, but I am so glad that she did.
I then delivered the placenta. I had a small bleed, but nothing compared to my first birth with Molly. However, I will say this though, after pains are a horrendous! I do not remember having these with Molly and apparently they get worse with every child you have. I also needed stitches as I had a small internal second degree tear.
Once clean and dressed it was around 11pm and I was moved to the postnatal ward. Liam wasn’t allowed up to the ward, so he wet home. Evelyn and I had our first night together. No sleep, lots of boob and lots of skin to skin cuddles…It was perfect. The midwives on shift that night were so lovely, bringing me copious amounts of tea and the odd cheeky biscuit!
The Next Day…
The following morning was spent with Evelyn having all her checks and tests. She had to have a glucose test done, but it came back fine. I had my checks done and all was also good. Just like last time, I struggled to get a good latch, and had the most amazing support from a lactation specialist midwife. I was hand expressing colostrum between feeds and saving it in 1ml syringes to try and encourage my milk to come in and also having lots of skin to skin with Evelyn. I used cloth nappies in the hospital, and had so many questions and compliments from the midwives. They were happy to see someone using cloth and couldn’t believe how easy it was!
I drank more tea and got myself ready to go home whilst watching This Morning. There was a lot of waiting around if I’m honest. Because of the virus, the hospital were short staffed. But, at around 2pm we were finally allowed home! A lovely midwife helped me down to the main doors to meet Liam as he wasn’t allowed in to meet me. We then set off home. I was gutted that nobody could come to the hospital, that Molly couldn’t have the normal sibling experience of going to the hospital to meet baby sister. If I am honest, It broke my heart a little.
Meeting Her Big Sister…
When we arrived home we placed Evelyn in the Moses basket. I gave Molly a huge cuddle, and we introduced her to her little sister. We managed to record the moment they met. Molly was besotted from the get go. Stroking Evelyn’s head, and saying “baby is cute” as well as asking to “hold baby”. It was honestly one of the most magical moments I have experienced. Molly has been the best big sister ever since. She has helped with feeding, changing nappies and just been. incredibly loving I couldn’t have wished for anything better.
To anyone who is due to give birth during the pandemic – You can do this!
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